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17 Ways to Find Speaking Opportunities

Note: This list of ways to find speaking opportunities was originally published in 2012, however it has been updated over time, with more resources and links. Today, it’s the most popular page on the Famous in Your Field website. Best of luck and enjoy!

how-to-find-speaking-opportunities

How to find public speaking opportunities

The sure-fire way to accelerate your reputation as an expert and boost your business box office is to speak.

From short talks to panel discussions and auditorium-filled formal presentations, public speaking catapults you from relative unknown to business superstar.

Stumped as to where to find these business-building opportunities? Here are 17 21+ ways to find speaking engagements.

I’ll get you warmed up with a few from the quick-and-easy list:

1. Local service clubs

Every city, big or small has organizations or clubs – think Kiwanis, Lions Club, Chamber of Commerce, and Rotary – that meet regularly. These members need content to fill their weekly or monthly meetings. Help them out by out by connecting with the programming chair and offering to speak on your specialty.

Ask your friends, neighbors and colleagues who participate to connect you with these service groups.

2. Colleges and universities

Look around you. Chances are, you live near a university, college, state school, technical school, or some other educational institution. Team up with a professor or department head to hold a forum a subject relevant to you and the educator’s interest group. Invite people from the community to attend as well.

3. Business networking groups

These lead exchange or facilitated networking groups are designed to be a tightly knit group of individuals from diverse businesses who meet regularly for the purpose of bringing business opportunities to the other members. Popular groups are Le Tip, Business Networking International (BNI), and Local Business Network (LBN). Join your preferred group and let the members know that you’re interested in speaking opportunities.

4. Special interest clubs

Photography fanatic? Mother of a preschooler? Coder with mad skills? No matter what your interest or circumstance, there’s a group for it. And if you can share information on a topic that’s relevant to its members, they’ll welcome you as a speaker.

5. Local business publications

Most metropolitan areas have a magazine or newspaper devoted to area business news. Here in southeast Michigan, we have the Business Review and Crain’s Detroit Business. Check out the periodical’s Events page (in print or online), then contact the organizations listing presentations and pitch them for speaking.

6. Your clients

No need to get all fancy and overlook one of your most highly qualified sources! Ask your clients what groups they belong to and whether they accept outside speakers.

7. Other professionals who speak

Look around at your colleagues, competitors, and other professionals who target the same audience you do. Check their websites and LinkedIn profiles to see where they’ve spoken.

Then, you can contact those same organizations and pitch yourself, too.

The smartest move of all is to collaborate with a like-minded few speakers to share opportunities and refer each other. Together, you’ll score so many more!

And do you want more? You got it! You can also find speaking opportunities right from the comfort of your own laptop:

8. Meetup.com

9. Eventbrite.com

10. Facebook Events

Each of these sites provides tools for like-minded people to organize gatherings around shared interests. Visit the online site and search for meetings or events by topic and geographic location. (With LinkedIn and Facebook, events might be in-person or virtual.) Attend one or two to see if it’s a good fit for your speaking topics.

11. InsideInfoMarketing.com

This site offers an “up-to-date listing of events, teleseminars & training being hosted by the most influential thought leaders in Information Marketing today.” If you sell online programs and information products, this is your site!

12. Online conference directories

AllConferences.comLanyrd, Plancast, Conferensum and Conferize are online directories, just for conferences. Sign up for these services, customize your profile and wait for events to be delivered straight to your inbox.

Using AllConferences.com, I searched for events in my home state, Michigan, and got 132 events. You can refine your search by date, location, industry, keyword or venue.

You can use EventsinAmerica.com to “find events, trade shows, meetings, conferences and conventions in America’s Top Trade Show & Conference Directory.”

Lanyrd.com, for example, suggests events for you based on those attended by people you follow on social media and keywords in your profiles.

Conference Alerts is geared toward a global academic conference-going audience.

Think and Grow Events bills itself as the “personal development event search engine.” Lots of opps there for motivational and inspirational speakers.

