10 Tips to Help Position Yourself in the Speaking Industry
By: Wendi J. McNeill
Becoming a professional full time speaker isn’t easy…everyone knows that, it takes a lot of dedication, determination and most important you have to have the passion, if the passion isn’t there then my suggestion would be, don’t even attempt it! I could spend days teaching you how to package yourself as a professional speaker and how to gain more exposure, but the following article as been bundled to give you just a few quick tips and ideas so you can start implementing them into your business.
1. Niche Yourself
Yes, I know you have heard this many times and it couldn’t be truer! One of the biggest mistakes a speaker can make is having too “general” of a topic. You want to narrow your expert niche as much as possible. Become the Speaker of Choice, research your topic industry so you know “what’s hot” and “what’s not”. Take that research and develop a niche around it, be sure it is something you have experience with and will be able to present it as a professional expert speaker in that field.
Don’t waste your time, energy and money on developing a “niche” that just isn’t going to get any recognition because it isn’t something that planners will be looking for! Do your research and I do put emphasis on this tip! Once you have discovered your niche, you must continue to practice your speaking skills and update your material and presentations to keep-up with the trends and changing issues.
2. Build your credibility
There are many ways to build your credibility and become known as an expert, but this tip is about building your credibility by knowing your audience.
Your job as a presenter is to take the context you will present and put it into a form that your audience will understand and can relate to. You want them to really understand what you’re saying. Always remember your presentation is not about you, it’s about the audience, what they want to know, and what they want to know is what’s in it for me? How will you help their business grow?...How will you help them save time…save money...How will you make them feel!
Vision yourself sitting in the audience you will be presenting to and ask yourself, “What do I want to get out of this?”, “What do I want to learn?”, “What’s in it for me?” Once you can perceive yourself as a participant of the audience than you can start putting the pieces together in building a top notch presentation that your audience will remember and one that will have members coming to you and asking you to get your schedule out because they want to book you.
The more you relate to your audience, the more you know your audience, the better your chance of building your credibility…you have an audience that is happy, engaged and drawn to you and one that is saying…Hey, this speaker knows his stuff…he knows us!
3. Develop an eye-catching media kit
Planners get hundreds if not thousands of proposals and media kits every year. You have to “wow” them immediately to grab their attention, before they set it down and go to the next one!
Make sure that your media kit is up to date, precise and professionally put together. Nothing else turns away a meeting planner or organization more than an unattractive, boring, and unorganized media kit. They won’t even bother with it nor have the time of day to look over the remaining contents if they don't like what they see at first glance and many times the hours, days and money you have spent in putting it together are now wasted as it sits on the planners’ shelf gathering dust. I know this seems a bit harsh, but being on the ‘inside’ I know this to be true, as I have seen it many times, so just spend some time on your kit when putting it together or possibly re-do the one you already have, remember you want to catch the eye of the reader to draw them into reading more.
4. Have an online presence
Develop a website with information on your experience, topics you cover, promotional material available and testimonials from previous clients. You don’t need a big, fancy, or expensive website to attract visitors and the attention of meeting planners, just make sure you are catering to the planners needs and have the information easily accessible and downloadable. If you’re an article writer make sure you add your articles to your own site.
If your budget doesn’t allow for your own web site, join speakers’ organizations and add your name to their online listings - The more exposure you get, the better your chances of being found by people seeking speakers.
5. Work with meeting planners
Very important: be willing to work with them. Don’t be so stubborn that you talked yourself right out of one of the most important speaking engagements of your career. Most planners are eager to work with the speaker, but you also have to be willing to “give a little to get a lot”. Remember you want to be a magnet to planners and the “hiring” company, not an itch under their skin. So be pleasant and be negotiable and give them the best performance possible and in return they will continue to book you and recommend you!
