Yes, technology can be fantastic, but it’s vitally important to connect with people face to face as well. Public speaking is a powerful way to accomplish this, and is something I did a good amount of early on in my business especially. Because of its many benefits, I continue to seek out these opportunities today, and one of the biggest questions I receive around this is about HOW to find these speaking engagements.
I consider it to be a simple 3-step process, and just by following these steps, you’ll be well on your way to an abundance of gigs.
1. Start Looking!
One big piece of advice: if you are new to speaking and/or business, don’t be too picky in the beginning. I often see people rule out lots of opportunities because they believe they won’t be able to reach their exact ideal client by speaking to that particular group. To begin gaining momentum, you HAVE to let this go. You never know who you will meet or connect with or what opportunities will come just from you getting OUT there in some shape or form.
I’ve spoken for many seemingly “random” groups and associations in my career, and have always been amazed at what comes out of it—additional ideal speaking gigs, clients, sales, word of mouth, media attention—so keep an open mind here. Some places to begin: your local Small Business Administration offices or Development Centers, local civic groups such as the Rotary, local organizations’ annual conferences, the local Chamber of Commerce, local trade organizations, national conferences, even the local library (that’s where I got started!)
2. Create Your Speaker Sheet
This is what you will share with those who have booked you to speak, and sometimes, with those who are still considering it. In its simplest form, this sheet usually has your contact information, photo, the title of your talk, and some bullets about what the audience will learn from you.
Additionally, some speakers choose to include information about books or publications they’ve been featured in, as well as testimonials or a listing of clients they’ve worked with.
3. Reach Out and Ask
Last, search Google or the association or group’s website for a contact person to call or email and inquire. It’s important at this point to simply only ask if they accept outside speakers, nothing more. Here’s an example of what I have sent in the past:
Hello, my name is Christine Gallagher. I’m an online marketing and social media expert and speaker, specializing in topics for women entrepreneurs. Do you accept outside speakers? My signature talk is called “The 6 Simple Steps to Kick Start Your Social Media Success.” If so, please let me know…
This opens up the conversation, but first you need to know if you’ve even got a shot. Don’t be discouraged at the “No’s”—keep asking, and make it a habit to reach out to new possible speaking leads consistently every month.
Also, don’t forget to “work” your connections! Many times my own speaking gigs came about because I reached out to people I knew were part of certain organizations. They were already acquaintances or colleagues of mine, and I simply let them know of my interest in presenting for their group.
Finally, there is definitely something to be said for being highly visible online. By regularly participating in social media, keeping your blog updated, sending a newsletter and posting content such as articles on the web, you increase the chances of others not only seeing you as an expert, but of reaching out to connect you to speaking gigs. In fact, I’ve secured several local speaking engagements in the past just by consistently showing up on sites like Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, engaging with others there, and sharing information of value.
The best part of simply getting started seeking out public speaking engagements is the snowball effect. While you’ll be doing much of the pursuing in the beginning, once you start to get out there, you’ll begin getting approached with other speaking opportunities. This was certainly my experience as well, and after a while, you can decide to be a bit choosier.
The bottom line? More speaking means more clients, more customers, and more sales… so what are you waiting for?