Knowing how to find speaking engagements in the digital landscape is one of the most underutilized skills for a professional speaker.
Why don’t speakers improve this skill you ask?
Because it doesn’t have to do anything with presenting, but it leads to getting booked.
Most speakers that I know, ranging from newcomers who have never presented to an audience, to hall of fame (CPAE) speakers usually all detest marketing themselves as a speaker. In addition, when speakers market themselves and get rejected, it feels like the ultimate punch in the gut. On the other hand, when someone reaches out (inbound marketing) and inquiries about your speaking services, it’s a euphoric feeling which is probably why most speakers prefer to not market. Unfortunately, having event planners constantly reach out to you directly takes a good amount of speaking out in the wild and having a ‘top of mind’ brand to achieve that state- this could take over a decade to achieve. For the rest of us, we need to be proactive to get booked.
The speaking industry is changing at an ever-increasing rate and covid has only accelerated the process. Turns out, finding speakers has become way easier because event planners can go online and can find speakers for almost any topic. Due to that new ability, the rate of inbound has changed form a select few speakers, to a wider range. Now, while this may seem like a hurdle for new speakers, it’s a gift because it means anyone can jump into the profession of speaking. However, instead of thinking positive thoughts in the corner and praying things will work, you can take proactive action and find out where the events are happening to throw your proverbial hat into the ring.
One of the most straightforward ways to getting booked is simply reaching out to places that hire professional speakers. In fact, I have made hundreds of thousands of dollars in speaking by just doing that. In addition, I listed a series of speaking engagement directories that you can use to accelerate your process on where to find speaking engagements. Note, you can always google around for events, which works for a week or two, but you can easily run into issues where you find the same event repeatedly making your search less productive. Hopefully this post shortcuts your process to get you on more stages.
Directory 1- AssociationExecs - https://www.associationexecs.com/
This directory is a company located in Maryland that is a branch of Columbia Books that collects association information presented in a searchable format. Many individuals who make their money through conferences and events, such as people who have booths, speak, or target event planners can find this database helpful. At the beginning of my speaking journey this was the first database that I used to book myself.
This directory was first recommended to me by a speaker friend, Lee Rubin who mentioned it could be a good source of speaking events for my team. At the time, I had contractors searching Google for events that were taking a long time and we kept finding the same events continuously which impacted our progress. I paid just shy of $1,000 for year access at the time and was able to bring in six figures of speaking revenue my first year using this database (note, revenue, not net profit as I was spending a lot of money for effective outreach) so I know a bit about this product for speakers and know it can be useful.
- A thorough database for associations and they have a lot of tax information on the association if you are into that thing.
- Can filter by industry
- Has contact person who events
- Not built for speakers.
- Cannot filter by budget size.
- Cannot filter by event date.
- Sometimes the contact person is not the correct person.
- Contact information is sometimes not up to date, as in if someone moved to a different organization recently.
- Super slow
- Not sure if they updated the search functionality but it was painfully slow when we used it.
- Cannot filter by budget size.
Directory 2- Events in America https://eventsinamerica.com/
I found out about this directory by them cold emailing me. After reading through the email and checking out their site, it seemed like a good enough product. I paid $250 (that has probably changed now because this was 4 years ago) and checked out the platform. Their event database was solid but had a good amount of overlap with the other sources.
Funny enough, after we paid, I had one of my contractors look through the database and pull events they thought were good for us to reach out to. About a month or so after using the product, we were kicked out. I talked briefly with their head of engineering their who was upset that we were logged in for 8 hours using the platform. He said didn’t believe we were using it for internal use and kicked us out without a refund (note this was a breach of contract on their end, but it was only $250 so not a big deal). Regardless, their data is good but tread carefully if you use their product.
- Medium size database for speaking events.
- Can filter by event date
- Can filter by industry
- Data had a lot of overlap with other databases
- Cannot filter by event budget size.
- Contact person wasn’t always correct
Directory 3- 10Times.com - https://10times.com/
This directory is probably the titan of the event world as a good-sized company that track all the speaking events around the world. Their data is solid, and they have continued to innovate and add extra features to overlap. However, one thing that speakers should be aware of, is that there is a ‘LOT’ of events on this platform making it very easy to collect the wrong data. In addition, it's built more for event planners than speakers so a lot of the data is geared towards someone who is planning an event or being a sponsor for an event. However, it can be a very effective tool for showing you where to find speaking engagements.
In terms of general size, its database during 2020 was around 100,000 events, but those were not all up to date, so my guess is around they have someone around 40,000 updated which is an impressive feat as a data guy, but it sounds small to speaking gurus in the space who suggest there are millions of speaking events around the world. On the site, they have the location and number of events for each place, but the problem is, not all of those events are updated.
