Because lately you have been putting in a truckload of time in your business, but you can´t seem to get any traction.
What´s even worse is that you’re dreading the next family dinner when your brother or sister-in-law will be asking you the same stupid question, “How´s business?”…
…while knowing the answer.
What if you could elegantly counter that question with this answer: “It´s good. I just landed a new speaking gig.”?
That would feel kind of great, right?
But when you start to think about how the heck you’re going to land a speaking gig, you realize that it might be far out of reach, and you probably just have to accept being the laughing stock once again in the next family dinner…
Let me stop you right, there! Relax and breathe. I’ve got you covered.
I decided to bring in help from top public speakers, and I asked them the following questions:
What’s your #1 tip for landing high-profile speaking gigs? How long did it take you to get there?
Without further ado, here are the expert tips.
“My number one tip for landing speaking gigs is to become an informational leader in a specific area around what I speak about. This means consistently publishing valuable and compelling content to a target audience, and building up that audience over time. This could be through a blog, a podcast, a video series, etc.
Once you do that, you’ll be inundated with speaker requests.”
“The very best way I’ve found to land high profile speaking gigs is to ensure the conference organizers come to you, rather than you petitioning them (which rarely works). You can do this by creating insightful content that demonstrates your expertise. I invested several years blogging extensively for Forbes and the Harvard Business Review, writing hundreds of articles, and that has put my name into circulation among conference organizers. It was absolutely worth it, but it took 2-3 years to show results.”
“It’s not just about having 20,000 people on your email list and a ton of followers on social media. Those are great, but subscribers and followers don’t always equal influencers or decision-makers. The top 3 things that help speakers to land high-profile events are relationships, professionalism, and solid conditions of worth.
Relationships are a key ingredient to success in every kind of business, and speaking is no different. Too often, new speakers start trying to build relationships the wrong way, or with the wrong people. You’ve got to choose the right people, and approach them in the right way, and be 100% genuine. Otherwise, you come across as one among a million others who just want to get onto their stage.
Secondly, professionalism is huge — and what a lot of speaking coaches out there don’t tell you is this: The on-stage part is only 20% of the equation. It’s the other 80% that will make or break you, in terms of professionalism. All the stuff that needs to take place before and after your speech, both on-site and in-office. That’s how we know if you’re a true pro. Also, true professionals don’t feign expertise where they don’t have it. They are exquisitely tuned in to their own genius.
Lastly, your conditions of worth, which are learned early in life and are deeply connected with pricing and business success. Those conditions developed based on what you believed you had to be, do, or have in order to be loved and accepted by your family or friends. They’re subconscious beliefs and sneaky little saboteurs.
That’s why people who toss a big price out there but who don’t feel aligned with that value will attract haggling, whereas the people who feel confident when quoting their fees will get a quick and enthusiastic, “OK, where do I sign?”
You’ve got to do the inner work first so that you feel energetically resonant with the fees you quote. In addition, you must understand the typical pricing structure of an industry and what the market can bear, based on your level of expertise and experience. Both sides of that coin are inseparable.
When you feel confident in the worth you bring to the table in terms of actionable value and relevant expertise, you’ll attract more high-profile opportunities that serve your higher purpose and yield higher profits.
To answer the question of how long this takes to get there:
One of my clients started out with two books under his belt. Although those books had had made best-seller lists (and not just on Amazon), his speaking fees were averaging around $2,000, and he was still getting asked to speak for free more often than not. He’d landed one $10,000 gig, but that one was basically a lucky break.
We worked together and, in less than 3 years, got his asking price up to $20,000.
It’s all about knowing when and how to expand, when to give generously, and how to get your ducks in a row so that you look and feel like a $20,000 speaker, so that both you and the people you’re pitching to can believe you when you quote that price.”
“Build relationships and over-deliver. As a sports agent, I worked in an industry where there were actually more agents than athletes to represent. It taught me that to be successful, you have to build relationships and not just do transactions. Whether I am speaking to 50 people or 5,000, I understand that someone is putting me in front of their most important asset— their people. So I really do take the same approach to high-profile speaking gigs as I did to the ones I got when I was just starting out. It’s about building relationships and taking the time to get inside of the heads and hearts of your audience, so that you can truly connect. That’s when you over deliver.
How long did it take me to get there? I’m still not there! Alabama football coach Nick Saban has a saying that I like, and it’s this: “You have never arrived.” I believe in that mentality. You can always strive to be better.”
“I have been in the business of speaking, coaching and writing for 39 years.
