Use Your Words: Building Your Online Presence

Moo cards for blogging workshop
Image by Mexicanwave via Flickr

Today on Use Your Words we talked about how to create an online presence that helps with getting speaking engagements! It was a great show, and I encourage you to listen to the whole thing right here! Remember that every Tuesday at noon EST I host a BlogTalkRadio show about speaking and writing, where you can send questions, and I’ll answer them on the air! Do try to join me, or you can always listen to the shows after the fact.

A few highlights from today’s show:

1. Before a publisher will buy a book today, they want to know that the writer has a “platform”. And what’s a platform? It’s the reach that person has, the number of people that the writer reaches through speaking engagements, traditional media, and social media. It’s the number of people who are already interested in what you have to say!

You can build that platform online. Even if you’re not on TV or the radio, or you don’t do too much speaking yet, if you gain a lot of Twitter followers and interested Facebook Fans, then you’re doing well!

Before you start blogging and trying to gain these followers, though, think about what your purpose is. If you want to reach moms, make sure you blog and write and tweet about being a mom. Don’t blog and write and tweet about too much other stuff. If you want to write devotionals, then blog and write and speak about inspiring things. Try to brand yourself so that people will consider you a resource in a particular area.

2. Online media won’t necessarily get you speaking engagements because it’s too broad. It’s not geographically specific. You still need to do the traditional work to generate bookings that we’ve been talking about on this blog! What it will do, though, is make it more likely that those who get your name as a recommendation will ultimately contact you. Usually when people hear about you, they check you out online. If you have a lot written online in the area that you want to speak about, it makes potential organizers more likely to contact you.

Today Teri-Lynne Underwood joined us on Use Your Words to tell us how she has used video and Facebook to develop a following! Teri Lynne is just starting with speaking, but she’s doing all the right groundwork to help build her platform now. You can find her at her blog, Pleasing to You, and at her Facebook Page, Pleasing to You.

Do listen to the show to get inspired, and energized. Yes, you can do this, too!

And if you want to take this one step further, and learn how to build your Twitter followers, how to create a blog in a particular niche and attract readers, and how to use Facebook effectively, listen to my teleseminar or sign  up for my Building Your Online Presence E-Course!

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What Are Your Ummmm, You knows?

sheila-speaking1Ummmm…
You know…
Right…
Okay?
Uh….

We all do it. We all have our “filler” words that we throw in frequently when we’re on mental pause. It’s normal.

But when you throw them in while you’re public speaking it sounds horrible, unprofessional, and distracting.

I know that’s brutal, but it’s the truth. I’ve just spent the day editing audio on some older talks that I’ve given, and I’ve made them much better! But one thing I did was delete a ton of “you know”s. You know?

We don’t realize we’re saying it quite often. The only way to tell is to actually listen to a recording of yourself. It’s difficult to do! I don’t even like reading my published work because I’ll always find something that I would have edited differently. Listening to yourself speak is even worse.

But if you’re going to move up to the next level, you have to do it!

Once you realize what your particular quirk is, it’s easier to avoid doing it.

Here are some other tips:

1. Practice. Say your speech out word for word. We mostly commonly throw in those little phrases when we’re unsure of where we’re going next. The more you’ve actually spoken your talk out loud, the better.

2. Get comfortable with silence. If you need to collect your thoughts, it is so much better just to say nothing at all. A three second pause will not bother the audience, even if it seems like an eternity to you. It actually makes you sound cool and collected and not nervous at all. Someone who talks non-stop sounds nervous; someone who makes dramatic pauses sounds comfortable. So if you’re not sure, or if you want to emphasize something, don’t just throw out these inane time fillers. Be quiet! It’s ever so much better.

3. Use a lot of stories. We are least likely to utter those “you knows” when we’re telling an anecdote or story, especially one that we’re comfortable telling. Even if the talk is a new one, if you’ve thrown in stories that you’ve told before, then at least that portion of the talk is familiar to you.

