After the Podium…

After the Podium…

Last week I was having tea and chatting with a speaker who made a great observation about one of her presentations. “I blew it. Not with my presentation… that went great. It was after, when people came up to me. They had questions, comments and sounded like they wanted to know more about me. All I did was answer their questions and say thank you. They left, and that was it!”

There’s definitely a sense of relief that comes with delivering the last words of your presentation, but that certainly doesn’t mean the event is over. If you think about it, as soon as you step off the stage, that’s when the exciting part of your speaking engagement begins… the after the podium part. And while it may be true that some organizations don’t allow guest speakers to sell from the stage, or to solicit “their” audience after they’ve spoken, the good news is that most events, at a bare minimum, do allow you to interact with their audience after your presentation.

The question is: Are you ready to take advantage of those situations with a few strategic mechanisms? If you aren’t, “Thank you” might well be the last words you get say to the person you’re speaking with. But, with a little bit of preparation, you can bring in some big results!

Your main goal after the podium is to start building relationships. Make no mistake… it’s up to you to connect with your audience; not the other way around. The simplest way to do this might be with an email sign-up sheet, but passing around a clipboard isn’t very inspiring. Here are a few other ideas:

  • If you have a book or two to give away, have a raffle. All you need is a nice container to collect people’s business cards in. Let people know it’s one of the ways you collect email addresses. Have a few blank business cards available for people who don’t have business cards with them.
  • Offer to send a copy of your presentation slides, a free ebook, or a white paper via email. Again, all you need is their email address. (If you do offer a free ebook or white paper, make sure you’re the author and that the subject is related to the topic of your presentation.)
  • Provide all your tech-savvy participants with the option of texting you their email address.
  • Make sure to take advantage of your feedback forms too. How about making the same offers mentioned above available on a tear-off section at the bottom of your feedback form? They still get to provide their feedback anonymously, and you still get their email address. For people short on time, you’ve just provided a quick, easy and painless way for them to express their interest.

The point of developing your own after the podium mechanisms, both the simple and the complex, is to start making connections so you can keep right on inspiring, encouraging, motivating, entertaining, educating and/or doing business off the stage too. The easiest—but possibly the most powerful—mechanisms for achieving this goal are the ones that allow people to share their email address with you.

My speaker friend didn’t have any mechanisms for keeping the conversation going in place at the end of her last presentation, but I’m sure she won’t make that mistake again. Will you?