By EHM Editor Jade McKenzie
Do you want to know the secrets to being a speaker that has a calendar full of gigs? Lean in a little closer because I'm about to dish.
It's not about popularity
It's not about being famous
It's not about how many likers you have on facebook...
It comes down to two simple things
1. How well you know your stuff
2. How professional you are
It really is that simple! As an event manager, I have put on countless events with guest speakers including celebrities, industry experts, entrepreneurs, business owners or 'every day' people talking about their experiences and in past roles I have been a speaker at a few events myself. I have had my fair share of the good, the bad and the ones who don't even bother to show with no warning and no contact until after the event. Yep, that happened. So...
KNOW YOUR STUFF
Find out what the purpose of the event is, who will be there, what the audience wants to know and why they want you to tell them. Then get super focused and prepare a talk using the most relevant content that you know inside out and back again. Knowing exactly what you are talking about will always give you an edge and make you shine on stage.
Please note here that knowing your stuff in your head is not the same as knowing your stuff out loud. Good presentations don't just happen magically when you hold a microphone so give yourself time to plan it out and practice it in front of the mirror/partner/dog. Sending a copy of your talk or main points to the event organiser also ensures there are no surprises on the day.
It's not just about turning up on time, doing your bit, saying thanks and then leaving. Being truly professional means that you are understand the huge part you play in the whole dynamics of the event.
Reply to reasonable emails or phone calls in a timely manner. Of course no-one wants to be hounded 24/7 but there are always legitimate questions that need to be answered or issues that need to be discussed. Leaving these details till the last minute means added pressure for you too.
Know what is expected of you
Apart from knowing what content they want you to focus on, get to know as much about the rest of the event as possible. Do they expect you to take part in a Q&A after you speak? Do they want you to stay for the remainder of the event? Do they want you to mingle with attendees afterwards? Do they expect you to pay for your own parking, meals/drinks, accommodation etc? Do they want you to promote the event on your website or social media? Can you sell your product or service there? Get clear on the expectations and it's all smooth running from there.
Arrive on time
Being early shows a great dedication to your commitments but if you are too early they may not be ready for you. I know that there have been times where I have felt terrible because a speaker has been super early while set-up is still occurring and all my plans to greet them like a rockstar have gone out the window. Take this extra time to check out the space, grab a coffee or go over your notes. If you are delayed then keep the event manager informed. Sometimes it's unavoidable but picking up the phone and letting them know can make all the difference.
Do your own personal brand a favour and be polite to all you meet on the day. Apart from just being a decent human being, you never know who will want to recommend you for other events or is willing to give you a testimonial. A good reputation doesn't happen by accident and a bad reputation will follow you like a bad smell.
Go above and beyond
Do you really want to wow people and get them talking about how freaking cool it was to work with you? If the love is mutual and you truly believe in the event then some extra things you can do is follow up with an email thanking them for the opportunity and the great time you had, talk about the event on your social media/blog or offer them a testimonial. Or chocolate. Yum.
People who do these two things get asked to speak time and time again. Word of mouth referrals are important in any industry, as is upholding your rep as a brilliant speaker who is awesome to work with.