IMG_1900This is part 2 of 21 Ways To Get Paid Speaking Engagements… go here for part 1

15. Spin-Offs

Spin-off gigs and referral gigs are your bread and butter. This is how you can build a speaking business and have a horrible website (cough cough Les Brown) but still book more speaking gigs than other speakers with insanely great marketing materials.

Someone like Les Brown has a reputation as one of the best motivational speakers out there. So he doesn’t need to have one of the best websites or create a great Google Adwords campaign. This is the level you want to get to…

You want to get to a point where most of your gigs are booked because someone saw you at an event.

A lot of speakers focus on referrals but even referrals are nothing compared to the spin-off gigs you get.

When you’re in front of 400 people at a corporate event, they get to see exactly what you’re about and the response you create. That’s a million times more powerful than a friend telling them you’re great.

It’s the difference between first-hand experience and being told about an experience.

But like anything, you have to learn to capitalize on the opportunity of being in front of people seeing you speak. You need to have a process for getting spin-off gigs rather than expecting someone to hire you.

Most speakers get on stage, speak, and hope people come up to them asking for a business card. They leave it to chance.

But when you have a process, you’re more deliberate about how to get people to come up to you and more importantly, how to get the right people to come up to you.

Your process should start before you even get on stage.

You should ask the person who hired you if there’s anyone in the audience who could hire you for their event…is there anyone you should meet?

The person who hired you will be able to tell you. They will say something like, “Oh yea, see that person over there with the duck-face? That’s the CEO of….”

Once you know who’s who…now you know who to talk to after your presentation.

That’s just the beginning of the process.

But do you see how much more powerful it is when you make something deliberate versus when you just wing it?

Speakers who wing it will just get on stage and hope people come up to them. They don’t know if the people who come up to them are the right people or if they’re just excited by the presentation. So for all they know, there could be 20 CEOs in the audience but the speaker is spending time with people who can’t hire them.

When you have a deliberate process for getting spin-off gigs, you turn it into a lead generation machine rather than a lottery ticket.

Pros & Cons:
-This is the number one way to get booked
-You can’t just ‘wing it’…think through what to do
-Doesn’t cost any money
-To do this, you need a gig to begin with

16. Speaker Directories

speaker directorySpeaker directories are just as appealing to speakers as the bureaus are.

It sounds good…

You sign up for a speaker directory and you get an email when someone is looking for a speaker like you. The client essentially comes to you and you fill up your calendar.

Sounds good because someone else is doing the work for you…but that’s not how you build a business.

If you expect other people (or websites) to book speaking gigs for you then you’re going to be disappointed. You’ll realize that you aren’t getting as many gigs as you want and you’re not getting paid what you want. And the reason is because you’re being too passive about your business.

Yes, you can book gigs from a directory…just don’t depend on it.

The way you’re going to maximize your chance of getting booked on a directory is to make sure you have good pictures, good videos, and the make sure your copywriting is on point.

Like all marketing materials, don’t half-ass this. When you fill in the description and add pictures/videos, make sure you add your best. Make sure you add the ones that influence meeting planners to hire you.

Include pictures of you in front of a corporate crowd. Include video testimonials of previous clients who loved what you did.

If you don’t have any of that, it’s going to be harder to get booked…but you have to start somewhere. So just make sure your description is really good.

When most speakers upload their ‘bio’ they talk about themselves.

But if you want to get hired then your bio has to relate it back to what they get out of hiring you.

So instead of just saying, “John Doe was born in Smallville and got a PHD in Leadership.” You would add tidbits like, “John Doe’s presentations on leadership are extremely interactive.”

The purpose of everything you do is to sell yourself as a speaker…even in your bio.

Pros & Cons:
-Not a replacement for booking gigs yourself
-Most offers are low paying speaking gigs (below $5,000)
-Lowest bid usually wins
-Set it up once and you don’t have to do much else other than respond to leads

17. Create Your Own Event

Benji Bruce Speaker Gala

This is a guaranteed way to speak on stage.

If you create your own event then you would have to be on a whole new level of dumb to not put yourself on stage.

Doing seminars is a great way to make a ton of money in the speaking business if you know how to sell from the stage.

This is how Tony Robbins built his empire.

Ever since he started, he created his own events instead of focusing on getting paid speaking gigs in the corporate market. Did companies offer to pay him to speak…of course…but it wasn’t his focus.

