A lot of entrepreneurs dream of doing keynote speeches, giving back and inspiring others, whilst at the same time being paid. So how do you transition from being a great entrepreneur to being a great entrepreneur who gets paid to do speeches?
The easiest way is to be famous. I know it sounds silly but it really is. If you’re famous people will come willing and eager, to pay for you to speak. I recently did a series of articles on how to become a celebrity authority in your field, and a nice summary article summarising the whole series.
If you’re still reading at this point then I’m going to assume that you’re not famous. Maybe you don’t want to be; maybe you’re working on it but in the meantime want to get speeches to help you grow your reputation. What I’m going to do with this article is basically give you a step by step guide on building your reputation as a speaker.
Step 1 – Have something to speak about
This may seem obvious, but there are quite a lot of people out there who dream of speaking on a stage but who have never even given any thought into what they would speak about. What are you really knowledgeable about that would benefit others? What are some of the biggest lessons you have learned as an entrepreneur? Maybe you’re an expert on hiring, or culture, or marketing, or sales, or training, or maybe you’re a great growth hacker. It doesn’t matter, as long as you have a niche or area of expertise that you can draw upon and speak about then that’s all you need.
Step 2 – Join a Toastmasters club
If you’re already in a Toastmasters club then well done you. If you’re not then I’d strongly recommend you join. It’s a great way to practice and enhance your speaking skills in a friendly and pressure free environment. Some people are under the impression that they know enough about whatever it is they want to speak about that they’d be fine if they had to go up and do it tomorrow, as long as they knew what they wanted to say. Maybe they would, maybe they wouldn’t, but it’s better to find out before you’re up there.
Even if you can recite everything you’d want to say on your own or in front of a friend. It’s not the same as in front of a live audience. The truth is that you just don’t know how you would react if you had to get up and speak live, so it’s better to find out in advance and correct any errors you may have. When I speak I used to have a nervous itch where I scratch my head sometimes, I had no idea until I joined Toastmasters and got feedback telling me. I wouldn’t have otherwise known either because if I were to do a speech just to myself or in front of a friend then I wouldn’t have been nervous so neither I nor they would have picked up on it. You might have weird things you do when you’re speaking that you don’t even know about, so it’s best to iron those wrinkles out at a Toastmasters.
Another benefit of joining a Toastmasters is you can actually talk about what it is you’d talk about on stage, judge the audience’s reaction and adjust it accordingly. The reality is you just don’t know how people will react to your content. They might really like something you didn’t expect, which gives you a chance to add more similar stuff, or they might not really be very interested in something which you were certain that they would love, so you can include less of it next time. This means that when you do speak at an event that you already have a pretty good idea of how they’re going to react to your content, and you can deliver content that you know they’re interested in.
Step 3 – Speak at events for free
Yes, you read that correctly. If you want to be paid for speaking at events, then you should do it for free. If you find local events and offer to speak for free you’ll soon get bookings, as long as you have something of value to speak about. A great place to speak is at local Tedx events. Why not contact some local Tedx events and see if you can speak at the next event? You’ll get more interest as a result, people are impressed by someone who is a Tedx speaker, and all you have to do to be one is ask. So why should you speak for free if it isn’t a Tedx event and you don’t get the badge of honour that comes with being a Tedx speaker? Well, just because you haven’t heard of an event before doesn’t mean other event organisers don’t know about them. If you have a good number of places where you’ve spoken, it’s going to make it easier to get paid speeches in the future.
It also means people at the events can get to know you as a speaker and become familiar with you and seeing your name at events. You could get some business as a result of them too. If you keep speaking at events for free it won’t be long before you’ll be able to charge for it, and you can build it up from there, speaking and bigger and bigger events for a bigger and bigger fee. But it all starts with those first few events. The reality is, you’re paid for the value you deliver, and if you’ve never delivered any value before because you’ve never done any speeches, then people are going to be less inclined to book you. Once people can see you’ve spoken and spoken well at events, and know you’ll provide value at their events too, you’ll start getting bookings.
Step 4 – Have a video of you speaking
Having a video of you speaking is a great tool for getting more bookings. If you’re speaking at an event then great, if not then why not just film yourself speaking in a room with a few friends sat listening, or just speaking to the camera? If you’ve done a Tedx talk then you can use that. If you have a video of you speaking that you can actually send to organisers of events, they’re going to be more likely to book you, especially if you’re relatively unknown. If you can give people an idea of what they can expect if they book you and how much value you can provide by speaking at their event, they’re going to be more willing to pay for you.
Step 5 – Use testimonials
Videos are great, and having testimonials alongside them makes them even more effective, which will result in even more bookings for you. Your testimonials can be from anyone, as long as they’re genuine what that person thinks. Ask people whose events you’ve spoken at for testimonials, or people who have been to events you’ve spoken at, or even people in your Toastmasters group who have seen you speak for testimonials on your speeches. Written testimonials are good, but if you can, try and get people to do you video testimonials if they’re comfortable with it. Seeing the emotion on someone’s face as they talk about how great and inspiring your speech was could be the difference between getting a booking and not getting a booking.
Step 6 – Make a speaking CV
Once you’ve done a few free speeches, have a video of you speaking, and have a couple of testimonials you can put all this together in one document, your ‘speaking CV’. You should also include information about previous places you’ve spoken at, what you speak about and are knowledgeable in, any media attention you’ve had, a picture of you, and anything else of note that may be relevant, for example if you’re an author of a book. Don’t forget to include your testimonials (links to them if they’re video), as well as links to you speaking.
Step 7 – Find events
Once you’re ready to speak at paid events, you have to go out, find them, and get your name out there. The more experience you get, the more likely it is people will start approaching you. Don’t be afraid to pester people either, if you have to enquire more than once to get a speaking arrangement so be it, people will be pleased that you’re so keen to speak at their event, not put off.
Also, remember that you don’t just have to contact events you know about or find online to get speaking arrangements. You can also contact friends you have, other speakers you know, schools, colleges and universities, any clients you may have in your business, local companies, and anyone else you can think of. It’s going to take effort to build your reputation up to the point where people are approaching you to speak, but the more you speak, the more people will hear you speak, and the easier it becomes to get bookings (as long as people like your speeches). Just keep working and building it up.
Bonus Point – Have something to sell
This may be obvious, but it’s worth having something to sell or offer after your speeches, when people are inspired by you and ready to take action. If you have a book you have written you can sell that (if you haven’t written one, I’d recommend you do, it’s a great way of establishing yourself as an expert), or if you have some kind of course or product that people can benefit from you can sell that. Or maybe you can offer something cool and free to people from the event who go to your website, and use a certain voucher code. Whatever floats your boat, just make sure you have something people can do right after your speech, or as soon as they get home failing that, when they’re inspired and ready to take action.
Also be sure to promote your social media accounts, so those who like you can follow you and stay up to date with what you’re doing. If you’re speaking and not sharing your social media there will be a number of people who liked what you said, but who didn’t want to buy what you were offering, but they may have been interested in following you on social media and buying off you in the future once they get to know you and trust you a bit better.
So, to conclude, if you want to get speaking events but you aren’t well known I’d recommend that you:
- Have something to speak about
- Join a Toastmasters club
- Speak at events for free
- Have a video of you speaking
- Use testimonials
- Make a speaking CV
- Find events
- Have something to sell
- Promote your social media accounts
Feel free to post a comment letting us know how you got on, or if you have any other tips people may be able to benefit from, feel free to share them. If you’ve enjoyed reading this article or know someone who may benefit from reading it then feel free to share it.