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How to approach event organisers for speaking opportunities

Stepping onto the stage as a speaker can be an exhilarating experience that provides an excellent platform to share your expertise, grow your brand, and network with industry professionals. However, the journey to the podium starts much earlier, and the path to securing that speaking opportunity is paved with proper communication, research, and strategic networking.

If you've been contemplating reaching out to event organisers to pitch yourself as a speaker, here's a step-by-step guide to help you approach them with confidence:

1. Research the Event Thoroughly

  • Before approaching an organiser, be well-informed about the event. Understand its history, the type of audience it attracts, and the themes or topics it usually covers.
  • Review past events, paying particular attention to the calibre of previous speakers. This will give you an idea of the standard they're looking for.

2. Identify Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

  • What makes you stand out as a speaker? It could be your experience, a unique perspective, or a new technique or strategy you've developed.
  • Your USP should align with the event's objectives and provide value to the attendees. Make sure it's something that the organisers will see as beneficial.

3. Craft a Compelling Pitch

  • Once you understand the event and your USP, it's time to create a pitch. This should be concise, compelling, and focused on the benefits you'll bring to the audience.
  • Include a short bio, topics you can speak on, and any links to your past speaking engagements or relevant content (like videos or articles).

4. Choose the Right Time

  • Timing is crucial. Don’t pitch for an event that's too close as the slots might already be filled. Conversely, don’t pitch too far in advance as your proposal might be forgotten. A general rule is to start your outreach 4-6 months before the event, but this can vary.

5. Use the Right Channels

  • While emailing is the most common method, some events might have a ‘Call for Speakers’ form on their website.
  • Engage with organisers on social media, join their mailing lists, and attend related webinars or online sessions. This will give you an organic way to initiate a conversation.

6. Follow Up, but Don’t Pester

  • If you haven’t heard back after a couple of weeks, it's okay to send a gentle follow-up.
  • However, be cautious not to become a pest. If an organiser hasn’t responded after two or three attempts, it’s best to move on.

7. Show Genuine Interest

  • Don’t pitch yourself only with the intention of promoting your brand. Show genuine interest in the event, its theme, and the value you can bring.
  • Expressing enthusiasm for the cause or subject matter will show organisers that you’re not just looking for any speaking gig, but that you have a genuine interest in their specific event.

8. Leverage Previous Engagements and Testimonials

  • If you've spoken at other events, include feedback, testimonials, or ratings in your pitch. Positive endorsements from attendees or other organisers can significantly bolster your credibility.

9. Be Open to Different Formats

  • Some events might offer panel discussions, workshops, breakout sessions, or fireside chats. While you might have your heart set on a keynote, being flexible increases your chances of landing a slot.

10. Prepare for a Conversation

  • If an organiser shows interest, they might want to have a chat to see if you're the right fit. Be ready for this! Reiterate your enthusiasm, but also be prepared to answer questions about your content, style, and how you'll engage the audience.
  • Always Be Gracious
  • Whether you secure a speaking slot or not, always thank the organiser for considering you. Building good relationships in the industry is vital, and you never know what opportunities may arise in the future.
  • Continue Building Your Speaker Profile
  • Every speaking engagement, no matter how small, adds to your profile. Actively seek opportunities, attend speaking workshops, and continuously refine your presentations. Over time, as your reputation grows, so will the invitations to speak.

Pitching yourself as a speaker is a blend of understanding the event's needs and presenting your skills in a manner that aligns with those needs. By following these steps, not only will you increase your chances of landing speaking gigs, but you'll also establish yourself as a professional and valued voice in your industry. Remember, it’s not just about getting on stage, but about sharing valuable insights and creating meaningful connections.

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