When it comes to getting paid gigs in the corporate market, the process can take awhile because you need to keep making calls and sending emails. Then you only get paid $10,000…$20,000…whatever the fee is…and that’s it.

But with seminars, you can make seven figures in a weekend (that’s only if you’re REALLY good).

This is the route that appeals to a lot of speakers because they see big money to be made. They see the big timers like Tony Robbins killin’ it on stage. They see other lesser-known speakers talking about how they made six-figures in a weekend…and they’re thinking to themselves, “I have a message, I want to do that.”

But hold on a second there buddy….

If you’re going to go the seminar route then you really have to focus on this segment and completely forget about paid gigs.


Because the amount of work you need to do to put on a successful seminar is more than speakers realize.

You will negotiate with the hotel (make sure you negotiate everything with them) and you will need to put ‘butts in seats.’

Getting people to the seminar is the biggest problem most speakers have.

And this requires marketing knowledge.

To get people in seats, you can use Facebook Ads to target people who are located in the same location. You can post the event on eventbrite. And direct mail works.

Once you get people to the seminar (easier said than done), now you have to focus on creating a REALLY great experience. Not only that, but you have to be good at selling from the stage so you make a profit off the seminar.

Tony Robbins creates a full-blown experience at his seminars and he knows how to sell without making it look like he’s selling. That’s why he dominates the speaking industry.

But you don’t need to have a huge seminar to make this work…you can start small and make sure you’re building out your process…making it ready to scale.

You can start a meetup and linkedin group, have consistent meetings, and then invite them out to a small workshop (20 or so people).

By doing this, you will get to practice on a small scale before playing with the big boys.

You get to practice your skills of getting people to an event (what exactly your offer is that’s going to make people want to come). Then you get to practice your ability to sell from the stage. And then you can scale it.

Pros & Cons:
-You can make a TON of money in seminars
-Need money to get the room, etc
-Must know how to sell from the stage

18. Being Famous

Screen shot 2012-03-12 at 3.57.07 PM

Yea yea…easier said than done right?

Getting publicity is a sure-fire way to not only build your speaking business but to charge way more than any other speaker you know.

Why can celebrities, with horrible speaking skills, get paid six figures for a boring talk? It’s because they’re famous.

Focusing on publicity is a great way to position yourself as the go-to guy in your market. That’s what Tony Robbins did.

Are there people out there who know more than Tony Robbins? People who are more of an expert than him? Of course there are.

But Tony Robbins is the celebrity of the industry.

When you reach this level, people don’t just come to see a speaker talk about a subject, they come to see speaker.

I was talking to an entertainer named Uri Geller who’s famous for bending silverware. He was THE entertainer back in the day and now he does speaking as well. Uri Geller is a very smart guy and built his entire business from publicity.

The biggest problem with any business…especially the speaking business…is a lack of visibility.

TV creates massive visibility but you have to know how to use it.

If you go on TV and you’re ‘normal’ then nothing will come from it.

What producers are looking for is ratings…they want guests on there show that can capture an audience’s attention and keep it.

The only way you’re going to do that is to NOT be normal. There has to be something different that you’re doing or a way you talk that keeps people tuned in to you.

Ever heard of Kim Kardashian? Of course you have…she built her entire 9 figure empire by doing things people talk about. Publicity is that simple.

Pros & Cons:
-You will have a ton of haters
-You will have more fame than your haters
-Must learn how to monetize the publicity
-Good way to get people to come to you for booking gigs

19. Loss Leader

The definition of Loss Leader is: Selling at a price below it’s market cost so you can generate more sales on the back-end.

What does this have to do with booking speaking gigs?


Have you ever been offered to do a free speaking gigs? Of course you have.

With the Loss Leader, you would accept the free speaking gig because you have a way to still make money from the gig.

Maybe a non-profit calls and says they don’t have the money to pay you (non-profits actually have plenty of money) so they want you to speak for free. So if you implement the Loss Leader method then you would accept the speaking gig with one exception…

They allow you to sell your products.

So you might not be getting paid your speaking fee, but because you’re good at selling from the stage, you can still make money (you can actually make more than your fee if you’re really good).

You can also do this if a company doesn’t have your full speaking fee.

So maybe you quote $15,000 and they only have $5,000. You can tell them that you’ll still do it but they have to let you sell you products. More often than not, they’ll agree because they know that you need to make up for the loss in the paid fee.

