At The Speaker Lab, we are passionate about helping you take your speaking business to the next level. A big part of the SPEAK framework that we teach for launching a sustainable, successful speaking business involves establishing yourself as an expert. One of the best ways to do that is by making sure you have a strong, professional speaker website.
If you’re not familiar with the SPEAK framework and how it can accelerate your speaking career, we can help.
Establishing your expertise doesn’t mean learning everything there is to know about e.g. rare snail-shells. It means demonstrating that you know enough about those snail-shells to deliver good, value-adding content to your audience. You could be the world’s most learned snail-shell scholar, but if you can’t communicate that expertise to potential clients nobody will hire you to speak about them.
The two key pieces of communicating your expertise are your demo video and your speaker website. We’re going to cover the latter today, since it includes the former. Frankly, in the speaking world, if you don’t have a speaker website, you don’t exist.
Don’t panic–if you’ve been wondering how to set up a speaker website, what belongs on it, or where to find speaker website examples, we’ve got you covered. We’ll start with an overview of what websites do for speakers, then cover the six essential pieces of content you need on yours. Finally, we’ll run through some basics about technical aspects like domains and design. We’ll even direct you to a few great examples of successful speakers’ websites that you can look to for inspiration.
The goal of your speaker website
Good speakers websites are all geared toward a twofold goal.
- Establishing yourself as an expert to event planners and other potential clients.
- Communicating who you are, what you do, and other elements of your personal brand as part of your broader marketing strategy.
Let’s go over a few things regarding #1. Like we said above, establishing yourself as an expert is one of the essential steps to launching a successful speaking business. You want to be known as the go-to authority for solving a specific problem for a particular audience (your niche). Creating a personal brand that sends that message is essential to getting paid gigs. Selling yourself doesn’t come naturally to everyone, which is why you should start by communicating the basics with authenticity and clarity through–you guessed it–your speaker website!
Something that a lot of new speakers don’t realize is that the audience for your website is usually not the same as the audience for your talk. Sure, the people who hear you speak will hopefully look you up afterward to find out more about you. But your speaker website is fundamentally a tool for getting paid speaking gigs. The people who hire you to do speak–usually event planners–are the ones you need to impress.
Keeping this in mind, the navigation and content of your website should all be oriented toward somebody deciding if they should hire you for your next event. Don’t distract from the essential content (covered in section 2 below) that answers the questions they might have! The worst thing that can happen is that an event planner looks at your website, can’t tell if you’re a speaker or what you speak about, and closes the tab. Your speaker website should be entirely optimized toward the potential client reaching out to you about a speaking engagement. Before you set up your speaker website, put yourself in the position of the client. What would they be thinking? What signs of trustworthiness and expertise would they be looking for? Create your site accordingly.
When it comes to marketing and branding, your speaker website should reflect all the things that make you and your business unique. In the solo-preneur speaking world, you are the CEO, salesman, and product all at once. That means your website shouldn’t just list your speaking services, but should communicate a great deal about who you are. Your passion, message, and mission should shine through alongside the explanation of the services you offer. If your website is terrible, people will assume that you are terrible at what you do. It may be a hard truth of the digital age, but it’s reality. As you start crossing off the items in the next section, make sure they contribute to a cohesive brand–however simple–that reflects your personality.
Six essential elements of a speaker website
Everything it takes to make a good speaker website can fit on one page. With these six elements, you will be well-equipped to make a favorable first impression.
- Your demo video. Your demo video should be front and center. This is the highlight reel of your speaking experience, giving potential clients a taste of what it’s like to have you on stage. If you are still working on collecting footage or putting your demo video together, we have a podcast for you.
- Contact info. Make it as easy as possible for people to get in touch with you. A form or button embedded or linked below your demo video gives people the option without having to navigate to a separate contact page. We always recommend including both an email and phone number somewhere on your site. While most people will reach out via email, a phone call is often a much faster path to getting booked.
- Pictures. Professional headshots and action shots of you on stage show that you are a professional speaker who does this regularly. These are essential for nailing the first impression with clients who want to make sure you’re legit. In addition, you should sprinkle in a few real-life shots to forge a human connection and express your personal brand.