If you are looking for a free option, I suggest this place to start and simply googling the events that they have on their site then looking up the contact information on those sites to help with your search.
- Largest database of events
- Can filter by industry, event date, and location
- Nice user interface
- Constantly improving their platform
- Missing critical information
- Contact information for people who oversee the event.
- Missing critical information
Directory 4- SpeakerMatch - https://speakermatch.com
In terms of the basic idea, they have the right approach to the market. Essentially, this platform is double-sided where event planners can post their event details, and speakers can apply. However, like most double-sided markets there is always a lagger, and the lagger here are the event planners. Hence, if you join this platform, except to find a few events (maybe 100), and over a thousand speakers. Note, I have spent a couple of hundred dollars on their service and have booked a $5k deal so there was a positive return of investment. However, I was underwhelmed by most of the events being low budget range (mostly sub $3k) and with the application process taking so long, I stopped applying to events. Though, if they scaled the event planner side, I could see this platform having a very promising future in helping people on where to find speaking engagements.
- Very accurate information because event planners provide all the event information except for their contact information
- Great for people starting out.
- Low volume of speaking engagements
- You don’t control the conversation because you are working through a platform.
- High competition. An event can receive dozens of applications so your probably is around 5% on being booked and lower if you are starting.
Directory 5 - SpeakerHub - https://speakerhub.com/
They have been around a while, but recently they built an event database where they have events that speakers can search through. Overall, this is a snazzy approach, in fact, very similar to what we do. Also, impressive they include the speaker budget amount. Now, on that note, they don’t exactly have a lot of high paying gigs. Most of the gigs they have are sub $5k, so while this is a great solution, for speakers charging higher fees, this might not be the best route. Note, I had a conversation mid-2021 with a woman who booked a high 4 figure deal on the platform, so maybe there are most events like that there, but I haven’t seen too many. Note, for a searchable database, they have very detailed data- kudos to them!
- Strong design
- Filters by budget size, event date, event type, speaker role, and audience size
- Low volume (Under 1000)
- Generally lower paying gigs.
Directory 6 - Google Events - https://www.google.com/search?q=google+events
Overtime, this option has gotten better, however, has literally events which means you can really get bogged down with small events like community center meets or frat house ping pong tournaments instead of conferences. In general, my guess is that this is the highest volume database out there, but I can’t verify it by the way they structure their data. Give it a shot, just know it can take a lot of time to make sure you are not grabbing duplicate events.
- Very high volume
- Can filter by event date and location.
- Lose filtering option that might not always work.
- Can’t filter by speaker budget.
Directory 7 - TrinityFix - https://trinityfix.com
Of course, I am biased towards this because my team and I built this platform.
There were a few main problems we were trying to solve in the speaking industry such as:
1. A large database where you can tell between the paying events and non-paying events.
2. Having the correct contact information for these places.
It’s hard to maintain because over time events become outdated so our team needs to double-check the contact information and details for the event to make sure they are relevant to customers. Personally, this database has helped myself, and tremendously. I attribute my speaking success to this data (yes, I share the same data that I get booked in here), and the other speakers who we book as well. Without it, I wouldn’t have a career in the speaking world.
Where to Find Speaking Engagements – Pros
- Very High volume
- Can filter by event date, location, speaker, budget size, and industry.
Where to Find Speaking Engagements – Cons
- We don’t have that many youths or college events
- We don’t filter by topic or speaker role.
- SpeakerHub has a few fields that we don’t have like event type. However, we initially keep that vague because an event can have breakout sessions, workshops, general sessions, and keynote sessions. The realize why we didn’t include this information is because you never know what you can end up with when you reach out.
Bonus – Where to find speaking engagements - Finding the Correct Decision Maker Titles
Make sure when you are looking for the right contact person, you ensure they have the right title. because now you know where to find speaking engagements, it's now a matter of finding the right person. At times, you will need to settle for the general contact information, but if you want to get a high response rate, it’s imperative here are a few common keywords:
However, if you don’t want to hunt through the endless digital world of events for the perfect event for you, you can always start using our database for just $7. You can fill out a form here, to see what events are best for you and where to find speaking engagements.
Well, those are 7 speaker directories and services I have used for my business and what I think about them. I hope that gives you a better idea of what is out there and the multitude of ways that you can launch your speaking business in today’s market. Remember though, its easier than ever to be found which is true for the speaker beside you, so you need to take proactive action and get your name out there. If you are interested in us reaching out on your behalf, you can always apply here so we can see if we would be a good fit working together.