Testimonials rank high when it comes to credibility for a buyer, whether you're selling dishwashers, toothpaste, or keynote speeches. They come in many shapes, sizes, and levels of effectiveness, but most testimonials will still outweigh anything we write about ourselves.
A. First Name Only. These are the lowest form of testimonial. A written sentence or two, no matter how glowing, loses steam when followed by "- Anthony H." No accountability there, for the recommender or the speaker. Whose to say it isn't all made up?
B. First & Last. Finding out Anthony H. is really Anthony Hopkins can be priceless!
C. First, Last, & Position. Finding out it's the Anthony Hopkins that is the CEO of SomeBigComputer Company who hired you? Even better.
[Rich is] "a speaker with strong themes and an entertaining style... Any audience could benefit from his experiences, ideas and enthusiasm."
Principal Financial Group
D. Add a photo. Seeing it's a real person adds weight and added verifiability to the quote.
E. Audio. These were more popular 10 years ago, when digital recorders first hit the scene. A voice is more convincing than disembodied words on a page. But, if you can do Audio, you can just as easily do...
F. Video. These are today's gold standard, especially if you are able to get them at the event itself. The enthusiasm is high, the atmosphere of the convention center floor adds impact, even the crowd noise screams legitimacy. With today's digital HD cameras at an all time low, and software free or virtually free (I used a $50 copy of Corel VideoPro), it's easier than ever.
The best testimonials don't just talk about how well you did, they talk about what the person got out of what you said, or what the company took home from the event. Ask people to speak about something specific in your presentation, and they'll usually be able to write or say something more specific than "I really enjoyed hearing you speak."
Written testimonials are still a tough animal to corral. People say they'll do them, and forget, or just get too busy. It's not unusual for speakers to write their own testimonials for a meeting planner or company big-wig, and ask that person to sign-off on it, pending their own corrections and additions. Believe it or not, book recommendations are often done in the same way. How else would Jack Canfield have time to endorse every book in the Self-Help section?
Getting those written testimonials on company letterhead is nice, but not as necessary in today's digital world. When you do get them, scan them for posterity, and send them if a meeting planner actually asks. Otherwise, just add them to your website in a short soundbyte. Get permission to use people's company logos, and add it along with a picture of the individual. This can build a nice visual resume of corporate clients, once you begin to pile them up.
Video testimonials are interesting as well, from beginning to end. I knew I wanted to get some at my last big event, but I admit, I was hesitant to ask people. My friend Theresa Frasch had no such hesitation, took my FlipCam and started going around the conference, getting me every testimonial. She definitely saved the day! Getting a third party involved can be very helpful, and you'll know the testimonials are authentic (for your own peace of mind) when you aren't right there pressuring them to be nice.
Finding the time to actually put them together and post 'em on YouTube was another challenge, but it was easier than I expected. Once I had my template together, each one took about 10 minutes, not counting compile and upload time. One's uploading as I type, so multi-tasking is always an option! A quick shout out to Darren LaCroix and his CD program "YouTube It" for being an encouraging and educational nagging voice on my computer.
However you get them, testimonials are a crucial piece of your marketing puzzle. No one else can give your speech, but most everyone who hears it can give a 20-30 second speech about how you've enlightened, educated, and inspired them. Go out today and Speak...and Deliver. Then get someone to tell the world how you did!
Just for Toastmasters: Many clubs record speeches, but how many record testimonials for the speakers after the meeting? This can be good practice for the speakers, and provide some great promo material for members of the club, and even the club itself! Don't force anyone to do it of course, but once they see how much fun it is to get a testimonial from others, they'll be lining up to get on camera.