Giving free presentations to various groups in your community is one of the best forms of marketing. For each talk, you have the attention of a self-selected audience of people who are interested in what you have to say. Some of them may later contact you for professional services, or they may refer others to you.
Furthermore, your being selected as a program speaker is an implicit endorsement by the organization - which enhances your credibility as an expert.
As you know, preparing for a presentation can take several hours, not to mention the anxiety you might experience in anticipation of the event. And once you get there, if the audience is much smaller than expected, you might wonder whether all that effort was worth it.
It probably is worth it if at least one person from that audience becomes a client. However, it may be months or years before they are ready to contact you.
It's discouraging to continue giving away your time without feeling that you're getting anything back. One option would be to limit your presentations to those where you get paid, or where you are guaranteed a large audience of prospective clients or referral sources. But unless there is a strong demand for your presentation topic, your speaking opportunities under those conditions will be few and far between.
Get compensated in other ways...
When you're not being paid in dollars, you can negotiate value-for-value terms with an organization. You bring the value of your expertise and wisdom to their audiences. In return you can request one or more favors to help promote your practice. For example, ask the organization to:
- Write a press release announcing your presentation.
- Mention your presentation on social media, with a link to your website.
- Record your presentation, and post it on their website, with a link to your website.
- Publish a series of your articles in their newsletter and/or on their website.
- Provide you with ad space in one or more of their publications.
- Allow you to collect names and addresses of audience members who are interested in being added to your mailing list.
- Allow you sell copies of your book or other product at the event.
These types of favors cost the organization very little, but they can significantly extend your message beyond the immediate audience and beyond the immediate time.
Don't be shy about asking for such perks in advance, and negotiate an agreement in writing.