In response to the several comments I received about how a business owner can become a local speaker and topic expert, I will share some of what I have learned, and post more as I find resources to pass along.
A wonderful resource for me a number of years ago was Toastmasters International. This is one of the best ways to improve as a communicator – even if you don’t speak outside of your organization. It is inexpensive and has a great program in place which accepts anyone at whatever level they are, and with a tried-and-true plan to improve through ongoing talks.
As you develop your skills in communicating, work on your message. What is it about your topic (which relates to your business) that is interesting to others, and can help them with their business needs? Ask others close to you for their input. Try for three topics. When you have more than one “canned talk” – you do start to become a subject matter expert. People who hear you learn that you are well-versed in several areas and not just someone who can memorize a speech.
Finally, being interactive is the best way to present. No one likes to listen to a talking head. Find ways to interact with the audience. I gave an example of doing an assessment at my last speaking engagement. Think of other ways you can involve the audience – a show of hands or by asking a couple of questions to get audience input.
There is always more combined knowledge in the room than in anyone person – including the speaker. Help facilitate the sharing of knowledge and by doing this, you help people connect to one another, which is another bonus of the service you provide as a local presenter.