Spring and summer are busy times for booking professional public speakers. Businesses and industries are planning conferences, trade shows and training events. Colleges and universities are looking for commencement and motivational speakers.
Are you hoping to receive some of those invitations? If so, what are you doing to ensure you’ll appeal to the organizations seeking speakers?
Businesses want “talented public speakers, especially speakers that are celebrities or have notoriety,” according to an article published this time last year. “The reason is that [they] can draw a bigger audience, as well as charge much more” for their event.
Whether you want to earn top dollar for your speaking engagements, or simply want to promote your business and your brand, you need to demonstrate that you A) are a recognized authority in your field and B) have a following.
How do you do that?
- Generate publicity, preferably in newspapers, magazines and online print publications, and build your audience on social media. Being quoted as a source of information by journalists helps in several ways. Most important, it gives you the implied third-party endorsement of traditional media. When reporters, editors and bloggers come to you for your expertise, they’re essentially telling their readers, “This is a person with extensive knowledge about this topic and someone I trust to provide great insights and explanations.”
- Conference organizers and universities looking for speakers might explore your name and find those articles on the Internet, but I wouldn’t count on that. Put links to the news stories, or copies of them, on your website’s speaker page. (Yes, you absolutely must have a website and it must have a landing page with information about you as a speaker.) If you get an especially big placement, display it on your home page – imagine “as quoted in the New York Times” on a marquee! When people in search of speakers visit the websites of possible candidates, they may be impressed with the person who has great credentials and experience. But if you’ve got credentials, experience and media endorsements, you’ve got a big advantage.
- While you’re reaching out to traditional media with story pitches, work on building your social media following. Today, celebrity status is also measured in the number of followers you have on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram and/or other popular networks.
- People who casually use social media may send a few Tweets, update their Facebook status and write an occasional blog post. They connect with family and friends, co-workers, fellow hobbyists, and groups with shared interests or causes. But if you have more serious goals, you need to do all of that and more. One strategy our social media specialists use is to generate “third-party conversations.” Visit the blogs, websites and fan pages of people who might be interested in your content. Comment on what those people are posting and try to spark conversations among their followers. You’ll be surprised by how quickly this can draw new traffic to your own networks and website.
- Another strategy is to share any publicity you get, whether it’s print, radio or TV, which all seem to have an online presence. Promote upcoming stories and interviews to your followers, then visit the publications’ (or radio and TV) websites and get links to their social media accounts. Join their networks, friend their friends, and plug your interview: “I had a great time talking to reporter Joe Smith about marketing trends! Sounds like he’s going to have a really helpful story publishing soon.”
In a world where more people than ever are professional public speakers, and where there is a growing demand for them, you’ll do well to set yourself apart.
I, too, do a lot of public speaking at conferences and other gatherings. First and foremost, I want to give my audience information that will help them achieve their goals. But yes, I also hope some of them will eventually come to my company for help. And they do.
I know that some of the invitations I get to speak are the result of me doing exactly what I’m suggesting you should do.