Each month, the Nonfiction Authors Association asks a burning publishing question of the industry’s best, brightest, and most innovative experts. Here’s what they have to say for April!
NFAA: How do you locate speaking opportunities?
The first order of business is to create an STL (Speaking Topic List) and a TAL (Target Audience List). These will help you efficiently and quickly propose yourself as a conference speaker via online submission forms or via email to an event planner or program committee chair. Be brief and specific so that event planners can quickly decide if you are a match for their programs. Also, if you haven’t yet authored a book (or two) yet, get started! Not only does book authorship create instant credibility, event planners often say that merely knowing a book’s title can be enough for them to evaluate the speaker as right for their program agenda.
Last, always follow up, courteously of course, if you do not hear back from an event planner after 4-6 weeks. Decision-makers can get overwhelmed and/or not realize that your expertise might fit a different program session (such as putting you on a panel). Following up can thus help you stand out from the pile and ensure you are not overlooked.
I am a budding speaker who has found incredible speaking opportunities in just the first few months in my new endeavor to become a keynote speaker. The first thing that has to happen is you have to build your brand by letting everyone in your network know what you are doing and be disciplined about it. This means posting diligently about what you are doing in your speaking business. It doesn’t necessarily have to be about actually landing speaking engagements, but how you are building towards becoming a speaker. That network should also be growing every day with like-minded speakers who are doing what you want to do!
There are also tactics and actions that are easy and affordable to gain access to actual speaking lists. One way is to join get a Virtual Speakers badge, which is only $85 through ESpeakers (no affiliate). Another way is to join a Speakers Toastmasters group. They often all have lists that they share with their members. This allows you to create and practice your speeches with concentrated feedback from other speaking professionals.
Public speaking is a great way for nonfiction authors to create exposure for themselves and their books. The best method of identifying speaking opportunities is by researching events held by associations, organizations, and groups that target the same audience that you are targeting as readers. To do that, you can seek out directories of associations, use search engines (Google is the most productive), use Google Alerts, and local, regional, and national groups including chambers of commerce, Rotary clubs, and others.
The amazing result of the pandemic on speaking has been an exponential explosion of virtual speaking opportunities. Estimates have jumped from 6,500 speaking gigs a day on the North American continent to 9,000. And while some will return to in-person gigs, a large number of business associations, business networking, and special interest groups will NEVER go back. They’ve seen the light of expanded attendees—not just their local membership, no meeting expenses, ability to use virtual meetings to attract new prospective members, and pajama-bottom convenience, etc.
Therefore, these venues are ripe for authors and speakers who previously wouldn’t travel because of distance, didn’t have the time, or might have had to wait months to get booked! Now there are an infinite number of possibilities—if one doesn’t say “yes,” the next one might! It’s just a matter of carving out the time or assigning the task to someone to make the connections.
To find them:
- Google (business networking or whatever you topic is) + (your market)
- Go to MeetUp to find meetings in your genre or region
- Checkout recurring meetings in your desire space on EventBrite
- Visit the Directory of Associations to find associations sorted by state or by industry
- Join a national organization and then speak at all of/selected chapters nationwide
- Explore the resources at www.SpeakerTunity.com, which aggregates direct contacts for speaking opportunities at meetings, venues, and associations by market or by niche. Currently, there are 60 regional directories provided by SpeakerTunity Cities®. The niche directory SpeakerTunity Speaker Specialties® is coming in May/June.
For YouTube instructional videos: www.getbooked.biz/youtube
CAROL B. AMOS
My speaking engagements have been a result of personal connections and solicitations and through social media.
I have secured speaking engagements by asking family and friends to identify or pass my information on to people who are dealing with Alzheimer’s as a family caregiver or health care professional. I have also targeted people in my geographical area who could benefit from my message such as community centers, churches, workplaces, and senior living facilities.
I have joined many Alzheimer’s groups on social media. I focus on providing quality content to help caregivers and health care professionals. I have had many people that I do not know reach out to me to speak to their group. My fees vary depending on the group. In some instances, the organization will purchase books as giveaways in lieu of a speaking fee. For me it is all about spreading my message of H.O.P.E.
