What does it take to become a Fully Booked Speaker?
One question that repeatedly comes up is, “How can I become known as a Speaker?”
The journey to becoming a full-time speaker is generally not linear – it’s one that’s filled with twist and turns. However, I’m a firm believer that small consistent steps taken each and every day will amount to something big in the long run. That’s the path for a vast majority of professional speakers. Most professional speakers spent many years in the trenches before becoming known. However, there are some strategies you may want to consider if you want to earn an income from speaking.
1. Pick your lane. You’ve probably heard that statement before. What does it really mean? Find one area to focus on – don’t speak about anything and everything because you will be known for nothing. If you think of highly-paid professional speakers – they have one topic they speak about – they are the experts in their one known area. For example, Patricia Fripp, is known for her sales presentation; Darren LaCroix is known for his speeches on humor.
Choose your lane, and become known for your expertise in that one area.
2. Clients don’t hire speakers – they hire people who can solve their problems. What problem or problems do you solve for the person who is hiring you to speak? What problem are you solving for your audience?
When you can answer that question, you are on the path to selling yourself and your speech (that comes along with you.)
3. Choose your format. Most people think that the only type of speaking work available is the keynoter. They are not correct. Yes, the keynote is the most obvious and notable role for many speakers. However, there are many other types of professional speaking opportunities out there. Many professional speakers are also trainers and facilitators. You might be better suited to deliver your words of wisdom as a break-out session speaker, Master of Ceremonies or panel moderators, speaking positions that are in high demand, if you are female. Most speakers also have multiple streams of income. You don’t have to have a written a book, however, it is worthwhile to have a blog, perhaps an online course, host webinars, provide coaching, etc… Many professional speakers have products that can earn as much (or sometimes even more) than their speaking fees.
4. What most people want to know about speaking is how to find speaking engagements. Once you have honed in on your topic and you have become the problem solver for a particular audience, hone in on that particular audience. You’ve got to know who has the problem that you solve. Be very specific about the audience that you serve – the more specific your target audience, the more you will become known in your area of expertise. You’ve got to get narrow before you get wide.
5. Look for local associations, state associations, and national associations and conferences. Remember that the deadlines for applications for conferences are typically about nine months in advance of the conference. Each time you speak at an event, strive for an invitation to speak at another event.
6. Let your network know that you are open and available to speak. Join the National Speakers Association. The biggest tip: Your network with other speakers will yield referrals to paid speaking events. Speakers get their friends work. Most major conferences and events won’t have the same speaker back year after year – so, if I’ve spoken at an event, I will refer a colleague that I know to the program planner.
7. Leverage social media – learn how to use video. Be active in group discussions.
And it’s all about stage time, stage time, stage time. The more you speak, the better you get, and the more opportunities will come your way. I hope you find these tips helpful, let me know what’s worked for you.