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Tactics: Public Speaking

Public speaking is an optional, but also a highly recommended, tactic in a strong public relations program for a travel agency.   Every association in town, every club, church group, every business class or travel class at your local community college, enjoys having guest speakers. No doubt, speaking in front of a group is daunting to some travel agents. If so, start with groups with which you are very familiar such as your Sunday School class, social club or other organization to which you belong. As you become more comfortable, branch out. Write a brief summary of your topic and research it thoroughly using resources like USA Today, MSNMC.com and other internet sites with good travel sections. Speak to those things that are interesting to you, that engage you as a professional.

Offer to address a particular topic that has some immediate currency:

  • How to travel to Europe this Year;
  • 10 places everyone should see and how to do it;
  • Family Travel;
  • Traveling with your pet;
  • How to achieve your travel goals;
  • How to avoid travel scams;
  • Niche Cruising
  • Favorite destinations or themes

Use your first effort to build a speaking resume. When you first approach an opportunity, inquire about the group’s interests. You can deliver the same talk to multiple audiences, but be prepared to offer a choice of topics if asked. When delivering your talk to the audience, stay on topic. Don’t be overtly promotional: your very presence as a speaker will establish you as an expert in the eyes of those listening. Make sure to take along some of your own marketing materials and business cards to hand out after your talk.


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Be able to communicate the central theme of your presentation in a few short words. Whether you are making a presentation on your own practice or on a destination or supplier product, know what you want to say and be able to say it in 20 words or less. Take the time to hone down the core vision of your presentation to a bite-size statement. But as you formulate your statement, inject language that infuses your vision with energy. When Steve Jobs said he wanted Apple to be “insanely great,” everyone immediately understood his vision and passion. They could feel his energy. If you say “Exercise for the body, travel for the soul” (go ahead, take it, it’s yours) people understand that your vision encompasses more than an airline ticket and 10 countries in 10 days.

Relate to your audience. It is terrific you are fired up and passionate about your topic. The audience, however,  must understand the benefits to them in order to catch the spark. Sell the experience. Put your listeners in the position of experiencing your service, the trip or the destination. Will they see amazing things? Will they eat foods they have only dreamed about? Will they come back changed?

There is, of course, an art to public speaking. If you intend to put public speaking and presentations into your marketing plan, you will do well to attend as many presentations delivered by others as possible. Watch what works and what does not. The best speakers vary the tone of their voice and will slow down and speed up at points in their delivery to keep the listeners alert. They will use dramatic pauses and will throw out unexpected words to catch the attention of the crowd. Good speakers will command the podium, taking charge of the space they occupy and then projecting into the audience’s space. They will look directly at the audience as though they are talking to individuals, not to a crowd, and will gesture as appropriate, sometimes moving far from their podium to make a point.

With practice and determination, you will soon be one of your own best marketing tools!

Exercise – Start making a list of topics you would feel comfortable speaking about in public. Next, write a brief summary of one of the topics and develop it into a 15 to 20 minute talk.  Make a list of organizations that might have an interest in a public speaker on the topics you selected. Begin soliciting speaking opportunities with churches, universities, clubs, and civic or social organizations. Many groups have people whose job it is to find speakers.  If you are comfortable, create a piece of marketing collateral that gives notice of your availability for talks.  Use each engagement to build up to another, and you can even consider developing a seminar or lecture series. Remember that the articles and materials in TRO are available to you for topics.

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