Speaking Engagements – Pitching Your Program

CANHi.  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, creating a speaker resume and finding speaking venues.  Today we’re going to talk about how to actually pitch your talk.

Once you have selected your topic, have your resume together and have located possible speaking opportunities, how do you let folks know you’re ready and willing?

Well, first you need to make certain you can effectively convey what it is you’re offering.  You do this in two steps:

  1. Select a catchy and / or descriptive title – Don’t ever sacrifice descriptive for catchy, but if you can pull off both it’s a definite plus.  It helps to paint a picture in the program coordinator’s mind.  Some examples of successful titles from the 2011 ACFW Writers’ Conference:
    • A Merry Heart: Writing and Selling the Humorous Novel
    • Adversity: Writing It, Writing Through It, Writing About It
    • A Kiss is NOT Just a Kiss
    • Fried Brains & Ham: Unclogging that Writer’s Block
  2. Draft a brief (one-three paragraph) description of your workshop.  Just a high level overview of the points  you intend to cover and the slant or approach you plan to use.

Next, assuming you have a website (and if you don’t I highly recommend you get one) you want to post both your speaker resume and the above mentioned title and description of your program(s).

Once that’s in place, and depending on the nature of the group and your relationship with it, there are a number of different ways to make your initial approach.

  • If you’re wanting to pitch this program to a group who’s put out a call for speakers, then you simply need to follow whatever procedure they’ve put in place to collect proposals.
  • If you’re pitching ‘on the fly’ to someone you’ve encountered, briefly mention what program(s) you have available, your credentials, and then leave them with a business card, making certain you mention that more information can be found on your website.  Try to get a business card from him/her as well, or some kind of contact information, so that you can follow-up.
  • If you’re pitching cold to a business or group that you think might be interested in your program, then put together a packet that includes:
    • The resume we already discussed
    • A cover letter expressing your interest in speaking to this particular group, why you think you and/or your program would be a good fit for the group, and your availability.
    •  If you’ve presented this topic before, even if you’ve mentioned it in your resume, you can emphasize this in your letter as well.

Then send it off!


So – that’s my pitching checklist.  What about you – do you have any other pointers to add to the discussion?  If so, please share!


Next time we’ll talk about the prep work you’ll want to do once you’ve booked an engagement.

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