Learn 10 secrets about the speaking industry that will inspire you to take massive action with Melanie Deziel

[CASE STUDY] 10 Secrets You Need to Know About the Speaking Industry with Melanie Deziel

How Melanie Deziel faced a challenge and found her sweet spot in a competitive niche.

10 Secrets You Need To Know About the Speaking Industry

I don’t think someone in the speaking industry can go from a complete nobody to delivering a keynote at a national conference “overnight.”

It doesn’t work like that. If you been in the speaking industry for any length of time you know what I’m talking about.

So how does someone like Melanie Deziel go from an “unknown” with no speaking experience to speaking in seven different countries and inspiring over thousands of people at 60+ events in less than two years?

Well, I’ll let you in on what has worked for her and for many of my students. But please note that “success” depends on several factors and can be measured many different ways. There are no guarantees.

What I’m sharing with you is Melanie’s story and what I wish someone would have told me before I started speaking.

What Melanie has been able to accomplish in a relatively short amount of time, in a competitive market like sales and marketing is remarkable. She’s not the kind of person that waits around for an answer or for inspiration to strike, she’s someone that uses her resources and creates opportunities.

Here are a few secrets and lessons you can learn from someone like Melanie.


You could easily make excuses like:

  • I don’t have a valuable skill set
  • I don’t know the “right” people
  • I have kids
  • I don’t have enough time
  • I have a sick parent or family member
  • I work a full-time job
  • I don’t have a high-profile job
  • I live in rural Iowa and don’t have the same opportunities as a city person

Or you could put your head down and get to work despite your situation. And that’s what Melanie Deziel did. She put her blinders on and started doing the work. From that work, she’s been “successful.”

How do I define or measure success?

It’s not by the number in your bank account. It’s not by how many likes you have on Facebook, Twitter or IG either.

Success is subjective and defined differently by each individual, but for me, I define success by giving speakers the confidence they need to make an impact.

Is Melanie successful? Absolutely.

She’s successful because she follows a strategic formula that has built her confidence — which makes her a highly sought after speaking. That, to me, is success.

And the best part is that her success depends on her ability to work hard and persevere. She’s not the kind of person to blame others or depend on someone else to make her successful.

If I had to guess, she’s someone that accepts a challenge and creates the opportunities necessary to grow.

Melanie fell into speaking when her boss at The New York Times asked her to fill in for a colleague who was unable to speak at a conference in Florida.

The presentation was supposed to be about social media, something Melanie was familiar with, but she’d never prepared a presentation for the stage before and she hadn’t spent much time with the NYT’s “Psychology of Sharing” report, which the audience would be sure to have questions about.

She knew that success depended on her ability to learn the material and to present the findings. She could have put the responsibility on her boss and asked him to prepare her, but she didn’t. She went home, locked herself in a room (half kidding), read the research and dug deep into what needed to be done.

She knew that if she was going to be successful, she better be prepared for the job ahead.

Success depends on you. Embrace the challenge and accept where you are.


You probably consider yourself to be a hard worker. Most people do. But can you honestly say you’re spending your time wisely?

Are you working on tasks that will lead you to a tangible result?

You might be working a full-time job and trying to figure out this speaking thing on the side. Yes, that is hard work, but are you strategic in how you approach potential clients?

Working hard is essential, but only if you have a plan to work. Without a plan, work is worthless.

Melanie wasn’t on Facebook, Instagram or listening to a podcast and calling it “work.” She was very organized about her outreach and used many techniques in Booked & Paid to Speak that resulted in leads and follow up opportunities.

And by organized and methodical, I mean she created a massive spreadsheet of potential events and did a ton of strategic outreach, tracking each contact so she could follow up and reduce back and forth.

She also used her network of strategic friends (not Billy Bob from high school that works on a farm) and fellow speakers for leads and recommendations on non-competitive events.

Melaine needed experience and she was willing to go to the not-so-glamourous events to get it. She worked hard and still does to this day.

She did the work to get in front of the right people. She used a proven system like Booked & Paid to Speak to get where she wanted to go.

Melanie would respond to any praise on social media from folks who attended her speaking engagements. She would follow up with requests for endorsements and testimonials whenever possible.

Again, the hard work to make the impact she craved. Look at what she’s been able to create in the past year…

MDeziel Inforgraphic

Melanie teaches marketing professionals how to use stories in their advertising — something that isn’t mainstream, yet. She’s working hard to make Native Advertising (brand storytelling) an essential conversation among sales and marketing teams.

She is making waves and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down in the future. Melanie is a hard worker and if you want to be successful, especially in the beginning you need sacrifice.


Event planners start booking events six months to a year in advance. This isn’t a last-minute industry where people are scrambling two days before an event. If you think months down the road and start reaching out now, you’ll have a better booking conversion rate.

Melanie was constantly on the hunt for events months in advance. She would keep a record of each and every event she wanted to contact.

Long list + long term goal = high success rate.

You don’t want to be that person that procrastinates and misses the opportunity. Do yourself a favor and track every email you send and when you replied. This will make your life easier and you’ll be able to quickly follow up with an email that hasn’t been addressed in 3 weeks.

Think ahead and plan with detail. You’ll thank Melanie and me later.


Mdeziel at Content Marketing Conference in Vegas

If you visualize your future often, chances are it’ll become reality faster. Ever hear the story about Jim Carrey and how he wrote himself a check for $10 million and post dated it Thanksgiving 1995?

At the time he was broke and didn’t have the success he has today, but he would drive through the rich part of town and visualize directors saying, “I like your work.” He would then look at the check in his wallet, and envision that money.

And right before Thanksgiving 1995, Jim got the call that he’d would make $10M on Dumb and Dumber.

Coincidence. I think not. He saw it happening. He felt it in his blood. He envisioned life as a millionaire. He never doubted that it would happen. There were times when it looked doubtful, but he set a big, long-term goals and acted as if it was already happening.

He wasn’t sitting on the couch wishing for $10M, he was working in the industry, getting gigs and honing his craft. This is what I want you to do. Get out there, get your hands dirty and visualize your life as you want it to be.

It’s important to set goals. Without them, you have nothing to work towards or measure. Set a goal, think long-term (3 months, 6 months, 12 months), take action and keep going. You’ll get there. I believe in you.


Building a relationship with a complete stranger takes time. But what if that person wasn’t a stranger and you had a connection?

People do business with people they know, like, trust. Event coordinators hire speakers they like and that will make them look good. If you’re hiring a speaker for an event or any type of service professional for something, all things being equal, you’re going to hire someone you actually like and trust.

Not only should you be building relationships with coordinators, but with other speakers. My first full year as a speaker, I got most of my gigs from other speakers.

Melanie says she had a similar experience. Often, as soon as she would get off stage, someone from the audience would ask her to speak at their event or if she worked privately consulting or doing live workshops. But many times, it was her fellow speakers who would follow up after, suggesting events, making introductions, or suggesting her in their place for gigs they couldn’t take.

