You’ve written a fabulous book. It’s out in the world. Maybe it even got a bunch of media attention. You’re passionate about your subject and want it to reach even more people.
Now how do you turn that book into speaking invitations?
For a writer, that task — finding event planners and getting them to hire you — might sound so daunting that you’re already thinking of forking hundreds of dollars over to a speaker’s bureau, hoping they’ll do all the work for you and the invitations will start falling from the sky. But wait. Don’t give in just yet. The first step to landing speaking gigs is much more simple:
Make sure people can find you online.
Put yourself in the shoes of an event planner for a minute. You’re an aide to the president of a major association, meaning most of your work does not involve booking speakers. The annual conference is coming up, and it’s your job to suggest a few names for the keynote. What do you do?
Googling “keynote speaker on leadership” is not going to narrow things down much. So maybe you look at some recent book titles, or dig up a motivational YouTube video that has always stuck with you, but most likely you’re going to ask for recommendations from someone who has done this before.
Now that you have some names to start with, you have a few questions to ask.
- What does this person look like? (May sound superficial, but it’s true.)
- Where is this person located? Is it going to cost us an arm and a leg to fly them out?
- How “famous” is this person in our field? Will the office be buzzing about their talk?
- Is this person even a good public speaker? What other media interviews have they done? Do they have any videos up on YouTube?
- Is their message one that will really resonate with our organization at this time? Is their message interesting to me?
- Do they have anything freshly published, or is most of their work out of date?
Now let’s switch back to you (the author) and look again at this list and switch those questions around.
- Do you have a well-designed, modern website which prominently features your picture?
- Does your website specify your general location and any pertinent personal details?
- If people Google your name, what will they find?
- Are there videos on YouTube, Vimeo, or your website of you giving other talks — even small ones? How about a sample speaking video, filmed by a professional? If you have ever done a talk in front of an audience, does the video show them connecting with you? How about TV, radio, or podcast interviews? Even an audio-only interview can give a conference planner plenty of information about your speaking skills.
- Does your online presence — not just your website, but your social media channels as well — clearly communicate your brand? Are you constantly sharing new and interesting content (not just your own)?
- Is it time to re-launch a book you wrote years ago in order to bring it up to date and introduce it to a new generation?
Can you see how every one of those questions relates to your online presence? Whether or not it’s a paid event, an organizer is going to want to research you. A company like Weaving Influence can help you in each of these areas, but even a well-managed, public Facebook page (with contact info!) could go a long way.
So if you’re wondering how to get a speaking gig, take a moment to evaluate: am I making myself easy to find?
Laura Finch, a native of Wheaton, IL, has eight years of experience in politics and news, including time spent working as a press aide to a U.S. congressman and a stint as a producer for a morning cable news show. She holds an undergraduate degree in psychology from Taylor University in Indiana, a graduate degree in digital journalism from American University in Washington, D.C., and is an alumna of Indiana’s Lugar Series. She has also been published in one book, “The Zambia Project,” about a major student AIDS project completed through WorldVision. In her spare time Laura loves to run along the Potomac and discover new D.C. restaurants with her husband, Andrew.