After years of making my way as a public speaker, 40 podcast episodes interviewing other public speakers, and a groundswell of people asking me how to grow their public speaking business, how about we chat for a few about what marketing strategies work and what don’t?

What Works

Before you go trying to shake your tail and show off your skills, lay the marketing groundwork. Have a thing to sell. It’s gotta be your thing. It can’t be you just repeating what other smart people have said. Your thing has to be 100% you, your own creative contribution to the world.

Establish a color scheme, a font, a sexy logo.


Brand yourself/your thing (they won’t be two separate entities anymore).

Get your name out there by teaching people something. 


This comes in lots of formats. Maybe, like Chris Lysy, you host free webinars. Maybe you speak at your association’s conference. Maybe you start a blog. Maybe you are a guest on a podcast. Whatever you do, be helpful. Give honest, solid gold tips and tricks. People follow when you give them value, so be educational and give them the tools to make their lives easier. This is more than enough to get a following, but many people choose the hard sell over the helpful approach.

What Might Work

Sponsor an event.

Jon Schwabish sponsors his kid’s little league, which is super cute, but he’s the first to admit its more of a charitable contribution than something that will get his name out there. If you do choose to sponsor something, sponsor where your clients will be. For me this means I wouldn’t sponsor a public speaking conference – these aren’t my potential clients – I’d sponsor a nonprofit forum instead.

Give away some swag.

nutsandboltsscreenshotNuts and Bolts Speed Training will give you a keyboard shortcut cheat sheet in exchange for your email. At Kylie Hutchinson’s site, you can download her reporting cube template for the price of your email address. This kind of swag is awesome. It’s helpful. It’ll make my life easier. It isn’t another luggage tag. This kind of swag works for the audience and it gives Kylie and Nuts and Bolts a way to stay in touch with you, sending you more useful tools and earning a following.

What Doesn’t Work

Make it sound like a hard pitch. At a recent conference, I saw people swarming *out* of a presentation because the person on the stage was pitching their company, rather than providing educational content. It turns people off so fast. Be gentle.

Copy other people’s material. When I was a rookie I certainly modeled my bio off of those who were more established. How else do you get going? But mimicking others will always keep you looking like a mimic. If you see someone else’s great slide, don’t copy it. If you see someone else advertise a process or procedure, don’t immediately develop your own process or procedure. It keeps you looking like sloppy seconds. Be inspired to go offroading and do your own thing. That’s what works.

Have a Listen

Though our podcast has now set with the sun, Jon and I discussed other ways to market yourself in a recent episode. Take a listen and add other marketing strategies that you’ve seen as particularly successful (or not) in the comments.
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