From a Book to the Stage: Four Strategies Authors Can Leverage to Get Booked for More Speaking Gigs
If you want to get paid to speak, you need social proof.
I’ve tested four strategies.
Why Does Public Speaking Matter (Especially Today)?
We consume a lot of content today. Some content is for entertainment, but much of what people consume is to help us learn, improve, or grow.
If you want to cut through that noise, you need to capture attention.
And one of the best ways to capture attention is to stand in front of an audience and speak directly to them.
You may have the greatest shot in those few moments to truly stand out.
If you’re a coach, consultant, business owner, or thought leader, you need attention for more clients, customers, and business opportunities.
Personally, speaking has created some of my warmest relationships and can be quite profitable. I’ve spoken in some amazing places — the White House, UN, Google, Microsoft, GE, baseball stadiums, etc. — and some funky places like bars, basement offices, and high schools. Quite a few have been on Zoom too… which can be great too.
At the end of the day, regardless of the venue, it’s a business strategy, and I look at it as marketing. It’s led to clients, customers, and more paid speaking.
It’s high-value attention.
But it’s hard to break into the game… people often ask me about speaker bureaus or consultants. Frankly, to break in… you’ll have to do it yourself (then maybe those can help).
You need a social proof strategy.
It’s Not What You Say, But What the Audience Will Hear
One of the biggest fallacies about public speaking is you just need to have a great speech. I spoke to one of the individuals responsible for booking talent for TED and TEDx talks, and what he told me surprised me:
“We want ideas that spread, not just inspiring stories. We’re not in the business of promoting anecdotes.”
You need social proof:
- Social proof of your idea isn’t just an inspiring anecdote
- Social proof that your idea can move an audience
- Social proof that your idea is new and forward-looking
- And you can be strategic in creating it and leveraging it.
Social Proof is Not One thing; It’s Multiple Things That Build on One Another
Social proof isn’t a single thing – it’s not your published book, it’s not your TEDx talk, it’s not your article, and it’s not one testimonial. Social proof is the story you tell (or show) about why an audience would be moved by what you have to say, share, and teach.
How you tell (and show) that story is the key to getting you booked for more speaking opportunities.
These four things- usually in combination- prove you’re worth booking.
Here are the four strategies I’ve seen work:
- Thought Leadership. This is the most important — do you have an ‘unconventional’ insight backed up by evidence (your research, interviews, data)? Things that demonstrate thought leadership are a book or upcoming book, a research-driven article in a publication like HBR or Forbes, a TEDx talk, or a badass interview (usually on a stage). Without this nailed, it’s an uphill battle.
- Testimonials and reviews. This isn’t about the ‘fame’ of the person but the relevancy to the audience. More variety you can customize the better.
- Social Media Engagement. Do you think your posts create conversations? Will your talk spark similar conversations IRL?
- Past speaking engagements. I put this last because people overrate a ‘speaker reel’… it helps (of course). Yes, it helps, but today having 1-3 with some podcast interviews, YouTube videos, etc., can be more powerful.
Design Your Strategy to Improve Each Dimension of Social Proof.
It’s a journey – not a destination.
I look at my own growth as a speaker over the past few years and realize some of today’s opportunities wouldn’t have been possible two or three years ago.
Could you design a strategy for your social proof?
Most of today’s best thought leader speakers create social proof by being
- (a) unconventional (but evidence-backed);
- (b) relevant;
- (c) engaging; and
- (d) compelling.
Remember… you’re not competing with established thought leaders for speaking slots… your goal is to position yourself as the next thought leader.
How? One of my favorite ways to strategize on this is to figure out how to be a “poor man’s” _____.
Sure, you’re not Brene Brown, Simon Sinek, or David Goggins (yet)… but use 1-4 above to help showcase where you could offer something those more prominent names don’t. Consider creating a grid and scoring some of the names you aspire to be like – then score yourself (but be kind). What are the areas you can improve in… as you get more evidence and proof points, update your score.
Review yourself as a speaker on those four dimensions — and update as you grow.