Over the last two months I have discussed the use of video and article marketing in growing your business. This month, I am going to focus on public speaking, which is a great complement to the work that you have done during the past two months.


Public speaking

Public speaking is the easiest way to position yourself as the expert in a specific industry. Of course, this assumes that you do not have a fear of public speaking.

If you do have a fear of speaking, then I highly recommend joining a local chapter of Toastmasters International. The goal of Toastmasters is to help you develop your skill at public speaking. You will learn how to craft a talk as well as how to deliver your talk effectively.

Because you are speaking to a small group, it is relatively easy to overcome your fear, and the longer you are in the group the easier it gets to speak.

The reason that this is such a valuable tool is that there are numerous organizations that are always in need of someone to speak for 15 to 30 minutes on a subject that would be of interest to their members. There are all of the civic groups such as Kiwanis, Optimists, Lions and Rotary; then there are the professional associations such as the Society for Human Resource Management and the Association of Practicing Certified Public Accountants, as well as many others.

Just about any topic relating to employee benefits and/or health insurance would be of value to these organizations. You simply contact the local chapters of these organizations and let them know that you are available to speak and the offers will come flooding in.


Why speak?

A funny thing happens when you speak - you are immediately perceived as an expert. As soon as you conclude your talk and answer a few questions, everyone in attendance will want your opinion about something pertaining to their own situation.

This image as the expert on employee benefits makes it easy to convert attendees into appointments. And it matters not at all whether your talk is a 10-minute talk or a three-hour talk. Regardless, your audience will think that you are someone worth meeting with.


Topic ideas

The list of topics can be endless. Some of the potential topics available to you are:

* COBRA - changes and challenges

* HIPAA and how it affects businesses

* Health Savings Accounts and Health Reimbursement Accounts - the key to cost control

* Medicare prescription coverage and employers

* The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and your business

* Solving the employer's No. 1 challenge

* Benefit communication and employee morale

* Shopping the agent, not the insurance, and why

* Disability income as an employee benefit

The list can be virtually endless, limited only by your imagination. But the more talks in your portfolio the more often you can return to the same venue.

With each return visit your credibility rises. Soon, you are getting calls from employers who have heard you talk and want to have you help them with their benefit plans.


Instructions for speakers

Make a list of all of the venues in your community or market where you can speak. Several possible venues are civic clubs, chamber events and business trade associations.

It is a simple matter to make contact and ask if they are ever in need of a speaker. You can open the conversation by explaining that you are a specialist in employee benefits (or LTC or disability income, etc.) and that you have put together an educational seminar on the topic.

Prepare one or two talks that you can give tomorrow. You want to be ready to accept an invitation to talk immediately. If you do not have a couple of prepared talks you will panic at the thought of putting one on tomorrow.

Also be sure to build a prospect-specific website focused on topics that will be of interest to non-clients.

Then, write a short white paper on your topic. Having a white paper ready to go will help you collect business cards from attendees.

As you create your talk it is important to keep in mind that, while you want to educate your audience, your main objective is to generate leads.

To effectively generate high-quality leads you must do two things effectively. First, seed your talks with examples of how your ideas helped specific clients. Second, prepare to end your talk with a call to action.

Seeding your talk is one of the most important skills that you can learn. Without effective "seeding" it is likely that your talk will not result in any opportunities.

A seed is a story about how you used a piece of information to help a client achieve a goal. As an example, imagine that I am talking to you about Health Savings Accounts and how they incentivize employees to actually shop their health care, resulting in lower claims. Because I do not believe in the use of the debit cards I might say something along these lines:

"So our goal is to create an incentive for employees to apply good judgment to the use of money in their account. Well, a lot of agents include a debit card in their HSA plan design, but that actually defeats the goal of making an employee think about their spending. By eliminating the debit card in one of my newer accounts we saw accounts actually increase because when employees had to write a check for their services they were forced to recognize the dollars that were being spent. This one change resulted in significantly lower claims."

If I do not use an actual example my audience will fail to see how this might apply to their situation.

A call to action is the most important piece of your talk. Attendees will not make the effort to call you after the meeting, and simply gathering business cards based on a drawing will not identify high-quality prospects. If you have prepared your white paper, your call to action should sound like this:

"OK, If you would like my free report on 'Controlling Health Insurance Premiums with Consumer Driven Healthcare' take out your business card and write 'paper' on the back. If you would like me to contact you to discuss how some of these ideas can work for you, write 'contact' on the back."

It is critical that you get permission to do this prior to accepting the speaking engagement.

I always make this a requirement of any speaking engagement that I accept. Everyone that hands you a business card is now an interested prospect. Your follow-up should yield some really good appointments.

It should be relatively easy to procure one or two talks per month. These two talks will ultimately generate a steady flow of high quality prospects that will be easy to convert into clients.


Schlesinger, RHU, REBC, teaches other agents how to build a successful practice while working less than 40 hours per week. His Get More Group Clients marketing system was designed to teach benefit professionals how to grow their business and differentiate themselves from the competitor. He is president of the National Association of Health Underwriters and can be reached at (336) 777-3938 or emailed at mel@melschlesinger.com. You can also visit getmoregroupclients.com.

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