As someone who not only runs events, but speaks at events regularly, let me share some of the secrets of garnering speaking engagements.
First off, there are TONS of different kinds of speaking opportunities. Everything from Meetups, industry conferences, trade shows and product-specific user conferences, to business dinners, awards programs, seminars and so much more. The audiences can range from students (at your local college), business people to retirees. Speaking engagements can be live, on the phone or over the web, or some combination — an international simulcast event perhaps.
You could be a keynote speaker, a dinner speaker, a panelist, a special guest, a closing speaker.
- Know whom you should be speaking to. What kind of audience is interested in what you have to say?
- Be a good speaker. Have a story to tell. Being a published author is great, it builds credibility but these days, just about anyone can be an author. Be known for something.
- Be clear, concise and entertaining. Be interesting. Be inspiring. Be useful.
- Practice. Practice. Practice. If you don’t have a chance to practice in front of an audience, recruit one. Friends, students, family. Big +1 for organizations like Toastmasters.
- Let people know you are a speaker. Have information about your speaking capabilities on your website. Add the word “Speaker” to your social media profiles. Tell people you are looking for speaking engagements. Be specific.
- Let people know you are an experienced speaker. Provide examples of your speaking engagements, the topics you cover, the types of speaking you do.
- Don’t attempt to sell something to your audience. Most audiences have little patience with this. Help them. Educate them. Don’t badger, proselytize, or harangue. If you are an excellent speaker, people might be interested in purchasing what you have to offer but there is little that can make you more unpopular as a speaker than turning a speech into a sales pitch.
How you will be found/discovered:
- Many/Most event managers get speakers for their events from their personal “Rolodex” (does anyone have those anymore? Probably not but you know what I mean.) Or, they see a good speaker at another event and recruit them for their event. Or they ask their friends and colleagues. Or they perform an online search.
- Many conferences and trade shows have calls for papers, calls for speakers, calls for submissions or standard submission processes. (Helpful hint: search on these phrases paired with keywords regarding your area of expertise.) Also take the time to attend events put on by the organizations and see what kind of speakers they use. Ask what kind of speakers they are looking for. Observe the speakers they select.
And, if all else fails:
- Create your own speaking opportunities. Run your own event. Create a seminar series or webinar.