So building relationships with other speakers are critically important for booking gigs and building your business, but it’s also valuable for camaraderie. Being a speaker can be very lonely and isolating. You have amazing highs and terrible lows so it helps to have other people on the journey that you can talk to, lean on and learn from.


Nobody wants to do business with someone that doesn’t respond to emails or questions. And surely no one wants to work with a full blown diva that requires your pick up car to be a pleasant 72 degrees with fresh bottled water awaiting your arrival.

You have to be awesome off the stage as well as on the stage. If you hate going back and forth with emails, hire a customer service rep or VA (virtual assistant). People need to love working with you or they’ll never hire you again.

In the beginning, you need to be both sides of the business. You need to be the speaker and the booking agent. You’ll need to get them what they need as fast as possible. And after a few times, you’ll know exactly what they need and you’ll already have it prepared and waiting.

You can’t go from a nobody to rockstar if you suck behind the scenes. Make high-quality communication a priority so that they’ll be remembered for years to come.

Melanie quickly realized how time-consuming the back end of the business can be. It wasn’t easy to be working a full-time job and handling the email correspondents for speaking gigs after putting in a full day’s work, but it’s a necessary evil.

Be awesome on stage and off and eventually you’ll have the funds to pay someone to do it for you.


Mdeziel at Webit Summit in Bulgaria

Word-of-mouth marketing is the best way to get more gigs. Once you slay your speech, people talk about you like you’re the best, new pizza place in town.

After Melanie starting talking regularly, people would be reaching out to her looking for consulting or in-person workshops. Her talk was her best marketing.

She has a room full of ideal clients sitting and listening to her message, hanging on her every word. A live experience where you get to meet people in person is better than any Facebook Ad in the world.

The impact and marketing she’s been able to create for herself have been outstanding, and this is completely normal for the speaking industry. Once you start, one gig leads to the next and the rest is history, as they say.

Give a great talk and “marketing” will become much easier.


Speaker bureaus don’t care about you. I hate to burst your bubble, but I can almost guarantee that bureaus are not interested in you. In episode 24 of The Speaker Lab Podcast, Premiere Speaker’s Bureau President Shawn Hanks said, “I manage demand, I don’t create demand.”

Meaning if you aren’t already getting a lot of demand and people aren’t interested in your talk, a bureau isn’t going to magically create that demand for you.

Bureaus aren’t magical unicorns that will get you the exposure you’re looking for. You need to create your own exposure before a bureau will even engage with you.

I wasted too much time, in the beginning, trying to connect with bureaus or find agents who would bring me bookings, it didn’t happen.

The bottom line is if you can’t book yourself, a bureau or agent isn’t going to be able to book you either. So stop looking for a unicorn that doesn’t exist. You’re better off creating the connections on your own and reaching out organically.

Connect with strategic partners and people that you know. Do the work and stick with the process. It’s not easy, but no one ever said it was.


If you want to grow your business, you must continue your education. Melanie didn’t know anything about speaking until after she’d been on stage a handful of times. At that point, she realized it was time to invest.

You can’t grow as a speaker if you’re not learning about yourself, the business and how to make an impact. When you invest in online courses and learn the art of speaking, you’re investing in self-confidence.

I believe that when you’re a confident speaker, your message will impact the audience and change lives. Melanie enrolled in Booked & Paid to Speak and once she did that, her confidence grew because she knew the steps and had a system to follow for proven success. Invest in your education and you’ll cut your learning curve time in half.


You can’t speak about everything to everyone. This is a rookie mistake, my friend. The primary reason you might be thinking like this is that all you want to do is speak.

You don’t care who it’s to or what the talk is about. (Not a good mindset by the way.)

There comes a time when you must draw a line in the sand and pick the audience you best want to serve. It’s better to have ruthless focus than to talk to everyone about nothing.

Melanie happens to be in one of the most competitive fields on the planet; sales and marketing. How was she able to niche down?


She has a background in journalism and loves teaching marketers how to use storytelling in their paid advertising. Native advertising, if you’ve never heard of it, is a cross between advertising and journalism. It takes the form of valuable, informative or entertaining stories like you might see in a newspaper or magazine, but it’s actually a paid advertisement.

Brilliant, right?

There’s tons of opportunity for education in the field. The industry needs someone like Melanie to teach native advertising to hungry marketers looking to create revenue streams and content that stands out from the rest.

There is a lot of confusion around native advertising which leaves the door wide open for Melanie to establish herself as an expert. Plus, she’s able to use her skills and passion for storytelling to make an impact — something she wasn’t able to do sitting at her desk.


The nature of speaking is that you’re gone a lot. You’re away from your family, friends and what most people consider a “normal life.”

Being a speaker can be a lot of fun, but it can also be very lonely, isolating and draining. You spend a lot of time on planes, waiting at airports, sitting in hotel rooms, and eating meals by yourself.

It’s not as glamorous or sexy as most people think. Yes, the money can be good and you get to travel, but there are pros and cons to everything.

One of my favorite sayings is, “Who you are is more important than what you do.”

Repeat after me — Who you are is more important than what you do.

Meaning, if you’re a great speaker and every audience and event planner love you, but you suck as a husband, wife, or parent — it’s not worth it. Who you are off the stage is more important than who you are on the stage.

It’s worth it to devote the time and energy to personal relationships that matter. If you’re a great speaker, but you’ve pushed your family away to make it happen, what’s the point. It’s worth it to be true to yourself, but not at the expense of your family and friends.

I’m sure when Melanie was on the road for 11+ weeks in 2016, she missed family and friends, but when she’s home, it’s time to be home. When you’re present you’re honoring and showing ultimate respect for the people that support you. Give them your time and attention when you’re home.

In episode 60 of the podcast, I interview my wife Sheila on how we made it through the years when I was constantly gone. Having that foundation with your family and friends is so much more important than a 5 figure check or a standing ovation.

Set your priorities and keep an open line of communication. You’ll be surprised at how many more doors will open with you have work and personal boundaries set.

And remember,

Who you are is more important than what you do

What makes Melanie so successful?

She put in the work and built confidence by taking action. She used a system that worked and made it happen for herself.

No excuses, no blaming others — just good ‘ol fashion hard work with a proven plan of attack.

You deserve success just like anyone else. Melanie isn’t a unicorn with magical powers. She does the work, takes strategic action and creates her opportunities.

You can too!

“It may have looked like I was running away from my 9-5, but in reality, I was running toward the chance to use the stage as a platform to help, reach and teach many more marketers and storytellers.” — Melanie Deziel

Now it’s your turn.

What opportunities are you running towards?

How are you using the stage to impact the audience?

How to Find Paid Speaking Opportunities in Any Industry

Actionable ways to find paid speaking opportunities in any industry

How to Find Paid Speaking Opportunities in Any Industry

By the end of this article, you’ll have actionable ways to find paid speaking opportunities in any industry that will help you get the ball rolling. I get this question a lot from speakers.

They want to find paid speaking gigs but don’t know how or where to start.

