Over the next several months I’m going to be posting about speaking engagements – why seek them out, how to get booked, what to speak about, etc. Since my personal experience with this subject is in speaking to groups of writers, that’s going to be my main focus. However, much of this will translate to other type speaking engagements as well.
This article is taken from my booklet 5 Simple Steps to Kick Start Your Speaking Career.
The very first thing you need to do as a speaker is get a list of references together. You need to prove you’ve got some street cred. No one wants to hire a speaker that no one else will endorse. Event planners need to know that you have spoken before and that you didn’t pass out while doing it.
These endorsements will be used over and over again—on your website, promotional postcards, speaker packets and on other speaker websites that you will eventually become a part of.
If you are just getting started in speaking, you may be wondering who will endorse you.
This is the time to start getting creative.
1. Brainstorm the times you have been in front of a group.
If you are pursuing a career in public speaking, chances are you have done some presentations, somewhere.
Maybe it was teaching a Bible study at church, or a talk you did for coworkers. Have you ever worked with a youth group, or been in a Toastmasters group? Those are all people who have heard you speak and can write an endorsement for you.
2. Offer to speak to a group, free of charge.
Many of my clients have started out by speaking for a group for free, just to get their foot in the door and to get their first endorsements rolling
in. Look for civic groups, mothers or MOPS (Mothers Of Pre-Schoolers) groups. Most of these would welcome the chance for you to speak on a topic that is tailored to their audience.
Let them know that you will be happy to do the presentation for no charge as long as the leader of that group would write you a recommendation (if they felt that you were recommendation-worthy!) It is a win-win—they get a fabulous speaker that they may not otherwise be able to afford, and you get that oh-so-valuable endorsement.
3. Make it easy for the event planner
Experience has shown me that it is very hard for people to write recommendations. It is not that the event planner didn’t love you—quite the opposite. She knows that she is not able to express her feelings well enough to do you justice. Everything she writes sounds dull and flat to her ear.
I strongly encourage you to give her an example of a great endorsement—that way she will know what you are looking for, but can write the endorsement in her own words to best reflect you.
If there are key words that reflect who you are, let her know that those are areas that you would love for her to highlight if she felt comfortable. Again, you are not writing the endorsement for her (everyone can see
through those kind of endorsements…) but giving her a framework to work within that will make the task easier for her and more useable for you.
One of the most frequent questions asked of me at writer's conferences is "If I speak on my book and tell them everything that is in there, why would they then buy the book?" When I first began writing and speaking, I was fearful of the same thing. However, I quickly learned three valuable lessons.
1. Lesson One: Don't Speak on Your Book- Speak on a Topic for Your Target Audience
You've seen it on television, the "expert" author who's every other word is, "In my book…" Even worse, they tease the audience, only giving two of six tips "available in their book." These self-promotional gimmicks rarely cause someone to run out and buy the promoted book, and often has the opposite effect, causing resentment not future readers. The solution is to not speak directly on the information covered in your book, but instead look through your book for jumping off topics.