Monday, August 3, 2009

Build Your Speaking Platform

One often overlooked facet of direct author sales is how well you build your platform and how effectively you use speaking to get your message to people who might buy your books.

Virtually every organization wants / needs speakers who don't cost a lot and have something of value to say. Good speakers do many of the same things, that result in a growing base of organizations that invite them to speak, promote their message and their books.

Develop a Network of Contacts that automatically refer them to their friends who also need a speaker

Stay in Touch. Met those folks know what is new and what has changed. Give them a heads up on your career and the topics you bring to their events.

Do Your Homework. Be energetic, excited, prepared and worthy of the invitation.

Carla Williams from Wine Press of Words has more on the topic.

Sell More Books: Build a Speaking Platform
Carla Williams

Publicity & Editorial Director for The WinePress Group.

Building a speaking ministry is the single best way to sell books.
One grandparenting expert built her speaking circuit to the point of being dubbed the “grandparenting guru of the Midwest.” She spoke at civic groups, churches, corporations, women’s retreats, and PTA meetings.

She built her reputation as an expert in her field and used much of the input she received from her speaking engagements to write her book on grandparenting. She did not want to wait for a traditional royalty publisher to offer her a contract; she chose to self-publish.

She started out with 2,000 copies and sold them all within six months. She had built a substantial mailing list from her many speaking engagements and had an automatic channel of distribution for her book.

These days, it really doesn’t even matter if your book has anything to do with the topic you are speaking on; the truth is, whatever you have on your book table will sell after your audience has heard you speak. In fact, your book might not even be of interest to your audience personally, but they may very well know someone else who might benefit from the book, and buy it as a gift, complete with your signature inside!

How to Prepare

Often, having a book in print will open more doors for you to speak, or will help accelerate an already established speaking ministry, so be prepared for the inevitable. To get prepared, attend some speaker training, if possible from a Christian perspective.

Two good choices are Speak Up Speaker Services and CLASSeminars. Both of these sessions train you on the basics of effective speaking.

Many communities also offer Toastmasters groups. They typically meet monthly, and sometimes more often, and give you a good chance to practice speaking in front of a group of people.
Collateral Material

Develop collateral material to promote your speaking ministry to include a brochure or “sell sheet” that includes your picture, bio, information on your book, and different topics you speak on. A few endorsements from groups you have spoken for in the past would also be helpful. This enables you to present yourself in a professional manner to a speakers’ committee or planning board.

Another important piece of your speaking ministry materials would be a good quality audio tape or CD of you speaking to a group. Often, if someone on the planning board hasn’t already heard you speak, they will require a sample to review before inviting you.

If you don’t have a good copy of your presentation, then set up a time with a group of friends where you can present your topic and get good group feedback during the session. Make sure the taping quality is good and there is no background noise.
Spread the Word

Once you’ve learned the fundamentals of effective communication and compiled a professional set of materials to promote your speaking ministry, you should begin to let people know that you are available.

However God helps you orchestrate it, develop a system for your speaking ministry to stay organized and begin to build a platform that can be measured and leveraged in the future.

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