If you do the work listed here, you’ll have opportunities and contacts filling up your inbox and calendar that you might have to start saying no, or raising your prices.

Good problem to have…

So without further ado, here’s a list of ways to find paid speaking opportunities in any industry.


Most speakers ‘want paid speaking gigs,’ but aren’t very specific with what type of gigs, venues or the audience they want to speak to.

Do you want a small venue with highly engaged people?

Do you want to speak at conferences? Non-profits? Local or global?

Do you want to speak to business professionals? Colleges? Churches?

The list is endless.

Narrow down your focus. Once you do that, finding paid speaking opportunities becomes that much easier.

When you say, “I want paid speaking gigs,” I immediately think, “Ok, what industry? What type of event? How much experience do you have? What do you want to talk about?”

I’m overwhelmed with questions.

If you’re more specific and say, “I want to speak at a local networking event. I want to speak at TEDx. I want to speak at a gardening club.”

I know exactly what you’re asking and I know how to help you. Vague and general is not flattering and doesn’t serve you.

Plus, no one knows how to help you or refer you. Humans are natural problem solvers and when you say, “I want to speak at TEDx.” I immediately know someone I can put you in contact with.

When you say, “I want to speak.” I think, “Oh that’s nice. Good luck with that.”

Be specific. Get clear — finding gigs will become much simpler when you are. Now, let me show you how.


The #1 search engine in the world. Use it. As a new or seasoned speaker, you’ll want to search realistic places and events you’d like to speak at before you go shooting for the stars.

Wanting to “share the stage” with Oprah is a great goal, but let’s be realistic for a second.

Think local, state and regionally, first.

There are two ways you can search:

  1. People
  2. Events

If you follow speakers and events on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, your newsfeed should be flooded with events or people to Google.

If you’re not following industry leaders and influencers, it’s time to get on the social media bandwagon for business.

Social media isn’t only for funny cat videos and photos of the family anymore. It’s a marketing haven for business owners and speakers that want to grow and find an audience.

I’ll talk more about social media later.

For example, if you live in Tennessee and you’re a dentist you could search: “Tennessee Dentist Conference”

Searching for Tennessee dentist conferences

Notice the big, national conferences are at the top. Don’t go all hot-dog straight away my little grasshopper. Scroll down a bit and look for the smaller, local conferences that would love to have someone from their own backyard give a great talk.

And you want to know the secret to Google, scroll all the way to the bottom and you’ll see “Searches related to Tennessee Dentist Conference.”

how to use google to search

This part is gold!

You’ll find all the related keywords that you’ll need to continue your search in the Tennessee area. Once you have what you need from local cities, expand your search to state and region.

Now, say you’re a Christian or faith-based speaker. A simple Google search for “Top Christian Conferences” lead me this page full of events in the U.S.

What if you’re in healthcare? Knitting? Youth athletics? Parks and Recreation? The same rules apply. Search for conferences in any industry. Google knows everything. 🙂

PRO TIP: Just list the events for now. Don’t jump ahead and start crafting emails to the event coordinators or to the hiring professionals. Stay focused and search like crazy.

Start a Google Doc or Google Sheet with links, dates and contact information.

Do this process over and over again until you have 20, 40, 100 events that you’d like to be a speaker at.

Taking focused, targeted action is what will set you apart!


Make this list in Google doc or Google Sheets with links, dates and contact information for each event.

You’re going to create your own speaking opportunities by doing this. I don’t think waiting around for someone to contact you is a strategic way to build your speaking business.

You have to go get what you want and it starts with a list.

Once you know the events, you can see when they’re taking speaker applications (typically months in advance) you can begin reaching out and getting interest from coordinators.

Repeat this process until you have a list of dream events and realistic events that are in your niche.

Next up, contact the event coordinators.


Now that you have your list of specific event and contact information, it’s time to reach out.

“But Grant, what do I say?” Easy. Start with value.

If you know someone from their organization or if you attended their event in the past, say that. Tell them how their event or conference has impacted your life and how it’s made a difference.

PRO TIP: Be specific and take the time to customize this for the person or event you’re reaching out to. Yes, this is time-consuming, but this is the work that will set you apart and make you stand out.

Don’t copy and paste a generic template to every one of the conferences you listed. That’s the fastest way to get deleted and to never hear back from anyone.

Again, you’re building a relationship don’t pitch on the first meeting.

What to do instead:

  • Inquire about the event.
  • Keep it short.
  • Ask specific, intelligent questions that can be answered quickly.

For example, you could ask, “When will you be taking speaker applications for the upcoming XYZ event?”

Be respectful of people’s time. Don’t go into your story and how you got into speaking.

Provide 3-4 sentences on who you are, what you speak about and how you can help their audience with your message.

Follow up a few days later.

If no reply, wait another week and follow up again.

If no answer, wait until the event is a little closer and try again.

Ultimately, you should be reaching out 3-6 months in advance. Some events book out longer — some shorter. This is why you’re contacting decision makers with plenty of notice. It’s important to be prepared.


Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and yes, even LinkedIn are all platforms that use hashtags.

Here are a few hashtags I used and found a slew of events and people to search.








Use hashtags to search for events and people

You can even search for specific conferences by location. For example, I searched #HawaiiConference on Facebook and got this…

Facebook search for conference locations

Once you start searching hashtags and getting on a roll your newsfeed (on every platform) will be flooded with events and people you can connect with.

Your mindset around “finding paid gigs” will be completely changed.

You won’t need to “find” them because you created a system on social and Google that brings the events to you.

Eventually, you won’t be able to keep up with all events being held, but what you will have is a plan and strategy for how to get paid speaking gigs and fast.

If you’re a social media hater, finding gigs will be harder for you. You have to change your mindset around social. It’s an asset for making connections and reaching people from all over the world if done correctly.

Once you begin to embrace social, and you get paid gigs regularly, you’re entire focus will change. You’ll see it as an opportunity, not as a hindrance to normal life.

Social media marketing is growing businesses and helping speakers secure a lifestyle they never dreamed of. This is an exciting time to be alive. Take advantage of the opportunities and learn how to use hashtags to find paid speaking gigs.


Social media stalking is totally legal. Well, kinda. I don’t mean creepy stalking that will get you arrested, I’m talking about social stalking people’s profiles and websites.

If they are searching for paid speaking opportunities, find an influencer in your niche and start following them. See where they’re speaking and hanging out.

…like on social, not literally following them around. I don’t want anyone to end up behind bars.

A professional speaker will most likely have a list of events that they will be speaking at in the upcoming months. You can check out their events and reach out to the coordinators.

You can learn so much about people and what they do from their social media profiles, pages, and groups that it is so easy to find speaking opportunities if you try.

The internet, social media and hashtags are a valuable asset to you. Use them and take action. Your calendar will be filling up quickly.


When you attend the conferences and events you want to speak at, you’ll get to know the conference organizers, the audience and decision makers. Once you start hanging with the right crowd, you’ll be able to reach out on social media and mingle with them virtually.

