If you’ve started a speaking business, but are still figuring out the lay of the land, you may benefit from networking with other professional speakers. But where do you find them? While the internet has some forums for professional speakers, professional speaking conferences represent another golden opportunity to make connections with others in your niche. What are some examples of the top speaking conferences? Here at the Speaker Lab, we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 professional speaking conferences you should know about.
1. National Speakers Association Influence Conference
The National Speakers Association (NSA) is a US-based collection of speakers helping one another build their businesses. They have many local chapters that meet regularly as well as various national conferences you can attend. This organization allows you to network with other professionals in your field and learn from some of the best speakers and trainers in the business.
The NSA’s flagship professional speaker conference is its annual Influence event, typically held over a weekend during the summer. At the Influence conference, you’ll find the world’s foremost experts on speaking and entrepreneurialism. You’ll be able to build your business, cultivate your craft and grow your community.
2. Toastmasters International Convention
Toastmasters is one of the most famous public speaking organizations around. It is an international organization that has grown to be one of the largest public speaking-focused organizations in the world, with over 300,000 members in more than 15,800 clubs in 149 countries.
Toastmasters has a local chapter-based structure, and weekly hour-long meetings are the norm for most clubs. It also hosts the World Championship of Public Speaking, one of the biggest speech contests in the world. This months-long competition culminates at the Toastmasters International Convention with 28 semifinalists competing for the award. Although it was primarily virtual over the COVID years, this professional speaker conference is set to go back to in-person in the Bahamas in 2023 with a half-week summer conference.
3. CAPS Convention
The Canadian Association of Professional Speakers (CAPS) is a Canadian non-profit association of experts who speak professionally, including keynote speakers, trainers, coaches, and facilitators. According to their website, CAPS is oriented toward helping those “looking to expand your reach, impact, and revenue, by growing your speaking, training, coaching, or consulting business.”
The CAPS annual convention, held remotely during COVID, was relaunched in person in 2022 with a weekend event in Calgary. Convention events and workshop topics included workshops and events on how to get more bookings, sell more products and services, captivate audiences from big stages, host your own event, and delegate to a virtual assistant. Open to members of CAPS and non-members, ticket rates for the professional speaker conference ranged from $150 CSD to $1,275.
4. Virtual Speakers Association International Summit
According to their website, the Virtual Speakers Association (International) is “for Speakers, MC’s, Trainers, Consultants and Experts; anyone who uses their voice on a one to many basis to create revenue.” Based in the Netherlands, the VSAI is a global organization for professional speakers around the world.
Formed in 2021, the Association offers membership to speakers creating revenue from webinars or other remote trainings. They put on a day-long summit in 2022 for virtual speakers. Registration is included with a membership fee payment of €395 per year. The VSAI also puts on frequent one-off events throughout the year; for a complete list visit this link.
5. Global Speakers Federation professional speaker conferences
The Global Speakers Federation is an alliance of 17 independent speaker associations representing 17 nations and individuals from over 20 countries. Their member associations are in Australia, Austria, Canada, France, Germany, India, Latin America, Malaysia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Philippines, Russia, South Africa, Singapore, Switzerland, the United States, the United Kingdom and Ireland.
The GSF website lists their priorities as aiming to “strengthen worldwide recognition of professional speaking within the meetings industry, provide support to member associations on forming, managing, and leading associations, including sharing best practices, and build a global community of like-minded people to encourage alliances, connections, and support networks.”
The GSF oversees many speaker associations’ events, including the Virtual Speakers Association International, CAPS, and NSA. If you are a native English speaker, you may also find relevant their additional associations in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and Ireland. If you are native in another language, you may be interested in their association events in France, Germany, India, and Latin America, among others.
6. Rostrum Sidney Wicks Competition
Rostrum is an Australia-based nonprofit association of public speaking clubs, similar to Toastmasters. The first Rostrum club was founded in Manchester, England, on July 21, 1923, and its first meeting was held under a yew tree at Greendale Farm near Manchester. The first meeting in Australia was held under an Angophora tree in 1930. According to their website, Rostrum is the longest-running public speaking organization in the world.
The Sidney Wicks Speaking Competition is the major national event for Australian Rostrum members. It is held every few years in Australia, alternating with state and territory competitions. For more information, check out the Rostrum website here.
7. Association of Speakers Clubs Conference
Another Toastmasters equivalent is The Association of Speakers Clubs (ASC) in Great Britain. ASC helps speakers become better at their craft, by providing training and advice. It is a nonprofit comprised of individual clubs throughout Great Britain.
ASC’s annual conference is also similar to Toastmasters’ conference. Held annually in the spring, the conference includes the finals of the three national ASC public speaking competitions, namely Speech, Topics and Evaluation. It also includes a Gala Dinner. The National Conference represents an opportunity to see some of the ASC’s finest speakers in action as well as to network.
8. Professional Speakers Australia Convention
The Professional Speakers Australia group is another NSA-style association of speakers with professional speaking businesses in Australia. Founded by a group of professional speakers eager to learn more about their craft, the association has grown into a thriving community that gathers regularly to share best practices and improve their skills. The Professional Speakers Association of Australia has been a leading voice in the Australian speaking industry for more than 35 years.
The PSA Convention is held annually in the spring. Their 2023 convention in Melbourne lists ticket prices from $770-1,430 AUD.
9. PSA Speaking Business Summit
The Professional Speaking Association (PSA) of the UK and Ireland was created in 1999 as a way for professional speakers to share their experiences, pool resources, and help create a support network. The organization aims to raise the standards of professional speaking by providing educational opportunities and promoting communication within the industry. According to their website, The Professional Speaking Association “has over 100 events every year, these range from regional events, to new-member days, events for the Fellows and National events such conventions and masterclasses.”
Of most relevance to those starting a professional speaking business is the PSA’s annual summit, held over a weekend in the fall. The 2023 Speaking Business Summit in Birmingham, UK, lists ticket prices from £ 349 to £ 674. See their website for more details: https://speakingbusinesssummit.com/
10. Bonus: Event Management Conferences
Finally, in lieu of one specific conference, see below for three separate conferences for event planners and organizers. Each has its own different angle, but all of them are intended for those event organizers you can network with to potentially book gigs. See more below!
For 39 years, International Confex has brought together the biggest collection of events industry professionals in the UK. Confex is where you can network with suppliers, venues, and service providers to help you plan your future events. Confex also has a world-class conference program that takes place across two days in the spring. There were over 100 talks from industry experts at Confex slated over the last year.
International Confex is co-located with three other events: The PA Show, Event Production Show and The Publishing Show. You can obtain a badge that gets you into all four shows, which means you’ll benefit from extra content and networking opportunities. For more information, check out https://www.international-confex.com/about-confex
Event Planner Expo
The Event Planner Expo is a place for you to meet top-level owners and executives from all over the country. If you’re looking to expand your business, this conference is for you. Held in New York City in 2023, the Event Planner Expo represents an opportunity to make connections that could benefit your speaking business.
Canadian Meetings and Events Expo
The Canadian Meetings + Events Expo is the largest and longest-running Canadian tradeshow and conference for meeting and event professionals. Each year, you have the opportunity to network with vendors from Canadian, US, and international destinations, venues, tech companies, décor, etc. The next Expo is slated for summer 2023 in Toronto, Canada.
So you’ve now learned a little more about the top 10 speaking conferences you should know about. Which one will you be attending this year?
Want to learn more about speaking conferences? Check out this episode of The Speaker Lab Podcast on the future of live events here.
Still want more? Check out our blog post on how to find paid speaking opportunities in any industry. Happy speaking!