The Secret To Packing A Room For A Speaking Event

The only thing worse than a fear of public speaking is a fear of no one showing up to hear you speak! So when I was asked if I could speak at an event for EO New Jersey I was a little bit worried, right? I mean EO is an amazing group of entrepreneurs who meetup to share strategies, methods and tips in growing each other’s business. But they’re entrepreneurs. And we all know the nature of entrepreneurism means last minute interruptions, or opportunities and that means empty chairs.

Even a live event with a popular speaker rarely gets many people to sign up for the event in advance. Or, when people do sign up, they do it the last day right before the event. Was I worried? No.

Why? Because my event was sold out within a few hours after it was announced. Unbelievable! Events with big names (a million times bigger than mine) don’t sell out, let alone like mine did on the day it was announced.

What’s my secret? Well, there are four of them actually. And here they are, four secrets to packing a room:

1. Scarcity sells. Remember the Lesson From Musical Chairs? When there are fewer seats than there are people who are applying to sit in them, people will scramble to get the seats as fast as they can.
I limited the event to 20 spots, when most events are normally open to the entire membership. When the typical “intimate” event that I was doing is open to all 80 people attending, only about 10 people ever actually showed up. When I said we would cut it off at 20 and take no one else, people scrambled.

2. Keep It Secret – People LOVE secrets. So I said the only way to get into my event, even if you had a ticket, was by signing a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). People think they are going to learn something secret (which they will) and they want it more because it’s secret.

3. Individual Invites – EO normally emails the entire group in giant email blast. There is nothing special or intimate about being in a group blast. Who really wants to be part of the herd? So I sent out an individual email right before the group blast went out. I reached out to invite people specifically, before they received the generic call.

4. Set the stage for expectations high, then over deliver. Limited seating, signing an NDA, keeping things secret, individual invites and special treatment? I set the stage for some pretty high expectations!

After jumping through all those hoops, feeling lucky they were one of the 20 to score a seat, and then having to keep a secret on top of all that; people are going to arrive expecting more a dozen powerpoint slides and a free pad and pen with my name on it. Their expectations are running high before they even walk through that door! I’ve got to deliver, or over deliver on my promise and give them the kind of stellar content that matches or exceeds the build-up. If I don’t, they won’t believe the hype the next time. Every success builds on the past success.

The lessons – we want things more when they are harder to get, even if that difficulty is a perception, not a reality. We hunger and thirst for secrets because secrets make us feel special and sexy and smart. We all LOVE individual attention, especially if it’s in short supply. And finally, we all love the unexpected, bigger than we anticipated, over delivery of the promise.

The room is going to be packed.


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