Hi. Winnie Griggs here, with the next installment in my posts about speaking engagements. So far we’ve covered why book speaking engagements, dealing with butterflies selecting a topic and creating a speaker resume. Today we’re going to talk about finding speaking opportunities.
Whether you just want to build up your confidence or build up your resume, you can start by seeking out opportunities in your own back yard. Local organizations are always looking for speakers.
Some examples of places to check out are:
- Chamber of Commerce. To take full advantage of what this group can offer you, I suggest you become a member. Not only will you likely be able to present a program to that organization, but you will have opportunities to networks with members from civic and trade organizations who can refer you to the appropriate persons in their organizations to book an engagement.
- Libraries, bookstores and book clubs. These groups are always looking for programs that will bring value to their patrons/members, and as an author you are made to order.
- Schools. Try tapping into their career day and visitor day programs.
- Universities and Community Colleges: The institutions normally welcome guest speakers for their literature and women’s study classes
- Local writing organizations – this should be a key target audience for you as a writer. I’ve personally been the program chair for two writers’ organizations I belong to and I can tell you from experience how eagerly I welcome qualified volunteers to present a program at our meetings.
- There are also civic clubs, professional organizations, historical societies, church and social groups.
- Think outside the box – do you have a particular area of expertise or does your book feature some profession or hobby prominently? If so, look around for groups interested in those topics (Example: Debbie MacComber and her knitting-themed books, Laura Childs and her scrapbooking-themed books)
You can contact these groups directly and let them know you are available to present a program – most organizers will be excited to have a volunteer. Make certain you have press kit and program topic information up on your website to refer them to.
And remember, local is relative. Next time you’re planning a road trip, do a bit of research on these types of organizations that are in your area of travel and contact them ahead of time with your availability.
Keep in mind most of the organizations listed above will pay little, if anything, for speakers. But they do offer the opportunity to build your confidence and your resume.
If you think you’re ready to move into larger venues, then try a few of these options:
- Annual conferences for local businesses and civic organizations. If you’ve done a good job of networking and building your resume locally, then this is a logical next step. Keep in mind that speakers for these events are normally booked several months and up to a year in advance.
- National Conferences. Again, speakers for these events are normally booked well in advance of the actual event so you need to do some planning. Figure out your target audiences and then search for organizations (web searches are great for this) and check out their websites to see what sorts of programs they offer to their attendees. Then submit a professional looking proposal, complete with your resume and topics you are prepared to speak on.
So what about you? How do you find venues to present your programs?