When my book came out earlier this year, I realized it was time to update my author speaking page. When I created my website a few years ago, I just put up a simple page with a picture of me speaking at an event with a microphone in my hand. Next to it was one paragraph saying something like, “I’m available for speaking.”
As a result of that page I got exactly zero speaking requests.
When my book came out, I spent about an hour researching effective author speaking pages and then another hour creating my page. ‘
Did it work? Yes, in fact, it worked too well.
I’ve had to turn down multiple events this year. Compare this to a year ago when I wasn’t getting invited to events at all. Here’s the deal: with a wonderfully supportive wife and three young kids, I’m feeling stretched pretty thin. I love the speaking. It gets me fired up about my mission and message, but it’s still early in my career and there will be a time in my life that I can do more of it without putting a strain on the family.
All that is to say: make these changes to your author website at your own risk! It works.
My Research: The Model Author Speaking Pages
First, I turned to Michael Hyatt, the Platform guy. I reread his chapter about speaking pages in his book, Platform, and then studied his website.
He has a great post about the updates he made to his author speaking page here: http://michaelhyatt.com/how-to-build-a-better-speaking-page-part-1.html
Next, I looked at the speaking pages of some of the other authors I knew. My favorites were Jeff Goins and Brandon Vogt, both of whom clearly followed Michael Hyatt’s advice as well.
I’d like to say I spent hours and hours doing research on improving my speaking page, but I didn’t. This was it. I took these pages and made my own adaptations.
Like I said, it worked so well I’m thinking of dialing it back!
The Ten Elements of an Author Speaking Page that Works
Remember, before I made these changes I simply had a page with a paragraph about me and a picture of me speaking. I took what I liked from various author speaking pages and adapted it to my own page and my own situation.
It wasn’t very hard to do. Honestly, I made these changes in one day during a lunch break.
Based on the research, it was clear to me that the best speaking pages had the following elements:
- Overview of Topics: In one paragraph, what do you speak about? Clearly show the audiences you speak to and the goals you will help them accomplish. This is a nice lead in to the rest of the page.
- List of Most Requested Topics: This was critical. I already had a few talks that I had given or created. Plus, I was working on a few more that related directly to my book. I tweaked the titles and descriptions a little bit more and posted them all as the “Most Requested Topics.” Now, when people ask me about coming to speak at their events, I give them this list as a menu of topics to choose from. Most event planners don’t want to brainstorm your workshops for you. They want ideas and may ask you to tweak your presentation for the event theme.
- Quality Speaker Picture: If you really do speak professionally, I think it is good to prove it with a picture. At least that is what a lot of other author speaking pages do. I’m thankful for Jonathan Sullivan, who took an “action shot” of me speaking at his event and for posting it on their Facebook wall!
- Relevant Bio: I could have copied and pasted my official bio to this page, but I adapted it slightly in terms of speaking events. The key is to cater the bio to the event planners you are trying to reach.
- Event Expectations: I took this from Michael Hyatt almost verbatim. Make promises and keep them. Think about the event organizers. What are their biggest needs regarding speakers? What promises can you make to them to meet those needs?
- List of Upcoming Events: There are some plugins for this, but I’ve just been keeping track of events in a text format. This helps people know if you are available before they contact you. It also helps you keep track of the events you have agreed to join!
- List of Past Events: This may be optional, but it can add an element of social proof depending on the events where you have spoken. It will at least prove the fact that you are a speaker if your upcoming schedule is a little thin.
- Samples of Presentations: Some places require a sample video of you speaking. I don’t have this yet, but I used Slideshare and my YouTube channel as an alternative. That seems to be sufficient for some places.
- “Check Availability” Call-to-Action: I included multiple links (call to actions) to a dedicated contact page for speaking requests. (I use the Contact Form 7 wordpress plugin.) I put them at the end of each description of the talks and at various places throughout what became a very long page. I wasn’t sure how many people would use this separate page, but almost everyone who has contacted me about speaking events used the links.
- Name Your Speaking Page: “Speaking page” doesn’t say much for the audience. It might be helpful in your mind to call it a speaking page, but it just doesn’t say much when you stop and think about it. Instead of saying “Speaking,” I labeled the page “workshops.” I liked the tone of it better than than talks, presentations, or speaking page. Since my website is not an author website per se, it made more sense in that context anyway.
Why it Worked so Well
Just a quick recap. Why did these updates work so well? How did it help me as a presenter?
- Event organizers don’t like creating your talk for you (most of the time).
- It was easy to respond to inquiries with the menu of talks to share.
- Having a list of talks simplified the preparation for the events as well. I could hone and improve a presentation rather than creating a new one for every event. It takes me a long time to craft a presentation so it has been really helpful to create something once and then tweak it over time and for specific events.
- Based on the requested talks, I am able to get a better handle on the biggest needs out there in the field and then go back and created resources and books for my website that people actually want and need.
- The page has a very clear call to action: “check availability.”
What I Will Add in the Future
As time goes on, I will reach out to event coordinators for endorsements and add them to the page. I also hope to have some better speaking samples to add to the page. Maybe, as time goes by, I’ll create a DVD or downloadable product for people who would like to attend the workshops, but are unable to travel to the events.
I could also enter all the events into a WordPress plugin like Gigpress, which both Michael Hyatt and Brandon Vogt use on their sites.
There are a number of possibilities, but like I said, it is more important to me to keep my priorities straight and focus on my family.
This is a great post Jared! Thanks so much. I thought about doing this a while back but decided not to because of the exact reasons you talked about. My family commitments really don’t allow me much time for speaking engagements. I get a couple of requests a year right now and that works out fine. I figured, if I put up a speaker page, I’d just have to turn a bunch of people down. I would really love to speak all the time but it’s just not in the cards right now.
Another suggestion is to price yourself out of most markets. The big speakers always talk about that. When there’s too much work and you can’t keep up with it, increase your price. That automatically cuts down on some requests. You can always make exceptions if you really want to do one.
Thanks Marc! I’ve heard the pricing tip from another author too.
Every time I get a request, I talk it over with my wife and with work. They are always good discussions and we make a decision based on what is best for everyone.