You can have the first and last words!
That’s the power of being a speaker. You can build visibility, influence others, network, grow followers, sell books, and lots more.
If you’re aspiring to a public speaking career, one of the top concerns you might have is “How will I get speaking engagements?”
It seems to be the question most of my clients ask, long before they are even “ready” to speak. I totally understand the concern. After all, if you take all those beautiful pictures, design your one sheet and spend money on a fancy website to never get a speaking engagement, it will all be for nothing!
So, here’s the deal…there are tons of speaking opportunities out there. The problem is knowing where to look for them. But don’t despair yet.
Try these 10 ways to book speaking engagements right now!
The opportunities in this blog post are available to everyone, but needless to say, they need work. This will involve being prepared (like you already have a gig in hand), consistent searching and pitching. And diligent – but not pushy – follow ups are always great too!
Eventbrite is known for being a top resource for those looking for events to attend. But just not for attendees, event organizers use the platform to request speakers and vendors for their event. Search for events in your city and use search terms like “call for speakers” or “speakers needed”. There may be a fee attached to (some of) these opportunities.
Meetup.com is an online platform for individuals who share similar interests to create groups and meet ups in their city. It may not seem to be the most obvious way to look for speaking opportunities, but there are a wealth of opportunities to be found. Search for Meetup groups that target your audience and get in touch with the meet-up organizer. You can chat over the phone or email them a proposal to be a guest speaker for their next event. You can waive your speaker fee in return for the opportunity to sell your product or signature book at the event.
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Pro Speaker Tip: Your signature book is the key to getting into the room. Most event organizers will be excited to have not just a speaker at their event, but also a published author. As an author you are viewed as an authority on the topic.
3. Target searches on Google
Yes, it’s the #1 search engine, so the trick is to do smart searches for focused results. This is also true for speaking engagements. Use terms like “call for speakers,” “call for speakers 2020,” “Speakers needed in [ your location]” etc. Spend time going through the search results to find a speaking opportunity that is right for you.
Pro Speaker Tip: Search for events/ conferences/ summits coming up in the next 6-12 months. Chances are that the organizers are still looking for speakers and you might have a chance.
4 Connect with event organizers
Another way to look for speaking opportunities is to connect with those doing the booking. It is good to connect with event organizers in particular those who host annual conventions. You can find them on your social media platform and build a relationship that can lead to speaking opportunities in the near future.
Similarly, reach out to Podcast hosts to be featured as a Guest Speaker.
Speaker Ideas & Inspiration
5. Social media search
Social media is not just about socializing. It is also a hub of speaking opportunities. If you are willing to put in the work to search and do the research, you will find speaking engagements, particularly on LinkedIn. Since the posters will check you out, make sure that your LinkedIn profile stands out in different ways. Again, use search terms like “looking for speakers” or “speakers wanted” Hidden in that search might be the opportunity of a lifetime.
Pro Speaker Tip: Make sure your social media profile is professional and is a true representation of your speaker brand. Event organizers will look at your social media as part of the process of deciding whether you are the best fit for their event.
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6. Facebook groups
Apart from the social channels, Facebook groups are an incredible resource to network online and find speaking gigs. They are a great opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals, but they can also be a source of speaking opportunities. There are a number of Facebook groups dedicated to showcasing speaking opportunities. Use the Facebook search window to search for those groups. Use terms like “speakers” “speaking” You can join groups for opportunities, as well as tips, leads and collaborations.
Pro Speaker Tip: Most call for speaker applications will require a high resolution headshot. Investing in professional photos will definitely pay off when applying for speaking engagements.
7. Online Speaking platforms
My Speaking Agent is one of the free platforms you may use to book speaking engagements. You will have the opportunity to search the list of events coming up in 2019 & 2020. This website is the opportunity to gather details and a short speaker script? You can also consider Women Speakers Association (freemium), or browse opportunities and post speaker availability on Maroon Oak (free).
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8. Speaking Bureaus
Another way to find speaker opportunities, one of the best ways to get booked is to connect with other speaking bureaus. A bureau does the hunting for you. Most of them market speakers for a percentage of their fee plus a monthly cost. There are some bureaus that post for free their speaking opportunities who necessarily will not pay. This is a great opportunity to get your feet wet as a speaker and to add to your credentials. It takes some leg work but you can get so many great opportunities.
An example would be Balancing Life’s Issues, Inc. is a full-service corporate training firm that offers interactive, motivational seminars on a wide variety of topics, including managing stress, balancing work and family life, household budgeting, organizational change, team building, leadership skills, workplace effectiveness, parenting issues and caring for elders. This is a great opportunity to get some corporate training opportunities at no cost to you. This is also a paid opportunity.
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Speaker Pro Tip: Make sure you’re using a system to help you keep track of your speaking engagements on an online and/or smartphone calendar. Plus, there are great apps like Trello, Asana or even an old fashioned spreadsheet for collating your notes and speaker points.
9. Reach out to local venues
Most public libraries, community colleges and local nonprofits in your area probably conduct several events and they look for speakers with subject matter expertise. On their websites, you will find speaking events well in advance. These are generally free but the exposure and credibility is substantial. It’s a great networking opportunity as well. You might even garner a press mention out of this.
10. Create your own opportunities
Now it’s time to create your own Signature live event. Producing live events is a great way to connect with your audience offline and make long lasting relationships. I would highly suggest you create your own opportunities on and offline. Become known for your super powers for that one thing!
Speaker Pro Tips: Stay ready so you don’t have to get ready!
Have a great bio
Most call for speaker applications will want to see your Bio. There are 3 different types of bios. You need to have long bio, short bio and a business bio (with stats and data).
Put together a Portfolio
As a prospective speaker, it’s important to have some evidence of your speaking capabilities. Whether it’s your website or a social media, have a web presence dedicated to your speaking prowess. Include video examples of you speaking on your subject matter expertise.
Show-off your speaker credentials
To summarize, if you’re looking to land speaking gigs or grow your career as a paid public speaker, do explore these avenues to find great opportunities.
Best places to find & book speaking engagements!
Here are 10 great ways to look for opportunities to speak.
Targeted online search
Connect with event organizers
Specific Social media
Online Speaking platforms
Local speaking Bureaus
Reach out to community venues
Create your own opportunities
Now that you know where to look for speaking opportunities out there and how to access them, it is time to put in the work. A lot of speakers fail to get booked because they are missing some critical elements in their portfolio and perseverance.
Speak up – it’s your turn now!
I have created a comprehensive checklist to help aspiring speakers position themselves for success. The Ultimate Speaker Checklist includes everything you need to do before, during and even after a speaking engagement.
As one of the top experts in speaker development, corporate leadership, and collaborative partnerships, Sharlrita is a dedicated advocate of helping women across every stage of influence. Motivated by her personal journey and over 15 years of public service and leadership experience, she helps female entrepreneurs and leaders to successfully find authenticity, complexity, and awesomeness by speaking their truth.
Sharlrita has also served and worked with several businesses as a consultant and industry change agent. She has been featured on many podcasts and in several publications including Today’s Purpose Woman Magazine, ThriveGlobal, and Mogul Magazine. She’s also the creator of Publish & Speak with Sharlrita where she empowers rising professional speakers to create clarity, streamline systems and cultivate relationships. Her popular weekly podcast, Boss Women Elite Speaker’s Podcast shares tips and effective ways to thrive in the speaking industry.