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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.

Ben Arment helps people launch great things. He’s the founder of Dream Year, The Whiteboard Sessions, and STORY in Chicago, and he also wrote a book called Church in the Making. He and his wife Ainsley live in Virginia Beach and have three cowboys, Wyatt, Dylan & Cody.

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John E Miller

commented on Nov 13, 2012

This advocates naked human ambition. The first two words, "Rob Bell" give the game away. "Landing Speaking Engagements" is a not the desire of a man of God, but the hunger for adulation and publicity that resides in the unregenerate, sinful human heart.

John E Miller

commented on Nov 13, 2012

Let me add one more thought to my previous post; this article is godless in its content.

Michael Wynn

commented on Nov 13, 2012

Moses wanted to land a speaking engagement with Pharoah, Elijah had a word for King Ahab and the Apostle Paul knew he was to preach the gospel in Rome. As a man that feels like at times he has something to say, I appreciate any advice on how to get there. Thanks Ben for putting it out there.

Arch Fisher

commented on Nov 13, 2012

I agree with John on this one however, each of the points can be turned to speak about preaching to a congregation.

C Jury

commented on Nov 13, 2012

Great article. I sensed Ben was sharing for pastors who want to expand the Kingdom of God. Thank you for the article and your heart to promote God not people.

Dean Johnson

commented on Nov 13, 2012

I've never instagrammed a photo of my dinner at Applebee's. Will this hurt me in landing speaking engagements?

John E Miller

commented on Nov 13, 2012

Be honest please! This article has absolutely nothing to do with preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the message of the cross. It is about self-seeking, self-promotion and self exaltation.

Colin Webster

commented on Nov 13, 2012

I'm sorry sermon-central, but this smacks of man-central methods not God given opportunities and it should be removed. Deeply disappointed by the 'methods' suggested to get yourself noted. God's word by God's power is sufficient- Whatever happened to the words of James "my Brothers not many of you should presume to be teachers..." some people should not be teachers and they should accept that rather than employ 'methods' to get themselves noticed. Disappointing.

David Nuhfer

commented on Nov 13, 2012

There are some articles here that are great and some that are not so good. Then, there are ones like this one that just make me scratch my head.

Andrew Shields

commented on Nov 13, 2012

There is good in this article, but I see why the critiques are here. We should speak outside our pulpit, but what is this about minimum crowd size and asking for money, if these were considerations for me I would not be at my ministry location. I hope we are known for and our big idea is radical discipleship/love. The author should have made some attempt at making scriptural references, because there are some that would work.

Dennis Campbell

commented on Nov 13, 2012

Another push for the commercialization of the gospel? Crass self-promotion. But then there's no mention of God or gospel. Perhaps this is not intended for preachers, even though on SermonCentral.

Rev. John

commented on Nov 13, 2012

What a great article on the "business" of the Kingdom of God. This will surely glorify God and not yourself. Great Job, Ben Arment in further commercializing the gospel! Keep it up.

David Gee

commented on Nov 13, 2012

The attitude displayed in this article is exactly the way that much of the world views the church.....as a business!

Dennis Cocks

commented on Nov 13, 2012

Absolutely disgusting!!!!! How in the world can this even be considered Christlike?

David Croyle

commented on Nov 13, 2012

Whether or not you consider the article "spiritually based" or not, the author made dome great points. I have had very "spiritual" guest speakers that can't read the clock or feel they are so inspired they can ignore it. When a guest speaker or musical group will not respect the culture of our church family and keep their presentation within the time allotted, I never have them back. I have spoken in conferences for as little as 5 minutes and had people respond to an alter call. The reason for 5 min? Because other speakers overshot their time. Very good point Ben.

Bill Williams

commented on Nov 13, 2012

Yeah, I'm going to have to side with the consensus on this one (which should put the rest these silly notions that I like to play "devil's advocate" or that I just automatically defend any author or article that is being attacked by the "conservatives"!). I'm sure the author was well-intentioned, and the article is not completely without merit, as some of the points could be adapted to the local puplit ministry, or how to be a good guest speaker. But the overall tenor of the article as well as its underlying assumptions just seem to smack too much of self-promotion. I have nothing against ocassionally serving as a guest speaker. Our pastor does so about two or three times a year. But he is always invited. He never goes looking for an invitation (nor does he have someone looking for him, as suggested in the article!). He told me one time, "I just focus on preaching God's word, and let God focus on where he wants me to preach it."

