How To Turn One Speaking Gig into an Endless Flow
By Arvee Robinson
I’ve been teaching public speaking for more than thirty years and I have come up with 10 ways on how to turn one speaking engagement into hundreds. When you use these tips, you will have an endless flow of speaking engagements.
The number one challenge for speakers after being trained is getting their next speaking engagement. You might find that you’re much more comfortable standing up and sharing a message to the world, than picking up the phone and asking for a speaking engagement. You’re not alone.
Over the years I’ve learned a strategy to turn one speaking engagement into an endless flow. This is not a step-by-step strategy–use any combination or every single one.
Let’s assume that you have already secured a speaking engagement
1. Ask at the time that you are negotiating or discussing your topic.
When you talk to someone about your topic and they agree that they want you to speak, they will usually let you know up front that they do not offer a fee. Most organizations and networking groups do not pay their speakers. The ones that do pay are conferences and corporations. If you hear “annual conference” you can assume that it is a paid gig.
When you are negotiating your speaking engagement, some organizations will offer a small honorarium of up to $250. At that time, you can let them know that you will take the honorarium or speak for free if they will be willing to do something for you.
They will say, “Yes, of course. What is it?” This is when you say, “Will you give me two referrals to speak at other places?”
In other words, you ask them if they know of anybody who is looking for a speaker and will they refer you? Most people will. Most group leaders can refer you to their corporation and open that door, or maybe their sister or brother chapter of whatever organization it is.
Let’s say they’re the president of the Rotary, which is an international organization. You might go for that golden ring and ask to speak at their international conference, but that might be a big leap for you. Instead, ask them for an introduction to the Rotary in the next city over. That’s an easy “can do” thing that they can agree to on the spot.
The key here is that when you are negotiating on the phone be sure to ask them to give you two referrals to other speaking opportunities.
2. Ask for referrals in your close.
When you are speaking from the stage use this secret weapon. Before your close where you would do a Q&A, instead say, “I know you have a lot of questions and I want to answer them. I’m going to be in the back of the room or I’m going to stand right here, come and talk to me.” [Please note: I do not recommend doing a Q&A in your speech since this is an old model and unproductive.]
Whether you ask for questions or not, you can use this script by itself or you can tag it on to your statement, “if you have any questions . . .” This is the script:
“I know you probably have a lot of questions and I really want to answer them. Also, I’m looking for speaking engagements, so I want to ask you a question and that is, do you know of anybody looking for speakers? If you do, whether you have a question or you have an answer to my question, please come and see me in the back of the room (Or ‘come and see me right here.’)”
Voilá! They’re going to see you and you’ll get twice the referrals. You’re going to get people that are looking for you to speak or they’re going to be asking you questions. This is a guaranteed method. I use it all the time.
Do you get a new speaking engagement every single time? Not always, but guess what, I just did this recently to a group of realtors and a man from Chase Bank asked me to speak at his regional conference. Because it is a large company, I assume that I’m going to get paid. He asked what is my speaking fee. I told him and he said it was too high. I said, “Well, let’s talk about it. Let’s negotiate. I’ll take your fee if I can do XYZ.”
In other words, I asked him if I could gather the business cards, sell from the stage or at least have a booth to sell my products. If I can, I will reduce my fee. This is always something you can do when you’re negotiating fees.
3. If you don’t get a referral, do it yourself.
What if they don’t give you a referral? If you’re speaking at an organization with several chapters, you can always call the other chapters and ask. Here’s how you do it:
“I just got done speaking at _______ meeting last Thursday and my topic was X and I was wondering if you would like me to come and speak at your chapter?”
This group paid a small honorarium and I got 4 or 5 engagements from it. I built my database and sold some products. Don’t be afraid. It’s easier to pick up the phone when it’s a warm call. You can go on the Internet, find the other organizations, and call them up. For the most part, the leaders of these organizations have a day job or are consultants or coaches. If something comes along that they don’t have to search for a speaker, they just love it when one just drops into their lap. You’d be surprised.
Don’t be afraid to call and say, “I spoke at Bob’s chapter and we really had a good time. I gave a lot of value and the group was great. There were about 50-60 people there and I was wondering if you would like me to speak to your group.” (This gives you instant credibility.)
4. Talk to any COI (Center of influence).
Talk to people that you might deal with or is a connector, which is anybody that you know who is a mover and a shaker. We all have someone like that in our lives. You know the type. They can just walk up to somebody, build instant rapport, and make a business deal. We might not be that person, but we all know one.
See who they know in what places that can get you in as a speaker. I just talked to one today and said, “Hey, I’m looking for speaking engagements, and if you know of a place or organization that I can add value to, let me know.” Next thing I know this guy put me in touch with a woman who is putting on a convention.
What do connectors get out of it? They get a sense of pride that they have connected people. They love to be that ambassador. What do we do? We talk positively about them and never forget. When something comes up for them, we remember.
5. Talk to other promoters who put on events.
People are putting on events every single week. Talk to the promoters. Ask them how you can help. How do you get in touch with them?