When you can be ‘top of mind’ without being annoying or pushy, you’ll be remembered for when they choose the next round of speakers.

PRO TIP: During live events be sure to take selfies and lots of photos of the event. When the staff and administration come home they will search the hashtag and see your smiling face freely promoting the event and saying nice things.

And unless they hired a professional photographer they may not have had time to take photos and see what the attendees were doing. Be that person that provides value and you’ll be remembered for years to come.

After the event, send an email about your experience.

***Remember, keep it short and sweet.***

They will love hearing from you as it’s fresh in their minds. Provide a testimonial for them to use on their site for next year.


When event planners are searching for speakers they use GigSalad. GigSalad is the fast and easy way to browse, contact, and hire the entertainers and services you need to make any event a success.

How it works:

become a Gigsalad speaker for opportunities

Cool, right?

This is a good way for you to get your feet wet in the speaking industry especially if you’re new and don’t have a ton of experience yet. GigSalad.com would be a good way to get started.

Similar to GigSalad is Thumbtack.

Use Thumbtack to search for speaking opportunities

Additional resources to learn about third party sites.

Episode 52: Should You Use Third Party Sites for Bookings?


Deliver like a boss!

When you speak well and deliver a message that resonates with the audience, people want to hire you. Speaking at live events and crushing it on stage leads to more speaking gigs.

Plain and simple.

This is why speaking is a relationship business. You speak, you ‘work the room’ afterward, you meet influencers and decision makers that want to hire you for their event.

It happens every single day and it’s the best way to build your referrals.

When you can back up a good reputation with a stellar talk, your inbox will be full of paid speaking opportunities.

I’ve been booked for many events because someone saw me speak somewhere. I know several people who won’t book a speaker unless they, or someone they really trust, has seen them speak live.

The best way to find paid speaking opportunities is to show up and do a great job.

Let’s talk about some practical/tangible steps you can take.

A lot of it will depend on the type of event you’re speaking at and who is in the audience.

Early in my career speaking, I was talking to a lot of high school students. They obviously are not the people hiring speakers so I had to reach out to the school administrators.

PRO TIP: You never know who is in the audience. Just because high schoolers aren’t hiring you doesn’t mean someone else in the audience can’t.

For example, the wife of a National Director heard me speak and hired me. Once I was speaking at high school and the daughter of the State Director was in audience — they hired me too.

So how do you strategically get paid speaking gigs by referrals?

1. Tell People You’re a Speaker

As weird as it seems, there’s a lot of people in the audience that may not realize you’re a professional speaker. They think you’re just some random dude/dudette that they decided to have speak.

They don’t even realize you’re a speaker. You have to make that connection for them.


Directly and Indirectly

      • Indirectly — when I was speaking recently at XYZ company. Using stories/case studies/examples of clients or speaking engagements you’ve had.
      • Directly — at the end of your talk, “if you’re interested in having me come speak to your company or at your next event, let me know…”

2. Build an Email List

The best thing you can do is get people on your email list so you have the power and control to reach out to them. This way you can follow up with them instead of waiting for them to follow up with you.

I prefer the proactive approach rather than waiting by the phone for someone to call. Old school, passive approach if you ask me.

Looking for more ways to build your email list?

Check out this episode with Bryan Harris from Video Fruit.

Episode 28: How Speakers Can Grow An Email List, with Bryan Harris

I don’t want to dig deep into list building here. List building is an entire post on its own.

For now, know that list building is the most effective way to build your list of referrals and speaking opportunities.

3. Business Card

This is old fashioned but it works well for speakers. Once people are on your list, then you can begin nurturing that relationship through email. The goal is to stay top of mind with your subscribers.

4. Ask for Referrals

After the event, assuming it went well, ask the event coordinator that booked you if they can make other introductions. You might want to consider including that as part of your contract/agreement.

It’s a way to get more value if you take a discount on your fee.
Keep a long-term perspective. Many of the referrals I get come months and often years later.

For example, yesterday I got a booking request for an event. On our booking form, we ask how they heard about me. Their reply? “I saw you speak 3 years ago at a conference.”

Again, you never know who’s in the audience. That’s why again, I’d stress that your best marketing is doing a great job. That’s what people will remember.

Additional content on building a referral based speaking business.

Episode 30: How to Get Referrals When Speaking

Episode 23:. How to Network with Other Speakers

Episode 121: How to Get Repeat Clients and Referrals, with John Spence


If you’re looking for paid speaking opportunities in your area, try hotel chains. I searched LasVegas.com and it gave me options to Search multiple ways for events.

Searching for paid speaking gigs

You can also plug in date ranges, search by hotel and event types to narrow your search by category niche.

Find paid speaking gigs in any industry

There are so many options when it comes to finding events that you could literally spend hours searching for people or events to reach out to. This is exactly how you should be spending your time!

It takes time and effort, but in the end, you’ll be booked solid and have a list of places and contact that you should be reaching out to often.


You can set up Google Alerts for new content that’s released online. Anytime someone post on Google with those keywords, you’ll get an email.

You can set up alerts for keywords such as “Health Care Conference.” Once you get set this up (it takes 2 seconds) your inbox will be boomin’ with speaking opportunities.

Google Alert Preview

PRO TIP: You might want to set up a separate email account for just Google Alerts. Your inbox might be overwhelming to look at if it’s getting daily emails with opportunities.

If you’re serious about being a paid speaker and creating opportunities for yourself, this requires massive action.

Most people will make the list and leave it for days, months or even years and never take action on that.

You are not one of those people. Take action. I want to hear all about your success.

You ARE someone that will do the search, make the list, and reach out to coordinators.

Now it’s your turn. In the comments, tell me two things:

    1. What industry or niche are you in?

    2. What other ways have you found paid speaking opportunities?

Your Roadmap to a Successful Speaking Career is Here

Roadmap to a Successful Speaking Career

Did you know that most speakers have a successful speaking career because they followed a roadmap (consciously or unconsciously)?

They may not have known they were following a roadmap, but they do. There’s a step-by-step process you can follow that will yield greater, long-term returns.

The only problem is you don’t know the path to take or how to get there. Maybe you’re new to the speaking industry.

If that’s the case, it’s all good! I’ve got you covered. That’s what The Speaker Lab is all about.

The first step is deciding that you want to a be a paid speaker. Awesome!

You want to make the declaration to your family, friends, and co-workers, but you’re afraid they’ll ask you questions you can’t answer right away.

Some of your family members are supportive, yet some are not. I get it, but I too have some questions for you to answer so we can get you on the path to a successful speaking career right away.

Sound good? Great. Let’s get started.

It took me years to figure out The Speakers Success Roadmap and since then, I’ve been testing it out with thousands of speakers — just like you.

And you know what I’ve learned, it works! Time and time again, the roadmap is a blueprint for your growth and success.

You’ll also get bragging rights at the next family party because you’ll be able to clearly answer all the skeptical questions from Aunt Sally and Uncle Sal.

