Land Speaking Gigs

“Why do you want to be a speaker?”

This is the question that I ask at the start of every webinar. I love hearing your responses.

Time after the time, the #1 response is always that you want to make a difference to your audience! I love that because I know that speaking is one of the best ways to serve people.

But here’s the rub…

The next question I ask is this: “Are you speaking as much as you want to be?”

The chat room scrolls with NO’s. This means two things: #1) It’s hard out there for a speaker; and, #2) your message isn’t getting to the people who need it most (and that’s a bummer).

I know you’re struggling to land speaking gigs.

That struggle is frustrating (and down right sucks), and I’m here to help make it a bit easier.

Here are my top 5 reasons for why you’re struggling to land speaking gigs and most importantly what to do about it!

Reason #1: You don’t see your speech for what it really is…

Do you have a message to share? A soul-stirring story that you’re compelled to tell? A desire to make a huge impact on your audience.

Good for you, so does every other aspiring speaker!

The truth is that there are hordes of people who want to be speakers in order to share their story or give their message. And that’s wonderful.

Storytelling is HOT and everyone is talking about. You’ve probably read the books on telling your story, seeing other bloggers and public speaking coaches extol the virtues of sharing your story to audience. Unfortunately, there’s a problem…

When you view your speech as an expression of yourself, it means you’re not seeing your speech for what it really is – a product that your business sells over and over again.

This means two things: 1) you need to have a spectacular product to make money; and 2) you’ve got to have a path to revenue and a plan to sell that product (your speech).

Speaking is a business. The most successful, highly sought-after speakers treat it like one.

Action step: Look at your current speech and ask yourself this question “Would someone pay me $10,000 to speak on this?” If the answer is no or you feel hesitant, you need to improve your product.

Reason #2: You’re not clear on the result you produce for the audience

Let’s say you’d love to make $10,000 per speech ($5K or heck landing a paid gig would be HUGE for you right now).

As a speaker, you’re not paid for the hours spent crafting your speech, practicing your speech, or delivering it on stage.

You’re getting paid for the value you create for the audience.

Tara Gentile says that “Value is transformation.”

What specific result do you produce for your audience?

If you want to be paid well as a speaker, you need to be crystal clear on the RESULT that you produce for your audience.

A result is a transformation and it must be specific. Because inspiring your audience to live their best life is a non-specific bs result that no one pays for.

Here are three categories of results you can produce for your audience:

  • Mindset shift – your audience thinks about your topic differently
  • New opportunity – your speech opens up a new possibility your audience that they haven’t thought of before
  • Behavior – your audience adapts a new behavior (think of Amy Cuddy’s TED Talk encouraging us to use the power pose).

Action step: Choose one of the three results that you can produce for your audience

Reason #3: You’re struggling to land speaking gigs because you can’t articulate how you’re different

How are you DIFFERENT from other speakers on your topic?

No matter what your topic (finance, business, leadership, marketing, origami) there are other speakers who speak on that exact topic.

If you’re not clear and can’t articulate how you’re different from all those other speakers, you’re going to have a much harder time pitching and landing speaking gigs.

I recently talked to a speaker who was failing to get traction. He told me that his content was great, and he didn’t know what he was doing wrong.

I watched his video. I witnessed stories that I’ve heard a million times (will the damn Starfish story die, already? If you don’t know that story, be grateful), studies that were cited by nearly all speakers in his category, and the same examples that everyone else was using.

The speech was unmemorable. There was nothing in there that I hadn’t heard a 1000 times before from speakers who were much more famous than him.

There was nothing daring in his speech. There was nothing unique in his speech. Frankly, any speaker in his category, could have given his speech.

When you don’t stand out, offer unique viewpoints, challenges the status quo, you SINK in the sea of sameness. Your goal as a speaker is be irreplaceable and be the ONLY speaker who can deliver what you do.

Action step: Let’s start with a bit of research. Follow the 3-steps in this article to discover how you’re different from other speakers in your field.

Reason #4: You haven’t written your speech

I’m always floored by the number of people that I meet who tell me that they want to be speaking more (great) and then tell me that they haven’t written a speech yet (boo!). As soon as they land a gig, they’ll write their talk.

If you’re a speaker without a signature talk, you’re not a speaker. You’re a dreamer.

Folks, it doesn’t work that way. You need to have a product FIRST before you can sell it. Even if it is a minimal viable product (or minimal viable presentation in this case), you’ve got to have that first before you can sell it.

Action step: Write your minimal viable presentation!

Reason #5: You’re not out there building relationships

I’m asked all the time “How do I land speaking gigs?”

The my answer is always the same: work your network.

Almost every speaking gig that I’ve ever landed came to me through a relationship that I’ve cultivated. When I apply for a speaking gig, they already know me. They see my name and thing “I love Michelle. Let’s hire her.”

When I ask meeting planners and conference organizers how they find their speakers, it’s always through referrals from other meeting planners, speakers they’ve seen before, or people who attended their conference.

If you’re not out there building relationships, it’s costing you speaking gigs.

Action step: Go to events where you want to speak! Start a private twitter list of conference and meeting planners and be helpful to them. Get your name out there.

Landing speaking gigs doesn’t happen by luck. It takes a shift in mindset – your speech is another product in your business that generates revenue. To be paid what you’re worth as a speaker, you need to create a specific result for your audience that has value. To stand out from the other speakers, you’ve got to be able to state how you’re different.

Oh and for the love of all things good, you really do need to write your speech and leave your house to meet people who will help you achieve your speaking goals!