As speakers and writers, part of what we do is platform building. We know that having a wider audience allows us more opportunities to share our message in different settings and formats. A lot of this work is obvious: delivering life-changing content to our audience on social media, websites and in speaking engagements. What if doing all that hard work isn’t leading to more speaking opportunities?
Think of a literal platform.
A platform requires both the outer boards on which you stand, and also hidden supports and fasteners to keep it held all together. It wasn’t until I began serving as a speaker coordinator that I realized I might have been missing opportunities to serve my first and perhaps most important audience: the people who hired me for an event. Serving our audience doesn’t start when we step onto the stage; it starts long before as we interact with the people who book us and help organize the event.
Communicators that event organizers love to book and recommend repeatedly don’t neglect those hidden aspects of their platform. However, since they are hidden, we might miss them! That is why I want to share two stand-out tips to help you better serve your audience and make you instantly more bookable. They’re not flashy, but they communicate that you are a solid speaker and one to whom a group can confidently hand over the microphone.
Meet Your Deadlines
When I was a speaker coordinator, I typically planned several meetings simultaneously. I was also a volunteer, working with a team of volunteers, which meant the time we had to devote to a meeting was limited. Even paid staff members have other duties. This means you lose credibility as a speaker if we have to chase you down for bios, handouts, presentation slides, or other necessary parts of an event. Remember, the person who hired you to speak is your first audience. When you serve them by meeting your deadlines, you communicate that you care about their needs. You also show them that they can depend on you to deliver what you promise.
End On Time
I’ve been there. A talk is going really well, the audience is hanging on my every word. I’m coming up with new material on the spot that is connecting when I realize that I only have 2 minutes left in my allotted time with 15 minutes (or more!) of material left to cover. What would you do?
Too many times, I’ve heard speakers say, “I’m just going to keep going” when their time was up. Whether I am the one coordinating that event or an audience member, that sentence makes me shift uncomfortably in my seat because the event has just gone off the map. We no longer know what is going to happen. What the speaker is also communicating is, “I’m not concerned with my audience’s needs.” Even if it was a necessary bathroom break, they had plans for what was to come next!
Five extra minutes may not seem like much, but someone else is absorbing that loss. Some aspect of the program is cut short or even cut out to make up for it. As we endeavor to serve our audience, we need to remember that we are only one part of the program.
I hope what you have to say is incredible and life-changing. It can be hard to make cuts, but if running over time is an issue for you, say less. You do the difficult work of editing in order serve your audience. This not only allows you to communicate your points clearly, it also allows the event organizers to breathe a sigh of relief that at least one aspect of the program can happen as expected. Bonus: it also gives you the chance to leave the audience wanting more. We need to book you to speak again, follow you online, or buy your book in order to hear more from you.
Like I said, these are not flashy. They are hidden, but they help build a solid platform for your ministry. They make a lasting impression on the event organizers and your audience. The bottom line is that if coordinators love working with you, they will be more likely to bring you back and recommend you to other groups. Never underestimate the power of working behind the scenes to serve your audience in becoming a more bookable speaker.
We’d love to hear from you! What are hidden ways you like to serve event planners? What are some tools that help you meet your speaking deadlines?
If you’d like some helpful tips for being a more organized speaker, check out our recent Communicator Academy Podcast, The Organized Communicator Event Packet. https://www.communicatoracademy.com/2019/07/15/148-the-organized-communicator-event-packet/
Frances Tuck is a former Communication Pastor, current stay-at-home mom and speaker and writer, passionate about helping people love their life as-is. You can learn more about her and her writing at justfrancest.com or follow her on Facebook for a daily dose of encouragement @justfrancest.