One thing you don’t want to do is call them up out of the blue, or worse email them your one-sheet and tell them you want to speak at their conference, seminar or whatever. It’s rude. Promoters don’t like it. They think: Who are you? Why in the world would I put you on my stage, I don’t even know you. I’ve never heard you speak. I don’t even know if you’re trained. That’s not the right approach. You can call up event organizers, because typically they’re not speakers and have weekly or monthly meetings. Usually there are lots of slots available.
However, a promoter of a three-day event that has taken them a year to put on or a one-day event that has taken them substantial time and money to put on, should be handled differently. It’s not impossible to get in there, but you must do it right.
Here’s how you do it. This is something that takes time. You go to the event first. You pay some money. You see what the event is like so you can have a decent conversation with them, but also to see if your stuff is a fit.
I know I say speak to anybody who will listen, get on any stage you can, but really it has to be a fit or it’s not going to work for the promoter and it’s not going to work for you. Now in organizations, business organization or meet-ups, almost any topic will do, but when it’s a three-day event, it usually has to fit in the theme.
A few years ago, a woman came to my 1-day event and then she invited me to speak at her event. She had a 2-day event, but it was all about healers and hypnotists. Even though this isn’t my target market I would have done it, but then she put me on at 6:30 in the evening, not on the main stage but in this big hall, and then wanted me to pay to get in. That wasn’t a good fit for either one of us.
One of my clients went through my 4-day Speaker Training. She set two goals. One was that she was going to speak on my Speak Your Way to Wealth stage, and the other was that she was going to speak at the Raw Food Festival.
She was smart. She came to my event and was of service. She saw what it was like. She gave me a great testimonial. Guess what? The next year, she spoke on my stage. She also stayed in contact with me. That’s something else you need to do. You can’t just love them and leave them. It doesn’t work. You’ve got to constantly stay on their radar, build that relationship, and then when it comes time for them to pick their speakers, voilá, there you are.
She did it right. She went to the Raw Food Festival and saw what it was like. She started to be of service, talking to the speakers, asking them how to be one of the speakers, who to talk to, and then talking to the right person.
Some organizations will not let you speak unless you’re actually a member of that organization. When you know that, it’s easy. You can become a member. See the lay of the land. Start talking to the director of the group and eventually you’ll be put on as a speaker. It’s really not that hard. All you need to do is to get started. Just get that first speaking engagement.
6. Talk to your own mentors and coaches.
Talk to your own mentors and coaches. I hope you see me as your mentor. Anybody who goes through my 4-day Speaker Training has a good shot at speaking on my stage. But, you have to stay in the conversation with me. You have to tell me how you’re out there speaking. One of my clients came through the speaker training. I saw him speak on one of his other mentors stages, so I invited him to speak on my stage. That’s how I got started. I had two mentors and each of them let me speak on their stage—some multiple times.
Go to your coaches and mentors. They already know you. They know what you’re capable of. It doesn’t have to be a speaking mentor to get on their stage. It could be a mentor who’s a graphic artist or someone in financial services. Everybody does some sort of an event, teleclass or seminar. So go to them, work with them. See what kind of stages they might have where you can speak.
7. Follow your money.
Who gets your money? Besides your mentors and coaches, think of the other people who receive money from you. Maybe you give money to your church. Why aren’t you going back there and asking them if you can speak?
Never ask for a speaking engagement by email. Promise me! Here’s why. Email and texts don’t accurately convey your intent. We’ve all been guilty of this. Sometimes we write our email too fast or we’re not putting enough smiley faces in it. It’s very difficult to send love through email or texts. Some people do it well, but the average person has a problem sharing their love and compassion with text and email.
Call them or talk to them face-to face. It is always better to have a face-to-face appointment. I make a rule that when someone introduces me on the phone; I like to sit down and talk with them, especially if it’s a paid gig or something bigger. I want them to meet me. I want to meet them. I want to cement the deal.
How about churches, schools, or charities as speaking venues? How about your banker or real estate person? How about your hairdresser? Hairdressers know everybody. Also think about the products that you buy. What about some of the network marketing companies that you’re doing business with and buy their beauty products or sports drink, whatever it might be.
Wherever your money is going, ask those people. If it’s a product you buy, they have a convention. If it’s your phone service, they have a convention. Everybody has an annual convention. Nurture that relationship and then ask those people whom you’re buying from whether or not they have an annual convention. Some have regional conventions.
That’s how this works. All these ideas work provided that you’re well trained, exciting, and an inspirational speaker. If you’re a boring speaker, they won’t recommend you. Get training from me and you will learn how to excite your audience.
8. Nurture all relationships over time.
I recently spoke in Las Vegas at a beauty convention. Conventions or conferences pay their speakers. We had to negotiate, and I didn’t get exactly what I wanted, but I got a nice fee. My expenses were paid, and hotel, etc. The people, who put on the conference, didn’t know me. The way I got this gig was that I’ve been buying my skin products from one of my clients for over a year. She also came to my events, and she put my name in the hat with her company.
