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First Time Speaker: Tips to Build Your Speaking Platform

By: PR Toolkit


First Time Speaker Building Your Platform

So now that we’ve discussed four tools needed to help you season your speaking skills, where do you start if you’ve never done a speaking event before?

Well my recommendation is to start grass roots. In order to get some great experience, I recommend starting small. If you aren’t a seasoned speaker you don’t want to burn any bridges by pitching yourself to an event you may not be ready for.

Here are a few ideas to consider to help you start building your platform:

  • MeetUpsMeetups can be a great opportunity to get in front of a core group of consumers who are perfect for your message. Check for Meetups that meet regularly and have over 100 members. Why 100? Well, you’ll get an attrition of folks who show up vs. those who are just phantom members. People who sign up for stuff and then never go.
  • Regional networking: Most of us live near several great networking organizations that are often looking for speakers. You may need to go to a few events and perhaps even join the organization before they’ll consider your speaking proposal.
  • Libraries: This is another great possible venue for speaking. Libraries often have packed events calendars and are always open to speaker suggestions.
  • Specialty Organizations: By this I mean organizations focused on your specialty. For example in my industry there are a lot of publishing orgs spread around the country. Find something related to your industry and see if they accept speakers! Much like regional networking organizations, you may be required to join before pitching them.
  • Chamber of Commerce: Another great venue, especially since most are tied to small business networking groups and meetings held as part of the Chamber monthly schedule.

Do you need a speaker’s bureau?

Well yes and no. Speaker’s bureaus are often keen on bringing in speakers with a track record. They don’t make money unless they can book you, so having a speaker with no prior events or training isn’t high on their list of folks to acquire. Now I find that many seasoned speakers are forgoing the speaker’s bureau and booking events themselves, which allows them to keep the booking fee.

Speaker Coaches

I’ve never used one per se, but I once had a speaker coach attend one of my sessions and gave me some feedback that was fantastic. I never attended Toastmasters though I know there are a great many benefits there as well. For me, speaking and teaching came naturally. I still get nervous before I present, but it doesn’t inhibit what I’m doing, I try to use that to keep me sharp, but not everyone agrees with this. If you’re uncertain and don’t feel like you are comfortable just getting up there, then look into doing some coaching. Also, remember that starting small will benefit you, too. Speaking to smaller groups is a fantastic way to build your stage presence!

Pitching Yourself

If you pitch yourself you’re going to want to have your topics ready to go and make sure you’re clear on what your goals are for the speaking event. By this I mean are you looking to build your client base? Get more speaking gigs or consulting opportunities, etc. This will greatly determine where you pitch yourself to.

Related Article: How Speaking in Public Made Me a Better Entrepreneur

This brings me to the next big piece of pitching: attendee benefits. Conferences are (understandably) really big on this. Make sure you clearly define what the audience will learn and be specific. Saying something like “They will learn how to use Facebook” (if you’re teaching social media), is too nebulous a term. What about Facebook will they learn? How to do ads? Having a specific offering will garner your speaking proposal more attention.

Pitch the Right Event

This may sound like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many event coordinators I’ve spoken to who say that every year they get wildly inappropriate pitches. Look at what’s been featured before and if you still feel you have a strong session, then make sure and tie it into the attendees needs. So the “how to handle money” gal could have pitched herself as: Budgeting for Success: how to get twice the mileage from your marketing budget (no matter how small). I can almost guarantee you that if she’d pitched it that way, she would have had a full room of authors, because everyone wants to know how to stretch a dollar, right?

Speaker Fees and Other Benefits

So we know that speaking can help to build your business, but what about getting paid? Well, that all depends on where you are pitching yourself. Most writers conferences don’t pay but some will compensate you for travel, hotel and let you sell books. You will need to determine what you’re willing to do in order to build up this segment of your business, because speaker fees do vary, even for events that will pay you. You need to decide what you’re willing to do to build your speaking career and how much you are willing to invest.

Having a solid speaking career takes time and effort, but if you are clear on your speaking goals, it’s completely worth all the work. Speaking can get you in front of your target market faster than almost anything else, and while I know that virtual-events are very in right now, there is a certain energy attached to an in-person gig that you can’t get anywhere else. Invest in yourself as a speaker, grow your speaking and you’ll grow your business; you’ll be glad you did.

Now that we have identified various venues that authors should consider when launching their speaking career, check out our article on How Authors Can Promote Their Book Using Webinars.

Penny SansevieriAuthor: Penny C. Sansevieri, CEO and founder of Author Marketing Experts, Inc., is a best-selling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert. Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most cutting-edge book marketing campaigns. Follow on Twitter @Bookgal.

Published: November 2, 2015

Source: Small Business PR

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