Last week we discussed four tools needed to help you season your speaking skills, but where do you start if you’ve never done a speaking event before?
My recommendation is to start small in order to get some great experience. If you aren’t a seasoned speaker, you don’t want to burn any bridges by pitching yourself to an event you may not be ready for.
Here are a few ideas to consider to help you start building your platform:
Meetups: Meetups can be a great opportunity to get in front of a core group of consumers who are perfect for your message. Check for meetups that meet regularly and have more than 100 members. Why 100? You’ll get an attrition of folks who show up vs. those who are just phantom members -- people who sign up for stuff and then never go.
Regional Networking: Most of us live near several great networking organizations that are often looking for speakers. You may need to go to a few events and perhaps even join the organization before they’ll consider your speaking proposal.
Libraries: This is another great possible venue for speaking. Libraries often have packed events calendars and are always open to speaker suggestions.
Specialty Organizations: By this I mean organizations focused on your specialty. For example, in my industry there are a lot of publishing organizations spread around the country. Find something related to your industry and see if they accept speakers. Much like regional networking organizations, you may be required to join before pitching them.
Chambers of Commerce: Another great venue, especially since most are tied to small-business networking groups and meetings held as part of the chamber monthly schedule.
Do you need a speakers bureau?
Yes and no. Speakers bureaus are often keen on bringing in speakers with a track record. They don’t make money unless they can book you, so having a speaker with no prior events or training isn’t high on their list of folks to acquire. I find that many seasoned speakers are forgoing the speakers bureau and booking events themselves, which allows them to keep the booking fee.
Continue reading this article on PR Toolkit: First-Time Speaker: Tips to Build Your Speaking Platform.