Here”s my advice:
Be the world’s expert on a specific topic that has market value. In my case, my mission is helping successful leaders achieve positive, lasting change in behavior. If you do a google search for “helping successful leaders” (in quotes) of the first 500 hits – 450 are about me. This is an example of having a clear brand identity. Make sure that all of your writing, research and speaking supports the brand. Having three New York Times bestsellers and selling over 2 million books also helps!”
“Morning show live television segments provide arguably the most within-reach high-profile speaking opportunities with the greatest return, for the smallest investment of time and energy. Even in a small TV market, you can easily reach 400,000+ people with a 2-3 minute segment focused on your expertise. It’s honestly the shrewdest way to empower yourself and stand out online, going from a savvy nobody to being featured in top-tier news outlets.
The best way to elevate your brand and increase media generated revenue is by adding value to you pitch, pitching the right contacts within a newsroom, and providing them with an excellent segment idea that’s easy to produce.
There really are 3 parts to this that I help clients with.
1) Pitching to secure the interview.
2) Techniques to make earned media turn out even better than paid advertising by key message development, message discipline and advance coordination with the producer.
3) How to strategically develop key messaging that supports social media marketing to leverage the exposure and grow your audience and revenue.
You can pitch yourself to be a guest on live television as soon as tomorrow but preparation is key. Also, many people are afraid to do this type of interview so I work with clients to develop their skill and become comfortable in their version of a low -threat situation before jumping in the hot seat on live television.
In a larger TV market like Los Angeles, San Francisco, and even a “medium” sized market like Hawaii, you’re reaching 1M+ people at a time through television. Combined with the ability to then repurpose and share that content with an existing audience on social media, the benefits are truly endless.”
“My number one tip for landing speaking engagements is to speak, embody breathe and BE the magic power of your business every moment you are working in and on your business. Your presence and power will attract opportunities to speak on a variety of stages in person and online.
My first speaking engagement lead a $10,000 client agreement, I started public speaking before i thought I ready yet I was courageous enough to start, I haven’t looked back. Embodied Confidence and delivering real world value from stage have been keys to my success.”
“My #1 tip is to get the gigs in the first place is to optimize your speaker page for Google, so you appear high up on the first page of rankings. Secondly to get higher-profile gigs, you need to practice your talk and over-deliver on the day, so people talk about it and re-book you! If you do a good job, you’ll gradually get higher profile speaking opportunities.
I’ve been speaking professionally for seven years and the opportunities keep getting better and better — I am writing this from in Koh Samui where I’m here for a gig!”
“The best way I’ve found to land a great speaking gig (aside from having tangible proof that you know what you’re talking about) is to be actively involved in the event BEFORE you try to get a gig at it. Get to know the people who are putting the event together and build a relationship with them. Find ways you can help them in any way you can and when the opportunity arises, let them know you’d be honored to contribute a talk.”
“My #1 tip is to let your past clients do the bragging for you. Nothing sells better than a past satisfied client. I was fortunate to be asked to speak/train after achieving great success in my field. It’s wasn’t my plan to go there. I had more requests than knowledge of public speaking. Learning to be an effective speaker and present on stage well took me a couple of years of dedicated practice and rehearsal.”
“This is not earth-shattering advice but crucial: Start small and work your way up. Find the easiest way in to relevant, local groups and deliver a solid performance. Leverage the connections and experience generated into applying to regional groups. Wash, rinse, and repeat at the national level. Keep it up until relevant groups are approaching you to share your expertise.”
“It’s critically important to niche down. So many people want to jump to the “big” conferences and events. True, it’s an ego boost, but will it really meet your goal? If your goal is ego, then great. But for me, the goal is paying clients. Even a paid speaking engagement doesn’t match what I get when I have perfectly positioned clients. So, a smaller, niche event is a better fit. Find an event where you think your ideal client will be. Make sure your topic is “dead on.” Approach the event organizers with their attendees’ needs in mind – not yours. If you do your homework and build networking relationships, there’s no reason why you can’t be speaking in front of your ideal audience in 90 days.
I’ve been speaking on and off for almost 15 years now. But if I had to start over again, I would target five niche events I just have to be at. I would approach the organizers with one really targeted topic. Then I would do my homework to find out what the organizers want to achieve for their attendees. Positioning my topic as the answer to that need would be the goal.”
“My tip is when you’re starting out to say “yes” to lots of opportunities, even if they are unpaid. And then you’ll get your feet wet and also get exposure and you never know who is watching. Just put yourself out there!
It’s easy to be intimidated by this but start small – speak at work or library events and work your way up. Many of the opportunities where organizations ask for a “call for speakers” will be unpaid, but if you’re just starting, it’s a good place to look.”
