Public Speaking is Content Marketing, Too

Public Speaking is Content Marketing, Too

By Stephanie HawkinsMay 30 /2013

public speaking is content marketingMuch of the content you see discussed on Brand & Capture is just that: content you can see. Blog posts, social media connections, slide shares, emails—all of these are, at their core, pixels on a screen. Your content creators probably also spend a large amount of their time behind a computer, looking to forge connections with prospects through written word and visual media. But what about content marketing that removes the middle man? What about content marketing you can hear?

That’s right: I’m talking about public speaking, which – like its cousins the blog post and the tweet – is content marketing, too. Not convinced? Think of it this way: if you’re doing content marketing well, chances are you have writers who know their stuff. Ideally, they would be considered “thought leaders” in their fields, and you could build your brand on the backbone of their expertise. When you associate your brand with established thought leaders, you shouldn’t be surprised if you’re approached about speaking engagements. After all, if content marketing is about communicating with your prospects, it’s only natural to take that conversation one step further and vocalize it.

Take Cisco, a company that embraces public speaking to promote its brand on both the large and small scale. From the keynote address at last year’s RCA Conference to more intimate classroom presentations, public speaking is integral to Cisco’s content marketing strategy.

Getting Started With Public Speaking

So, how can you implement public speaking into your content marketing strategy? We’ve compiled a few tips.

  1. Find the storytellers in your organization. You might have employees who already regularly do speaking engagements (more on how to optimize their strengths later), but if you don’t, determine who might have public speaking as a hidden strength.
  2. Groom them to be thought leaders. Check out this great slide share on developing “Thought Leadership for Credibility and Branding” for some great tips.
  3. Groom them to be great public speakers. This might sound easier said than done, but stay tuned for guidelines below.
  4. Be discoverable. This post from Cara Posey has some great advice for what it means to be discoverable in public speaking and how you can achieve it.

Becoming a Great Public Speaker

Let’s back up to the actual process of becoming a great public speaker. There’s a reason why speaking in public consistently ranks as a No. 1 fear—it can be a high-pressure, nerve wracking situation. But with the right tools, your thought leaders can thrive.

We love this whole list from Joe Pulizzi, but here are some of the highlights from his Presentation and Public Speaking Tips That Rock:

  • Organization: Aristotle put it first, best, and most simply: Tell them what you are going to tell them (the intro), tell them (the body), tell them what you just told them (the conclusion).
  • Structure: Keep it simple with one main call to action in your presentation. Think about this in terms of best practices for other content marketing pieces. You know your landing pages shouldn’t have more than one call to action; the same logic applies to presentations.
  • Style: Pulizzi recommends switching it up every 8 minutes and telling a story to keep your audience engaged.
  • Design: If your presentation incorporates a slide show, try not to use more than 20 words on a slide. And, in this case, less is more—Seth Godin recommends avoiding words altogether and relying only on pictures.

And for even more great tips, check out Brianne Carlon’s post on 7 Public Speaking Tips for Inbound Marketers.

What's Your Public Speaking Strategy?

Once you’ve identified your thought leaders and turned them into awesome public speakers, the real content marketing strategy comes into play. Obviously you can’t assume all of your prospects have access to every speaking presentation your thought leaders give—but that doesn’t mean you can’t take their spoken content and change it into something accessible. Carl Friesen wrote an article detailing 3 Ways to Leverage Live Event Content. Let’s break it down.

Let’s say you’re a physician specialist marketing to other physicians who you hope will send you patient referrals. Maybe you gave a talk to your fellow orthopedics about new joint replacement surgery procedures. You’d want to make that talk available to referring physicians to help further establish your authority in your field. Luckily, there are several avenues you can take to make your public speaking content accessible to more than just those who were in the audience.

First, you might consider adapting from Spoken Word to Text. Make sure you obtain a recording of the presentation for easy transcription and then use that transcription to create content. Bear in mind that direct transcriptions don’t always translate well to, say, a blog post, and may require some adjusting. But by using the backbone of information delivered in the presentation, you can give new life to your thought leader’s speeches and create new content to reach more prospects. Since you’ll have the presentation recording, you’d also have the option of making that audio file available to interested parties, whether it’s in the form of a podcast or a downloadable file.

Next, you could try Spoken Word to Video. Friesen cautions against just videotaping your presentation and making the entire talk available to your prospects. Engaging an audience is much easier to accomplish in person, so you’ll want to simplify the content when creating a video to avoid losing interest. Try making a highlight reel or breaking down the presentation into several smaller chunks with their own individual purposes.

And finally, there’s the option of Spoken Word to Graphics. If your original presentation included a slide show, you can make it available on Slide Share or consider turning it into an ebook. Now, assuming you’ve followed Pulizzi’s advice to include no more than 20 words on a slide, remember you might need to edit the content of your presentation so that it stands alone without your verbal explanation.

For even more ideas of content options to give new life to your presentation, check out Lisa Gulasy’s 5 Content Marketing Tactics for Non-Bloggers And remember, these are just suggestions to leverage those public speaking engagements—there are many more possibilities. Share your experiences or ideas in the comments section below.

stephanie kaperaStephanie Kapera is a special projects coordinator for Kuno Creative and the co-founder of Up All Night Creative, a Raleigh-based content marketing agency that helps B2B and B2C companies develop magazine-quality web content. Connect with Stephanie on LinkedIn and Twitter!

photo credit: Content Marketing

The Author

Stephanie Hawkins

Stephanie has 10+ years of experience creating quality content for innovative software and healthcare companies. She is passionate about using interviews and journalistic techniques to create content that truly resonates with target audiences. Stephanie lives and works in Raleigh, NC.