13. Magazines

Your favorite publications will often list industry events, listed either in the glossy pages, or on the magazine’s website. Here are a few from business, social media and tech outlets:

http://www.oreilly.com/conferences/

http://events.mashable.com

http://www.inc.com/events/

http://www.fortuneconferences.com/

14. Vendors

Think of some of the vendors you use in your business or that your target audience might use. Those providers sometimes sponsor events for their users!

Email marketing and sales platform, Infusionsoft has held its small business user conference, ICON, for nine years running.

Hubspot, a marketing automation software, lists internet marketing events where the company’s professionals will/have spoken. (And there are at least 75 on this page alone!):

http://www.hubspot.com/company/internet-marketing-events

15. Online Tools

Online tools let you perform searches across social media, blogs, videos, images and more. You can also limit your search by specific timeframes, which makes it easier to manage.

Try these:

BuzzSumo.com

Topsy.com

SocialMention.com

Twitter’s search feature

16. Google

Just Google it! Search for events in your industry.

“Call for Speakers” AND “[Your topic]” “Call for Presenters” AND “[Your topic]” “Call for Speakers” AND “[Industry]”

17. Set up alerts

Set up alerts for speaking opportunities and keep a steady stream flowing your way. Here are three tools to create alerts:

Google Alerts

Talkwalker

Mention

18. Speaker Directories

Speaker directories are matchmaking services that list speakers for a fee. Meeting planners sometimes go to these directories looking for a speaker on a certain topic.

Here are two to check out:

Speaker Services – speakerservices.com
Speaker Zone – speakerzone.com

And don’t overlook free speaking opportunities! Whether you’re speaking to make your name known or as a lead generation tool, speaking for free can pay off, big time. (Who got hired for a mid-5-figure contract after speaking for free at an industry conference? That’s right, c’est moi.)

Try FreeSpeakers.org

19. Toastmasters International

A non-profit club, devoted to helping its members improve their public speaking skills in a supportive environment, Toastmasters also has its own speaking bureau.

Ready to go big with your message? Here are two ideas to reach potentially large audiences:

20. Trade associations

Got a topic that an entire industry needs to hear? With more than 17,000 national, regional and state trade associations in the US, associations are fertile ground for speaking opportunities.

Locate the educational or programming contact, send them an email with a link to a short demo video and then follow up. These associations are always looking for dynamic speakers to wow their members.

Columbia Books, Inc. (www.columbiabooks.com) is a great resource. It offers several directories, in print or electronic formats.

  • The National & Professional Trade Association Directory lists national conventions, meetings, and trade show dates for over 7,700 trade and professional associations with an annual report published each February.
  • The site also offers a Directory of Association Meeting Planners and Directory of Corporate Meeting Planners. Score!

21. Big companies

Does your speaking topic have a commercial application? Become a corporate speaker! You may be able to get a corporate headquarters or local branch of a company to let you speak during lunch, after hours, or at a business meeting. Plus, being associated with a recognizable brand name adds to your business cred.

Here’s a link to directories of leaders in business, non-profit, legal, government and more:

http://www.leadershipdirectories.com/

Bonus resource:

While you’re speaking, ask your audience for other suggestions. At the right time (usually at the end, after you’ve wowed the group with value), you can say something like, “As you can tell, I am really passionate about what I do. If you know of a group who could benefit please let me know about them and let the group know about me.”

Your fame boosting assignment:

Pick one or two of these ideas to get more speaking opportunities and go after them. Make contact, ask if the group accepts outside speakers and present your credentials and your proposed topic. There’s a whole world of people who need to hear what you’ve got to say!

How to get started as a speaker

86 Comments

  1. Stephanie Faiella on October 24, 2012 at 11:03 am

    Lorie,
    As always you provide the best resources for your readers! Anyone looking for speaking gigs should print this list and use it to build their marketing plan! I plan to do so!

    Thank you for sharing your yummy brownies!
    Stephanie (Your Midwest Pal Down South!)

  2. Cena Block - SaneSpaces.com on October 24, 2012 at 11:13 am

    Thanks for the great resources here Lori! – I shared with my professional organizing group. This was our topic this month for our chapter meeting and John Raseij (SpeakLouderThanWords.com) was our speaker! I love helping mompreneurs prepare their signature talks and get ready to add this as one of their marketing efforts!

