How to use public speaking to build your brand

By Suzanne Chadwick

Have you ever looked at speakers on a stage and thought – how do I get there?  How can I become confident, clear on my message, have the courage to stand in front of so many people and share what I love and what I know?

Well you’re not alone.  As we move into the era of what I like to call the ‘Power Personal Brand’ where we follow people who have something to say and who say it so well, the personal brand has become the visual connector that we have to people and content that we love.   In this digital age, having something to say and saying it well can be the difference between mega success and getting lost in the crowd. 

Now when I talk about public speaking and presenting I think of it as speaking to a group from 2 people to 200,000 people.  It doesn’t really matter the size, your ability to impact and connect with that 1 person is just as important as the masses.

So if owning the stage is something that you would love to do in 2016 there here are some of my tips on presenting with power and purpose and getting the gigs that you want.


Firstly decide what your message is.  This may sound simple, but what will you talk about exactly.  If you can decide on 1 – 4 topics that you cover then it makes easy for event managers and hosts to know if you’re right for their business, event and audience.  If you’re able to give a clear outline then it makes for an easy decision.  For example when I’m engaging speaking it needs to be on a specific topic that is practical and helpful to my community and audience.   I’m sure that you’ve already got a number of topics that you focus on in your business, so go with those.  Consistency of message across all your platforms is what buildings brands so bang that drum!


If you want to be a speaker then let people know by creating a speakers page. Creating a speakers page means that it’s easy for those who come to your website or blog to see that you’re a speaker.  They can see what you talk about, where you’ve spoken before and they can see what others have said about their experience with you as a speaker. 


If you’ve spoken before and have testimonials then that’s also a great thing to provide event organisers.  Knowing that you’re engaging a speaker who fits with your brand personality is really important to me as well as an event organiser.  My brand personality is bold, fun and focused on educational content so my speakers need to be like that as well.  If you’re able to show the type of content you share and the way in which you share it then you’ll appeal to the right event organisers.


I remember Gabby Bernstein saying that she didn’t charge for the first five years of speaking.  Now whilst you may not have to wait that long, you will need to decide where you are in your speakers journey and be realistic about what you want the outcomes to be.  If you’re just starting out as a speaker then I would recommend getting a few speaking gigs under your belt before charging.  I’ve been speaking for many years and sometimes I charge and sometimes I don’t.  It depends on the audience, the opportunity and the event. 

If you are going to charge then one thing I would recommend is be clear on your rates. I have a hidden page on my website with my rates, terms of engagement and what else I will do if I’m engaged as a speaker.  For example for paid events I’ll promote the event throughout my social channels and provide a media kit so that they can see the benefit of that.   When I’m approached for speaking gigs then I just email through the link to the page and they can decide if they are in a position to pay the fee or not.  Obviously there is discussion around it but it makes it a much easier conversation if you’ve got all the information laid out for them. 


So where to start.  There are a couple of things you can do to get started.  One of the easiest things to do is to run your own event.  This means that you could have from 5-50 people, whatever works for you and test your message and talks out.  This could be free or charged as well.  By doing this you’ll get a feel for what works for you when you’re speaking and what doesn’t.  It means that if you charge then you may get paid, even if it’s only a small amount.  It may also mean that you’re able to get testimonials for your speaker’s page.


If running an event sends you into cold sweats then it’s time to connect with others who run events and see if you’re the right type of speaker for them.  I’ve spoken in paid and unpaid workshops and events for other women who run networking groups and events and that’s worked well for me.   As an international conference speaker I also connect with those who run large scale conferences to ensure that I build a relationship with them for future events.


I secured a speaking event this year by Googling – ‘speaking opportunities in Melbourne’ and applying when I saw one that I thought was a good fit for me.  Not only did I make some awesome connects at this event but I also gained a number of new clients. The event was unpaid but is still benefiting my business today.


I saw a video on Facebook recently of someone advertising that they are open to speaking at events.  It shared some information on where they had spoken before and what they speak about.  Now you may not want to go that far (or maybe you do) but like anything in your business, if you want to build up your reputation in a certain area then you need to be out there sharing it.  Social proof it always a great way to do that.  When I get the professional photos back from places that I’ve spoken then I put them up on my social channels as well as my website to build up the social proof of what I’ve done.  I always connect it with a testimonial where I can so that there is a visual as well as praise for a job well done.  I’ve found speakers from them doing this on their social channels.


With any speaking gig I do, I have a clear goal.  The goal is convey a specific message, to connect with certain people, to entertain, educate or inspire. Know that you’re goal is and ensure that you set yourself up to be successful in achieving that goal.  I’ve worked with women who have no idea what they want to get out of the experience and therefore miss an opportunity.

Speaking is one of the quickest ways to reach a large audience in a single instant, so if it’s something you’re looking to do then I would say go for it.  If you love speaking this it’s fun and positions you in a great way.

I’d love to know - what’s your biggest fear, worry or barrier to speaking?

Suzanne Chadwick is a Business & Brand strategy coach and the CEO of The Connection Exchange providing coaching, training & events for women in business and supporting them to build their business, brand and bottom line. As an international conference speaker and trainer, Suzanne also coaches women to create the ‘Power Personal Brand’ through public speaking and Owning the Stage.  You can find and connect with Suzanne on Facebook and Twitter.