3 Tips for Getting Speaking Gigs Don't sit back, waiting for that big opportunity. Go after it with all you've got.

By Gene Hammett

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Imagine going to your next conference. You're given the choice to be in the audience or onstage. Which do you choose?

Related: Richard Branson on How to Calm Public Speaking Jitters

Some people are so scared to give a speech, they'd rather be in the casket at a funeral than give the eulogy. OK, that's an old Seinfeld joke. But, there is some truth to it, because some people are deathly afraid to take the stage to share their point of view.

If that's not you -- if you actually want to find your first speaking opportunity, or more speaking opportunities -- let me share three tips for doing just that. These apply to paid speaking gigs, but for all practical purposes, they will help you get your first (unpaid) ten gigs that in turn will pave the path to paid gigs, if that's what you want.

My credentials? I started speaking for my business three years ago. The "truths" I share here worked for my first gig and have continued to do so for my 40-plus speeches since then. I have also interviewed many speakers on my podcast about their businesses to deepen my understanding of what it takes to be invited to the "stage."

Now, don't assume that a "stage" has to be a 2,000-seat arena. "Stage" can mean any setting where you share your message with an audience. And technically, that audience can constitute as few as two people. Most of my own speeches have been to groups under 75.

So, here are those three tips for grabbing consistent speaking gigs:

1. Be proactive.

Going after what you want is important when it comes to speaking. At first, you'll rarely have people ringing you up in hopes you'll give a speech. You'll have to go after it.

But the reactive person gets what the proactive person refused. So, don't get comfortable, waiting. Proactive people tend to get the best clients, best projects and best speaking opportunities.

2. Get social proof.

Organizers and planners (those who select speakers) want to know you will add value to their event. The biggest worry they have is selecting someone who might reflect negatively on them.

Organizers and planners also tend to select speakers they have seen in person. If someone they trust has seen you speak, that works just as well. Finally, there is the ever-so-famous speaker-demo video. This will work too, but most organizers prefer to see you in person before giving you that big chance. If you do rely on a demo video, high production quality is essential if you want to be taken seriously and get paid gigs.

If you submit a testimonial, know that most of these are weak. A powerful testimonial, however, is one that addresses the transformative quality in your speech. Additionally, testimonials with photos tend to be more trustworthy. If your testimonial is on video, that helps build trust even more.

Related: 5 Strategies for Communicating When You Don't Even Like to Talk

First-time speakers, don't fret! Social proof can come from your perceived expert level. If the organizer or planner sees you as an expert, he or she will give you a chance even if you have never spoken before. I had a client, Ron Dod, with Grey Umbrella Marketing, apply for a huge speaking opportunity in his market, Magneto's Imagine 2015 conference. Ron got the gig on the first application, simply because he was already positioned as an expert for his topic.

Don't let anyone stop you from applying.

3. Build relationships.

Your success is mostly about the relationships you create. Organizers and planners like to know you before giving you a shot at their stage. If you want to get your first or more speaking engagements, you must build relationships.

You should also get to know other speakers and even other members of the organization, too.

An example comes from my own experience, back when I made a move to speak at Podcast Movement last year, where my peers were learning about podcasting. As a podcaster myself, this was a huge speaking opportunity I really wanted. Four months ahead of time, I become good friends with Jared Easley, one of the organizers. I surely didn't expect to be invited to speak at such a big conference. But after I talked with him about a specific topic that I wanted to offer the audience, Easley gave me a shot. Building that relationship allowed me be more than just an applicant.

Without knowing the organizers or the selection committee, you will be relying solely on your own social proof and proactive approach. So, what are you waiting for?

Check out the infographic, 7 Steps to Getting Speaking Gigs, for more thoughts on getting the gig.

Related: 7 Powerful Public Speaking Tips From One of the Most-Watched TED Talks Speakers

Wavy Line
Gene Hammett

Strategic Business Coach and Mentor

Gene Hammett is an author, speaker and experienced entrepreneur who is the founder of multiple multi-million dollar businesses. Now as a strategic business mentor, Hammett works with other entrepreneurs to help them master themselves and their business so they can do work that matters. Join him as he interviews industry leaders on his podcast as they share their path to success at LeadersintheTrenches.com

Editor's Pick

She's Been Coding Since Age 7 and Presented Her Life-Saving App to Tim Cook Last Year. Now 17, She's on Track to Solve Even Bigger Problems.
I Helped Grow 4 Unicorns Over 10 Years That Generated $18 Billion in Online Revenues. Here's What I've Learned.
Want to Break Bad Habits and Supercharge Your Business? Use This Technique.
Don't Have Any Clients But Need Customer Testimonials? Follow These 3 Tricks To Boost Your Rep.
Why Are Some Wines More Expensive Than Others? A Top Winemaker Gives a Full-Bodied Explanation.

Related Topics

Growing a Business

The Best Way to Run a Business Meeting

All too often, meetings run longer than they should and fail to keep attendees engaged. Here's how to run a meeting the right way.


Working Remote? These Are the Biggest Dos and Don'ts of Video Conferencing

As more and more businesses go remote, these are ways to be more effective and efficient on conference calls.


Take Your Social Media Earning Potential Sky-High With This $79.97 Quadcopter

Get this beginner-friendly drone for a great price for Father's Day.

Business News

Oscar Mayer Is Changing the Name of Its Iconic Wienermobile

The company is slamming the brakes on its wiener on wheels and rolling out a new meaty ride.

Health & Wellness

Sleep Better, Snore Less, and Stay Cool with This Tech-Packed Pillow, Now $49.99

Let technology help you sleep better with this 8-in-1 cooling pillow.

Growing a Business

Subscribers Exclusive Event: Discover How These 2 Founders Turned Their Side Hustle into a Million-Dollar Lifestyle Brand

Learn how you can transform your personal brand into a thriving business empire with co-founders of The Skinny Confidential