Today we’re doing a deep dive into a topic that’s very near and dear to my heart: speaking engagements. In this blog post, I’m going to give you a step-by-step list of how to get speaking engagements and how to be a successful speaker.
First, I want to start with the definition of speaking engagements.
This might seem too simple but I think it’s important to share my definition because I know some people who are thinking of doing speaking engagements for their book, are just thinking it terms of paid engagements.
In other words, someone is giving you a check for 5 or 10 thousand dollars so you’ll spew your magic for 60 minutes and then you leave.
That certainly is a speaking engagement, but that isn’t what’s going to make you the most money. (Unless you’re a very famous person, like a well-known author, former president, etc. who gets 6 figures per speaking engagement.)
I’m assuming that the people reading this blog post are probably not celebrities so let’s talk about better ways to monetize your speaking opportunities.
I’ve really only been paid to speak once or twice. You might be wondering, why would I want to do that for free? My answer to that is: you want to speak for free if you’re going to be in front of your ideal audience.
The first speaking engagement I did was about two years ago. I talked to a big sales team and they paid me $5,000. I said yes to this event because it was local. I was able to drive to it, pick up my check, and leave.
I actually lost money during that event because I didn’t pay attention to my calendar. You see, there’s one speaking engagement that I’ve done every year at Russell Brunson’s event. He’s a friend and client of mine. I’m also a client of his.
If you’re not familiar with Russell, he runs a company called ClickFunnels that makes about $100 million a year. Every year I speak at his event called Funnel Hacking Live.
I’ve never been paid to do it, but I’ve never left that opportunity without six figures in new clients. So even though I wasn’t paid to do it (and I had to pay for my own flight, accommodations, etc.), I was still receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars as a result.
So going back to that other speaking engagement I mentioned where I lost money… I had signed a contract with this company months and months in advance without double-checking my calendar.
As the date got closer, I realized it was the same day as Funnel Hacking Live. I had already signed the contract accepted the money for the paid speaking engagement and I wasn’t going to run out on something I already committed to.
So I fulfilled my obligation and I flew out to Funnel Hacking Live the next day. Unfortunately, I still wasn’t able to do my talk because they already had a booked roster so I ended up losing money because I didn’t speak for free.
It sounds kind of funny when you word it like that, but I lost multiple six figures because I wasn’t able to speak to my ideal audience at Funnel Hacking Live. When you book a speaking engagement or are looking to book one, the audience you’re speaking to should be your primary focus.
I got paid to speak in front of a bunch of salespeople who work for a big organization and aren’t interested in doing a book with me. I missed out on an opportunity to speak to thousands of people, who are mostly business owners and entrepreneurs, who would absolutely have been interested in signing a book deal.
I do have a speaking engagement in Hawaii that’s coming up soon. I’m not getting paid to speak and I’m paying for my own flight and accommodations again. I also decided to bring my wife so we can have a little getaway.
I booked us first-class flights and a room in a nice hotel on the ocean with a beautiful view. With just the flights and the room I’m looking at spending $5,000 – $7,000. Why would I choose to spend so much money at a speaking engagement I’m not getting paid for?
Because last time I did this same speaking engagement, I made over $100,000 in sales in via new clients that I fought on. This comes back to the idea I mentioned before: speaking in front of the right audience.
It doesn’t matter if they pay you, whether they do or don’t cover your accommodations and flight, etc. My definition of a speaking engagement, and hopefully yours too, is an opportunity in which you’re speaking to your ideal audience.
That’s where the real opportunity is. After talking to a room full of potential clients, you’ll have no problem selling them the more expensive products and services you offer. You’ll be able to generate more income and make a better impact.
So now let’s talk about how to get you some speaking engagements. The following is my 3-step strategy, also known as the “TAP Process:”
- Define your target
When defining who your target client is, you need to be really clear, crystal clear. You should know their fears and frustrations, their wants and aspirations, what their demographic is, and who would really benefit from your book and your knowledge.
If you haven’t yet done this, I suggest that you be as narrow as you can and dive as deeply as possible on this subject matter because the more specific you are, the easier it will be to find them.
By that I mean, what associations do they belong to? What conferences do they go to? Are they at local events or meetups? Compile a list of potential places you could find your ideal client. Be sure to get the name of the organizer, their address, telephone number, email address, and any other necessary contact information.
- Consider your assets
The next step is to think about your sphere of influence and your connections, primarily on social media.
