Amen! I say that a lot after reading a Chris Brogan post, but this one particularly resonated coming, as it does, on the heels of our latest speaking gig at the Insurance & Financial Communicators Association annual conference in Montreal. Here's an excerpt from his post (which is worth reading in its entirety, btw):

Putting in the Hours

Posted: 20 Oct 2010 07:30 AM PDT

When I show up to an event, I’m as prepared as I can be. I know who my audience is, and I ask a handful of people for even more current information upon arrival while mingling. I get the gauge for what else is on their plate, so that I’m not so arrogant as to think that they’ve dropped everything to rush in and hear what it is I’m speaking about. But it goes back even before this.

I’ve built my speaking and consulting career around a blend of executing my own projects and also researching and learning about others who have done a great job with their own projects. I speak daily to some company or another (either in the large business side of things or in the small) about how they are facing the challenges of human business and improved marketing and sales needs. By putting in the hours I do in learning about other people’s experiences, and by putting in the hours on executing my own projects and experiments, I have more to offer the people who pay for my time.

Can I get another amen?!

This is how Steve and I prepare for our gigs, and we're always surprised when attendees tell us how focused, on-target and useful our talks are. Since we know we put in the hours, we figure most other speakers must not. And that's a shame, not only for the audience, but for the speaker, who misses a great opportunity to share ideas and potentially win partners and customers. Of course, these are the same people who spend most of their speaking time selling themselves instead of solving problems or providing insight. We've learned that the best sales tool we have is us, doing what we'd do if you hired us. No pitch required!

Consider all this before you book your next speaking gig -- whether it's a sales presentation or a workshop. What may feel like extra work will yield a better return than your previous tactics.