You’re establishing yourself as an author and you want to start booking some speaking gigs.
But you aren’t sure where to start.
After all, authors are a dime a dozen, and all of them want speaking engagements.
How can you stand out from the crowd and get booked?
It’s actually not as hard as it seems.
Getting speaking engagements as an author is all about taking a different approach than everyone else.
And the approach I’m about to reveal has helped me land gigs at events in front of thousands of people in my target audience and generate hundreds of thousands in new business over the years.
First Things First…Define “Speaking Engagement”
This might seem too simple but it’s important to define what a “speaking engagement” means for you because most people seeking author speaking engagements are strictly thinking about paid events.
In other words, someone is giving you a check for $5,000 – $10,000 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.)
There are far better ways to monetize your speaking opportunities.
My Counter-Intuitive Approach to Author Speaking Engagements
I’ve really only been paid to speak once or twice.
You might be wondering why I would want to do that for free…
Because the events I speak at for free are filled with people in my ideal audience.
And more often than not, I leave those events with six figures in new clients.
Here’s a prime example…
I speak at one particular event for free every year—Russell Brunson’s Funnel Hacking Live.
I’ve never been paid to do it, and I even pay for my flight, meals, and accommodations.
But I’ve never left that opportunity without $100k+ in new clients.
Because of this phenomenon, the few times I’ve been paid to speak I’ve actually lost money.
I’d get paid about $5,000 to speak and leave. And few people (if anyone) in the audience weren’t interested in doing business with me.
I’ve seen this play out several times for other authors over the years.
You simply won’t make much money from speaking gigs unless you’re famous. The real money is in the business these gigs can create for you.
So speaking for free at highly targeted events is almost always a better idea than seeking $5k-$10k one-and-done gigs.
This perspective is important to keep in mind as we approach how to get speaking gigs.
How to Land Author Speaking Engagements: The “TAP Process”
1. 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 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 into 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.
2. Consider your relationships
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.?
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.
3. Prepare your assets
There are a few assets you simply must have to book speaking engagements.
1. Your best-selling book
Make sure you have this printed and ready to use for interested audience members to buy after your speech. If you offer any sort of coaching, having your book available at events can also lead people to your high-end offers in addition to the money you can make selling the book at the event.
2. A website or landing page
You may not have all of the resources to build an entire website at the moment, but you should at least have a page on your website dedicated to positioning yourself as a professional speaker. It’s important to clearly state what your specialty is and what you’ll be speaking about if hired.
If possible, include the following on your website.
- Examples of you speaking in the form of photos and/or video clips. If you don’t have these (which is a common problem for new speakers), you can create a mockup shoot where you can simulate your speaking and use it on your site as a temporary placeholder. Then, you’ll want to prioritize getting actual video footage and pictures at your next speaking event.
- Testimonials from previous clients. These should be videos, if possible. Testimonials hold a lot of weight when it comes to getting hired for speaking engagements.
- Social proof + social media links. As you can imagine, social proof is yet another way to back your expertise as an industry leader.
- Well-written copy. It should clearly communicate who you are, what you’re an expert in, and what you can speak about.
3. A speaker’s “one sheet”
This is just what it sounds like. It’s one side of a piece of paper that highlights you as a speaker. You will need an eye-catching hook as your title that will entice people to read more about you. If you have a dedicated social media audience this might be a good place to go for feedback if you’re stuck on which titles garner the most attention.
4. Video of you speaking (or a video testimonial)
It’s best if you can include both a video of you speaking as well as a video testimonial. However, try to include at least one where people can get an idea of how your voice sounds.
Once you have these assets, you have a solid packet of marketing materials that can be used in your pitches to land speaking engagements.
4. 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 45 days during the fall and winter seasons.
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. He combines telling his story by playing the violin and it’s really neat to watch.
Rodney came to my house to shoot a video for his next book and we started talking about how he 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 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, pick up the phone and give them a call.
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 follow-up 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 Booking Speaking Engagements
The key to this 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.