“People focus too much on how to craft the perfect ask… 95% of the gig is already in place through who you’re being.
Ask people how you can help them first. Be amazing in your own pursuits and business. Blow them away from a value-add perspective. To be a go-getter, first be a go-giver. And then when it comes time to land the speaking gig, the request is easy.”
“I am not like most, speaking is just one of the spokes on my business wheel, therefore I do not pursue speaking gigs. I produce content every day and speak my mind on a number of topics, share and syndicate it aggressively, and build my personal brand. An important part of that is publishing a book or two, even short form ones like mine – “Return on Relationship” and “How to Look People in the Eye Digitally.” That is my marketing… and the business finds me. I started by speaking for free when I had very well paying jobs, and built my speaking rep and chops that way. Then I progressively started requiring, and then raising my fee. Within a couple of years, I started taking a very hard line with regard to discounting my fee. Very often saying NO defines you more than saying YES.”
“Build a consistent and huge thought leadership profile such that they will seek you out. When you build an extensive network and deep relationships, when you constantly generate new ideas and content, when you continue to enhance your speaking and communication skills, you will develop your thought leadership. It took me about six months to land my first paid speaking gig with this method. Although to be fair, I was already booking gigs via strategic and targeted networking.”
“You have to do the work, then work your network. Meaning, you have to get out and speak to whomever will listen at first. Be known for delivering a great presentation that engages an audience and helps solve their problems. I began speaking as part of my career in my early twenties. So as my network matured, so did my speaking opportunities.
Now that I do it professionally, I’m top-of-mind from all of the times I spoke as a promotional tool or as a service to an organization because of the brand I represented at the time. Now, I generally get at least one inquiry from the audience every time I speak to a new group, so it simply builds on itself.
Once you decide it’s something you want to charge for, you will have experience, genuine testimonials and a solid reputation within your network that you can point to when asking for referrals and opportunities.”
“These days, I’m fortunate to get invitations to speak at events most weeks since I’m now known as an expert and published author on digital marketing who can talk around trends and innovation. Regardless of industry sector, there’s always interest in ‘What’s Hot’, ‘What’s New’ or ‘What’s Next?’ I get these questions all the time. So that’s my tip, become known as a source on the latest innovations for an industry, rather than ‘down in the weeds’ of focusing on one topic.
The challenge is not to just ‘paint the big picture’, but give specific details or cutting-edge examples and tools that the audience haven’t seen, but can apply to their work now. It’s interesting to know about the future, but more valuable to know what you can apply now.”
“My tip would be this. Everyone wants to do MORE speaking…AND get paid for it. Fact is, if you chase and pitch people to hire you as a speaker, the basic rules of economics are that they don’t have to pay you that much or at all, if you want the gig.
Focus on more speaking first, then getting paid. You need to show the goods first, and I did plenty of speaking for free before I was ever paid a dime. I knew I was good and the demand would come. It did. But not overnight.
Pitching yourself as a speaker to people is tough because of that reason: YOU want it more than they need it. The key is to not just hang out your speaker shingle, but to make sure you’re putting great content out into the world so someone reads it/sees it and says, YES! I want that person.
Everyone wants a TED talk right? There are so many TEDx events all over the country, constantly looking for new ideas, fresh talent. Apply to them! Any at all! Share your best stuff, your best ideas all the time. Find your THING–and when/if you land a TEDx talk, it IS one of the best speaker calling cards in the world
Once people come to YOU to request you as a speaker, that’s when the rate goes up. And you have to be willing to walk away from certain gigs if money is the priority. Most people/organizations can’t and won’t pay what you want. You have to decide whether it’s worth it for the exposure (yes), or that it’s not, and you have to be willing to walk away.”
“As a trade-show owner and conference organizer for many years, I think I have a unique perspective on this as the person who evaluated and selected many of the speakers we had over the years. From $50,000 keynotes to “travel-and-hotel” stipend panel speakers, I’ve hired them all.
When we put out a call for speakers, 90% of the submissions we received lacked one important thing – an understanding of who our attendees were. The speakers simply didn’t put in the time to research who attended our conferences and what their needs were.
The best submissions we received were from people who had been to the conference previously as an attendee. They understood what an attendee wanted from our events and submitted a proposal they knew matched those goals.
But even if you’ve not attended the event you want to speak at, you can still submit a great proposal by talking to people that have been to the event and even review recordings of previous sessions, if they are available.
The worst thing you can do is submit a generic short description like, “I’ll give your attendees the best session they’ve ever been to about widgets!”
My response: Lazy and uninspiring. Those submissions went straight to the garbage can.