Now, if I hadn’t already been using the product, what is the likelihood of them hiring me? Even though they loved my topic, not as likely. The fact that I was using it, the fact that I knew one of their founding members, helped my chances. It takes time. Don’t give up. Nurture those relationships, and when the time comes it will happen.
Here is another way that you can negotiate a gig. This is a gold nugget on how you can get a gig. Be looking for those kinds of relationships. Who do you give money to, and who gives it back to you? This is powerful stuff. For example, I was sitting next to my friend, who is also my financial advisor. I use her services and she comes to my events. She told me about a leadership conference, and that maybe I could be one of the speakers.
I said, “This is really fantastic, Mary, and I would love to be part of it, but are the speakers you already have going to promote it? It’s one thing to have speakers, but it’s another to get cheeks in the seat. At your last business event you only got 35 people and you wanted 200. I do events all the time. I have 15,000 in my list and most of them are in this area. I would love to speak and help you promote it.”
Next thing I know she puts me on the committee. If I’m on the committee, what is the likelihood that I’ll be a speaker? Pretty good because I’m not going to be on the committee and not be a speaker.
The point I’m trying to make is to build your list and come with something to offer. That list and promotion is like gold. Too many speakers want to speak and not help promote. Too many speakers say they’re going to promote and then don’t.
I’m a promoter, so I always promote. Recently I agreed to speak for a group of ladies who were putting on a brand new event. They already had 3 speakers, including me. Three days before the event, the leader calls me up and says they only have 10 people signed up and if I don’t want to speak, she’ll understand. I said, “Let’s not focus on what you don’t have; let’s focus on what we need to get.”
I said, “Here’s what you need to do. Create another email and say the event is free for my people and for your other speakers. Each of the speakers gets to bring so many people for free.”
She did that. I got 10 people in the room. The other two speakers didn’t. They thought it was too late so they didn’t want to promote it. As a big bonus, all those who came got three nights at the hotel and spa for free because they had already bought a room block and paid for it. It was a steal of a deal.
Look for those kinds of opportunities. Be of service to those who are promoting. Why did I do that for her? I did it because she wasn’t a stranger to me. We had a relationship. I wanted to help her. She was one of my clients, and I’m in a sense one of hers, and see how it went both ways. Look for that kind of synergy in your relationships.
9. Join your local Chamber and get involved
Get involved with your local Chamber of Commerce as an ambassador or a board member. Get on the membership committee, get on any committee you can, so you can see what is going on. You can suggest putting on an event. My Chamber is putting on a Women’s Leadership event.
10. Create your own stage. Host your own event or collaborate with others.
Eventually if you want to make a big impact on people and if you want to make more money and more sales, then you need to create your own workshop. When you can get somebody into your own workshop and have them for 2-3 days, you can teach them and lead them into making real transformation, one that will lead to permanent change. You can create those break downs that will lead to breakthroughs—the beginning of true transformation.
Here’s the warning. Do not think for a minute that you need to run right off and do an event. If you do not have a list, do not do an event. If your list is under a thousand people, sorry but it is not a list. A list of 250 people won’t get anything.
Think of it this way: If it is a free event, your list will get 1%. If you have a list of 800, even though it sounds like a big list, it’s not. On a free event that’s 1% of your list, which means 8 people will sign up, and only 40% of them will show up. That means maybe 3 people. Are you going to book a hotel, pay all that money and take all that time for three people? No.
I went to one of my client’s event and there were only two people there. I asked him what happened. He said that he collaborated with a guy who was supposed to promote it. When you collaborate with someone and they say they will bring in the people, do not depend on that. It is half your event and you are responsible to bring half of the people there.
I learned this lesson at a very early age. I was probably 17. During the summer, my girlfriend and I were going to put on a party. Whoo-hoo! It was just going to be a fun party with Coca Cola and punch. I was to bring the guys and she was to invite the girls. Guess what, we were the only two girls at our party.
We should have enjoyed it, but instead we started calling all our girlfriends! At an early age, I learned that you do not depend on someone else to fill your event or promote your event. Ever! If you’re involved in it, you share 50% of the responsibility of the promotion and 50% of the cost of the event. And that’s the only way it goes.
When I collaborate with someone, whoever brings the most people, has less of the expense. If I brought 75% of the people and they brought 25%, then they have to pay 75% of the expenses and I pay 25%. There are different ways you can negotiate. The key is you want to get in front of people any time you can and creating your own event is the way to do this.
That’s ten ideas that you can use to turn that one speaking engagement into an endless flow of clients.
Arvee Robinson is The Master Speaker Trainer, International Speaker and Author. She teaches business owners, service professionals, and entrepreneurs how to use public speaking as a marketing strategy to attract more clients, generate unlimited leads and grow their businesses effortlessly. She teaches a proven speaker system for delivering persuasive presentations, and easy formulas for creating killer elevator speeches and magnetic self-introductions. Arvee has helped hundreds of individuals win clients and close more sales every time they speak. She offers private coaching, workshops, and weekly teleclasses. Her programs will make you money for the rest of your life.
For more public speaking tips go to: http://www.ArveeRobinson.com