Be a Guest Speaker Promote your business by speaking at conferences.

Q: I'd like tospeak at conferences. How should I promote myself?

A: First, speak tolots of smaller groups before you appear in front of largeraudiences. Last month's column, "Introduction to PublicSpeaking," offered tips on how to plan your first fewpresentations. Once you're comfortable in front of 100 or morepeople, it's time to hit the conference circuit. You need toknow that at many conferences, competition is keen-even amongspeakers who are willing to appear for free. Receiving a fee for aspeaking engagement, with all expenses paid, is even more difficultto negotiate.

If you're willing to do aggressive marketing, here are sometips that will get you on your way:

Writearticles for publications that are read by people to whom you wantto speak. Include lots of how-to advice. At the end of eacharticle, include an identifier paragraph: "Susan Smith is afinancial planner who speaks on the topic of how to teach childrenabout money. Contact her at (phone number) or at (your e-mailaddress.)"

Send ane-mail message to everyone in your address book. Tell themyou're looking for speaking engagements. Explain what you speakabout and describe your ideal audience. Ask them to keep you inmind or to pass your name along to someone who might need yourservices.

Targetan organization you'd like to speak to, then visit its Website. If the group needs speakers, there's a good chance a"call for proposals" or more information about upcomingseminars and workshops will be at the site.

Everytime you speak to a group and they like you, ask the meetingplanner to write a testimonial letter on his or her letterhead.Photocopy the letters and send them to other meeting planners whomight be interested in you.

Askmeeting planners who liked your presentation to refer you to othermeeting planners they know. This is by far the most effective wayto book more speaking engagements.

Createwhat is known as a "one-sheet." On one sheet of paper(and don't run over to the back), explain who you are andinclude your positioning statement at the top. For example, thepositioning statement on my one-sheet reads: "Joan Stewartworks with organizations that want to use the media to establishtheir credibility, enhance their reputation and position themselvesas the employers of choice." For a copy of my one-sheet,e-mail me your name and address at

Yourone-sheet should also include the topics you speak on and a shortsummary paragraph about each one, stressing what the audience willlearn. Include your photo and contact information. If you havethem, include testimonials from people who have heard you speak.You can print these one-sheets directly from your computer, thenmail or fax them when a meeting planner tells you to send themsomething about you. Or you can have them reproduced at a localprint shop.

Once you have several free speaking engagements under your belt,try to negotiate a fee for your next engagements. Check out theNationalSpeakers Association Web site at for tips on how to dothis.

Joan Stewart, a media relations consultant and professionalspeaker and trainer, works with companies that want to use themedia to establish their expertise, enhance their credibility andposition themselves as the employer of choice. She alsopublishes The Publicity Hound, a bimonthly print newsletterfeaturing "tips, tricks and tools for free (or really cheap)publicity," as well as tips booklets on how to find and keepvaluable employees. Visit

The opinions expressed in this column arethose of the author, not of All answers areintended to be general in nature, without regard to specificgeographical areas or circumstances, and should only be relied uponafter consulting an appropriate expert, such as an attorney oraccountant.

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