7 practical tips to help you approach potential bookers for paid speaking gigs
If you are a good speaker, and fortunate enough to speak in front of the right audiences, every time you speak you will get new enquiries and referrals from people who have heard you speak. That’s wonderful if you have enough speaking opportunities, and of course if you are good. But what do you do if you are starting out or if you are looking to increase the number of gigs you do, or want to move into a new market?
You need to do a bit of work to get yourself some paid gigs. But how? Let’s make it practical, here are 7 tips for you to get you started. Let’s get some bookings.
- Research: Before you approach potential bookers, do your homework. Understand the type of events they organise, their target audience, and the themes or topics that are relevant. Tailor your email to them, show them that you are interested in working with them specifically by making your approach totally tailored. No automation please.
- Outreach: When reaching out, be professional and concise. Everyone is busy, so keep your email short and to the point. Bookers need to know who you are (credibility, experience, expertise), what you do (and what you talk about), and why you would be a good fit for their event (what outcome they can expect for their audience). Attach further information or a link to your website, they’ll need your bio, testimonials, speaking topics with descriptions, and video.
- Follow-up: If you haven't heard back and it’s been a couple of weeks, don't be afraid to follow up. People are busy, and emails can end up in spam. A follow-up email or call can show that you're serious about the opportunity. But don’t start it with the line “I wanted to see if you got my last email”. Make it about them not you, continue the conversation, make sure you forward the original email, don’t make them go looking and add some value rather than just asking for something. That could be an article you’ve seen, could be a tool you have, maybe send a chapter of your book etc. Give something valuable and relevant.
- Get an introduction: If you know someone who has a connection with the booker, ask if they would be willing to make an introduction. A warm lead is often more successful than a cold call or email.
- Offer a Taster Session: Now before you tell me that you’ve been told not to speak for free, this isn’t speaking for free, this is marketing, it’s a showcase. If appropriate, offer to give a shorter presentation or workshop for free so they can see you in action. It’s a particularly good tactic if you don’t yet have video footage. Make sure they know what you would normally charge and why you are waiving your fee on this occasion.
- Be Flexible: The earlier you are in your speaking career the more flexible you want to be and work with the booker's needs and requirements. If they ask for more information, provide it. If they need you to tweak your topic or presentation style, within reason of course, be open to their suggestions.
- Build a relationship: Don't just see gigs as one-offs. Build a long-term relationship with the booker. Make sure that they know you are more than just a speaker, that you are an expert who speaks and can support them in several ways after you’ve spoken. After your speaking event, follow up with a thank you note and stay in touch for future opportunities. I can honestly count on the fingers of one hand the number of handwritten thank you notes I got when I worked as an agent. I can name every person that sent one and I’ve kept them all. A personal thank you note will make you stand out. If you don’t get the gig, go back to them next time they are planning (same time the following year if an annual event, next quarter if quarterly, you get the idea) and open the discussions again.
This should get you started. If it’s not enough here are a couple of options for you.
Option 1: Join me on June 10th in London at the Professional Speaking Association event where I’ll be delivering the opening session called “Show me the money!”. You can book a place here. If you aren't a member you can attend as a guest.
Option 2: If you want to do some deep work on this with me and really go for it – let’s create a database together, set up a process for you and do some outreach together. https://www.mariafranzoni.me/practical-prospecting-one-to-one
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