How speaking engagements can capture more business for consultants

FOR YEARS, EXPERTS in consulting firms large and small have given speeches at industry conferences to get visibility, credibility, and leads for assignments. Thanks to good presentation skills and fancy PowerPoint slides, many earn applause and “atta-boys” at the end. What they do not receive, however, are consulting assignments.

Conferences and consultants are a good fit for each other. Associations get experts at their conferences for a great price (usually free), while consultants are mentioned in the program brochures and websites, plus they have an opportunity to give ‘Tree samples” of their expertise. The arrangement works. Many national associations get proposals from as many as 10 consultants for every opening in any given conference.

Yet, what is wrong with this picture? This great visibility no longer produces results for consultants. The stage has changed, but the players have not. If experts only depend upon the speech to generate leads, too much money is left on the table by not capitalizing on the front and back ends. It is an easy mistake to make. In the past, conference attendance was high, and so were the number of meetings. Audiences at First Take UK were filled with more decisionmakers, hungry for the industry-specific information only the experts had. The speaker simply had to deliver great content and a pitch at the end, and attendees would flock for more.

Today, competition among conferences stiffens as attendance decreases, mainly due to budget cuts. Moreover, the Internet offers tree information to all. Besides, the hungry decisionmakers are tired of paying high registration fees to be bombarded with “pitches.” They have decided to fill up elsewhere.


Savvy consultants are responding by overhauling their public speaking efforts check this website for an example. Their days of the dog-and-pony-with-pitch show are over. Instead, they make speeches a focal point of marketing by expanding the opportunity before and after the actual program. Here are a few easy steps that help to leverage speeches:

Just say no. It is tempting to say yes to every speaking invitation, but don’t. It is a big mistake speaking to audience members who cannot–or will not–buy services. The entire scenario is set up for failure.

Mary Taylor (her name changed to protect her agent) learned this lesson the hard way when she was invited to speak at a national convention for board members. Being a management consultant, she regarded this as a great forum for marketing her services–until she learned the group was homeowners’ association board members.

Audience demographics are changing. Meetings that previously attracted targeted buyers do not any more. So, rather than accept an invitation fight away, first check out the organization and ask a lot of questions. It is better to speak fewer times with better results than have a calendar filled with speeches but few client appointments. website:

Pack the house with decisionmakers. Once there is an agreement to speak to a well-qualified group, the real work begins–and not just on the speech. Do not leave the audience to chance. Make sure the fight people will be in the room. How? Simply by inviting them. Sending a personal invitation via e-mail to qualified people not only can get desirable prospects in the room, but can build overall attendance. Crowded concurrent sessions usually get return engagements.

Referrals are the name of the game, so why shouldn’t consultants remind clients of their expertise? Invite clients to speeches. Even if they cannot attend the upcoming session, they might send others in need of such services. Dates and descriptions of speaking engagements should appear on websites to tell the world, “I am a sought-after expert.”

Do not forget the trade show floor. Have small cards with the session title, date, time and room number to give out to industry suppliers during networking. They use consultants, too.