Successful Public Speakers Plan and Stay on the Path

5 min readMay 29, 2023

I enjoy public speaking and I would like to do more of it. Long ago, I realized that I needed a process to be successful in getting continuing opportunities. So, my formula for seeking speaking engagements is:

  • Think of the Long Game
  • Be the Master of Your Content
  • Be a Thought Leader
  • Stay on the Pat

Think of the Long Game

If you just want the next speech, there are many, many opportunities to speak in venues small and large. But if you want a speaking career, you must create continuity in your efforts. One speech should create the next speech, and that speech should create the next speech.

I recently started to track and manage all my speeches, not just the next one. To do that, I have a report that captures when I spoke, who I spoke to, how large the audience was, how I was compensated, and, most important, whether a certain speech led to another speech. This gives me a long look at what I am doing, but it does more than that: it forces me to envision where and when I can best focus on getting noticed for speaking opportunities.

Then I do Google searches to find calls for presentations or speakers, keeping in mind my expertise. But I also keep in mind those events that have accepted me, and I try to examine what made me successful in getting those opportunities.

Be the Master of Your Content

Just like in an educational setting, determine your position on key issues, do the research, and decide on your conclusions. Then, as you present, you should refine and reinforce what you learn. Strengthen your position with facts and expert testimony, then make yourself a key voice in that area.

For instance, as I worked on my PhD and then published several research books, I learned more about emotional intelligence (EI) and empathy and engagement. Now, I write and speak about what I believe are key concepts and applications of those constructs. In my presentation, audiences get my take on these issues, usually with an interactive focus that lets them state their position or develop their beliefs in that area.

This is a way to let the speaker and the audience learn together.

Be a Thought Leader

Stay busy reading other people and responding to great points of view, especially on social media. On LinkedIn, I read a lot of people, but I do not like or respond to everyone. What I do is find people whose points of view are like mine, and I engage them in conversation.

When I do that, I make sure that I state my position on the issue, even if there are disagreements. I am careful not to be confrontational, just providing a good discussion that may give a different point of view. If they have changed my mind about something, or if they give me a new thought for my research, I always thank them for enriching me

Stay on the Path

Use your platform and expertise to stay on the path. You talk about things that make you the expert, so match those to the goals and objectives of the engagement or the organization. An opportunity may be exciting, but do you “fit?” If you try to be the expert on everything, you may end up as the expert on nothing. So focus.

If you do not “fit,” it is not a reflection of your qualifications or your readiness for that opportunity. It just means you were unable to match your expertise to the opportunity, and that’s okay.

I urge you to stay on the path. I suggest that once you have solidified your main topic area(s), you are probably on the right path for engagements, and you only need a course correction. If you are not sure you are on the right path, you can get a mentor or just talk it over with a friend who will give you honest feedback.

I do not know how long it will take for you to find the speaking engagements that fit you, but the faith you have in yourself is more important than what anyone else thinks about you. I wish you luck. Stay on the path!


I talk about leading, leadership development and training, EI, empathy, and engagement. I also teach at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Please let me know if I can help with your event.

About the author:

Michael A. “Doc” Brown, Sr., Ph.D., is a senior public affairs professional currently serving government clients. He is an active leadership and organizational development researcher and is a college professor. He has authored several books and is an accomplished public speaker. He has coached different sports at the recreation league, middle school, junior varsity, high school, and adult levels. He earned his Public Administration and Urban Policy degree, International Business, from Old Dominion University (ODU) in May 2011. He teaches online public relations and communication courses for Florida Institute of Technology. Dr. Brown has 40-plus years of military and civilian experience combined and is an Air Force retiree who served 24 years in uniform.

This was originally posted on SpeakerHub Skillcamp.