They say that public speaking is the number one fear for most people, more terrifying than flying, heights or meeting your significant other’s family for the first time. But, if you are one of those fortunate few who feel comfortable standing in front of a microphone, speaking can be a powerful way to increase your awareness and earn a handsome income. There are many people who make a comfortable living on the speaking circuit, but how do you go about getting that first speaking engagement? Here are the top ten tips to help you heighten visibility and profitability by becoming a professional speaker:
- Define Your Topic: You want to come up with something that has substance and will pique an audience’s interest, but it must also be unique. Think about what you want to say, and then come up with a “hook” that will get the attention of the event organizer as well as your potential audience.
- Be an Authority: Why should people spend their money to hear you talk? What is your experience in this area, and how will listeners benefit by attending? If somebody gives up time and money to come to your event, you better make sure it is worthwhile for them.
- Create an Online Presence: With the ability to research just about anything online today, you will need to ensure your name pops up when somebody is looking for information to justify attending your speech. You must have a website with a brief overview of your topic, just enough to whet their appetite and make them want to hear more. Your website will need to explain why you are an expert in your subject area, provide insights into your speaking style, offer any testimonials, and make it easy for interested parties to reach you.
- Build Content: You will also need to build content on your website and through social media to enhance your search engine optimization, or SEO. Event organizers who do not know your name might be searching online for somebody to speak about a particular subject area at their upcoming gathering. If they search using keywords that are in your area of expertise, your name should appear in their results. One way to increase this possibility is by building content through blogs, Facebook posts, and your LinkedIn description. Put together a list of words that center around your topic, and then deliver a steady stream of content relating to your unique point of view.
- Be Social: One of the best ways to build your own audience these days is through social media. Create an editorial calendar which explores various aspects of your speaking topic over the course of a year. You might want to highlight one idea each month. Your blogs should focus around this area and be supported with regular Facebook posts or Tweets. Use your social media to increase awareness of your blogs, but also put out quick tidbits, insights, jokes and questions that help you connect with your target audience.
- Get Visual: It is so much easier to make a decision about a potential speaker if you can actually see that person in action. With today’s video and editing technology, you can make quick videos of yourself speaking on your topic and post them to your website or YouTube. This will give event organizers the opportunity to see you in person and learn about your speaking style.
- Search Out Opportunities: Don’t be afraid to start small. Look at trade associations and business groups in your area and offer to present at one of their upcoming meetings. This will give you a chance to practice your presentation and build your speaking resume.
- Become an Author: Being an author builds instant credibility as it indicates that you have a lot to say on your particular topic. It also gives you something to send to organizations, hand out, or even sell at your speaking engagements.
- Have a Speaker’s Packet: Be ready to respond to any inquiries about your availability to speak. Prepare materials that show your background and personality, so you can send it to anyone who indicates an interest in having you come to their function.
- Get Involved: Join trade groups or associations. Look for groups that could benefit from your knowledge, find out when their next meeting is, and contact the person in charge.
With persistence and a little work, you might just nab that first speaking engagement in no time at all. Good luck!