I’ve spoken before about making the transition from free to paid speaking opportunities. However, I feel like now is an excellent time to revisit the importance of free speaking in the first place.
Before you turn your nose up, I understand that no one wants to work for free. That’s why you shouldn’t view it through that lens. Instead, view it as a marketing investment in yourself and your business.
Once you view free speaking in this manner, you’ll soon realize that it offers one of the best ROIs out there. So let’s take a look at what you have to gain from providing your speaking services for free.
Free Speaking Gigs Offer the Opportunity to Practice the Art of Speaking
Some speakers have that natural ability to light up a stage right from their very first gig. But this is incredibly rare. For almost everyone else, it takes time to find a style, a speaking rhythm, and several attempts to nail the format and content of your speeches.
There is no substitute for practice. The problem is that practicing in front of friends and peers will only get you so far. You need to go through the nerves and adrenaline of a real speaking engagement to see how you’ll react.
By practicing to several different audiences through free speaking assignments, you’ll have mastered the art of speaking, nailed down a keynote you can reel off at a moment’s notice, and you’ll be comfortable performing under the pressure of a well-paid speaking gig.
Free Speeches Develop High-Class Marketing Materials
Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, is more effective as a visual marketing tool than videos of you up on that stage delivering a speech with authority and poise. Any potential client of yours will immediately imagine you doing the same at their event, and it makes the decision that much easier when mulling over whether to book your or not.
That’s not something you can fake (well, not easily anyway). So get out there and snag as many free speaking opportunities as you can and bring along a friend with video recording equipment. Some events may already have filming apparatus in place. In which case, you just need to request a copy. You could even tie it into your agreement as ‘compensation.’
If you are starting out as a speaker and competing with others that are also trying to build their reputation in your industry, then a video demo could be the clincher for you. So get out there and get as much footage of you up on that stage as you can.
Hot on the heels of video demos is testimonials. If other prominent figures and audience members endorse your speaking skills, then it’s going to provide another string to your bow when trying to win over paying clients.
In fact, testimonials are on my list of must-haves for your speaker proposals. That’s how powerful they are as an endorsement. The more you have, the more authority and credence you have as a speaker. So ensure that you’re securing as many as you can from each event.
Free Speaking Gigs Give You the Chance To Position Yourself as An Industry Expert
You cannot even begin to market yourself as a leading authority in your chosen industry if no one has ever seen you speak. It’s not a good look on a speaker proposal when you can’t even list one event at which you’ve delivered a speech, which is why you need to get yourself out there!
By accepting free speaking opportunities, you can start to build your reputation, credibility, and connections within your chosen field. You can discover under-served niches, pivot your speaking business to serve them better than the competition, and develop an impressive portfolio of events at which you’ve made an appearance on stage.
There’s no faster way to book out your speaking schedule than by becoming the only expert on a hot topic. But you won’t discover what your target audience really wants until you physically go out there and meet them. So stop waiting for them to come to you!
You Can Expand Your Professional Network Much Faster By Attending and Speaking at Events for Free
Several significant benefits come hand in hand with free speaking engagements. For instance, you can network at the after-speech drinks, encourage those you speak with to tune into your weekly blog or email newsletter, and secure paying clients impressed with what they’ve just seen right there and then!
Finally, and this is a big one, you NEVER know who might be sitting in the audience. One expertly-delivered free speech could impress an audience member with powerful connections enough to put you in touch with several paid opportunities or hire you themselves.
Remember those watching you don’t know that you aren’t being paid (most of the time), so you can start commanding fees straight away while continuing to accept free speaking opportunities that grow your network even further.
Never Be Deterred By Free Speaking Engagements, They Might Just Present Your Ticket to the Big Time!
So often, I meet speakers who are new to the game that refuse to work for free. I get it. If you can deliver knowledge and insight that’s useful to your audience, they should have to pay for the privilege of listening to you speak.
However, accepting free speaking opportunities actually fast-tracks your ability to attract those hefty speaking fees that match your ambitions.
These gigs allow you to develop a reputation as an industry expert, secure face time with your industry’s movers and shakers, and amass an unbeatable array of marketing materials that will leave you fielding multiple inbound leads for paid opportunities.
So stop thinking that you’re underpricing yourself and realize this is actually one of the best marketing investments you can make in your speaking business!
Didn’t know that offering your speaking services for free is one of the best business development strategies out there? This is just one of the many tricks and tips that we share over on our free Facebook group Grow Your Speaking Biz.
It’s a fantastic group of talented and compassionate speakers who all spend time helping each other grow as individuals and business owners. Why not take a moment to join us and learn the secrets to speaking success? We can’t wait to see you over there!