7 tips to get you started or help you move up in the speaking world
Potential clients often ask me – what’s the best way to build my business? My answer – speaking.
Speaking to groups positions you as an expert and allows your audience to get to know you, trust you and like the idea of doing business with you.
The next question is how do I get speaking gigs? The simple answer is ask. Here’s a list of seven tips that will make that asking easier and get you more and better speaking opportunities
Free is easy. Some old time speakers will tell you never to speak for free, but this is silly. I’ve been paid thousands of dollars to do a 90 minute keynote that made me less money than talking for free at an entrepreneur’s event which attracted a number of new clients. Don’t get hung up on money – you’re not Anthony Robbins yet.
Create a signature speech. Your topic should match your expertise. Deliver three points (strategies or tactics) related to a theme. This structure will stay roughly the same whether you speak for 10 minutes or 90 minutes. The difference will be the level of detail.
Small and Often. There are so many different professional groups, networking groups, business-social groups, Rotary clubs etc. that there are opportunities everywhere. If you’re just starting out – take them! Speaking often at small events will allow you to hone your talk, become comfortable with speaking to a group and also will build your profile. Ask members of the group if they belong to other organizations that would like to hear you speak on the same topic.
Get testimonials from organizers and atendees after every speaking gig.
Network to speak. Networking so much easier and more effective if you can offer something of value to new contacts at no cost. When you meet someone new mention that you’re a speaker and ask what organizations they belong to that might find value in your talk.
Have a one-sheet. This is a one page flyer that outlines your talk topic, gives biographical information about yourself, and perhaps even a handful of testimonials. Don’t forget a professional looking picure too. All this goes on one page so keep it short and to the point! Have this in a digital format like a pdf so that you can email it to event organizers.
Meet event organizers. As you move from small, local groups to conferences and larger events make it a habit to go to those events first. Meet the organizers and find out what type of audience they market to. I spent a year going to entrepreneur conferences and making note of which ones would be a fit for me in the future. The following year I reached out to the organizers and was able to speak at many of them.
Sponsorship works. Depending on the type of event, one of the best ways to reach the big stage is to become a sponsor. Once you’re comfortable speaking and you’re relatively good at it, look for events that have sponsor/speaker opportunities. This is where you pay to sponsor an event and get speaking time as part of your package. A lot of people shy away from these opportunities because of the upfront investment, but they’re often a good deal if you work them properly. In addition to your speaking time, you usually get lots of free marketing through social media, event web pages, printed materials or programs, signage, exhibitor tables and other mentions.
Remember, when you’re doing a big gig it’s not just about the time you’re on the stage or even at the event. Use the event to market yourself in the weeks leading up to your speaking gig, then get great testimonials and mention the event in your bio or marketing materials afterwards.