How to sell your talk to an event organizer

You have a fantastic talk, and have perfected great stage presence. When you are in front of 200 people, you know exactly what to say to get your idea across.

However, when it comes to an audience of one — an event organizer, sometimes you find it challenging to know precisely what to say to convince them to hire you to speak.

The issue often has to do with framing your talk in a way that shows the benefit to the event organizer.

Often, speakers start giving a run down of exactly what content they will cover, or the endless options for how the talk could be adapted.

But in order to convince an event organizer that your talk will profit them, you have to talk directly to their needs.

Drew Dudley, a dynamic and fascinating speaker whose viral TED Talk has been voted “one of the 15 most inspirational TED talks of all time.” was a guest on our podcast, The World of Speakers.

In the interview, he offered vital advice on how to sell your talk to organizers.

We’ve adapted his advice from “World of Speakers E.47: Creating value and connections with your talks” to create this article, distilling how to convince an event organizer to hire you.

Why not listen to the whole interview in the background while you are reading?

Listen on iTunes or Soundcloud.

How to sell your talk to an event organizer

The most important things to keep in mind are, who your audience is, and what you’re selling.

I love thinking about the audience and the audience’s needs. When I get on stage, I’m about one-on-ones in the audience.

But you don’t get on stage one-on-ones unless you can convince the gatekeepers — the event organizers.

Usually, the decision to put you in front of any group of people is made by a very small group of people, sometimes one person.

That is the person you have to sell to. That is the person you have to serve.

So when you are talking to them about your talk, cater the message to them. How exactly will your talk benefit them?

Be crystal clear on what you do

Sometimes, new speakers come up to me and they say, “I’d like to be a speaker.”

I ask them, “Okay. Well what is it that you want to say?”

Then they reply, “Well I think I want to…”

I always say, “No, you can’t think about it — you have to know. It has to be something that you just have to say.”

Be clear on exactly what you do, what your message is.

Narrow your message down to one thing.

When you say, “I want to speak about this and this and this,” it dilutes your core topic.

You need to speak about one thing.

I talk about living leadership daily, and how it ties to someones core values. When I talk to organizers, I am clear that this is what I talk about.

When I started my career I was like, “Oh you want something on communication? Oh, you want something on leadership styles? I could create that.”

But over time, I realized this didn’t really help either of us.

No, you need to say, “This is what I’m an expert on, and if you want this, then you hire me, and if you don’t, you shouldn’t hire me.”

Because that’s the only way that you really get good at what you’re doing.

Find the right audience

When a speaker says says to me, “I want to talk to entrepreneurs,” the problem here is there’s no market for that. Entrepreneurs are relatively individualized, there’s not a whole lot of places where they group together.

It’s not going to be very easy to find groups of 200, 300, 400 entrepreneurs that gather regularly — and there aren’t a whole lot of gatekeepers that have access to them.

Whatever it is you teach: mindfulness, sales, leadership… you need to be able to identify an audience that has gatekeepers.

The ideal gatekeepers have audiences of 500+ that gather regularly all around the world.

If you are structuring your business around an audience for whom it’s going to be incredibly difficult to find events and get repeat bookings, you are making your job harder on yourself. Look for organizations and industries where you are going to be able to continually get booked.

Most companies aren’t going to hire you to teach their people how to be entrepreneurs. They will, however, hire you to teach them how the entrepreneurial mindset can be applied in an organizational setting. That’s different.

Look at your topic. Look at your expertise. Outline what the impact of listening to your talk is for the audience. Then think about exactly how your talk can benefit the organization that you are pitching to.

Framing it for the organizer

The event organizer’s reputation is on the line. They have expectations from their organization and audience to ensure that whoever they put on stage is going to have a positive impact. If they hire a bad speaker, they lose credibility.

With this in mind, be clear about:

  • What, exactly, the audience will be able to do differently after hearing your presentation?
  • What their new skills are going to be
  • What new processes they’ll be able to use
  • How they are going to be better as a result of you speaking to them

We want to be motivational, inspiring, and we want to move people. That’s why we want to be speakers — but in order to get that opportunity to move audiences, you first have to sell the impact of your talk to an event organizer.

Here is an example: I talk about personal leadership values.

If an event organizer says to me:

“Okay Drew, why on earth should I give my people an hour with you?”

I would say:

“Because research shows that individual value clarity is tied to employee engagement, happiness, pride, and productivity.

If I teach people how to identify their core values and live them every day, the research shows that people who do that make better employees.

One of the untapped resources in your organization is that you probably have not put into place a process that allows people to identify their personal values and lift them through your work.

People are going to walk out of that room with a step-by-step process on how to do just that. That’s going to benefit you as an organization.”

When you talk directly to their needs as an organization, you take out the guesswork for them. It instills confidence by assuring them you understand what they are looking for, and will deliver the results they need.

Wrapping it up

Remember: this is a business. You have to sell your service.

You have to be clear about what you’re providing: your ideas, your skills, your ability to make an impact.

When you are selling, keep in mind that you are selling to someone whose reputation is on the line if they decide to hire you, and they need to be able to justify their decision.

They have to be able to say:

“We gave this person an hour so that our people will be better at XYZ”.

And if you can articulate specifically what that audience will be better at when you’re done, it’s going to be much easier to get more bookings, and to make a success of your speaking business.

This was originally posted on SpeakerHub Skillcamp.

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