You’ve just begun your professional speaking career – CONGRATULATIONS!!
You’ve created your presentations that you’re ready to get paid for, started looking for events/organizations you can speak at, and have been passing your business card to anyone and everyone you come in contact with.
Sooo…why are the engagements not happening?
It could be for any number of reasons, but I have five mistakes that stick out in my mind that new speakers make.
In no particular order:
- Your email address is unprofessional. If you have a speaking business, then your email address should embody that and reflect it in every way. In other words, your business domain name should be in your email address. Instead, I see people using (theirname)@gmail.com to conduct business. Your Gmail address is fine for personal matters, but you really do come across as more credible when you have an email address that matches your domain name. You don’t want to give anyone a reason to NOT take you serious before they even speak with you, and not having a professional email address is an easy way to write you off. So get “firstname.lastname@example.org” created right away. Speaking of business domain…
- You don’t have a website. Word of mouth about how good you were at the last speaking engagement is great, but it’s only going to take you so far. Somewhere across the world is a frustrated event planner looking online for an amazing speaker that talks about that scientific subject that is your specialty. But they’ll never find you if you don’t have a website. Having an online presence is a non-negotiable if you want to book more speaking engagements. You don’t need to have anything with a thousand bells and whistles, but it should look professional. Don’t just tell us what you do; tell us how what you do will benefit the audience. How will your presentation cause real transformation in your audience members’ lives? Whatever you do, DON’T design your website yourself unless you are a designer. Invest in a designer who can present your brand in the best possible light, in the online world.
- Not having a speaking identity. When you think of Tony Robbins, what comes to mind? Probably business and personal success. What about when you think of Les Brown? I bet something along the lines of pushing past limitations. What’s my point here? These speakers have something they are known for. You can easily identify what their expertise is. If I ask someone what you speak on and they say “travel, leadership, basket weaving, public safety, etc. etc.” – then there’s a problem. People should be easily able to associate you with a particular topic. If not, that means you have not established your speaking identity yet. The speakers who have carved out their niche are the ones who will be top of mind for event planners when they need a speaker for a particular topic. Get to carving!
- Not knowing your “Jackie.” Who is Jackie? The person who needs to hear your message or your ideal client. Think about the demographics of this person you want to serve. What age group do they fall in? Gender? Education level? You also want to think about psychographics. What are their interests? Maybe it’s shopping, fitness, cooking etc. Are they of a particular political leaning? You want to think about the problem you can help Jackie solve. What are they struggling with right now that you provide the answer to in your message? Taking the time to identify your target audience is time well-spent and a must.
- Not speaking for free. Hey, I know you want to get paid for your speaking engagements! You’re not in business to work for free. But what if I told you that you can still get paid, even if it’s not monetarily?? You definitely can! Here are a few ways:
- Email addresses – The people that you’re speaking in front of for free is your target audience (they should be!), so you’ll want to stay in contact with them long after you’ve left the stage. At the end of your talk, offer them a valuable digital resource that they can download from your website. You’ll receive their contact information and they’ll receive something that will help them. Its’ a win-win!
- Back of the room sales – You’d be surprised at how much money is made off the stage at events. If the organizer can’t pay you, but offers you a table to sell your products or services – TAKE IT!! This is if you have something to offer, of course. Many speakers are also authors, and sell their books at events. Get that table!
- Testimonials – Audience members are coming up to you after your presentation, telling you how much they learned and that you changed their whole life. Great! Ask them if they’d be willing to give you a video testimonial. Whip out your cell phone and get that rave review while they’re still excited and in the moment. Testimonials are gold, and a video one is the best kind to get. Testimonials let others know how much of a star speaker you are, and they should consider hiring you too.
Some of these were mistakes that I made early on in my business, so I can definitely speak from experience! The good news is that these are all areas you can easily start tackling today. Did any of these stand out to you? Or, if you’re an experienced speaker – what else would you add to help emerging speakers? Comment below!
To your success,