I truly enjoy public speaking. Yeah, that may make me a monster, but I know there are other monsters out there as well. If you want to expand your audience and build your platform, knowing how to find speaking gigs is a great way to do that.
Now, before we get too far into it, I want to note that this post won’t cover how to get paid speaking gigs. Those are great, but generally, unless you’ve been speaking for a while or have built a huge following, you won’t find those.
Also, it’s worth noting that TED, you know, of the Talks fame, doesn’t pay speakers. They are like THE NAME in the world of speaking, and they don’t pay.
That isn’t to say that a TED Talk wouldn’t pay off in other ways. But it is to say that a lot of the speaking work you do will either be for free, or in exchange for free entry to the event where you’ll be speaking. Sometimes you can even get pay, free entrance to the event, and a hotel room for the weekend.
Now, with that out of the way, let’s talk about how to find speaking gigs that may or may not pay.
How to Find Speaking Gigs
Not all speaking engagements are created equal, and if you’re looking for your ideal speaking gig, there are a few ways to find it. These are some of the ways I’ve been able to build my speaking portfolio.
001: Conference Websites
Typically, conferences are looking for speakers, and many of them want you to apply. It can be as simple as filling out an online form and adding some links to content you’ve created on the topic.
In some cases, they may want a formal pitch and an outline of your talk. I’ve even spoken at events that require a short video as an audition.
Regardless of your industry, conference websites usually have a specific link where you can apply to speak, as well as all the information you’ll need to submit your application. I recommend watching the social media of your favorite conferences. They’ll usually put out a call for applications and let you know the deadline. But make sure you’re thinking ahead! A lot of conferences want you to apply 3-6 months before the actual event so they can get their duckies in a row.
I know writers hate networking, but we still have to do it. Next time you’re at an event, conference, or reading, shake a few hands. It’s really that simple.
Yeah, I would prefer to sulk off in a corner and sip a coffee instead of interacting, but networking is something that gets your name and face in front of people. And that’s how you get known for stuff, and then eventually offered speaking gigs based off what you know.
Naturally not every networking conversation is going to lead to a speaking gig or help you climb the ladder in your industry. But it’s a good way to meet new people, and it’s how I’ve made a few writer friends in the past.
003: Creating Online Content
I am now actively using my online content to tell you to make online content.
Creating online content like blog posts, YouTube videos, and social media posts helps you share your expertise and unique perspective. It’s also a way to help others understand what you stand for and what you do.
So, if you write about a particular topic online, you will become known for it, and conference organizers can contact you to speak on that topic.
It should be noted that conference organizers aren’t generally scanning the internet to find someone who can speak to a specific topic. That’s why they have the whole application process. But if you make online content and become known for something by enough people, they can suggest conference organizers book you to speak.
If that doesn’t happen, you still have a portfolio of content to use for your speaking applications.
004: Just Doing What You Do
Similar to creating online content, just doing whatever it is you do is a way to get noticed.
Let’s say you write a particular genre and you write it well. A book conference or bookstore might contact you to speak about what it is you do.
This isn’t necessarily a quick-fix or a way to get to your destination fast. But it is a way to walk the walk so people will hire you to talk the talk.
005: Google It
There are conferences and events for everything. Depending on the event, you may be able to find speaking gigs simply by Googling a topic you’d like to talk about.
Keep in mind that it’s expensive to attend conferences, and we already talked about how a lot of these speaking gigs don’t pay. But Googling for specific types of events in specific areas can help you find a gig to apply for.
006: See Where Others Are Speaking
If you want to know how to find speaking gigs, it’s likely that you follow others in your industry who are doing some speaking. I recommend taking a look at the events they’ve spoken at and bookmarking those for later.
So, find others who do what you do. For me, as a writer, I look at other writers who write what I write and find where they’ve spoken.
I won’t always apply to those events. Again, cost is a factor and even though I’d love to travel to big cities on the coast, I can’t justify the cost if the event doesn’t pay. But still, it’s nice to see the types of events out there and mark them for later.
007: Ask for it
Sometimes all you have to do is ask.
You can make a post on social media or put a little note in your newsletters to let others know you’re interested in speaking on a particular topic and you’d love it if they recommended you to conference organizers.
It’s as simple as that.
This doesn’t always immediately work, but you’re opening doors. And I’ve found that public speaking opportunities come to those who ask for them.
How Do You Find Speaking Gigs?
What’s your favorite way to find a speaking gig? Have you ever made a post letting others know you’re available to talk? Do you have a fool-proof method for getting conference organizers to notice you?