The Social Media Jackpot That’s Your Worst Nightmare

Opinion: On stage, you are naked and alone, stripped of your digital cloak of invisibility

Public speaking is one of the most pervasive fears we all share
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One thing, above all others, skyrockets your credibility, your authority and your reach. And chances are, it scares the bejeezus out of you.

Public speaking is one of the most pervasive fears we all share. Glenn Croston, writing for Psychology Today, named it “The Thing We Fear More Than Death,” and survey after survey shows that this is not far from the truth.

In social media circles, speaking is the hottest commodity on the market. It’s one of the most valuable things you can do to bolster your career, build your brand and boost your bottom line.

To get a handle on this subject, I spoke with a few well-known keynote speakers about how they approach public speaking, their goals and their returns on investment, both direct and intangible.

Connect with your audience

Tomas Gorny, Nextiva founder and keynote speaker at NextCon, told me how he prepares for an upcoming gig:

“When I step onto the stage, I am my brand, the face of Nextiva. If I am not credible, neither is my company. Before I take that step, I make sure I know exactly how I will engage the audience. It’s no longer about lecturing. Like social media itself, speaking has become interactive. Your audience is part of the show, and your task is not to lecture, but to connect, on an individual level, regardless of the number of people in the room. When you make that connection, each listener takes away a personal experience. And when you do that, what you say truly resonates. You create trust. It’s trust that drives authority, and authority that drives business.”

Mark Schaefer, author of KNOWN: The Handbook for Building and Unleashing Your Personal Brand in the Digital Age, expanded on the importance of making those connections:

“The central key to marketing today is building an emotional connection to your audience. Doing that through social media and web content may take years to achieve. But in a live presentation, you make an immediate impact. People see you, hear you, connect to you in a live environment. They can feel your passion and sense your authority in a way that could never happen in a blog post or podcast interview.”

Supercharge your social presence

Jason Falls, speaker, author and consultant, talked about building authority and reach:

“The minute you start public speaking in this day and age, you become someone with impact, because the audiences now are tweeting, Instagramming and Facebooking what they’re learning. Suddenly, new circles of people see your name and your avatar and associate you with some level of expertise. It’s like a small billboard to the world every time you speak that says, ‘I know a thing or two.’”

Get direct ROI

RazorSocial founder and professional speaker Ian Cleary agreed, adding that the authority you gain from speaking can translate directly to your bottom line:

“Speaking at industry events helps build authority that can quickly turn into business. We recently acquired a global client because they followed our content online for six months, but what sealed the deal was when they heard us speak at an event.”

Josh Steimle, founder and CEO of MWI, author, speaker and journalist, also told me about direct ROI from a speaking engagement:

“Before I lived in Hong Kong, in 2013, I visited on a fact-finding trip and was able to arrange a speaking engagement at a self-storage industry conference. From the presentation I gave, my marketing agency secured two clients, which really eased our entry into the Asian market.”

Make the most of it

Brian Carter, keynote speaker and author, stressed the importance of being memorable: