Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Marketing Lessons from Speech Contests

We're holding a lot of speech contests this month in the Toastmasters International organization.  Contestants are vying for titles in both prepared and extemporaneous speaking.  Watching, so far this season, over thirty speakers (and many more in past contest cycles) I am ever more conscious of how a speech contest can provide useful lessons for marketing a small business.

For one, many contestants don't package themselves well.  There is something to dressing for success in these things and in contrast the average speaker appears to have emerged from work in the garage or from a back yard barbecue.  What is more this ultra-casual style is often accompanied by scowls, fidgeting, and poor posture.  The image can be that the contestant isn't taking things seriously or just doesn't want to make the extra effort to optimize presentation.

For another, many contestants don't have the best product.  That product---their speeches---is at times (a) poorly organized, (b) delivered without confidence, (c) difficult to understand, (d) littered with "crutch" words and sounds, (e) presented without energy, and (f) absent of logic.  And often the speaker doesn't think about the audience and doesn't couch things or speak in a way that recognizes that audience.

The result is predictable.  The product and presenter lose points with the judges.  The judges select the competitor that offers the best product on the table and who gives the most in presenting that product.  Sound familiar?

Bottom line:  The business that takes the time and trouble to present a good product or service in the most appealing way, recognizing the audience and its needs, is the one most likely to make the sale.  If speech contest judges understand that, it's a good bet that any customer does as well.

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