Ever heard of Icy-Hot? The product that Shaq was (or is) promoting? They started out with a Loss Leader style of marketing.

They actually lost money when someone purchased the product…I believe it was around 20 cents. So every time someone bought Icy-Hot, they actually paid .20 instead of profiting from it. But because the business owners understood their customer lifetime value, they knew that they would profit down the line when the person re-orders.

But you don’t need to always sell a product for this to work.

Lets say you get a call from a meeting planner’s association and they say they want to bring you in for their event but they won’t be paying you. In fact, they say that you have to pay for your plane ticket. Should you accept the gig?

If you know that the audience has highly targeted meeting planners and you have your ‘spin-off’ system in place, then you should take the gig. Even though you lose $800 worth of expenses, you book 20 future gigs from it at $10,000 each…it’s a no brainer.

The Loss Leader is 100% dependent on you being able to profit from the backend of your business.

Pros & Cons:
-You lose money on the front-end
-You make money on the back-end (if you know how)
-It’s a win/win for both sides (they don’t pay you, but you make a lot of money)

20. Trade Shows


How on earth could you get speaking gigs from trade shows?

Getting gigs from trade shows is actually a ‘loss leader’ method. You pay to be at a trade show and you advertise your speaking services…that simple.

The key to all trade shows, no matter what business you’re in, is to choose the right trade show.

As a speaker, you can get a booth at the SHRM events.

SRHM is an association of HR people and these are the people who can hire you as the speaker for company events. So when you have a booth at this event, you’re connecting with all the right people.

This is also something you can negotiate if someone calls you for an event and they want you to speak for free. Maybe they’re going to have exhibitors for their conference so you can say that you’ll speak for free if they give you a free booth.

Once you get a booth, now it’s a matter of getting people to your booth.

You’ve probably been to trade shows where some booths have a ton of people and others look like a ghost town. The staff just sits down, hangs out, and looks bored. If you get a booth at a trade show to advertise your speaker services then you don’t won’t to look bored.

You need to do something to build a crowd around your booth and convert that crowd into leads.

Fortunately for me, I’m a mentalist. So I can build a crowd by doing mind reading demonstrations and keeping people entertained while pitching them my services. I’ve also done this for other companies. They hire me to build a crowd around their booth and attract leads.

So if you go to a trade show to drum up business then you have to understand how you’re going to get people to your booth. Don’t be like everyone else and just hope someone talks to you. Be active. Talk to people. Hire entertainment to build a crowd for you and convert that crowd into leads.

Pros & Cons:
-Only works if you’re at a highly targeted trade show
-The bigger the trade show, the more it cost to get a booth
-Great way to attract leads to you instead of you going to them

21. Conference Crashing

Now this is a fun way to get booked to speak.

Imagine a wedding crasher…except instead of crashing a wedding, you crash a conference.

This is essentially highly targeted networking because you’re putting yourself in front of people who host events. And there’s no doubt in your mind that they host an event, because you’re crashing the one they’re currently hosting.

Now this does take some kahunas but it’s not as scary as you would think.

All you have to do is go to a hotel and look for an event that’s going on. Then just walk inside like you’re supposed to be there.

Sometimes they will have people at the front who might stop you but this also depends on your confidence. If you walk like you own the place and like you’re supposed to be there, people won’t say anything to you.

And if they do stop you to ask for a badge, that’s when you strike up a conversation and say something like, “Oh, I was actually wondering who’s in charge of this event? I’m a speaker and I would love to talk to them.”


You’ve just gotten yourself in front of a meeting planner.

I do this a lot when I’m hired for an event and I notice another event is happening in another room.

Instead of just sitting in my hotel room, I’ll walk down to the other event and ask for the person who put on the event. Then I’ll introduce myself, ‘WOW’ them with a mind reading demonstration, and tell them about how I combine speaking with entertainment.

I’ve gotten several gigs doing this and it’s a good way to do something productive instead of just sit in your hotel room.

You can also do this when you’re paying to be at a conference.

So maybe you’re at a conference/seminar and you notice another event is going on in another room. Most speakers stick to the conference they paid for…

But you should have no problem walking over to the other conference and networking with people who hire speakers.

Pros & Cons:
-Guaranteed way to get in front of a meeting planner
-You won’t always get to meet the meeting planner
-Less quantity of leads but higher quality

And there you have it…21 ways to book paid speaking gigs.

I think you’re awesome…so it’s only right if you leave a comment about how awesome this post is 🙂