Speaking at industry events can be a great way to garner interest in your brand. It also establishes you as an expert, and can catapult you out of relative obscurity and into the spotlight. The main problem is that most people aren’t sure how to get started. Here’s how.
Public speaking may be a nightmare for some, but for those who are ready to utilize it, the chance to speak at an industry event can be an incredible opportunity. It allows you to establish yourself as a maven in your field and is an excellent method of gaining attention for both you and your brand. Getting a spot on a panel at an industry conference, however, can be challenging, unless you know what to do.
1. Establish Yourself
It will be very difficult to get a speaking position if you don’t have at least some sort of following first. You won’t get invited to do any speaking if no one has ever heard of you.
You’ll need a blog to start. While a website can be a decent way to establish an online presence, a blog is more dynamic in that it gives you the opportunity to show off your expertise. Write about what you know, and about problems your customers face.
Creating a blog is more than just writing on a regular basis; you will also need to get out and comment on people’s blogs, get involved on Twitter, Facebook and even a few forums. Establish a regular following, and get noticed!
You may not have enough experience with public speaking when you start out, so it’s a good idea to get that experience wherever you can. Join Toastmasters, take a public speaking class or volunteer to teach seminars at local universities or community centers. This is a good way to work out the kinks in your presentation style and to become more comfortable with speaking in front of people if you aren’t already.
Even reading books on speech tips or watching videos by experts can give you a good leg up on the competition. It doesn’t hurt to record your own speeches, even if they are in front of your dog... you can learn a lot by looking at these.
3. Make Yourself Available
A page on your website should let people know you are available for speaking engagements. In the beginning, this page will just offer contact information and subjects you are qualified to speak about. As you gain experience, you can list your speaking gigs here, both previous and upcoming. It’s also a good idea to get testimonials from anyone you speak for as well as videos, if available of your speeches.
4. Start Applying for Speaking Gigs
The next step is to actually apply for a speaking engagement. If there is an industry event that you are interested in speaking at, you will need to plan ahead and get ready to apply at least 10-12 months in advance.
- Get all the information on applying to speak, who to contact, how, etc.
- Fill out the application forms
- Let the powers that be know what you bring to the table
- Consider sending in a video of yourself speaking
- Stay in touch with the organizers
Keep in mind that you probably won’t land a spot at the larger conventions right off the bat, so start with the smaller ones first to build up a reputation. These also have less competition, so you’re far more likely to get into them as a speaker. It’s a good stepping stone to the larger conferences, and if you do well, it’s possible they will come to you next time.
5. Do a Great Job
Inviting new speakers can be risky for event planners, so often your first gig is like an audition. You’ll be judged by others who will be responsible for choosing the speakers at other events, so it’s important to impress them. When you impress your audience, you practically guarantee that you’ll be asked to speak again.
There are a few ways to ensure that your speech goes well. Preparation is key. Make sure you show up early, with all your notes in order. If you are using presentation slides or a laptop, be sure to have these all set up and tested ahead of time to eliminate technical glitches. If you make a mistake, or something gets messed up, be sure to laugh it off and move on. Freezing up or stumbling through the remainder of your speech can give a very bad impression. If you can brush it off and continue, it’s relatively easy to salvage the speech.
Getting a speaking gig at an event in your niche will let you boost your visibility and will help you gain expert status in your niche. This, in turn, can help boost your business and increase sales of your products and services.