CommonLounge Archive

Speaking Engagements: How to get into public speaking and making the most out of it

December 24, 2017

Speaking engagements are a great way to get your message out into the world, gain recognition, and improve your speaking and business skills.

Speaking engagements are beneficial for anyone, even if it’s not your core channel. They can quickly position you as a leader in your field.

It’s best to speak to groups who could significantly contribute to your goals if your talk sways them.

How to start

Start with free talks at small events for potential customers or partners. You’ll want to improve your speaking skills and build your reputation as a speaker before taking on paid gigs.

To get a speaking engagement, talk to the event organizer. They’re always looking to fill their events.

Ask the organizer for the topics they’d like to focus on during the event, then build your pitch around their ideas.

Make a list of all the events you could speak at, and narrow it down from there.

There are three major types:

  • Premier events: These are very popular and held on a national or international scale. There are only a few every year. You’ll need to submit your proposal 6 months to a year in advance.
  • Regional events: These draw participants and speakers from the surrounding areas. Your proposal is needed 2 to 4 months in advance.
  • Local events: Everyone is from the same city. Your proposal is needed 1 to 3 months in advance.

To get into these events, establish yourself as an expert and submit your proposal well ahead of time.

As mentioned before, organizers are concerned with getting talented speakers, so make sure you’ve built up some experience and a good reputation as a speaker.

Once you’ve completed a speaking engagement, you will usually receive more invitations naturally. Organizers know organizers, and audience members will often invite you to speak for them at other events.

You can also ask for referrals from past event organizers.

How to speak

First, answer the burning questions in the audience’s heads. Tell them why you’re giving the talk (what makes you qualified), and how it will benefit them. Once you have their attention, tell them a story about your startup: what you do and why you do it, how you got here, and what’s next.

You can (and should) reuse the same one or two stories and slides for all of your talks, only slightly modifying it for each event. This way you’ll always be well-practiced and ready to go. You can also tweak your talk based on the audience’s response.

Make engaging slides, and finish your talk with a call to action.

Making the most of a speaking engagement

Record your talk and post clips to expose more people to it.

Share your slides on social media to generate interest, and follow up with the video a few days later.

Ask for the audience to share and tweet what they like as they listen to your talk. Then you’ll have extra shares and feedback on what people liked.

Besides speaking, make sure to build relationships at these events. Have dinners together, if a speakers’ dinner isn’t already planned.

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