From the time I was in kindergarten many people (specifically teachers) have said, “Gina talks a lot.” Little did those tattle tale teachers know that talking would ultimately help me make a six-figure income!
I recently posted for suggestions for blog topics and “how to find speaking opportunities” came up several times. It also comes up a lot with my clients wanting my coaching on how to improve this skill for their own businesses.
One thing I’ve learned as a business coach and consultant is that topics that I think would not be interesting are actually what people want to read and learn about. I’m not one of those speakers who travels the world making five, six and seven figures per engagement (yet) but I am getting paid well to speak/train which ultimately leads to more clients for me. And I’m pretty sure I’m only scratching the service for how to find paying speaking gigs. For some of you this may seem pretty basic.
Here are some of my tips for where to speak and how to get booked, based on my experience:
1) Determine your “why” for speaking. What do you want to achieve from speaking? Money? New clients? Exposure to others who can book you in the future? I personally want all of these and adjust my why based on the opportunity. Your “why” will affect your topics and who “hires” you.
2) Develop two or three topics/titles you can speak about based on your professional and personal experiences. I’m hired the most to talk about Customer Service, Sales and Leadership. I create my titles based on the audience/event.
3) Decide who your ideal clients are and/or the audience you want to speak to.
4) Create a speaker sheet for yourself and to distribute to those who request it. People seem to obsess over having a perfect speaker sheet and then avoid getting booked. In my opinion this doesn’t have to be perfect. I’ve been speaking for six years and just now put one together to make it easier for me to apply to speak at conferences. Your speaker sheet should include your contact info, bio and topics/titles you speak about. MESSAGE ME IF YOU WANT A COPY OF MINE.
5) If you’re new to speaking, start small and local to get experience and word of mouth referrals for future work. This strategy is how I was able to get national speaking engagements. Someone local heard me speak and then recommended me to larger national associations. There are many local groups that always need speakers. Create a list of all the possible places you can speak. Your local opportunities include:
- Civic Clubs – Rotary, Sertoma, Civitans, Kiwanis, etc. Find out who is in charge of programming, contact them and let them know you want to speak to their group.
- Professional Membership Organizations & Associations – Chambers of Commerce, Better Business Bureaus, professional women’s groups (NAWBO, eWomenNetwork), real estate associations, advertising associations, arts councils, health councils, doctors associations, etc. – think about your topic and target market and do an internet search for groups that fit your experience and target. For chambers it helps to be a member; they are always open to their members creating free workshops for the other members. This has been hugely successful for me.
- Local Meeting Planners – who organizes events locally? You can find some of these folks in the membership directories of chambers of commerce and convention bureaus.
- Convention Centers & Hotels – Convention Centers and hotels typically have a list of conferences and events coming to their venues. Meeting planners and organizers often ask for local referrals of speakers so that they can save money on travel costs of speakers. I’ve created relationships with local hotel convention sales people to get on their vendor lists.
- Google Alerts – you can sign up for google alerts for “Call for Speakers” and “Call for Presentations” and receive notices when conferences and associations are requesting speaker proposal submissions. You’ll receive emails as these get published on the web.
Nationally there are other opportunities as you grow, such as the NSA (National Speakers Association), MPI (Meeting Planners International) as well as state associations for meeting planners. This is a little more arduous as you will need to submit for membership, have references and video footage of you speaking.
As I wrote this I realized that I have so much more to share about this than I realized, thus I’ll have to write a “Part Two” for this topic. Other details to cover are: crafting and positioning your talk/presentation, how much to charge, when to speak for free and when to pay to speak. If you’re interested in hearing more please leave a comment or message me at Gina@ginaANDcompany.com
And if you have ever been accused of talking too much, say thank you and cash in
-Gina Trimarco, Chief Results Officer