By the time a professional speaker takes the stage, gives an engaging, relevant keynote address, and leaves to thunderous applause, a lot of things have had to happen in order to prepare that success.  Every speaker needs a great deal of support, beyond the speech itself, the great delivery, and everything that happens on the conference or meeting end to ensure that the audience is ready and excited to hear from the speaker.

That speaker support includes 5 main areas of effort; if you’re just beginning you can do many of these things yourself.  Once you become a star, you may want to get others to help you.

1.  Networking and sales

You need to begin by amassing the mother of all databases and networking with just about everyone on the planet – at least everyone who has some connection with conferences, speaking, or meetings.  Then you need to tell the world what you’re speaking about, why it’s compelling, and all the people who are raving about it.  You might consider targeted marketing pushes to companies, associations, and industries for which your talk is relevant, as well as selected speaker bureaus.

2.  Handling queries

Once the queries start rolling in, you need a way to handle both the emails and phone calls professionally, uniformly, and courteously.  That means creating an email that lets the inquirer know what you will and will not do, your availability, and what you speak about more specifically.  And you need to either be ready to pitch yourself over the phone or hire someone who does that.

3.  Negotiating speaking contracts

Once you’ve fielded queries successfully, you’ll start getting deals, and that means negotiating them, and following up with all the necessary paperwork.  Everyone in the speaking business begins negotiating by saying, “We have no money”; the trick is figuring out which ones mean it, and which ones you want to speak to.

4.  Pre-speech work

To ensure a successful speech, you need to understand the audience before you speak to them, and you need to have a handle on the logistics.  In addition, there are a number of ways to engage with an audience before the actual speech that are worth exploring, in order to ensure the success of the speech itself.  All of this means engaging with the meeting planner, selected members of the potential audience, and your actual client beforehand.

5.  Post-speech work

Once the speech is done, there is a whole series of follow up steps that range from thank you notes to people who helped to ways to stay connected with the audience and to ensure repeat business.  Don’t make the classic speaker mistake of neglecting this important aspect of a speech.  It’s not over when it’s over.  That’s just when the afterlife of a speech begins.

Successful speaking means mastery of detail.  Not just the detail of the talk and its delivery, or even of the audience, but of a host of matters that begin well before the speech happens and go on long after.  A speaker ignores these details at his peril.



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