Raising your profile to a larger audience through public speaking engagements is an excellent way to promote your expertise and services. We highlight some steps to take before you approach event organisers including a sample pitch email. We also include the Head of Ted Talk Chris Anderson’s advice on formulating an engaging and motivational discussion.
Being a panellist or guest speaker at an industry event is a great way to share your expertise, build your reputation, and network with other professionals. It can also lead to new freelance career opportunities, such as more speaking engagements, consulting gigs, and even job offers.
- Increased visibility. Being a panellist at a high-profile event can help you increase your visibility in your industry. This can lead to new opportunities, such as speaking engagements, consulting gigs, and even job offers.
- Thought leadership. Being a panellist is a great way to establish yourself as a thought leader in your field. This can give you a competitive advantage in the job market and help you attract new clients or customers. Writing thought leadership pieces or getting a freelance writer to ghostwrite them on your behalf is a brilliant way to get your name out there.
- Networking opportunities. Panel discussions are a great way to network with other professionals in your industry. This can lead to new business partnerships, collaborations, and job opportunities.
- Personal development. Partaking in speaking engagements can encourage you to develop your public speaking skills, confidence, and critical thinking skills. These skills are valuable in any career.
Once you have decided that becoming a panellist is a good move for your freelance business, it’s time to prepare for your pitch to event organisers. You can do this directly by email or hire a freelance PR professional to act on your behalf.
Another way to get noticed is to become an expert on Newspage, a platform that enables small business owners and freelancers to get direct access to journalists with a high rate of success in getting yourself quoted in the trade and mainstream press.
Here are some tips to prepare before you pitch:
- Identify your target audience. What types of events do your ideal audience attend? What topics are they interested in? Once you know who you’re trying to reach, you can tailor your pitch accordingly.
- Highlight your expertise. What makes you a qualified panellist on the topic? Have you published articles or books on the subject? Have you given presentations or workshops? Be sure to mention any relevant experience or credentials in your pitch.
- Be specific. Don’t just say that you’re interested in being a speaker on a general topic. Instead, suggest a specific topic or panel discussion that you’d like to participate in. This shows the event organiser that you’ve done your research and that you’re genuinely interested in the topic.
- Be concise. Event organisers are busy people, so keep your pitch short and to the point. State your name, your expertise, and why you’re interested in being a panellist or guest speaker. You can also include a link to your website or LinkedIn profile so that they can learn more about you; read your posts and see your expertise via your profile.
- Be persistent. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t hear back from an event organiser right away. Follow up politely after a week or two. You may also want to reach out to other event organisers in your industry.
Here’s a sample pitch email that you can send to event organisers:
Dear [Event Organiser Name: find the exact name of the person who organises events]:
I came across your upcoming event [Event Name] and would be interested in learning how I may participate as a panellist. I am a [Your Title] with [Number] years of experience in the [Your Industry] industry. I am passionate about [Topic of Panel Discussion] and could see my expertise as being a valuable asset to your panel. I am also confident that I can contribute to a lively and informative discussion.
In light of recent events, such as [add something newsworthy here], I feel your audience would be interested in learning more [add a topic or solution you could provide the audience to a pressing issue or debate].
In my current role, I am responsible for [List of Relevant Responsibilities]. I have also [List of Relevant Accomplishments that would be useful for the audience].
While I am available to participate on a panel on [Topic of Panel Discussion], if you believe there is another panel that my background and expertise make a good fit, I am open to discussing it.
Please let me know if there is a date and time you are available to discuss this week and I would be happy to arrange a video call on my end at your convenience.
[Contact details including link to your LinkedIn Page, website]
Once you’ve been selected to be a panellist, here are a few more tips to help you prepare:
- Do your research. Make sure you’re familiar with the topic of the panel discussion and the other panellists. This will help you contribute to the discussion in a meaningful way.
- Prepare your talking points. What are the key points that you want to make during the discussion? Write down your talking points so that you can stay on track. You may also speak to the organisers to see if they have a specific agenda they would like to follow or any news items they feel would add to the discussion.
- Practice speaking. Practice your talking points in front of a mirror or with a friend. This will help you feel more confident and polished on the day of the event.
- Be a good listener. Take notes if it will help you to pick up on another panellist’s comments or views.
- Be prepared for audience questions. Think in advance about what people may ask and prepare some responses as best as you can.
- Pause slightly before speaking. Gather your thoughts so you make valuable comments. This can help you come across as more poised.
- Do not pretend to know the answers. If you are not familiar with a topic or feel another panellist might be able to add to the discussion, do not be afraid to bring them into the conversation, especially if this is a topic posed by an audience member. You could even ask them a question and start an offshoot discussion.
TED’s secret to great public speaking
According to Chris Anderson, the Head and curator of Ted Talks, while speakers and their topics all seem completely different, they actually do have one key common ingredient. And it’s this:
Your number one task as a speaker is to transfer into your listeners’ minds an extraordinary gift — a strange and beautiful object that we call an idea.
Anderson suggests making your core idea worth sharing. Ask yourself the question: “Who does this idea benefit?” If the idea only serves you or your organisation, then, Anderson says, “it’s probably not worth sharing.”
“The audience will see right through you,” he says in the informative video below.. However, he says, if you believe that the idea has the potential to “brighten up someone else’s day or change someone else’s perspective for the better or inspire someone to do something differently, then you have the core ingredient to a truly great talk, one that can be a gift to them and to all of us.”