Aside from all the work crafting your message, speech, and presentation skills, marketing yourself, and actually booking gigs, is a world all it’s own. For some, maybe that’s scary. But with all the internets at our disposal, it’s never been easier to reach new speaking business. We have access to tools that were once reserved for the chosen few.And with all this access, the expectations of speakers has risen. Being great on stage is no longer enough. Event planners and coordinators have a host of resources to help determine who they book, and who they ignore.
The basics we’ll cover are the bare minimum keys to making money as a public speaker. Feel free to jump around using the buttons below.
While I am not the authority on actually crafting your message (there are far smart people on this topic here), I can tell you this much: the riches are in the niches. If you zero in on a problem to solve and an audience who needs it solved, everything that follows here will become significantly easier. So strategize what you plan to talk about, who you plan to talk to, and what outcomes they will see as a result of hearing you speak.
If you feel yourself resistant to the idea of niching (but everyone can benefit from my message!) I’ll let Grant Baldwin break down the beauty of niching here.
Your speaking video needs to nail three things. 1. It needs to be footage of you speaking. 2. It needs to be easy to find. 3. It needs to be recent (ish).
If you don’t already have footage—which isn’t uncommon for those just getting started—consider “staging” a speech. Yup, get on a stage, any stage, and get someone to record you doin’ your thang.
When it comes time to share your video (which we will be tackling here shortly) it needs to be easy to find and watch. Posting it deep on a website or in the vastness of Youtube is a common, but damaging, mistake. If it’s on your website, make it easy to find and easy to watch. This can/should include Closed Captions, visible play buttons, and prominent placement.
Pro Tip: The first thing the event planner should see on your website is your speaker reel.
Remember, the service you’re selling is speaking. You speaking. So give the people what they want. A solid video where you shine as a speaker.
Without a website, your video is a child without a home. How sad is that?
So build, or pay someone else to build, and effective website. Notice I didn’t say awesome, or beautiful, or impressive, but effective. Event planners are looking for key pages and elements as they browse your site, so priority number one is making your site simple and easy to navigate. Your website will grow with you over time, so don’t spend months trying to get it perfect. Get it live and iterate as you learn more about your audience.
Collecting proof of your ability is only possible after your first few gigs, but prepare to collect before you start. Build surveys or questionnaires. Snap a few video testimonials. Collect logos and kind emails. Create a system now to ensure no testimonial goes unnoticed.
And with that system, kick-off social media for your personal brand. No, this does not mean “go find a million followers,” but set up camp on the most popular platforms, claim your username, upload a picture, and post a few times. We’re not going for popularity here, just getting the basics under our belt to capitalize on it later.
This is where the rubber meets the road. Where all these basics come together. If you haven’t quite achieved the previous keys, this key will be incredibly difficult.
Which is really saying something, because this step in and of itself is rather challenging. It’s time to start sending emails to event planners.
And when it comes time to pitch yourself, keep it brief, informative, and friendly. Some even challenge speakers to keep their email pitch under 200 words, while still getting their message across. This is only possible because all the information the event planner needs is easily found on your website. So just link to your site and let all your marketing do the work.
And as for being friendly, try to always do two things in every email. 1. Explain the why/how. How you found them or what triggered your interest. 2. Ask for a soft-sell. One of my favorite recommendations for the soft sell is “would it make sense for us to connect?’
Use these emails to start conversations with event planners and decision makers. It will take time and a whole lot of emails, but by doing the things no one else wants to do, you’ll get to do the things that no one else gets to do.
By Robert Ferguson and Sarah Jo Crawford
For speakers by speakers. What makes professional speakers unique, their best practices, how they promote themselves, and how they grow. In less than 20 minutes get an exclusive view of speakers’ business tips, and more in the KEY5 Podcast.
At the end of every talk, you need to ask for something. Anything. Give your audience the opporunity to connect with you further. Some speakers sell books or over eBook downloads. I’ve used Textiful in my presentations to later creat email drip campaigns.
But at the base level, find a way to engage your audience. If you’re hesitant to incorporate tech, here’s how easy you can make it.
“Shoot me an email at John@JohnSmith.com and I’ll get you a free copy of my eBook.”
We can all manage email, can’t we?
With these six keys in tow, you will be well on your way to launching a successful speaking business. As tempting as it may be to start pitching your services to event planners right now, it’s essential you have Keys 1-4 complete first. No skipping steps or keys.
Create a strong base, do the work, and watch your speaking business grow with confidence.