What I am learning from talking to people who hire speakers
I have been doing a series of interviews with conference and workshop sponsors and organizers to get some insight into how they go about finding and hiring speakers.
I am actually getting some new insights or perhaps new clarity.
I just finished a conversation with Ken Ralph, or J&K Seminars in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. With his wife, Judi, he has been running professional mental health continuing education conferences for the past twenty years.
He talked about how he finds speakers by searching for topics or for well-known people. Sometimes he has a topic in mind (for example, he recently searched for someone who could help counselors and other mental health professionals get some training in diversity by getting a top expert to speak about GLBT issues). He got suggestions from past participants by putting out an email request through his email list and came up with a list of about 50 possible speakers.
Next he did an Internet search for those people, settling on ones that had books, had speaking experience, and had a new slant on the topic.
What can you take from this? First, write a book. Every sponsor I have spoken to so far has mentioned the importance of having a book to establish your credibility and reputation as an expert in your topic area.
Second, have a web presence of some kind (a blog, a website, etc.). He went to the Internet to search for people and to winnow his list. If you don’t have a web presence, you may lose out.
Third, get lots of speaking experience and document it. Every sponsor I have spoken to said that people may be experts in their content area, but if they don’t know how to teach and haven’t had a lot of experience speaking, they would be loathe to take a chance on them. Teaching and speaking are skills and, like any skill, the more you do it and work at it, the better you can become.
Entry filed under: Getting hired, Practical advice for speakers. Tags: Bill O'Hanlon, getting hired to speak, Insights into public speaking career, J&K Seminars, Ken Ralph, Paid public speaking, Speaking advice.