How to Find Speaking Engagements to Expand Your Reach
This blog post is by Miranda Nahmias.
If you’ve been thinking about trying out public speaking, but are unsure about how to find speaking engagements, don’t worry — it’s actually a lot easier than it sounds.
Once you get your toes wet and have a few local events under your belt, you’ll start to book more and more events with ease. The key is to know exactly how to get started so that you can easily find those first few local opportunities, get booked for them, and then make the most of your event.
Expanding your reach with local speaking engagements is one of the best ways to grow your business. It can help you build credibility, create raving fans, connect with influencers, and even change lives.
But before we start thinking about how to find speaking engagements that will allow you to do these things, let’s take a step back. The first thing you need to do is create a killer presentation.
Most speakers have one signature talk that they perform at every single event. Since it’s a different audience every time, it’s okay that your talk is always the same. Having one main presentation allows you to be super clear on your message. Plus, doing the same presentation multiple times is a great way to practice and perfect your talk.
The difficult part is figuring out how to transition your message into an amazing presentation. Kristin Thompson from Rock Your Talk has a great talk template that goes over the 9 pieces of a successful speaking presentation.
Since the goal here is to expand your reach and grow your business, you need to be strategic. The presentation should offer plenty of value to your audience. But at the end, it should transition into a pitch for your services or program.
Once you have your amazing presentation created and ready to perform, let’s discuss exactly how to find speaking engagements.
The best way to get started with public speaking is with local, unpaid events.
The ultimate goal is, of course, to get paid for putting on your presentation. But you have to start somewhere! Free events are a great way to build up your speaking resumé, practice your presentation, and gain confidence as a speaker.
Plus, since your presentation ends with a pitch, you still have a lot of potential to make money. It doesn’t matter that you’re not getting paid to speak — the exposure you’ll get is more than worth it.
Keep Your Target Audience in Mind
Your first couple of events will be more for practice than anything else. But it’s still important that you make sure to only speak where your target audience is present.
It will be tempting to take any gig with any audience in any location when you are first starting out. You need to be strategic about who you put yourself in front of, though.
Before you figure out how to find speaking engagements to present at, you need to make sure that you have a solid handle on who your target audience is. Knowing them inside and out will allow you to figure out which types of events this audience attends (or hosts).
For example, if your presentation is geared towards stay-at-home moms, pitching to large corporations and conferences is not going to get you in front of them.
How to Find Speaking Engagements in Your Local Area
Learning how to find speaking engagements in your local area is actually a lot easier than it sounds. There are a ton of opportunities out there!
10 Ways to Find Local Speaking Engagements
- Search event databases
- A couple popular ones are Conferize, All Conferences, and EventBrite.
- Find local interest groups
- Search meetup.com for local groups that contain your target audience.
- Local support groups
- Psychology Today has a great resource that lists support groups by city.
- Small organizations
- All cities have local organizations and clubs that meet regularly. Search online to find your local YMCA, YWCA, Lions Club, Rotary Club, etc.
- Business networking groups
- A lot of cities and states have networking groups for entrepreneurs. Search Google for “[CITY] entrepreneur networking group.” Another great way to find these groups is to search for groups on Facebook using the same keyword phrase. Some large nationwide networks may have a chapter in your area, too. Popular ones include Le Tip and Business Networking International.
- Universities and Colleges
- Educational institutions often have speaking events for their students to attend. Reach out to the department that fits your needs and see if you can set something up. It’s also a good idea to check the institution’s website to see if they have any groups or clubs on campus that might benefit from your presentation.
- In the United States, libraries are everywhere! Almost every single town has at least one, and they often coordinate and host events for the local area. Reach out to your local library and see if they want to bring you in to speak.
- Local Magazines
- Most large cities and regions have some type of local magazine or newspaper that could be helpful to flip through. They often have an events section, which could help you find upcoming events to pitch to. Or even just network with the organizations hosting those events, for future collaborations.
- Facebook Events
- Search on Facebook for upcoming events in your area that are open to the public and contact the hosts for more information on how you can get involved.
- Scroll through the profiles and websites of public speakers who are active in your area and see which local events they’ve attended or spoken at.
How to Get Booked to Speak at an Event
Step #1: Networking
Once you have a list of events, groups, and people to talk to, it’s time to start the pitching process. And an important part of that process is actually to spend some time networking before you send any pitches.
Discover the prominent leaders and influencers involved with these events and connect with them on social media.
Networking can be a great way to get booked, because word of mouth is very powerful in the world of events and conferences. If you can connect and create a good reputation with locals in your area, they could recommend you for events.
Just getting people to realize that you’re a speaker and are available for local events can be a great way to get on the radar of the people in charge of these events.
Step #2: The Pitch
Once you’ve built up a little bit of a reputation on social media, it’s time to get ready to pitch.
If it’s a big conference or event, you’ll typically want to reach out about 8 months in advance. Send over an email asking when they are going to be looking for speakers and how you can be included in that process.
If you’re setting up a smaller workshop or event with a local group that is just you speaking, you can reach out anytime.
Before you send the organizers of an event your pitch, make sure to check their website. They may already have some type of form or submission process, or rules about how to apply.
If they do not have a process, simply get in touch with whoever is organizing the event via email. In your email, include your “one sheet” or a link to your media page, the topic and length of your presentation, and why it would be a good fit for their audience.
Make sure to position yourself as an expert on your topic and outline the benefits of hiring or booking you to speak at the event. It might also be a good idea to bring up relevant statistics and any takeaways you’ll provide.
If you have a video of you speaking, you will definitely want to include that as well.
Don’t have a video? This is a pretty important part of becoming a public speaker, so the sooner you can get a video of yourself speaking, the better. Next time you get booked for an event, make sure you bring a camera to capture a recording of the presentation. (Or, even better, hire a videographer. This will be key if you plan to get booked at large conferences.)
How to Make the Most of Your Event
Sure, you’ve got it covered. You know how to find speaking engagements and how to get booked for them. But…what about the actual presentation? How do you survive the actual event?
Don’t worry, we’ve got a few tips for you on that, too.
Tip #1: If you’re doing a free event, make sure that you get something in exchange for your time.
Yes, you have a chance to book clients or snag new paying students during the pitch part of your talk. But you’ll want to walk away with something tangible too. If you can, try to collect all the email addresses of the attendees.
You can also ask for feedback or testimonials from the event-goers and the coordinators. Putting those on your media page will go a long way to help you get booked for future events!
And, like we talked about above — bring a camera and record the presentation to use for future event applications.
Tip #2: Give a prize or freebie to the audience.
Give them a printout of your lead magnet, or encourage them to sign up for it online. Give them a coupon code for your program, or enter them into a special giveaway. Craft a quiz for them and give them the link to find it online. Basically, create something special and awesome for them that compliments your talk.
Tip #3: Add the email addresses you collect into a highly targeted email sequence.
Don’t just take those email addresses and add them to your list to receive future newsletters. Create an engaging sales sequence that takes these new hot leads and sells your program to them. People in your target audience who saw you speak in person are going to be much hotter leads than other people on your list. So take advantage of that and make sure to keep selling to them after the event is over!
Tip #4: Network at the event
Speaking at the event is not your only job while you’re there. Make connections with attendees and organizers that are at the event, and you may secure future paying clients or speaking engagements just by getting to know them. In-person networking is highly effective, so make sure this is a priority at your next event. And don’t forget your business cards!
Miranda Nahmias is a client acquisition specialist who runs a digital marketing + virtual assistance agency at www.MirandaNahmias.com. Miranda is passionate about helping female online service providers achieve their dreams and score tons of ideal clients in the most stress-free way possible.