Posted by: Marty Fahncke | March 12, 2010

How to get speaking engagements

Recently, I conducted an interview with a journalist named Helena Bouchez who was writing for MarketingProfs, a widely respected and hugely followed publication for marketing professionals.

The article that resulted from this interview is called “Get a Speaking Gig: How Event Producers Decide Who Gets Onstage”  It’s a great piece, and a must-read if you have any interest in speaking as a business or for your business.

As usually happens when doing an interview with the press, 90% of the information I shared never made it to the final version of the story.  That’s always been how it works, and I’m used to it.

But not this time.  In this case, Ms. Bouchez didn’t settle for telling “some of the story”.  Instead, she added additional information that I gave during the interview in a follow up post called “Get a speaking gig – [Interview outtakes]” (Go ahead, click and read if you want.  It will open in a new window.  I’ll still be here when you get back)

Being the brilliant PR maven she is, Ms. Bouchez offered to let me post the last secret tip from my interview here on my blog…so here it is:

The final secret tip for getting speaking gigs

One thing that really exploded my speaking business was speaking frequently at my trade association. I did so much speaking FOR this association, and they were so happy with the job I did, the executive director eventually engaged me to speak on BEHALF of the association to other trade groups.

You see, association leaders talk to other association leaders about each other. A lot. They often contact each other for event planning, scheduling, and finding experts for speaking and press inquiries. Heck, they even have their own Association of Assocations!

In my case, I was (and still am) very involved in the DRTV business, which is represented by the Electronic Retailing Association (ERA).  So for example, the Toy Industry Association wanted someone to speak to their members about selling toys on Home Shopping.  And members of the National Sporting Goods Association wanted to know how to get their fitness and weight loss products on infomercials.  So the heads of those associations called the head of the Electronic Retailing Association, who then called me.  Voila!  In this capacity,  I spent two years speaking to group after group around the country on behalf of my industry.  The exposure and contacts made during this time were HUGELY valuable, and the association benefited greatly as well.

So, if you are looking for speaking gigs, and your area of expertise has a trade association, position yourself as a leading industry expert IN your industry.  Most people think of that.  But positioning yourself as a spokesperson FOR your industry…that’s a step most people never think of striving for.  And if you can accomplish that, you’ve got it made.  According to Wikipedia,  there are over 7,600 trade associations in the United States.  With a list that large, there are bound to be speaking opportunities just waiting for you.

Find the ones that fit your niche, and make your pitch!


  1. Marty, this is absolute gold. Thanks so much for sharing it!

  2. Thank you for this truly informative article. It is of tremendous help.
    Omid Mankoo, Author of Open to Bliss

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: