Politicians, scholars and business people alike have known for ages that the most effective way to spread a message and persuade people is through public speaking. Even with the advent of webinars and streaming videos, speaking live on stage to an audience reigns supreme. You only need to go to trade shows, industry conferences, TED talks, continuing education courses or political conventions to realize that this media is still king.
The powerful tool of public speaking is perfectly suited for fitness professionals looking to grow their business. It costs nothing other than time. Most importantly, it meshes with a common value that most all fitness professionals have: to spread a message of the benefits of fitness to the masses who so desperately need our help.
Unfortunately, many fitness professionals are failing to take advantage of the power of public speaking. Not knowing where to speak, how to set up engagements, what to say or how to translate your speaking gig into paying clients are the biggest obstacles holding most people back. Let’s address these issues to unleash this powerful client acquisition tool to grow your business.
Find your target
The first thing to do to get started is to determine where you are going to speak. Philanthropic organizations near your business are the perfect places to start, such as Rotary, Kiwanis or Lions Clubs. Almost all of these organizations meet weekly and are often looking for a speaker at each meeting. Mom’s clubs, men’s clubs, PTAs, church groups and networking groups are also great options.
Local businesses can also be excellent options. Progressive businesses are always looking for a cost-effective and inspirational wellness initiative; having a local fitness expert to present is a perfect fit. A basic Google search or asking your existing clients is a great way to find businesses to target.
Get the connection
Now that you have the target list assembled, you have to find the key contact at each organization. Contacts who will book the speaking gigs are easily obtained on the website of the philanthropic organizations or clubs. Otherwise, a simple phone call, email or reaching out through social media will be best to indicate that you are looking for connections to book a speaking engagement.
Get the gig
Now you have to connect with your contact and start scheduling your speaking engagements. Having a simple spreadsheet is invaluable here, as multiple contact attempts are often necessary. Consider using the 2x2x2 method for connecting with your targets: two emails, two phone calls, within two weeks. Of course, you can substitute other forms of communication, like Facebook or LinkedIn messages or even a simple letter. Just remember that, like most of us, people are very busy and may forget to respond or miss your messages altogether, so following up is important.
Once you make the connection, be sure to swiftly schedule a date. This will require you to be flexible, as many of the organizations have very specific and limited times available for such events.
After you schedule a date, set a reminder to follow up with your contact a couple weeks prior to the event to confirm the details. This prevents any miscommunication and embarrassment about double bookings, changed locations or not having the requested audio-visual (AV) equipment.
What to say
The R.P.S. formula is essential to craft a presentation that will deliver results: establish Rapport, build the Problem and provide your unique Solution.
Always start by establishing rapport with your audience. Few people will listen to you unless they like you, or at least find you interesting. Expressing gratitude and excitement for the opportunity to address the audience is always a good touch as well.
Next, start building the problem, which is not hard to do when speaking about health and fitness. Rather than bog people down with obesity rates or low back pain stats, try a tactic called “entering the conversation in their head.” This involves finding out what is going on in the minds of your audience and speaking to that. A great way to do this is to engage the audience and have them help build the problem. For example, ask them: “We all know that exercising and eating right are important, but why is it that people struggle to exercise and eat right?” If you’ve been training clients, it won’t be hard for you to predict what answers they will provide. Anticipate their responses, and build on each problem to the point where everyone in the room is nodding their heads and craving a solution.
Presenting your unique solutions will make up the majority of your presentation. Here you’ll specifically address all the problems you’ve built by showing them proof of your solutions. This is best done through pictures and videos of your clients. Social proof is the most powerful way to show the effectiveness of your services. Backing it up with some research is effective as well. Be sure you choose examples that will resonate with your target audience. Paint a picture of who the person is, what they struggled with, and how they changed once they implemented your unique solution. Follow this up by presenting your ultimate solution to the audience: an offer for your services.
Get clients from your presentation
The key to converting your information to attaining new clients is to capture the audiences’ contact information. The best way to do this is to present a valuable, no-risk offer to them that they really want.
A great approach is to provide two different offers: your “A” and “B” offer. For your A offer, provide a free consultation and your B offer can be a free report or DVD. A simple way to present the offer is to pass out a single piece of paper, with spaces for them to provide their contact info and indicate which offer they would like.
Acquiring several offer sheets with new leads is only part of the objective. The most important thing is to make sure to follow up with these leads promptly. For consultation requests, again use the 2x2x2 approach: two calls, two emails, all in two weeks. For B offers, send out the free information within a day before their interest fades.
Consider the potential power that pubic speaking has to grow your business. If you land three speaking gigs a month with an average of 35 people in attendance and only three people at each gig sign-up for your A offer, that could translate to over 100 consultations in a year. For those who respond to your B offer, you’ll be adding hundreds of potential clients to your database. All the while, you can stay true to what we as fitness professionals believe in… spreading our message of health and fitness to those who desperately need it.
Dr. Michael Stare is a physical therapist, personal trainer, nutritionist and the owner of Spectrum Fitness Consulting, LLC in Beverly, Massachusetts. Dr. Stare presents locally to dozens of organizations and businesses, and nationally to clinicians across the country on rehabilitation, fitness and nutrition. He has built his award-winning training studio on public speaking and hopes to help others do the same. Dr. Stare can be reached at email@example.com.