And you can finally stop hating Monday mornings.


Well, it’s an easy to follow, step-by-step roadmap designed to help speakers start and scale a business from the ground up.

It looks a little something like the image below:

It’s easy to remember because it’s the acronym S.P.E.A.K.

Clever right?

If you follow the steps that I’ve laid out below, you’ll be on your way to being a paid speaker and living life on your terms.

No more working for someone else and you can finally stop going in circles trying to figure it all out.

S: Select a Problem to Solve

When trying to figure out what problem you solve you have three areas you can dig into to learn more.

  1. Industry
  2. Interest
  3. Integrity


Who do you want to speak to?

“I want to speak to everyone, Grant.”
“Everyone needs my help.”
“I want everyone to hear my story.”
“I want to help anyone willing to listen, that needs motivation, inspiration, education.”

Ahh, stop right there. No, you don’t.

“If you think you can speak to everyone, you can really speak to no one.”
— The Speaker Lab
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You can’t talk to anyone that will listen. This is a common mistake I see all the time with speakers.

If you’re having a hard time choosing a niche, here is a list of the 7 most common industries hiring and looking for speakers:

  1. Corporations
  2. Associations (Any group that gathers around a common group or cause)
  3. Faith/Churches
  4. Non-Profits
  5. Government/Military
  6. Colleges/Universities
  7. Education (K-12)

Are you currently working in one of these areas now?
Which area are you most passionate about or have the most knowledge in?

Use the chart below when choosing your industry based on ease of entry and potential earnings.

Once you have your industry decided, choosing which problem to solve will become much easier on your road to becoming a successful solving which problem will be much easier.


What do you want to speak about?

Most people answer with, “Well, what do you want me to speak about?”
When you go to a restaurant, the hostess will give you a menu, right?

What if you walked into a restaurant with no options? Only a blank wall with no menu to choose from.

How would you feel? Lost, hungry, confused, overwhelmed and tired?

Wouldn’t you be skeptical? Isn’t that why we have American, Mexican, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, BBQ, and Indian restaurants?

We like options and if I went to a Brazilian steakhouse, I wouldn’t order the seafood.

Same goes for doctors. I wouldn’t think of going to a brain surgeon for a knee replacement.

Pick your niche based on your interest.

If you don’t, you’re wasting your time and people won’t know how to refer you.

Say you love movies, podcasting, and acting. You’ve been on TV as a reality star and you’re a local celebrity. You enjoy speaking but you say, “I’ll talk about whatever you want” to a potential event coordinator.

But here’s the deal: you can’t talk to everyone.

You can’t talk to corporate CEOs, health enthusiasts, entrepreneurs, married couples unless you have experience in those areas.

Now, this same person might be interested in business, health, entrepreneurship and have a relationship advice, but it’s best you stop saying everything because it’s not “everything.”

Stick with something you enjoy talking about. Are you good at tech, web design, landscaping, and horticulture too? Probably not.

Don’t try to be everything to everyone.

You’re not missing out on an opportunity by narrowing your focus.

In fact, it’s the other way around. You’ll be more appealing to more people if you pick an interest and go deep.

Stop trying to be a jack of all trades, and a master of none.

Once you choose a topic and niche ask yourself, “Could I speak on this topic for the next 5 – 10 years?”

And this topic must be a two-way street. Meaning, just because YOU think it’s important doesn’t mean it’s important to your audience.

It has to be something your audience has a problem with and wants a solution to.

A two-way street.
You have to be interested in the topic and others need to know it’s valuable.

And it might be extremely valuable, but if no one believes or knows it yet, no one will show up to hear you speak.

Plus, if you pick a topic and master your talk, your friends, family, and coworkers will think of you immediately when someone needs help with their podcast, sales or relationships.

Friends and family will know how to refer you rather than say, “Yeah I have a friend that likes speaking. If you need someone he will talk about anything.”

Boooo! That sounds horrible and people can’t make the connection.

Do this instead…

You’re talking with a friend at a coffee shop and she says, “I’m hosting an event for singles, do you know anyone that might be interested in speaking at the event?”

“Ah, yes, yes I do know someone… Let me put you in contact.”


Are you qualified to talk about this subject?

“…but Grant, what if I’m not an expert? I feel pretty good about the topic, but there are people that know more about it than I do.”

Let me give you an example, I know nothing about cars. I’m completely clueless.

Expert Speaker

Here’s what makes you an “expert:” You know more about a subject than someone else.

You’re two or three steps ahead of the person asking for help. I know nothing about cars, so the local mechanic is an expert in my eyes. Since he knows more than me, he has car credibility.

“You don’t have to be the best in the world to be considered an expert.”
— The Speaker Lab

At this point, we covered industry, interest, and integrity and you should be thinking about your sweet spot in the middle.

Successful Speaking Career

Is it coming together for you? Solving a problem for your ideal audience takes time to piece the puzzle together. If you’re still not sure, it’s totally normal.

Be patience with yourself. Keep going. You got this.

Now that I’ve explained all 3 I’s and have defined how to Select a Problem to Solve, it’s time to move on to Prepare Your Talk.

P: Prepare Your Talk

Speaking is a true work of art. You can be a natural speaker or you might have to spend years and years perfecting your craft.

Chances are, you might be a little bit of both. You could have that natural ability to speak in front of people, hold their attention and help them see a new perspective with greater clarity, but you might also need to work at this.

Successful people work at what they do. They work endless hours on the “thing” that lights them up. They don’t see it as a job. It’s something that they obsess over until it feels complete.

Speaking does that for me. I would write and recite for hours when I was preparing for a speech. In the beginning, it would take me weeks to finally feel like I had a talk worth delivering.

Now that process is much faster, but I still love the process of speaking, preparing the speech and delivering to the best of my ability.

For an introvert, you wouldn’t think this process would be so fulfilling, but it is. I’ve alway been fascinated by the art of speaking.

Listen, you can’t suck on stage.

You can have the best speech planned, but if you can’t deliver you won’t be successful.

And on the reverse, you can master the delivery, but if the talk sucks, meaning you couldn’t connect the dots for the audience, you’ll never be a successful speaker.

Here are a few resources I’ve compiled for you so you can learn what you need to know when it comes to preparing your talk.

How to Organize Your Talk
What you’ll learn:

  1. How can you organize your thoughts into a talk?
  2. What is a “brain dump”, and how can it help you be organized?
  3. The power of just one line or phrase, and how you can find yours.

How to Create and Refine a Presentation

What you’ll learn:

  1. How to find the best speaking points for your talk.
  2. The “Excel” method of outlining your presentation.
  3. What do you need to change for your different audiences?
  4. How can you use your stories and humor most effectively?

How to Create Your Talk

What you’ll learn:

  1. Why having a single idea makes your preparation easier and your talk better.
  2. What are the types of structures you can use to organize your content?
  3. When to create an outline and why it’s useful.
  4. Why I recommend never “winging it” with your talk.

