So, you’re planning your course.

You have a great idea, but you’re not really sure how people will respond to it (yet).

That makes you a little nervous.

After all, it’s one thing to ask people if they like your idea, and quite another thing to get them to actually hit the “buy” button and enroll in your course.

As a new course creator, you might have heard that one way to make your life (and your course building) a lot easier is to work one-on-one with clients.

It’s one of the best ways to get experience that can translate into a course later on.

magically-appearIt makes marketing your course easier, and it also simplifies your to-do list.

But even though the idea of working one-on-one is appealing, you may not be sure how to go about getting those clients.

It’s not like they appear out of thin air because you wished on a magic lamp.

But what if there was a way to test your audience’s reaction to the topic you’re passionate about and attract new clients at the same time?

The best way to road test your course idea

Many organizations are looking for speakers to come in and teach something to their audiences.

The good news is that there are lots of opportunities to get in front of these groups — whether it’s a non-profit looking for a subject-area expert, a networking group looking to learn something new, or a community organization specializing in your area of expertise.

To get started, look into some of the following opportunities:

  • Meetup groups
  • Chamber of Commerce networking events
  • Other local business / networking groups
  • Your local library
  • Community centers
  • Summer camps
  • Local TV or radio shows
  • And more!

While most of your speaking opportunities will be volunteer, your free speaking gigs can lead into something that will move your business forward: new clients.

start-with-freeAnd since the summer can usher in a bit of a lull – both in business and in community networking opportunities – it’s a great time to fill up your calendar for the fall.

But you might be wondering why you would just give away your expertise when the whole point of this is to find new paying clients.

How starting with “free” can end up at “paid”

There are some really good reasons to give away your time and expertise speaking to groups.

1. You create new connections

When you put yourself in front of a group of people that you might not otherwise meet, you expand your potential client pool.

Even if not everyone in the audience is your ideal client, there’s a good chance that they will remember you and refer you to friends who might need your expertise.

2. You position yourself as an expert

Speaking demonstrates that you know your subject matter quite well. And the more speaking you do, the more people will identify you as an authority and hire you.

3. You get out of your comfort zone

If you don’t speak in public often, it can feel fairly uncomfortable.

But like most skills, the more you practice, the easier it will become. Over time you’ll not only get better at speaking, but you’ll also get more comfortable in front of groups of people in general.

Your confidence will shine through in your teaching as well as your speaking. And confidence attracts business.

Now that you know how and why speaking can help you expand your client base, let’s examine how to structure your talk for maximum effect.

Structure your presentation for impact

There’s a basic structure that you can build on, one that will set you up to turn some of those talk attendees into paying clients.

Let’s break down the format, one step at a time.

Draw your listeners in

draw-them-inThe introduction is one of the most critical parts of your talk. People tend to remember the first and last things you tell them, so start strong.

It’s crucial to remember that your intro is not about you.

Instead, your intro should stress what you offer and how it benefits your audience.

So start by focusing on them. Show them you understand their problems. Give them hope for a solution.

Then you can tell them a little bit about yourself. You can talk briefly about your background and experience, but most of all, tell them how you have solved some of the exact challenges they’re facing right now.

This is one of the best ways to prove your credibility.

Then move on to your main points.

Give them the goods

imagine-successIdeally, you should break down your central talking points into a set of three to five separate but related themes.

Your introduction and main points will take up between two-thirds and three-quarters of your allotted time.

This should be enough time to cover your topic along with examples or case studies for each of your talking points.

Examples help you take a theoretical topic and give people a context they can relate to.

Your goal is to help them understand what you’re talking about and to imagine themselves achieving that same success.

Here’s a sample of what your outline might look like for the main portion of your talk:

  • Big benefit or learning objective
    • Key Point 1
      • Case Study #1
    • Key Point 2
      • Example
    • Key Point 3
      • Case Study #2

Be generous

After you’ve wrapped up your main points, invite your audience to learn more about what you’re doing.

