The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of the editors or editors of Rolling Stone.
As more people get vaccinated, cities ease restrictions and businesses reopen, in-person events will likely make a comeback in the not-so-distant future – and that means more speaking opportunities for you. .
But because we’ve all been staying at home and attending virtual events for over a year, demand has also grown, which means more competition for speaking opportunities. Have no fear, however. If you start planning now, you can build your conference calendar for 2021 and beyond.
So let’s take a look at five effective strategies for filling your conference calendar.
1. Do your research.
Research is obviously the place to start, but where do you start and what exactly are you looking for? You can start by searching for events and people. If you follow speakers and events on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, it shouldn’t be difficult to find events or people on Google.
Whether you’re a new speaker or a seasoned speaker, you’ll want to keep your expectations reasonable. Jumping straight out at national events is a recipe for rejection. Sure, sharing the stage with Michelle Obama is a great goal, but you’ll probably want to start with local, national, and regional events.
I used this strategy to land my first invitation to a TEDx event. Sharing my story has been an exhilarating experience, and it has already opened doors for me (for example, my talk will be published in a book with other TED speakers). TEDx organizations host conferences around the world and are a great place for new speakers to share their stories.
2. Establish a relationship with the coordinators.
Once you have a list of events, it’s time to start building relationships with event coordinators. It is important not to pitch in the first email (especially not with a generic template). Instead, keep your first email short and sweet. If you’ve attended their event in the past or know someone in the organization, mention these things. Also ask targeted questions such as: “When will you accept nominations for speakers for this upcoming event?” “
Next, I recommend providing three to four sentences about who you are, what you would be talking about, and how your post will help their audience. Resist the temptation to include lengthy explanations or irrelevant details about your story. Then follow up a few days later. If you can’t hear anything, follow up a week later. If you still don’t get a response, wait until the event is a bit closer.
One caveat: This process takes time (you’re basically operating like your own PR company here). But do it right and you will stand out from the crowd. Ideally, you connect with the coordinators three to six months in advance, giving you time to build a relationship.
3. Tell people that you are a speaker.
Besides doing your research and working to build relationships with the conference organizers, another great way to get paid speaker opportunities is to simply tell people that you are a speaker. While looking for speaking engagements can take all your waking hours, chances are few around you will realize that you are looking. You have to tell them, and you can do it directly or indirectly.
To do it directly:
• Add a “speaker” to your social media profiles and your email signature.
• Add an intervention page to your website listing the intervention topics and the types of presentations you have given.
• Share your speaker flyer with those who organize events and say, “If you would like me to speak at your next event, please contact me. “
For an indirect approach:
• When working in a network, offer examples or case studies from previous oral experiences.
• Incorporate it casually into conversations by saying something like “When I was talking to …”
4. Ask for references.
An even more direct approach than telling people that you are a speaker is to ask for references. Don’t hold back and keep your dream a secret. Who knows? You may be sitting on a gold mine of speaking opportunities in your own network. There are also many Facebook groups for speakers, where people post their events and share information about the conference.
Also, if you know someone who is a paid speaker, offer to buy them a cup of coffee in exchange for some tips on how they got started.
5. Do a phenomenal job.
Finally, the best way to find speaking opportunities is to do a phenomenal job when you land an opportunity for yourself. Event coordinators often attend conferences and there is no better publicity than watching you in action.
So whether you’re on a panel of speakers or landing that coveted opening keynote, make sure you pull it off.
Much has changed about public speaking events over the past year. While I predict that remote presentations – with their convenience and ability to reach global audiences – are here to stay, in-person events are making a comeback. To stay ahead of the game, start building your conference calendar today.