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What to do after you book a speaking gig

What to do after you book a speaking gig

You booked a speaking gig? Congrats! Now what?

You probably worked really hard to book this gig, or maybe you just got lucky on this one and it just kind of found you. Either way, now that it’s in the books, you might feel a little overwhelmed as you try to figure out what you’re going to say and how you’re going to say it.

 

You’re already a passionate expert, and you already have lots of content out there on your platform, but speaking is a bit different than what you’re used to (maybe blogging or podcasting), and you just need to nail this.

 

No worries, you’ve got this!

 

This post will walk you through the first 3 things you need to do immediately after booking a speaking gig.

 

Step 1: collect all of the info

 

Uncertainty causes anxiety. And anxiety is no fun, especially on stage. If you want to get rid of that anxiety, get rid of as much uncertainty as possible. This means finding out the dirty little details about the speech ahead of time (no surprises!)

 

First – the obvious – Learn about the expectations of the speech itself. You can ask things like….

 

How long are you expected to speak for?

How many people will be there?

Where is the event?

What expectations does the conference organizer have for you?

What technology is available for you to use?

What time of day and is there a dress code?3 steps

 

Next – the less obvious, but super-duper important – These are things like the make-up of the audience and the specific situation. You can ask…

 

Who exactly will be there (CEO’s of big firms, or freelancers? Men or women? School teachers or the kids? It makes a difference)?

How is the room set up (if the conference organizer doesn’t know this, you can always call the hotel and ask)?

Will you have a teleprompter / or a screen to view slides on?

How will you get your slides on the screen? Do they need them ahead of time?

 

Finally – the details – dig into the culture of the event. You can ask…

 

Why does this event take place?

What has it looked like in previous years?

What commonalities do the audience members share?

What are their common goals?

 

And there might be more info that you want to collect, depending on the event and your level of comfort as a speaker. If you can adapt to any situation on the fly, the setup of the room isn’t as important. If you’re feeling a ton of anxiety and you like to control details in your life, the knowledge can help you visualize your speech going well before you even take the stage.

 

Step 2 – Get clear on your topic

 

This is such an overlooked step. A rookie mistake is to just go, “Well, I’m a social media marketing specialist, so I’ll talk about social media marketing. Bam. Done. This speech is going to be a breeze…”

 

This is way too vague, and leads to all sorts of problems later on down the line. Instead, I suggest creating a goal statement – one clear statement that defines your goal as a speaker.

 

That goal statement will become your compass as you create the rest of your content. You’ll always have a goal in mind, and you’ll have a better shot of meeting that goal. Skip this step and you run the risk of confusing the audience, leaving them feeling like they just couldn’t quite connect the dots during your talk.

 

It helps to do this early on so you can clearly tell the conference organizer and your platform what you’ll be speaking about, even if it isn’t completely ironed out yet.

 

Step 3 – Create a plan

 

The more anxious you feel about the speech, the more likely you are to put off preparing for it. I know, that isn’t what your intuition says, but trust me, that’s what happens. Your mind will think of anything that it wants or needs to do besides preparing for something that terrifies it (or even just something that makes it feel uncomfortable).

 

You don’t want to end up stressed out, pulling an all nighter before your speech. Who wants to take the stage after a night like that? (Puffy eyes, scratchy voice… that certainly won’t help you feel comfy on stage).

 

I like to start working on a speech, or a client’s speech, about 6 weeks before the presentation date. This leaves plenty of time for creating the content, and lots of time for practicing (but not so much time that you obsess over it).

 

Set some deadlines for yourself. When do you want to have the first draft done? The slide deck? What about the finer details, like your outfit? Or your travel plans? Setting up the plan ahead of time will help you stay on track, but it’ll also help you create killer content and feel completely at ease on stage while you deliver that content – and that’s what it’s all about.

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About the Author Sandy Donovan

Sandy empowers the young and talented to increase their power and influence by improving their ability to be heard and be clear. She does this by providing access to rigorously tested research in the communication, psychology, and marketing fields.