A Speaker’s Guide to Finding Professional Speaker Opportunities

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If you are looking for professional speaker opportunities online to speak at, you will want to stop want you are doing and read this! I have spent 5 years researching events and booked myself at hundreds of events, so I listed a few shortcuts here. The good news is that there are thousands of events out there looking for speakers and an outline of a few resources and practices below, I hope you enjoy it!

Now when you create a strategy for finding events you want to make sure it has the three following attributes:

Fast – finding each event as fast as possible. That means, avoiding random google searches, networking, or dropping in (bombing) conferences, and pitching event planners. Note, I am not against those strategies, but you might want to employ some faster ones first when you are ramping up your speaking career, and if the fast ones don’t work, go to more time-intensive strategies.

High Volume- you want to make sure that wherever you look, there are multiple opportunities to make sure your time is better spent. That means avoiding a one-off random event, like a random flier you found on the train. Chances are you won’t be able to find a bunch of fliers of different events during that method. If you do, email me and I will love to hear about where this train is.

Scalable- After you have booked a couple of engagements, you might want to hand off the task to someone else like a remote employee. Hence, strategies like dropping in at conferences, going to networking events, or asking your friends where they got booked are out of the question.

 

Top 3 Worst Strategies To Finding Professional Speaker Opportunities

1 . Dropping in at Conferences

Some people advise going to conferences to find speaking opportunities. While that sounds great on paper, do you really plan to show up at random conferences and pitch yourself? Not to mention you must pay hundreds of dollars to get in at larger ones, and for subtle small chapter meetings, you will need to pay anywhere up to $100 plus commute time. Is that worth it? Well, you could find something, but the risk on your time and money is high. So, no way, Jose in the beginning!

2. Asking Your Friends Where They Got Booked

I am fascinated that speaker coaches recommend this. Like really, if you are just starting out, or don’t have a huge amount of speaking experience under your belt you won’t: 1. Have many friends you are speakers and 2. The ones that are, probably aren’t going to refer you because of your lack of experience. For instance, later I made that mistake one time referring a friend to a paid gig who didn’t do a lot of keynote presentations and unfortunately, the reviews were terrible on them, so I got blamed for the referral. Hence, for most people just getting into the swing of speaking, skip this.

3. Randomly Googling Around

When I was just starting out in the professional circuit, I hired several contractors to find professional speaker opportunities by rnadomly searching Google results. Now keep in mind, each one was found around 50 a day and added to a Google Sheet. About after 2 weeks, you know what started to happen? DUPLICATES! Like everywhere, and so we added a duplication control column. After several months we had thousands of events, and the Google Sheet was running slow and at one point got so large we could put anything. Point is, if you want to find 100 events, Googling around could work, but if you want to have a career in this, you need definitive strategies to cut down on time and be more effective.

Where To Search Based off your Experience

To help with finding engagements, I break down where to look for engagements based on your level of experience. Note, this is what I personally implemented to go from novice to professional.

Beginner Tier (haven’t charged for speaking yet):

If you haven’t spoken before, these are a really good place to start to get ‘reps’ in speaking.

Toastmasters

Toastmasters, if you haven’t heard of it, has thousands of chapters all of the world that host meetings where professionals can practice their public speaking skills. Note, Toastmasters does have professional development conferences where speakers are hired. Usually, this is pro bono, but it works in a professional format. However, if you haven’t done any professional speaking, I highly recommend signing up with a few local chapters and getting your feet wet.  When I started, I signed up with 4 different ones to get the speaking reps in. You can also meet quite a few people that might also want to make the jump to professional speaking.

The three options below are all non-profits that have hundreds of chapters all over the world. I have personally spoken at many of these chapters and was able to fine-tune my material when I was just starting out. Note, they don’t pay an honorarium except for a nice meal.

Lion’s Clubs International

Lion’s Club has over 46,000 local clubs and 1.4 million members spanning 200 countries. Lions Clubs plan and participate in a wide variety of service projects that meet the international goals of Lions Clubs International as well as the needs of their local communities. You can check out their clubs here.

Kiwanis Clubs

Kiwanis has over 6,000 clubs spanning all 7 continents., and they make sure kids have what they need to be secure and successful in any community.Members know the needs in their communities and host nearly 150,000 service projects a year, from building playgrounds to mentoring teens and sponsoring youth sport. You can check out their clubs here.

Rotary Clubs

Rotary has over 46,000 clubs and 1.4 million members (which seems to be a similar size to Loins club) where neighbors, friends, and problem-solvers share ideas, join leaders and take action to create lasting change. You can check out their clubs here.

Medium Tier (charging under $5,000 per speech):

Chamber of Commerce

Chamber of Commerce is a form of business network, for example, a local organization of businesses whose goal is to further the interests of businesses. They have over 13,000 events all over the world and 4,000 in the United States. Most people that already know about Chamber of Commerce chapters may think this fall into a beginner tier. I decided to move this into medium-tier is because there is at times a small honorarium for speakers and the audience tends to be more business-focused.

Directory of Associations

There are hundreds of associations all around the United States that book speakers for their chapter events. You can find these events by checking out Directory of Associations and searching the different associations and checking out their local chapters. A great resource for finding chapters. At the chapter level, you can be paid from free to several thousand dollars. Note, some chapters are very cheap, while I have been compensated up to $15,000 for others. It just depends on the resource.

Advanced Tier ($5,000 and over):

Stalking Other Speakers- you can go onto other speakers’ sites and social media to see where they have been hired in the past. I know a few speaking agents that represent hall of fame speakers who employ this strategy. You can search for speakers on different speaker bureau websites to get a solid idea. At times, bureaus put the fee range and subject for speakers, so I suggest checking out speakers who fall under your topic and level of expertise.

More Online Directories on Finding Professional Speaker Opportunities

Each one of these directories has over 1000 events, and it takes a bit more shifting through. However, this will be more than enough speaking opportunities for any speaking who is growing their brand.

10times.com, bvents.com, conferenceindex.org, Eventbrite, Exhpo.com, Eventseye.com, Expohour.com, Eventcrazy.com, Eventful.com, and Facebook.com

If want to shortcut the process in finding speaking engagements, you can always check out our speaker engagement database where speakers at all levels can search for events and have the contact information to shortcut your process. We have over 20,000 events that I personally use to book myself at conferences.

Hope that helps!

Let’s get speaking!

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