Instead, send the organizer a detailed description of exactly what you will teach the attendees. Give specific goals for your session and tell the organizer exactly what new knowledge the attendee will come away with. It should be at least 8-10 sentences long.
Write the most kick-ass session description you can muster – one that you know attendees will read in the show program and circle as the ONE session they MUST attend during that time slot.”
“My #1 tip is to network “differently” with industry influencers because one mention from them can generate a lot of leads and open up opportunities like high-profile speaking gigs. One way to be different is to join their programs and be a star student. Always give feedback in their Facebook groups, and let your personality shine through. Once an influencer I was trying to build a relationship with mentioned that he missed the food from his favorite college eatery, so I called up the eatery and shipped a calzone overnight.”
“If you expect to go from 0 to 100 in one go, and kill it by doing a first talk at a mayor event, that is as rare as a unicorn. Overnight success takes a lot of work. For me, that happened sort of organically, but you can do it more effectively. So I have a few tips.
Work on your Business Karma
Good things happen to good people. Make sure you get and stay in touch with group of friends that are also speakers, or have a website you like. Most of the times these are great people too, and will help you out once you have helped them out many, many, many times.
If a professional speaks in the woods, did it make a sound? People have to aware about your speaking too. So even if you start with smaller gigs – get it documented. Pictures say a thousand words. Ask someone if they want to blog or take pictures, even if it feels uncomfortable to ask – and asking to take a picture maybe very awkward or not. They can be from the event, or something around the event – like the one time I snapped a pic of Brian Eisenberg, Jeff Molander, Dave Chaffey, and me having pizza.
Even if the pictures aren’t very good quality. You can use them to remember the good times and not forget to catch up with these great guys. And share them on social, if that feels uncomfortable, still do it, or send them through to the other speaker with a cool – “had a great time” note.
And blog, blog, blog
Articles help to make people aware too. Make it happen and ask to write a blog. Get a publication to get a bloggers ticket. Or blog about it yourself, and help the organization out by doing some pre-promotion writing to promote the event or an interview style and post-event to give some extra value.
The event led to multiple blogs (in dutch though). My presentation was about email optimization. When preparing for it, and made a list of tests you could run. Didn’t use it in the presentation, because it was TOO EPIC (too much information) but it turned into this huge list of 150+ email marketing tests. The list of tests got initial traction because of the post-event thank you and mentioning by the bloggers.”
“My number one tip for landing high-profile speaking gigs can be summed up with three words. Video, Video, Video.
We are in an age where people try before they buy. To land a great speaking gig people and clients should be able to see you in action and gain a complete understanding of your content, style, delivery and impact on an audience well before they meet you in person or speak with you on the phone.
Even if you have good content, if you have poor video, it may take longer to get the attention of those you wish to impress. Invest in getting a high-quality video done to showcase your best stuff!”
“I’ve learned that there are two major factors to acquiring high-profile speaking gigs.
1. Your network. Every speaking gig I’ve landed that pays 5-figures and up has come as a result of my network. The people who know I can speak, have heard me speak and believe I have a lot to offer an audience. Build your network by creating solid relationships locally and globally. Leverage social media and get your closest connections to make introductions to others for you.
2. Your mind. Acquiring interest for a speaking gig is one thing. Closing the deal at a profitable rate is another. I remember a speech I was about to charge $5,000 for (which was huge for me at the time). After speaking to my mentor (also a speaker), he told me that if I didn’t charge at least $20,000, I was an idiot. The deal closed.
If you focus on those two aspects, you’ll find yourself closing more and larger deals.”
“I started speaking at small local events and eventually worked myself up to bigger conferences. My biggest tip is to pay attention to the details and practice.
For my very first speaking gig, I was in front of about 50 people. But I prepared as if I was speaking in front of thousands. I made sure everything was of the highest quality as possible. I attended Toastmasters in my local area to work on my stage presentation skills. I put thought into my the clothing I wore and how my hair looked. I even practiced my voice inflection, pace of presentation, and hand gestures.
I made sure my slide deck was visually appealing and not overwhelming. Lastly, I practiced in front of a camera to discover all of the little nuances that I do that could be distracting, and fixed them.
People who attended that first speaking event booked me for bigger speaking events, and like a domino effect, it compounded to larger events. After about a year of speaking at multiple events, I was able to land a big national speaking conference.”
What to do next…
Okay, you’ve now just read a lot of great tips on how to land high-profile speaking gigs.
The important thing is to not get overwhelmed by all the information.
Let´s keep it simple.
Pick one tip and start implementing it today!
Which tip did you like the best? What’s your experience with landing speaking gigs? Share your thoughts in the comments below.