In March 2015 I got on stage, by myself, to speak in front of an audience for the first time.
It was at Podcast San Diego, a local podcasting event put together by the guys behind Podcast Movement, Dan Franks and Jared Easley.
I remember receiving the invite from them to speak at the event.
“Who, me??”, I thought to myself when I opened the email…
After a lot of sweating and pacing and second-guessing myself, I anxiously accepted the invite, and just to be sure there was NO WAY I could be any more uncomfortable about it, I asked for the opening keynote spot.
Playing outside of your comfort zone
Since March, I’ve gotten on stage to present in front of an audience 4 more times.
What I honestly felt would just about kill me to do 1 year ago has made me stronger than I ever would have thought.
Accepting speaking engagements has not only helped me gain credibility and authority, it’s also helped me carve out a specific space for myself as “they systems” expert, connect with my audience on a deeper level, and gain added exposure for EOFire and Kate’s Take.
I hear a couple of common responses from the people I mention speaking engagements to:
1) I get major stage fright and there is NO WAY I could stand up in front of an audience and present; or,
2) I’m not smart enough/good enough/knowledgeable enough/popular enough to be able to speak to an audience.
I totally get it, because that was me right before I accepted the Podcast San Diego speaking engagement.
The more fear you feel about something, the more reason to do it
I’ve talked a fair amount about letting fear give you permission to move forward – if you aren’t scared to do something, then that probably means it’s not going to help you grow or move your business forward.
I share my story about Podcast San Diego because the fear I’m talking about is true for 90% of the population – I know it’s not just me.
Unless you grew up just loving to be on stage in front of an audience, speaking is a scary thing – for John, too. In fact, the #1 fear across the entire human population is the fear of public speaking.
I didn’t realize I could get up in front of an audience and present… until I actually did it.
Same goes for John; the more he practices his speaking, the better he becomes.
And sure, we both had doubts about sharing our knowledge (and really, sharing our self) with an audience who potentially had no idea who we were; but we also know speaking is an incredible way to grow our reach.
If speaking engagements tend to freak you out, then that’s a GOOD THING! That means they’re probably more worthwhile than you know.
So, even if you’ve always thought speaking engagements are something you’d NEVER do, I invite you to open your mind and really think about the benefits that I’m going to dive into right now.
3 Major benefits of speaking engagements
1. Credibility & authority
Being on stage and sharing your knowledge and expertise with an audience is a great way gain even more credibility and authority in your niche.
If you weren’t an expert on your topic, then you wouldn’t have been considered for the engagement in the first place, so step up and own it!
Also, when you focus on finding speaking engagements within your industry, then just being included in a lineup of other experts will bring you credibility and authority by association.
For example, John’s first speaking engagement was at New Media Expo in January of 2013, barely four months after he launched. Being able to say that he spoke at New Media Expo helped him land other speaking engagements along the way.
So the same way John uses past guests’ names to secure bigger guests, you can use conferences you’ve spoken at to secure bigger speaking engagements.
Speaking at a conference in your industry or niche gives you the opportunity to win over new fans and potential customers for your business by putting you in front of a group of attendees who may have never even heard of you before.
In providing valuable knowledge through your presentation, you’ll be introducing a captive audience to your brand and what you have to offer.
3. Opportunity to engage
Meeting face-to-face with your existing fans and followers – those who already feel as though they know you from the work your do online – is powerful, because no matter how well you think you know someone from interacting with them online, there is always that next level of engagement.
Meeting with your audience members in person can also help solidify trust and likeability. If you’re looking to bring your online relationships to the next level, meeting in person is a great way to make it happen.
Okay, now that you know some of the benefits of speaking, you’re probably wondering how on earth you even go about land a speaking engagement?
I got you covered…
3 Ways to get noticed
If you’re looking for speaking engagements but not sure how to actually put yourself out there to be considered, then keep reading.
I highly recommend putting together a plan and trying out the 3 ways to get noticed below. These are things that have helped me get noticed for the speaking engagements I’ve landed this year, and I’m confident they can help you, too.
1. Define your niche
In order to get noticed in a specific niche, you have to be present within that niche.
The same way it’s easier for your avatar to find you based on your niche, it’s easier for industry leaders to find you based on your niche as well.
Once I started focusing my content on teaching systems and processes, others started taking notice.
A majority of my talks this year have been on that very topic: creating systems that create freedom.
2. Establish yourself as an expert
Defining your niche is the first step – not the only step.
Once you’ve defined it, you need to understand who your avatar is so that you can start providing them with valuable information that will help them.
In doing so, your audience will start looking to you for that information and view you as the expert.
Once I focused in on systems and processes, my content followed suit. Everything I published on the EOFire blog, my podcast and in the interviews I was doing on others’ podcasts centered around systems, and that has helped establish me as the expert on that specific topic.
3. Be consistent
When you prove to your audience that you have valuable content to offer that can help them, they’ll start to come back to you for more – but only if you’re providing that content on a consistent basis.
Pick a schedule and stick to it so that your audience not only knows your content is valuable, but that it’s also reliable.
Let it be known
Finally, if you’re looking for speaking engagements, you have to let it be known.
Make a list of the top conferences you’d love to be featured at, then reach out to conference organizers and pitch yourself! Until you start talking about the fact you’re interested in speaking, no one is going to know to invite you!
Speaking can be scary, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it, especially given the benefits it can have on your personal and professional growth.