    • Andras Baneth on July 18, 2016 at 5:47 am

      Hi Cena – you may want to have a look at SpeakerHub.com, it’s free to sign up and we’re giving more visibility to speakers from around the globe!

  3. Mandy Schumaker on October 24, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    Fabulous suggestions here, Lori. I’ve just complied my list and I’m on it!! Thanks so much for these resources!

  4. Sarada on October 25, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    Thanks so much for this Lori! It’s going out to my ezine readers!

  5. BizSugar.com on October 30, 2012 at 10:15 am

    17 Ways to Find Speaking Opportunities…

    Business owners and professionals know that speaking is a powerful way to build your brand, generate leads and even get clients. But how do you find those coveted speaking opportunities? It’s easier than you think! This article lists 17 different ways…

  6. Kelli Gilpin on October 30, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    This is good, good stuff! Thanks to your help, I’m “on it”! I really appreciate the guidance!

  7. Katya Barry on November 7, 2012 at 4:47 am

    This is a wonderful guide! Thanks for putting it all together.

    • Lori on November 7, 2012 at 5:34 pm

      I so appreciate your comment, Katya! And your site is a terrific resource for ex-pats with businesses. Cheers!

  8. Martine Brennan on November 7, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    Lori, this is a fabulous resource. Thank you.

    • Lori on November 7, 2012 at 5:31 pm

      Thanks for stopping by, Martine! I jumped over to your site and was so charmed by your story and how you told it, I had to buy your book. Wishing you well-deserved fame, Lori

  9. Page not found on November 15, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    […] 17 Ways to Find Speaking Opportunities […]

  10. Ted Lee Sadler on December 3, 2012 at 3:32 pm

    Excellent – Thank you!

  11. Deanna on August 25, 2013 at 11:53 am

    Excellent post. I’ve shared it with a number of colleagues and throughout my social media networks. Thanks for being so thorough.

    • Lori on August 25, 2013 at 9:52 pm

      Hey Deanna! Thanks for stopping by. Much appreciation for taking the time to comment and for sharing this post.

  12. Adam Dukes on October 25, 2013 at 6:58 pm

    Love this! I need to focus on #1 & #5. Chances are, they are not going to come find me, I need to go hunt them down 🙂 Love your little “fame boosting assignments”, too.

    • Lori on October 28, 2013 at 9:29 am

      Hey Adam! Thanks for stopping by and for commenting. I LOVE to hear from fellow Mitten dwellers (even if you did move on to a warmer climate.) Good luck to you!

  13. The top 5 of ALL TIME on December 20, 2013 at 8:52 am

    […] 1. 17 Ways to Find Speaking Opportunities […]

  14. […] Google research muscle to track down speaking venues. Some resource places can be found in this link. As for speaking fees, this varies by the experience of the speaker and the demand of the topic. […]

  15. Doug Soderstrom on June 23, 2014 at 6:13 pm

    Dear Lori,

    Well, I am a retired Professor of Psychology turned poet who has written a book of poems entitled American Jesus: The Search for Truth in a Land of Lies, an extreme satire concerning the United States of America. I am in the process of readying myself for a tour of talks (really I should say converstions) with college students at some of the more liberally-oriented colleges/universities in our country. I am hoping that you, with your vast amount of experience in marketing, will be able to help me in finding a way to achieve my goal. Having been a college teacher for 43 years before having retired a few years ago I really do think that I have the capacity to relate well with college students since while taking my courses along with other teachers’ courses so many of my students would tell me that I was their favorite teacher. I guess that is a fairly decent sign that I might perhaps have a fairly good chance at succeeding at such a thing? Who knows? So what do you think? Any suggestions?

    When I would talk with students I think I would do something like the following:

    1. First of all….. In order to “break the ice,” and allow students to get to know me as a human being, I would have them write down on a piece of paper questions they would want to ask me, and then I would address such questions first………. That to me would be a wonderfully humane way of begin….. I think.

    2. Being 73 years old I have so many great stories related to that of my own life to share with students, each and everyone with and important life-changing message, I would share a few of these stories with my students.

