You want to book your first speaking engagement, but…
…you have no idea how to start the querying process.
You don’t want to just start cold-calling connections in your network…or maybe you’re not even sure what “network” you’re working with in the first place.
There has to be a structured process you can follow to get it right.
Luckily there is.
I call it the “TAP” Process, and it’s guaranteed to book you a speaking engagement if you follow it consistently.
And that’s not all.
I have an even more promising method to build your career as a thought leader—but we’ll touch on that later.
For now, let’s talk about:
How to Get Speaking Engagements That Actually Build Your Brand & Authority
Right off the bat, you should know—
My approach to “speaking engagements” is…unconventional.
A lot of experts claim that compensation is the most important qualifier of a worthwhile speaking engagement.
And while getting a $5,000 or $10,000 check for an hour of your time certainly sounds promising…
…it’s nowhere near the most profitable approach to a speaking engagement.
Sounds backward, right?
Who doesn’t want to get paid for their time? And after all—you’ll have to profit as a speaker somehow.
But can I let you in on a secret?
Monetary profit (while important) isn’t the key to actually profiting.
It’s speaking to an audience who can help build your brand and authority.
This is why my first step to score a valuable speaking engagement isn’t an actionable one.
First, you need to reframe your definition of a “speaking engagement.”
1. Rethink How You Approach a Speaking Engagement
Would you believe it if I told you I’ve only been paid to speak once or twice?
And what’s more: I seek out unpaid speaking engagements.
Why on earth would I do that?
Because it doesn’t matter how much I’m getting paid to speak.
It matters who I’m speaking to.
That’s the real value (and potential profit) of a speaking engagement.
And here’s the kicker: I profit more from unpaid speaking engagements than paid ones.
By forfeiting compensation upfront for an audience that resonates with what I’m offering.
If I can speak to a room full of people in my ideal audience, they’ll be much more likely to:
- Purchase a high-ticket offer
- Become a client
- Invest enough in my brand to make a commitment later
This is why becoming a thought leader in your industry isn’t about speaking to the most people.
It’s about speaking to the right people.
But how do you reach those people? And what if no one’s offering a stage?
- Speak on your own stage (host your own event)
- Host a Facebook Live
- Speak on a webinar or zoom call
Now, if you can find a way to speak to your audience and get paid for it, that’s great.
But don’t underestimate the power of unpaid gigs.
They can bring just as much value to your brand as paid ones.
Remember: as long as you’re speaking to the right audience, you’ll profit in the long run.
2. Understand the Larger Goal of Speaking Engagements (The Three Profit Pillars)
Now you know what you’re really looking for in a speaking engagement.
But just like with any strategy, you need to understand the larger purpose of what you’re working towards (or what a speaking engagement should eventually lead to).
In my Wall Street Journal bestseller, Publish. Promote. Profit., there’s a piece of advice from the “profit phase” that I want to share with you:
The three profit pillars.
We use these profit pillars to create a cycle of lead generation and income that feeds into itself and helps our clients’ books become bestsellers.
But it can apply here, too.
The three profit pillars are:
- Speaking engagements
- Lead generation
- Media and PR
The “key player” of the profit pillars is lead generation.
Because everything else (speaking engagements, one-on-one lead generation, PR, paid ads, etc.), is going to filter to and from lead generation.
This is how you sell your high-ticket offers in order to grow your business.
And this is why it’s so important to find speaking engagements with the right audience.
Simply put: speaking engagements = target audiences = potential leads = customers.
This is the point of media and PR, too—creating as much exposure for yourself as a thought leader as possible in order to generate more leads.
But there’s still one part of the process that’s missing.
You’ve learned what kind of speaking engagements are important for your business, why they’re important for your business, but now…
…you need to know how to get one.
3. Utilize The “TAP” Process to Find the Right Speaking Engagement
This is my proven process to ensure you book the right gig for your business.
I call it the TAP Process.
There are four main components:
- Define your target audience
- Consider your relationships
- Prepare your assets
- Start a process
Let’s break each step down one by one.
First, the idea I’ve been hammering in from the start:
1. Defining your target audience.
You need to have a solid idea of your ideal audience before you even think about booking a speaking engagement.
