Jane Friedman

How to Get More Speaking Gigs (Even If You Don’t Have a Lot of Speaking Experience)

by Leo Reynolds | via Flickr

Today’s guest post is from author and speaker Dorit Sasson (@VoicetoStory).

One of the best ways to build an author platform is by doing speaking engagements. You share your expertise, come into direct contact with potential book buyers, tap into existing readership, build your email list, and ultimately increase your income.

However, you need a plan for finding these speaking gems. Where do you find them? What if you don’t have a ton of speaking experience or expertise in a particular niche?

Just for the record, speaking gigs don’t have to be a full-fledged two-hour workshop or a fancy TED Talk–type setup; they can be as simple as presentations at libraries, talks at fundraisers, and even webinars. You won’t always get paid, but coupled with selling copies of your book (which I’ve done), these types of speaking engagements are a great opportunity to increase your visibility and to build a network of fans and contacts.

To help promote my newly published book, Accidental Soldier: A Memoir of Service and Sacrifice in the Israel Defense Forces, I’ve been using a number of strategies successfully to get on the speaking radar, beginning with my local community. These three strategies have helped me land more speaking engagements.

1. Start locally.

Your local community offers wonderful opportunities for networking and speaking. Almost all of these networking communities are looking for speakers to engage their members.

Here are a few examples:

2. Use the same book to appeal to different audiences.

Another tried and true way to get more speaking gigs is to appeal to multiple audiences. Use themes as a starting point. If you’re a novelist or memoirist, pitch themes that have the strongest universal appeal.

Here are examples of how I pitched six different venues with the themes of my memoir:

As you can see, six different themes support the needs of multiple audiences. This only took a few minutes. And this was all pitched locally.

Chances are, you’ve probably got multiple themes going on, whether you’re written an ebook, a novel, or a nonfiction print book. The more universal they are, the more effective you’ll be engaging your (local) audience.

As Maya Angelou famously said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

3. Join your local Toastmasters.

Talking up my book at my local Toastmasters was like working out in the gym. In fact, it toned my speaking and courage muscle to talk up the themes of my book once I decided to speak about it in the big world.

After all, the courage to speak is the courage to succeed.

Patricia Fry, author of Talk Up Your Book, encourages speakers to look for opportunities to build this special kind of muscle. She says to “present your programs in safe zones (friendly territory), among family members, at your local Toastmasters club meeting, before your writer’s group, in front of your fellow business or civic club members. These are good opportunities for you to work the bus out of your presentations.”

As I’ve learned, Toastmasters isn’t just an opportunity to practice speaking; it’s also a networking opportunity. You never know who can connect you to a particular group or organization. At our unique Women to Women Toastmasters chapter, I connected with the chapter organizer, who I later found out was the director of a women’s organization, where I later did a fundraiser for my book and sold fifteen copies.

So you don’t need impressive speaking credentials to get a speaking slot. In fact, it’s easier than you think. And it all starts locally. By creating a memorable experience for your audience, you will up the chances to sell more books.

Speaking engagements are interactive, real and dynamic. And once your peeps connect and engage with you, they have a reason to read what you have to say.

For more from Dorit Sasson (@VoicetoStory), check out Accidental Soldier: A Memoir of Service and Sacrifice in the Israel Defense Forces.