Kerry Kathleen Heaps is an established speaker and owner of Book.Speak.Repeat, a company that helps get paid speaking engagements for authors and business owners.  She is also the Publisher of Pageant Platform Magazine and the Host of Pageant Platform Podcast and a published author.  In this month’s SkillBites Show, Kerry Kathleen shared several excellent tips for those seeking to get paid speaking gigs.

Kerry Kathleen’s first tip was to make sure you have the following material up to date:

  • Your bio. At least annually, update your bio to include any major accomplishments, speeches you gave, awards you might have won, media interviews or other relevant accomplishments in the past year.
  • Your headshot. Audiences and meeting planners get turned off if you show up looking much older than your headshot.
  • Your list of speaking topics. Keep this current, as there may be something topical in the news that you have expertise to address.
  • The summary for each of your topics. Again, tweak your summaries to reflect current news and interests.
  • Your take-aways. Make sure these are relevant to your audience and simple to implement.

Kerry Kathleen reviewed the key elements that meeting planners are most looking for.  Number one is whether the prospective speaker has a published book.  95% of the time she gets asked by meeting planners whether the speakers she is referring to them have a published book.  Speakers with a published book bring more credibility, which will help meeting planners get more people to attend the presentation.  As a speaker, having a published book will enable you to get more speaking gigs and give you the opportunity to sell your books back of room at those speaking gigs.

Second, be easy to work with.  Do what you say you will do, respond promptly to emails, get required information to the meeting planner on time, and get to the venue early.  Be friendly, come early and stay late and talk to the meeting attendees.  Make sure you anticipate contingencies and plan accordingly.  If you are flying into the locale where you are speaking, plan to arrive the previous day, so no weather conditions disrupt your getting there.

Third, make your presentation interactive.  Ask questions, share funny stories, engage the audience by asking them to share stories, be an entertainer.  If the audience enjoys your presentation, the meeting planner is more likely to invite you back and refer you to others.

Similar to the third point, meeting planners are looking for audience retention.  Prospective speakers who can address this issue are more likely to get hired.  A few ways to do this include providing take-aways that are easy to implement and reminding the attendees of actions to take by following up with attendees a few times after the event.  This can be accomplished by sending out short videos, and sharing some tips (or providing the mp4 files to the meeting planner to send to the attendees).  These not only help the meeting planner, they help the speaker, as it increases the likelihood that members of the audience will want to hire the speaker as a consultant, or will refer the speaker to other organizations.  As Kerry Kathleen reminded, the money is in the audience, not the speaker fee.

As a final point, Kerry Kathleen emphasized that getting paid speaking engagements takes work.  You need to get out there, make lots of calls, follow-up, send your book, and keep at it.  You don’t necessarily need a video or sizzle reel, although having an audio recording of you giving a presentation can sometimes be useful.  Kerry Kathleen’s program takes some of the work off your plate, as she provides a list of available speaking opportunities and makes introductions to meeting planners.  She also has various training programs to help speakers hone their message and their materials.

Kerry Kathleen offered a 10% discount on her services and programs to listeners of the SkillBites podcast.  When purchasing from her website,, use the code SkillBites at checkout to receive your discount.  She also offered a complimentary consultation to members of the SkillBites audience.  You can book your consultation with her on her website.