Public Speaking: Cheap, Effective Cold Lead Generation

Generating leads can be difficult, time consuming, expensive, and exhausting.

Or, it can be simple, invigorating, and very affordable.

One of many possible strategies for obtaining the latter instead of the former is to:

  • Deliver a presentation…
  • …in front of a crowd somebody else assembled.

In just 11 words, I’ve given you the marketing plan that has built numerous seven-figure businesses.

The largest public accounting firm in the western United States has grown a nine-figure division serving just the construction industry, primarily driven by doing this one thing — delivering educational presentations to the staff of large construction companies.

When I was in private practice, I started teaching webinars to tax debtors in late 2013 to generate leads. In 2014, I expanded that to teaching ethics CE to other Enrolled Agents in order to drive referrals from those EAs.

The classic dinner seminar has been selling financial planning, estate planning, and insurance products since the late 1950s, and in 2022 still remains one of the most common and effective marketing tactics for selling such services. Literally tens of thousands of CFPs, ChFCs, attorneys, and others are hosting such events every week across the entire United States.

Public speaking, in it’s various forms, is one of the most powerful marketing tactics at your disposal. There are several things that explain why it works so well.

First, when you offer an educational presentation on a topic, the people that are interested in that topic will self-select to be there. That immediately increases the likelihood that they’ll also be in the market for your services.

Second, presentations are a type of one-to-many selling. It’s simply a more efficient way to prospect for business, compared to doing one-on-one selling. Compare it to telemarketing, as a lead generation endeavor. You can cold call all day, but you’re doing it one-by-one. One person or business at a time. Contrast that with public speaking, where you can have dozens or even hundreds of people in the room at once.

Third, there is an instant credibility boost that comes with being a speaker. In our society, there is an inherent bit of respect that we give to anybody that has written a book or delivered a presentation. Being the person at the front of the room, even virtually on Zoom, gives you instant status as the expert, the authority. It may not always be earned, but this authority positioning is something we inherently assign to speakers in most arenas.

You can have zero out of pocket marketing cost.

Fourth, there are countless opportunities to speak in front of people that are brought together by somebody else. If you run an event yourself, which I’ve done hundreds of times, you have the responsibility for doing the marketing to gather the audience together. But there are other companies and organizations that have already brought the audience together. For example, the local IBEW chapter has already assembled the local electricians. Your local Board of Realtors has already gathered together most of the real estate agents. Your Chamber of Commerce has already done the dirty work of getting many small business owners together. They even run events themselves, and all you have to do is show up and present. That’s presentation marketing at it’s best!

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In fact, I’ll belabor this fourth point a bit more. Since you should really be growing your firm by focusing on serving specific, well-defined client avatars, public speaking to organizations and companies provides an automatic way of doing this.

For example, if you’re an accountant that’s decided that you want to build your firm by serving real estate investors, you should be doing Tax Talks to local groups of real estate investors. Well, guess what? Your local Real Estate Investor Association (REIA) has already assembled these folks. You can find your local REIA via simple Google or MeetUp search.

Nearly every industry and profession has trade associations. These trade associations run conventions, webinars, and other events. They’re always looking for speakers. In fact, some are downright desperate for speakers.

Want to grow your company by serving the needs of a specific high-income neighborhood? If they have an HOA, they have meetings, and probably a newsletter, too. It’s not too hard to find the contact information for the HOA board and reach out. As long as you can deliver a presentation that provides real value to those homeowners, they just might be willing to let you speak for 20 minutes at an HOA meeting, or perhaps hold a Zoom webinar and email all the homeowners about it.

Will every HOA permit this? No. But it never hurts to ask.

Consider any industry or profession where it’s normal for them to gather together in a room. Some example reasons why some people gather together regularly:

  • Technology demonstrations.
  • Board meetings.
  • Continuing education classes.
  • Sales meetings.
  • Seminars, workshops, and conferences.

Gosh, that sure sounds a lot like what most professional service providers do, doesn’t it?


If you’re an accountant reading this, which many readers here are, your first thought might be, “Yeah, but there’s no way they’ll get together to hear somebody talk about taxes.”

Wrong, my friend! Two quick examples…

First example: One tax professional from Sacramento that has been a member of my training programs for many years, Mike Ornelas, EA, has been using this tactic successfully to get new tax resolution clients from Realtors in his area for a couple years, by delivering “Tax Talks” directly to the real estate agents.

Second example: Ever heard of a little newsletter called the Tax Reduction Letter from the Bradford Tax Institute? This company generates millions of dollars a year in revenue by having traveling salespeople deliver 2-hour presentations on tax savings for the self-employed at Board of Realtor offices all over the country. It’s one of the primary sales channels for their business.

Over at Prolaera, we regularly assist large public accounting firms with delivering educational presentations to other accounting firms and to the accounting/finance departments of targeted prospective clients and active clients (the client company gets to provide their staff with CPE as an employee benefit). These classes serve as a way to showcase the firm’s expertise, build client relationships, and generate professional referrals.

For IPA 400 level firms across the country, educational presentations serve as a vital component to their business development efforts. When we started Prolaera, we assumed we would only ever be working with the training and HR departments at firms. But the marketing departments of these large accounting firms have been robust users of our software, too, for the reasons stated here.

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Lastly: Financial planners and insurance agents in private practice have been using educational marketing presentations since the 1950s. It was highly effective back then, and it still is today. Real estate agents have been doing new homebuyer seminars for decades, with great success. Mortgage brokers have been delivering financing presentations for decades, because it delivers results.

Bottom line: This works.

Embrace public speaking as a marketing tool, and integrate it into your lead generation matrix today. It’s one of the cheapest, most effective, and most targeted marketing methods you’ll ever use.

Action Steps

Consider taking the following steps to implement this marketing tactic in your own tax and accounting firm…

  1. Identify the specific associations, trade groups, and other organizations that your target market belongs to.
  2. Determine what kind of events, both online and in-person, that these organizations hold. Look at past agendas to get a feel for what topics are presented.
  3. Identify whether or not your ideal clientele holds their own internal events. Many types of businesses have small, internal meetings of various types.
  4. Brainstorm a short list of relevant tax or accounting topics for that group.
  5. Contact the organization via both email and telephone to inquire about speaking. Use company websites, Google, LinkedIn, etc. to determine the right person to reach.

Ready to increase the profitability of your tax firm? Get your copy of my new book, Profit Optimizers: 12 Big Ideas for a More Profitable Tax Firm