How to Find More Public Speaking Opportunities
Last year you took a risk — a big risk. You were offered an opportunity to speak in front of an audience, and it certainly paid off. Before your first speaking opportunity, you were nervous. But then, when it was all over, you couldn’t believe how much you enjoyed it. It felt great being on stage. All of those fears and insecurities melted just as soon as you started speaking and found your groove. And, even more importantly, you were thrilled with the results you received from the events, like widening your network and an increase in leads.
Now, your main goal is to find more public speaking opportunities — and fast. But how do you find them? Sure, you know you can call in your network and ask them for their help. You also know that you actively have to search for yourself, because referrals can only take you so far for so long.
Here, we’ll review four ways you can find more public speaking opportunities this year — and into the future.
1. Analyze the speaking opportunities your competition have
Your first step to finding more public speaking opportunities is doing research. Think of two or three direct competitors of yours and do a little internet digging. Where do they network? What organizations are they communicating with online? Are they actively sharing events that they’re involved in? Do they have a speaking, media, or events page on their website?
Take notes on everything you find. The events they attend, networking opportunities they participate in, and stages they speak on are potential opportunities for you as well.
But, wait, you may be thinking, aren’t these stages already saturated? Why would these organizations hire me when they’re already working with my competitors?
There’s no need to worry. Organizations and event planners are always looking for new perspectives. Sure, you and your competitors may want to speak on similar topics, but you’ll all have different approaches to the material. So pitch away!
Reach out to the organizations you’ve determined that your competitors are speaking at and introduce yourself. Let them know you’re looking for speaking opportunities, and be specific with the topics and takeaways you’d like to discuss.
2. Determine where your industry’s influencers are speaking
Similar to researching where your direct competitors are speaking, you’ll also want to find out where the major players in your industry are showing up. Instead of local organizations and networking events, your research into the big kahunas will show you the large events and conferences in your industry.
Now, don’t get shy here. Apply for any speaking opportunities you can. Sure, if public speaking is new to you, you’re not going to land a main stage event on your very first try. However, there are other opportunities at these events that could be perfect for you, like panel discussions, small group presentations, and even off-site events. Don’t be choosy; apply for any of these opportunities.
But there is something to consider with large events — you’ll need to apply significantly in advance for these speaking opportunities. Most conferences and large-scale events begin accepting applications for speakers almost immediately after their previous event. This means you’ll need to apply almost a year in advance for these larger-scale events. Start now by getting a 12-month calendar and writing down all the events you’d be interested in speaking at. Then, research the events and add the application deadlines to your calendar. In the best-case scenario, there will be events you can still apply for. In the worst-case scenario, you’ll have done the research necessary to know the approximate dates you should be applying for future events. Put them in your digital calendar now so you don’t miss out later!
3. Ask your clients what events they like to attend
One of the major reasons you want to gain more speaking engagements is the opportunity to reach potential clients. So go out there and ask your current clients what type of events they regularly attend. Their responses will likely be extremely insightful, and you may find many speaking engagements that you never would have considered before. Don’t discount any opportunities, either. If your clients are attending small local events, other potential clients will likely be there too. Similarly, you might meet people at these events who aren’t ideal clients, but they may be impressed with your talk and ask you to speak to their audiences as well.
Don’t think too hard about how to do this. A simple email to your favorite clients will do. Tell them that you’re seeking speaking engagements and you’d love it if they could reply and tell you about the events they attend. Create a questionnaire if you’re considering sending it to a larger group so it’s easier to sort through events.
4. Look to trade publications for speaking opportunities
If you know the exact industries you’d like to target, search their print and digital publications for opportunities that might not be advertised elsewhere. You may find that certain topics aren’t being discussed as much as you’d expect, which gives you the opportunity to reach out and suggest a talk — given by you, of course — on the subject. Be open to speaking engagements that aren’t on a stage like podcasts, video lectures, or guest trainers. Every opportunity to get your message out will help you land more speaking opportunities in the future.
If you find listed speaking engagements in these trade publications — great! If not, don’t hesitate to cold pitch any organizations you think you’d like to speak at. Just make sure your topic is truly relevant to their needs and you highlight the value you’re bringing to their organization.
Once you start putting effort into finding and accepting speaking opportunities, you’ll begin to get more and more offers. Enjoy all the exposure and your return on investment!