How to Pitch a Speaking Engagement

You’ve been blogging and interacting to build your author platform, and now it’s time to get out there and connect with your audience live and in person—but how do you get those speaking engagements? It takes a combination of three things: relevant speaking topics that can be honed to a specific audience, a speaker’s press kit, and a customized pitch.

Relevant Speaking Topics. Before approaching an organization or event coordinator for a speaking engagement, you need to know what you will be talking about. It’s best to develop several different key speaking topics that are relevant to your platform. Once you develop your presentation materials for each topic, you’ll always have them on hand. Then you only need to tweak them to meet the needs of a specific group or update them to keep them current. This keeps you from drafting a brand new presentation every time you speak. Also, it helps you develop and hone your message by consistently presenting on the same topics and lets others identify you as a potential speaker based on your topics.

A Speaker’s Press Kit. Similar to your author press kit, a speaker’s press kit should include the following:

  • A professional, quality headshot
  • Both a short (50–100 word) bio and a full length bio
  • Credentials—education, certification, experience, track record, etc.
  • Speaking history (Don’t worry if you don’t already have many engagements under your belt; you can build on publishing credits and other experience until you build your speaking history.)
  • Speaking topics—the list of talking points and topics of expertise you identified above
  • Menu of services—the types of speaking you do, plus your rate for each type
  • Speaker’s reel—an edited, high-quality video montage of you speaking
  • Contact information

Your speaker’s press kit should be both downloadable and available in print. Make sure that it is always packaged in a clean and professional manner. A bad first impression can kill your pitch, no matter how timely your topic or amazing your speaking abilities.

A Customized Pitch. Most pitches are made in writing, either through email or snail mail. You want to customize your pitch for each event or organization. Personalize the address line to the organizer or chair. Research the organization and their attendees to find out what their needs and concerns are so you can identify how your speaking topic(s) can help them. You may need to slightly alter your topic to make it pertinent or more appropriate for a specific audience—be willing and able to do so. If there are posted guidelines for speaker pitches, follow them to the letter and, above all, be respectful.

Remember, you may not be a good fit for every speaking engagement you go for. Also, don’t be quick to decline no-fee presentations or small-fee presentations, as they often lead to bigger and better opportunities.

For more information on pitching speaking engagements check out:

  • National Speakers Association
  • Toastmasters International
  • Speak and Grow Rich by Dottie and Lilly Walters