Strategies for Maximizing Your Next Speaking Engagement Before, During and After

Strategies for Maximizing Your Next Speaking Engagement Before, During and After

Landing a speaking engagement can be an incredible boost for a thought leader. Not only does it provide a platform to elevate your brand, but a speaking engagement is also a chance to demonstrate your expertise, promote your business or sell your latest product to a group of peers. So if you’ve landed a speaking gig, it’s imperative to make the most of these valuable opportunities. Even though the engagement itself may only last a few hours, you can do plenty in the days surrounding the event to maximize its impact.


Before the Event

The days and weeks before your speaking engagement is your opportunity to prepare. That includes dialing in your presentation and spreading the word about your participation. You can break these activities down into three categories.


Prepare & Practice

Your first task should be preparing a compelling and relevant presentation and practicing your speech until you’ve mastered it. It won’t be easy to make an impression if your remarks aren’t well thought out or if you are constantly fumbling over your words. Try recording your practice sessions, which can be an excellent tool for self-critique and a fantastic way to create content you can use in your promotional efforts. If you’re moderating a panel discussion as part of your engagement, use this time to learn the topic thoroughly and research the other panel members to develop your line of questioning. For more speech prep, listen to Carmie McCook’s PR Talk episode.


Network with Other Presenters

If your speaking engagement is part of a larger conference or trade event, you should spend some time networking with fellow presenters. Most likely, you’re working in the same industry serving the same people, so you may find opportunities to create complimentary content. You may also discover opportunities to co-promote your appearances through podcast interviews, blog content, social media posts or other efforts leading up to the event. At the very least, reaching out to fellow presenters is a great way to build new relationships with other industry leaders that could turn into new opportunities down the road.  


Promote to Your Audience

Promoting your speaking engagement with your audience is also critical, which is easy enough if you’re an influencer, consultant, or small business owner. Start by sharing the details on social media, and include your contact information in the posts. You could also write a blog post, record a podcast episode on the topic you’ll be speaking about, or be a guest on another podcast. The goal isn’t necessarily for your audience to attend the event. Instead, you can use this speaking engagement as an opportunity to demonstrate your expertise within your professional community.

If you’re speaking at an event on behalf of your employer, promotion could take a little more work. You can still share details on your social accounts, but it would be ideal for your employer to share your event with its audience as well. So don’t forget to notify the social team about the details and leave enough time to complete whatever internal approval processes are in place.

Mike and Amy Podcast Presentation

During the Event

The speaking engagement is short, so making the most of this limited time is critical. Here are three areas to focus on whether you’re keynoting an industry gathering, speaking at a community event or hosting an online webinar. 


Create Promotional Content

You’ve put a lot of work into preparing your presentation, so look for creative ways to reuse that content. Make sure someone is recording your speech to use that content later. A 45-minute presentation can break down into dozens of shorter clips you can use on social media for months and years to come. If you’re attending an event, post to social media about your involvement, record content with other presenters or go live to give your audience a seat at the table.  


Have a Call to Action

Don’t forget to include something your audience can request or take away after your remarks are over. Maybe it’s a free chapter of your book, a helpful whitepaper or even a simple request to subscribe to your podcast. Including a call to action in your remarks, even just in the introduction, is a great way to build an email list you can use to promote your activities later. But remember, the audience isn’t there for a sales pitch, so your call to action should never come at the expense of your presentation.


Make Yourself Available

Your job is not over once your speech ends. So plan on networking with other presenters and organizers at the event. Making these connections will help you get invited back in the future but may also lead to other opportunities. If the media is covering your industry event, make yourself available to journalists as well. Most importantly, take time to engage with other attendees. You’re there as a resource for people who are paying to attend, so go to the happy hours and parties and support other speakers. Answer questions when you can and help make connections. This valuable networking can help with career development and new business generation.

After the Event

Sometimes the most valuable activities can happen in the days and weeks after your speaking engagement ends. However, this depends on how well you follow up with potential new opportunities.


Conduct Follow Up

Executing whatever deliverables you promised attendees as part of your call to action is critical. That means sending out your book chapters, whitepapers or whatever to the attendees who want them. If you have another speaking engagement lined up, this is a great time to include those details so you can continue building your audience. 

It’s also important to follow up on all those business cards you undoubtedly collected. This step could be as easy as sending a LinkedIn invitation with an accompanying note or reaching out with an email suggesting potential next steps. This phase is where you begin laying the groundwork for future activities.


Share What You Learned

Your existing audience is probably also wondering how your speaking engagement went, so you should provide an update by writing a blog or recording a podcast after the event ends. Recapping the broader event and sharing what you learned can be a great approach because your audience would probably find that information particularly valuable. Giving event organizations and other attendees plenty of love in your social media posts is also appropriate and can go a long way towards potentially being asked back.


Request Feedback

Asking event organizers to share any feedback they collected on your presentation is another crucial task to add to your to-do list. While critical feedback may sting a bit, it can offer you guidance on improving your presentation skills. You can also use the positive feedback you receive in your marketing materials as you promote yourself for future speaking engagements.


The Centerpiece of Your Marketing

Speaking engagements are a fantastic way to boost your brand and industry reputation, and they can also play an important role in driving new business. But it takes careful planning and execution to maximize these benefits beyond the day of the event. By networking with other event speakers, treating your presentation as a valuable piece of marketing collateral and following through with potential opportunities, you can turn a speaking engagement into the hub of your marketing activities. 

