Eight Quick Ways to Succeed at Speaking Engagements

An Essential Form of Promotion

A speaking engagement is a great honor and establishes your credentials and expertise to potential clients. Here are eight quick ways to obtain and succeed at speaking opportunities.

1. Use the Internet to find conferences.

Visit allconferences.com and tsnn.com to research conferences in almost any field. Review sponsoring organizations, prominent magazines and professional societies in your search.

2. Find suitable locations.

Do you focus on regional clients and prospects? Are you willing to travel? Responses to these questions will help determine where to apply.

Yearly conferences will generally rotate their site around the country.

3. Start looking six months in advance.

Six months is considered the minimal lead time for major conferences. Many conferences will publish their own web site, and you can use this site to determine the conference coordinator.

4. Use a general application for minor events.

Minor speaking engagements will usually require a two-part submission consisting of your bio and topic.

In the absence of prior speaking experience, you may start by pursuing smaller professional organizations within your field, especially if you are a member.

5. Fill out a call for papers for major events.

A “call for papers”  consists of a speaking application at a conference web site. While filling out the forms thoroughly, you should also keep pitching the conference coordinator. Building a relationship with decisionmakers offers a significant advantage in any PR endeavor.

6. Summarize your speech on 3×5 index cards.

Once accepted for a speaking engagement, avoid writing out your entire speech. Include your key points on 3×5 index cards to spur your memory and avoid sounding “rehearsed.”

7. Practice your speech with the cards.

Practice your speech out loud ahead of time using only your index cards. Keep at it until you obtain a smooth delivery it smoothly without any pauses or verbal crutches.

8. Provide written material about your company for distribution after your speech.

A tri-fold brochure and reprints are especially helpful. Make sure to provide written copies of your slides if you include a PowerPoint presentation. However, avoid distributing hand outs before the speech, or the audience will be distracted.

Once your speech is over, you may wish to obtain an audience list for follow up. After going through the process a few times, you’ll be surprised how easy and rewarding speaking engagements can be. They provide a key vehicle for publicity and should be pursued vigorously.