Get The Answers: Good speakers help build a better brand

By Gill South, Sally Mabelle

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Sally Mabelle, president of the National Speakers' Association. Photo / Supplied
Sally Mabelle, president of the National Speakers' Association. Photo / Supplied

For those who attended the Ice Ideas Conference last year, they will have seen a number of charismatic entrepreneurs speak expertly about their businesses and the inspiration behind them.

Most of them are travelling the world, telling their stories over and over again. For those who do it well, they will win investment and followers both locally and internationally.

There are many natural storytellers but public speaking can be learned and practised.

What value is there in becoming a good speaker about your business?

For people who are in the "ideas" business, it's almost essential. It's their job to inspire and provide practical ways of putting ideas into practice.

You can publish articles, write books, even use Twitter and Facebook, but you are unlikely to inspire without the personal contact as a speaker.

You are your company's brand. Think Rob Fyfe at Air NZ or Richard Branson at Virgin.

The owner of "Jim's Tyres" will create a better brand for himself, his company and his turnover, if his brand is seen as trustworthy and professional.

This can be engendered by communicating professionally and turning yourself into a brand.

What opportunities are there for business owners to talk to audiences? How do they hear about them?

Speakers have to convince businesses and conference organisers that what they offer will make a difference.

Get out and make contacts in your industry. Write for industry journals and do research on the latest thinking in your industry.

Be seen as the "go to" person for your industry by the media and your peers.

People looking for speakers can find them on the NSANZ website and the speakers' own websites.

Who are adept speakers in the business world who have successfully told the story about their company and built the brand?

Rob Fyfe stands out - most effectively through soundbites in the media in times of crisis. The Mad Butcher's Sir Peter Leitch, hair salon owner Rodney Wayne, mortgage broker Mike Pero and electronics retailer Dick Smith are other examples.

Associating the company with one person is not necessarily a good thing. What happens when that person retires or sells?

Dick Smith and Mike Pero seemed to make it work, but both were very well established brands.

What are some tips you would give business owners wanting to become confident speakers?

Develop useful ideas and develop your skills before you charge a fee. Develop a network of speakers (or join one like NSANZ) who can give you honest feedback and professional development pointers.

How international can a New Zealand small business personality be as a speaker?

New Zealand speakers are encouraged to go overseas, because we're so small.

It is not a reflection on quality of speaking opportunities in New Zealand, but every event and conference organiser does like to see an "international" speaker on their stage, so why not use that?

We've had some great examples of New Zealand speakers becoming international speakers, for example, marketing strategist Robyn Simpson and leadership coach Mike Handcock.

The value for business owners to start on the speaking circuit is that their message, and perhaps their company's services and products, become known overseas.


We want to solve your business problems. From tax headaches to recruitment nightmares - every week, with the help of specialists, we will answer your questions on any topic related to business. Send your questions to Gill at:

- NZ Herald

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