If you're in B2B marketing, you know how crucial it is to be seen as a thought leader and industry expert. But let's be honest—making that happen can be tricky. How do you get your name and ideas in front of potential clients and partners? It's a problem we all face.
Well, I'm here to tell you one of the most effective yet surprisingly underused strategies out there—public speaking. I know that the idea of speaking at big events feels terrifying for some, but hear me out!
Speaking at conferences, local meetups, webinars, and even client presentations allows you to engage directly with and influence decision-makers in your field. It shows you have serious in-depth knowledge of the topics that matter most right now. Speaking establishes you as a real authority people want to learn from and work with.
And the benefits don't stop there. Public speaking can take your personal brand to the next level, generate leads from excited audiences, and open up opportunities you never expected.
In this post, I want to dive deep into how you can start leveraging speaking engagements to boost your thought leadership game. I'll share tips to get you started and have you feeling like a sought-after expert in no time. Sound good? Let's do this!
Why Public Speaking Builds Thought Leadership
Public speaking doesn't always get the love it deserves when it comes to positioning yourself as a thought leader. I get it, talking in front of a crowd can be intimidating compared to churning out LinkedIn articles from the comfort of your couch. But let me tell you—if done right, speaking engagements are 100% worth overcoming those fears.
Nothing beats getting in front of key decision-makers and showing them directly how you can solve their problems with your expertise.
Speaking allows you to influence perspectives in a way writing alone just can't. So when you're mapping out your strategy to establish yourself as a leader, give public speaking a prominent spot.
Here are a few of the ways public speaking can help you position yourself as a thought leader:
Demonstrate Your Expertise
Speaking shows audiences firsthand that you have deep knowledge and experience in solving real-world problems that organizations face. Events specifically look for speakers who can provide valuable insights on topics that matter. Being asked to present is a validation of your expertise.
Influence Your Audience
You have a rare chance to get your ideas and perspectives directly in front of people who have the power to implement them within their companies. This level of exposure and thought leadership is difficult to achieve through articles or social media alone. Conversely, speaking gives you direct access and influence.
Build Your Network
Speaking isn't just good for showing off your smarts. Some of the most valuable parts happen off-stage. These events let you make meaningful connections with potential clients, partners, and mentors, not just random small talk. Speaking gets you quality face time that can lead to career-changing opportunities down the road. Don't underestimate the power of making real, human connections at speaking engagements. And while we’re on the subject, don’t underestimate the value of lead generation when you’re at the computer. These essential tools for effective sales prospecting can build your network when you aren’t at a speaking event.
Establishes Your Personal Brand
Speaking regularly also builds your brand as an industry expert. Audiences start connecting your name with the topics you present on. You become a trusted resource they look to for insights. This brand authority can lead to career advancement, partnership discussions, and exciting new gigs down the road. However, you have to put in the time and speak consistently to reap those benefits.
Generates Leads and Opportunities
Speaking also puts you in front of audiences actively looking for the solutions you can provide. Your talk gets them excited about working with you. This visibility and face time lead to quality leads and new business. When done right, speaking can be huge for lead generation.
How to Become an Effective Public Speaker
Alright, so now you understand the benefits of public speaking for thought leadership and you’re ready to get started—but how do you get good at it? Crafting talks that showcase your expertise takes practice. Here are some tips:
Become an Expert
First, you need to put in the work to become a true expert on whatever topic you'll present. That means going way beyond a quick Google search. Spend time reading, interviewing other experts, and collecting real-world stories and data so you can provide unique insights that audiences won't get elsewhere.
Craft a Valuable Presentation
Next, focus your talk on solving a specific problem that your audience cares about. Make sure to include concrete takeaways they can put into action right away to get results. Valuable, relevant content establishes you as a trusted advisor they want to learn from.
Engage with Stories and Examples
Now, facts and data are great, but let me tell you—nothing connects with an audience faster than stories and examples from real life. Use case studies from clients to drive home key points in a memorable way. Where applicable, share your own experiences to build a personal connection.
And of course, it goes without saying that you need to practice. Refine both your content and delivery. Work on sections where you stumble over words. Ask colleagues or friends to give you brutally honest feedback. Record yourself and watch it back to spot areas to improve. Put in the work, and it will pay off big time.
Beyond the Stage: How to Leverage Your Talks Online to Grow Your Brand Further
Alright, you nailed your talk and wowed the crowd. But don't just bask in the applause and then move on. To maximize your impact, you need to promote yourself as that expert speaker afterward, too.
Share recordings, slides, or summaries on your website and social media profiles. This extends your reach beyond just the live audience. Turn the key insights from your presentation into a blog post, video, or podcast episode. Repurpose that content to establish your knowledge.
Tools like ChatGPT can be a great way to make this process easier. Just proceed with caution. These tools cannot replace the thing that makes you, well, you. You’ll want to make sure you learn how to use AI for B2B marketing—and how not to use it—before diving in too deep.
Make sure to collect attendees' contact information and follow up with them after. Speaking is a chance to grow your network by connecting with potential partners, collaborators, or even new clients who were impressed by you.
See, the work doesn't stop as soon as you walk off the stage. With some smart promotion afterward, your speaking engagements can take your thought leadership to the next level.
Oh, and don't forget to add "speaker" to your LinkedIn profile once you have a few engagements under your belt!
The Power of Public Speaking for Thought Leadership
As you can see, public speaking offers an incredibly valuable yet often overlooked opportunity to establish yourself as a thought leader. Sure, it takes work—researching your topic, crafting a compelling talk, and promoting yourself afterward.
But I promise you, pressing that nerve button and stepping on stage is worth it. You have a chance to directly showcase your expertise, influence decision-makers, make meaningful connections, and drive new business.
Speaking can be a game changer for your thought leadership journey if you put in the time to do it right. Start small if needed—volunteer at a local meetup or offer to present an internal lunch and learn. Use each talk to sharpen your skills.
Before you know it, you'll feel confident stepping onto the big stage at industry conferences. You'll be well on your way to being seen as the sought-after expert you know you can be.
About the Author:
Ryan Gould is the Vice President of Strategy and Marketing Services at Elevation Marketing. A strategic marketing and branding expert, Ryan helps Elevation’s clients solve their problems and achieve their business goals through integrated marketing solutions distinguished by research, storytelling, engagement, and conversion.