What subject should you speak on? Choose a subject that can demonstrate your expertise and that will interest as large a group as possible. For example, if you are an accountant and have some expertise on a certain aspect of corporate accounting such as corporate tax laws or how to accomplish zero base budgeting, this may be a good area to speak on. If you are an engineer and have knowledge about design engineering, quality control, or some other technical area, this too may be of great interest to various groups.
Many new graduates are afraid to try this. They think they are too young and too inexperienced. They short change the knowledge they acquired through their years at college. Yet, because new discoveries are being made all the time, any recent graduate will have learned much that is not known by a PE. In fact, you can learn much from reading without even attending college. Perhaps you've seen Anthony Robbins on one of his television advertisements. His was the most successful infomercial of the year in 1991 Robbins made millions from what he teaches to his students... and many of his students are PhDs and top corporate executives. Yet Robbins himself never even attended college. He started speaking on topics on which he had gained expertise while he was still in his teens. He has been giving his seminars since he was in his early twenties. He says he acquired his knowledge from reading more than 700 books and attending seminars himself. An undergraduate in engineering I know started giving speeches and within two years of graduations was conducting paid seminars for medical doctors. Another student from my university started giving paid seminars to corporations and the government on strategic planning and other management issues before she even graduated. "What others can do, you can do.
Speeches may vary in length from 15 minutes to as long as an hour. Prepare the outline of a presentation that will allow you to go either way. You can then either shorten or lengthen your speech according to the occasion. This way, you can address many more organizations than you could if you simply had a single speech of a set length.
Your next step is to find organizations that would like to have you speak. As I mentioned previously, many organizations have monthly meetings and are eager to invite speakers on subjects that will interest their membership. One way of locating such organizations is simply to use the Yellow Pages of your telephone book and look under "Associations." Call every single association listed. Tell them all that you are an expert in your particular area and that you would be willing to give them a free presentation on this subject. If they ask how long the presentation would be, tell them you would be happy to tailor it from 15 minutes to an hour depending on their needs. They will then tell you exactly what their needs are. Be sure to think of some highlights to mention on the telephone that not only show that you know what you're talking about but also demonstrate that the subject would be of interest to a prospective audience.
You may also find groups to speak to by calling up major companies and asking whether they have a manager's club. If they do, the club will have a president, a secretary, or someone in charge of entertainment. Many major companies have management clubs, and as many as several hundred or more people may attend each event. What a great way to make contacts who may turn out to be prospective employers later on down the line!
A third way to make contact for speeches is to go to your library and look at a book called Encyclopedia of Associations. This lists every major association in the United States. You can write a short letter to those that are not in your local area, telling them about your speech and the fact that you are offering to make such a speech to their organization. A short, direct mail sales letter like those used for finding a job can easily bring you a number of different engagements.
As with writing articles, a fringe benefit of making speeches is that in many cases you will be paid for your presentation. Sharing your expertise with others through seminars is an excellent way of promoting yourself, becoming well known, and gaining the exposure that will lead to outstanding career contacts. Seminars are not much different from speeches, except they may be a little longer. Usually anything less than two hours is called a speech, more than that, a seminar. There are several ways of doing seminars.
One is setting up your own seminar, writing all the promotional material yourself, and paying for the printing, the rental of mailing lists, and other expense. You do the entire project as an entrepreneur. Like Tony Robbins, many individuals do this full time and earn substantial financial rewards for their efforts. A thousand dollars or more per day is not unusual. In fact, one very well known seminar company started in exactly this fashion, with a government employee using his annual two week vacation to give seminars on government contracting. Eventually he left government employment to do this on his own, year round, and today this same company has trained thousands of people in industry interested in doing business with the government. However, doing everything as an entrepreneur requires a great deal of effort, and if your primary purpose is to seek career contacts for finding a superior job, it is not the most efficient way of getting this accomplished.
There are alternative ways that are much easier. One is to go to local universities and colleges in your area and contact their continuing education department. Almost every college and university in the United States today has a program of educating executives through various seminars. In some cases, these seminars are taught by faculty from the university. Many, many others are taught by individuals like yourself who have expertise in some area gained either through study or personal experience.
A third way to start giving seminars is to contact organizations that specifically give seminars to executives. One example of this is the American Management Associations, which conducts seminars and courses all over the country on a continuing basis. Write to American Management Associations, 135 West 50th Street, New York, New York 10020, and ask for the current course catalog. From this catalog you will see various types of courses that are available. You may then contact the person in charge of the specific functional area you are interested in and volunteer to give a course in the area noted.