Public speaking may strike fear in the hearts of many, but promotion-savvy people have long known that a platform from which to share your ideas that can do more than just create buzz for your industry reputation, it can also grow your influence and even your business. But is there a recipe to land public speaking gigs that can build influence and leadership in the community you serve?
After reviewing loads of secrets from the best of the best, we’ve put together these tips for getting you into the spotlight and marketing yourself as a speaker that is in demand.
Identify Your Topic And “Angle”
One of the key challenges of getting speaking engagements is identifying a topic people want to hear about. Your topic has to get and hold the attention of your target audience, so it not only has to be interesting, but on a topic that some people are clamoring for and excited about. Make it challenging and controversial enough to explore deeply and still keep fresh over time. You want to tell a captivating story from the podium, not lecture from it, so pick a topic that is as entertaining and engaging as a cinematic experience. Ask people: “Would you pay to see someone talk about ‘X?’” If the answer is no, then keep looking. Work up your elevator speech so you can state in clear, concise terms exactly what you’ll cover, and the angle you’ve chosen that will make people want to hear it.
Identify Your Target Audience
Now that you ‘ve got a great topic, you need to capture an audience. Now is the time to investigate. Who are these people? What drives them? Where do they congregate? At what media are they looking to get the latest and greatest? Check out lists of events, conferences and online conference directories to help find the right stage for your talk. Sometimes you might prefer to aim for a small conference with majority of your target group in it, rather than a larger one where you can only intrigue a small percentage of them in your topic. Specificity wins out over mass for building a following. Only after you have booked a few smaller gigs should you aim for larger industry conferences.
Connect With Conference Organizers / Bureaus
Now that you know where you want to speak, you’ve got a brand new group of stakeholders to influence. Start, as always, with your network and connections to connect you with conference / event organizers and planners. Just as you would approach developing a bond with a potential powerful influencer, you’ll want to build a solid, strong relationship with the people who can get you speaking engagements. You can also connect with other speakers and influencers and provide them a presentation abstract, asking them for advice on breaking through. Use sites like LinkedIn to establish connections and get the word out that you’re available for speaking engagements. Shoot video of you delivering a killer presentation and share it around your network.
Craft Your Presentation
How will you hold your audience’s attention? Find out if your audience prefers facts and figures, or stories about memorable moments, or controversial opinions, or hilariously funny happenings. A good presenter is a smart storyteller and so they craft their stories carefully, including a delicate mix of humor, information, and entertainment.
A little warning here: Don’t be fooled into thinking that speaking is all flash and no substance. If you’re not actually maintaining a consistent social presence, and entrenching yourself as an expert or thought leader in the industry, then you run the risk of coming across as an empty suit. Becoming a speaker doesn’t stop you from working hard at your real job: being the most knowledgeable and helpful person in your industry that you can be.
Market Your Expertise
When you get the gig, you’ll want to get all the benefit you can out of it, which means marketing your participation in the conference or seminar – both before and after it. Here are a few ways to do just that —
- Post about your upcoming talk on your networks. Craft blog entries and press releases, explaining why your talk shouldn’t be missed. Share it on LinkedIn, and alert everyone in your network about where they can catch your talk.
- Join discussions about the conference. Participate in forums or tweetups before the conference, letting people know where they can catch your talk at the conference.
- Give away some freebies to encourage people to attend. Let people know that if they are there, they will get something that no one else will have, like a code to unlock a video, an extra tip, a free research white paper, a deal on some merchandise, or free consultation sessions. People love free stuff, and you never know what will work till you try it!
- Upload teaser videos before your talk, and wrap-up videos afterwards to showcase your expertise to people who might have missed your talk, and show other potential organizers your perspective, presentation skills, and how you perform in front of an audience. These videos could become stepping stones for getting introduced to new speaking opportunities. Ask the conference organizers if you can get a video copy of your talk to put on your own website.
- Update your LinkedIn profile to include information about the talk and presentation itself, if you can.
The last thing you need to do is get working on identifying your next opportunity to speak. You may want to hire a coach, or get some inspiration from personalities like Guy Kawasaki or Barbara Corcoran to help you determine where to go next.
Get out there and get your voice heard!
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Yooniko (a brand of Metamorph Corporation) is dedicated to creating the future of unique, personal branding. Find out more here.