How to get booked as a speaker when you’re not famous (yet)

By Lori

Famous in your field: five tips to get started speaking

Famous in your field: five tips to get started speaking

Wendy writes:

I’m just now starting to look for opportunities to speak. It’s getting people to agree to have me since I’m NOT famous! 🙂

Hey, Wendy, you are not alone. Getting booked as a speaker can feel as daunting as getting your first job. It’s that same conundrum:

You can’t get experience until you get hired, yet you can’t get hired without experience. 

There are about 3,000 professional speakers in the National Speakers Association and about 1,500 more in professional associations in Europe.

But there are millions of people who have information or a message to share.

Here’s what I want you to remember: there is no competition for being you.

And if you can help people improve their lives in some way, there are groups who want to hear from you.

It takes work to gain momentum as a speaker. Here are five tips to get your wheels turning. (Put these into practice and you’ll be tearing up the track in no time!)

1. Start locally

Getting on the main stage at TED, DreamForce or Davos might be on your vision board, but you’ll up your chances of getting there if you start in your own backyard.

Research local groups, events and companies. Reach out to the organizer to offer yourself as a speaker.

Need a little help getting started? I’ve got you covered with a massive list of 17 Ways to Fine Speaking Opportunities.

2. Build your case

Reach out to event organizers to let them know why your topic/info is valuable to their audience.

  • Will it help them be better employees, mothers, fathers, parishioners, etc.?
  • What will they be able to do after they’ve experienced you speaking? What are the outcomes or learning objectives?
  • What’s the benefit the audience will walk away with (the benefit is NOT the information they learn; it’s the “so that” that follows learning the information.)Like this: “Your members will learn how to use gamification with their kids to get them to finish homework, clean their rooms and do their chores, so that they can quit yelling and enjoy more fun as a family.”

3. Reduce the risk

No one wants to be known as the “one who recommended that dud.” That’s why organizers practice risk management by sticking to known speakers and referrals.

Reduce the risk for the event organizer by offering proof up front that you’ll be a hit with their audience.

What can you offer to make it a no brainer? Try these three:

  • Testimonials
  • Video of you speaking to an audience
  • An outline of your talk and how you’ll involve the audience

Bonus: let ’em try before they buy! If you have any upcoming speaking events, invite organizers from groups you hope to speak to. They get a chance to see you in action and you get to market yourself while you’re speaking. Genius, baby.

4. Build your fan base

Speak for free in return for referrals and testimonials. (Even the pros do this strategically.)

Seth Braun is a paid professional speaker covering leadership and small business topics. Even though Braun earns a six-figure income through speaking and coaching, he still speaks for free at times.

“I am always looking for how can I get more gigs. And the best way that I know of to get more gigs is to speak and the best way to speak is just to speak more, so I’m still booking no fee gigs.”

Seth gives no fee talks for one of two reasons:

  • To give back to causes he supports.
  • To get his “foot in the door” with an organization that he believes will hire him for future work.

5. Go where you want to be

Don’t just sit home, waiting the Universe to magically bring speaking opportunities to your door!

Go to events where you’d like to speak. Before you go, research the event. Create a target list of people that you want to meet.

At the event, ask each person on your target list what they do and about their challenges. Get to know the organizers, members and participants. You’ll get the insight you need to pitch yourself as the must-have speaker for their next event. (Hint: your pitch involves helping them, not just how killer you would be as a speaker.)

Your Fame Boosting Assignment

This week, make a list of ten events or organizations where you’d like to speak. If they have upcoming events, attend them! Make connections and when you’re ready, make your pitch.

It’s time for you to get found in the crowd, superstar.


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