3 Simple Approaches to Finding Speaking Opportunities

by Derek Featherstone

I know you want to get paid speaking gigs. You need to find speaking gigs first—paid or not. Once you've found conferences, workshops, and events, you can start to zero in on the ones you want to speak at and the ones that will pay you. Here's a big step in the process: finding a decent number of gigs in the first place. How? Read and learn...

This is the second article in a series of articles on Getting Paid Speaking Gigs.

In order to find paid speaking gigs, you really need to be able to find any speaking gigs in the first place.

Here are three approaches that I have used and continue to use to find speaking opportunities. Once you find them, you can start to target specific events that look like they're a good fit for you.

The Direct Approach: Seek and ye shall find

Search the web for conferences, workshops or training in your subject area. Look at the ads that show up. Look at the first 5 or 6 pages of results. If you can't find a list of a handful or two of events and conferences that look like they might be a fit for you, then maybe you made a spelling mistake in your search! They seem to be everywhere. Here's a couple of examples that surprised me:

The Indirect Approach: Associations

There are associations for almost everything. What do associations have? Members. People, just like you and me that are interested in a particular topic. And almost every association has some type of event: a yearly conference, quarterly professional development/training opportunities, or even monthly networking groups. All of those events need speakers. Many of them will pay.

Rule of thumb? Where there are associations, there are speaking opportunities.

Don't believe me? see for yourself:

The Piggy Back Approach: On the backs of other speakers

Find a speaker that speaks about a subject in the same field as you. Then, find all the conferences that they've spoken at over the past year (most speakers provide some kind of a listing of where they've spoken). Then go to those conference web sites and look at the list of other speakers. Go find the conferences that they have spoken at. You now have a list of say, 8-20 speakers, that spoke at 5 conferences each, and each of those has another 8-20 speakers at them, each of whom spoke at 5 conferences.

Now, I know it isn't quite that simple. Some speakers speak at more, some at less. And there's overlap between speaker lineups. But even with 50% overlap, there's a lot of conferences that are just out there waiting for you! All available by starting with just one speaker.

Now, where do I look?

Just get out there and start looking. There's a gold mine out there just sitting on the internet waiting for you.

  1. Google it. Bing it. Yahoo! it. (Does anyone use those other search engines?)
  2. Use Lanyrd: the social conference directory. There's more data there than you can imagine.
  3. Look for conferences on LinkedIn. There are also groups for public speaking, but I've (so far) found them to be of very limited value (that may just be me though!).

You seriously have more data than you know what to do with. Go do something with it.