So You Want to Be a Speaker

One of the questions I get asked from time to time goes something like this, “I want to be a speaker/artist, what should I do?”

Most times someone asks with incredible humility and grace and I want to cheer them on. So what do I say? Here is my email to an acquaintance who asked for my input on growing her platform. 

[Note: I made a couple small edits]

Dear Karen,

Thanks for the email and thank you again for investing your gifts at [the event]. Engaging in speaking is a great and funny endeavor. I love that you talked about two things in your email which would be my core advice. 

1) Don’t ignore the opportunities right around you.

Keep teaching at your church, investing in your community. A bigger platform is best anchored in the reality of life! 

2) Seek and embrace mentoring voices.

So cool to see you jumping into that piece.

Beyond that you are going to find the first season is likely going to be many volunteer or low/no compensation “gigs.” Think of this as your schooling. Learn how to connect with people who do not know you. Learn your voice. Learn to adapt to the environments (group sizes, generational distinctives, streams of the church, small rooms, big rooms). This is exactly what we did when I was endeavoring to build my band in 2009-2010. We played every little coffee house and youth rally, often with 12 kids who could care less who we were. A good place to start with this is to offer to teach breakout sessions at women’s retreats. I would offer two options that you know you could really connect with.

To get these contacts I would do exactly what you are doing. 

Reach out to friends.

These are always better than cold contacts.

I would encourage you to...

have some form of web presence.

Let me caution you: you do not need to build a big blog or spend lots of money on a website. Just know that it is likely that whoever is bringing you in will “google” you to do some research. I do. I look at people’s social media. Are they building people up and sharing ideas that are edifying? It can be as simple as your personal Facebook page, but posting three times a week about what God is teaching you. It could be a simple one page website that links your Instagram pics and has an about you page that describes your family and passion. Certainly you could build a web “platform” but I am more interested in what you are doing with the influence you already have to build and influence others.

I hope this is helpful…

Andy