People relate better to stories, anyway, and they remember things better. So try to sprinkle as many anecdotes as will fit throughout your talk. You’re less likely to say “ummm” if you know the story. You’re more likely to say it if you’re just stringing a bunch of thoughts together and you’re not certain where it’s leading!

So figure out what your own time fillers are. It’s crucial to know. And then learn to bite your tongue! You’ll immediately sound more professional and more comfortable!

Want to learn more about creating a speaking ministry? Get my audio download, Launch Your Speaking Ministry!

So….How Do I Get Bookings?

If you want to be a speaker, this is the proverbial question.

You’ve honed up your speaking skills. You’ve carefully crafted a talk that inspires change. But now where do you give that talk?

Several organizations are often eager to have speakers, foremost among them Stonecroft Christian Women’s Clubs and MOPS groups. If you’re male, and you want to speak, I would personally start at men’s prayer breakfasts.

These organizations don’t really pay. You’re lucky if you get $50. But what you do get is exposure.

So I encourage you to seek out the MOPS groups (Mothers of Preschoolers) or the Christian Women’s Clubs in your area. MOPS are obviously looking for parenting & marriage topics; Christian Women’s Clubs are looking for testimonies with a salvation message. If you attend a few meetings you’ll get a feel for it, and then you can approach the organizer.

In some communities these clubs may not work. There could be barriers to entry, or they just may not be open to outside speakers as easily. But the idea is the same: locate some groups that meet regularly but don’t have a large budget for speakers. Churches or summer camps are also good for this sort of thing, especially around the holidays, when many host outreaches or special events.

What you don’t want to do, though, is to give an amazing talk, and then still have no bookings. So here is how to turn these smaller engagements into future larger engagements.

1. Make Sure They Know How To Contact You

This isn’t as hard as it sounds. Printing business cards is fairly inexpensive, and can often be done for about $50 with black and white cards. You can seek out local printers for this, or even online printers like vista. Have your email and your phone number, and a tagline that clearly states what you do: “Pointing Women to Christ”, “Speaking with Passion”, or whatever.

If you don’t want to invest the $50, another option is to have a draw during the event for some sort of prize. You can make up a beautiful gift basket that looks expensive but isn’t by buying a basket from a thrift store, and filling it with color coordinated bathroom items, or notebooks, pens, a tin of coffee, or whatever. Shop at your dollar store and see what you can come up with. Wrap with cellophane, tie a large bow, and it will look like it cost you $50, although you can easily fill a basket for $20. The key is color coordination!

Once you’ve done that, hand out paper for people to enter your draw. Ask for their name, their church (if they have one), and then have a line on there for “Do you know of other organizations looking for speakers?” And ask them to list them, with a contact name, if possible. Many women are happy to list their women’s ministry at their church. You may also get other leads.

Finally, ask them for their own email addresses if they want to hear about your future speaking engagements. DON’T SKIP THIS STEP! Sometimes someone may hear you speak, love you, but have no idea how to get in touch with you again. If you collect their email addresses and send out a newsletter once a month, with inspirational sayings and your itinerary, they can just reply to it. Now they have your contact information!

Fold the pieces of paper and pull one for the basket!

To distribute the ballots, the easiest thing is to lay them on chairs before the event begins. If the organizers are reluctant to have you do this, you can always ask for a table that you can stand behind with your basket and several of the papers across it, with pens. Certainly some will complete the ballots!

2. Record your talk

Now people can get a hold of you, and you have some leads. But you won’t be able to turn those leads into real, paying engagements unless people have a chance to hear you. So as you’re doing these early talks, record them. Often churches have this capability, but if not, a digital recorder is under $100 and is quite easy to use.

You can then edit your audio (more on that in a future blog post) to make yourself sound as professional and polished as possible.

If you have the chance to be videotaped, even better! You can post clips on YouTube of your talks, and then direct people there. You don’t even have to have your own website at this point!

Here, for instance, is how I put up a clip of a talk I gave, clearly telling people how to contact me. You can also just have an email address at the end if you don’t have a website yet. But blogs are free, so at least start one of those!

Learn more about how to generate more bookings with my audio download, How to Get Better Bookings!

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