Once a week I get a frustrated email from someone who is struggling to land speaking gigs.
They’ve been following the advice of pros that tell them:
- Make 10 cold calls a day
- Buy a list of names of meeting planners and snail mail them your speaker marketing materials
- Scour the association database, create a list of associations, and send them inquiry emails about speaking
And nothing. They ask me what I think they are doing wrong, and how they could improve their success. I tell them to stop with the pitch-hole tactics.
If you make enough cold calls, mail out enough speaker marketing packets, and email a ton of speaker inquiry associations, eventually the odds will be in your favor and you’ll get to one, two, or maybe even 3 yes’s if you’re lucky.
That’s going to happen only after you spend a hundred hours of uncomfortable cold call. Spend thousands on printing and mailing your speaker marketing materials. Sending out a million email inquiries.
It’s all about volume and playing the numbers.
While I admire the hustle & dedication, the real question is why are these methods absolutely ineffective for booking speaking gigs? Why do your emails go unanswered? Your calls unreturned?
Because these tactics are pitch-hole tactics.
Pitch-holes is a term I use to describe a pitch that not customized to the organization and demonstrates zero knowledge about why the organization needs your speech.
I host the Rebel Speaker Podcast. My show is a solo show, and if you just glanced at the titles of my show on iTunes, it would be clear as day that I don’t do interviews.
But I still get PITCHED for interviews about once a week. It’s a total pitch-hole move.
The point of being a speaker is not to pitch yourself a million times. The point of being a speaker is to get your speech out to the right people and to get momentum behind your message.
Yes, you’ll need to pitch yourself in the beginning. But here’s the truth that Speakers KNOW:
The more you speak, the more speaking gigs you’ll get. You’re best marketing tool as a speaker is a fantastic speech.
Let’s stop the hustle and struggle for speaking opportunities and follow this strategic approach:
1. Set a reasonable speaking goal
I’m over marketing messages like these:
- Triple your income with speaking!
- Add 7-figures to your business with speaking in 7-weeks!
- I made a million dollars speaking and so can you!
While these claims may be true, they are setting you up to feel like a failure when you’re just starting out or you’re making the transition from speaking for free to speaking for a fee.
They want you to feel like a failure so that you buy whatever program they are selling that’s your shortcut to the result their marketing promised.
Yes, while that speaker may have tripled their income, earned 6-figures in 7-weeks, or made a million dollars speakings, they’ve got something that you don’t. Years of experience.
Don’t believe the hype.
There are no overnight speaking sensations.
We all start at zero, so what’s your reasonable speaking goal?
I got an email earlier this week from a reader who said his goal was to land one paid speaking gig by the end of the year.
He’s just starting out, so that’s the PERFECT goal for him.
Action step: Pick the goal for you that’s the right goal for where you are on your speaking journey.
2. Craft the RIGHT Signature Talk that Builds Momentum for Your Message
Last week on the blog, I discussed what a signature talk is and how it helps you work smarter not harder towards your speaking goals.
A signature talk is the speech that only you can give. It positions your expertise. It packages your ideas, your story, and your experience to create a speech that your audience most needs to hear from you.
Once you’ve written this speech (and gone through a couple of rounds of revisions to perfect it), you’ll save so much time preparing for speaking gig. Every time you give this speech,
When you have a speech that your audience NEEDS to hear, you’ll find it much easier to pitch yourself, you’ll be able to charge more for that speech, and speaking gigs will start to finding their way to YOU instead of you always hustling for them.
3. Strategically PITCH Your Signature Talk
We’ve established that you don’t want to follow pitch-hole tactics. That you don’t want to spend hours of time, loads of cash, and tons of sweat equity to get zero response. So how do you go about finding speaking gigs to pitch?
Let me hit you with some statistics from Meetings & Conventions.com, they did a survey of 117 meeting professionals about how they find speakers. Here are the top 3 places they look when hiring:
- 72% find speakers based on recommendations
- 65% find speakers during events they attended (meaning they’ve seen the goods)
- 55% find them in their organization’s industry
Did you notice that cold calling and cold emails aren’t even mentioned? Me too.
The best way to find speaking gigs is to work your network. Who do you know that’s associated with organizations where you want to speak?
(From the life is stranger than fiction files: As I was writing this blog post, I got two speaking opportunities. One from a recommendation and one from friend. Yep, it’s all about the relationships folks.)
And if you don’t know anyone there, can you go attend that organization’s event and start making connections?
Make a list. Start asking around for who people know.
Then when you get the list, you can write a great pitch letter that shows you know the organization, and positions your expertise. You’ll get to yes quicker and save yourself loads of time, money, and heartache.
Stop pitching. Craft the right signature talk that gets you know for what you do then strategically pitch it to organizations where you have a relationship.
Ready to make a plan for your signature talk + write a pitch (without any of the pitch-hole tactics?)
Join me for the free Get the Speech – Get the Gig Challenge.
Ready to Book More Speaking Gigs?
The kick in the ass you need to jumpstart your speaking business with a plan and a pitch for your signature talk.
All it takes is 15-minutes a day for 5 days to get on the road to being a sought-after speaker!