The Real (UNapologetic) Reasons You’re Not Getting Booked To Speak

They are the Holy Grail for Speakers (present and future).

Speaking gigs - engagements, and opportunities to speak on stages.

They are an obsession for many and a way to  - and the number of them speakers can book have become EVERYTHING.

They've become the driver and the measure by which speakers assess themselves and each other, and it's a shame and wholly misguided.

I’ve been on a mission to reveal the unapologetic truth about the speaking industry to up and coming speakers so that they can better position and prepare themselves for success.


Unapologetic truth #1

You’re spending far too much time thinking about yourself and what you want, when the truth is, success in the speaking industry has far less to do with you than you are giving yourself credit for.

The biggest mistake speakers make is to put the focus on themselves. It begins with the obsession to get booked.

I am consistently astounded by the way speakers interact out in the wild.

Picture it. A networking event. Everyone is doing the normal pre-event meet-and-greet. I reveal that I work with speakers, or make some mention of working with TEDx speakers. I’m cut off mid-sentence with, “Oh wow! I’m a speaker! I’d love to speak you know anyone looking?”

The above scenario has happened at events, the gym, and even in elevators.

The problem? Think about it. Yes, you are a speaker. Yes, you have a unique perspective to add to the world. Strangers (your cold or barely warm contacts) are not likely to be interested in becoming your booking agent without knowing anything about you. And besides that, booking agents, aren’t really a thing in the professional speaking world, unless you’re a celebrity.

And yet, the entire focus and obsession is on speaking engagements.

Think about it. Let’s say I run an event (which I do), and I meet you (out in the wild), and instead of pitching yourself for speaking opportunities the moment you find out I’m connected to the speaking industry, you share what you’re up to, what you believe, and what you’re creating for the world.

Now, I’m interested. Now, I’m connecting the dots in my head and am more willing and likely to make an introduction, or extend an invitation to you.

Instead of being focused on the fact that you are a speaker who wants speaking engagements, focus on being the speaker who’s human – a human that puts relationships first. Lead with who you are, not what you want. 

Recently, I spent a few days with Big Money Speaker, James Malinchak (featured on the cover of the April 2017 issue). James has, without a doubt, logged his hours as a speaker and over his career has figured out what works and what doesn’t work. This next truth brings to light one of James’ fundamental building blocks for success.


Unapologetic Truth #2

Your primary mission as a speaker is not speaking. Your primary mission, if you want to be successful, is to market yourself as a speaker, which has more to do with the market than you.

This is actually not only applicable to speakers. If no one knows what you do (in any field), how will you build a successful business?

The mistake that many speakers make is they focus on themselves in their marketing, instead of focusing on the market.

 Speakers who focus on themselves market their achievements. Speakers who focus on the market show how their achievements will matter or add value to an audience or event planner.

 Speakers who focus on themselves market how great they are as a speaker. Speakers who focus on the market demonstrate an abundance of proof. Instead of talking about themselves, they share testimonials and endorsements where other people edify and validate them.

 Speakers who focus on themselves market benefits of their programs and services. “I” focus. Speakers who focus on the market share the benefits their programs and services they deliver to human beings. “You” focus.

 Despite the abundance of self-alleged speaking gurus and coaches with an endless supply of programs and offers to solve your problems as a speaker, in order to become a successful speaker, it’s not enough to get together a sizzle reel, one sheet, headshot, and a signature talk. It takes an understanding of the market and how to speak the language of that market in order to position yourself as a valuable, sought out commodity. 

Let’s assume you understand how to market yourself. Perhaps the biggest piece of information that no one is really willing to admit comes with the next truth.

UNapologetic Truth #3

You’re wasting an inordinate amount of time on your marketing materials. Do you even know who you’re marketing yourself to?

I’ve worked with performers, presenters, speakers, and leaders for the greater part of the last twenty-six years. In the last five years, I’ve put much more attention to my own speaking and personal mission. Here’s what I’ve learned:

You can spend hours, days, weeks, years even, on your marketing materials. That website you’ve poured your savings into – who’s even going to look at it? Have you spent time building a solid list of event and conference planners? Do you even know where to look? And once you have that information, are you building the proper relationships with those people?

Your amazing materials, signature talks, and that beautifully produced speaker reel is not working for you unless it’s being seen by the right people.

So, who are the right people?

I teamed up with Laura Petersen (a.k.a. LaptopLaura, international bestselling author, speaker, podcaster, and persuasive writing expert. She’s also the extraordinary woman who helped my book “Being UNapologetic” become an Amazon International Best Seller in 10 countries) in late 2018. We had one intention: to solve one of the biggest hurdles speakers face – access!

In order to solve the problem, however, we realized that there is no shortcut to the solution. To gain access, you need information. To gather information, research is required. A lot of it. And that takes time.

How much time are you willing to spend searching for speaking engagements on a day-to-day basis?

How much time are you willing to spend on Google sifting through millions of results?

Do you even know how to search for speaking engagements besides the standard, “Call for Speakers”?

Laura and I set out to crack the code for ourselves, and in the process, realized that what we had discovered is truly the first big step towards building a curated list of speaking engagements, event planners, and opportunities, that would eliminate the need for you to sit at your computer for hours every day.

The truth of the matter is that it does take a lot of time to scour through endless search results. Understanding how to assemble a search, and the numerous permutations of a single search that lead to even more results, is a skill in itself.

Are you searching your keywords (do you even know what they are?) in combination with the different ways events are named? Conferences, Events, Seminars, Expos. Add the word “annual” and you’ll get a whole new set of results. Add a city, month, and year, and you’ll get even more results.

If you aren’t growing your list and circle of influence, you will always lose out to the other speakers who are.

If you want to build a successful career as a speaker, start by shifting your focus away from yourself and onto the market and the people who may actually benefit from what you have to offer. 

Originally published in Success Profiles Magazine April 2019 Edition