Tag Archives: Speaker tips

4 Actions You Can Take Now if Your Speaking Gigs are Inconsistent

Have you ever found yourself with a bit of a dry patch when it comes to speaking bookings?

It happens from time to time with speakers, especially if you don’t yet have a particularly high profile among event planners.

Many speakers rely heavily on referrals, and in fact run a thriving business that way, but sometimes you need a bit more to ensure that your calendar remains as booked as you’d like it.

You need consistency, and part of that comes from having a consistent process for finding and booking future engagements. If you find yourself with calendar gaps, here are four actions you could take today to help fill up your schedule:

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#1. Assess your overall business practices

Most professional speakers love to get onto the stage and engage an audience. But many are not as comfortable with the “business” side of their profession. It takes much more than speaking savvy to succeed, and it’s relatively common for people to have areas of their business that they struggle with.

If your gigs tend to be inconsistent, it’s a good time to sit down and really assess what your overall business practices are. Is there anything missing, or inconsistently done that could be contributing to the drought?

There are a couple of issues that we commonly see:

  1. Not having a good system in place to track and follow-up with contacts
  2. Relying on remembering, or doing things manually.

As a speaker, you meet hundreds, perhaps thousands of people throughout the year. Anyone may be a potential lead, or contact to connect you with those who hire speakers. The trick is to ensure that you follow up with people – not so often that you become annoying, but regularly enough that they still know who you are.

Do you have a good CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system in place? If not, this is one action that you can take right now. It makes a world of difference to your contact and customer follow-up if you have a system in place that makes it easy. No more spreadsheets, rolodexes or shoeboxes full of business cards! (You can sign up for a free trial of KarmaCRM here).

Secondly, look at any essential part of your prospecting or contact management process and see what you can do to ensure there is a robust system around it. For example, there may be things you can automate, or delegate to an assistant to ensure that they happen. When you rely too heavily on remembering or doing things manually, it’s easy to let things slip when you get busy!

A CRM is an essential tool for a professional speaker to follow-up with Click To Tweet

Speaking gigs

#2. Be very specific about what you want

“When people will not weed their own minds, they are apt to be overrun by nettles.”– Horace Walpole.

Sometimes it’s all in how you frame your search for more speaking gigs. For example, you might be asking yourself, “how do I book more engagements?” This is a very general question. When your question is wide open like that, it’s easy for your mind to be “overrun by nettles!”

It’s time to get very specific about what it is that you’re looking for. More business bookings? More college bookings? More big events? You can get even more specific than that – what type of businesses, colleges or events? Who specifically would you like to speak for?

Keep a list of “ideal” clients and ask yourself, “how do I get booked by (client)?” This sort of clarity helps to drive more targeted action.

As soon as you become clear on who you’d like to target, you find ways to make that happen. You research their website, you look for contact names, or you look through your current connections to see if anyone is already connected to them.

This is something you could get started on right now – write down 10-20 places, names or events and work from there.

#3. Have a prospecting habit

This action fits right in with those business practices we talked about assessing earlier. The most successful professional speakers tend to have solid routines for their business practices, including prospecting for new clients.

Do you have a prospecting habit? If not, this is one thing to add into your routine right now.

For many professional speakers, this means having a set period every week where they do nothing but look for new prospects. If you’re used to devoting Tuesday mornings (or whatever your schedule is), you soon find that the habit keeps you with a healthy prospect pipeline.

Another advantage of doing this is that it’s an efficient way of working. Productivity experts often speak of the advantages of “chunking” like-tasks, so that you don’t lose efficiency through task-switching. Basically, if you’re building in prospecting time, you allow yourself to get onto a roll, making the most of the time spent on that activity.

In a nutshell, consistent prospecting can lead to more consistent speaking gigs. You’ve got to be out there to get the job!

#4. Go where the meeting planners are

There are speaking opportunities almost anywhere you might care to look, if you know what to look for. One key point comes back to knowing who’s hiring you. You know which audience/s you want to target, but who is it that actually books you for the gig? These are the people you want to be tight with.

Assess your places and methods of finding people – if your gigs are inconsistent, are you really hanging out where the event managers and speaker bookers are? A mistake that speakers sometimes make is to spend a lot of time engaging with the audience they want to speak to, but not necessarily the people who put them in front of that audience.

