What You Need to Know About Public Speaking Opportunities

June 25 - Bobbie Carlton

Have you been asked to speak at an event?

Today’s Woman to Watch and founder of Innovation Women, Bobbie Carlton, shares five things you need to know about public speaking.

What do you mean by “speaking opportunities”?

Not everyone is Sheryl Sandberg or Hillary Clinton, giving keynote addresses at large events. There are lots of different kinds of opportunities to get onstage and share your knowledge. When we talk about speaking opportunities, we include things like sitting on panels at technical conferences, giving webinars, speaking at meetups, participating in podcasts and fireside chats, being a judge at a pitch contest and more. There’s an incredible span of opportunity in being open and available to the different kinds of speaking engagements.

Why speak?

Public speaking often comes higher on the list of top fears than death, so why do we spend so much time urging women to get out and speak? Because it makes a difference for your business and your career. Speaking engagements put you in a position of strength. People see you as an expert and you gain credibility from speaking. Visible entrepreneurs get more investment. When you speak, the audience can consist of everyone from potential investors, partners, customers, reporters, industry analysts and even new employers. Do you work for a big company? Your presence speaking can help bring in more resumes from other women because they will see your employer as a female-friendly company.

How do I find speaking opportunities?

Every week, the Innovation Women team compiles more than 100 calls for speakers for our members, but you can also do it yourself. Look for calls for speakers on the websites for the events, conferences and tradeshows you attend. Most have submission deadlines six to eight months before the event. If you miss this year, make note of the cycle for next year. Meetups will have a group owner or organizer you can contact. Google the term. Haunt Twitter for #CallforSpeakers.

Who me? You!

You don’t have to be the CEO, an astronaut or finished first at the Brickyard to be an in-demand speaker. Sometimes it’s the specific little things an event manager needs. We once had an event manager looking for a speaker who could talk about “objection handling,” wasn’t interested in any of our top expert sales speakers and just wanted someone to talk about handling objections. What’s your specialty? Now own it!

Someone will pay me to speak?

Well, maybe, maybe not. Half of all event managers have absolutely no budget for speakers. Forty-two percent have a budget for some speakers (maybe just the keynotes or they will pay for travel for someone in need). In other words, only a very small percentage of events actually pay speakers. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get value out of speaking. Whether it’s selling a product, your book, workbook or workshop, speaking in front of an audience may be lucrative, even if you don’t get paid outright. It’s up to you to decide whether you go on if the opportunity is uncompensated. Just remember that most event managers aren’t putting you onstage to give a sales presentation. Subtlety counts.

Bobbie Carlton is the founder of Innovation Women, an online speakers bureau for entrepreneurial, innovative and technical women. They connect event managers with female speakers and have nearly 3,000 users on the self-service platform, making dozens of connections every month. Bobbie and her team help women get more visibility for themselves, their careers and companies. To learn more about Bobbie and Innovation Women, check out her On The Dot Woman To Watch feature here!

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