Career Advice

Checklist: Why Would Someone Book You as a Speaker?
Carl Friesen posted on April 25, 2016 |
Have you ever looked at the schedule of a conference, seen the name of someone you know, and thought...

Have you ever looked at the schedule of a conference, seen the name of someone you know, and thought to yourself, “I know more than that person about this topic.”

Then next, maybe you wondered, “What do I need to do to get more speaking engagements?”

To look like someone that a conference organizer would want to book as a speaker, you have to be “bookable.” You need to show that you’re someone who has:

  • Expertise in your field
  • Information that is relevant to the audience
  • Good (or at least okay) skills in presenting those ideas verbally

Here’s a checklist you can use to build bookability for yourself – divided into short-, medium- and long-term priorities.


Quick Hits: What You Can Do in Less Than an Hour

These are some short-term steps, each of which might take you an hour or less:

List your recent accomplishments

Take a look through your hard drive to find evidence of your “bookability.” This might include video or transcripts of speeches you’ve given, awards you’ve won, projects you’ve worked on, certifications you’ve gained and other incentives for anyone considering you as a speaker for their event.

Add accomplishments to your CV

Select which of these accomplishments to add to your CV, including full descriptions for the “long” version, and more selective and brief summaries in the short version.

Update your LinkedIn profile

You may be able to cut-and-paste information from your CV into your LinkedIn profile. If there are public Internet links to projects you’ve worked on, insert those links into your profile. If you also have documents such as work samples or published articles available in PDF form, you can upload those directly to your LinkedIn profile.

The purpose of these steps is to make sure that anyone who hears about you, or whom you’ve approached about doing a presentation, will be easily informed about your qualifications. So ask yourself: if someone Googles your name, or plugs your name into the LinkedIn search box, would they be at least clear on your qualifications?


Getting More Persuasive: What Can You Do This Evening?

You don’t just need to inform a meeting organizer what you can talk about – you need to persuade them that you’re someone who will do them credit. It’s about reassurance and persuasion. So, put yourself back into the figurative shoes of a meeting organizer – would you feel comfortable booking yourself as a speaker?

Write a LinkedIn Post

Posts are part of LinkedIn’s program for building a thought leadership platform. Posts are generally medium-length content – midway in length between a comment you’d add to someone’s question in one of your Groups, and a longer article in a professional publication. A good length for a Post is between 500 and 1,000 words.

Posts are a good way to illustrate thought leadership because they appear on your profile, so that anyone checking out your profile will see your ideas there. Posts also appear in the news feed of your connections, so that people you know are reminded of your expertise. Lastly, your Posts can also show up in searches by people (maybe even potential clients) looking up the keywords and tags you’ve used.

Put together a slide show

Slide shows, often done using Microsoft PowerPoint or Apple Keynote, are a great way to present a bare-bones version of your ideas. If you publish your slide show through SlideShare, you can list it on your LinkedIn profile as well, so that it shows up in searches involving your keywords.

Create a “one page”

A term from the world of big-time professional speaking, a “one page” is, well, a single page (or the online equivalent) that presents you as a speaker. It includes your photo, a list of topics you can speak on, the names of some organizations you have previously presented to, a summary of your background, and some references from previous engagements.

My recommendation is that you don’t try to design the layout yourself, unless you’re really good at design (and other people agree that you are). Have it professionally developed by a graphic designer.

You can put this on your website, on your LinkedIn profile, and have it available to send to potential speaker venues.


Long Term Heavy-Hitters

Articles in trade and professional publications

There’s a good reason why trade and professional magazines are one of the few areas of print communication still thriving: advertisers like the way their ads get more attention in print than they would online.

This means that there are some incredibly narrow trade publications out there, most of which are eager to get what they call “expert-written” articles. These niche publications, with titles such as North American Wind Power, Progressive Railroading and Municipal Solid Waste (all three of which actually exist and have carried articles I ghost-wrote on my clients’ behalf) are good ways to reach niche markets.

It’s a no-money deal – contributors such as yourself don’t pay for the space, and you don’t get paid for the writing. But if you have ideas to share, find a publication that matches your market, and approach the editor with your idea.

I classify these types of articles as “long term” priorities because it can take four months or longer to get an article published in a monthly magazine – that’s how far ahead of time they typically work.

White papers and academic papers

Authoring a white paper, which generally involves several thousand words, can help you show thought leadership in a more substantial way. You can publish this document on your LinkedIn profile, email it to colleagues, post it to the SlideShare content-sharing platform  and add it to your website.

Publishing a book

Seen by many business professionals as the ultimate credential, these days a book is increasingly easy to publish and distribute.

Getting the information together is the only really difficult part, but if you’ve generated enough blog entries, LinkedIn posts and white papers on a given topic, you can likely pull together enough content for a book.

You can easily get this published through an online publisher like CreateSpace, which will allow you to upload both the text of your book, and its cover. Your book is then available for anyone to purchase online.

“Having a book” is a great way to demonstrate credibility as a speaker, and to reassure anyone inviting you to speak that you’re a credible source of information for the people attending your event.

Nobody said it’s easy to build a track record as a credible, well-recognized public speaker. But as the old saying goes, “the longest journey starts with a single step,” and this applies to the journey to the speaker’s podium too.


Carl Friesen
Carl Friesen has given well over 100 presentations across the USA and Canada.  With his background in Journalism, an MBA in Marketing, and experience in sales and business development, he has helped his clients publish content that demonstrates their expertise in niche markets.

He is Principal of Thought Leadership Resources, which provides learning resources for business professionals such as engineers, lawyers, consultants and architects to become recognized for their expertise and thought leadership.

To enroll in a free weekly resource that will help you build your professional profile, click here.

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