Derek FeatherstoneEverything is a work in progress

Getting started with speaking gigs

Derek Featherstone / Published:

Todd asks:

When you have zero speaking experience, it’s hard to get a speaking gig. And you can’t get a speaking gig if you don’t have any experience.

So, how do you get that experience? This is how I would approach it:

  1. Start small. Start at a local meetup. So something internal at your workplace. You need to start speaking so that you can develop your skills so that you can get a speaking gig at a conference or other event.
  2. Find your uniqueness. You’ve got a perspective on things that nobody else has. You have to figure out what that is, and put content together about that. If you don’t have that already, write about a variety of things until you find one that seems unique and interesting and go with that. This isn’t going to be easy, but there has to be a reason.
  3. Have a body of work that you can point to that shows you have some credibility to talk about the thing you want to talk about. For me, that means if you want to get speaking gigs about a topic, you should write on that topic to show that you have some expertise. If you’ve already written about it, write some more. Want to speak at fishing conferences about fishing things? Go start writing about fishing things. There needs to be a reasonably compelling reason — either a unique perspective, or a body of work — that gets people interested in speaking. Even being able to say “I wrote 500 words about a different fish every day and here’s what I learned” is something that could possibly turn into a presentation somewhere.
  4. Create videos. If you haven’t spoken yet, you need experience. Create videos for an audience to practice your skills. That’ll help you get better. How many videos? Dunno. 30? 300? 3000? No way to know. But if you don’t start, you’ll never find out how many videos it’ll take until you get your first speaking gig.