There’s no such thing as a free speaking engagement.
I know, you are thinking, “but the chamber doesn’t pay their speakers”, right?
And while they don’t, that has nothing to do with your ability to turn an opportunity to speak to their members into your next payday.
The fact is, speaking is one of THE best ways to build your business. The power that being face to face with your ideal prospects can take you from zero to hero in a matter of 30 minutes (or the amount of time you get to speak to the audience) is exhilarating and well, Incredible..
I know that most people have not learned how to leverage a free opportunity because positioning is very challenging to master. And you have to learn this skill to use the talk time to position yourself as the only solution. Positioning is one of the most challenging concepts to grasp, but it is also one of the most important if you want to be seen as the only solution to the problems your ideal clients have.
Most business owners struggle here, which is why I was so elated to get Sherri’s question. Check it out in this week’s episode of Incredible Factor TV:
“Hi Darnyelle. I’ve been booking a lot of speaking engagements but the majority of them are free. (They are after all the easiest to get.) I’ve heard you say before that there is no such thing as a free speaking engagement, so can you share a few tips to help me maximize these speaking gigs?”
See my response to Sherri’s question:
First, Sherri, let me say thank you for asking this question.
As I share in the video, there are really a few different types of speaking engagements:
Paid – In this situation the organization or meeting host has a budget that they have allocated to bringing in the best speakers. These are usually reserved for best selling authors, thought leaders and industry “celebrities.” These opportunities are the hardest to get because in today’s conference and event marketplace, the opportunities are fewer and farther between. You usually need to be on the watch list and/or be building a relationship with the meeting host sometimes 9-12 months before the event is scheduled to take place (unless you have brand omnipresence).
Speak to Sell – These are the opportunities when you are given a platform to speak, but you’re not paid or you even pay to get on the platform and you make a resource (or program offering) available to the audience to earn your income. In order to get these types of engagements, you have to have a proven track record of sales success from the stage and you should expect to give a portion of your sales to the event promoter… after all, they filled the venue with your ideal prospects.
Business Development – These types of speaking engagements are the easiest to get. With over 4,000 events each day in the United States, most meeting hosts know that they can get quality speakers without it costing them money since speaking is such a viable way to build your business. Typically with these types of engagements, you are not able to position a resource but that doesn’t mean you can’t position yourself so that you create a line of tons of people who want to continue to engage with you. In the episode, I shared a story about a business development speaking engagement that yielded 6 figures within 10 days after the gig.
In order to experience results like mine with business development speaking engagements, here are a few tips:
1. Don’t just speak to speak, speak only when your ideal clients are going to be in the room. Make sure that you ask questions of the meeting host to “qualify” the attendees. You’re an expert and time is money. If you’re going to spend time (and often money) marketing your business through speaking, be sure that you are speaking to those who can deepen their relationship with you should they decide (and make sure you position yourself correctly.)
2. Make sure your topic solves a top of mind problem. It’s true that people in pain are actively seeking a pain killer. If you want to get booked and have people attend, ensure you know about the specific problems that the group is experiencing and build your talk around that.
3. Master positioning. It’s never about what you’re selling, it’s always about how you package and position it. Which means you need to get very clear about:
a. Yourself via your compelling story. Be sure to position yourself as a credible expert who has a right to be standing up and sharing insights, content and expertise on the topic of your choosing. Be sure to tell them why they should care about and listen to you. I like to break this down into three components: Your Robert Frost (cross road when you chose the road less traveled), Your Sam Cooke (when the big change came and how you became better because of it) and Your Harriet Tubman (how you became a proponent for helping others experience the freedom you enjoy because you took the road less travelled and made a massive change in your life/health/business/career, etc.)
b. Your audience. You’ll need to share who should listen to you. I recommend that you do this by focusing on the emotional pull of the challenge or problem that you are equipped to solve. You’ll usually have a series (3 to 5) statements that finish this sentence: “This is for you if…”
c. Your topic and the problem it solves. You’ll need to thoroughly explain why right now is the best time to solve the problem they have. You’ll need to share statistics that make this topic relevant to the reason why they aren’t experiencing what they truly want instead of what they are experiencing right now.
4. Demonstrate your expertise. Be it through client success stories and case studies or literally pulling someone up in front of the room and helping them to experience a breakthrough before the rest of the audience, you have to show them that you have the goods.
5. Follow up. It’s not just an old adage; the fortune is really in the follow up. Which means you’ll have to do it ideally in 24-48 hours AFTER your talk to yield the results. The reason why I closed $100,000 in ten days is because I followed up. I had 80 people to call and got the results from 15% of the list. I didn’t wait for them to call me, I called them. Interestingly, while reading an article last week, I learned about a study that was done by Referral Squirrel which showed that:
- 2% of sales are made on the First contact.
- 3% of sales are made on the Second contact.
- 5% of sales are made on the Third contact.
- 10% of sales are made on the Fourth contact.
- 80% of sales are made on the Fifth to Twelfth contact.
I get that this is a skill that takes time to develop which is why I created a video series that will help you to position yourself to own the stage and the best part is that it’s complimentary. For more tips, check out my free video series, Own the Stage. You can start watching the videos by visiting http://tinyurl.com/ownthestagenow
Yes, I do believe that every speaking engagement is a paid engagement. The question is, “who is paying you?” By learning how to position yourself, you can control your pay day and stop leaving money on the table.
Now, I want to hear from you: What’s your two cents? How do you leverage free speaking opportunities and use them to build your business? Have any advice for Sherry?
©2015 by Darnyelle A. Jervey. All Rights Reserved. Darnyelle A. Jervey, MBA, The Incredible Factor Business Optimization Coach and Mentor, is the founder of Incredible One Enterprises®, Incredible Factor University® and the Leverage Your Incredible Factor System®, a proven step-by-step program so you experience financial and spiritual abundance in your life because of your business. For more information and a FREE audio CD “7 Critical Mistakes Even Smart Entrepreneurs Must Avoid for Clients, Connection and Cash Flow!” just fill out the form below.