Where can I find places to speak?


Q & A by C.J. HaydenIf you’re ready to get started speaking to promote your business, the first challenge you may encounter is finding places that will welcome you as a speaker. One of the best approaches I have found to locate new speaking venues is to scan public event calendars on a regular basis.

I’ve discovered that groups and institutions who promote their events widely are often some of the most productive places to speak, so seeking them out by way of event calendars can be a handy pre-screening device. Groups who publicly advertise their meetings are frequently also those most likely to use speakers who are non-members.

The type of groups and calendars that are available will vary depending on your area, of course, but let’s use my area — San Francisco — as an example and it should suggest some helpful ideas.

Print Newspapers and Magazines

  • San Francisco Chronicle: Local metro daily; has a weekly business calendar in the business section. There are three other metro dailies and a dozen smaller city papers within an hour’s driving distance for me that have similar calendars.
  • San Francisco Business Times: Business weekly; has an event calendar. There are two other business weeklies in my surrounding area.
  • Sunset Beacon: Neighborhood monthly; community calendar appears in each issue. There are more than a dozen neighborhood papers in my city that have similar calendars.
  • SF Weekly and Bay Guardian: Entertainment weeklies; event calendars appear in each issue. Look for a “spoken word” section if they have it. Other nearby cities also have their own entertainment weeklies.
  • Bay Area BusinessWoman: Affinity group monthly; event calendar appears in each issue. There are many other affinity group papers in my area, e.g. Singtao Daily (Chinese), Nichi Bei Times (Japanese), Bay Area Reporter (gay/lesbian), J. (Jewish News Weekly of Northern California).
  • San Francisco Downtown: Monthly magazine; covers business events.

Websites

  • Ryze: Has calendar of local business networking events for many areas.
  • Craigslist: Has calendar of local business and community events for many areas.
  • S.F. Chamber of Commerce: Has calendar of business networking events they sponsor. There are three other Chambers within driving distance for me that have their own events.

In a smaller metro area, you may not be able to find enough local groups by looking in calendars. Or perhaps you’d like to do a lot of speaking, and want to search for many additional venues. You can branch out further by seeking out groups and institutions like the ones below, who frequently use speakers from their local area and have a regular schedule of events:

  • U.S. Small Business Administration, Small Business Development Centers, or SCORE
  • Career centers, sometimes attached to a college, university, or major corporation
  • Community centers
  • University extended education or adult ed departments
  • Independent learning centers (e.g. Learning Annex)
  • Libraries (some sponsor events rather than simply provide space for them)
  • Churches
  • Hospitals and medical centers
  • Vocational training schools
  • Networking groups
  • Trade and professional associations
  • Service clubs (e.g. Rotary, Lions, or Kiwanis)
  • Corporations, industrial parks, or shopping centers who offer “brown bag” lunch programs or resource fairs

Finally, to expand your list of speaking venues even further, look for groups and institutions that perhaps don’t yet offer speaker programs but might consider hosting them as a marketing tool. For example, here are some categories of organizations that are frequently open to this approach:

  • Banks and brokerage houses
  • Office supply stores
  • Employment agencies
  • Wellness centers and providers (e.g. pharmacies, chiropractors, or massage therapists)
  • Bookstores (if you’re not an author, your topic can relate to the books of others)
  • Coffee shops and cafes
  • Print, broadcast, and online news outlets

As you can see, there is no shortage of possible places to speak in even the smallest city. So get out there and start talking!

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