- Recommendations. You can start collecting testimonials as soon as you start speaking. Anyone who has heard you speak can provide one–even family and friends who show up for moral support. Include the client or event where you were speaking if possible. As you speak at more events, you can add new quotes from audience members, colleagues, and clients alike. Don’t feel shy about asking for these–speaking is a relationship-based business, and you will probably have a chance to return the favor someday.
- Bio. Your bio shouldn’t just parrot your resume, but should weave together your life story and your legitimizing speaking experience. Remember, clients want to do business with someone they can trust. Those human elements–mentioning your kids, your dog, or your favorite vacation–all help build trust. You can learn all about writing a stellar speaker bio here.
- Topics. You might think you can speak about everything, but you’ll be more successful if you narrow down your topics. These should be the perfect intersection of your expertise, audience, and the type of industry or event space you want to speak in. Make your “menu” of topics, event types, and speaking categories (e.g. keynote, workshop) easily accessible on your speaker website. Keynote speaker Ty Bennett does this really well here.
These six items are the non-negotiables, but by no means an exclusive list. If you’re ambitious there are many other options you can consider, like a “mission and vision” page, a color scheme that elicits the same emotions as your speaking, SEO optimizing your text, or integrating a social media strategy that leads people to your site. Ultimately, it’s all about making a good first impression.
Setting up your speaker website
We don’t want you to feel overwhelmed by all the ideas we suggested for those six essentials. All of those elements can fit on a simple, single-page website that you set up yourself. Really, that’s all you need at the beginning of your speaking journey! Here are some tips for the more practical side of setting up a speaker website.
- Use your name as the domain. After all, you’re the product. Owning the domain for your name helps you maintain that online space even if you pivot your business.
- If you haven’t created websites before or “tech stuff” doesn’t come naturally, you should probably outsource. Hiring a professional is a much wiser investment than wasting time and struggling to put together something mediocre. You don’t have to pay through the nose for this–there are plenty of low-cost avenues for hiring a web designer to explore. Friends and family, local college students, upwork, fiverr…the list goes on and on!
- If you feel that you have the necessary creative chops to build your website from scratch, use WordPress or Squarespace. These two platforms offer easily customisable themes with all the possibilities you need for a solid speaker website.
- If you already have a personal website that reflects your personal brand, you can also add a speaking page that fulfills the same criteria. Use a simple, obvious URL (like yourname.com/speaking) so you can link to it separately. Even if you offer other services, make sure speaking is still featured on your homepage. Chris Ducker’s website is a great example of this. While his homepage highlights business coaching, it features several photos of him on stage, leaving no doubt as to his speaking experience!
Once you have the basics down, you can always add bells and whistles if it’s in your budget or skillset. (If you’re already a seasoned web designer who’s now pivoting toward speaking, we won’t force you to use a WordPress template). If it’s in line with your personal brand to use funky colors, fancy graphics, or a unique navigation menu, go for it by all means. But don’t distract from the basics.
Remember the goal of your website: making a good first impression and communicating your brand with clarity so high-potential clients get in touch with you. All the bells and whistles in the world can’t replace a compelling demo video. The most inspiring bio in the world will have no impact if you forget to include an easy way to contact you. The six elements we discussed above will take you a long way before you need to add anything fancy.
You might still be wondering what a speaker website should look like. There are so many possible ways to integrate the six fundamental elements…how do you decide what’s best?
At this point, you should probably spend some time looking at examples of speakers’ websites to see the variety of options available. Bookmark a few favorites to use as inspiration, but don’t try to copy anyone else’s brand…staying authentic and original will serve you far better!
We’ve linked a couple great speaker website examples earlier in this piece, but we’ll leave you with a few more of our favorites. Check them out:
- Neen James–you can practically hear her bubbly personality!
- Josh Linkner–lots of people talk about innovation, but do they also mention greasy pizza? Didn’t think so…
- Rick Clemons–just by reading the first line, a client will know whether Rick’s niche matches their event.
- Phil Jones–by emphasizing his stirring, transformative message his website establishes exactly what he’s an expert on.
- David Meerman Scott–he offers a lot of different services, but that big orange “hire me to speak” button is impossible to miss!
- Silvie di Giusto–her past clients, demo video, and contact information are all visible without even having to scroll!
These speakers’ websites are packed with personalization and energy while clearly communicating their niche and expertise. Don’t get bogged down by all the technical bells and whistles–you can communicate the same level of authenticity with a simple, single-page website.