I read all the emails sent to firstname.lastname@example.org (that doesn’t mean I respond to all, but I read them all) and I see a lot of mistakes made by speakers when they’re going after paid speaking gigs.
And the questions I’m asked reveal the mistakes.
Questions like, “How do I get paid speaking gigs?” And then I respond by saying, “What’s a link to your website?” And the speaker says, “I don’t have one yet.” …Do you see the mistake?
The problem with mistakes is that we don’t see what they cost us.
It’s like you’re sitting at a conference, next to the person who can help you with everything in your business, but you don’t know it because you don’t talk to him. So when you leave the conference, you don’t realize what you missed out on…the biggest opportunity of your life.
So in this post, I’m going to give you perspective on the biggest mistakes speakers make when building their business.
Mistake #1: My speaking topic is [x] and I want to get paid gigs, but so far I’ve been getting free gigs. I believe that what I have to offer is a paid service…so how do I get people to pay me to speak?
This is perhaps the biggest mistake I see speakers make when they want paid gigs.
Lets examine the question…
In some form or another, you have a speaking topic. And you probably want to get paid to speak on your topic. Nothing wrong with that…except you’re doing it backwards.
The question you need to ask is…what if they (your target market) don’t pay speakers like you?
What if you speak about ‘Gummy Bears’…and you want to get paid speaking engagements in the corporate market? Do you see the problem?
Most speakers think too much from their perspective.
They say, “I have speaking topic X and I want to get paid for it.” Instead, you should be thinking, “I want to get hired by [target market], what kind of speakers do they pay for?” HUGE difference.
Never make the mistake of confusing what you want to speak about with what types of speakers they [your target market] wants to hire.
Mistake #2: Wanting To Get Hired As A Speaker, But Not Having A Website
This is a huge huge huge mistake speakers make.
Think about it from a meeting planner’s perspective.
You’re a meeting planner and you’re looking to hire a speaker. One speaker sends you an email with a link to his website…looks good. Another speakers says they’re the perfect speaker for your event (and maybe they are), but they don’t have a website.
But…how on earth could you hire the speaker without a website? How would you know if this speaker is good or not? You can’t…so you don’t hire that speaker.
Whenever a speaker sends an email and asks ‘how do I get more paid speaking gigs?’…My response is always, “What’s your website?” And you’ll be surprised at how many speakers say they don’t have one.
Your marketing materials get you booked. Without marketing materials, you can’t get speaking gigs.
These are the marketing materials you need:
- Video footage of you speaking on stage
- Video testimonials
- Speaker website
- Speaker demo (you don’t need this at the beginning of your career)
- Pictures of you on stage
- Publicity footage (this is just a bonus…you don’t ‘need’ it)
Without your speaker marketing materials, there’s no possible way you can get hired as a speaker.
And more importantly, you have to have really good marketing materials.
You might have a website…but is it a good website? If not, then your ONLY focus…the ONLY thing you should be doing…is fixing your website.
If you’re serious about your speaking career then get serious. Don’t ‘dabble’ like most speakers. Get things done.
Mistake #3: Not having a process for getting speaking engagements
If you have great marketing materials and you still find it hard to get speaking engagements, then another mistake speakers make is that they don’t have systems in their business.
If you’re just ‘winging it’ then you’re making a big mistake.
What if Starbucks just ‘winged it’ every time they made a coffee? What if McDonalds just ‘winged it’ every time they made a hamburger? It would be like starting over every single time.
The Starbucks employee would keep saying, “So…how do I make a latte again? I think I put this in it last time but how should I make the latte?” Or if the McDonalds employee said, “So…should I cook these fries for 5 minutes this time?”
If they did that, it would be hard to build a business.
And the same goes for your speaking.
Most speakers don’t have a process for getting gigs. They can’t describe, in steps, how to get booked.
And very rarely is this because there’s a lack of information.
I describe, in detail, multiple systems for getting paid speaking gigs in the SpeakPro Academy. So the problem isn’t that the information isn’t there…the problem is that few speakers are dedicated enough to pay for the process.
They see it as, “It costs me X.” Instead of, “I can make Y.” Big difference.
You need to know exactly how to get yourself booked. You need to have the steps.
Mistake #4: Not reading everything on this blog
Ok this might sound like I’m just promoting this awesome, rockstar, super-wonderful, amazing blog…what’s the name again?… (cough cough Speaking Lifestyle)
But the reason I’m putting this as a mistake is because…almost all the answers to your questions are somewhere in this blog.