Here are a few tips about where to find the meeting planners:

  • Pay attention to events that pop up on Facebook, in other social feeds or in articles that you read. Can you find names associated with organizing those events?
  • Read meeting planning magazines. These tend to be full of events, company names, and meeting planner names among the many articles. For example look at; BizBash, MeetingsNet, Smart Meetings, Meetings and Conventions, or Special Events.
  • Look for relevant hashtags. On social media channels such as Twitter where hashtags are used, you can find a lot of potentially useful connections just by searching those hashtags. You’ll need to do some research to find whatever is in current use, but here are some which reveal results in a recent search: #conference, #eventprofs, #meetingprofs, #eventmarketing. Connect with event planners and create your own Twitter list to work from. Pay attention also to whoever Twitter recommends you follow once you have followed a known event planner – it will usually recommend similar profiles. Use a similar strategy on Instagram to find relevant hashtags.
    Speaking gigs
  • Find events, groups and meeting planners on LinkedIn. This is usually a simple matter of using the search function. Groups can be a great way to get your name out, if you’re contributing in a valuable way to them. Just look for groups that are active and constructive, rather than those that seem to just involve “buy my stuff” people.

Of course, an important part of the process after doing any of these things is to make sure you put the new contacts into your CRM and follow up with them. Don’t add them to autoresponders or generally be spammy, but do set reminders for yourself to make contact.

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Final thoughts

Creating a consistent pipeline of speaking engagements means having a consistent process for finding them. You might get a lot of work through referrals, but this is your business – don’t allow yourself to become complacent over prospecting yourself!

Understand exactly what it is you are looking for, be consistent about following up, and make sure you’re finding and targeting the people who actually make the bookings. These are all exercises you could sit down and do right now. All the best for future bookings!

I’ve been hacking at various business ideas since I was 16. I’m a full stack developer and love crafting user experiences. I’ve been nose deep in code since I put the legos down, and built several successful businesses in the process. I’ve lost some hair, gained some experience and throughly enjoyed the journey.

A Speaker’s Guide to Preparing Ahead of Bookings

What does it take to present successfully on-stage?

Many people assume that you must have special gifts or talents to be able to hold the attention of a room, and aptitude definitely comes into the picture, but nothing is as important as prior preparation.

In fact, one of the secrets of top professional speakers is that they tend to have put in many hours of preparation, even for just one hour on the stage. There’s much more to it than memorizing a presentation – it’s about understanding the audience, the context within which they operate, and the little nuances that take your presentation from “just like any other” to “she gets me!”

That said, how do professional speakers prepare for a successful presentation? Let’s take a look:

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Gather material

Every speaker has their own preferences for gathering material that they can use in presentations. For most professional speakers, this is something that they do as an automatic part of their daily processes. There is all manner of experiences or stories that, even if you can’t use them in an upcoming talk, might be useful filed away for another time.

The important thing is to have a good system, so that you’re able to recall those tidbits whenever you need them. How do you file good speaking material? Perhaps you file them under headings related to the key point, for example “managing change” or “setting goals.” The types of material you might gather include:

  • Stories or anecdotes that evoked an emotion in you. Maybe it made you laugh or cry, or it was simply something interesting that made you pay attention.
  • Your own experiences. When you review various chapters of your own life, what experiences or situations can serve as lessons for others? What insights can you impart from successes, failures, high, or low points?

When you’re in the build-up to your next presentation, it can also be useful to keep a journal or notebook, so that you can easily jot down thoughts as they occur to you. You never know where or when inspiration can strike!

Speakers preparing for bookings

Top professional speakers have a system for gathering and recalling speaking material Click To Tweet

Know your audience

Did you know that the average attention span of humans is around eight seconds? Generally speaking, depending on the source you look at, people argue that you have anywhere between five and fifteen seconds to grab the attention of your audience.

For a professional speaker, there is no “rule” about how you’re going to quickly engage the attention of your audience, but one key factor is to know that audience well. In understanding your audience, you can take your best shot at what will appeal to them.

The best professional speakers focus a lot of time on defining who it is that they’re speaking to and where their interests or needs lie. Your aim is to create a presentation that will really resonate with them and to hold their attention throughout.

Some things that you want to know about your audience include:

  • Learning about current issues within the industry, particularly if speaking to companies. This allows you to include those issues in your presentation, or at least be able to acknowledge them so that the audience knows you’ve done your homework.
  • Understand any changes the audience might be dealing with, or problems they might be managing. For example, what if you were hired to speak to an audience at a company where restructuring has been an issue?
  • Learning about their goals, aspirations or dreams. How can you tap into the desires of your audience?