And there’s something else you need to know:
Your ideal audience is more than just your industry.
It’s more than a “target persona,” and yes—it’s even more than just your area of expertise.
At the end of the day, your target audience can be defined by one simple question…
…what problem are they trying to solve?
If you know the answer to this, then you know who you’re speaking to.
But we can get a little more specific.
Try asking yourself these questions:
- What do they want/aspire to?
- What is their demographic?
- Who would benefit from your knowledge?
There’s one more thing you need to know about your target audience as a speaker.
Where are they?
By this, I mean:
- What associations do they belong to?
- What conferences do they go to?
- Are they at local events or meetups?
You need to know where your audience gravitates to so you can strategically book your speaking engagements.
Once you’ve identified specific locations, make sure to write down the phone number, address, email, organizer’s name, and any other important contact information you may need.
2. Consider Your Relationships
Can I let you in on something?
This step isn’t actually about who you know.
Sure, it’s important to identify relevant connections in your network that could lead to potential speaking engagements, but if that’s the only lens you’re viewing this step through…
…you won’t book very many gigs.
See: the “relationships” step isn’t about what other people can do for you.
It’s about what you can do for them.
Becoming a thought leader in your industry means you’re consistently looking for ways to provide value to others.
And this includes more than just your audience—it includes the people you’re looking to network with, too.
I’d recommend starting with the connections you already have on social media.
You may consider:
- LinkedIn connections
- Facebook Groups
- Previous gig contacts
You should be dedicating 10-15 minutes a day to relationship-building on social media.
Reach out to people you know, or who you may like to know. Focus on getting to know them, their passions, and/or their goals for themselves or their companies.
Once people know you’re invested in them and their business personally, they’ll be more likely to return a favor down the line.
3. Prepare Your Assets
There are a few necessities speakers must have before they book a speaking gig.
1. A website or landing page.
Even if you don’t have a fully-functional, multi-page website, you at least need a homepage dedicated to yourself as a professional speaker.
It should include samples of you speaking (or a mock-up if you don’t have any yet), testimonials (preferably in video form) from previous clients, social proof and social links, and well-written copy (who you are, what you do, what problems you solve).
2. A speaker’s “one sheet”.
This is a one-side piece of paper that highlights you as a speaker (including an eye-catching title that encourages people to read more about you).
It should include your background, experience, what you talk about, and any other information relevant to you as a speaker.
3. A video of you speaking (or a video testimonial).
This asset should showcase how you sound, what you look like, and overall how you perform as a speaker.
There’s one more thing you might consider adding to this list: a bestselling book.
Easier said than done, right?
But a well-written book that supports your claims and ideas as a speaker will solidify your position as a thought leader in your industry.
Not to mention it can be:
- A great lead-in to your sales funnel
- A low-ticket offer at the end of your speaking gigs
- An easy pitch to those you seek to network/work with in the future.
I know what you’re thinking.
“But books can take years to write! I just don’t have that kind of time.”
Well, I have a solution that can cut that time by nearly 90%.
And you don’t even have to do the heavy–lifting.
But more on that later.
For now, let’s jump to the last step in the TAP Process:
4. Start a Process
I’m not just talking about any process.
I have a process that guarantees you a speaking engagement at the end of it…
…but only if you’re consistent.
Here’s how it works.
First, you’ll collect 20-50 names of relevant people in your industry who run local conferences, events, meet-ups, etc.
(If you’ve followed the other three steps in this process, you should have already reached out to them on LinkedIn/social media at least once).
Then, you’ll offer to send each of them a free copy of your book.
If you don’t already have a book, this can be any kind of free offer you can manage (but it should relate to your industry as a speaker/the subject you speak on. And nothing works better to convey this than a book…).
For simplicity’s sake, I’ll refer to the “free offer” as your book. Just know I’m referring to the gift you’re sending them.
Note: even if you can’t warm up to your prospects online, you should send them your free book anyway. It could pay off later.
Make sure you include an introductory letter with your book explaining what it is, why you sent it to them, and the topic(s) it covers (at least one of which is relevant to an event they’re hosting).
