Start Small

Posted on by Drew in advent speaker tips.

If you haven’t already spoken at lots of events, how do you get booked to start building up that experience?

Gaining experience in public speaking can feel like a catch-22 situation. Event organisers want to bank on presenters with a good track record in order to make sure their event isn’t a flop. Big events aren’t likely to take a chance on an inexperienced speaker, and as a presenter, you probably don’t want to be learning your craft on such a public stage.

If you haven’t already spoken at lots of events, how do you get booked to start building up that experience?

One great way is to join a local meet-up group for your area of expertise. These groups, often organised through sites like not only offer a way to meet and learn from other local people working in your field, but also provide a unique opportunity to practise giving a short, targeted presentation in a friendly and supportive environment.

Groups are particularly common for technology, marketing and entrepreneurial business, but they exist for many other industries too. They usually meet in low-key places like a meeting space in someone’s office or the back room of a pub, or community or arts centre, and are more often than not free to attend.

A couple of local groups I attend have occasional “lightning talks” evenings, designed for rapid-fire 5 or 10 minute presentations. These are a perfect opportunity to get started. Even the most inexperienced speaker can put together 10 minutes of a presentation - usually the challenge is cutting it back enough to fit a core idea or point.

Of course, once you’ve given a presentation, make sure to add it to your profile so you can start building up a portfolio of experience when you’re ready to pitch a talk to a bigger event.

So if you’re looking to gain more experience in a low-pressure environment, check out your local area for meet-up groups!

Advent speaker tips: this is part of a series of tips for public speakers that we’re posting throughout advent. Check back daily during December for more.

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