If you’re in the business space, what’s the number one place that you should look to connect with business owners, associates, groups, etc.? LinkedIn. All you need to do is use a bit of elbow grease to start the searching process. Then you want to connect with them.
You can also look at previous gigs or referrals. If you’re a speaker and you’ve spoken at an event in the past or you’ve connected with people in various business groups, you should contact those people. If a cold contact doesn’t work, but you have a warm connection through a referral, take advantage of that.
If you’re in various business groups, become known as the giver. Build relationships with other people in the group, answer questions and provide value. Once you’ve established yourself in a group, you can ask if anyone knows X, Y, or Z from a corporation you’re interested in getting in touch with.
If you’re not taking advantage of Facebook pages and groups, now is the best time to start. You should build that profile of yourself just by going into groups and engaging. You only need to do this for 10 to 15 minutes a day to build a great following and develop solid relationships. When you provide value, people will return the favor when you ask.
- Start a process
I want to share an example with you…
My friend, and client, Rodney Chong is the lead violinist for the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. They play something like 60 gigs over a 45 day period during the fall and winter season. He was once the lead violinist for Shania Twain and Celine Deon. He really worked his way up to being one of the biggest musicians in the world.
We’re currently working with Rodney on his book. He’s also a professional speaker and does some of the most amazing speaking engagements I’ve ever seen. He combines telling his story by playing the violin and it’s really neat to watch.
Rodney came to my house last month to shoot a video for his next book and we started talking about how she got into doing these speaking engagements. He would book speaking engagements, at huge events typically with about 5,000 people in the audience, just by cold calling. He reached out to organizations, conferences, associations, etc. and it worked.
I’m not recommending that method to you because I have a better way for you to do it; however, I share that story with you because I want you to know that Rodney Chong was able to book $10,000 speaking engagements.
Now, he’s also the well-known Rodney Chong, but the people he called didn’t know that when they picked up the phone. He had to warm them up as he was talking to them, but it is possible to book speaking engagements through cold contacts.
Want to achieve the same results as Rodney?
First, compile a list of 20-50 names of people who run conferences, associations, local meetups, etc. in your field. Then you’re going to mail them a copy of your book. Ideally, you’ve already connected with them via LinkedIn where you’ve offered to send a copy of your book for free. It’s your gift to them.
If you’re unable to warm them up on LinkedIn, you should still send them your book. Yes, it’s going to cost you to print and ship it. Yes, you should do this to the whole list you’ve put together.
Put your book in a nice thick envelope with an introductory letter that explains why you’ve sent them your book, what topics it covers, and how it’s related to what they do.
You should then mention that you noticed they have a conference about such and such coming up and how you discussed that topic on pages 6-18. Tell them you would love for them to take a look at it and connect with them in the upcoming week.
The introductory letter isn’t complicated. You’re just saying hello and letting them know why you’ve sent your book to them… because it relates to their event and you believe you could give a wonderful presentation/talk about the topic. After you’ve sent your book along with the cover letter, wait about a week so they have time to read it and form some thoughts.
Then, you’ll pick up the phone and give them a call. (This is something you could hire a virtual assistant for a week). Either way, the point of this call is to make sure the person you sent your book to received it and if they’ve had a chance to look at it. It’s also important to mention their event and that you think you would be a good fit to speak.
On that first call, you may get an appointment booked, or your assistant may book an appointment, but in many cases that won’t happen. If the person says that’s not the most prudent thing for Ms. Johnson, but they’ll talk to her, you (or your assistant) should offer a day to follow up. Now there’s an appointment for a followup call.
If you use this process of sending out five books a week, and you’re consistent, you’re going to get yourself booked for a speaking engagement. They should see you as the expert because you’ve literally written the book on it.
The key to this part really is consistency. It’s not going to work in the first week and it’s probably not going to work the second week, but you should start to get a few within 3-4 weeks. A few months later, you should start booking speaking engagements/opportunities which will start to snowball because I’ve always found that one opportunity leads to another.
How many speaking engagements you actually do depends on your level of interest. You may not want to be on the road once or twice a month and that’s totally ok. After you get a chunk of speaking engagements under your belt, you can start to cherry-pick the best ones, the ones that will pay the most, the ones that are in front of your perfect client, the ones that are closest to you, etc.
And I will leave you with that. I hope you’re able to integrate our “TAP Process” into your business and I wish you luck in seeking out the right speaking opportunities for you.