The Art of Speaking Online Training Course is an all-encompassing program designed to help you crush it on stage. You’ll have everything you need to prepare and deliver the talk of a lifetime.

E: Establish Yourself as an Expert

There are two things you must have to be considered an expert.

  1. A demo video
  2. A website

Without these critical marketing pieces, no one will take you seriously.

After working with hundreds of speakers across the globe, to establish yourself as the expert, people will ask, “Do you have a demo video? What’s your website?”

If you say, “My site is currently under construction or I don’t have one yet.” You must begin building a site and posting your demo video on YouTube, pronto.

Here’s where most speakers make mistakes — they try getting paid gigs and building a site before they know the problem they solve or how to prepare their talk.

You should not be focusing on building a website if you don’t know who you are talking to or what industry you want to speak in.

If you want a successful roadmap, figure out “S” and “P” before you build a fancy website.

What’s more important is that you know the problem you solve and how to prepare your talk.

If you try to jump ahead, you might get lucky, but it won’t last. You’ll eventually have to go back and figure out your problem and how to deliver you talk.

It’s just how it goes. You can try to jump around if you like, but most likely you’ll be back at “S” soon enough.

Ok — you ready to move on? Great. Let’s talk about how to establish yourself as an expert.

Here’s a list of resources to get you started:

How to Setup Your First Speaking Website
How to Choose the Right Environment for You Demo Video

What you’ll learn:

  1. 9 tips for an enjoyable experience with your videographer.
  2. What is a “raw file” and why do you need to request a copy of it?
  3. How to shoot a video without a videographer.

How to Pick Your Domain
What you’ll learn:

  • Should you secure your own name as a website?
  • Where do I recommend purchasing domains?
  • What suffixes should you buy — .com, .net, etc.?

Now that you have a foundation for a website, how do you build a site that looks professional?

I get this question a lot, “Grant, what theme should I buy for my site? I’m not a designer and don’t know what I’m doing.”

I constantly hear people searching for WordPress themes. There are so many to choose from and often times they’re either too robust or lack creative function.

Choosing the right theme can be hard so here’s what I recommend.

It’s called, Podium, a WordPress theme designed with speakers in mind. I mean, it’s named “Podium.”

Podium, a WordPress premium theme for speakers
Isn’t that cool? I know, I’m a pretty clever guy sometimes. I surprise myself.

Install Podium and you can get started building your site today. I’m all about action if you haven’t noticed. 😉


You have your domain name, BlueHost for hosting (affiliate link), you’ve installed WordPress.org and the Podium theme.

Phew! Isn’t this fun? I love seeing you take the first steps to a successful speaking career.

Ok, you have your demo video edited and it’s ready. Your website is “under construction,” but not for long.

You’re ready for the next step.

A: Acquire Paid Speaking Gigs

This is your bread and butter. You’re finally ready to start searching for paid speaking gigs. You have your foundation set and now it’s GO TIME!

IMPORTANT: if you don’t have an email list of contacts or decision makers, word-of-mouth marketing and Google are you best friends.

You have to start building your list of contacts which means you have to build relationships with influencers.

Speaking is a relationship business.

How do you start building relationships with decision makers?


Reach out in an email.
“But Grant, what do I say in the email?”

Introduce yourself and tell them you’re a fan of their work. Give them an example of how their work has made an impact on your life.

Did you read their book?
Have you been to their live event?
Have you changed something about your life as a result of their work?

Tell them.

Don’t make this a long-winded email, but give them the SportsCenter highlights version.

It should take them 20-30 seconds to read the entire email.

They will appreciate you being brief and at that point, you’ve opened the doors for communication. Don’t expect them to reply right away, but if they do.

You have their attention.

But now that you have their attention, DO NOT SELL or say something stupid.

Please, please for the love of all things holy, ***DON’T BOMBARD OR SELL THEM***

You will lose the relationship before it even starts. Take a break and walk away from the laptop, Friend. If you come off pushy and spammy you’ll lose all credibility and the potential of a long-term partnership.

Don’t be annoying on the first date. You won’t get a second chance.

At this point in your speaking career, you’re always building relationships and your list of contacts. This is important for scaling to the next level.

It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. To have a successful speaking career, it’s imperative that you build relationships.

Want a free cool calculator that will tell you how much to charge for your first or next speaking gig?

Check out How to Determine What You Should Charge! You’re going to love it.

K: Know When to Scale

Well, you made it. This is the last piece to the successful speaker roadmap.

Knowing when to scale your speaking career beyond the stage.

When is it time to go “off the road” and take your knowledge, skills, and experience to a new level with products and services?

I can’t answer that question directly because there is no set time or limit to when and what you can create.

What I can help you with is a list of products (physical or digital) you can create that give you the next level you’re looking for.

So if you’ve been on the road and you’re looking to go beyond with your skills here’s a list of 10 ways you can make money beyond your speaking fee.

  1. Book
  2. Curriculum
  3. Product
  4. Coaching
  5. Consulting
  6. Webinars
  7. Online Training Course
  8. Train the Trainer
  9. Advertisements/Sponsorships
  10. Referrals

Awesome right? There are plenty of ways to build revenue and income streams past the one-time speaking fee at a conference or fundraising event.

Your roadmap to a successful speaking career is here! You’ve made it through all five steps.

Want to take your learning to the next level?

FREE TRAINING: How to Get Booked & Paid to Speak Without Having an Existing Platform or Being Sales-y

I’m proud of you!

How you feelin’? Good? Great? Confused? Ready to conquer the speaking industry?

Now, I’d love to know:

  1. What are your biggest takeaways?
  2. What excites you the most?

Do you have any questions? Comment below.

How Much To Charge For Speaking?


Most speakers generally prefer to get paid for their efforts. I don’t know about you, but I like to eat and live indoors, therefore, I like it when people give me money for my talks.

But knowing what to charge in the beginning is one of the biggest challenges and hangups for new speakers…

  • Do you just charge whatever “feels” right?
  • Do you charge whatever budget the client has?
  • Does it matter what you speak about or how long you’ve been speaking?
  • Do you need to have a bunch of free gigs under your belt before you can justify getting paid?

The Speaker Lab Fee Calculator

Click Here to Calculate Your Speaker Fee

Let’s start with this...

You CAN get paid on your first real speaking engagement.

But let me give a big caveat to that...

You need to actually be a halfway decent speaker. It doesn’t mean you have to be the best in the world, but if this would be your very first time ever speaking in front of other humans, you’re probably not ready yet.

My very first legit speaking engagement, I was paid $1,000 to speak one time.

But prior to that, I had been a youth pastor and had done some speaking there. I worked for a company doing a few school assemblies as well.

I had done a few things that had at least given me some speaking experience. But I was still paid $1,000 for that first engagement.

Click Here to Calculate Your Speaker Fee

So how much should you charge?

Well, to be honest, it depends on several factors. Here are a few...

1. Market

This is probably the biggest factor. The nature of the speaking industry is that you can charge more in some markets compared to others. For example...