You want to position yourself within the meeting planner realm as being enjoyable to work with, fun, and easy-going! Trust me on this one, there is nothing worse then working with a stubborn, un-pleasant speaker who is unwilling to budge or negotiate, it doesn’t matter if they are well-known or have years of experience, planners don’t have the time for this nor want to deal with it. I also want to mention, don’t be too quick to pass on a free speaking engagement as this can bring you more opportunities (Many great enterprises were built from small opportunities)
6. Introduce yourself as a contingency speaker
This is one way to get your “foot” in the door. One of the biggest fears of a meeting planner is a “no-show” or cancellation of the scheduled speaker. You can send out a letter via e-mail or regular mail to event planners, program managers, etc.
Your initial contact with the event planner should be on eliminating one of their largest fears. If you have a properly written letter and have done your research, you will more than likely make an immediate friend. This is where the business relationship begins and in most cases, the event planner or “hiring” authority will book you in because you have approached them this way.
7. Marketing yourself
Add this to your weekly business tasks, this is of course a must, if you don’t market you all know they won’t find you! You have to go to them…let them know you are unique, you are knowledgeable, you are the best and that you can knock the socks off their audience. Don’t be afraid to approach meeting planners, you want to keep your name fresh in their mind! Be PERSISTENT!
Standing out from the crowd is a major challenge for today's professional speaker. Marketing yourself and your company, should be one of your major priorities, which requires to be done on a regular basis. Unless you have ample time on your hands and the expertise it takes to market yourself effectively, one of the best suggestions we can make is hire a professional marketing specialist or consultant/public relations company. Find someone that will work side by side with you in developing a marketing campaign that will benefit you and your speaking career.
If your budget does not have room for the expense of a professional PR agent then there are many ways you can gain exposure and become known as an expert in your field by doing some simple marketing techniques that are sure fire ways to get you the attention you need. Remember to be unique!
8. Interact with potential clients
It is very important to mingle and network! Get yourself noticed. Hand out business cards every where you go. Talk to everyone you meet. Go to seminars and meetings that are the same as your expertise. Watch and pay attention. Who are the attendees, what is their reaction to the speaker on the platform? Most importantly, be very personable and agreeable with every meeting planner you meet. You want to leave the impression that you are easy going and willing to make adjustments at the last minute. Meeting planners don't like to work with difficult and irritating speakers, it doesn’t matter how well known you are in the speaking industry. They look for someone with humor, an abundance of energy, flexibility, and great content!
9. Write a book/ info products
This is a BIG credibility builder.
I know it’s not as easy as it sounds, but if you are an expert in your field and you have information you want to share, I would suggest writing a book or some informational products. This is an excellent marketing tool and an addition to your income. We know you have the speaking ability and you know what you want to say, but some speakers just don’t know how or have the time to put it in book/product form. You do have the option of outsourcing that task. There are many companies who specialize in that field and can assist you with your project.
10. Article writing
Almost everyone knows about article marketing and submitting them online, but I just want to mention it again. I would have to say I bring up article marketing at least 5 times a day in many different conversations because that is how important I feel article marketing is. You are a speaker…you are an expert…so you shouldn’t have any trouble writing a simple article. Add article writing and submitting them online to your marketing plan and do it on a regular basis. This is one of the best and FREE ways of promoting yourself and your business, and also gaining more visitors to your website!
Many times I see an excellent article that was written with just the authors name, no contact information…nothing! Well, if you’re like me you don’t have the time to try and do a search on this author to find their site and learn more, you want instant contact information by just clicking your mouse so you can be taken directly to where you want to go. So, don’t forget to add an eye-catching bio at the end of your article so readers can find you and learn more. Be sure and include your contact information including website and email address.
About The Author
Wendi McNeill is the owner of Charli Jane Speaker Management and while working closely with speakers for many years, she assists them in growing their business and shares her expertise, knowledge and passion that are needed to grow your speaking business. She knows what planners are looking for and how to make a good impression by using simple techniques that can cut off months of research, save you money, time, and energy by mentoring and guiding you in the right direction. You can also learn more about speaking leads available at http://www.CharliJaneSpeakers.com
and visit her at http://www.CharliJane.com
to learn more about her services. She can be reached via email at wendi@CharliJane.com
or by phone at 877-570-0615
This article was posted on October 16, 2006
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