The path to becoming a paid professional speaker is paved with speaking gigs. You need “stage time” to polish your act, to find and share your authentic voice, to become a seasoned storyteller. And while you’re working your way up, practice with free engagements.
- Contact 5 local service clubs or business associations
You can find your local Rotary clubs at https://www.rotary.org/en or perhaps you already know people who are members. If you would rather try another organization, try Lions Clubs, Kiwanis Clubs, Chamber of Commerce and local Meetup Groups that would also make great opportunities. You can pick 5 organizations of the same type, or mix-and-match.
- Fill out online form
Or contact the person who sets up the speaker rotation and ask to be considered as a presenter or guest speaker. If you already know one or more members, you can ask them who to contact to be booked to speak at a meeting. If you speak with someone, ask when they expect to choose presenters and whether you may follow up with them.
- Engage them with social media and in person
Don’t be a stranger: follow them on Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin or other social media, make comments, share or retweet, etc. let them know you are there. Attend a meeting as a guest, attend a fundraiser event, find ways to give as well as receive.
- Follow Up!
Send a postcard, a onesheet, a short note or make a call at a pre-arranged time (permission marketing) to follow up.
- Take Action
When the time comes, contact the person in charge of the call for presenters with something memorable like a postcard with a hand-written note or hand-addressed to a specific person. Send the postcard on your take action date. Be creative or make it short and mysterious to keep them intrigued. Check on the status of their request for presenters, and have your submission materials ready. As soon as it’s out, give your materials a check to make sure you fit their requirements, and submit.
Need help finding service organizations? Here is a good list of service organizations based in the United States.
If they don’t list the website of the organization simply copy and paste the name of the organization into your browser and it should be the first to populate in the search results.
Free Local Speaking Engagements
Some organizations meet weekly and have set aside a portion of their meeting for a presentation. With around 50 meetings a year, they are hungry for speakers to present to their group.
To become a better-known and polished speaker, saturate your local market with speaking engagements. Soon people won’t be able to avoid seeing your name as the featured speaker, the headliner, a supporting break-out instructor, and more. Another bonus of this method is that it doesn’t matter whether your target market is business or personal. The people in the room are professionals, and of course they are people who have families and everyday concerns as well.
As an added bonus, the professionals in the room are from a wide variety of businesses and hold many different positions. Ask the people you sit with or who thank you afterwards for opportunities to present at their place of business. This may also give you a ready opportunity to do longer presentations with a fee.
- If you’re ahead of the pack you will have added a QR code to your onesheet you send because as humans we are naturally curious and this is what a QR code can trigger… curiosity. After they scan the QR code have it take them back to a page on your website where you have specifically created a video talking to them about speaking at the rotary club…clever right? It doesn’t take long and once it’s done its done.
- Video record your talks, add to your website (priceless)
- Have recording put into an audio format and sell it, or put it on a podcast.
- Have your recording turned into a transcript.
- Have something you giveaway in exchange for their name and email.
- Add to a list of prior talks and collect testimonials for every speaking engagement.
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