  • You can charge more speaking at corporate conferences vs non-profits.
  • You can charge more speaking at colleges vs high schools.
  • You can charge more speaking at association events vs churches.

So often times your fee will be somewhat determined by the market you speak in.

2. Experience

The more experience you have as a speaker, the more you can charge. If you’re just getting started, you may not be able to charge people as much as someone who has several years of experience.

3. Marketing Materials

Often times, decision makers are looking at several different speakers. So if you’re all in a similar ballpark on fees, your marketing materials could be a factor. Meaning, how does your website look relative to other speakers? How about your demo video?

Whether we like it or not, we judge books by their covers and decision makers judge speakers by their marketing materials. If your website sucks, they may assume you suck as a speaker. Sad, but true.

Now, this doesn’t mean you should spend tens of thousands on a website or demo video. You can still have a sharp site or video done relatively inexpensively.

But if you’re going to charge $5,000, your materials should look as good if not better than other speakers at that price point.

Ok Grant, but you still haven’t told me how much I should charge? 🙂

The truth is I can't tell you exactly how much to charge. So I've come up with a solution for you to figure this out on your own. And you can use this tool over and over again each time you have a new speaking opportunity come your way.

You're welcome!

Click Here to Calculate Your Speaker Fee

Again, although there are several factors that go into it, it’s not unrealistic to charge $1,000-$2,500 for your first talk.

Anything less than that and people generally won’t take you seriously. This is a general rule of thumb, not an all or nothing opinion.

Now you can still take events that pay $500, $750, etc if you want, but I wouldn’t recommend you set your fee at that.

One of the simplest ways to set your fee is to build relationships with other speakers in your market and see what they were charging when they first started out. That’s what I did.

In the beginning, I charged $1,500+ travel for up to 3 presentations in 1 day in the youth market. From there, we’ve raised it numerous times but based on the feedback of other speakers, that seemed to be a good price point when getting started.

One of my biggest pieces of advice for new speakers wouldn’t be to get so caught up in exactly what to charge but to be grateful that you are charging.

When someone pays you anything for a product or service you provide, it expands your mind to what is possible.

It’s literally a magical experience.

You offer value so don’t give it away for free. Charge for what you do and be proud of it.

I can attest to the fact that the first time you get paid for speaking is just mind-boggling. How could they pay you anything to do something you’d do for free anyway?


But you are bringing value to the client and their audience, so don’t be afraid to get paid for what you do. Your work matters and the world needs to hear your message, and you need to be compensated accordingly.

Calculate Your Speaking Fee Below!
In the comments, I'd love to know if the number resonates with you...

How to Get Speaking Engagements

How to Get Speaking Engagements

Public speaking is something that is either incredibly terrifying or incredibly fascinating to most people. Being in front of a group of people presenting is an incredible rush. There’s nothing quite like it. Once most people get a taste of it, they can’t wait to do it again.

For nearly a decade now, I’ve made my living as a full-time professional speaker. I’ve given literally hundreds of presentations for thousands and thousands of people. I’ve spoken to classrooms with a handful of people and in an arena with 13,000 people (which was pretty cool I might add :).

Speaking is a great way to grow your audience or platform. It’s a powerful medium to share an idea or concept. It’s incredible tool for building relationships. And it’s really freakin’ fun. No wonder so many people are fascinated by this topic. So if we all agree that speaking is a great skill to posses for both personal and professional reasons, then comes the question…

How do I actually get booked (and preferably paid) to speak?

Well I’m glad you asked. Let’s start with some foundational questions…

1. Who do you want to speak to?

If you could talk to any audience, who would it be? What is the group of people that gets you excited to speak to? Teenagers? Entrepreneurs? Executives? Moms? Model train enthusiasts? Moms of model train enthusiasts? Who is it that makes you say, “YES…those are my people!”?

2. What do you want to speak about?

So let’s assume you could speak to that ideal audience…what would you say? What would you want to share with them that will enrich their lives, businesses, etc?

Now here’s a little bonus tip: just because you know who you want to talk to and what you want to talk about doesn’t mean someone will actually pay you for it. There are topics that the market will generally pay for and others that they generally won’t. How do you know the difference? Keep reading 🙂

3. What makes you qualified to present on this subject?

Of all the other speakers on the planet who could present on this topic, why you? Perhaps you have a fancy degree on the subject. Maybe you have significant experience. Maybe you have produced serious results with what you want to share.

The good news is you don’t have to have some fancy or lengthy pedigree to be able to speak. You don’t need to have been on Survivor (is that even still on?) or have won the Nobel Peace prize (because that’s on par with being on Survivor :).

I remember this was a concern of mine when I got started. I would do mostly motivational speaking, so people would ask me what my story was. What they were really asking was, “What was the tragic life event you had to overcome that makes you qualified to motivate us today?” 🙂

And the fact is I don’t have any fancy life story. Sure I’ve had a few hiccups in my life that I talk about in my speeches but nothing that is news-worthy or life-altering for most people. And that’s ok. There’s value in just being a really good speaker or being able to eloquently talk about a topic.

Now I understand that you may not know the answers to these questions at this moment. That’s okay. I’ve found the more you speak, the better you’ll be able to answer these questions. But in the meantime, at least come up with some broad answers so we have somewhere to start.

Before we start connecting with decision makers, we want to get a few other foundational marketing pieces in place.

1. Website

Do I really have to tell you this?! In this day and age, a website is your business card. If you’re serious about speaking, you must have a website. If someone is considering hiring you to speak, they will want to do their homework on you and your website is where they will do it. It doesn’t need to be complicated or fancy. Just a few pages to tell how you are, what you talk about, any recommendations or testimonials and a contact page. Really that’s about it.

If you already have a website, then you’re a step ahead. Just make sure your site communicates that you’re a speaker. People won’t think to book you as a speaker if they don’t know you are one. If someone you know was looking for a speaker, would they think of you? Not because of how good or not good you may be, but do they even know speaking is something you offer?

2. Demo Video

Think of a demo video like a movie trailer. You take a 90-minute movie and boil it down to 2-3 minutes of the best stuff. You can watch a trailer and have a pretty good idea what the movie is about and whether or not it’s a fit for you. That’s exactly what your demo video needs to be. It’s just a few short minutes showing highlights from your talk. Just like your website, a demo video is a must. You can tell a potential client you’re really good and that you’d be a good fit for their event, but they’ll want to see it themselves.

But how do you make a demo video if you don’t have any footage of you speaking? Like with anything, you start with what you’ve got. Do you have any speaking engagements coming up? Even just a small workshop, Sunday school class, or boardroom presentation will work. If not, can you find a small environment where you could speak (for free) just so you could film it? Worst case scenario, I’ve seen some demo videos of speakers just talking to an empty room. Now of course you can’t tell that it’s empty. You just need footage of you speaking.

