In theory, it’s the perfect plan . . .

Stand in front of a roomful of sales prospects, deliver valuable information, receive a standing ovation, and then get consulting clients from your next conference speech, lots of them.

The reality can be quite different.

It can be very disheartening to spend hours on writing and rehearsing your speech, then battling nerves to get your presentation right, only to find that, even weeks later, no-one from the audience has contacted you about your services or even visited your website.

Today, we’ll look at the reasons why this happens and then discuss easy ways to fix the problem in order to get consulting clients from your next conference speech.

I’ll also share an example from my own experience.

Let’s get to it. 

Why Don’t People Get More Clients From Their HR Conference Presentations?

There are three main reasons that explain why people don’t get more sales leads when they talk at HR conferences and business seminars:

  1. Not Allowed: Some (or most) conference organisers can be quite tough on people including marketing messages in their conference speeches. It makes sense. They don’t want angry attendees paying good money just to hear a series of sales pitches from the presenters.
  2. Too Shy: Many people believe in the power of ‘thought leadership’ – if you deliver informative, thought-provoking content, people will connect the dots and follow-up with you later. My opinion: They won’t. Your audience may take copious notes or discuss the ideas raised in your talk with their colleagues but it will probably end there. When they get back to the office, life takes over and your thought leadership will have been forgotten.
  3. Too Salesy: This is the obvious flip side to being too reticent or unwilling to market your business. Some speakers actively annoy the audience by turning their speaking opportunity into a blatant sales pitch for their company. People attend conferences to learn new information and pick-up tips to take back to their respective workplaces – they don’t pay to hear someone drone on about how good their company is and why you should hire them. You don’t want to be the person people complain about during the coffee break.

Let’s now look at six low-key ways you can get more sales leads from your next speech or presentation.

 Get Consulting Clients From Your Next Conference Speech

6 Simple Ways To Get Consulting Clients From Your Next Conference Speech

Below are six very easy ways to bring in more sales queries when speaking at an industry seminar or conference.

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Are you a consultant in the Human Resources industry?

Are you in an HR SaaS/Tech company?

1. Offer A Free Resource

This is your easiest and best option.

You’ve spent a lot of time and effort carefully mapping out your speech. You’ve possibly even written it down word for word.

Turn it into a Word document by combining the text and the slides.

Pretty it up and turn it into a PDF.

Then, add it your website and your email marketing tool such as Hubspot, Mailchimp, or Mailerlite and embed a request form on a new page on your website.

Finally, during your presentation, say something like this:

We’re going to cover a lot of ground in this presentation and I don’t want you to get cramp from taking down notes all day/night so, to make things easier for you, I’ve put together all my slides, notes, and some extra tips into a free resource that you can download right now at:”

You can repeat a similar message at the end of your talk too. You can also add it as a footer in all your slides.

You’ll collect names, emails, and details of people who are in your target market and are very interested in your area of expertise.

If you want to go all-out, you can also have a pre-written follow-up email sequence that automatically gets sent out to people who download the PDF.

You’ll be well on your way to warming-up and qualifying potential new clients.

2. Special Offer

This is not my preferred option but it is fairly straightforward.

Think carefully about your audience: who they are and what is troubling them.

Then, tailor a special offer to meet their needs.

The offer may be a free strategy session to review their current plans. It may be a discount, or it may be something completely different.

Whatever you offer, make sure that there is a strong incentive to request it there and then – ie. the price goes up after today or the offer goes away altogether. Otherwise, people will get distracted by other things and you’ll have lost them forever.

When you make the offer, I recommend  avoiding the ‘hard sell‘ and, instead, make the offer respectfully as a way to thank your audience for listening to your talk.

3. Connect On LinkedIn

Before and after the event, research the audience and try to connect with attendees. You can do this before and after the event but beforehand is better as they are more likely to remember you and your presentation later.

Get more consulting clients by giving speeches

Me doing a Marcel Marceau impression at a conference in Google’s European HQ

4. Make Extra Time

On my blog we’ve looked at many sales and marketing tactics to help you attract more business but nothing works quite as well as talking face to face with a prospective new client.

After a presentation, you are automatically a minor celebrity at the venue (apologies if you are, in fact, a major celebrity) so why not use your newfound status?

Before you go on to speak, scout the venue to find somewhere visible, but slightly out of the main thoroughfare, where you can talk to people.

At the end of your speech, tell your audience that, if they are interested in this topic and would like to chat about it informally, you’ll be at your chosen location at the end of the current session.

When talking with people, do all the usual networking things and also suggest they pull out their phone right now and request the free information resource you made earlier.

5. Craft Your Speaker’s Bio

Don’t just rehash your career history in your speaker’s bio.

As before, think carefully about your audience: who they are and what is troubling them.

Then, tailor a special bio to pique their interest.

If you’re allowed to include a website link, add your free resource request page.

6. Name Your Service (And Then Name-Drop It)

If you are a consultant who offers professional consulting services, it can be difficult to get people to take action and follow-up with you after a speech.

It may sound silly but one way around this problem is to come up with a name for your different services.

It somehow makes each service more tangible. They’re easier to understand and, therefore, easier to sell.

Even better, if you can create a small but effective consulting program out of your broader expertise, it can help you get your foot in the door with an organisation. You can then offer higher-value services down the track.

For example . . .

I once gave a talk at a conference for around two hundred Human Resources leaders on the topic of employee engagement.

The previous week I had won a new client by explaining that the consulting work I could do was like an ‘employee engagement kick-start program’ – it wasn’t a formal package or program and I was only planning to do my usual consulting work but, in the potential client’s office, it was the easiest way to explain what I was offering.

In my conference presentation, I mentioned what smart employers were doing here and in other countries.

I mentioned, only in passing, that my ‘Employee Engagement Kick-Start Program’ was based on these principles.

In the weeks after my conference presentation I received a number of emails from audience members. None of the emails mentioned the theories or best practices I’d described, all of them asked for meetings about my ‘Employee Engagement Kick-Start Program’ which, until that moment, had never existed before.

Previous talks I’d given had addressed the topic of employee engagement but I’m convinced that the mere mention of a specifically named program was the cause of the spike in inbound sales queries.

About Those Three Problems . . .

Regarding those three reasons why people don’t get more sales leads when they talk at HR conferences and business seminars:

  1. Not Allowed: Be brave and ask the organisers about being allowed to add a marketing message. Push the issue if you have to. Say you are taking time out of a hectic schedule to speak for free. Then reassure them that it will just be a quick mention not a blatant sales pitch.
  2. Too Shy: Carpe diem, my friend. Failing bravery, write it down and read it out when the times comes.
  3. Too Salesy: Find the right balance. Be a little more subtle and absolutely make sure that you add value in your presentation or people will be very annoyed at you wasting their time – that’s not a good way to generate inbound sales leads.

Good Luck!

Good luck in your presentation!

Let me know how you go and if you have any other suggestions to add.


Are you a consultant in the Human Resources industry?

Are you in an HR SaaS/Tech company?

All the best,

how to market your hr firm