We all have something to say, and thanks to social media, we all have a platform on which to say it. But if you would like to formalise your voice, expertise and opinion, you are probably looking for ways to find speaking gigs such as sitting on panels, delivering keynote speeches or presenting on a project you have completed or research you have conducted.
So, how exactly do you go about finding the opportunity to speak for groups of people?
Firstly, you will need to establish what kind of speaker you are. Here’s how to do it:
1. Know your audience
Ascertain the type of people you want to speak to. Is your message best delivered to CEOs, school kids, parents returning to the workforce or the elderly? It doesn’t matter who it is, so long as you can pinpoint your target.
2. Refine your focus area
Think about exactly what it is you want to discuss. So, you’re an expert in climate change? That’s great, but which specific matters can you speak to with most clarity and conviction? Home in on between one to three specialty topics and make sure you are the authority on them.
3. Identify your strengths
What is it that sets YOU apart from other people in your field? Highlight your differences and celebrate them!
Now that you know who you are going to speak to and about what you will be discussing, it’s time to get yourself out there to score those opportunities.
How do you promote yourself in an endless sea of just-as-worthy candidates, you ask?
Well, there’s only one trick, and it’s all about selling yourself better than the next person.
Now that you’re armed with your who, what and how to turn this into a bio (hire a copywriter if you have to) and get it up online. Make sure your LinkedIn reflects the brand you are selling and gear your other public social media accounts towards displaying the most professional you.
If you have photos, video footage or testimonials from previous speaking engagements, make these available on your website and LinkedIn accounts. Even more importantly, create regular content that is unique and engaging and is likely to garner some attention i.e. build a name for yourself.
Once you have some examples of what you can contribute (and how well you can do it), you need to network with the right contacts. All sorts of people organise speaking engagements; this includes event organisers, HR professionals, school principals and television show producers. Again, it’s about finding the right fit for your message and key audience.
Put together a list of the types of places your audience gets their messaging from. Is it conferences and seminars? In-house corporate panel discussions? Community-led events sponsored by local businesses? Once you have established the where you can delve deeper into who is organising these opportunities.
If it is feasible, attend some of the types of events you would like to present at yourself. Afterwards, reach out to the organiser and express your thanks and interest in being part of the next one. Use that bio you created earlier to give them a short pitch about what value you can add to their next event. Even if they don’t follow-up for next time, it could be the time after that.
Landing speaking gigs can be a lengthy process and it may involve putting yourself forward for some opportunities that seem a little beneath you at the time. As they say, practice makes perfect and the more you do it, the more experience you will have to bolster your CV and get those engagements you have dreamed of!