Wednesday, August 13, 2014

"So you liked my talk? Now what?" 8 ways to make the most of a speaking gig

You killed that keynote, iced the Ignite! talk, took the TEDx audience by storm. The applause is over, you got lots of affirming comments, and maybe even a few more invitations to speak. But if you thought all the work that goes into your speech ends when you walk off stage and take off your mic, think again. To make the most of each speaking gig and get better invitations to speak in the future, here are the steps you should take after your speech or presentation is over:
  1. Look at and share the video: You don't have to like it. You just have to do it. Here's why: There's no better way to improve as a speaker than to watch any video of your talk. Do it with my no-wincing video checklist for speakers in hand. To get the most insight, watch it as soon as possible after giving the talk--that way, you might recall better what was on your mind when you did that awkward thing, so you won't repeat it in the future. Then share that video: On your blog or website, when you apply to speak at other conferences, on social media. If the video is shared on YouTube or or any other site that measures views, be sure to include that data in your next bid to be a speaker. Conference organizers think video's essential to help you get your next speaking gig, for all sorts of reasons.
  2. Figure out what you need to work on next: Every good speaker wants to improve, and the best way is to take a look at your most recent gig. Figure out what went right and a few things to fix for next time. The video, if available, can advance your skills faster, showing you things you'd never notice otherwise.
  3. Get any record of audience feedback: If the organizers ask audience members to share feedback formally, ask for the summary of feedback about your session or talk. Keep a file with the actual feedback from the organizer to show to future conferences or when you're replying to a call for speakers, since many conferences like to see documented evidence of what audiences thought of you. But feel free also to quote from the feedback on your blog, LinkedIn profile or website.
  4. Publish the text of your talk: I've said it before and I'll say it again: One of the best ways to silence yourself is to fail to publish your speeches. A published speech text makes it easy for organizers to find and read your approach, which in turn might help you get more gigs. Text is more searchable than video, so your published text will help people discover you. You don't need to be a top government official or CEO to do this. Read Why and how you should publish your speeches for tips and ideas.
  5. Create a Storify of tweets about your talk: Another important source of audience feedback--and public proof of it--will be on Twitter. Use Storify to easily gather tweets about your talk in a convenient package. Publish them alongside your text, and send them to conference organizers the next time you apply to speak. One thing conferences want is buzz, inside and outside the room. This helps you demonstrate your ability to deliver that buzz.
  6. Ask the organizer, moderator or chair for a LinkedIn recommendation: If any of the folks who brought you to the stage or participated with you offer substantive, positive reactions, ask them to recommend you as a speaker on LinkedIn. You can do that on the spot or in a followup email. The tone to strike: "I'm so glad to hear you thought it went well, because I'm trying to get more speaking opportunities like this one. Would you consider writing me a recommendation for this speech on LinkedIn?"
  7. Ask for a different opportunity next time: When the chair or organizers praise you, use the exchange to ask for a new type of speaking opportunity next time. If you're always a moderator, ask to be a panelist. Always a panelist? Ask for an individual slot. Done a lot of short talks? Indicate your interest in a keynote. "Thanks so much! This was fantastic for me. And I'd love to come back--perhaps as a featured speaker next time," is one way to say that. After all, now you're a known quantity. It's important to make your interest known right away, as many conferences begin planning the next show almost immediately after one is completed.
  8. Update your speaker bio or page: You should have a short biography and a section of your website or blog or LinkedIn profile that includes your speaking experience. Update it every time you complete a talk, including links to any video, Storify, blog posts or speech texts you've published. And while you're at it, add in some of the reactions your presentation got from the audience or on Twitter.
None of these steps alone will help you get more--or more paid--speaking opportunities. But taken together, they make you a much more available and proven possibility for organizers to consider, and put you in a better spot to negotiate travel reimbursements and fees for speaking. When the moment comes to ask for more, having this information already organized and available makes you look like the seasoned speaker everyone's seeking.

Thanks to reader Cate Huston for suggesting this topic!

(Creative Commons licensed photo by Joe Abbruscato)

I'll be leading Be The Eloquent Woman, my day-long workshop on women and public speaking, as a pre-conference session at the European Speechwriter Network's autumn speechwriters and business communicators conference in Amsterdam. The workshop is 23 October and the conference is 24 October. You'll learn how to speak with confidence, content and credibility to subvert the common expectations of women speakers. Please join me!