The speaking arena is crowded with men and women who wish to develop their skills. Toastmasters International has 292,000 members. If you wish to turn your speaking ability into a career, elevate your name recognition and develop a reputation as a dynamic quality presenter, then you must develop a plan and make it work for you.
Concentrate on what makes your message unique. Perhaps you have had a phenomenal sales career, survived a life-threatening disease, raised a child with a severe handicap, or maybe you can ride a unicycle or perform magic tricks – whatever makes you different. Make your passion about this experience the core of your presentation. Take a personal inventory of your education, experience and abilities for ideas to build your special story. What you will create is your unique selling point – the attribute that defines your presentation.
You can speed your professional development if you have a mentor. Look for someone whose style and content approximates what you want to do. Meet with your mentor for pointers, if possible (although you may have to settle for a virtual mentor). Watch the mentor's videos on YouTube, read his books and gather information from his website. You do not want to be a clone, but you can learn a lot about delivery style from observing others. Look for opportunities to speak that will help you develop your skills. Toastmasters helps build confidence and delivery techniques. Record yourself speaking. You will be your toughest critic.
If possible, write articles for magazines, business publications, your local newspaper, your Website or blog. Write letters to the editor on issues relating to your topic. Your work may be seen by decision-makers who read those publications – you can mail reprints to those who do not. Be sure to post reprints or links on your Website. Exchange correspondence with experts in your field. You will get valuable quotes which you can use – with permission, of course – that will give you added credibility.
Getting your name out to your target audience is one of the biggest challenges a beginning speaker faces. Identify booking contacts: corporate vice presidents, meeting planners, members of the clergy, association chairmen. Once you know whom to contact, you need to compile a media kit consisting of your biography – written in prose, not as a resume –a photo, a demo DVD, reference letters and a couple of relevant articles you have written. Be sure to include links to your website or blog. Meetings are usually planned months in advance, so begin building your network immediately.
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