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Venues to Give Gratis Speeches

Michael Schatzki

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I want to give a newly developed speech at least 20 times to polish it before charging a fee. The speech requires 60 minutes and I don’t want to shorten it during the practice period. My target audience is people in their late 30s to early 60s; businesspeople or general audience (the talk is a new concept which motivates people to fitness). Where are the best places to go to “sell” a free program of this length?

— Maggie Chicoine

I contact the local Association for Volunteer Administrators (or the Volunteer Bureau) and offer a list of sessions which I’ll be testing in the next year. They must contact me formally to book the date. Volunteer organizations are happy with the offer and advertise on my behalf. I’ve been doing this for 24 years.

The “deal” is that they receive the session at no charge, but in return, they need to have a small group of participants stay for an additional hour after the presentation for some feedback and possible re-design. Amazing — this leads to paid gigs in the future.

— Joan Stewart

Contact local chambers of commerce, Rotary, Kiwanis, Business Networking International, and any other business networking groups.

Go to MeetUp.com and see what business groups are meeting near you. I belong to a MeetUp group for Internet marketers in Wisconsin, and at our last meeting, we discussed which speakers we could invite to speak for free.

Go to Craigslist and check out the community category. You’ll find sub-categories for classes, events and small business. Post a note in the best category offering your services. Make sure you don’t post the same item to more than one category.

Get a local business journal, daily or weekly newspaper or business magazine and check the section of the paper that announces local business events and who is speaking. You’ll find a lot of groups you probably never knew existed. There’s usually a phone number to call for registration. Call that number and ask for the meeting planner.

If you’re Twittering (you should be), let your followers know about your topic and ask them for suggestions. I’m assuming you want to speak only locally. If so, use a hashtag (#) next to your city, like this: #Chicago, so people who are searching for information on that city will find your tweet.

If you’re on LinkedIn (you should be), post the question in their Q&A section and you might get responses from people who do business near you.

If you’re on Facebook, ask your friends to spread the word.

You probably won’t have to resort to paid ads. But if you do, you can target people in specific geographic locations with fairly cheap ads on Facebook and LinkedIn.

— Rebecca Morgan

For local association meetings, the library reference section with have the Encyclopedia of Associations. The librarian may have access to the online version, which I believe, requires a fee to search. You can then search by your local area and they should give you contact info.

Also, search the ASAE site — you might be able to do so by zip code, although I’ve not done that.

You may also offer this to your local clients (or ask your corporate friends) as a lunch and learn. Some will allow an hour, some 45 or 30 min.

I understand why you don’t want to go under an hour. As you know, that will also limit who you can give this to because some will only have shorter time frames (e.g., Rotary, Lions, Kiwanis).

What about adult communities? I’m sure they offer lectures there as a service to their residents.

— Deborah Laurel

The best places I’ve found to “sell” a free program are associations. There are hundreds and most of them have programs for their members every month and need speakers! Just think about which associations would have your demographic and give their professional development chair a call. Most local associations are listed in the telephone book.

— Sandra Schrift

The 60-minute format may limit your possibilities. Try the health clubs, YMCA gyms, spas, monthly network groups, an MPI chapter, an ASAE chapter, your city Bar association, local Chamber of Commerce, singles dating groups.

Unfortunately, service clubs who book speakers regularly limit their programs to 30 minutes.

— Mindy Gibbins-Klein

You could contact your local chambers of commerce. And my best idea would be to contact fellow speakers and trainers and offer to do a one-hour segment during one of their programs. If they can fit you in, it adds value for them, and spices things up since the audience doesn’t have to watch the same person all day.

— Beth Bridges

Try Chambers of Commerce. Look for “lunch and learn” or “seminar series” or other similar topics. Usually they are a lunchtime, brown-bag type of event offered to members of the organization.

Maybe team up with a nutritionist or caterer who specializes in healthy food, offer a free lunch and promote it through the Chamber (assuming you are a member!)?

Hospital nurses, health care workers, and government employees come to mind for some reason LOL, perhaps at their staff meetings? Again, offer a free healthy lunch... or healthy snacks.

One of the local university nutrition programs maybe?

SpeakerNet News is produced by Rebecca Morgan and Ken Braly. It is not affiliated with the National Speakers Association. Send comments or suggestions

SpeakerNet News is produced by Rebecca Morgan and Ken Braly. It is not affiliated with the National Speakers Association. Send comments or suggestions