Seek Public Speaking Opportunities to Attract New Online Community Members - dummies

Seek Public Speaking Opportunities to Attract New Online Community Members

By Deborah Ng

Many online community managers are discovering the benefits of speaking opportunities. By sitting on panels or giving solo presentations at professional or educational events, they’re establishing their expertise, promoting their brand, and even creating community awareness.

Public speaking engagements aren’t as boring and stuffy as they sound. Many conferences bring in thousands of attendees who come to network with other like-minded people. What better way to draw them into your community than attending a niche-related event?

Finding speaking opportunities isn’t very difficult. Conferences and professional events post their calls for speakers on their websites. In most cases, you have to fill out an application and submit a proposal stating what you’d like to talk about.

Do searches for appropriate conferences. If you manage a community of writers, for example, look for calls for speakers for writing, journalism, and book conferences. Because you use the various social-media tools in your community outreach, it’s also appropriate to look into blogging and social-media conferences.

If you’re nervous about speaking to a crowd, get your feet wet by speaking on a panel. You can go about it in a couple of ways.

The first is to contact conference organizers and let them know that you’re interested in speaking on a panel. Tell them why you’re a good fit and the different topics you can speak about. Be sure to attach a brief professional bio so that they know your background and can put you on an appropriate panel.

You can also research appropriate conferences to find how to respond to their calls for speakers. Many list opportunities for speaking on their websites and ask for a proposal and some details about your experiences.

Most people who come to hear a public speaker aren’t doing so to receive a sales pitch. They want solid, tangible information such as how-tos or inspirational anecdotes. In short, they’re interested in learning.

It’s not uncommon for speakers to have attendees approach them after their presentations to ask questions. Use that time to network. If attendees like what they find out about you, there’s a good chance that they’re going to explore your community.

Many of the speakers at conferences are there because they have something to promote, such as a book or a business. Don’t feel bad about speaking at events to raise community awareness. As long as you’re not pushing the hard sell, speaking for that reason is okay.