Public speaking is a great way to grow your audience or client base! It can help you to share your concept or product with others, build relationships and network with others in your industry. We’re sure the majority of speakers would admit that they’d love more gigs. But with so many options available, where do you start? And what’s the best way to promote yourself and find more speaking opportunities? Here are our five top tips for getting out there and finding new gigs this year.
The first step to not only finding more gigs, but finding the right gigs is to start being specific about what you want. Think about what it is you’re looking for. Do you want a small venue? What industry are you in? What types of events suit you? Would you rather speak at conferences? What about non-profit events? Are you looking to only network locally…or are you looking to travel further afield?
The next step is to think about what type of audience you’d like to speak to. What’s the ideal target audience for you to pitch your ideas to? And what type of venues would you like to speak at? Are you aiming for a professional audience? Or are you looking to speak to teenagers in schools or colleges? Or maybe to other entrepreneurs? Deciding exactly what you want makes it much easier to find gigs to suit you.
Once you’ve narrowed down your search, you’ll be much better equipped to choose the right opportunities, and you can start to focus on the information you want to share with them. What do you want to say…and how can you help your audience to improve their lives or businesses? Find out as much about your niche audience as you can…it’ll help you massively and the information you provide will be much more relevant to them.
After deciding exactly who your audience are and where you would like to speak, the next thing to consider is why you are qualified to speak about it. What’s your experience in the area you’re speaking about? Do you have any specific qualifications? And how can your product or service help your potential clients improve their lives? You might have an interesting story to tell…but even if you don’t, you still need to decide how you’re going to market yourself to your audience.
The internet is easily the best place to find new speaking opportunities…with tonnes of information available at your fingertips. Google is the top search engine around and you can use it to search for realistic places to speak. It’s probably best to think locally first. Ask yourself; where does your target audience tend to gather? Start off spending some time on Google and use related keywords to find conferences, associations or conventions for the audience. For example, you could search for “Bristol financial planner conference” or “Cardiff healthcare convention”.
Top tip: To save you repeating the same search over and over again, you can set up Google alerts. Doing this means that when any new content is released with relevant keywords, you’ll be notified by email. It’s a lot more convenient and can save a lot of time. You can set up a separate email account for the alerts if it makes it easier to manage – but alerts are quick to set up and you should start to see new results pretty quickly.
When looking for gigs, you can search in two ways; either for people, or for events. You can try contacting different venues including hotels, or different types of events. Or you can follow speakers and events on social media – Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn can all be used to follow industry leaders and influencers and can help you receive up to date information on any new opportunities that arise.
Once you find successful speakers in your industry, you can follow them on social media and see what events they’re speaking at, which coordinators they’re socialising with and which events they attend. If you check their profiles and groups they are members of, you can also see if they have a list of events they’re attending in the future. Another tactic that can work effectively is to network with these other speakers, with the aim of building a relationship with them to get support.
When you’re using Google, it’s tempting to only check the top results. However, if you scroll further down you’re likely to find smaller or more local conferences that might be more suitable for your needs. Also, make sure you check any related searches at the bottom of the page to see if there’s any other relevant search terms you can try. Once you’ve found as many conferences as you can, make a list of suitable events, along with dates and contact information – and start getting in touch!
Social media is a powerful platform that you can use to market yourself as a speaker…and when used alongside other avenues can be a great way to reach out to potential audiences. Along with social media accounts, you can set up webinars, podcasts, Google hangouts or even a YouTube channel. Interacting with your audience helps you to engage with them, so make sure you’re choosing topics that are relevant and that your target market will find interesting.
An essential part of social media is using your own accounts. Using Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and other sites is very effective, not just for others looking at you, but for searching for future events. You can search for hashtags like: #Conference #EventProfs #ConferenceSpeaker #MarketingConference #NonprofitConference #BusinessEvent and #London Conference to find suitable events. Once you start searching for these hashtags, your newsfeed will be flooded with future events and influential individuals that you can connect with.
Another essential part of marketing yourself online is setting up your own website. If someone is considering you as a speaker, chances are they’ll want to check you out first, and a website is the first thing they’re going to look at. It doesn’t need to be too detailed, but you do need to include basic information like who you are, what you speak about, your contact information and ideally some testimonials or recommendations. You should also consider making a demo video, which can show future clients why you would be good for events and why they should hire you.
So you’ve found some events and contacts. The next step? Start getting in touch with them. But what’s the best way to go about it? How can you turn a list of names into gigs? Finding the right approach to contacting can make a big difference to how successful you’ll be, so you need to be sure you’re getting it right.
Here are some of our top tips for successful contacting.
- Don’t copy and paste a generic email template to each of the conferences or events you’ve listed. It comes across insincere and is unlikely to get their attention – resulting in emails getting deleted and zero replies.
- Do some basic homework about the event. If you start asking where it is or what time it starts when it’s clearly listed on the website, the coordinator is unlikely to be impressed.
- Make sure your emails are short, clear and easy to reply to – ending with a question can also encourage a response.
- Ask specific, intelligent questions. Enquire about the event and explain how you can help their audience.
- Include your website details in a link at the bottom of the email. That way if they’re interested in hiring you they can look at it and it doesn’t come across too pushy.
- Try to build rapport with the decision maker. Remember, you want to build a relationship with them, so do some research first. Try to start a conversation with them. Where was their last conference? Who spoke? What did they speak about?
- Remember that a lot of events are fully booked quite far in advance, so make sure you give the organisers plenty of notice.
- If you don’t get a reply, make sure you send a follow up email a few days later.
Remember that it’s always better to be proactive when it comes to contacts; the more emails you send out, the more likely you are to get responses. And even if you don’t get more gigs straight away, you’re putting your name out there, which will definitely help you in the long term. Building rapport with event organisers means they’ll keep you in mind for any future events, or could mean they refer you for other events that might be suitable in your industry.
Attend conferences and events that are related to the industry you want to speak about, get to know organisers, add them on social media, etc., be genuine and build relationships, don’t come across as pushy. Take photos at the event or update your status on social media using the hashtag, promote the event and say how great it is. Send a positive email to coordinators about your experience so they keep you in mind for their next event.
One of the greatest benefits of speaking at events is that it gives you the opportunity to meet other influential speakers and others from the industry; leading to more chances to be hired for future events and conferences. But how do you turn the event you’re at into future referrals? The key is to build a strong reputation and to do an outstanding job on the day. You need to ensure that you speak well and that you’re memorable to your audience.
Always make sure that you’re fully informed on the subject you’re speaking about…do plenty of research and learn as much as you can about the industry. Having lots of information to hand can really boost the level of interest you receive and can increase the demand for your product or service. Think about your overall speaking style, and always be thinking about improving your public speaking skills. Having good voice projection, body language and using confident gestures will all help you to become an engaging and dynamic speaker, which will ensure you hold your audience’s attention.
So you’ve delivered an interesting and confident presentation. What’s next? How can you get more referrals from your speaking gigs? Now, it might seem obvious, but the first step is to make sure you tell people that you’re a speaker. This can be done either directly, for example, at the end of your speech you can mention that you’re interested in future events. Or this can be done indirectly by talking about other speaking engagements or clients you’ve had, and possibly using case studies or stories about these speaking gigs.
After the event is the perfect time to network, give out business cards and start to build a relationship with future clients. You can even ask the coordinator to introduce you to others after the event who might consider hiring you for other events. Give out business cards, add people on social media and start to think about building on your existing mailing list. The main goal is to stay in contact with as many organisers as possible. A lot of referrals might not necessarily mean more clients straight away, but in the long term it’s one of the best ways to improve the number of gigs you get and should give you plenty of options in the future.