    3. And then I would share a few of the poems from my book with them, and believe me they are wonderful, at least, I think they are. You may also read a couple of them if you would like to……… Here they are:

    Transfiguration

    Having borne the brutal burden of a breathing body,
    Having lived to the end of my days
    I shall gladly take leave of this “stinking piece of flesh.”

    Once skin-rapped and bundled in beautiful clothes
    an outer presentation for others to see
    secret thoughts forced into silence,

    Feelings of rage and fear held tight
    insanity so nicely transformed into an oft-smiling face
    cold bones looking for warmth,

    Outstretched arms looking for someone to hold.
    a labyrinth mind always wanting more
    searching for a truth never near.

    And then “those tasks”….. so many things left undone
    unpaid bills, broken dreams, relationships unresolved
    life never quite complete.
    but as suddenly as it all began
    the body gave way
    there was no warning
    no way to know
    that all the moments of time would simply come to an end.

    All sensation gone,
    consciousness having ceased
    then the silence of sleep
    undisturbed by the dreams of an age now left behind
    and then there was Light
    true illumination
    simplicity, peace, joy, compassion, love
    ………….. God.

    A Soldier

    Not a sacred warrior
    nor with a bayonet blessed by God.

    Not even a human being
    just a simple peasant, a surrogate
    a sacrificial lamb, a frightened child
    chosen by the rich to be an instrument of war.

    A cold-blooded, battle-trained beast
    a mindless savage ordered to kill.

    A molded piece of steel, an object, a gear
    a very small cog in a far-reaching engine of death
    an insignificant fleck in the overall fabric of life.

    A negligible notch on the handle of an enemy’s gun
    a mere afterthought for those who extol the wonders of war
    an unkempt grunt
    a lonely gutted, blood-spattered corpse lying on the ground
    something like the trivial crush of dead dog on a lonely country road
    dead meat with a tin tag.

    A sacred breath of life having been stripped from its mother’s womb
    a father’s pride, his very best friend
    someone whose name is Abdul, Mohammed, Ishmael, Ibrahim, or Hassan
    or then again perhaps even Mike, John, Mark, Eddy, Ben, or Bill
    a world diminished by the loss of another precious child!

    I have many more poems like this as I have written approximately two hundred poems. If you feel that you can be of assistance to be, please feel free to respond.

    Doug Soderstrom, Ph.D.
    A Retired Professor of Psychology
    Just another old man!

  16. Julie on July 26, 2014 at 4:04 pm

    I agree with all of these. I think you need an “all of the above” approach to get seen.

    I would like to add another one to #14 – http://www.speakersponsor.com

  17. Terri Holley on July 31, 2014 at 8:30 pm

    This article has perfect timing. I am pursuing a speaking career. I started with Toastmasters last year. I was looking for other opportunities to move towards doing it full-time. Thanks so much for writing this article.

  18. […] a separate online page, featuring your resume, mentioning previous speaking engagements, awards, and so […]

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  20. What is your CORE? | CCC Blog on August 27, 2014 at 2:06 am

    […] both by itself or when paired with other marketing strategies like advertising, trade fairs, speaking engagements etc.  It is therefore imperative for every coach to consider creating and maintaining a CORE to […]

  21. 6 ways to make money as a speaker on September 19, 2014 at 10:08 am

    […] Then, find the organizations that pay speakers. (Psst, here’s a list of ways to find speaking opportunities.) […]

  22. […] 17 Ways to Find Speaking Opportunities […]

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  26. Kyle on March 2, 2015 at 3:05 pm

    Great article! I’ve done many speaking engagements throughout New England about writing children’s books. I bought a podium drape to supplement my speeches, and I’m really glad I did. They are inexpensive and can really add a lot of information in a small space. I get them from an outfit in New Hampshire call Signs I Design, but they deliver nationally. signsidesign.com

    • Lori on April 2, 2015 at 4:56 pm

      Interesting, Kyle. Thanks for the tip on the podium drape.

  27. LN Foo on April 5, 2015 at 1:36 am

    Thank you for sharing so much of these useful info!

    • Lori on April 20, 2015 at 8:37 pm

      I appreciate you making a comment.