Research is the professional speaker’s best friend ahead of a gig. One of the best ways to go about it is to simply talk to people who fall within that target audience. You can pick up things like the language they use, their feelings on certain issues or topics, the level of information they need, and their motivations.

Understanding and using the language of your audience within your presentation can be a powerful way to hold their attention.

Gather and examine feedback

First of all, top professional speakers always gather feedback from their past events. These days, event organizers are commonly looking to maximize the value they get from speakers, so “speak and run” isn’t going to cut it.

Gathering feedback can also be a useful tool for booking more speaking gigs. It can be quite helpful to show audience feedback to event organizers. Those who book speakers are always looking for ROI!

As far as preparing ahead for your speaking appointments, your feedback can be useful to help guide your presentation, particularly if you’re speaking to a similar audience. Look back at what people liked or didn’t like, aim to improve on what you can, and give people more of what they enjoyed.

Understand what the aim is

One very important point when it comes to preparing for a presentation is to understand what the person or company who booked you is hoping to get out of it. Companies are often booking speakers with specific business goals in mind, so it’s important that you understand what these are and allow them to shape your presentation.

Consider questions like:

  • Why have they asked me in particular to speak?
  • What is the purpose of the event overall?
  • What goals does the organizer have for the event?
  • What would they like their audience to take away?
  • How can you deliver content for which they’ll be able to get measurable results?

Your ability to keep booking further speaking engagements will hinge greatly on how well you are able to deliver value and meet client expectations. This always begins with good preparation – you’ve got to have a clear picture of those expectations in order to deliver.

Practice your presentation

“Let’s just wing it,” said no professional speaker ever! (At least, none that we have spoken with!). The best professional speakers do have some natural ability, but their real secret is in their preparation and the practice they put in ahead of time.

The best practice tends to be either on other people, or at the very least, out loud while you pretend to “work the room.” Speaking as you would on stage helps to engage that memory and imprint it, so that you can present a polished performance.

Another important thing about practicing is that you can discover areas of your presentation which don’t quite flow or come across as you intended. Take the opportunity to polish them ahead of time!

Speakers preparing for bookings

Practice on your friends!

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Final thoughts

The best professional speakers don’t simply whip up a winning presentation out of nowhere. A key to their success is the amount of preparation they put in. For many, this can be multiple hours of work for just a one hour talk – but it is this preparation that helps to ensure they are booked repeatedly.

Top speakers prepare by:

  • Having a system to gather material, and ensure they can recall it as needed
  • Carefully researching their audience
  • Gathering and examining feedback
  • Understanding the goals of the event organizer
  • Practicing their presentation.

Natural abilities will only get you so far in the world of professional speakers – consistent bookings come from careful preparation. What do you do to ensure you prepare effectively?

I’ve been hacking at various business ideas since I was 16. I’m a full stack developer and love crafting user experiences. I’ve been nose deep in code since I put the legos down, and built several successful businesses in the process. I’ve lost some hair, gained some experience and throughly enjoyed the journey.

A Value-Driven Approach to Booking More Speaking Gigs

The question of how to book more speaking gigs is a common one among professional speakers.

What can you be doing to keep your pipeline full and your calendar busy? Besides taking the right steps to ensure you’re operating with a business owner’s mindset, of course booking those gigs will come down to your appeal with potential clients.

Staying on top of trends and understanding what it is that clients are looking for out of a speaker are excellent ways to ensure that you can take a value-driven approach. What might that approach look like? Here are a few thoughts:

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Understand desired business outcomes

Mike Wittenstein, CSP, CMC, DTM, CCXP, international conference speaker, corporate consultant, and founder of Storyminers, chatted with us a little while ago about the habits of effective speakers and what he sees happening in the future of the industry.

A growing trend he identified is that businesses are desiring more in the way of tangible business outcomes through booking speakers. Companies are accelerating their use of speakers as agents of change, and they want to see the bang for their buck.

Neen James, CSP, finds that clients are demanding more actionable content, which has measurable results and is followed-up on throughout the year.

The bottom line is that businesses want value, and that value will very much depend upon their desired business outcomes. This is something that every speaker should understand before drafting their presentation, even before talking to a new prospect.

For many speakers, this means having an outline of clear deliverables which they advertise as part of their marketing materials. If you flip it around and look from the perspective of the hiring business, they are often given the advice to look for speakers who directly align with their objectives. State your mission clearly so that they have no doubt that you can deliver.

via GIPHY

How will you demonstrate actionable content?

