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As trainers, people expect us to feel confident about getting up in front of an audience, but I often find that this confidence depends on context. How you feel in front of a small room of trainees or one-to-one may be completely different to standing up in front of a conference room full of people.
If you’re happy with your current business model this may not be a problem for you, but if you’d like to level-up your training business by working with larger groups, then you may be wanting to develop your public speaking skills in front of a larger audience.
Public speaking gigs can also be a great way to boost your reputation, authority and credibility, and become the ‘go to’ person for insights into your industry. Paid public speaking engagements can also be very lucrative, but many speaking opportunities are unpaid because speakers come for the free exposure and new contacts.
Of course, the question remains: how do you find public speaking opportunities that are the right fit for you and your training business?
My advice is to contact places/organisations where opportunities are most likely to exist. This might be:
- local business networking groups, e.g. Chamber of Commerce
- colleges and universities
- local not-for-profit groups, such as a Rotary Club or a Women’s Institute (WI) group
- special interest groups
Business networking groups are always on the lookout for good speakers. Plus, the groups are attended by representatives from other businesses who may host their own events or need speakers in the future. If you make a good impression at one event, it could lead to more speaking engagements in the weeks, months or even years ahead.
As well as asking if these organisations are looking for speakers, you can also ask if anyone else in their network might be looking for a speaker with your expertise and request an introduction.
You should be clear about the benefits you would bring as a public speaker, so that the organisation can see why they should engage you to speak. Offer to meet with the event organiser beforehand and show them how your presentation is unique or what people will be able to take away from it and implement.
Use your network
While your clients and contacts within your industry may not be looking for a public speaker, they may know someone who is. It’s perfectly acceptable to reach out to your network and ask if they ever use public speakers and how they find them, although – as I discussed in my recent blog about LinkedIn – do make sure that you have a good relationship with your contact first, instead of asking for a favour out of the blue.
Look to your fellow trainers
You could also try asking your fellow trainers what events they’ve spoken at, and contact the same organisations. You could even agree to share information about opportunities with other speakers in your network, so that you benefit from your combined networks.
Keep an eye on local business publications
Another handy tip is to subscribe to your local business publications, as many of these contain an events section with information about forthcoming events. While it might be too late to secure a speaking engagement at the most immediate event, you could contact the organisers and express your interest in speaking at the next event.
Check out online conference directories, planners and venues
There is a wide range of online conference directories featuring details of event organisers, venues and much more. These can be a mine of information when looking for potential speaking opportunities. I would also recommend using the Twitter search facility and websites such as socialmention.com to search for people talking about conferences they’ve attended, spoken at or are planning to attend.
If you are booked as a speaker at an event, think about ways that you can add value. You could have someone record your talk and then send the link to everyone who attended so they can review your advice. Or you could set up a table with your marketing brochure, details about your training programmes and a booking form if someone wants to book you for another speaking engagement. Alternatively, you might agree to run a workshop after you speak to give people a chance to discuss what you talked about in more detail.