  28. Daniel Kemka on April 14, 2015 at 9:23 am

    This piece of article is really insightful. Thank you so much for this

    • Lori on April 20, 2015 at 8:39 pm

      Glad you found it helpful, Daniel.

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  32. […] Take a look at 17 ways to find speaking opportunities. […]

  33. […] This one might leave you feeling a little anxious but it’s a forgotten marketing technique that those who want to be recognised as leaders in their industry should still apply. Look for big and local events that are looking for speakers and offer to do a presentation to their visitors. It’s the perfect way of sharing your brand with others as well as demonstrating that your business knows what it’s talking about. If you aren’t sure how to go about securing such a speaking opportunity, then here’s a quick guide. […]

  34. […] Also check out this article on 17 Ways to Find Speaking Opportunities […]

  35. […] in place. It is now time to get those leads. One of the best ways to increase the efficiency of the trade show is to be a speaker or presenter. This will help drive awareness to your company and help your company be seen as an industry […]

  36. thomas on February 24, 2016 at 3:27 am

    Great stuff, just signed up and you are right, I need to start traveling and speaking as much as i can, thanks for the write up and post, great work!!

  37. Rich on March 28, 2016 at 8:24 am

    Wow that is a bunch of resources in one place. Thanks for the info.

    This should get me started to my first speaking engagement.

  38. wake industrial on April 8, 2016 at 4:26 pm

    I love browsing your web site. Cheers!

  39. […] in a category or field that is of interest to people. This creates a great opportunity to offer your speaking services at luncheons, conferences, presentations and more. Simply getting up and talking about things […]

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  41. David Hunt on May 18, 2016 at 9:10 pm

    Thank you so much for this – it was tremendously insightful as i navigate my path. Sending you amazingly positive vibes and wishing you a great rest of the week! Thank you, again.

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  47. Pamela Denise Brown on October 10, 2016 at 4:41 am

    I always appreciate VALUABLE information and this was. Thank You For sharing. I will definitely look into the sites that you have provided. It ALL makes sense and of course, I’ll pass this on as a reference.
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  48. Alexander Hristov on October 20, 2016 at 8:39 am

    Hi Lori,

    May I also suggest Agora Speakers International, a non profit worldwide organization also built on the idea of helping people practice their public speaking abilities both in a friendly club environment and also in the wild real-world.

    (Disclaimer: I’m one of the founders).

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  50. Lorna Grant on February 6, 2017 at 1:29 am

    Thank you for providing these information .

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  54. Andy Richardson - FreeSpeakers.org on March 10, 2017 at 3:02 pm

    Lori, Great post with lots of valuable ideas and tips for finding new speaking opportunities. Please have a look at my pro bono speaker’s bureau. More than 200 speakers all presenting for free – http://freespeakers.org/. I hope you will consider adding my bureau as a resource to #18.

    We’ve launched several professional speakers too. We consider them graduates of our bureau. Here’s a link to a guest post from a graduate titled Free to Fee – http://chicago.freespeakers.org/fsc-sound-bite/free-fee-freespeakers-launched-professional-speaking-career/

    Thanks for considering and keep up the great work, Andy

  55. Jennifer Lukas-Bourgeois on April 3, 2017 at 5:27 pm

    Fantastic insight and resources! We have a list of speakers we work with and are alway looking to find new way to get them booked. Really appreciate these tips!

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  60. Rajesh on May 14, 2017 at 12:48 am

    Thanks for sharing such useful information.

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  64. Hannah on May 16, 2017 at 12:04 pm

    This is precise, insightful and resourceful. Speakerhub, speakerpedia, allamericanspeakers and other more are good platforms to find speaking opportunities and be found as a speaker. Having this in more African will help project more talented and inspiring speakers to the world. With the likes of Mrs. Folorunsho Alakija, Mrs. Ibukun Awosika, Olatorera Oniru, Ladies of Sheleads Africa etc.

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  71. Tom on July 11, 2017 at 5:38 pm

    That was a really great article. I am just getting ready to try and get some speaking engagements to promote my new investment course. The only idea that I heard of prior to reading your article was to contact the Chamber and Rotary clubs. You have given me a ton of ideas. Thank you very much!

    Tom Vilord

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