Offer everyone in attendance something of value. Help them apply what they’ve learned.

Ideally, whatever you offer should take them a step or two closer to solving their problem or easing their pain point.

There are a few different forms that your offer could take:

  • A PDF, ebook, checklist, or worksheet
  • A free mini-course

Whatever you give them, it should deliver an immediate result.

Offer them even more

what-to-offerNext you can offer to work with people either on a (limited) free or paid basis. The format doesn’t matter. The important thing is to encourage them to take the next step.

Note: make sure that the organization you’re speaking to is open to having this kind of promotion included in the speech. You don’t want to burn any bridges by accidentally violating their rules.

Here are a couple of possibilities:

  • You could use the idea of “creating proof” from the last blog post — and use your speaking to get people to work with you for free, in exchange for testimonials.
  • You could let people know that you’re “currently accepting applications for X number of people to work with you at a discounted rate, to improve X, Y, and Z in just 4 weeks.” Then, you can invite them to speak with you after the talk is over. You could offer one-on-one or group options.

It takes practice to make an effective invitation. The best way to get started is to go out and do it. You will get immediate feedback, learn from your experiences and get better over time.

Don’t let your invitation drag on. Make it quick and powerful and then move along.

You don’t want to come across as salesy or overly promotional — and since you’ve already used up a large portion of your time on the main points, you want to leave yourself enough time for a powerful conclusion.

Bring the benefits home

Remember, the beginning and end of any talk are the most memorable parts of your speech, so leave your audience with a powerful takeaway.

Tie your main points together and show the audience how they can implement what you’ve taught them.

Help them see the future that opens up if they take action on what they just learned. Inspire them with a new reality. Let them know it’s totally within their reach.

Then thank the audience for their time, and thank the hosting organization for putting together the event. Let the group know you’re more than happy to answer any questions they have.

Finally, take a deep breath — because you just successfully got through your talk!

You’re ready to grow your business.

How to make the speaking approach work for you

Live, local events are the easiest way to get your foot in the door, and we recommend starting in your own community if at all possible.

start-at-homeFirst, figure out the organizations where there is an overlap in your area of expertise and their audience’s interest.

Then approach these organizations about giving a free talk to their members. Not every organization you approach will say yes, but the more people you talk to, the higher your likelihood of getting a chance to speak.

Hand out fliers at the end of your talk that tell folks how to get their free gift for attending and how to reach you if they want to work with you.

At the very least, have a way for people to sign up for your email list — the key is getting people to engage with you again after the event.

Move them from free to paid

Once people have gotten to know you during your presentation and they’ve accepted your free gift or invitation to take the next step, it shouldn’t be a matter of you having to “sell” them on anything.

You’ve already helped them get their first small win. After that it will be an easy “ask” to move them from free material to a paid client. (If they’re seeing results from working with you for free, just imagine what could happen if they got your premium material!)

Remind them of their progress so far and offer to continue to work with them as a paying client. Give them any relevant details about how to work with you and answer any questions they may have.

repeat-what-worksAs you work with more clients, you’ll start to see what works and what doesn’t. Repeat any parts of the process that are successful, and anything that doesn’t work — well, get rid of it.

It’s all about figuring out what works, and doing more of it. No chasing shiny tactics, no uncertainty about what to do next. Plain and simple.

More clients, in less time

Just imagine: a steady stream of new potential clients coming your way.

And all you have to do is talk about the subject you’re most passionate about. No magic lamp required.

It’s not only possible, it’s something that you can make happen in the next few months!

Your next step is simply to figure out what local groups would be a good match with your area of expertise, and would benefit from a talk you could give — and then reach out to them to make the offer.

So what are you waiting for?

There’s a whole new batch of clients out there, just waiting for you to come help solve their biggest problem.

Go get ’em!

How can you share your expertise through free teaching/training? Do you see opportunities to teach in your local community? Let us know in the comments!