Young Entrepreneur Council: 12 Steps to Break Into Public Speaking and Build Your Brand

How do you break into the world of speaking engagements to grow your brand?

The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. The YEC recently published #FixYoungAmerica: How to Rebuild Our Economy and Put Young Americans Back to Work (for Good), a book of 30-plus proven solutions to help end youth unemployment.

A: Make the Pitch

Draw up a list of all the professional organizations in your industry, and make note of when and where their annual conferences occur. If it makes sense for you, draw up a proposal for a panel or other type of presentation that would provide value to conference attendees. Once you get a recording or two up on your site, you can start getting paid for your appearances.
-- Steph Auteri, Word Nerd Pro

A: You Gotta Start Somewhere

The best advice that I can give is offer to speak at no monetary cost to a well-known organization. In exchange for you speaking, the organization will need to provide you a professional recording of your speech. While there, record video testimonials with your phone. A quality demo video and testimonials will take you a long way in nabbing other engagements that are paid.
-- Lawrence Watkins, Great Black Speakers

A: Host a Telesummit

By bringing together a variety of accomplished speakers around a particular topic, you build your own list by capturing the email addresses of the people who want to access your calls. Also, as host and as one of the speakers, you establish your credibility through your association with the other participants. And, when people search for your speakers in the future, your name will pop up!
-- Alexia Vernon, Alexia Vernon Empowerment LLC

A: Go Off the Beaten Path

You don't keynote at SXSW or speak at a commencement for your first speech. Every great speaker started out speaking to small audiences off the beaten path. Look for opportunities to speak to student groups and university classes locally; they're always looking for people willing to come share their experiences and knowledge. As a plus, a mistake while you're learning won't trend on Twitter.
-- Jason Evanish, Greenhorn Connect

A: Something Old, Something New

Start with new conferences in your industry, these are easier to break into and have fewer applications from prospective speakers. It's good to keep a running calendar of all events and submission deadlines. Just remember, you have to pay your own hotel and flight 90 percent of the time.
-- Matt Mickiewicz, Flippa and 99designs

A: The Ultimate DIY

What do you know better than anyone else? Host a workshop -- in-person or virtual -- where you can share about that topic. Get quotes from people who thought you did a great job and set up a speaking page on your site or blog. You build your speaking legacy one speech at a time. Get to work!
-- Sam Davidson, Cool People Care, Inc.

A: Make It Happen on Meetup

Creating a community on Meetup around a topic that is relevant to your business is a great way to get practice speaking in front of an engaged audience. Start by moderating panels with professionals in your industry. Eventually, you'll build up the credibility and skills to be a panelist yourself.
-- Emily Miethner, NY Creative Interns

A: Just Face It!

I suggest looking at the different places you would like to speak, and creating opportunities to talk face-to-face with someone who can give you a chance. The more we are connected via the web, the more rare it becomes that people connect face-to-face. Be the one to do just that.
-- Michael Bruny, Ambassador Bruny.Com

A: Note What's Necessary

As a former top salesperson for a speakers bureau and someone that has a speaking management division at their company, I can tell you that there are a few keys factors: create a quality sizzle reel with market materials, and develop a quality database of the organizers of the events you want to do. Email them, send direct mail, and even consider on site visits.
-- Raoul Davis, Ascendant Strategy

A: Grab Your Pens

I do a lot of public speaking on behalf of TalentEgg on topics related to youth employment. But it didn't come from nowhere. I started out by writing as much as I could about the topic -- on the company blog, for industry publications, etc. Eventually, someone in the industry took note and asked me to speak at a conference. If you do a great job at one event, it spirals from there.
-- Lauren Friese, TalentEgg Inc.

A: BarCamps and Unconferences

Start attending BarCamps (such as WordCamp or PodCamp) and other unconferences. Many include tracks where people can offer to speak the day of the event. That means that you can get some chances to talk just by showing up. It's an easy place to start, even if that means that you need to be able to think on your feet. Several of my early speaking gigs were at unconferences!
-- Thursday Bram, Hyper Modern Consulting

A: Start Local to Go Global

Find local organizations that have speakers on a regular basis, and send in a speaking proposal with a few topics and bullet points. You won't be an expert in your backyard, but you can use these smaller gigs to pitch bigger events and conferences over time, and fine tune your message and speaking skills.
-- Nathalie Lussier, Nathalie Lussier Media

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