The power of speech

Professional speakers can offer a compelling, motivating message, and they do so for a living. Prepared talks are the mainstay of many conferences and have enjoyed a renaissance thanks to new formats like TED’s 20-minute talks.

Many professional speakers also combine speaking with consulting, particularly though in-house arrangements with corporations. For example, Merlin Mann built his reputation as a blogger and now offers talks and consults to companies that want to improve their productivity.

A variation of this business model is to offer workshops, which typically focus on smaller groups and include hands-on activities and close, personal interaction with the instructor. We’ve dabbled in this arena ourselves, by offering workshops on user experience design (“User Experience 101” and “Practical Usability Testing”).

Well-delivered talks and workshops can be powerful, engrossing learning experiences. They often get high ratings from participants and can earn thousands of dollars in revenue.

So what’s the problem?

First, there’s pricing. Because the speaker has to appear in person (often requiring travel), talks, conferences, and workshops often charge registration fees of hundreds or even thousands of dollars. That can be a major barrier to entry.

What’s more, attending a live event may inspire you for a day or give you some great new ideas. But this approach still doesn’t provide accountability or support for actually implementing the concepts once the event is over. A speaker might connect — powerfully — to 200 people in an auditorium for an hour, but that’s the last they’ll see of her.

Embrace and extend…

You can use ruzuku to complement and extend your speaking in several ways.

With our “UX 101” workshop, we created a “follow-up” course on ruzuku. Everyone who signed up for the workshop enrolled in the online course and received weekly summaries of key ideas from the workshop along with links to additional resources. Students could post questions and comments as they began to apply the ideas from the workshop into their own work.

Creating this kind of follow-up online activity can help you increase the value of your speaking engagements and workshops, allowing you to increase prices or enrollment.

Another approach is to create a distance-learning offer, based on your existing speaking or workshop content. You might have yourself recorded and then pull out audio or video clips to include on ruzuku. You could also consider offering scheduled webinars combined with resources and discussion on ruzuku. Angela Maiers has had success with this hybrid approach in her course on Digital Literacy.

Speaking engagements and workshops are a great way to initiate contact and generate ideas, but ultimately, they lack follow-through with your audience. By bringing the topics and discussions along to ruzuku, you can keep your conversation and content active for much longer, adding continued life and vibrancy to your brand.