You’ve had a handful of speaking opportunities, got the bug and now you’re craving more time in front of the audience. Here are some tips to help you secure more speaking opportunities.
1. Speak for free
Getting paid to speak might be your ultimate goal but if you’re at the beginning of your speaking journey, free opportunities are the key to paid opportunities. It’s very unlikely that someone will start their speaking career getting paid to do so, unless they’re well known in another field.
Beginner free speaking engagements could include speaking at work, your children’s school, a local community group or something a little more high profile like a TEDx event. In fact, TEDx is probably the most well known – and valuable – way to get more speaking opportunities. TEDx events happen all over the world and can have audiences of hundreds, if not thousands of people.
The key to free speaking is standing out from the crowd, and I mean that quite literally. You might not be getting paid for your time on stage but you never know who is in the audience, they could be the organizer of your next booking. Which leads conveniently onto our second point.
2. Always be professional
There is a reason professional speakers are called professional or at least there should be. Public speaking is not just about engaging your audience on stage, your presence must be engaging off stage too. This is just as important for free opportunities as it is for paid.
When you step onto a stage, first impressions are everything and the same applies to meeting members of your audience before and after your talk. You never know if the person you give time to who will lead to your next opportunity.
Recommendations could be your top source of new speaking opportunities. A little bit of effort making sure you’re always professional could be the difference between a full diary and an empty one.
3. Learn marketing skills
Many professional public speakers manage their speaking careers like a small business and the key to success is marketing. Long gone are the days when you could only get speaking opportunities through an agency or representative. User lead social media has given people the power to stand out from the crowd and make a career in public speaking.
Build your own website. Manage your social media channels. Write a blog. Start a vlog. The opportunities and possibilities are endless but it does take time and work. Fortunately the internet is a treasure trove of free information about digital marketing.
Start with the platforms that already exist; Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook and go from there. A profile on Speaker Circle is naturally something we recommend too. Your own website dedicated to your public speaking could then be something you look into.
4. Be personal, be unique
This one is a classic example of ‘easier said, than done’, however one way to attain uniqueness is to tell your own story because the best person to tell your story is you. It’s by definition, unique.
Business talks are normally delivered by business leaders with a personal history in business. Inspirational talks are delivered by people who have endured something inspirational. Personal struggle talks really should be delivered by someone with a specific lived experience.
Uniqueness comes along with authenticity and there is nothing more engaging than a carefully told personal story with a message that a broad audience can relate to. That said, be aware that even personal stories can stray into familiar territories. Consider how your personal story can be told in a unique way?
5. Organise your own event
If you want to network with event organizers, make contact with speakers and build an audience of public speaking fans, organising your own event will immerse yourself in that world. No small endeavour, however your event is yours to control, curate and use to promote yourself. You might even be able to turn event organizing into a separate strand to your public speaking business.
Whilst it might seem odd to give yourself a speaking slot at your own event, you could host or introduce the event to give yourself some all important stage time. Furthermore, seeing what it’s like to be on the organizing side of an event can teach you so much about how to approach speaking opportunities at future events.
Online events are becoming more and more popular, allowing people to connect with others on a global scale. It might be a lot of work but the potential benefits to your speaking career are huge.