K. Edward Skidmore

commented on Nov 13, 2012

Not being one who speaks often outside my own congregation, I found certain parts of the article useful in case those opportunities to speak elsewhere should increase. Like eating a plate of food, I can pick the good parts and leave the rest behind. Overall, I found it useful.

Ken Stanley

commented on Nov 13, 2012

For the ones that have posted they disagree with the article, I agree with them. That is, from the standpoint of using the suggested to "open doors" and "get noticed". Keep in mind that the title of the article is "How to Land Speaking Engagements". From me, a speaking engagement is not the same as preaching. They both have very different priorities, perspectives, and purspose. Not the article I would have chosen to post; but I wasn't asked! 8^)

Rodney Bevan

commented on Nov 13, 2012

Oh dear. I am now a little wiser when it comes to recognising the professional speaker.

Toni M Grimm

commented on Nov 13, 2012

I know that I'm new to speaking and or preaching, but their are two sides to church and since I have been on both sides I don't understand why everyone is going on symantics, if you are a preacher that happens to do alot of preacing engagements then use it for a congretation he was just giving helpful tips. I have spoke a few times and iappreciate the points than Ben supplied. I don't thinkthat he was speaking ona preaching base, but if he was so what take what you canuse and move on stop nit-picky.

Dennis Cocks

commented on Nov 13, 2012

Hey Bill, welcome to the "dark side." : )

Chad Eddy

commented on Nov 14, 2012

I don't see why anyone who doesn't want to "Land Speaking Engagements" would read, much less spend the time commenting on, an article on "How To Land Speaking Engagements". How do your counter arguments "preach the Gospel of Christ", "expand the Kingdom of God" or amount to anything but "godless content"? Spend your time reading things that inspire you, and don't squander it shooting down others.

Bill Williams

commented on Nov 14, 2012

@Dennis, thanks for the welcome! :) I knew that if I hung around here long enough eventually we'd find some common ground! @Chad, I can't speak for anyone other than myself, but the purpose of my comment wasn't to shoot anyone down. It was simply an observation about my perception of the tenor of the article as a whole. I did concede that there were positive points made that could be profitably adapted. For example, I think it's a good idea that the content of one's communication on social media reflect the dignity required of a preacher of God's word. However, the overall assumptions seemed to me to smack too much of self-promotion. Let me give you an example: the author states that contacting an organizer directly comes off as desperate. His solution is to have friends nominate you to organizers they know. Well, that may appear better to the organizer, but to me it just seems like saying, "I don't like to brag...so I have other people brag for me." Like I said, that's my perception. Obviously yours is different. That's fine. But my comments critiquing the article have as much right on this board as your comments in defense of it. Let's allow both points of view a fair hearing.

Colin Webster

commented on Nov 15, 2012

Ben, you must have read the comments about your article. Would you be willing to at least retract or clarify (if people have completely misunderstood you) any points in your article? I think this would be helpful. Thanks. If Ben will not say something then will anyone on the leadership of sermoncentral comment please?

Sonny Thomas, Sr.

commented on Nov 15, 2012

It has been attributed to John Wesley and we would do well to take note, "Catch on fire with enthusiasm and people will come for miles to watch you burn." When the speaker has decreased and Christ has increased, there will be no lack for speaking engagements. I find the article lacking any Biblical merit and not one that should promoted by this site.

Chaplain Shawn Kennedy

commented on Nov 15, 2012

The title says "How to Land Speaking Engagements". If that didn't tip you off as to the content, then you are at fault. Perhaps this is aimed at part-time ministers or consultants. Whatever it is, after all the pompous, self righteous indignation that has been stated, they should change the name to "Better Bitching Update".

Bill Williams

commented on Nov 16, 2012

@Chaplain Shawn, I appreciate your perspective, but with all due respect, I feel you are being unfair. You neither addressed any merits of the article itself (which I did, by the way), nor did you address any of the specific critiques that have been made. You simply made a blanket accusation that the critiques were nothing more than "pompous, self-righteous indignation." Well, I can only speak for myself, but I think you are wrong in your assessment of my comments. I offered a specific example from the article where, in my opinion, it leans towards self-promotion. Could you please grant me the courtesy of showing me how my comments in that example are pompous, self-righteous indignation? Thank you.

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