5 Steps to Book Speaking Gigs that Grow Your Business

As an entrepreneur, your interest in public speaking probably stems from a belief that it will help establish you as an expert and lead to growth for your business. It can – but only if you seek out and accept the right speaking engagements.

I’ve spoken to audiences big and small across the country, and helped clients do the same, and over the years I’ve developed a five-step system that can guide your public speaking strategy and help ensure you’re in front of the right audience, speaking about the right topics.

Step One: Identify why you want to speak

Before you jump ahead and start talking about where you want to speak, set goals for your speaking engagement. Do you want to raise awareness of you or your brand? Generate new leads from the audience? Sell your book?

If you don’t know why you’re speaking, you aren’t going into this strategically, which means you’re unlikely to get much out of the experience. Before you can find the right audience or choose the right topic, you absolutely must be clear on why you’re doing this in the first place.

Step Two: Know who you want to be in the audience 

Next, it’s time to figure out who needs to be in the audience in order for you to have the best shot at achieving that goal. Having 1,000 people in the audience might sound impressive, but having an audience of just 20 people could lead to more business. It’s the quality of the audience – not the quantity – that will determine your ultimate success.

How I Landed a Speaking Gig with the Miami Dolphins

For example, when I want to sell copies of my book on the business of college football, I want to be in front of booster clubs, because the audience is already essentially pre-qualified. But when I want to sign up new clients, I get myself in front of entrepreneurs who are at the right stage of their businesses to need my publicity services.

That’s why we identify our goal first.

Step Three: Determine what problem you can solve 

I often find my clients come to me at Step 3 or 4, having given very little thought to Step 1 or 2. But, if you’re doing this strategically, you’re choosing a topic that drives your audience to help you achieve your goal.

Ask yourself what problems you can solve – or what questions you can answer – for the audience you chose. Make a list.

Then, go back through the list and ask yourself which of those topics lead naturally to people engaging with you in a way that meets your goal.

I could get in front of a booster club and talk to them about how to land speaking gigs – a question I know how to answer – but it probably wouldn’t lead to sales of my book on the business of college football.

Choose the topic that leads most naturally to your goal.

Step Four: Find out where your audience is 

Once you know who you want to speak to and what you want to speak about, it’s time to find places that audience already congregates. Sure, you could find a space and host your own speech or workshop, but most of the time there’s already a group in existence that fits your needs.

If you don’t already have a group or conference in mind, how do you find them? Google.

How to Land Speaker Invites in Your Inbox

Yes, that’s really where I start most of the time. From group and conference websites to Meetup events, you’ll find dozens of opportunities you didn’t know existed. Review the websites to determine the makeup of the membership, if they regularly host speakers and what kinds of speakers they’ve had previously. If it appears to be the right audience – both for your topic and to meet your goal – look for contact information. 

Step Five: Learn how to pitch yourself 

If you’ve done the work in Step 3, then you’re not going to make the faux pas of pitching yourself for a vague talk on “leadership.” Trust me, 99% of people (who haven’t gone through this process) want to do a speech on leadership or communication, or they simply say they’re seeking to motivate or inspire.

Event organizers, group leaders and corporate trainers who might bring you in to speak want to know what their audience will learn. That’s why when you choose a topic, you focus on what problem you can solve or what question you can answer. That gives you a value proposition.

I generally pitch myself and clients by email, and I include a brief bio credentialing the speaker and a concise description of the topic and the key points the audience will learn or the action tips they’ll leave being able to implement.

It’s surprisingly easy to land speaking engagements if you follow these simple steps.

Want to learn how to craft the perfect pitch, have the audience eating out of the palm of your hand and how to leverage your speaking gigs to grow your business? Check out my course, Step Onto Stage: From First Gig to Paid Expert.

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Kristi Dosh
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