Tuesday, February 24th, 2009 - 9:33am
Getting Speaking Gigs
Every once in a while a friend asks me a question about speaking. The other day Anton Peck and I chatted about speaking gigs and I thought it might be a good idea to put some thoughts together that were specific to Anton, but done in such a way that they might apply to everyone that is interested in looking at getting more speaking gigs.
You are great at something. Speak about that. I don’t mean just “good” either — this is your chance to figure out what you do BEST. For Anton, I suggested he talk about his illustration. Anton’s digital artwork is stunning (I’ve actually hired him before to do illustration work for some of my presentations). He’d be smart to start there.
Pitch the practical. In almost all cases, a person wants to come away from a talk with things that they can use right away. For Anton, I suggested he talk about his illustration with a hands-on bent. I think the hands-on is an important piece of this when you’re starting out — a common concern for conference and event organizers is ensuring that audiences get enough of the practical techniques that they crave.
Be proactive and approach people before they approach you. This is a fact of life as a “new” speaker. Being a known speaker has a huge advantage because it is harder to get a speaking gig if you don’t have experience and if you don’t have experience… well, you know how that goes. So, go out and hunt them down.
Seek and ye shall find. Search engines are key — look up those keywords and find conferences that fit the bill. For Anton we searched for Hands-on illustrator workshops and hands-on illustrator conference and could easily expand to include the phrases how to, demonstration, speaking. The point? It isn’t that hard to find places if you know how to use Google.
Find speaker related sites. Sites like SpeakerSite or the freshly launched SpeakerRate are filled with other speakers. And where there are speakers, there are conferences and organizers. SlideShare is a great starting point as well — a quick search there will help you find people and conferences that are related to the topics you have identified that you want to speak about. Once you’ve identified those, go hunt them down.
You must choose wisely. Pick the right conferences. Looking at Anton’s logical topic choice — hands-on illustration, focused on technique — he needs to target specific types of conferences. Off the top of my head I could think of two conferences that would be a great fit: TODCon and Adobe MAX . TODCon is a smaller conference that alternates between Orlando and Las Vegas with a focus on practical how-to sessions. MAX is the pinnacle of how-to sessions for Adobe products. They aren’t all how-to/demonstrations, but a large portion is and this would be a perfect match for Anton.
Get an introduction. The next step, of course, is to get Anton an introduction to the right people at those conferences. I’ll be introducing Anton to my contacts for both TODCon and MAX so that he can get on their radar.
Tell it like it is: You have to tell people that you’re looking for speaking gigs. Much like Anton did to me :) Who should you tell? Everyone of course, but I’d focus on friends and clients as a starting point.
Have other suggestions? Things that worked for you? Would love to hear them in the comments!