Getting Started

as a public speaker

You were born to share your story. Hitting the stage is the natural next step. But getting there, and getting paid once you're there, can be a bit overwhelming. 

All speakers need (at the very least) the follow three marketing assets


Pitching Strategy
Your pitching strategy includes a clear positioning strategy—who you're talking to, the problem you're solving, and why you're a trusted source on the topic. With this information, creating your video and website will be far more straightforward.


Speaker Video
This is a three to five minute video jam-packed with footage of you speaking. If you're getting a "what came first, the chicken or the egg" vibe from creating a speaking video before you actually start speaking, don't worry, we have some ideas for you.


Up-to-Date Website
This can be as simple as a singular page built on Wix or as complicated as a custom ecommerce site, but the main goal is to create a compelling website designed to position you as an expert on your topic.

Pitching Strategy

Welcome to the very beginning of it all. This is where you're going to get super clear on three things. 

1. Who's the target audience? 
2. What problem do you solve for them? 
3. To get what result? 

When you can clearly answer these three questions, you're ready to build a speaking business. Now, the answers to these questions may change over time, but it's so important to get specific right now. Zero in on what how your expertise/story/knowledge relates to a specific audience, otherwise, you'll quickly find yourself overwhelmed by the options.

Let's say you've been in the tech world for 30 years. You've seen it all, and your peers have encouraged you to share your knowledge with the world. Just having been in the tech world for 30 years is not a pitching strategy. It is not a compelling, or clear, reason for event planners to hire you. You may think, "I can talk to all kinds of companies! They'll all benefit!" and while they may not be false, it's a huge target. Instead, answer the first question honestly. Your target audience is most likely technology conferences and associations. With that in mind, it gets easier to pinpoint the answer to number two. What problem do you solve for them? And question number two is not complete with number three: to get what result? 

A common mistake here is to go too big too soon. Niche, niche, niche. Getting paid to speak requires a business mindset, otherwise, it will just be a hobby. So if you're ready to make real cash speaking, NICHE.

Instead of, "I want to speak to people about technology, I've been in the industry for 30 years and have so many great stories!" try, "I speak to big companies looking to improve their company culture  with technology in order to improve turnover and retention."   

If you're struggling to get specific, check out some of the FAQ below.

Do I need to niche? Tony Robbins doesn't niche...

Yes he does. He just has something to offer everybody. 

For his conferences, his niche is people who need a catalyst for change. For his investment insight, his niche is people who have $10-250K (+$35 for the book) to actually invest. And for Netflix, his niche is people like myself who aren't to pay to go see him live, are skeptical of his advice, but want to know what's up so we can say, "yeah, I watched it. It was pretty cool." 

Bottom Line: Tony Robbin's niches and the reason we all know who he is is because his original niche, teaching down-on-their-luck people how to use neuro-linguistic programming, was so good that we now trust his past results enough to let him advise us on how to invest our money and overcome marital problems. But starting out, he was an "expert" in the success mindset, and he wasn't going after "everyone" as an audience. 

Everything else came in time, built on the success of his original positioning and his original niche. Experts in their field get paid and the smaller the "field", the easier it is to be the expert.

Should I write my book first?

Not really, unless you just want to be an author or the iron is hot for your topic. How many $25 dollar books you gotta sell to make $3,000? If the end goal is to make money speaking, the book can wait. Yes, it can help boost business once your biz is rolling, but until then, focus up on the main goal.

I have the experience, but I still can't get booked

It's time to look at your value proposition. What's in it for the event planner/company? This is the first (and most common) symptom of lacking a specific and compelling value proposition.

Why am I not getting more bookings?

Are you asking for them? What are you doing to proactively go out and seek speaking engagements? If you don't have a plan in place to generate bookings, consider reaching out to us, we can help.

Do I need to build up a social media presence?

It doesn't hurt, but your audience is rarely the person who decides whether or not to bring you on stage. We suggest you set up social media accounts—be present—but building a serious following is something that takes time and won't immediately result in business.

I'm not sure how much I should charge

There are a few solutions here. There are fee calculators, but also, what are people who are speaking at events you'd like to speak at also charging? Do a little work, find that out.

Should I speak for free?

You certainly can—it won't pay the bills, but you can. The most important consideration when considering a free talk is, "WHY?" 

If there is a clearly defined why, and you feel comfortable and self-assured in doing it, that's fine (ex. passion project, testing new content, want the video, etc.). But, an event planner trying to coerce you into speaking for free is a bit of a red flag. Often they will say, "but the people in the room have the power to change your life." 

Take that kind of statement with a grain of salt. In some cases it's true, but verify who is going to be in the room before letting that be your "why". 

Do I need an agent?

In short, no, you don't need an agent. Agents provide two things 1) they handle the minutia of outreach, bookings, scheduling, etc. and 2) they have connections within the industry. 

That said, in 2019, #2 is less relevant than ever before given that we can pretty much contact and connect with whomever we like thanks to the internet. There are certainly cases to be made for the value of an agents connections, but in most cases their biggest value is that you don't have to "deal with it". 

A common trend in the speaking industry today is to bring those administrative roles in-house via a personal assistant, or even as DIY early on in a career to reduce overhead.

Should I join a bureau?

Possibly. The largest consideration to make here is when it comes to their exclusivity policy. If they are exclusive or semi-exclusive, that means they will take a cut (usually 25% of the net) from every gig (exclusive) or every gig in a particular industry/segment (semi-exclusive) that you do. 

This is also going to apply to any business that's a result of the event they booked for you, like if Company A refers you to Company B after the bureau got you booked with Company A. 