Author of H.O.P.E. for the Alzheimer’s Journey: Help, Organization, Preparation, and Education for the Road Ahead
Facebook (Carol B Amos)
LinkedIN (Carol B. Amos)
ADAM P. SMITH
Locating speaking opportunities is really not a difficult task, assuming you’re willing to put in the work. The top public speakers in the world spend years being constant and consistent in their work ethic. They send emails. They make phone calls. They do research. And they make countless pitches to find the people that will book them to speak. They also are forthcoming and open with their content. They share it on blog posts. They do podcasts. They are active on social media. They are willing to share their knowledge and have an abundance mindset that propels them into a world where helping people comes back to them ten-fold. Just like Zig would have
Before the pandemic, and hopefully again someday soon, there were something like five thousand conferences a day in the United States. Literally more than a million every year. That is a lot of opportunities to be on stage in front of a targeted audience. Whether you speak on baking cupcakes or C-level business organization, there’s a conference for that. So, identify the events where your content is relevant. Then identify who runs those conferences and who decides which speakers will be on stage. Those are the people that you are serving. Not the audience. Remember that. The event organizers are the ones who decide not only who speaks but also whether the event was a success, if you would or did contribute to that success, and if you and your content were, or are, worthy of that spot on stage. They are the client when it comes to who you are selling, wooing, and soliciting for those opportunities to speak.
I write this as a publishing professional, including BookTrib contributor, professional book reviewer, contributor to business and travel books, and adjunct professor/guest lecturer teaching book publishing.
The thing for nonfiction book authors to know, especially if they are independently published, is that there is a ton of competition to speak before an audience. First, they must have a professional online presence, especially a LinkedIn profile. Then, the fastest way to get a coveted invitation to be a public speaker is to volunteer to do so at a group where you are already known. For instance, the local Rotary chapter will need one speaker a week. A trade association often needs speakers at their monthly and annual meetings. A nonprofit society also needs speakers and guest lecturers.
Becoming a public speaker means developing a reputation one engagement at a time. Once you’ve spoken at the local Kiwanis, angle for a talk at some of the Chambers of Commerce in your region. (Even their committee meetings are good ways to build street cred.) Later, with a track record under your belt, you can volunteer to speak at area libraries. (The librarians, not surprisingly, will carefully research you to make sure you are a practiced speaker and can prove it.)
Please note: without a prior background in public speaking and/or a well-known book, most, if not all, of these engagements will be gratis. Look at it as a way to publicize your book with class and as a learning opportunity.
If you get good enough, and your name and book title become familiar (especially if your book is in a useful niche space), you can earn money as an adjunct professor. Your name and book will then be prestigiously associated with various colleges and universities, further boosting your reputation, content creation, and book sales.
I have been emailing congregations in my faith community and offering to give a speech as part of their adult religious education program. So far, I have done about a dozen remote presentations and have about a dozen more already scheduled. I am busy almost every Sunday through the end of May. Some congregations offer to pay, but for others, I suggest that they buy books. The reason this is working so well is that, even though the book is a secular book, in my pitch, I tie it to a key spiritual teaching of the religious faith. I am considering expanding that to other faith communities, but I don’t know them as well.
The other way I get speaking opportunities is through my website. My website has a page devoted to speaking, where I have an up-to-date calendar of the upcoming speaking engagements and links to podcasts I have appeared on. Through that page I have gotten two speaking assignments not related to the efforts I have made, one where I spoke to a university community, sold over 500 books and was paid to speak.
Establish yourself as an expert. There are two things you need if you want to get speaking opportunities: 1) You need to be seen as an expert on the topic. People need solutions and if you can provide them, they’ll want to hear from you. 2) Make yourself well known. This can be through regular social media posting, articles published in local and popular publications, radio or print interviews, and press releases. Having your name and expertise in every medium and platform will bring you opportunities that you don’t have to run after. A word of caution: don’t expect it to happen overnight. You may have to put content out for years before it starts taking momentum. However when it does, the result will pay off for all the hard work.
The NFAA blog is always looking for contributions. Check out our contributions page and see if you or another nonfiction author or speaker you may know could provide an article or interview: Click Here.