New speakers often find it difficult to get themselves booked. With these tips, you can improve your chances of finding a new speaking engagement.
There’s no denying that the business of speaking isn’t easy.
You may have the most inspiring story in the world. You may be able to work wonders when you’re on a stage.
But if you’re not getting booked to show your story, your talents don’t get you anywhere. Nobody gets to hear what you have to say and you struggle to generate an income from your speaking.
This is a particular problem for new speakers. You hope to become an influencer in your field but you haven’t found a platform yet. This means you don’t have proof of your speaking abilities, which means event bookers look elsewhere.
They may prefer using established speakers over taking a risk on someone who’s new to the industry. That’s assuming that the bookers have heard of you at all.
Getting proactive will help you. As a new influencer, you need to put in some legwork to show people that you can deliver.
That’s what this article aims to help you with. If you follow these four tips, you improve your chances of getting booked as a paid speaker.
Tip #1 – Leverage Materials from Free Speaking Engagements
Even as a new speaker, it can feel a little disheartening to have to speak for free. You have a great story to show people and you know that it has value. Speaking for free can feel like you’re giving your story away without seeing any sort of benefit.
However, it’s these free engagements that can play a large part in helping you to find paid bookings.
That’s because they provide you with the opportunity to create materials that you can send out to bookers.
Don’t see free speaking as an insult to your abilities. See it as an opportunity to capture footage of yourself on stage. Bring a camera to the event and have someone film you as you speak.
You can leverage this footage to build a following on social media. That’s what renowned online marketing influencer Jeff Bullas does. Inc. has named him as one of the world’s top 20 digital marketing experts. And he points to LinkedIn as a great social platform where you can leverage your materials.
In an article on his blog, he says:
“If you have one, it’s a great idea to share your speaking reel. This can go right under your summary <on LinkedIn>, so people immediately see you in action. If you don’t have a produced reel, consider embedding two or three full-length videos in this section to entice event organizers to contact you.”
This also gives you something to point to if an event booker questions your abilities.
You can also gather testimonials from people who see you at free events. Speak to members of your audience and ask if they’d be willing to comment on what they gained from watching you. Ask them if you can film the testimonial, which gives you something else to leverage on social media.
The aim of all of this is to show that you’re somebody who has an impact on an audience. That’s what bookers want from their speakers. Use a video of yourself speaking to show what you do. Then, use testimonials from your audience to show the impact that you have.
Tip #2 – Define Your Purpose
Bookers don’t want to hire someone who claims to be able to talk about anything. That just means you’re not an expert. You can’t offer anything of value because you’re not dedicated to a niche or industry.
They want to see that you have a purpose and that you understand your audience.
Your story needs a clear message and you need a defined reason for showing that story to the audience. Anybody can get on stage and tell a story. It takes a special influencer to tie their story into an overarching message to show the audience why they should care.
Susan Tardanico is a speaker and the author of Beating the Imposter Syndrome. She points to purpose as being extremely important.
In an article for Forbes, she says: “Before you start working on your script or presentation, get clear on its purpose. What are you trying to accomplish? What impact do you want to have on your audience? Are you looking to inform? Inspire? Persuade?”
Speaker and personal branding expert Gary V mirrors that sentiment. He says:
“My biggest secret is to talk about what you know you're good at – talk about stuff you know. I don't talk about things I don't know.”
Once you know your purpose, you can identify your audience.
This makes it much easier to talk to bookers. You can see “This is what I speak about and this is who my message appeals to.” From there, you can highlight your credentials and continue building your authority as an expert in your niche.
That’s what a booker’s looking for. They want to know that you can deliver value. With a defined purpose in place, you can show exactly how you do that.
Tip #3 – Ask for the Gig
One of the biggest misconceptions that speakers have is that they need to wait for the call. You put all of your materials out there and sit back. Bookers will find you and come calling with offers.
That’s not how it works, especially when you’re at the beginning of your career. Nobody knows who you are yet so they’re not actively searching for you.
That’s where our advice to be more proactive comes in. Instead of sitting back and waiting, start researching. Get online and find out about as many speaking opportunities as you can. Record the contact information of every booker and get in touch.
Ask them if you can speak.
Sam Jarman is a software developer and speaker. He points to this simple tactic as being one of the best ways to get more speaking engagements.
“What you might not realise that a lot of organisers of internal conferences, meetups, external conferences and more actually want speakers. One of the biggest fears for these people is that no one wants to speak at their conference, and then no one attends.”
He then adds:
“So reach out, say ‘I have an idea for a talk, since I’ve done xyz recently’”.
Sometimes, a booker doesn’t know exactly where to look to find great speakers. And even if they’ve filled up the speaking slots for an event, they always want to find more talent.
Just ask to get booked for the event. Even if you don’t get booked for the event in question, you put yourself on the booker’s radar. They may think of you the next time a similar opportunity arises.
Tip #4 – Put Yourself Where Bookers Search
Of course, bookers do actively search for speakers themselves. While it helps to be proactive, it’s also a good idea to make sure you’re visible to the bookers you don’t even know about yet.
Your social presence is important here. But what you may not know is that many bookers have other avenues for finding talent.
Paul Potratz is a multi-millionaire speaker who’s established himself in the business niche. He points out that you need to put yourself where bookers look if you want to get booked.
“There are a plethora of sites online that work as speaker databases, so organizations looking for speakers can search through by content or topic to find the perfect speakers for their event.”
He points to the National Speakers Association and Speaker Services as good examples of such databases.
Each operates a database that basically acts as a directory of speakers. You can enter your basic details so that your name starts to pop up in searches for your niche.
Potratz also discusses the issue of paid entry into these databases. That’s something that a lot of new speakers may balk at. He says that the free options are good enough when you’re starting out:
“You may be thinking, ‘If I want to take this seriously, shouldn’t I get a better plan?’ But the idea isn’t necessarily to get you hired off of one of these sites, but to have your name pop up in as many different places as possible when a potential client searches your name.”
The point he’s making is that you can use these sites to build awareness. If your name keeps popping up, it’s going to stick in people’s minds. Even if they don’t book you from the initial search, the fact that you keep appearing may pique their interest.
You just need to ensure you have something of value to offer when the booker researches you further.
The Final Word
All of the influencers cited in this article have built careers as professional speakers. That makes them the perfect people to listen to when you’re trying to find more bookings.
Leverage every scrap of material that you have to help people see how much value you bring to the stage. Make sure bookers can find your name on the platforms that they use to search for speakers.
Establish a defined purpose so you can show your expertise. And finally, get in touch with the decision makers. Sometimes, you just need to put yourself out there to get bookers to pay attention.
This offers a good starting point. However, there’s so much more to building a speaking business that Speakers Institute can help with. We recommend that you do the following: