All our speakers are responsible for promoting themselves and the Bureau. However, you may be asking yourself how that is done. This page offers you tips from professionals to promote your speaking within Toastmasters or for a professional speaking career.
What do I need to promote myself?
First, do some preparation.
- Find a niche to make your own and solidify your topic/message.
- You must be able to tell people what you do in one or two sentences… max. We call this your “elevator speech.”
- Speaker bookers (often known as Meeting Planners) don’t want to hire a speaker “who can talk about anything” they want a subject matter expert.
- Think like a brand. If you know what you’re selling, it will be easier to devise a clever promotional campaign.
- Create business cards.
- Develop several narrowly-focused topics on which you can speak. Give those topics intriguing titles that speak to a particular issue, problem and solution that can help people. Create a list of available speeches and a brief description of the benefits of each.
Sample speech titles:
11 ways to (do something) to (get something)
12 best-kept secrets on (topic) revealed
Change your (actions) and change your (outcome)
- Prepare a “presentation package.” This is a packet of information about you and what you do that will serve as a sales kit and backgrounder. It should include:
- A brief description of your topic and its benefits
- Your brief bio and background
- A 5×7 photograph of you either a head shot or doing/holding something related to your topic (ideally professionally photographed)
- Information about the 2-5 speeches you offer (make sure they sound compelling)
- A list of recent speaking engagements (paid or unpaid)
- A couple of well-phrased client testimonials
- Media coverage that you’ve had to date (listed in reverse chronological order)
- Details about any publications, awards, professional bodies (or other impressive info)
- Your business card & contact information
- Your web links
- A link to your showcase video
- Write some articles on your topic and get them published. Use them in your presentation package.
- Hint: Publishers sometimes invite open submissions for their titles. Submitting work to these books and magazines is a great way of getting your work into people’s hands.
- Create a web site and blog. Put all of the items in your presentation package on your web site. Encourage interaction in your blog, and blog at least once a week. Blogging tips:
- Keep your site active. Your website needs to look good, but it also needs to be lively. People want to feel your presence behind that storefront – always busy, keeping them enthralled.
- If you must blog, do it well. Blogging should inspire an interaction. Boring people is worse than having no effect at all. Be funny, charming, entertaining and informative at all times.
- Let people know what you’re doing. Open up and let people see the projects you’ve been working on and the different ways you’re working. Use this show-and-tell process as a catalyst for new work.
- Add Google analytics to your pages and keep an eye on your stats. These will give you a ready source of information on what people are enjoying and what leaves them cold. When stats peak, make sure you follow that lead.
- Sign up to OTHER blogs and comment on other people’s work. This will keep you up to date with what’s going on, and it will help to create and awareness of your opinion. The more your name and web link is out there, the more likely people are to see it and visit it.
- Offer a free newsletter. It will help you build a mailing list of followers, clients and prospects. A regular newsletter will also keep you at the front of their minds.
- Newsletters should be concise and interesting, contain links to articles you’ve written (whether or not they’ve been published), and have a link to your website under your signature.
- Create a list of groups for which you’d like to speak. Uncover their “booking agent” (president or programs director) and get contact information.
- Set up social media accounts. Social networking is the most important yet easy-to-use tool in the game of self-promotion. It gives you a platform to show off your work to like-minded people in an instant.
- Regularly send out helpful tips that get people interested in your topic and invite them to visit your site/blog/Facebook page, etc. for more, or to respond.
- Sign up to blogs and comment on other people’s work. It will keep you up to date with what’s going on, and it will help others create an awareness of your opinion. The more your name and web link is out there, the more likely people are to see it and visit it.
- Join the National Speakers Association, or at least attend their meetings.
Important marketing tip: What’s In It For Me?
- Be sure to make your outreach/message all about “them” and not about yourself. Frankly, people want to know “What’s in it for me?” and don’t really care about you.
