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5 Tips for Building a Speaking Empire

Marketing guru, Dan Kennedy, once said that all forms of marketing are equally good. While I love Dan Kennedy, I have to say, he’s dead wrong! No form of marketing comes close to public speaking for building credibility, authority and celebrity-status. Before you even step on the stage, you have the complete attention and admiration of your audience (it’s almost impossible to screw this up).

So, why isn’t everyone speaking from the stage? Truth be told, few lawyers want to put in the time and work to get speaking engagements, a/k/a “speaking gigs”, but there’s no reason you can’t be a keynote speaker at national and regional conferences. These 5 tips will put you on the path to getting booked for your first speaking gig and just maybe on your way to building a speaking empire.

Tip #1: Showcase Your Skills with a Demo Video

A demo video shows you’re the real deal. All you need is a 2-minute video that showcases a few of your best moments on the stage. A demo video shows the conference organizer that you’re good on your feet and can be funny, irreverent and even serious when necessary.

Tip #2: Put Your Speaking Credentials on a Website

Send event organizers to your speaker’s website. This website is a dossier of all of your past speaking engagements with national, regional and local organizations. Your website will have:

  • Short video clips from your best speeches,
  • Testimonial letters from event organizers, and
  • Your bio as a published author and lawyer.

For added “Wow”, create a media packet containing these materials and deliver the “Shock & Awe” package to event organizers.

Tip #3: Your Outbound Campaign to Book Speaking Gigs

Once you’ve got a demo video and speaker’s website, create a list of 5 conferences where you want to speak, e.g., the American Association for Justice’s annual conventions. Post this list of your Top 5 conferences on a scratch pad in your office and check off the name of each conference as you begin to book speeches.

Go to the organization’s website, find the conference organizer and send an introductory email. Ask if the organizer has booked speakers for the next conference, and even if they’re booked solid, send your demo video and a link to your speaker’s website. Frequently, public speakers will cancel at the last minute and the organizer will scramble to find a last-minute speaker—make sure they know you’re available in a moment’s notice.

Next, send your dossier (a/k/a “Shock & Awe” package) via Federal Express to the organizer, with a CV of your professional credentials, testimonial letters from your other speaking engagements and a signed copy of your book. Ask the organizer to read your book to determine if you will be a good speaker for their conference. As a published author, you have instant credibility and celebrity status that few others have.

Follow up with phone calls to the organizer. Don’t be a pest, but make sure the organizer knows that you’re willing to help whenever they need you.

Tip #4: Get Referrals from Other Speakers

Plaintiffs’ lawyer, Mitch Jackson, Esq., recently spoke at the grand-daddy of conferences—Tony Robbins’s “Business Mastery” and he’s already booked to speak for “Tony” at the next conference. There is no platform bigger than a Tony Robbins’s conference. So, how did this happen?

Mitch’s good friend, David Meerman Scott (author of the book, “The New Rules of Marketing and PR”), was already scheduled to speak at Business Mastery and asked Mitch to collaborate and share the stage during his presentation. Of course, Mitch was happy to oblige and once Mitch got his foot in the door, the rest was history.

Helping friends get speaking engagements can result in a treasure trove of speaking engagements for you, and just maybe, you’ll be the next speaker at a Tony Robbins’s conference.

Tip #5: Follow-Up is Everything

After you speak, send a handwritten thank you letter with a special gift to the organizer. If the organizer loves Harley motorcycles, send him a gift chain with the Harley logo. You’d assume that every speaker would say “thanks” to the organizer, but they don’t.

Ask the organizer for a testimonial letter on the letterhead of her organization. Add the testimonial letter to your dossier (“Shock & Awe” package) and post it on your speaker’s website. You might even frame the testimonial letter in your office.

Ask the organizer for a few video clips from your speech and with her permission, post the videos on your speaker’s website and add them to your demo video. With each testimonial letter and video, you are building your credibility as a speaker.

Make sure someone is taking photos of your speech, ideally with background views of the audience. Mitch Jackson, Esq. shares these photos after every speech on social media and his website.

Proof that Speaking Pays Off

Plaintiffs’ lawyer, John K. Powers, Esq. in Albany, NY, built a nationally prominent plaintiffs’ firm on the back of speeches for trial lawyers at the former American Trial Lawyers Association (now, American Association for Justice). With speech after speech, John showcased his speaking abilities, knowledge of the law and trial skills and attracted the attention of the best trial lawyers in the land. And the end result? A slew of catastrophic injury referrals from some of the best plaintiffs’ lawyers in the country.

Yes, public speaking pays, and it can pay for you. But no one will appoint you as a superstar—you have to go out there and make it happen. These 5 tips give you the tools for building a speaking empire, but you must put in the work. And just think, with some hard work and commitment, you too might be speaking at the next Tony Robbins’s seminar.

BTW, I will be speaking at the Max Law Con ’18 in St. Louis on May 17th-18th. Max Law Con ’18 is, in my humble opinion, the premier legal seminar in the country for law firm marketing and management. If you want to build the law firm of your dreams, cancel your appointments and register for Max Law Con ’18. To register, go to MaximumLawyer.com.

Hope to see you in St. Louis!


photo credit: Annouchka.Supervielle En scène via photopin (license)

Leave a comment below telling me what surprised, inspired or taught you the most (I personally respond to every comment). And if you disagree with my take on running a personal injury law firm, or have a specific, actionable tip, I’d love to hear from you.