Monday, February 4, 2013

How to Get Speaking Engagements

Would you like to be seen as an expert in your field?  As quickly as possible?

One of the best ways to establish yourself as an expert is to give talks about your topic.

GOOD NEWS: Many people are really afraid of talking in public. So anyone who is willing to do it is almost certain to gain visibility quickly.

BETTER NEWS: Even people who are not good speakers are seen as being, at least, a little more knowledgeable than many other non-speakers in the room.  So you don’t even have to be “good,” although it is nice if you are.

Question: How do we get speaking engagements?

Now that we’ve decided we WANT to give presentations, how do we get these speaking engagements?

Step #1: Find Potential Venues

Different Places to Try Getting Speaking Engagements
Chambers of Commerce
Local Topic Related Clubs
Business Groups
Non-profit Organizations
Colleges, especially Continuing Education Departments
Churches, Synagogues, Mosques, etc.
Local Chapters of Regional or National Associations

Also, you can check Meetup (, and there are other similar sites like this.  Meetup is a great place to start to find groups that might benefit from whatever you might have to share.

Step #2: Contact the Group Leader

Key Question: Does the group ever have talks for its members?

Find who leads the group and ask that person (or committee) whether they ever have people make presentations to their group.

Suggestion: Emphasize Educational Angle, not Sales

For the sake of building your name and being seen as an “expert,” I suggest that you make it clear that you will be providing an “Educational Presentation,” not a “Sales Presentation.”  Many people are weary of people pitching unknown products or services to its group’s members.

Key Question: Does your presentation topic fit the group?

If they are, then ask whether the leader thinks his or her group would benefit from listening to a talk about YOUR topic.  If not, then it might be a good idea to try asking another group that might be a better fit for your talk topic.

Alternate Approach #1: You might want to attend a couple of group meetings before approaching the leader about possibly giving a presentation.

This alternate approach also gives you a chance to get to know the leader and several of the group’s members more.  This might make it easier to give a presentation, especially if you tend to be sort of shy.

It also gives you a chance to build the group leader’s trust in you and what you might have to offer.

Alternate Approach #2: You can get other speakers to refer you to the group’s leader.  Do you think that the group leader might trust a former presenter to refer another presenter?

Your introduction to the group leader is usually easier when this happens.  In fact, many group leaders will ask former speakers whether they know anyone.

Get to know other speakers, and will not always have a clear path to the group’s leader, but often it will be a lot smoother for you.

Key Point: Most Places Need Speakers

In general, I find that most places that host speakers are eager to find speakers.  Some places will be booked solid for the next 10 years, but most people who run events need speakers.

When you offer to give a presentation, often you are doing the group leader a favor.

If you take these steps, it will not be long before you are giving presentations and becoming a topic expert.

SIDE NOTE: Don’t worry!  The more public speaking you do, the easier it becomes, especially if you’re driven to improve yourself.

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