If you’ve followed my blog or read my book, Speak Simple, you know that I’m a huge proponent of being prepared to speak. Most presenters mess up because they did not prepare enough and you can overcome the majority of your stage fright with proper preparation. That means spending more than an hour to prep and you should absolutely never “wing” a presentation! My suggested preparation time is 10:1, meaning you spend 10 hours preparing for a 1-hour presentation. Yes, that is a lot of time, but you have a lot at risk when presenting and a lot of potential benefits too. So what is the ROI for presentations?
Your ROI (Return On Investment) depends on a lot of factors including the type of presentation, your business, your role, and how large is the audience. I’ve coached many bid presentations where winning the project will change the company, and millions of dollars are on the line. I’ve also seen professionals earn promotions and pay raises because of their public speaking ability. When you have confidence speaking in front of others, people notice, including your boss. Those examples are fairly obvious ways to demonstrate ROI for presentations.
Let’s talk about ROI of thought leadership presentations, also known as content marketing, because many times the benefits from that type of presentations are vague, hard to calculate, and not instantaneous.
ROI of Thought Leadership Presentations:
- Get Leads – One of the more obvious ways to show the value and ROI of presenting is by getting leads from your presentation. It is rare when one of my clients or I speak and do not get a single lead. Make sure you ask for people’s business cards during your presentation and collect them from the people you speak with one-on-one after you speak. Connect with these people via LinkedIn and add them to your email list to mature those leads into qualified prospective clients.
Now a lead doesn’t guarantee an immediate sale. In fact, I have a client that is still reaping the benefits from a presentation he did over four years ago. His prospects weren’t ready to buy from him then, but they stayed engaged and contacted him to do work (even after he changed firms too).
[Next week, I’m writing about increasing your chance and the number of leads you can get from your presentations with one simple addition!]
Get Referrals – Sometimes sales don’t come from the actual lead, they come from referrals. One of the main reasons professionals refer you is that you have an expertise, and public speaking is an excellent way to showcase that expertise. According to a 2015 study on referrals, 30% of expertise-based referrals come as a result of hearing a professional speak — that is the #1 tactic of referrals!
- Showcase Expertise, which Increases Billing Rate – Multiple studies found the best ways to showcase and build one’s expertise is to write books, speaking, and keynoting. I’ve done all three and writing a book is valuable, but it takes a heck of a lot of time, much more than my 10:1 ratio.
What is interesting about these surveys is that the effectiveness of speaking and keynoting remain year after year, second only to writing books, while other tactics fluctuate in each survey. This study on expertise also states that increasing one’s perceived expertise also increases their value and billing rate. That is a huge score for ROI!
- Close the Deal – I’ve also seen presenting as an excellent way to close a deal, not just to get leads. Prospects usually consider 3-5 options and seeing you speak can seal the deal for you because you positioned yourself as the expert, showed that you’ve been down that path before, or related to them on a personal level. Instead of being just a proposal and a short fact-finding meeting, you’re now a real person that they have a relationship with thanks to your presentation. Everyone wants to work with an expert and presenting is clearly the best way to showcase your expertise.
Also, a 2016 research study of high growth professional services firms shows that speaking engagements and webinars provide the best return on effort (cost & time). Of all the marketing tactics, speaking engagements and webinars were ranked first and second, well above costly online advertising. If the fastest growing firms are utilizing presentations to grow their company, don’t you think they’re on to something special?
No, there is not an exact formula that says if you do X number of presentations to Y number of people then you’ll get Z in return. However, I believe I’ve shown you numerous aspects to get strong ROI from your presentations, both short-term and long-term.
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How Speak Simple Can Help You
Win more work, increasing your billing rate, and prospects coming to you are all results of being a good presenter. Erica Olson created Speak Simple to help technical professionals to become comfortable presenting and excel at each presentation, whether a bid presentation or an educational, content marketing presentation. Learn more about Speak Simple’s flagship program is SpeakU, a self-guided presentation training program.