Becoming A Speaker

Entrepreneur. Guru. Leader. Expert. Speaker. They are all self-appointed titles that can make you cringe when you read them in someone’s bio. But recently, I’ve found myself asking whether I am a “Speaker”?

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always found the prospect of speaking in front of an audience quite exciting. Yes, there would be nerves, but there was something exhilarating about standing at the front of a room knowing everyone was listening to me.

Since I set up as a freelancer, I’ve had the aim of becoming a Speaker. Not because I wanted the title, but because I quite like the idea of standing in front of audiences and helping them learn new things. It’s something that excites me!

The Story So Far

The first speaking gig I had as a freelancer was at my old school where I delivered a session on Personal Branding to a class of 10 students. It’s not quite the jet-setting lifestyle you think of when you hear the title “Speaker”. But, thanks to the success of the session, I was asked back to the school on a couple more occasions and was even approached by another school. I wasn’t being paid for these events, but it was a start!

The first professional environment I spoke in was at the launch day for Creative Point. There, I delivered a session on podcasting. Again, I didn’t get paid for this event, but it was a great opportunity to test myself in an environment where there was more pressure to perform.

More recently, I’ve had quite a few bookings to speak within different environments. I’ve spoken at the University of Hull on several occasions, we took Creative Point to Leeds to deliver some sessions and I’ve also applied to speak as part of wider events.

Some have been paid, others not. Some have been as an individual, others as part of a wider team. Some have been people reaching out to me, others I have instigated.

But something happened recently that hadn’t happened before. Someone, out of the blue, contacted me and asked me to speak as an individual and they offered to pay. This is the first time all three factors had fallen into place. That’s when I thought, does this mean I’m a “Speaker” now?

Why Speaking Is Important

As much as I want to be invited to speak at events across the world, this might be a little while off yet. So, why am I booking in so many events at the moment?

Firstly, as mentioned earlier, part of the enjoyment comes from helping people. I firmly believe that if you don’t have any value to bring to the audience then there is no point in speaking.

However, this is not the only reason. Speaking, within a business environment, brings opportunities.

When you stand at the front of a room and speak, everyone there is listening to you. There might be other people in the room who offer the same service as you, but everyone is hearing your insight and building a relationship with you, not them.

It can seem a little bit ruthless, but the figures stack up for people who speak on a regular occasion at the right events.

Last year, I interviewed Peter Watson (Managing Director at Distract) for The My Journey Podcast. He regularly speaks at events and stated that if he has an audience of 100 people, he expects to generate 20 leads from the event. From those, he generally has 10 meetings and 5 will then convert into customers.

Now the events I’m speaking at currently, are generally a mix of students and fellow freelancers, so I’m not achieving these figures just yet. But my belief is that the more events I speak at, the more experience I have and, therefore, the higher the chance there is of being booked for the right events in the future.

Am I A Speaker?

Well, I do speak at events so in one sense, yes!

However, I see too many people at my level claiming to be a speaker and it doesn’t sit right with me. Therefore, I’m conscious of being tied with the same brush as these people. I want to build a good reputation and hopefully speak on bigger stages in the future. So, for now, I’m going to back away from that title.

If you would like to find out more about the different talks and workshops that I offer, click here.