The benefits, however, are similar to an agent in that most of the organizing, negotiating, and scheduling is handled by the bureau. The dichotomy of bureaus is that early in your career bureaus don't really need you and don't make much money from you, whereas later in your career when you are more successful you don't really "need" bureaus.
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Looking for help?

Check out our Pitch Perfect Package, it's packed with everything you need to kick off or upgrade your public speaking biz. 
Learn More

Speaker Videos

It's your time to shine! Creating and sharing your speaker video is one of the most exciting steps in your journey. It can seem a bit daunting, but with the right mindset (and a clear value proposition) your speaker video doesn't have to be difficult.

The goal here is to give event planners and decision makers a little taste of your abilities. To see how you engage with a crowd, how you present your ideas, and most importantly, what you talk about. Feel free to get creative here and let your personality shine, but keep a few guiding principles in mind. Your speaker video should always:

1. Include footage of you on stage. 
2. Express clearly the problem you solve and why you're a credible source to solve it.
3. Fit into 3-4 minute time frame.

Try to keep the video clean and clear. Look for speaking clips where you nail an interesting point or when the audience seems particularly engaged. 

How long should my demo video be?

3-4 minutes. Think of your own attention span when it comes to internet videos. Grasping someone's attention for any more than 5 minutes is supremely difficult. Err on the the side of leaving them wanting more. At minimum have a runtime of 2:30.

Where should I put my demo video?

It's debatable that your video is the most important sales tool you have.
Multiple places: Definitely on whatever page of your site you are directing decision makers to. And make it prominent! It should be on the first fold of that page, above any long-form copy.
Also, place a link in your email signature. If Speaking is the primary purpose for your site, put it on your homepage

Where should I host it? YouTube?

Yes, AND... Wistia. YouTube is an incredible tool for us speakers. We can produce endless content and share it directly with our audience. But, it has it's draw backs. YouTube is first and foremost a social media platform, meaning it's in the business of helping viewer discover other videos they might like similar to the one they just watch. 

When impressing an event planner, visiting your site, the last thing you want is them watching your video and seeing your competition's video in the "watch next" queue. When it comes to your web site, Wistia is a host that will not just prevent this problem, but is also add a sleek finish to the page, with more analytic data than YouTube provides. 

So, definitely have your video on YouTube, but explore alternatives when putting it on your site.

What should my demo video "be"?

In short, a movie trailer to your feature length speech. It should give a feel for what your talk is like (humor, depth, emotional, etc.). So, make sure to include dynamic moments from stage as well as some nugget's of insight. Another thing movie trailers do is introduce "the setting", so if possible, show some wide shots of impressive venues an diversify the stages you show yourself speaking on. 

Keep the context of your stage clips in mind. For example, don't include a punchline and reaction that doesn't make sense without hearing the joke from 3 minutes ago.

Should it just be stage footage?

Initially, this is the safe bet. But, when done well, interview footage and b-roll cutaway shots will create a more compelling narrative and increase production value (meaning an increase what clients expect to pay). In either case, however, stage footage should still be the centerpiece of your video.

What's the best way to get stage footage?

If you have spoken at events in the past with a camera crew but don't have the footage, you should reach out and ask if they still have it. Moving forward, check with event planners in advance to see if it will be recorded and you can have a copy.

If your event isn't being recorded you can either hire out recording (with permission from client) OR record it yourself with something as basic as an iPhone, for those of us on a budget. CAVEAT: Record audio separately with lav mic, make sure you have enough space on your phone, and a little bit of prep work will be required (although no more than coordinating with a camera crew)
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Get Inspired

Here's just a few of our very favorite speaker videos. Keep an eye out for Cole, they can't seem to keep him out of the frame.
If you're stumped on getting started with your speaker video, shoot Cole an email at

Speaker Websites

We can not stress enough just how incredibly important your speaker website truly is. It's where your audience will go to learn more about you. It's where event planners will dig through your content to decide if they want to hire you. It's your home, billboard, and channel of communication.

Your speaker website has a lot to do so it's important to start with the right foundations.

Step 1. Purchase your domain. We would recommend going with your personal if at all possible, NOT your business name. You could also explore alternative top-level-domains like .co or .media. Some of our speakers got creative and when wasn't available, we purchased Adding in a natural or expected word can increase your domain search by a long shot. It doesn't really matter where you purchase your domain, but we've always found the best prices at

Step 2. 
Choose the right foundations. This will mean going with a hosted Wordpress site, a drag-and-drop DIY site, or bringing on a developer (like Sarah Jo!) to manage the setup for you. If you elect to build on Wordpress, we'd recommend using Flywheel as a host, as many of the cheaper options will cause you problems as your grow. *cough cough* GoDaddy *cough cough*.

If you choose to DIY your website with a drag-and drop builder like Squarespace, Wix, or Weebly, be sure to choose a plan that will account for future growth. Sure, it's cheap now, but what happens when more and more people start visiting your website?

If you decide to bring in a developer, make sure whatever platform they use will be easily accessible and edited by YOU in the future. As questions about security, updates, and monthly maintenance.

Step 3. Build your site with the goal of getting booked. This means clear design, clever copy, and quick access to your speaker video. If you'd like some examples of great speaking websites, check out our examples over here.

Step 4.  Monitor your website's performance using Google analytics to determine what changes might need made.

What's the cheapest option?

The cheapest option is to build it yourself, given your time is worth absolutely nothing. We have nothing against DYI websites, they are often very effective, however, many speakers forget to account for the value of their time spent learning the platform, designing the pages, and writing the copy. 
With that in mind, the "cheapest" option is more about finding a solution that moves you towards your speaking goals at the rate you're comfortable with. 

How much will a speaking website cost?

You should expect to pay $10-$30 on a domain, $15-$50 a month for hosting, and, depending on if you DIY or not, anywhere from $1,000 to $7,000.
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