Promoting Your Fitness Facility through Free Public Speaking

By Jim Labadie
June 10, 2006

Jim Labadie is a fitness entrepreneur, publicity expert and speaker. To learn how to pitch to a producer, develop relationships with print reporters, avoid the biggest publicity mistake personal trainers make and much more sign up for his free mini-course on publicity for fitness professionals at www.howtogetmorepublicity.com.

Let’s face it: people are wary of health clubs. Many have joined at least one before and failed to get results. Chances are it was due to their lack of effort, but blaming them isn’t going to help your bottom line.

Nowadays you need to prove to skeptical prospects that you can deliver the results they are looking for in exchange for their hard earned dollars. Public speaking to local organizations is a great way to promote your club at almost no cost to you. And even better, public speaking immediately provides credibility you cannot garner through paid advertising.

Here are four tips to help you get started:

1. Getting speaking gigs is easy
I’m often asked how to go about getting booked for talks. When I tell people to pick up the phone and call someone, they pass out at the very thought of having to make a cold call. When they come back to their senses, I gently explain most of these groups meet weekly, and they need a speaker at each meeting.

If you belong to a networking group, I can almost guarantee you they’d love to have you speak. Ask your clients what groups they belong to and whether or not they have speakers. All sorts of religious organizations have meetings with speakers. Search the Internet to find them.

When you call them, ask for the person responsible for booking speakers. They’ll gladly give you his or her name and how to get in touch with him or her. What do you say when you get them on the phone? “Hi, I understand you’re looking for speakers for your meetings. Is that correct?”

They’ll then ask you what you talk about. I think every single time I’ve ever told someone my talk is on fitness they’ve all responded with the same answer: “We could all use that.”

2. No commercials
If you ever want to be invited back or referred to another group, then don’t use your 15 minutes of fame –- which is typically how long these free talks last –- to tell everyone how wonderful you are. The trick is to educate them while not giving away the store. A great way to do that is teach them all about the myths surrounding fitness.

You can give them a little bit of what is right and what they need to do, but remember you are doing this for free. If they want the in-depth information, they are going to have to pay you for it.

3. Close for something
I highly suggest you take questions at the beginning of your talk instead of at the end. Why? So you can have a very strong close. While you don’t want your talk to be a commercial, you do have every right to let people know what you have to offer them at the very end of your talk. There’s several ways to handle this. You could present them with a special discount on membership or personal training services that is only good for a limited time. You could also offer tickets to a more advanced seminar at your facility where they will learn a great deal more on the subject. At the very least, you should obtain their contact information by asking them for their e-mail address, so you can add them to your e-newsletter list.

The options are endless. Just be sure you close with a strong offer they would be crazy not to take advantage of.

4. Ask for the referral
While you still have your audience’s attention, let the group know you are available to speak to other groups as well. If you did a good job they may rush up to you and ask you to speak somewhere else.

Be sure to send a hand-written thank you card to the person who booked you. Tell them what a great time you had and give them a subtle reminder you are available to speak elsewhere. They may know the person in a different chapter of the same organization they can put you in touch with.