If you want to be a speaker, this is the proverbial question.
You’ve honed up your speaking skills. You’ve carefully crafted a talk that inspires change. But now where do you give that talk?
Several organizations are often eager to have speakers, foremost among them Stonecroft Christian Women’s Clubs and MOPS groups. If you’re male, and you want to speak, I would personally start at men’s prayer breakfasts.
These organizations don’t really pay. You’re lucky if you get $50. But what you do get is exposure.
So I encourage you to seek out the MOPS groups (Mothers of Preschoolers) or the Christian Women’s Clubs in your area. MOPS are obviously looking for parenting & marriage topics; Christian Women’s Clubs are looking for testimonies with a salvation message. If you attend a few meetings you’ll get a feel for it, and then you can approach the organizer.
In some communities these clubs may not work. There could be barriers to entry, or they just may not be open to outside speakers as easily. But the idea is the same: locate some groups that meet regularly but don’t have a large budget for speakers. Churches or summer camps are also good for this sort of thing, especially around the holidays, when many host outreaches or special events.
What you don’t want to do, though, is to give an amazing talk, and then still have no bookings. So here is how to turn these smaller engagements into future larger engagements.
1. Make Sure They Know How To Contact You
This isn’t as hard as it sounds. Printing business cards is fairly inexpensive, and can often be done for about $50 with black and white cards. You can seek out local printers for this, or even online printers like vista. Have your email and your phone number, and a tagline that clearly states what you do: “Pointing Women to Christ”, “Speaking with Passion”, or whatever.
If you don’t want to invest the $50, another option is to have a draw during the event for some sort of prize. You can make up a beautiful gift basket that looks expensive but isn’t by buying a basket from a thrift store, and filling it with color coordinated bathroom items, or notebooks, pens, a tin of coffee, or whatever. Shop at your dollar store and see what you can come up with. Wrap with cellophane, tie a large bow, and it will look like it cost you $50, although you can easily fill a basket for $20. The key is color coordination!
Once you’ve done that, hand out paper for people to enter your draw. Ask for their name, their church (if they have one), and then have a line on there for “Do you know of other organizations looking for speakers?” And ask them to list them, with a contact name, if possible. Many women are happy to list their women’s ministry at their church. You may also get other leads.
Finally, ask them for their own email addresses if they want to hear about your future speaking engagements. DON’T SKIP THIS STEP! Sometimes someone may hear you speak, love you, but have no idea how to get in touch with you again. If you collect their email addresses and send out a newsletter once a month, with inspirational sayings and your itinerary, they can just reply to it. Now they have your contact information!
Fold the pieces of paper and pull one for the basket!
To distribute the ballots, the easiest thing is to lay them on chairs before the event begins. If the organizers are reluctant to have you do this, you can always ask for a table that you can stand behind with your basket and several of the papers across it, with pens. Certainly some will complete the ballots!
2. Record your talk
Now people can get a hold of you, and you have some leads. But you won’t be able to turn those leads into real, paying engagements unless people have a chance to hear you. So as you’re doing these early talks, record them. Often churches have this capability, but if not, a digital recorder is under $100 and is quite easy to use.
You can then edit your audio (more on that in a future blog post) to make yourself sound as professional and polished as possible.
If you have the chance to be videotaped, even better! You can post clips on YouTube of your talks, and then direct people there. You don’t even have to have your own website at this point!
Here, for instance, is how I put up a clip of a talk I gave, clearly telling people how to contact me. You can also just have an email address at the end if you don’t have a website yet. But blogs are free, so at least start one of those!
I hope that helps you get started. More ideas soon, but in the meantime, I want to start expanding my blog roll. Do you have a blog specifically for speakers or authors? Let me know, or leave it in the comments!
I’m going to answer some specific questions in upcoming posts, including one on how I started, and one on speaking bureaus. So come back soon! And if you want to be kept informed when I have more resources available, or when a particularly good post is up, just sign up here!