Lessons one and two were about understanding the world into which you want to speak, using text written by Randi Oster. We’ll continue with her tips #3-5 tomorrow but today I’ll step off that theme to answer some questions posed in a comment on Lesson 1 by Trevor Torres, a 17 year old hotshot “Diabetes Evangelist” who’s just started doing speeches. (See his first speech video* on his site.)
Here’s Trevor’s comment, with my answers embedded:
The main thing I’m interested in right now is getting more speaking gigs! To that end, some questions:
1) What types of organizations hire patient speakers most often? Schools? Hospitals? Medical associations? Pharmaceutical companies? All of the above?
See yesterday’s post – you’re basically asking “What do creatures in the Pacific like to eat?” :-)
All I know is who’s hired me, which is all over the map – the list is in the Past Events section of this site’s Schedule page.
In truth it will depend on whether people in any segment see value in your message. Farther down the road we’ll discuss how to achieve that.
2) What percentage of gigs come from referrals vs calling/emailing companies out of the blue? Which should a speaker focus on?
I can’t say what your future holds, but I hate “cold calling.” Every single Virtually every** gig I’ve gotten has been what marketers call “inbound” – they called me.
Your best sales channel will probably be word of mouth from satisfied customers telling other conferences to book you.
That’s one reason your reputation is essential – a reputation as someone who leaves clients satisfied. And that’s why it’s essential that you do the work (per yesterday’s post) to understand their concerns. That’s a much more fun path to sales than cold-calling!
3) Are there any best practices when contacting an organization about speaking opportunities?
I don’t do it, so I don’t know. Others may. (Anyone?)
But here’s one method for spreading your reputation, when you’re starting out:
a) Create a thrilled client. (You’re a natural, but for most people that will take time; no problem, just keep at it.)
b) Ask them “Who else do you know that should hear me talk?”
4) From first contact to standing on stage, what does the process of finding a gig generally look like?
We’ll get into the “post-Yes” event preparation process much later.
Footnotes below; next post in the series: Cognitive dissonance
* Do you have speech videos on your site? It’s one of the first things I told Trevor to do. (If you don’t, how can a prospective “buyer” know what they’re getting??) See my Videos page on my site – it’s become too cluttered, but when I was starting out it was an essential sales tool.
When you’re starting out you surely won’t be paid for your first speeches, but perhaps you can negotiate that they’ll videotape you. Today, my standard “terms of sale” say that if any recordings are made, I get a copy for my website.
** There’s one exception to this – it’s rare, by definition, so it’s not something you should count on. We’ll cover it much later.