In my last article, I outlined the benefits of speaking events and the tools that you need to become a great speaker. In case you missed it, you can catch up here: https://www.bookworks.com/2015/10/polish-up-your-speaking-tool-kit/.
Now that you have the tools you need, it’s time to pitch yourself to speaking events!
Most conferences appreciate it when the speaker takes the time to pitch them personally. In my previous article, we discussed how to select topics that you think will appeal to the audience, now it’s time to outline what your goals are for this event. What are you hoping to gain by speaking at this event? Are you hoping to help your business grow and build your client base, or to get more speaking gigs or consulting opportunities? Your speaking goals will determine where you decide to pitch yourself.
Once you have clearly defined your goals for this event, the next important step is to understand and emphasize the benefits for the attendees. Conference organizers are inundated with potential speakers, so it’s only fair that they would want to make sure they invite the most effective speakers for their attendees. How should you address this in your pitch? Make sure you clearly define what the audience will learn and be specific. Saying something like “They will learn how to use Facebook” (if you’re talking about social media), is too nebulous a description. What about Facebook will they learn? How to create ads? How to write great updates and get more engagement? Being specific about what you are offering will capture more attention for your proposal.
Select the Right Event
As I mentioned above, you should only apply to conferences that you are a good fit for you and match your speaking goals. You’d be surprised how many event coordinators I’ve spoken to who say that every year they get pitches that are completely out of left field. For example, imagine a finance person who pitched a “how to handle money” session at a self-publishing conference– she said that the authors needed to learn how to handle money, which is true, but not right for this event. Look at what’s been featured before and if you still feel you have a strong presentation, then make sure to tie it into the attendees needs. So the “how to handle money” gal could have pitched herself as: Budgeting for Success -how to get twice the mileage from your marketing budget (no matter how small). I can almost guarantee that if she’d pitched it that way, she would’ve had a full room of authors, because everyone wants to know how to stretch a dollar, right?
If you’re feeling overwhelmed at the prospect of finding speaking outlets to pitch yourself to, fear not! Below, I’ve put together a list of great outlets for you to explore.
For those of you just starting your speaking career, I suggest that you begin with smaller, grass-roots outlets. While there are speakers who can command upwards of $30K just for stepping on the stage, realistically, many of us won’t see anything close to those kinds of speaker fees. By starting small, you can gain some experience, and build a speaking platform. This is especially important if you aren’t a seasoned speaker you don’t want to burn any bridges by pitching yourself to an event you may not be ready for. Below are outlets that are good starting points for any speaking career:
MeetUps:com is a place for people with similar interests to organize events, called Meetups. Meetups offer an opportunity to get in front of a core group of consumers who are perfect for your message. Check for Meetups that meet regularly and have over 100 members. Why 100? Well, you’ll get an attrition of folks who show up vs. those who are just phantom members—the people who sign up for stuff and then never go.
- Regional networking: Research networking organizations in your area; these types of organizations are often looking for speakers. You may need to go to a few events and perhaps even join the organization before they’ll consider your speaking proposal, but this is also a great way to network.
- Libraries: Libraries often have packed events calendars and are always open to speaker suggestions that are of interest to their patrons.
- Specialty Organizations: Similar to Meetup.com, pitch yourself to organizations focused on your specialty. Find something related to your industry and see if they accept speakers! Much like regional networking organizations, you may be required to join before pitching them.
- Chamber of Commerce: Most Chambers are tied to small business networking groups and meetings are held as part of the Chamber monthly schedule.
- Conferences & National Events: Consider simply attending some of these events to get a feel for what types of speakers they bring in and how the sessions are structured. These events always present a great opportunity to network with others in your field. Most of the bigger events won’t invite speakers that have no speaking experience so before you pitch yourself at conferences and national events, make sure you have already established a speaking platform. Keep in mind that often, bigger organizations have regional meetings that you may be able to pitch yourself to!
So, let’s say you’ve explored the grass roots options above, and have done well. What’s the next step? If you’ve attended conferences, and think you’re ready to take the stage – go for it! Start pitching yourself to bigger conferences that you feel may be a good fit.
Another option for you to explore could be speaker’s bureaus. Speaker’s bureaus are often keen on bringing in speakers with a track record, so this will need to be a step that you take after you have some experience under your belt. They don’t make money unless they can book you, so having a speaker with no prior exposure or training isn’t high on their list of desirable folks to hire. Now I find that many seasoned speakers are forgoing the speaker’s bureau and booking events themselves, which allows them to keep the booking fee. However, you should research speaker’s bureaus to see if they can help you to accomplish your speaking goals.
Speaking events are a great way to get yourself in front of your target audience, establish yourself as an expert in your field, and help grow your business. Now you have both the tools to become a good speaker, and have suggestions for a starting point to begin your speaking career. When researching speaking events, remember to keep in mind your topics and goals for speaking, so that you can select events that will help you create a solid foundation for your speaking career.
We love to keep our indie authors happy. Join BookWorks network of established and emerging self-published authors and gain exclusive insight to publishing and promoting your book. Sign up HERE.