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.
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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.
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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?