How to Find Speaking Engagements

Businesswoman giving presentation at podium

Whether you're an author, CEO or industry professional, you can't overlook the power of regular speaking engagements in telling your story. However, passion alone won't get you invited to the podium. Booking regular appearances requires aggressively marketing of your public speaking abilities to convince clients of your message's value and relevance: Only then can you work up from smaller local events to industry-specific gatherings and conferences.

Book Local Appearances

Contact civic groups, libraries and nonprofit organizations in your area and ask to speak at one of their events. Personal fitness trainer Rich Manuccia followed this strategy to book speeches for local Kiwanis clubs and weight management groups, "Entrepreneur" magazine says. Like Manuccia, you'll either have to speak for free -- or a small fee -- to establish yourself. However, you'll improve your presentation style and generate referrals that yield higher-paying speaking engagements.

Cold Call Clients

Identify 40 to 50 organizations that seem like a good fit for your expertise. For maximum efficiency, Internet marketing strategist Kristie Notto recommends checking resources like Douglas Publications' "Directory of Association Meeting Planners" or the National Trade and Professional Associations Directory, which lists more than 7,700 convention, meeting and trade show dates. Then call each organization's decision-maker. Explain how his group might benefit from hearing your expertise on a specific issue.

Create an Online Presence

Create a website so clients can learn about you easily. Post a one-page fact sheet listing your credentials, including previous books or articles, and a list of topics that you'll address. Don't forget to include a brief biography, photo and contact information, and upload a couple of brief video clips that highlight your speaking abilities. If you're just starting out, focus the fact sheet on your expertise, and film a brief introductory clip that makes the case for hiring you.

Join Speaking Organizations

Sign up with professional organizations like the National Speakers Association to boost your speaking skills and connections. You'll meet like-minded peers and get referrals that lead to more work. Having representation from a speakers' bureau is another option, but expect stiff competition from better-established speakers, CNN states in its May 2008 article, "Launching a Public-Speaking Career." You can also look at hiring a publicist. His major priority is promoting you and your work.

Mingle WIth Clients

Attend conferences, meetings and seminars where you can meet potential clients within your industry. Find out who's attending a particular event, and develop a 30-second pitch to give them, advises career consultant Johnny Campbell for Notto's Identify a specific need that you can address in your presentation. Depending on the response, you'll either start planning your next speaking engagement, or move on to your next target.