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Dynamic Chiropractic – June 17, 2011, Vol. 29, Issue 13

If You Speak It, They Will Come

Efffective public speaking: your best marketing strategy.

By Perry Nickelston, DC, FMS, SFMA

Public speaking is the secret weapon to building a professional business.

In today's economy, it can be your most powerful and cost-effective marketing strategy. Expensive Yellow Pages ads and time-consuming spinal screenings cannot compare to the close personal connection established with potential patients via public speaking. Personal connection builds trust, and trust builds your practice.

Unfortunately, most doctors don't implement this strategy out of fear; the fear of appearing that they are trying to "close" (sell) someone. Guess what, doctor? You are selling; you are selling yourself and you are selling chiropractic. Your primary goal in public speaking is to get new patients you can help with chiropractic. If you don't sell your services, you won't be open for business very long.

The quickest way to overcome any fear is by action. Do the thing you fear the most and the death of fear is certain. In other words, just get out there and do it. There are myths associated with speaking that can immobilize you from taking action. Confront these myths head on and begin implementing strategies to make a difference in the lives of others.

Myth #1: "I've Got to Be the Best"

man in front of podium - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark If you can't be the best, there is no reason to step out on the stage. The truth is, you only have to be the best you can be. Don't fall into the trap of thinking more about yourself than the audience. Myth #1 sounds something like this:

  • "I hope they like me."
  • "I hope I don't mess up."
  • "I hope I don't freeze up."

Are any of these phrases about the audience? Just think about how terrified the audience members would feel speaking in front of you. People are far more interested in themselves than they are in you. So don't be so self-centered; instead, become value centered (that means thinking of your message first).

Myth #2: "I've Got No Business Speaking to This Group"

Wrong. You are an expert on your experiences and interpretations of life. There are thousands of people making a living based on their opinions. They simply know how to communicate their personal know-how. Consider the way lives will change as a result of applying your message. Speaking in a heartfelt, emotional way when sharing information with your audience is the key. It's not about unloading tons of supportive data and information, overwhelming them with logic.

People make decisions based on emotion and justify their actions with logic. So keep it real! Have a definite purpose for your message and allow everything you say to support it. Communicate with purpose, passion and precision.

Your Audience Comes First

Many speakers are concerned with one thing: getting their speech or presentation over with. They want to get up and get down. If they survive without dying, embarrassing themselves or throwing up, they feel like a success. The speaker who just wants to survive is more concerned with themselves than their audience. They are more focused on their feelings, appearance or nerve instead of delivering a message that will create maximum impact in the lives of their listeners.

Professional doctors, however, think more about the audience than themselves. Their number-one goal is to present a message of value; a message that, if applied, will deliver information and motivation that can alter the existence of those who choose to use it. Now that's powerful. How do you do this?

  • Discover the audience's hurt or problem and address it with a solution.
  • Provide information that will show them how to produce the desired change.
  • Speak in format that will help the people remember and apply the information. This is done by storytelling (e.g., a success story).
  • Treat the audience as peers, not as superior or inferior. Drop the "I'm a doctor" ego trip.
  • Create an emotional experience during the message (laughter, tears, intense thought). Emotions produce connection (storytelling).

No matter what group you are speaking to, whether for free or fee, dish out the value. Saturate your audience with so much good stuff their excitement becomes infectious. They should leave with a felling of "I'm glad I came. I can't wait to put this into action."

You get better every time. Success is 90 percent failure. What does that mean? The best speakers usually started off being the worst. They key is, they never gave up. They made subtle changes after each performance to improve their technique. Instead of beating themselves up, they looked for what was good about each talk and what could be improved the next time. Look at every speech as a learning opportunity.

Every audience member asks (out loud or internally), 'What's in it for me?" or WIIFM for short. This is the "Golden Rule" of marketing, too. People care about #1 first, themselves. They want to know how they can walk out of the room and put the message into action immediately. Most don't because the speaker failed to tell them precisely how. They need marching orders on what to do. They are craving for you to show them the way.

So do it! Don't be wishy washy with "shoulda, woulda, coulda. "Be direct, precise and forceful in telling them to take action. The people in the audience want more than good material; they want material relevant to their lives. They want to be able to take your words and turn them into reality.

Make Yourself Available

Do not assume that filling ears with tons of information will motivate listeners to action. It won't. You not only have to give them the information; you also have to give them the directions to use it. In general, people do not remember information until they hear it seven times. Be specific and don't leave any room for guessing or doubt. Great speakers make themselves available to people long after the event ends. They provide personal contact information in case people have a question about the information. Less than 1 percent will ever contact the speaker. But the knowledge that they could if they wanted to makes them feel special.

You can say something like, "Before I close with a challenge, I want you to know I'm available for you. The word doctor means 'teacher'; I am here to help you learn. My card is on the table in the back. Feel free to contact me. There is also a sign-up sheet to receive our special newsletter. For other special offers, join our e-mail list and receive valuable information available only to people who have attended our workshop. You took the time tonight to come down here and learn information that will improve the quality of your life and a way for us to say thank-you is by offering these specials."

The audience wants to know that they will be changed for the better for having listened to you. (Be careful not to preach to them, especially during a health care class, if you give one). They want something that will alter their lives; they want information that will enable them to make it through the next day with success or without pain. And the audience wants you to do well so they can be well. They do not want you to fail.

Finally, remember the 2/96/2 rule:

  • 2 percent of the crowd will think you are the best speaker they have ever heard.
  • 2 percent of the crowd will think you are the worst speaker they have ever heard.

Aim for the remaining 96 percent. There is no reason to approach a talk with the fear that people want you to fail. They don't. Because the audience wants you to do well, you have a positive expectation right from the beginning. You get to start off with the audience on your side. Apply these strategies and you'll keep them as patients, too

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