The Basics of Breaking into Professional SpeakingAt some point in your author career, you will likely be invited to speak at an event. Though it may be among people’s top fears, public speaking has many advantages. As the featured speaker at an event, conference or meeting, you are perceived as the ultimate authority in the room. Speakers have a tremendous amount of influence with an audience, which removes a great barrier from purchasing your books, products, and services. The best news of all? As an author, it will be far easier for you to land speaking gigs because your book establishes your authority and opens those doors! 

The easiest way to get started with speaking is to reach out to local trade associations, charitable and service groups like Kiwanis and Rotary, schools, chambers of commerce, retirement communities, and other organized groups. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of trade organizations in every major city that need speakers for their weekly or monthly meetings. That’s right, they need speakers. That equals opportunity for you!

Another option is to teach classes at your local adult learning centers, parks and recreation departments, and community education programs. Even if only 10 students register for your class, you will still be promoted in their catalog, which is often sent to tens of thousands of people. The same is true for trade associations and organized groups. For example, a trade association with 800 members may only get 60 people to attend the monthly meeting, but as the speaker your information and bio is promoted to all 800 members.

Here are the steps to getting on the speaking circuit:

  1. Write a Great Description – Be sure to write a brief and interesting description of your presentation, including three to five bullets explaining the benefits for the audience. The description of your presentation is often an important deciding factor in getting you booked for an engagement, and it’s also commonly copied into event promotions and agendas.
  2. Develop a Speaker One-Sheet – Most professional speakers have a one-page flier that they can give to potential event hosts as a way to promote their speaking topics. Your sheet should include a brief overview of one or more speaking topics, testimonials from past presentations if you have them, a list of past audiences if available, your photo, book cover, and contact information.
  3. Add a Speaker Page to Your Website – Take the information from your speaker sheet and add it to a page on your website. This effort alone can attract opportunities to speak! Also, if you want to graduate to paid speaking, it’s essential that you include video clips of previous speaking engagements here.
  4. Start Reaching Out – There are countless opportunities to speak in your own backyard. Spend some time on Google and look for trade associations, business groups, service groups, schools, chambers of commerce, and companies that reach your target audience. Start sending emails to contacts letting them know you’re available to speak, and send along your speaker sheet.
  5. Spread the Word – Let your clients, peers, and friends know that you’re available to speak. Ask if they know of any organizations that could benefit from your presentation.
  6. Build on Your Experience – As you gain more experience, ask for testimonials from event coordinators and add them to your speaker sheet and website. Also, look for ways to have some of your presentations recorded so that you have video clips to share on your website and offer to prospects. Sometimes event hosts already have plans to have a videographer in-house, and all you need to do is ask for a copy. Or, you can hire a local videographer or even a student from a local college to come film your event.
  7. Expand Your Offerings – As you gain experience, add presentation topics to your menu of options. This will allow you to return to past clients and book another engagement, plus it can give you reasons to capture new opportunities.

If you like this blog post, you’ll love our Professional Speaking Course! Learn more about our courses for authors here