How to Beat Speech Anxiety with Carmie McCook [Podcast]

How to Beat Speech Anxiety with Carmie McCook [Podcast]

Palms Sweaty, Knees Weak, Arms Heavy…How to Beat Speech Anxiety with Carmie McCook

Whether you’re a student, intern or CEO, there will come a time when you must speak in front of an audience, which can be intimidating. As humans we tend to immediately think of all the things that could go wrong like tripping on stage or the audience laughing at us. So, we overcompensate and write boring word-for-word scripts and over-explain simple subjects. But if that doesn’t work, how can we successfully beat speech anxiety?

On today’s episode of the PR Talk podcast, Amy sits down with Executive Communications Coach Carmie McCook. She emphasizes why speaking well is an important career booster, gives tips for easing on-stage nerves, and shares how she built her confidence over the years.

A Slow Moving Boat, Not a Train

Carmie says she was shy as a little girl and didn’t have the best childhood or support system. Her father was extremely negative and regularly pointed out her flaws, so she felt undeserving and had low confidence. It wasn’t until the 6th grade that anyone used her name and the word “amazing” in the same sentence. Carmie’s teacher had encouraged her to answer questions in class and show the world what she had to offer. So, Carmie said she became a little bit of an actress and started to speak and act as confidently as her teacher did. She helped her peers with their student government campaigns and received tons of praise for her talents.

Saying “she was a slow-moving boat, not a train,” Carmie’s confidence steadily grew but she didn’t become a public speaking coach overnight. Going to college for broadcast communications at Georgia State, Carmie tried her hand at being a journalist. While it ended up not being the job for her, it led her to produce commercials and prep CEOs for their lines on camera. Today she trains clients from all over the world to overcome their fears and become excellent public speakers.


Most Common Mistakes 

Carmie has seen her fair share of public speaking slip-ups, but notes the three most important things to avoid when giving a speech.

  1. Lack of energy – Nobody wants to listen to a monotone presentation. If the presenter looks bored, the audience will get bored.
  2. Writing a script – Reading off a sheet of paper may feel safer when in front of an audience, but it ruins the connection aspect which will lessen the impact of your speech.
  3. Over-explaining – You don’t want your audience to lose interest because you rambled too long. Leave room for questions at the end for further discussion.

Amy points out that today a lot of speeches must be done virtually and asks Carmie what mistakes she’s seen on Zoom lately. Carmie says the list goes on…

  1. Poor lighting – Be sure to find front-facing lighting and avoid shadows across your face.
  2. Bad camera angles – Don’t look down at the camera, make sure to raise it up so you can stand tall and not slouch down.
  3. Distracting backgrounds – Prepare your background so it’s clean and simple.
  4. Slack clothing – Would you wear that to the office? No? Then change into something more professional.


Put Your Best Foot Forward and Keep it Out of Your Mouth 

It’s clear that speech anxiety can get the best of us and mistakes can easily be made, so Amy asked Carmie what tips she has for getting over public speaking nerves. Carmie first emphasizes that we need to act natural and be honest above all else, but adds a few tips to keep in mind.

  1. Calm down
  2. Stop comparing yourself to others
  3. Focus on the things you can do and not what you can’t 
  4. Less is best

When you’re on stage or in front of a camera and realize you are rambling a bit, just stop, admit you could explain your point more simply, smile and go on. If you completely blank out in the middle of your sentence, just say that you lost your train of thought and hopefully you can find it later on, laugh and go on. No one expects a speaker to be perfect, we are all human and everyone makes mistakes. 


An Investment in Public Speaking is An Investment in Your Future Career

So now that we know how to beat speech anxiety, Amy wanted to learn how speaker training and purposeful storytelling affect the bottom line. Carmie explained that communication and connection lead to sales. Your company could have the best product on the market, but if you can’t connect or relate to your customers, you won’t be successful. Carmie says she likes to live by this quote by Warren Buffet: “If you learn to communicate clearly and succinctly, I guarantee you will make at least 50% more in your lifetime.” 

Amy and Carmie also discuss the differences between media interviews versus public speaking engagements, how to prepare for a speech and give more tips to build confidence. Listen to the full episode to invest in your future career! 


Don’t Miss an Episode

You can access more great episodes by subscribing to the PR Talk podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio and Spotify.

About the guest: Carmie McCook

Carmie McCook is an internationally respected public speaking and media interview expert. She has taught thousands of business professionals and other individuals how to become more dynamic, engaging, and persuasive speakers for any media interview, B2B presentation, or public speaking event. Using her techniques, Carmie’s clients have won major competitive contracts, launched new products globally, received promotions, secured funding, handled tough questions from TV reporters, appeared on news programs, responded credibly in crisis situations, and enjoyed standing ovations after giving a speech.

Connect and follow Carmie on social media:

Carmie McCook on PR Talk

This episode of PR Talk is brought to you by PRSA Oregon

Throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington, PRSA provides members with networking, mentorship, skill building and professional development opportunities – whether you are a new professional fresh out of college or a skilled expert with 20 years in the industry. Check out for more information on how membership can help you grow and connect.