How COVID-19 Has Shaped The Way Speakers Use Technology
In recent months, professional speakers have seen an unprecedented upheaval of the speaking industry as a whole. Starting in winter 2020, events were cancelled, contracts were put on pause, and many speakers were suddenly looking at empty calendars. Even some established speakers, with decades of experience under their belts, were left asking; “what do I do now?”
Thankfully, there is a bright side to these challenges. Although it hasn’t been easy, COVID-19 has presented speakers with the opportunity to look at their businesses critically, and with a new appreciation for the technology that has allowed many to become virtual speakers.
Looking at your own speaking business, ask yourself, “what tools am I paying for but not fully utilising?” and “how can I use this experience to be better prepared for industry changes in the future?”. Here, we’ll tackle both of these questions. We’ll also break down three key steps you can take to future-proof your speaking business, along with the technology to make it happen. That way, the next time the speaking industry changes on such a dramatic scale, you’ll be more than capable of riding the wave.
Adapting to Virtual Speaking Opportunities
First and foremost, if COVID-19 has taught humanity anything, it’s the importance of adaptation. As a professional speaker, this means adapting to new sales strategies, technology, and – most importantly – virtual speaking opportunities. Unlike live events, virtual speaking gigs are conducted 100% remotely. They can be delivered “live” through video conferencing platforms, such as Zoom, or recorded using an external camera.
In either case, virtual speaking opportunities are a win for a number of reasons. For one thing, from a professional speakers’ point of view, virtual gigs are a time-saver. While they may require more add-on materials to support your audience after the presentation is over (workbooks, workshops, etc.), the time spent “on stage” is tiny compared to that of a live event. On the flip side, from an event organiser’s point of view, virtual gigs save time and money. After all, no physical stage means no travel, and no travel means less planning and expense for attendees and event speakers. Win, win, win!
All in all, I could talk about virtual speaking engagements for hours. However, for the time being, if you’re new to the world of virtual speaking and unsure where to begin, below are a few resources to help you start.
- The complete Home Studio Course from SpeakerFlow and Video Narrative – This comes with a complete studio tech list and tutorials to help you use it like a professional videographer.
- “Speakers Guide to Video” from the National Speakers Association’s “Voices of Experience” podcast – This includes more insights from the CEO of Video Narrative, so you can record videos easily and deliver virtual presentations confidently.
- “Best Practices For Virtual Presentations: 15 Expert Tips That Work For Everyone” from Forbes
- “How to Keep a Virtual Audience Captivated” from Entrepreneur
Leveling Up Your Prospecting Process
In addition to adapting to a virtual speaking environment (at least for the time being), it’s also important that your sales process is airtight, specifically, your prospecting process and tools. Put simply, “prospecting” refers to the research you gather prior to contacting an event organiser. It includes the name and role of the organizer, information about their event, and what they’re looking for in a professional speaker. It also should include any background information you can find about the organisation hosting the event. That way, not only will you be able to confidently communicate how you can help the event organiser meet their goals, you’ll also demonstrate that you went above and beyond to learn what challenges their organisation is facing (so you could help even further).
In short, a solid prospecting process is the foundation of any sale. The better your prospecting, the more you know about your leads and the more easily you can tailor your sales strategies to them. At that point, event organisers will have no trouble seeing how easy you are to work with and how great a fit you are for their event. In terms of time, energy, and money, the ROI is huge, and all it takes is a little bit of research!
Generally, this research can come from a wide variety of sources including Internet searches, websites, and social media. However, the most efficient way to prospect is the SpeakerFlow Intel Engine. This tool is essentially a Google search overlay, allowing you to run complex Google searches with the click of a button. In other words, it allows you to find qualified leads in a matter of minutes rather than hours. Plus, it’s designed specifically for professional speakers, so you can flawlessly add it to your sales process.
Organizing Your Business Systems
Lastly, when it comes to technology, COVID-19 has shown all of us that organisation is of the utmost importance. Whether it’s your finances, sales process, speaking schedule, or website, streamlining every component of your speaking business doesn’t just mean smoother sailing now. It also means that, when the waters get rough, you can focus on navigating the storm rather than on day-to-day tasks.
In recent years, streamlining a speaking business has become increasingly easier thanks, in large part, to technology. If you’re looking for bookkeeping tools, there’s an app for that. Looking for a way to manage your ongoing projects? There are systems for that, too! Even for basic tasks, like managing contacts, there are tons of systems to choose from, so you can offload some of your workload and make time for the parts of your business that you truly enjoy. That said, when choosing a new tool or system, it can be hard to narrow down your choice to a few tools. In light of this, below are the top four things to look for, so you can make an educated choice.
Centralized Apps and Functionality
First, if a tool can tackle more than one of your business needs at once, it’s worth considering. SpeakerFlow’s customer relationship management tool (CRM), for example, houses several applications in a single portal. With one login, you have apps for contact, event, project, and social media management, so you can manage many aspects of your business from a single location. With any tool, this level of convenience and efficiency is a definite “pro” to watch for.
Second, the best tools for professional speakers are built for – surprise, surprise – professional speakers! Although there aren’t too many speaker-specific systems on the market, it’s important to watch for speaker-specific features, so that you can minimise time spent customising your tools. In the aforementioned example, for instance, SpeakerFlow CRM combines a collection of features, all of which were designed with speakers in mind. These include modules for collecting lead information, managing pending contracts, and preparing for events. By looking for features like these, you save the time and energy it would otherwise take to make a tool fit your business’s needs. Plus, if other speakers are using it already, you know it’s worth a look.
Integration With Your Existing Tools
Third, look for technology that integrates with the tools and systems you already have. If you’re using an invoicing platform that you absolutely love, look for platforms that connect to it. If you’ve seen success with a specific project management tool, consider their partner apps and whether they fit your needs. With SpeakerFlow CRM, for example, these apps include everything from Asana to Zapier, not to mention the 40+ apps already included with the CRM. Between the more than 90 apps available, adding the CRM to your process may take a bit of time but connecting it to your favorite tools takes just minutes.
In short, when it comes to choosing tech, there’s no need to “reinvent the wheel” if a tool is already doing its job. And, when you do need to replace a tool, make sure it connects to the ones you want to save. That way, you don’t choose an option that doesn’t fit into your existing business infrastructure. Plus, you don’t waste time or money trying to make a tool work when it ultimately isn’t a good fit.
Affordability and Exceptional Value
Fourth, look for tools that are the best “bang for your buck”. In terms of functionality, flexibility, and pricing, new technology should be undoubtedly worth the cost, monetarily and where your schedule is concerned. After all, time is money and the more you can save, the more time you’ll be able to spend on stage, instead of behind your desk. Sounds like the dream, right?
Ultimately, all of these steps and recommendations aren’t to be taken lightly. They take dedication and passion for your speaking business and can be a tough pill to swallow, especially when your technology and processes worked well up until recently.
However, one of the greatest strengths of the speaking industry has always been its resilience. Whether you come from rough beginnings or were blessed with a wonderful childhood, you can be a speaker. Whether you had a smooth road to success or had to learn things the hard way, you can be a speaker. Likewise, no matter what you’re facing today or how you got here, we’re all in this together, and this is an opportunity for all of us to grow and evolve, as an industry. That way, we can continue inspiring and motivating others and, in the meantime, do our best to be an example of approaching challenges with courage.
For more information about adapting your speaking business to the current industry changes or to learn more about what my team and I do to support professional speakers, feel free to shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.