How To Get Speaking Opportunities (And Where You Can Find Me)

As you can probably tell, I really enjoy speaking to groups and traveling to various places to meet new people. Recently on her blog, my friend and HR Blogger Lisa Rosendahl asked for some suggestions to help her overcome The Anti-Speaking Demon. I responded in the comments with a short novelette that I thought I’d also republish here, since it may be helpful to others interested in developing as a speaker as well.


Podium To get started, I’d suggest making people in your network aware that you’re interested in speaking to some groups and some examples of topics you could talk about or do a workshop/seminar on. You’ll likely be surprised at how many opportunities are out there – especially if you’re willing to speak for free. Once you’ve gotten several under your belt, you’ll likely be referred and recommended to other groups who are willing to pay you for your time and expertise.

Beyond your network, here’s a few additional resources I’d suggest contacting:

1)  Schools or universities in your area. Usually, the Career Development offices are dying to connect students to business leaders who can talk to them about what it’s like in the “real world” and also provide networking and job search tips.

2)  Job search support groups or networking groups in your community – In Cincinnati, there are a number of groups that meet regularly to help people in career transition. Most have a speaker as part of their meetings and they’re thrilled to have someone from HR/Recruiting come to talk with them and answer questions about how to approach their job search.

3)  Check with your local HR Association or Recruiting groups. While most local chapters tend to book their lunch speakers months in advance (and it seems they like to book out of town speakers to add some “cred”), it’s likely they’d be interested in having someone in the trenches like you offer to provide a seminar, breakfast or lunch talk about one of the many topics you could speak on.

A few more tips:

1)  Add a Speaking page to your blog. List topics you can or have spoken about. Not only will your blog readers find you that way (and you’ll get opportunities from it I’m sure), but you’ll also get found through search engines. My Speaking/Workshops page on my blog gets daily traffic and more than once I’ve booked a speaking gig because someone Googled “Using Social Media in HR & Recruiting” or “Using LinkedIn for Job Search”, etc. and landed on my blog. I’ve also gotten interview requests from magazines, radio shows, etc. through being found by this page.

2)  Add that you’re a speaker, or open to speaking, on your LinkedIn profile. Same as above, I’ve booked speaking engagements and interviews as a result of being found on LinkedIn.

3)  Don’t be shy about asking attendees to write a recommendation for you on LinkedIn if they found your talk to be of value. I’ve not been comfortable with asking myself, but I know several speakers who have tons of great recommendations on their profiles – because they asked. Once your LinkedIn network starts seeing recommendations pop up for your speaking, you’ll start getting more requests to speak. Subtle marketing works.

4)  Bring your own evaluation sheets if the group doesn’t provide one. The feedback will not only help you understand what resonated with the audience, but also what you can improve upon. As you start speaking more and filling out Speaker Proposals, often they ask for evaluation results from some recent engagements.

5)  Eventually make sure you get a good video of you speaking to a group. Same as #4, it will help you see what you do well and what you need to improve and it’s also frequently requested for more high profile speaking opportunities.


Where You Can Find Me

Since some of you may subscribe
to this blog via
(I hope you ARE a subscriber!), you may not have noticed the link
on my blog to the Speaking/Training/Workshops page before. Take a
look there, and you’ll notice that April, May & June are thankfully
shaping up to be pretty busy for me as a Speaker including:

– Raleigh, NC – April 22, 2010
. Thanks to
I’ll be leading a session at this event and I’m looking forward to the
Keynote by my friend Laurie Ruettimann of Punk Rock HR!

– Chicago, IL – May 7 – 8, 2010
. Special thanks to Lisa Rosendahl
for asking me to co-lead a session on “Can HR Be Trusted” to continue
the discussion started with my recent post. (This should be good – can’t wait!)

Kentucky SHRM Chapter
– June 8, 2010. Thanks to a recommendation
from Crystal Peterson, I’ll be joining LSHRM as their
luncheon speaker and also leading an afternoon workshop on Using Social
Media in HR.

I’m also super excited about speaking
at the Ohio HR Conference in September thanks a connection
from my friend Steve Browne and also the Sm@rt Social Media
Conference Reno/Tahoe
in December thanks to Dr. Bret L. Simmons.

You’ll notice in the engagements I’ve highlighted,
there was at least one person from my network who helped me to connect
with the opportunity. I’m grateful to each of these people and appreciate their support very much. My network rocks and if you’ll be attending any of these events, I’d love to meet you in
person to get to know you as well!


What did I miss? What would you
recommend to someone interested in developing their speaking skills or
becoming a professional speaker? I’d like to learn from you!

President & Chief Talent Strategist

Jennifer McClure is a Keynote Speaker, Talent Strategies Expert and Executive Coach who works with clients and companies in the areas of leadership development, communication and talent strategy. Jennifer McClure offers keynotes, workshops and training that inspire and empower business leaders to be more effective in their careers and as leaders of their organization’s most valuable resource – people.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

8 thoughts on “How To Get Speaking Opportunities (And Where You Can Find Me)

  1. Really excellent advice for those intimidated by speaking or unsure how to begin. Local one stop shop state employment agencies are great places to volunteer to do seminars/workshops for the unemployed. Coffee shops are often looking for topics to fill their calendars too.

  2. We can’t wait to have you here in Reno in December, Jennifer! You are doing some exciting things this year and I predict you are only going to add to that. Keep up the great work! Bret

  3. @Karla – Thanks for the additional tips! Both great places to get some experience and also to help others.
    @Bret – Thank you! I’m really looking forward to both attending the Sm@rt conference and also participating as a speaker. I really appreciate you for inviting me!

  4. Great article Jennifer. I have also heard it said that being a published author also helps land speaking engagements. I would think it would also help to have a book to leave behind after speaking so your audience will follow up with you or your agency.

  5. Love that you are going from the year of the conference attendee to the year of the conference speaker! Great job, Jennifer!

  6. @Tom – Great advice! From my experience so far, being a published author can definitely help with getting booked as a speaker and also often means the speaker can command a higher fee. Now to get busy on a book…
    @Bonita – Hey. You got to start somewhere! Conference Groupie to hopefully Conference Speaker more often. 🙂

    • Thanks Ben! I have have no doubt that you’ll be out there teaching, training and speaking to others soon. Maybe we can partner on something in the future!

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