You may notice the tiny life-like orange speck on-stage in the distance wildly waving her arms. That’s me, addressing an audience of over 200 CEOs from around the United States. As a keynote speaker, I’m happy to share advice with you if you’re serious about wanting to captivate audiences.
So first ask yourself: do you have an impactful message to deliver and one worthy of sharing? Some speakers fixate on their personal agendas which is commonly about selling a product or service. There’s nothing improper with that except that you’ll lose your audience in a flash. Today’s audiences demand objective communication and honest content with authenticity (just like writing on Medium!). Only when you can sincerely develop a passionate message will you attract the speaking gigs you want.
You also need to be creative in soliciting your audiences. For instance, I’m interested in getting in front of meeting planners who bring national conferences and major corporate groups to my area. (I’m fortunate to live in a highly-desirable tourist destination. My intention is to travel less and speak more. With this approach, I can reach bigger audiences and make more money with less wear and tear on myself.) As a Personal Development Coach, my messages are about wellness, providing cutting-edge strategies to reduce stress, anxiety and improve productivity and performance. So I vary my approach to cast a bigger net. (It does help that I used to own an advertising agency so I have a wealth of marketing experience.) I created a presentation about booming trends in wellness tourism and offered it to a local county association focused on travel and tourism. I promptly got recommended to speak to a national group of meeting planners on this topic. Even more to the point, I didn’t have to travel very far and got paid handsomely. Now that may be way too specific for you.
So you need to determine where you wish to invest your energies. You may have a completely different focus. Let me offer some fundamental advice on how to achieve your business or personal mission as a speaker to cultivate the right stages:
1. Hone your message.
Start by developing one key topic and be prepared to vividly explain why you are a uniquely qualified expert to speak on this subject. Be concise and trustworthy. If you’re floundering on knowing what’s right for you, work on distilling your message down to a sentence or two and why it’s important. This will help you create concentration and precision. Begin by testing it out and get some recognition as an expert in your area (refer to #3).
2. Know your target.
If you understand the audience you are best at reaching, it will help you develop a better presentation. It will also become easier to identify leads to groups that will most probably be interested. For instance, if you’re a juniors’ sports coach, you’ll want to reach out to sports organizers, parents groups, maybe even after-school groups. If your work is to help women be successful, you’ll want to network within women’s groups and business organizations or technical societies that focus on women.
3. Reach out in a way that’s true to your message.
Staying on point and on message, you can spread awareness about you and your offerings by using social media. Produce a video and upload it to Youtube. Write articles for magazines, newspapers, online platforms (like Medium). Create a blog and a newsletter that you can persistently be in contact with clients, potential prospects and promote speaking opportunities. For example, in every one of my e-news blasts, I always have a single line that asks “Need a speaker for your organization?” with a link to my website’s Speaker’s Page. In fact, it’s important to develop a dedicated page on your website with details about you and your speaking topics, preferably with video samples.
4. Get creative.
Gigs don’t just appear on your virtual doorstep. You need to develop a strong foundation to ready yourself and go after opportunities. Re-purpose your message in unusual ways to expand the likely reach. Align with hot topics that are pertinent to your target and come up with powerful names for your presentations. There are free apps that can help you evaluate the quality of your headlines.
A few other important skills you’ll want to develop is persistence, tenacity and resilience. In my early days as a journalist in New York City, I used to send out tons of proposals to magazines and newspapers and got rejected more times than I got accepted. But the experience taught me that it takes perseverance and it’s not for the weak of heart. Rejection is part of the process and it just signals that you need to increase the number of solicitations. If you are seriously confident about your message, never give up. There’s an audience waiting to hear you!
Thank you for reading.
Originally published at www.peggysealfon.com.