Have you ever attended a conference, seen the name of someone you know listed as a speaker, and thought, “Why didn’t they get in touch with me to do that presentation?”
It could be that even though you know more about the speech topic than the person listed in the program, the organizers saw him or her as more of an attraction for the audience.
But you can change that. If doing more presentations is one of your professional goals, there are steps you can take right now to make yourself more appealing to organizations that book speakers. Here are some ways you can boost your “bookability” for professional events.
Look at speaker selection from the organizer’s point of view
Your first “bookability” step is to look at the process from the meeting organizer’s point of view. It could be anything from an international conference to a meetup at the local Starbucks. The organizer is likely to be looking for speakers who have:
- The right professional and academic qualifications to satisfy the intended audience – such as an engineering certification, a Masters degree or higher, maybe a relevant association certification
- Significant experience in getting results for people like those in the audience
- Recognized expertise in your field
- And maybe – just a little bit controversial
The organizer wants a “sure thing,” and what that means depends on the circumstances. It could come in the form of recommendations from the leaders of previous events, a best-seller book, an impressive CV, or maybe a video series on YouTube that shows you to be engaging and articulate.
What the organizer does NOT want is a speaker who will plug her or his services or products from the stage, who will just read from a stack of dense PowerPoint slides, who is boring, or who clearly doesn’t know their subject. The organizer wants “five out of five” reviews for your speech, not a series of circled “ones” on the evaluation form.
If you’ve ever filled a speaker schedule and booked speakers yourself, you’ll recognize how anxiety-inducing it can be – because the organizer’s reputation is riding on whoever steps onto the stage at the event.
So, give the organizer a reason to book you as a speaker, rather than someone else. Here are some steps you can take, starting with short-term easy fixes, and moving on to bigger and long-range goals.
Build an effective LinkedIn profile
It’s been said that in most business-to-business transactions, over 60% of a purchase decision is already made by the time the buyer contacts a representative of the buyer. That research is done online.
Speaker bookings are made the same way – any meeting organizer is likely to have googled your name to find out more about you. And the first result they’ll come to is likely to be your LinkedIn profile.
Start by making sure your profile is complete and current, not an online ghost town. You need a professional-quality portrait. If you want speaking gigs, be sure to list the presentations you’ve done to date. LinkedIn doesn’t offer a space for this, so list previous speaking engagements under “Projects.”
Create and publish original content
To be seen as a thought leader in your field, you need to create original content that reassures a meeting organizer of your “bookability.”
One of the best ways to publish your ideas is through LinkedIn Posts. These are long-form content that appears on your profile, to be seen by your Connections. But Posts take your ideas further afield as well, because they can show up in topic searches by people who don’t know you yet.
To show your ability to present your ideas visually, consider creating some slide shows and info-graphics. Graphic design is not one of my talents, so I create the text and the basic format through a supremely ugly pencil sketch, which I convert to PDF and send to my graphic designer, who renders those ideas in visually appealing form. You can do this too.
Your website should carry some of your original thought as well.
Going the extra mile, to give yourself an advantage
Consider creating a “one-sheet,” which is a document used by professional speakers, listing your proposed topics, your qualifications, your speaking experience, and some positive reviews from previous events.
Articles published in trade and business publications, in print or online can provide reasons for an organizer to book you.
One of the ultimate bookability boosters is a published book. It doesn’t have to be a New York Times bestseller – although that helps. It’s increasingly easy to publish your own book, using any of a number of print-on-demand publishing houses. The book then becomes a particularly effective business card – and also gives reassurance to a meeting organizer. She or he can then say, “She’ll do an amazing presentation at our event. See, she’s written a book on the subject!”
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