How to Get Booked for Speaking Engagements



The answer to ‘How to Get Booked for Speaking Engagements’ is multilayered. There are a number of things which contribute to how many speaking engagements you are able to book.

Below, we have outlined a few helpful steps to on how to get booked for speaking engagements. (You can also join Innovation Women and get invitations from event managers PLUS access to our lists of opportunities.)

1. Maximize your Online Profile

It is probably safe to say that you have some sort of online presence. Whether it is on Innovation Women, social media platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or your own website, you should maximize these and use them to your advantage. If you are trying to target a specific topic or industry, tailor your online profiles to demonstrate that: what you do, what can you talk about, and details of your story. Make sure all your online channels are consistent.

  • Follow industry or topic specific organizations and associations. These are often the people organizing big conferences and looking for speakers.
  • Research popular speakers in the chosen industry – which speaking engagements are they targeting? What are they doing that you can also be doing?

Event organizers looking for speakers sometimes have to go through an exhaustive (and exhausting) list of potential candidates. If you give them all the information they need in one place, you’re making their job easier, and increasing your chances of getting booked. (In other words, make sure they can find your biography, your topics, your speaker video and other relevant information in one place.)

2. Settle on your topic(s), and write abstracts

This comes even before you apply for any speaker opportunities. (The more you think about it, the more ideas you will have.) Stick to what you know, like, and feel comfortable speaking about. Don’t assume anyone else already knows it, and even if they know some of it you bring your own twist or experience.

Every sector has at least one expert with a book, or a Ted talk, or that one person that the networks always bring in to talk about that subject. Don’t try to be them — be yourself. The experience you bring to the subject is yours alone, and if you believe in what you’re speaking about and are passionate about it, all the better. Enthusiasm is contagious.

3. Video yourself!

A written description in an application, no matter how well written, can’t completely communicate who you are as a speaker, or how well you speak. A sample video of you speaking is a KEY tool for event managers. It doesn’t have to be a long or fancy video, but a quick 5 minute video will help show how you speak. (Make sure the audio quality is excellent.)

Today most of us have the necessary tools on our smartphones. Have a friend in the front row of your next presentation with a smartphone, or set up a tripod and let it roll. Even if you don’t have a huge audience, or any at all — just capture your passion for what you do on film, it will go a long way to helping you capture opportunities to speak. (Innovation Women is here for you in this department. During our Innovation Women Pop-ups we offer our members the chance to record a simple video as part of their annual membership. Subscribe to our newsletter to find out when and where the next event will be. If you want a Pop-Up in your community, send us an email at

4. Types of speaking opportunities

It is a good plan to start small. There are different levels of speaking opportunities. It doesn’t have to be you in front of 500 people as a keynote. No need to worry about that now. How about being a panel member? A fireside chat? A question and answer session? A webinar?

5. Start locally – who do you know?

Where do you think you could start your public speaking journey?

There are 92,000 professional and business organizations in the US alone which are all easily accessible through web searches. You already know which of these organizations relate to your area of expertise, and you also know that many of them run conferences – remember those flyers or emails you receive asking you to attend? Why not ask to speak instead?

Other opportunities can be found at service clubs, chambers of commerce, colleges, universities and schools, corporations and vendor events. There are increasing opportunities to speak out there – 79% of brands say they will execute pre events and programs and the event industry is expected to grow by 44% from 2010 to 2020.

6. Submit a Killer Speaker Proposal

Some conferences will ask for a proposal on a specific topic. When writing this, pay attention to the requirements and characteristics of the event, without losing sight of your expertise. Often event managers will provide specific instructions, right down to a word limit!

Understanding the size and level of the audience and tone of the conference are also important. Remember that you will be one of many submitting a proposal. Make sure it is unique and consistent with the needs of the audience. Many people focus too much on what they want to say and forget to communicate what the audience and the event managers (the gatekeepers) want to hear.

7. Go get ‘em!

Want to kick off your speaking career? Join Innovation Women today and take advantage of all of our resources to help you get started!