We’ve talked about getting started with public speaking, because, while our perception may be that only C-level executives do speaking engagements, the reality is that speaking opportunities exist for women at every level of your organization. One of the first panels we were asked to pull together as Innovation Women was a discussion by Millennials on how they got their first job. Most of the panelists were still in their first job!
Every week our team pulls together a list of more than 100 speaking opportunities for our Speaker Exclusive newsletter. This enormous weekly effort has taught us many things about the world of events and conferences and speaking engagements.

1) Don’t just look at the industry focus of the conference. If you’re a marketer, or a finance person, or an HR person, your presence might be welcome at many different industry conferences.

2) Look beyond the big industry conferences. There is often real value in speaking at local events that you might find on Meetup, Eventbrite or in the local event calendars. Make connections with local partners, find local customers and gather your community around you. You’ll also find speaking engagements at local corporations, universities, business and social groups. In addition to looking in the community, look inside your own company. Get practice with ever expanding sizes of audiences, and move from small group presentations, to panels, to group talks, to featured solo speaker.

3) Cultivate a relationship with event organizers and program directors. Ask them what they are looking for in a speaker. What kinds of presentations are their audiences interested in? Many event organizers have a go-to file for last minute substitutions.

4) Know the event cycle.  Some events book speakers many months in advance.  Others seem to have more of an “as needed” approach, barely keeping pace with event promotion. Ask other speakers or use the Internet WayBack Machine to look at the call for speakers timeline for previous years.

5) Google is your friend. Use the search term “Call for Speakers”, pair it with keywords from your field and see what you find!

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