OK, so you want to kick off 2016 with that long-deferred dream of becoming a professional speaker, seeing your name in lights, and getting to own the keynote stage at conferences in cool places around the world. How do you get started? What’s the road that will get you there? Following are 5 steps you need to take to get your ball rolling.

1.First, decide whom you should speak to. Most speakers think that everyone in the world will want to hear their speech. Get over that, and focus on who really should be in your audience. Segment that audience as specifically as you can. Think about your expertise: if you’re, say, a career counselor, and you advise people about careers after college, you might target college seniors. If your expertise is about the conflicts between Armenians and Turks, you might target the Diaspora in the US. If your expertise is about new trends in IT, you might target heads of IT departments at major corporations. And so on. The point is to go deep before you try to go broad. Start with the group that will embrace your message passionately, and eventually, you may be able to build outward from there.

2.Next, Figure out what your audience does. Connect with those activities. You want to see what those people do, where they do it, what they read, how they read it, what their biggest celebrations are, and so on. How can you connect with them? Do they meet at rallies, do they all wear a certain kind of shoe, or do they all drink Starbucks coffee? It’s time to get creative and figure out how you can hitch your speaking wagon to their particular star. The idea is to meet your audience where it lives, and convenes.

3.Talk it up, and talk it up some more. Don’t be shy. Once you’ve figured out how you’re going to connect to your audience, then start getting the word out. There are two schools of thought on this activity. One is to send out a reasonable number of tweets, Facebook postings, LinkedIn updates, and whatever else you can stand to do. The other is to be relentless and essentially crush all the categories and send out messages 24/7. I’m resistant to this latter idea, because it seems like overkill and it feels intrusive, but the argument is that people are so information overloaded that the only way to stand out is to be the loudest and most frequent talker. Your call. Do what feels both authentic and comfortable to you— and what you can sustain for the long haul.

4.Create a sense of urgency. Start a drive. Put a time limit on your availability, or the message. Especially the message – focus on why what you have to say is timely – right now. Scarcity and competition add urgency to public speaking, like every other human endeavor, and that can help you create some momentum around your speaking campaign.

5.Keep the buzz going. Find new reasons and angles to promote yourself. Can you attach your message to some current event, fear, or predilection? Interest naturally waxes and wanes in ideas like leadership depending on the news. You need to figure out ways to keep your particular message fresh. How can you keep your ideas relevant in the eyes of your particular community?

These are a few of the basics for promoting your own public speaking. I’ll post on more ideas throughout 2016. And I’d love to hear ideas of your own – tell me what’s worked for you.

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