Public Speaking: Why It is Important and How to Get the Gig

 Public Speaking Every time you speak in front of an audience, they assume you are an expert! Learn why public speaking can help you grow your business and how to make the most of it.


Public speaking may top people’s list of fears, but it’s often a highly effective marketing tactic. We’re going to talk today about how to make that marketing tactic work for you. Hi, my name is Bobbie Carlton. I’m one of the founders of Innovation Women, a speaker’s bureau for entrepreneurial and technical women.

Nothing Replaces Face-to-Face

So when we’re talking about speaking, often we’re talking about a tactic that comes at the end of the marketing funnel. Today with all kinds of digital marketing taking effect, we often forget about public speaking opportunities that we have when we’re talking face-to-face with an audience. Right now, there’s something in the marketplace called the Speaker’s Paradise. The Speaker’s Paradise is really a product of all of this digital marketing. There’s a point where you just have to talk to someone person-to-person.

Why Speak?

One of the things that’s happened is there are all kinds of digital tools that make events a really good marketing opportunity. Online platforms such Meetup and Eventbrite make it easy to not only create events, but also identify ones that you want to attend. Did you know that there are half a million events listed in Meetup every single month? A lot of these events are something that happen every single month and they have a whole panel of speakers that they need to put together. Eventually, though there’s a point where the event manager’s Rolodex just begins to fail and they’re looking for speakers. You can be one of those speakers.

One of the things to keep in mind about speaking opportunities is that every time you get on stage, you have an opportunity. You have an opportunity to tell your story. You have an opportunity to connect with customers, partners, perhaps even funders if you’re looking to fund your entrepreneurial venture.

The Four Cs: Customers, Connections, Credibility, and Cash

Let’s talk about the benefits of speaking. We call it the four Cs. Number one, every time you’re in front of an audience, you’re talking to potential customers. You have the opportunity to tell your company’s story and to talk about the benefits of what your product does for them, but you have to make sure that you’re not in selling mode. Every time you get in front of an audience, you need to think more about what value you’re providing to somebody who isn’t a customer.

The second ‘C’ is connections. Every time you’re in front of an audience there’s a potential connection with the audience listening to you and taking note of your benefits and your opportunities.

The third ‘C’ is credibility. You’re going to be considered an expert every time you’re at the front of the room. The audience thinks you’ve been vetted. They think that you’re an expert and you’re imparting expert information, so you have instant credibility every time you step on stage.

Last but not least is cash. You never know when there’s going to be a potential investor in the audience.

How Do You Get the Gig?

So now that you know why you should speak, how do you go about getting the gig? First you’re going to look for calls for speakers or calls for paper. Put together a Google alert and put in those words: “call for speakers” and your given topic. Then you’re going to get an e-mail when those calls for speakers go live.

One of the questions that we get asked a lot is “How do I get paid to speak?” Probably a better question to ask is “Should I get paid to speak?” If you think about it, every time you’re in front of an audience, you’ve got a terrific opportunity to connect with customers, investors, and all kinds of opportunities. If that audience is one that you want to get in front of, that may be the only payment you need or want. However, if you do want to get paid to speak, you need to think about what you’re offering and the types of gigs that you’re getting. You may not be getting paid to speak when you’re talking to your local media, but if a local corporation comes to you and asks you to do a workshop, that’s your opportunity. That’s when you need to talk about getting paid.

Payment Options

There are different ways to get paid. Number one, if you’re an author, you might want to get paid in book sales. If every single person in that audience is getting a copy of your book, then that’s your payment. You also may want to get additional payment for putting together a specialized workshop or speaking engagement, but having those book sales are really important to you.

Another thing about getting paid: consider the audience. A corporation and a Meetup are going to have very different requirements and they’re also going to have very different budgets. Big events may only be paying the keynote speaker. They may not even be paying the featured speaker, but it may be a great way to get more visibility so that you can get paying gigs later on.

Diversity of Panel Means Diversity of Thought

I want to end with a special note for female speakers. There are a lot of the all-male, all-pale panels out there, and it’s our job to help diversify those. Diversity of the panel also means diversity of thought. It’s a great opportunity for you to talk to the event manager and get yourself on those panels.

About Bobbie Carlton

Bobbie Carlton, founder of Innovation Women, Innovation Nights and Carlton PR & Marketing, is an award-winning marketing, PR and social media professional. She speaks regularly on social media, innovation communities and product launches, and consults with small businesses and individuals on social networking, marketing and PR. Previously, in addition to working with a number of Boston-area PR and marketing firms, she headed global PR enterprise software companies PTC and Cognos (now part of IBM). In 2006 she switched gears, joining a startup focused on providing positive values for preteen girls through a social network and book series.

Innovation Women is an online speakers’ bureau for entrepreneurial, technical and innovative women designed to help event managers gender-balance their speaker slates. Mass Innovation Nights is a social media powered new product showcase and networking event. MIN has launched almost 1000 new products which have collectively received more than $1.3 billion in funding. In 2010 she was named one of the “Ten Bostonians who have done the most for the startup community”, and in 2011 she was a recipient of a Mass High Tech All-star award. In 2015 she was named a Boston Business Journal Woman to Watch.