Archive for December, 2010

Training & Workshops

Many therapists report gaining a number of referrals from doing public speaking – I know I did.  It certainly wasn’t easy at first. I felt nauseous, my hands and voice were shaking – it was really pretty awful.  Then I remembered something a friend who did public speaking for a living once said to me.  She told me to let my audience know how I was feeling. WHAT!?

Yes, that’s exactly what I did because she was so successful and I trusted her wisdom so much, I simply said, “You’ll have to excuse me tonight – this is my first time on this topic and I am really quite nervous, so please be kind <smile>.  Amazingly, it worked. I found that audiences are for the most part very kind.  Afterward, many people came up to me and told me I shouldn’t be nervous, that I did very well, and how much they enjoyed it.

It also made me relax considerably and view these people much more as friends than people to be feared. Another thing I learned is that it takes practice to get better. Simple, eh? But so true. Each time I gave my talk, I got better. After about 10 times of the same parenting talk, I felt I could branch out into other areas. I picked one I enjoyed and felt I knew a lot about, Spirituality and Psychology,” and started promoting it. I contacted all of the people I had names and addresses of from previous talks – a reminder by the way – keep a signup sheet to build your mailing list – had a flier created, or you can use a template to create your own.  There are so many options out there today.  I had the money so I had mine professionally done. Because I was just starting out, I wanted to create the best impression possible.

Finding a venue was easy because I had a track record, but if I didn’t, I would have started with the public library, churches, or bookstores, especially the small community ones. Have a list of books ready for them on the topic that they can display and sell.  If you do the work for them, they will be very appreciative and more likely to have you back because you are demonstrating that you are a professional and understand what they need.

Learning the tricks and tools of public speaking isn’t hard. There are places like toastmasters, etc. that help greatly. I found a video that I think is especially helpful, more than any I’ve seen, so I’ll share it with you here:


Unfortunately, I can’t embed it, but if you click the link it will take you there.

So, what about results?  Why go through all the torture and work of preparation? Well, it works! My first awkward performance, I got one referral. The second a few more and by the 10th I was getting at least 5 clients from each speaking engagement. Now, they all didn’t rush up to me afterward and beg for an appointment. But over the next couple of months, I was able to identify 5 people from the talk.

Now what is that worth? Figuring ROI (return on investment) means taking what you spent and subtracting it from what you take in. So, what is one client worth? If you charge $125 and the average number of sessions is 10 is $1250. If you have 25 people at your presentation (my average) with 5 clients is $6250.  After the first talk and the initial preparation, which takes more time and you make less profit, what you do is begin to build a repertoire. Post it on your directory listing. On Find-a-Therapist.com, you can add a 2 – 3 minute video “teaser” about your next presentation as well. You can write an article that we’ll publish on our blog about the subject and mention that the public can hear you at your upcoming event at such and such a place and time.

Doing an event a month can net you approximately $6,000; 2 a month is $12,000. Remember, all the while you’re getting better, building your repertoire, knowing what your audience receives well – all the while your referrals are growing and your regular practice income is growing. If your making $10,000 a month on speaking, you can afford to hire a part time virtual assistant or an assistant that comes to your home or office and takes care of the details for you, leaving you free to research more, create more, write more, put more presentations  together.

Again, this won’t happen overnight.  But, if you apply yourself faithfully, as if you were taking a class you had to pass, I would estimate that in 3 years you will be at that level of income from your speaking. Do the research in your community. What self help books are selling? What speakers are being booked?  What is Oprah talking about on her show?  What is in the news again and again (ex. child abuse).

Taking this approach also helps you build your person to person networking and it helps you build your niche.  With each presentation, you will meet people in higher status positions, build better connections, and your more affluent data base will grow.

The are many articles about what you bring with you to your presentation, how you market once you are there, how you build your lists, so I won’t go into that here. You can do that research; it will almost fall into your lap.

For most therapists this is a quiet time of the year. So, let this be a start for you on making your 3 year public speaking plan.  Get a buddy who will commit themselves to doing it with you. If you’re appointment book is not as full as you want, use the free time productively. If you have questions, join www.TherapyNetworking.com – its free – and we’ll try to answer them on this topic specifically. Most importantly, treat the awkward times as learning experiences and practice sessions – don’t let them discourage you.

I wish you a year of good public speaking!

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