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‹ View all articles 30th April 2013

7 steps to getting booked as a speaker

Public Speaking Essentials

You want to speak publicly... and get paid to do it. Although it's not a quick road, getting booked as a speaker is totally doable. With a bit of perseverance and a larger bit of perspiration and these seven steps to speaker success, you'll be on your way to having your speaking dance card full.

Getting booked as a speaker - Step 1: Get a clear purpose.

You can only get booked as a speaker if you’re offering something people want to hear.  This means to present a clear message that you’re delivering for a specific purpose.  Be mindful of the language you’re going to use to express your purpose.

Speaker bookers (often known as Meeting Planners) don't want to hire a speaker "who can talk about anything" they want a subject matter expert. So find a great niche to make your own.

Being a successful professional speaker is all about marketing yourself:

Good marketing means a clear message powerfully put.

Getting booked as a speaker - Step 2: Get a video of you speaking

Showcasing your speaking talent is the very best way that people will know if they want you to speak at their event or… not so much. It’s worth investing in a professional videographer and hosting a speaking event at an impressive looking venue for free. This will showcase your speaking skills with many people in the room versus just speaking directly to a camera.

This video could also be a reel of past speaking engagements that you have already recorded or even five or ten minutes of you giving a speech.

Getting booked as a speaker - Step 3: Start building a speaker profile sheet

A speaker profile sheet is a 1 or 2 page pdf that gives your professional and speaking experience. This should include:

  • A brief biography / speaker profile
  • Media coverage that you’ve had to date
  • Information about the 2-5 keynote speeches you offer. Make sure they sound compelling
  • A list of recent speaking gigs (paid or unpaid)
  • A link to your showcase video
  • A couple of well-phrased client testimonials
  • Your speaker headshot (ideally professionally photographed)
  • Your web links
  • Details about any publications, awards, professional bodies or other impressive info

Once you have your speaker sheet ready, you can start sending it out to agencies or meeting planners for prospective events that would hold you as a speaker.

Getting booked as a speaker - Step 4: Give freebies

If you're struggling to get booked as a speaker, start for free or low cost to build testimonials and video exposure.  This is an amazing way to garner good feedback for future clients. A testimonial from a satisfied customer goes a long long way.

The key is to always know what you will charge eventually. You tell them “This is my normal rate for speaking but I’m willing to do this for a lower rate”.

Getting booked as a speaker - Step 5: Use your network

Look around you and ask yourself what events are coming up that would fit the subjects you speak on? Look at the events coming up in your city or community. You can always look at meetup.com to see if any communities already exist; which is probably the best known platform for different interest groups to meet up.

Otherwise, most businesses list themselves at the local chamber of commerce, giving you an opportunity to identify if their organization could utilize you as a speaker. There are also business networking events at which you could promote yourself. Or you could approach a local TEDx event to put yourself forward as a speaker (NB they can be very competitive to get into) The possibilities are numerous. Utilize your off and online connections to garner yourself some speaking opportunities.

Getting booked as a speaker - Step 6: Look into an agent

This is mainly for speakers who already have some kind of clear professional profile. Do you have an agency friendly background? If you are an adventurer or seasoned business professional, a top sports professional or some other highly visible public profile then approach an agent could be a benefit for you. Typically agents shoudn't charge you for their services, but take commission once they get you a booking.

Agents aren’t really worth the time if you’re a newbie and have little to no professional profile.  So if you’re new to speaking and not a big name, you might hire a speaker’s PR to help promote you. Test out how good they are by asking them what kind of connections they have to the types of events at which you wish to speak. Get some examples of some of the places they have introduced speaker to in the past.  This can be a good indication of places you might wish to speak in the future if you engage their services.

Getting booked as a speaker - Step 7: Be patient

As a speaker you are building a business; it can take a good two or three years to grow into maturity.  As you get good and get your name out there, word will spread. There’s always demand for a good speaker.

Get yourself a purpose, a video, and a speaker profile sheet. Start speaking for free or at a reduced rate to get your name on the “circuit”.  Utilize people you know (your network) or people you may not know (agent or public speaking PR). Be patient and get going already! It’s time to get this speaking party started in here.

And of course, continue to stretch yourself to be ever more compelling and inspiring as a speaker. If you're a truly inspirational speaker, soon everyone will want to pay to hear you speak!

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