Chances are your organization has a great story to share with the world. Perhaps it's a new product or service, or some new perspective on your industry or the world at large. Let's face it: getting the attention your organization deserves amidst all the noise in your industry isn't easy. That's why many organizations have implemented thought leadership programs.
Getting recognized as an industry expert is at the core of thought leadership. It's about positioning yourself and your organization at a higher level of dialog where you can interact more strategically with your clients.
One of the key attributes of real thought leaders is their ability not just to drive new ideas, but their experience in putting this knowledge into practice. There is a movement among marketing departments to better personify the people who deliver value for customers at all levels of the organization. These are the employees that can deliver compelling stories that engage their industry. As more employees seek to build their personal brand, this opens up many new possibilities for thought leadership programs that go beyond standard executive visibility programs that focus on the C-suite. A whole new model of thought leadership is putting increased emphasis on corporate speaking programs. Here are seven reasons why:
Why should you have a corporate speaking program?
1. Generate new leads. There is simply no better way to establish expertise, leadership, and reputation while communicating a company's message to its most influential audiences.
Doing this with a high density of potential prospects in the room has obvious benefits for high-quality lead generation. Speaking often results in thousands of dollars of "free" advertising for each speaker at each event.
2. Build brand. Speaking affords an excellent opportunity to position and sustain key messages for the organization's brand with audiences. Having the opportunity to discuss interesting areas such as market research, best practices, key trends, and customer case studies from the podium remains the most impactful method of brand-building with audiences. Unlike many forms of media, speaking at key events can provide enormous value as they bring vital constituencies together in one room. Visibility at these events puts a face on the company, disseminates important messages tailored to the audience, and builds the profile of the organization.
3. Generate visibility with media and analysts. Many conferences work hard to have media and analysts in attendance. Almost all speaking opportunities lead to interviews with traditional and social media, either on site or post event. Speakers' podium appearances and off-stage interviews are the primary source for the research and stories that come out of these events.
4. Recruit talent. In most industries there is a talent war for the best job candidates. Given conferences and events are primary vehicles for networking, it's no secret that they afford excellent opportunities to engage top talent. Positioning your speakers on stage as thought leaders is a proven way to gain the visibility of top candidates and educate them on the benefits of joining your organization.
5. Develop leadership skills. Speaking is perhaps the most powerful instrument for personal and professional skills development. Being a good speaker is a must-have skill that requires continuous improvement for leaders. The reason we speak is the same reason teachers love to teach. They enjoy giving back and seeing what happens when they impart their knowledge. Speaking makes us better teachers, better managers, and, in turn, better leaders.
6. Content creation. The act of public speaking also forces one to commit to a position as a thought leader and, over time, yields a powerful body of published work that can be repurposed in other online, audio, and print media. Conference presentations can help form the basis of a solid inbound content strategy that builds further brand visibility.
7. Contribution to community. When speaking, we have the ability to change lives. Within our own local communities and our professional communities of practice we are looking to positively influence the people that are coming up through the ranks in our industries and changing lives. For instance, through guest lectures in educational settings, speaking is an excellent way to mentor many people at once. It is in fact a model of "scalable mentorship" whereby one is able to educate, motivate, and inspire larger audiences.
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Peter Evans is the co-founder and CEO of Speakerfile, an online marketplace connecting experts and events. Evans has 20 years experience in software, Internet services, online media, and telecommunications. An accomplished corporate speaker on strategy and marketing, he also has extensive experience as a producer of tradeshows and conferences. He holds an MBA degree from Queen's University.
June 5, 2013
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