Expert Round-Up Topic: How do you get yourself booked for speaking engagements?
Increase the visibility of your online profile. I’d say it’s safe to assume you have some sort of online presence. Whether it’s through Innovation Women, social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, or your own website, you should maximize and utilize these. If you’re attempting to target a particular topic or industry, tailor your online profiles to reflect this: what you do, what you’re capable of discussing, and details about your story. Ascertain that your online presence is consistent across all channels. Maintain an interest in industry- or topic-specific organizations and associations. These are frequently the individuals who organize large conferences and are on the lookout for speakers. When event organizers are looking for speakers, they are often required to sift through an exhaustive list of possible candidates. By providing them with all the information they require in one location, you simplify their job and increase your chances of being booked.
Outline your talk. To my mind, it is possible to obtain speaking engagements simply by approaching a venue and stating that I am a good speaker and fairly intelligent. The majority of venues will prefer that you approach with “I’m an excellent speaker and fairly intelligent, and here’s the talk I’d like to present for you.” That is, they want you to be prepared to offer value immediately to demonstrate that you are knowledgeable about the subject, confident in your abilities, and familiar with their program and audience well enough to have specific ideas about what you can contribute. You are not required to write the entire talk at first, but rather to develop one or more topics with basic outlines. Provide them with catchy titles and the ability to respond to basic questions.
Book a venue to speak. In my opinion, begin emailing and calling venues that host speakers. If
you’re selling books, arrange a reading at your local library, bookstores, coffee shops, or bars. If you’re just starting out in your coaching career, consider attending local meetups and conferences. If you want to speak for the sake of speaking, start with general listings of upcoming local events. Expect a minimum of three to four months between booking and speaking, so plan accordingly and time your approach accordingly if the event has specific dates. Certain venues, like publishers and agents, will have specific guidelines for speaking proposals. Others, you’ll simply need to write with your contact information and what you can do to assist them.
If you include this quote in your story, please let me know when it’s published, so I can promote it across our social media channels too!
First, leverage free Zoom webinars to showcase yourself. Put on your own valuable presentation and invite individuals from companies in the industries you serve and ask for feedback and testimonials when you’re done. Second, track down all the associations that serve the industry you want visibility in, and apply to their in-person and virtual speaking events. Third, vlog weekly on LinkedIn or other social media platforms and promote discussion and sharing. With these three directions, you’ll build skills, awareness, and a track record that will put you on the road toward paid speaking gigs.
Submit a killer speaker proposal. Some conferences will request a proposal on a particular subject. Pay attention to the event’s requirements and qualities while composing this, but don’t lose sight of your expertise. Frequently, event organizers will give detailed directions, even down to a word restriction! It’s also crucial to know the audience’s size and level as well as the conference’s tone. Keep in mind that your proposal will be one of several. Make sure it’s one-of-a-kind and relevant to the audience’s demands. Many people are too focused on what they want to say, and they fail to express what the audience and event administrators (gatekeepers) want to hear.
I believe that successfully booking speaking engagements is about two things: focusing on the audience you’re trying to reach and being personal. I have had success with bookstores because I visited them in person six months ahead of my launch, handed them my book, and shared why I believed my book would appeal to their readers (location, theme, etc.) I always added a personal touch— mentioning a mutual contact or some other connection to their store. When you go in person, people are able to connect you to your book. With online pitches, I learn about the person I’m pitching to, their audience, and their mission. If it’s a podcast, I listen to several episodes. What makes me a good fit, but also unique? If it’s a publication or website, I get to know their platform and fashion my pitch to their audience. It’s also important to circle back after giving them time to review your book and credentials. People are busy and usually appreciate the reminder. Because the world now is primarily virtual, I believe this personal touch helps you stand out. People appreciate it, it gets you noticed, and bookings often follow.
The biggest mistake I see authors make when pitching a book talk is that they focus too narrowly on the subject of their book. You need to zoom out and suggest a talk relevant to a wider audience. Remember that an event audience won’t mirror your book audience, so don’t be too precious about your topic. Think what broader topics of the zeitgeist that your book touches on.
For example, my latest book, This Girl Ran, was a memoir about how I swapped a party life and discovered endurance sport and the positive effect it had on my life. Really, who wants to listen to a talk about marathon training?! So, I widened my topic to include things like how I applied the mental grit I learned from endurance training to business. From that I secured several motivational corporate bookings. Then for a women’s event, I pivoted my topic further to talk about why more women don’t take up sport (i.e., we are burdened with the aesthetic pressure to look pretty and don’t want to damage our nails or get helmet hair from riding a bike! And how to overcome all that).
This might sound like you’re straying too much from your book. But so what! The PR value to a book talk is the mention of it in your speaker bio. Whether you mirror the content exactly or whether you go off topic, you’ll still get a book mention.
Helen Croydon is a three-time author and founder of Thought Leadership PR, which does personal PR for authors.
If you like this blog post, you’ll love our Author Toolkit on how to become a professional speaker. It includes checklists, templates, worksheets and more. Check it out!