What can you do to make a real splash at trade shows and stand out from the crowd? One way to increase your visibility - and that of your business - is to become a speaker, rather than simply an exhibitor.

Imagine the possibilities if you are able to hold the floor for a few minutes, with hundreds - or even thousands - of eyes on you. Daunting as this might be, it's one of the best ways to raise awareness of your brand.

Trade shows often have industry specialists deliver speeches or addresses, whether in the main hall or at a side-function. Is there anything stopping you from throwing your hat in the ring?

Clearly trade show organisers won't let just anybody take the microphone; you'll have to submit a proposal in advance. But if you've got something interesting to say, you may be given a slot.

Perhaps you'd like to discuss the latest industry developments, or future products and services that are on the way. Or maybe you've got a new, innovative offering that is likely to enthuse the masses and generate excitement in the room.

If you want to speak at a trade show, you need to submit a proposal to the organisers at an early stage. They may have a number of credible industry figures competing for the same air-time, so you need to stake a claim early.

It's important to put some time and effort into your plan, to ensure the organisers see the value in letting you speak. After all, they want to have the best trade show they can. If they think your speech can add value to the event, they may well will give you the freedom of the stage.

If you do secure a slot, it's important to ensure you ace your delivery. What could be worse than getting up in front of your peers and potential customers and then fluffing your lines?

These are the people you are looking to work with, compete against and sell to, so you've got to make a great impression. If you lack confidence as a speaker, it may be worth delegating the task to an expert presenter, or enlisting one of your more extrovert employees.

This is a great opportunity to raise the profile of your organisation, so it's important to make the most of it. Grab the audience's attention and show them you mean business.