When you are invited to be a keynote speaker or participate in a public forum, as full as your schedule may be, you want to say yes because of the opportunity it presents to promote your business.
Then you sit down to write your remarks and you find yourself stopped cold.
How do you speak to people in a way that will interest them, add value to their lives, and simultaneously promote your business?
You start to re-think your acceptance and contemplate calling back and confessing to a schedule glitch that makes your appearance impossible.
Before you do that, think about how many times you have worked in a promotion of your business in casual conversations, in formal presentations, and in elevator speeches at networking event.
Taking your story to 100 or 1000 people should not really be any more challenging than talking to one person. In other words, it should fall naturally into the conversation or presentation. It should be introduced at an appropriate spot and contribute to the narrative you are telling.
As an example of how skilfully that can be done, watch how the late Steve Jobs wove the story of his company through a presentation about the challenges of branding and capturing people’s attention in a noisy world.
References to your company should be within a larger context
As Jobs did, make sure that when you talk about your company it is within the context of a bigger universal issue or topic with which everyone in your audience can identify.
Nobody wants to listen for 20 minutes while you simply give a presentation that reads like an advertisement for your company. Instead, if you just weave in details here and there as part of your larger story, it works beautiful and subtly.
For example, if you want to talk about the challenges of building a business on a remote labor force, you can talk about that and then enhance the story with your own example of how it worked for you. You can talk about the impact of the gig economy, and then explain how being able to take a variety of contracts led to your own success as an entrepreneur.
Because you have to be adept at building the relationship between your theme and the stories from your own company, you need to know your topic inside out. This is not a time to make it up as you go along. Have your examples ready, waiting and practiced before you step to the podium.
Doug Stevenson, in his video “The Power to Persuade – The Magic of Story” gives more details on weaving such stories into your presentation to be more influential and persuasive. He tells us that it is our stories that make our ideas more memorable and set us apart. There is no reason why our stories can be about our business and show it in a good and interesting light. You can watch the Stevenson video here:
Stories evolve when you know your topic intimately
When you want to promote your business with your presentation, don’t forget that a bit of gentle humor and brighten things up.
Humor in the old-fashioned sense of just telling jokes is no longer a popular technique to brighten a presentation, but a gentle self-effacing humor that helps the audience like you and warm to you is clever and effective.
Watch how well Bill Gates did in when he addressed Harvard University graduates in 2012 in his now famous “Who wants to be a billionaire?” speech. You can see his address here:
Don’t forget as you use your presentation to promote your business to pay attention to your basic technique. Make good eye contact with your audience and keep your tone well-modulated since that sends a message that you are in control, knowledgeable and trustworthy. Don’t rush, but keep your remarks moving along. If you slow it down too much, you appear to be hesitant and unsure of what you are saying, and then your audience is inclined to doubt you.
Use simple, straightforward language and avoid the jargon of your industry when you speak about your business. Talking with “in house” terms doesn’t make you look like an insider; it makes you look like someone who shuts other people out.
Add value to people’s lives and business will follow you
Most importantly, even though you see the speaking engagement as a good chance to promote your business, it is a better chance to say something that will add value to the lives of your audience. When you do that successfully, they will naturally remember you and your business.
If you manage to cross the barrier from polite attention and even engagement into fascination with your story or idea, they will leave the presentation ready to share the way you tapped into their imagination. They will be like ambassadors for your business for the next several days, repeating your story and bringing into their own conversations how they were impressed with you and how you inspired them.
A great example of how inspiring stories and advice can encourage people to be inspired about what you do is a video that features the voices of a number of football players describing what you have to do to succeed in their business. You can see it here:
When you turn your eyes away from that presentation, you don’t question the dedication of the football player and their commitment to their game.
Telling your story, authentically, eloquently and powerfully, is still the way you can promote your business best in your presentation.