Well-known keynote speakers make a lot of money for each speaking engagement. However, those just starting out in the field need to build credibility and produce content they can use to promote future engagements. Special bureaus and associations exist that help aspiring public speakers book events in a wide variety of specialties. However, these bureaus are often very exclusive and require you to submit a video showcasing your abilities before they will list you in their database.
Create a website for your public speaking business. This online portfolio is your first contact with clients and must include high-quality photographs, the speaker's biography, a list of previous clients or speaking events and, most importantly, video excerpts of previous engagements. Make a list of your areas of expertise and the types of services you offer. Testimonials provide powerful social proof to future clients.
Volunteer for all local speaking events in your field. Many local associations, charities, clubs and similar groups host local events for which they need experts. This helps create content for your portfolio and also gives you the chance to network with people involved in your area of expertise. Request permission to mention your website during the speech and hand out business cards during the breaks. Take the opportunity to network and build a collection of business contacts. Ask them if they would be willing to give you a written or videotaped testimonial for use on your website.
Join all of the professional speakers bureaus and associations possible (see Resources). Most are free to join and only take a percentage of the fees you earn from the speaking engagement. You must have high-quality video footage of some of your previous engagements to be accepted by the most prestigious organizations.
Contact some of the people you met during the local events to offer your services to their companies, if applicable. Contact other companies in your area of expertise to arrange a presentation of your services.
Join online forums that relate to your area of expertise and create a signature that links to your website and offers your services as a public speaker. Actively post in the forum with helpful information that positions you as an expert to increase the number of links people see. Helpful information will encourage people to find out more about you and what else you may be offering.
Hire a publicist to actively promote you on the speaking circuit (see Resources). Negotiate the fee to include a percentage in exchange for lowering the monthly cost of such a service.