My first demo video was horrible. The footage was grainy and the lighting was bad. You couldn’t hear the audio real well, and I wasn’t even that great of a speaker. I even edited it together on Windows Movie Maker! Why? Because that’s what I had to work with at the time! My demo videos have evolved over time and now my current one was shot and edited by a guy who does video work for Richard Branson, Tony Robbins, and Tim Ferriss. But in the beginning, work with what you’ve got!


3. Testimonials (optional but preferred)

Testimonials provide social proof that you know what you’re doing. Now I know what you’re thinking…”Grant, how do I get testimonials if I’ve never spoke before?!” Glad you asked! You have to start with what you’ve got. Have you given a presentation at a work meeting? Pitched a proposal before? Spoke at a PTA meeting at your kid’s school? Any public speaking experience will work.

Now, think back to who was in the audience that could provide some form of testimonial (side note: the fancier their title, the better). You don’t need them to lie or make up something that didn’t happen. But if you spoke for 10 minutes in a boardroom and someone has a testimony that you were “very well prepared and inspiring in your presentation. The audience was engaged with the talk and hanging on every word.” If that happened and someone will give you a testimonial for it, then use it!

Alright, so at this point, we’ve got our site, demo video and a few testimonials cobbled together. Now it’s time to get after it and start booking some gigs! After you’ve identified who you want to speak to and what you want to speak about, here’s the next big question to ask…

What are the events/conferences my people go to?

When I started my speaking career, I focused primarily on marketing to existing conferences. Why? Because I knew they already booked speakers. I didn’t have to convince an organization who had never hired a speaker that they needed to spend money on me. It’s much easier to get someone to use your service if they’re already used to paying for that service in the first place.

So where do your people gather? Spend some time on Google using related keywords to find conferences, associations, conventions or other gatherings of that audience. Pro Tip: Search by state as well. So for example, instead of just searching for “financial planners conference,” search for “California financial planners conference” or “Tennessee financial planners conference.”

Here’s why that is so important…not only will you discover a whole plethora of other options that exist, but often times, it’s much easier to get booked with state, regional or local conferences than it is with bigger national conferences. So start small in your search.

Once you’ve identified some possible events, then it’s time to find the meeting planner or conference organizer. This is usually on the “about page” or “contact page”. Depending on the size of the conference, there may be a bunch of people to choose from or it may be pretty clear who the decision maker is. That’s the key…we need to find the decision maker.

Here’s where a lot of speakers make a big mistake. We’ve discovered a conference we would LOVE to speak at. We did some searching and identified the decision maker. So what do most speakers do?

Send a ridiculously long email (that will never get read) about how great you are and why they should book you to speak.Please don’t do this!Think of this whole process like dating. You’ve identified someone that you’re interested in and think there might be potential for a relationship. You don’t send them a cold email proposing marriage. That’s a horrible life decision.

But that’s exactly what we do when we send those ridiculously long email pitches to someone who has no idea who we are.

Instead, here’s what I try to do…

Start A Conversation.

Send them a SHORT email asking about the conference. Preferably something they can answer with a short reply. Here’s an example…

Hey John!

I noticed your “Association of Beautiful Brewing Baristas” conference is coming up in a few months in Seattle. I have a presentation about helping your baristas go from Tall to Venti that I think would be a great fit for your conference!

I was curious if you have started taking proposals for workshop presenters yet?

Thanks John!


Notice what all happened in this email…

  • I did some basic homework to see when and where the conference is. Don’t email them asking when the conference is when it’s plastered all over their site.
  • I didn’t pitch why I would be the perfect speaker…I just offered an idea of what I might be able to speak about. I know what you’re thinking…”But Grant…I don’t have a talk about helping baristas go from Tall to Venti?” Well, they haven’t booked you yet, so you don’t need it. One of the best ways to sell a talk is to presell it. If they reply that they want you to present on that topic, then you can get to work. Now of course, if you throw out a one line topic of a possible presentation, it should be something you can actually present on 🙂
  • It was short and easy to reply to. No long rambling email with an unclear reason for why the email was sent in the first place.
  • I concluded with a clear question that could be answered with a simple yes or no. Easy for the recipient.
  • I included my speaking website at the bottom. I didn’t tell them to go to the site. If they’re interested, they’ll go anyway. When someone new follows you on Twitter, what do you do? You read their short bio and if what they do sounds interesting, you’ll go to their link! You don’t need the bio to tell you to go to the link.

So at this point, all you’re trying to do is build a rapport with the decision maker. Another idea is to research last year’s conference. Who did they have speak? What did those presenters talk about? Do you know any of those speakers? If you’re already in that industry, then hopefully you’ll know a few speakers who have been there before.

If so, it’s a good idea to reach out to them and get some more context on the event. Is the person you emailed about the conference the actual decision maker? Depending on the relationship with your friend, could they give you an intro to the decision maker?

Again, let’s go back to the dating analogy. You see someone you’re kind of interested in, so what do you do? You’re start stalking researching them online! You want to discover who they’re connected to and if you have any mutual friends.

All of this is about building a relationship and establishing rapport with the decision maker.

Here are a few more tips as you get started with this…

Speaking Engagements

You’ll often speak for free before you speak for a fee

If you’ve never really spoke much and you don’t have a massive platform already, there’s a good chance you won’t get paid the first few times you speak. That’s not to say you’ll never get paid, but to get your foot in the door, you’ll often be speaking for free. Remember, you’re trying to build a relationship with the decision maker, so if you can present an insanely good workshop at their conference for free one year, there’s a better shot at getting paid the next year.

Know what speakers get paid for

Just because you’re an expert on a topic doesn’t mean people will pay for it. There are lots of topics that work well as a free workshop but the event planner wouldn’t pay you to talk about. If you notice, most keynote speakers talk about broad topics that most all the audience can connect with. But the workshops or breakout sessions are generally on more niche subjects that appeal to narrower groups of people. As a general rule, keynote speakers are paid and workshop presenters are not (unless that presenter is a “name” in that space, then maybe).

In the corporation/association world, speakers generally get paid for things that tangibly affect the bottom line. If you can help improve sales, customer service or company morale, you can get paid. If you want to talk about how Quickbooks can make accounting more fun…good luck.

Your best marketing is a great presentation

Marketing for a speaker is telling someone what to think about you until you show up and open your mouth. Someone who is a good marketer but a poor speaker can get booked initially but that won’t last. With any service, you still have to be able to deliver. If you’re good, word travels.

One of the best ways to get booked is to get other people to see you live – Any time I go speak somewhere, I always ask myself who is in the area (or at the conference) that has the potential to book me for something else? I know that if I can get them in the room and deliver a great presentation, there’s a good chance they’ll book me in the future. Why? Look back at the previous point…your best marketing is a great presentation. So make sure you pack the room with potential decision makers!

Here’s one final thing to remember….relationships take time. Getting to speak (and preferably paid) is not an overnight process. It’s a slow growth process that takes time. Don’t rush that process.

But if you’re committed to not only the craft of speaking but also the marketing and hustle it takes to get started, you can become a great (and frequently booked) speaker!