The glamour of being paid to share what you know from the stage cannot be overstated. Imagine an audience jumping to their feet and bursting into applause as you say your last few words. You walk off the stage and a line of people is forming to tell you how wonderful you were and how much you changed their lives. The meeting planner – the person who arranged for you to be hired for this event – is beaming at you from the bottom of the steps. She slips you an envelope, gushing over your incredible performance. Inside, there is a check for thousands of dollars. It’s all yours, in appreciation for the knowledge you just shared in such a compelling, engaging and clear manner. When you get back to your hotel room, you check your calendar to see where you’ll be speaking next week. Los Angeles! Perfect! You’ve got friends to hang out with there. You flop backwards onto the comfy mattress. Life is good.
If that’s not your reality yet, read on.
Marketing is the single most important task any speaker performs. In the beginning, you will be your own marketing department. Hiring someone else usually takes longer, with high costs and low return on investment. Eventually, speakers bureaus may represent you, but at the start (unless you’re famous) getting them will be nearly impossible. A speakers bureau gets 25-30 percent of your gross, so until you’re worth the investment they must make in promoting you chances are they won’t take you on. That happens when your speaking fees total about $100,000 per year. I teach people how to get to that first $100,000 level in my speaker training webinars and courses. Below is an abridged version of the step-by-step speaker self-promotion plan I teach.
1. Choose no more than 3 topics.
All of which should be a direct benefit to businesses, all loosely related. Businesses are where the money is in the speaking industry. If your topics are wildly divergent, e.g. “Customer Service, Sales and Executive Leadership”, you sound like a Jack (or Jill) of all Trades, master of none.
2. Research the top 10-15 speakers already doing your topic.
How are you different, deeper, more interesting, more valuable to an audience?
3. Test and re-test your proposed content via social media.
If the general public likes what you say and how you say it, it will succeed as a speech topic. If they don’t, you won’t. Proctor & Gamble doesn’t release a new product without research and development and market testing--neither should you!
4. Build a compelling, high end website.
You need to invest in looking like a superstar if you want to get booked for money. The competition is fierce! People who have their wife’s brother build their website after work are going to find they wasted time. This is an appearance based business.
5. Leap onto the scene.
Don’t crawl! Write lots of blogs and articles; build a YouTube channel with branded, rich content; relentlessly introduce innovative, fresh solutions; comment publicly on new developments in your topic/industry.
6. Identify and promote your availability directly to meeting planners.
Find out which companies have hired speakers on your topic in the last two to three years. Which companies are being publicly denouced for the problem you solve? Which industries are most in need of your services? For more on the best ways to promote yourself to meeting planners, sign up for my free webinar.
7. Be professional, courteous and diligent.
When you get a meeting planner on the phone, have a clean, tight, benefits-laden pitch prepared.
8. Commit to pitching yourself to five to 20 meeting planners every weekday.
Targeting the right meeting planners and reaching out to them is crucial.
9. Collect video of yourself speaking.
Every time you get the chance, even if it is someone in the back of the room with an iPhone, get video of yourself. Use it to improve. When you have at least 3 good clips, hire a professional to edit it into a dynamic speaker demo reel. (It’s hard to get booked before you have one!)
10. Do a great job at every gig, even if it is the local nursing home.
Be brilliant on the platform and professional, courteous and charming off of it. Turn every meeting planner into a business friend so she will recommend you to peers. Marketing gets easier for speakers dedicated to self-improvement, who grow their content knowledge, improve their delivery style and enhance their marketing strategies.
Preparing marketing materials and pitching yourself can seem daunting, but it is imperative to the success of a speaker. I’ve trained about 8,500 speakers in my career and speaking can be an interesting way to make a living and leave your mark on the world. Sign up for my free webinar and find out how to start getting paid to give speeches, workshops or seminars on the topic of your expertise.