Book yourself as a speaker with groups
- Book yourself into local social, civic, religious, political, family, service, and other groups by contacting the group’s booking agent and presenting them with your one sheet. If they need more information, you can forward your presentation package. Once they understand how your speech will benefit their membership, and if your topic matches or enhances their mission, they will book you.
- Start out by speaking for free. You will build your confidence and refine your message. You will also build a mailing list and get feedback, endorsements, testimonials and video exposure. Once you get more comfortable, you can begin to charge for your presentations.
- The key is to always know what you will eventually charge. You tell clients: “This is my normal rate for speaking, but I’m willing to do this for a lower rate.”
- Get a video of you speaking. You can use this for self-critique or to showcase your speaking talent.
- Use the video to self-critique your message, delivery and body language. As others for their input as well.
- Your video is the best way that people will know if they want you to speak at their event. It’s worth investing in a professional videographer and hosting a speaking event for free. It will showcase your speaking skills with many people in the room versus just speaking to a camera. This video could also be a reel of past speaking engagements that you’ve already recorded or even 5-10 minutes of you giving a speech.
- Place the list of your speaking engagements on your web site and promote them through your social media outlets.
- If the group is open to the public, send a press release about your appearance with the details of how and where to attend, cost, etc., into the local media’s calendar sections.
- Advertise your upcoming speech through the group’s marketing outlets and mail list.
- Following your speech, encourage people to sign up to receive your free newsletter. Try to capture their names and email addresses. You may want to offer some sort of “free bonus” for signing up. This bonus can be a podcast, video, checklist, worksheet, free report, extended information, free gift, etc.
Follow up with groups after your speech
- Send a thank-you note to the person who booked you.
- Ask that person for an endorsement of how you did or testimonial.
- Ask them for referrals to other groups they know that might benefit.
More Self-Promotion Tips
Register your name as a domain name. You’ll never lose business because the client can’t remember your website name, and it can be a psychological boost to know you have a personal presence online.
Use your words. Whether emailing clients, writing a blog or explaining your work, thoughtful, stimulating and grammatically correct writing really shines through. It is essential that you are able to communicate effectively through some medium other than visual.
Meet face to face. No amount of social networking can replicate the power of human contact. Meet people face-to-face whenever possible and explain what makes you different. I’m impossible to convey your passion through the written word alone.
Be indomitable but personal. Stand up for what you believe in, but make sure you’re the kind of person people enjoy hanging out with. If you are a pleasure to work with, your clients will enjoy the experience and they will recommend you. If you stick to your guns, your client will also respect and trust you.
Build your reputation. Nothing will promote you better than your work. Try to make every project as good as it can be. Build a reputation for quality work. In the long run, you are what you do.
Interviews. Always be truthful about your background. If a reporter picks up on your blog or site and requests an interview (and you hope he will), he will check the facts. Make yourself sound interesting without reaching into untruthful territory. Before an interview, establish the ground rules. Request to have quotes read back to you, and feel free to have some topics that are off limits.
Beware of false bravado. Don’t claim at any time – especially in writing – that you are America’s greatest or the world’s best this or that. It is better to use references and testimonials from those you’ve served to let others promote you this way.
Build your network. Utilize your off and online connections to garner yourself some speaking opportunities. See what opportunities Meetup.com has to offer. Business networking events are opportunities to promote yourself. See what events are coming up that fit subjects you speak on. Most businesses list themselves at the local chamber of commerce, giving you an opportunity to identify if their organization could utilize you as a speaker.
PR assistance. Experienced speakers may want to consider an agent. Typically, they don’t charge you for their services, but take commission once they get you a booking. Speakers with little to no professional experience should consider a speaker’s PR to help promote you. Ask them what kind of connections they have to the types of events at which you wish to speak, and get some examples of the places they have introduced speakers to in the past. This can be a good indication of places you might speak in the future if you engage their services.
Be patient. It can take two to three years to grow your speaking business. As you get good and get your name out there, word will spread.
More information on self-promotion available on the Books and Links page.