7 Tips to Brand Yourself a Pro

There are “rules of the road” that are second nature to professional speakers. Observing these standards builds your reputation as a pro. Whether or not you receive a speaker’s fee to share your expertise, promote your business or cause, and/or talk about your book, follow these seven tips to brand yourself as a professional:

1. Make sure you have a letter of agreement. If you don’t receive one, write your own. The letter of agreement should outline the parameters of the talk–title, audience profile and size, location, time you are to begin and end, appropriate attire, fees and expenses to be paid, and terms of payment. Ask if there if an evaluation will be done – if not, ask to bring your own to hand out. If you are selling a book or offering literature, arrange in advance for a table and ask for sales support if you think you’ll need it. Remember to get the cell phone number of your on-site contact in the event of an emergency.

2. Confirm the meeting room set-up. To avoid surprises and assure your best performance, ask about the speaking area and any equipment you’ll need. What kind of microphone do you want? If wireless, be sure you have a waistband to attach the “box.” If not, do you want a long cord so you can move around? Do you require other audio-visual equipment or a flip chart and markers? Will there be a stage? That can be a problem if your style is to be on the floor with the audience. Where do you want the lectern placed? How do you want the chairs arranged? Be sure the front row isn’t set so far back that there is an energetic gap you’ll need to bridge.

3. Write your own introduction. E-mail it to the introducer in advance – and take an extra copy with you. Before you send it, read it aloud and make sure it’s conversational – that means short sentences. Include only the essential elements of your background that indicate your credibility to be addressing your topic. People can likely read about you in the program, and you want your introducer to pique their interest, not put them to sleep with a recitation of your entire professional history. You can write your intro to bring you on just the way you want, so ask the introducer not to deviate from what you’ve written.

4. Allow for unexpected travel delays. If you’re traveling by air, never book the last flight that is supposed to get you there in time. If you’re driving, leave early to accommodate road construction or other unforeseen slow-downs. Give yourself a cushion for unexpected delays.

5. Arrive at the venue early. Give yourself time to get familiar with the surroundings, test the microphone, and make sure all is in order. Envision yourself standing in front of the audience and getting the response you desire. Check in with your on-site contact so he or she knows you’re there.

6. Find out what follows your talk. If you are part of a conference, know what’s scheduled in the room after your presentation. If another speaker is scheduled, he or she needs time to set up. It is common courtesy to vacate the room at the appointed time, even if you move the adoring throngs waiting to speak with you outside the meeting room.

7. Be prompt with your follow-up. Send a thank you note and travel receipts for reimbursement within three days of returning home. Ask for copies of the evaluations. Refer a trusted colleague to speak at the next event.

(C ) Gail Larsen 2007

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