How To Contact Event Planners To Get Booked as a Speaker

how to email event planners

If you have ever reached out to event planners or plan to with the end goal of getting booked as a speaker- stop and read this first! I can tell you from first hand experience and talking to thousands of event planners that most speakers hurt their chances of getting booked by how they reach out. In fact, I have received my own fairshare of ‘we are not interested’, ‘you have the wrong person’, ‘we don’t host events’ and my absolute favorite ‘unsubscribe’. However, as of 2021, I have been booked to speak over 200 times and many of those bookings started from cold outreach- so please don’t recreate the wheel and take a look at these steps. This will save you hundreds of rejections!

Old Approach vs New Approach

Most speakers complain that it feels unnatural to reach out, and for good reason, the way they are reaching out is unnatural. For instance, 

Old approach: 

  1. Introduce yourself.
  2. Make your background standout by listing all of your accomplishments.
  3. Ask if they want to book you.

Email Example: 

Hi {Event Planner Name}, 

 My name is Bob Saget, I am an award winning television host, with thousands of keynotes under my belt. I am continuously rated a 5.0 star keynote speaker with international experience to boot. I see that you are planning the XYZ conference and I believe I am the perfect person for the job. 

Attached is my demo video, contract, and w9. 

Looking forward to hearing from you soon!

Best, 

While this is common, it’s very easy to poke holes in why this doesn’t work. First off, speakers need to realize that the world of speaking works centers on relationships. The example above demonstrates the way many speakers reach out, but it is not the same way you would want someone to build a relationship with you (HENCE WHY IT FEELS UNNATURAL). For instance, if someone randomly approached you off of the street, told you their name, what they accomplished and if they can be your friend, you will be pretty freaked out…so don’t do the same thing to event planners. 

There are a series of steps you need to go through in order to see if the event is the right fit for you and the event planner. Contrasting the Old Approach, here are the steps for the New Approach:

  1. Identify if they are the right person. 
  2. Identify where they are in the planning cycle. 
  3. Identify if there is a potential fit between your background and the event. 

Whether that is phone, email, text, these steps remain consistent in each. If you follow that framework in your unique style, you should be good to go. The rest of this article will be taking the theory and showing how it looks in implementation. 

Step 1: Identify if they are the right person 

This is simply inquiring if they are the person you are reaching out to handle the event programming/planning. Many times, speakers would reach out to someone, do a complete pitch, and assume they are speaking to the correct person. In order to avoid this assumption, you can be more direct and ask: 

“I was wondering if you were the right person to talk to about booking speakers for the XYZ Conference coming up last year?”

A few common decision maker titles: 

Event Planner

Event Programming

Executive Director

Conference Planner

VP of Programming

Conference Chair

If you are polite about it and friendly, in the case where you are reaching out to the wrong person, the recipient will recommend the right person for you to speak to.

Step 2: Identify if they are the are in the speaking hiring process

Turns out there is a lot of prep that goes into planning an event and speakers are only one of those pieces. Due to this complexity, speakers are often booked anywhere from a month to years before an event takes place. Each organization has their own planning process so it’s good to see if the planner is in their shopping season for speakers. Again, this can be articulated in a very simple question of: 

“I was wondering if you and your team have started looking for speakers for your XYZ conference?”

By looking at the event site, you often won’t be able to tell if they are hiring unless they have posted their speaker lineup (which means they have already speaked the current speakers). Hence, simplifying asking helping clarify where they are, and makes you not jump the gun on pitching too early.

Step 3: Identify if there is a fit between your background and their event

Out of the three steps, this step can go in a lot of different directions. Once you realize that the event team is planning the event, you can start this conversation a few different ways such as: 

  1. Noting that the theme of the event is similar to your area of expertise. 
  2. Noting that they have hired similar people to you in the past. 
  3. Noting that you have addressed similar groups have helped them solve a particular problem that probably plagues their attendees.

Once you have picked one of these approaches, the event planner will need to inspect your background. If you have a website for speaking then make sure to include it in an email signature so they can view it, or if you have a speaker kit share that. I personally don’t use a speaker kit and instead put everything on my website that the event planner could wonder to limit back and forth. For instance, if they ask something about my background, I will include it on my website to avoid less back and forth with the event planner. All their questions are answered on the website.

Note, sometimes at Step 1 or 2 in this outreach flow, the event planner will Google you and check out your videos/website before responding before responding. That is why it’s important to include those in your email signature because it will help dramatically with the research phase that the event planner has to go through.

At this point, the event planner will tell you whether or not they see a fit with your background and their event. It’s a simple yes or no response. If yes, you can jump on a call and hash out the topics, budget, etc. If the event planner responds with no, you can inquire if they know other events that would fit better. 

Putting It All Together

Whether this is LinkedIn, email, phone, in person, the flow stays the same. Let’s look at what an email conversation could look like: 

Email 1: 

Subject Title: XYZ Conference Event Planner

Hey PersonName, 

 I was wondering who would be the best person to talk to about the XYZ Conference coming up in October regarding speakers?

Best, 

Your cool tagline

Your cool website

And videos if you have any

(If they aren’t the right person, find out who is and check out the website again, or ask who you are currently talking to). 

Email 2:  

Subject Title: <Same as you are responding in the thread>

Hey PersonName, 

 Thanks for getting back to me.

 Since you are the right person to talk to, I was wondering have you finished booking your speakers for your event?

Best, 

(If they aren’t in the planning phase yet, inquiry about when they are if they haven’t told you).

Email 3: 

Subject Title: <Same as you are responding in the thread> 

Hey PersonName, 

 Great! I have written several books on petting cats and I noticed your theme for your conference is how to pet cats so they purr. I thought based on my background there could be a fit. Does this sound like something that your attendees will be interested in hearing?

Best,

(if they state no, inquiry if its personality or topic wise. You can also inquiry about other events that would be a better fit for you).

Getting Booked As A Speaker

With the current flow, you are not jumping the guy or being rude. In fact, you are sending in a simple inquiry to see if there is a possible fit. Worst thing they can do is not respond, or just say they are not interested. In this case, you know you have handled things professionally and should focus your energies elsewhere. The best part about this approach is through being respectful and focusing on building a relationship versus jumping to the booking part, the event planner could recommend you talk to a few other events that could be a better fit with your set of skills. 

Not so hard after all huh? 

That is exactly why I wanted to share this with you, it’s not that difficult if you think about going through a natura route. The last thing you should do is make sure to follow up, be respectful and be patient with people who plan the events. They are juggling so many different things and you are one piece to the event that they are planning. Make it easy for them to book you! 

Good luck!

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