Prospecting from the Podium


How to effectively grow your real estate business through public speaking…

In today’s competitive real estate market, everyone is looking for an edge or a leg up when it comes to finding and retaining new clients. One of the best ways brokers can achieve this goal is by taking a step that would make any card-toting Toastmaster extremely proud: use public speaking to spread the good word about your industry while simultaneously attracting an entirely new demographic of potential buyers and sellers. In this article we’ll explore the value of public speaking and show you how to get started with an effective strategy for folding this useful tool into your REALTOR® toolkit.

Prospecting from the Podium

What Do I Talk About?

The topic of real estate has near-universal appeal. Homeowners want to know how their investment is fairing in this economy and they’re constantly interested in hearing about their options to either move up or scale down. But your public speaking audience isn’t limited to current homeowners. Renters and first-time homebuyers want to know everything about the home-buying process and how it works. Civic leaders are interested in the health and growth forecasts of the communities they serve. Businesspeople know the power of the real estate industry and want updates. These people and the civic organizations they belong to are hungry for guest speakers who can come in a give a short presentation regarding real estate.

As a REALTOR®, you could be that speaker these and other individuals and entities are seeking. You are an expert in the field and very qualified to speak to them. At the very least, you are an expert in your market area and the communities you serve. You know the market and you follow the trends. You know how much housing inventory is available, whether there are deals to be had, and/or if potential sellers are currently entertaining multiple offers. Equipped with this and other valuable information, you come to the table well qualified to be that guest speaker. And, with a little research and preparation, you will dazzle your audience and hand out a lot of business cards to potential clients.

Not convinced yet? Well, how about this: You can meet more clients speaking for 20 minutes at a luncheon than you can in a month of traditional prospecting. Even more importantly, your audience will view you as an industry expert and they will get to know you personally.

As a REALTOR®, there are literally hundreds of organizations that would welcome you as a public speaker at their events. A quick online search will reveal those organizations in your market. Look for civic groups, trade organizations, affiliates, nonprofit, and business groups that regularly hold meetings, conferences, and other events. It really doesn’t matter if the audience is a church group or the Chamber of Commerce, as long as there are adults there who are interested in real estate (and, as I mentioned earlier in this article, everyone is interested in real estate).

If you’ve never done any public speaking, your best approach will be to come to the event well prepared. Create an outline of your presentation, write up a short biography on yourself, and draw up a cover letter noting that you are available as a guest speaker at no charge. Send this off to every organization and see what happens. I suggest you start with an organization you currently belong to; there will be friendly faces and an opportunity to test your presentation.

The Components of Your Speech

Think of your speech as an enhanced listing presentation. You talk about home prices, inventory, financing opportunities, appreciation, community growth, and lifestyle.

If you need ideas, consider these specific topics:

  • Let your audience know that interest rates are on the rise.
  • Discuss key market trends that impact the real estate housing market in the surrounding area.
  • Is it better to rent or buy?
  • Talk about current mortgage trends and how they might help or hinder today’s buyer.
  • The impact of changing the mortgage interest deduction.
  • Water or land use issues communities are facing.
  • Prices of low-income, mainstream, and luxury homes and illustrate each with photos and recent comps.
  • Online tools available to the public to get more information about housing topics and searches.
  • Tell your audience what a REALTOR® does for buyers and sellers and why represented houses sell for more than non-represented houses.
  • Talk about NAR’s Code of Ethics and continuing education.
  • Give tips on how to prepare a home for sale.

As you prepare your presentation, be sure to find data that supports your assertions. This data can be found through your local MLS, your local REALTOR® association, the Runstad Center for Real Estate Research, and/or from www.realtor.org.

Now, if your last speech class was in high school, you may want to brush up on your presentation skills. Join Toastmasters, take a refresher course at a community college, start watching Ted Talks at www.ted.com, and start studying other speakers you respect. Practice in front of family and friends and ask someone to video you for playback and analysis. This video can be shot with a smartphone; it is not for publication but a learning tool. Before long, you’ll be comfortable in front of an audience and ready to share your wealth of knowledge with an entirely new crop of prospects.

Measuring the Results

Once you successfully do a few of these presentations, other organizations will be calling you to speak at their events. Don’t be surprised if a reporter shows up to one of the presentations and wants to interview you. Don’t panic if this happens—it is a great opportunity. Ask the reporter to schedule this interview so you have time to prepare. Your first call should be to your local REALTOR® association for help gathering the material and telling the REALTOR® story.

Good luck!

 


 

Steve Klaniecki

Steve Klaniecki is the Director of Communications and Marketing for the Washington Association of REALTORS®. He conducts spokesperson training and public speaking workshops throughout Washington and several other states.

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