Maximizing your “Return on Expertise”
The Benefits of an Executive Speaking Program
Presenting at a conference is a major undertaking. It can take weeks of planning, dozens of hours of preparation, and can keep a senior executive out of the office for a day or more. Are the benefits really worth the effort?
Progressive organizations know that corporate speaking programs are an effective, strategic approach to establishing thought leadership and building business. They offer a powerful platform for cost effectively enhancing brand reputation and extending market visibility. Marketing communications departments and agencies are now investing more than ever in getting their experts on the podium. This renewed interest and activity is fueled by the following trends:
- Cut through market noise – Corporate speaking shines a spotlight on your expert knowledge and insights into an industry or community of practice. The return on investment from a carefully targeted speaking program is enormous because such a program effectively differentiates an organization in a crowded marketplace at near-zero cost for non-sponsored speakerships.
- Remain relevant – Many companies utilize speaking to keep their brands relevant. Companies that have been around for several decades are often known for innovations they pioneered long ago and need an effective way to explain to the world what new things they’re doing now, and how they’re on the cutting-edge of research and development in new areas they’re not yet known for
- Strengthen your corporate reputation – By talking about important issues, like sustainability, diversity and inclusion, and corporate governance, speaking can elevate a brand by tying it more closely to the big issues that many other companies are grappling with.
- Humanize your brand – Consumers are coming to expect that companies, brands, and products will have a more human, accessible face. Creating that personal connection is becoming essential to positive market visibility. Well-chosen speaking opportunities help your organization position itself as a collaborative business partner. In a world where so much is done online, speaking enables you to make a truly human connection.
- Reach receptive audiences of influencers – You have a captive audience when speaking at a conference, they’ve chosen to attend the conference and your presentation, so they are ready and willing to listen to your experts and your messages. And well selected conferences convene audiences of decision makers and influencers in your industry, typically executives and managers whom their peers, associates and employees listen to.
- Generate visibility with media and analysts – Most conferences work hard to attract media and analysts. Many journalists and analysts—whether they’re with traditional or emerging media—want to interview the speakers selected to address the conference. Podium appearances combined with off-stage interviews are the primary source for the stories that come out of these events and can be an invaluable source of positive exposure.
- Recruit talent – In most industries, a talent war is being waged for the best job candidates. Conferences and events are exceptional vehicles for networking; it’s no secret that they afford excellent opportunities to engage with top talent. Positioning your executive or organization as a recognized thought leader is a proven way to attract top candidates and effectively communicate the benefits of joining your organization.
These are some of the direct benefits of speaking at conferences. But developed strategically, this is only the beginning. By looking at speaking as just one part of an integrated communications program, you can think of delivering a speech at a conference as “the tip of the spear” of a campaign that may include other vehicles such as media outreach, video streaming, blog posting, social media campaigns, and advertising. Framed this way, the core message delivered in a conference presentation can be repurposed in a variety of ways to expand the reach and effectiveness of a message. Our basic rule of thumb dictates that a speech can reach hundreds of live audience members, thousands of streaming and social media audiences, and millions of print and traditional media audiences. All with a minimal budget impact.