After you send your book their way, wait at least a week to give them a chance to read it/form their thoughts.
Then pick up the phone and give them a call.
You’ll want to ask:
- If they received your book
- If they’ve had a chance to read it
- If they believe you would be a good fit to speak at their upcoming event
Don’t get discouraged if this first call doesn’t lead to a speaking engagement immediately.
First of all, this is only one of many prospects (if you’ve followed my advice for this process).
And even if you land a maybe instead of a yes, that’s great!
Now you have an opportunity for a follow-up call.
Just remember to be patient. Consistency is key, here.
Stick with this process and you’ll book a speaking engagement eventually.
Speaking Engagements Are Great, But There’s Something Else Even Better to Build Your Brand
I know: you came to this post because you wanted to learn how to book a speaking engagement—not because you wanted to write a book.
You want to become a thought leader in your industry, and that alone is a full-time commitment.
How on earth would you add “bestselling author” to your plate?
Let me tell you why I believe this is a necessary part of your journey as a speaker.
(And why it may not be as difficult as you think.)
A lot of people assume writing a book is just what you do once you’ve garnered an audience.
It’s just another box checked—another broad way to reach an even broader audience.
But this approach is all wrong.
Writing a book isn’t what you do after you become a thought leader, it’s how you become a thought leader.
Let’s explore a concept called:
The Hierarchy of Desire
A lot of speakers waste their time trying to prove themselves to clients.
They operate as a “generalist” in their field and find themselves hunting for clients while they should be climbing the ladder.
They can’t earn their audience’s trust without any proof that they know what they’re talking about.
A well-written, well-marketed book that showcases their knowledge on a subject, expertise, and experience in their respective industry.
The reason so many speakers write a book is because the book does the hard work for them.
A niche book will grow your status and speak to your ideal client all on its own.
And the best part?
Because you’ve given them proof of your expertise, clients will come knowing down your door—not the other way around.
And because your book is written in a small space that only encompasses your specific knowledge, your impact, influence, and income potential will be all the larger.
And as you climb that ladder, you’ll become more and more desirable to your audience.
This is the hierarchy of desire.
Reactive and Proactive Marketing
A lot of speakers rely on reactive marketing to make progress in their industry.
They wait for clients, influencers, etc. to reach out to them and extend an opportunity. This does happen—but it’s rare. Especially at the start of a career.
And before I lose you: this is the hierarchy of desire concept I just outlined in the last section.
It’s the magic that comes from a well-marketed book.
The problem is, novice speakers also need to practice proactive marketing in order to be successful.
A good balance of both marketing types is key.
So how does this relate to writing a book?
A book is a perfect excuse to put proactive marketing into practice.
Remember the fourth step of the TAP Process?
You must be consistent with reaching out to relevant prospects in your industry.
And it’s imperative to have a free offer for them that showcases your knowledge and expertise as a speaker.
This is where your book comes in.
Not only does it give you a reason to contact people in your network, but it’s how you’ll get on the radio, TV, podcasts, etc.
The difference in a great speaker that makes it and a great speaker that doesn’t lies in their use of reactive and proactive marketing.
And your book is the answer to both.
Enhanced Ghostwriting: The Answer to Your Bestselling Book
Now you know why a book is important, but the question remains:
How are you going to find the time to write it?
Luckily, I have an answer.
And it has the potential to cut that writing time by nearly 90%.
It’s called our Enhanced Ghostwriting process.
I’ve been burned by ghostwriting before; I’ve wasted time, money, and effort on services that made big promises and never delivered.
That’s why I made it my mission to create a service that not only writes your book for you from start to finish…
…but handles the entire promotion process and guarantees a profit.
We’ll take your idea and turn it into a bestseller in just a few months.
Get a Speaking Engagement Today with the “TAP” Process
We’ve gone over a lot of strategies to help you book a speaking engagement.
If there’s one thing you take away from today, let it be this:
No matter which strategies you use, be persistent and don’t give up.
Becoming a thought leader takes time.
And if you’re looking for more marketing tips (for a book, speaking, or otherwise), check out my New York Times bestseller, Publish. Promote. Profit.
It’s completely free to you (plus shipping)!