It’s a fact…the people who are the most serious about something, are the most invested.
Do you know what I would do if I didn’t know how to get paid speaking gigs, and I found a blog goes into detail about how to get paid speaking gigs? I would read every single word on that blog….twice!
Lets say someone wants to learn chess. Who do you think is going to learn it….
Person A: He reads about chess every now and again when he sees an article somewhere
Person B: He reads blogs about chess, buys chess books, goes to chess club, studies with a grand master, and spends every day obsessed with chess
The answer is obvious.
If you want to grow your speaking business, you have to be obsessed with information that will get you to the next level.
Mistake #5: Confusing ‘Busy’ Work With ‘Productive’ Work
Not all activities you do for your speaking business are created equal.
…Very few activities you engage in will grow your speaking business and it’s crucial that you figure out the most important activities, and only do those.
Do nothing which is of no use -Miyamoto Musashi
The problem with busy work is that it disguises itself as being productive…because you feel like you’re getting something done. Busy work isn’t an ‘obvious’ time waster, the problem is that it doesn’t seem like it’s wasting your time.
Let me give you an example of busy vs productive in terms of marketing materials…
Busy work = Speaker One-Sheet
Productive Work = Getting Video Footage
You will never get booked if you only do busy work…like create a speaker one-sheet.
Why is a speaker one-sheet busy work?
Because meeting planner don’t hire speakers from a one-sheet, they want to see video footage of you speaking. Knowing this, you want to focus on getting video footage instead of spending your days worrying about what you should write on your one-sheet.
In the SpeakPro Academy, I go into detail about how to get video footage even if you don’t have any. But it’s important that you know where to focus your efforts if you want paid gigs.
Mistake #6: Not asking for advice
You might have gotten an email from me where I asked you…what do you need help with in your speaking business?
Surprisingly, very little people respond…and even more surprisingly, some people say, “I don’t need help. Just checking things out.”
It’s important that you put your pride away if you want to grow your speaking business. When someone is in a position to give you advice, and you don’t take full advantage of it, then don’t be surprised when you don’t get results.
Let me give you a harsh example…
One of my mom’s friends has a son who’s very successful in his business…he’s a multimillionaire.
…And my mom’s friend started her own business…with partners. Unfortunately, they didn’t put anything in writing and they did a lot of things wrong. But…she isn’t asking her son for advice (the multimillionaire) because she know’s that he’s going to say things like, “Mom, you guys need to have procedures in place. You guys need to have contracts. You guys need…etc etc”
Basically, she doesn’t want to ask her son for advice because…well…it’s her son.
It’s like someone who wants to be great at basketball saying, “Yea yea, I know my dad is Michael Jordan. But I’m not going to ask my dad for help.”
And do you know what’s happening to her business? It’s failing.
If you let your pride get in the way, and don’t ask for advice when it’s offered, then don’t be surprised at the outcome.
Mistake #7: Being a ‘dabbler’
This is what separates the speakers who do this for a living and the ones who don’t.
When I started Speaking Lifestyle, I figured I would make it lighthearted…give some tips about getting speaking gigs, make it enjoyable. But I found out, very quickly, that it attracted the wrong speakers.
…it attracted ‘dabblers’…speakers who say they want to speak for a living, but they’re not committed to it.
So, I got more serious. I sent out more emails. I intentionally added speling mistakes and several other things…because someone who focuses on a spelling mistake or grammar is focusing on something so trivial that they miss the point of how to grow a speaking business.
And why did I start sending more emails? Because someone who is dead serious about speaking for a living will soak up all the information they can about the topic. But someone who’s a dabbler will say, “Damn, he’s sending too many emails. Where’s the unsubscribe button?”
Then we took it to a new level and started deleting people off this list who don’t open the emails and click on the links after a certain period of time.
Listen, if you dabble in anything, you won’t get results.
At the age of 18, this was my life. You can’t possibly become better than me because you’re not spending the time on it that I do. Even if you want to spend the time, you can’t, because you have other things, you have other responsibilities that are taking you away from it. So I already won. -Kobe Bryant
Look at the mindset of a winner (Kobe Bryant)…do you see how committed he is? He doesn’t dabble.
The speaker who wakes up and contacts 100 people a day will always grow his business faster than the speaker who contacts only 5 people. It comes down to commitment.
Just saying your committed means nothing. Words hold no weight. It all comes down to your actions. Show me, don’t tell me.
And those are the biggest mistakes speakers make when they want to get paid speaking engagements.