My former boss Brad Lomenick blogged today about how speakers get booked at Catalyst. Great post. This happened to be the day I sent a lesson to the participants of Dream Year Books about how to land speaking engagements.
Here's my version:
1. Become known for stark, compelling ideas.
Rob Bell launched his speaking career by teaching through the book of Leviticus. Nancy Duarte masters the art of presentations. Steven Pressfield has become known for writing about the Resistance. Timothy Ferris advocates a four-hour work week. What is the one stark, compelling idea for which you can be known?
2. Work on improving your speaking ability.
Organizers book speakers for ideas. Speaking ability is secondary. But if you're going to be a presenter, make sure you're good at it. Don't just rest on your experience. Actively seek out ways to improve your abilities. Take a speaking course. Read books. Watch famous speeches. Practice your talks. Review your performance on film. Get feedback from others.
3. Treat the organizer as a client.
I know logic says that you're the client. But if you walk-in with a set of demands, you'll never get invited back. And word-of-mouth works both ways. If you surprise the organizer with a friendly, flexible and helpful relationship, you'll see more speaking opportunities unfold. Write a thank-you note afterward. Respect the allotted speaking time. Spend time with their team.
4. Have someone else nominate you.
Whenever a speaker contacts me directly, it feels desperate. I have never booked anyone who contacted me to nominate themselves. On the other hand, I've found almost all of my speakers by listening to trusted sources who nominated others. Recruit a few friends to share your availability with organizers they know.
5. Limit the language of your availability.
On your website, don't be too flagrant with your availability. State that you're "accepting two or three engagements in the fall" regardless of how many you'd like to book and provide an email address to contact you. No one wants to book a desperate speaker who is always available. Organizers want to feel like they're getting a limited edition.
6. Carry yourself with the dignity of the event.
Make sure your tweets and posts uphold the dignity of the speaking engagements you desire. Tweeting minute-by-minute commentary of television's "The Walking Dead" isn't going to land you on The Moody Conference stage. Slamming another pastor on Facebook will exempt you from Catalyst. Instagramming photos of your dinner at Applebees is okay.
7. Be a friend to the organization.
Retweet their posts. Exchange some fun banter on their blog. Send an encouraging note to the organizer. Share a copy of your book through another friend. Don't ask to speak, let them ask you. But without selling yourself, be someone who is a friend to the organization. It helps organizers to know that you think well of them before they invite you.
8. Determine what will undermine your speaking career.
Decide whether you'll speak at break-outs. How much you'll accept for a speaking fee. Minimum crowd size. If you let other people determine these factors, your value will rest in their hands. Make a list of the factors that must be in place for you to accept an engagement because everything communicates.