Professional speakers: how do you deliver tangible business outcomes to clients? Click To Tweet

Offer the full package

Many businesses are looking beyond a one-off speaking session. They want to see ROI from the engagement and follow-up to ensure that the lessons learned stick. Sometimes they want to see additional offerings from speakers, both before and after events.

What can you offer that will make your service a complete package for the client? For example, you might send through an exercise for participants to complete in preparation for your event, or some kind of introductory video to drive anticipation.

Afterwards, your follow-up is becoming more and more important to both businesses and to event organizers. Businesses want to maximize their investment, while event organizers are keen to ensure that their event is popular and that attendees feel they’ve received value.

For example, event follow-up activities might include:

  • Providing copies of your presentation to the audience, perhaps as a download.
  • Arranging for the audience to get digital or physical copies of your book (if you have one).
  • Follow-up webinars or conference calls, giving audience members the chance to talk about any actions they have taken or ask any questions.
  • Engaging on social media using an event hashtag. This is also a way to answer any follow-up questions, or generally to keep people engaged.

Check out this piece of advice, given to event organizers about finding speakers:

“When all is said and done, the days of a speaker swooping in, making their speech and sneaking out the side door, having had no contact with their audience and no follow-up, are more or less over. Look for ways to maximize their value and you’ll get a return on your investment that will be felt for a long time to come.”

Well, there you have it again – ROI and the delivery of value are keys. Offering a more complete package rather than “taking the side door” is where it’s at…

Be clear about what qualifies you

Event organizers and businesses who hire speakers are looking for someone with credibility. This means that you obviously “walk the talk” when it comes to the things that you teach or talk about.

These potential clients are interested in knowing, how do you implement what you talk about? What qualifies you to talk about these things to their audiences?

Think back a few years and there was definitely a period where “everyone” was suddenly a coach or marketing guru, with many claims being tenuous at best. The thing is, people like that are usually uncovered relatively quickly (thanks, internet!). At the very least, you need to know more about your particular topic than the audience whom you are addressing.

Your clients are looking for someone who can be an authority on the topic and hold up when it comes to any question of credibility. By nature, many audiences are fairly cynical. For example, think of a business where you might be called in to help them through change management. Those audiences are often uneasy and looking for ways to poke holes in the presentation of the speaker. How will you stack up if the question in the audience’s mind is “why should I listen to you?”

On that note, it’s good practice to deliver a sort of “why you should listen to me” near the beginning of any presentation. This is probably similar to what you would use in your content and marketing materials to convey the answer to the same question.

Involve the audience

A trend that Neen James identified is a growing desire for more audience involvement and interaction. Specifically, she sees trending:

  • Requests for more integration of technology in speeches to drive audience interaction and share content.
  • Requests for more audience interaction and a conversational approach, regardless of audience size.

These are definitely things for any professional speaker to consider as part of their value proposition. The days of “death by Powerpoint” are over, at least for any speaker who wants to remain relevant. How will you get the audience involved?

When it comes to the technology side of that, just be a little bit cautious about what you can promise upfront. Technology very much depends upon what is available at the facility and how well it is working. Even then, you have to plan as though the technology isn’t working as well. How many times have you been to an event where internet or mobile data reception is poor at the venue?

Matt Bailey offers some solid advice when it comes to presentations and technology:

“Pro Tips: Presenting well is all about minimizing external factors. Never rely on “external factors” to make your presentation successful. Mitigating possible problems and controlling as much as possible should be your mindset.

Don’t rely on:

  • reliable internet connections
  • compatible internet connections
  • presentation remotes being provided
  • ideally placed screens
  • ideally placed projectors
  • everything to work, all the time.”

So, think about audience interaction, and offer technology solutions, just don’t rely on them.

via GIPHY

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Final thoughts

What do you do to communicate “value” to potential speaking clients? Increasingly, event organizers and businesses want something more for their speaker-booking money. They want to see measurable results from booking the speaker and often, they want more than just the presentation itself.

What are the business outcomes that your target customers desire? How is it that you are qualified to speak on and deliver these outcomes?

Think about how you can offer a value proposition that is more than turning up, delivering a presentation, then disappearing from the consciousness of the audience. Companies are actively looking for what you can offer them both before and after the event as well.

How will you deliver value?

I’ve been hacking at various business ideas since I was 16. I’m a full stack developer and love crafting user experiences. I’ve been nose deep in code since I put the legos down, and built several successful businesses in the process. I’ve lost some hair, gained some experience and throughly enjoyed the journey.