Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Most Inspiring Marketing Medium

"A speech is a solemn responsibility.  The man who makes a bad thirty-minute speech to two hundred people wastes only a half-hour of his own time.  But he wastes one hundred hours of the audience's time - more than four days - which should be a hanging offense."
                                                                                                       - Jenkin Lloyd Jones
Steve Jobs - A man who understood the power of
public speaking for business better than most.
We all have to speak in public at sometime in our lives.  Most of us have to do it almost every day in the form of sales calls, staff meetings, and presentations.  As someone who has studied and taught public speaking for many years, I cringe whenever I listen to a speaker who has not prepared for and practiced the skill of public speaking before they stand in front of an audience.  Not only does it show a lack of respect for the audience, it exhibits a complete loss of opportunity.

More than every other form of marketing or sales, the opportunity to prepare and deliver a speech for a specific audience gives you the chance to share your idea and your perspective in a way that is specifically tailored for the people receiving it (e.g. customers, potential donors, board of directors, etc.).  It is not just a captive audience, it is an engaged audience that is in the room specifically to hear what you have to say.  Magazines, newspapers, radio, internet, and social media all rely on chance that a viewer is interested in your message at the exact time that they see or hear it.  Public speaking audiences typically know the topic of a presentation and have committed to listening prior to hearing even the first word.  Furthermore, with traditional marketing your audience must become immediately engaged with your message, or they will turn the page, change the station, or click another link.  Nearly 100% of a public speaking audience stays listening attentively to the speaker for the entire speech.

The most important thing that differentiates the effectiveness of public speaking over traditional marketing is the ability to INSPIRE your audience.  It is not enough to think of your marketing efforts as an attempt to inform your customers and raise awareness for your message.  You must inspire your audience to take action!  Take action by applying your message directly to their life or business.   When you share your message in public, with your own voice, you are able to use emotion and passion to inspire people to take your message and make it their own.  No one in recent memory has done this more effectively than Steve Jobs.  I can't even think of another CEO that I remember speaking in public about the launch of a new product or service, but the world sat at attention every time Steve Jobs stood on stage.  He didn't just tell us about Apple products, he made them relevant to our lives.

On the flip side, a poor speech has the tendency to sap inspiration right out of your message.  If you typically approach your speaking engagements (e.g. presentations, sales calls, staff meetings, etc.) with little preparation, believing that you can deliver your message "off-the-cuff," you are leaving way too much up to chance.  You only get ONE CHANCE to deliver your message in a speaking format.  Make the most of it.  Prepare, practice, and perform!

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