Have you ever wondered what you need to do to land speaking gigs? Looking to keynote on the big stages? Want to know how to speak at industry events? Interested in hosting your own events? Then you want to check out this episode with Tim David founder of getspeakinggigs.com
If you’re looking to book speaking gigs, especially in the highly-paid corporate market, Tim David is your guy – even if you have zero experience, industry connections, or any hint of good luck. His system destroys the cruelest myth of budding speakers: “You need speaking gigs to book speaking gigs” AND the second-cruelest, “It’s a numbers game, just start cold-calling.” NO! Learn the four real steps at GetSpeakingGigs.com for free. It’s taken him from nothing to regular five figure gigs, book deals, top bureau representation, and major media appearances.
Victor Ahipene: Speaking nation. Welcome to another episode of Public Speaking Secrets podcast. I’m your host, Victor Ahipene, super excited to have you on here because I know a lot of you are looking to get your message out there more, whether that be for your business, your brand or your legacy. I’ve got just the person to help you today. We got Tim David on the show. He is the founder of https://www.getspeakinggigs.com/ which I think says what it does on the wrapper with that domain name. It’s nothing that you have to kind of start figuring out what it is. So welcome to the show, Tim.
Tim David: Thank you so much, Victor. I appreciate you having me.
Victor Ahipene: It’s my pleasure. Before we get into what https://www.getspeakinggigs.com/ is and some insights on how people can get into more speaking gigs. How did your speaking life kind of begin?
Tim David: Well, I started as a professional magician and I was doing 300 to 350 gigs a year. Touring all over the place. I did that for almost nine years. It was a lot of fun. So glad I did it, quite a profession with lots of stories to tell. But then I had a baby and I wanted to be home and not touring for 350 days a year. Problem was, I started my magic business right out of high school, had zero work experience other than McDonald’s and just had no marketable skills. It’s like anything. You need experience to get the job, but you need the job to get the experience.
I was at a catch 22 and I asked myself, how can I leverage the talents that I already have which is basically standing on a stage, talking into a microphone and doing magic tricks? How can I leverage that to where I’m doing fewer gigs every single year, but making the same amount of money? As it worked out, I’m doing a lot fewer gigs. I’m under 50 now, which I never thought possible. Making still three times as much as I was making touring as a professional magician.
That’s how I got started rather was my motivation to get started. I know people have a lot of different motivations. For me, I’m going to be frank, it was not about spreading a message or a legacy. It wasn’t about so much about making an impact in the world. Yes, I had those motivations and no speaker will ever be successful without a passion for helping people, but I’ll tell you, I wanted them checks. I wanted them checks and I saw how much speakers were getting paid compared to what magicians were getting paid.
Men, oh man, here in the states, $5,000, $10,000, $20,000 a speech was blowing my mind. That’s where I went. I focused exclusively in the corporate world, corporations, associations, and anybody who has any questions about how to break into that market, how to maximize your revenues as a speaker in those kinds of markets. Happy to talk to you. That’s where https://www.getspeakinggigs.com/ from.
Victor Ahipene: Was it speakers coming to you going, “Hey, you’ve done a lot of these. How can we get into some of?—”
Tim David: It was a magicians coming to me. My first, I don’t know, a hundred clients were probably magicians, jugglers, face painters, stilt walkers. It was weird. I would hold live events and it was weird in the hallways, man. It’s all kinds of people practicing their tricks and fire all kinds of nonsense going on. We helped a lot of people make that same segue and transition and the business has organically sort of grown. I don’t view it even as sort of a business.
I am a speaker first and foremost, but I’m also happy to sort of reach back and help the next person end up where I’m at. Word of mouth has been a large part of that and now I work with certainly a lot of non-magicians as well.
Victor Ahipene: Let’s start off with that person who’s looking for their first corporate speaking gig. Is it certain things that they like what would be their first step? Is that sitting up kind of the website or the social proof of this sizzle reel, which for many speakers as the, I need speaking gigs to get a sizzle reel, but I need a sizzle reel speaking gigs or is it reaching out to the right person in a corporation. How would you recommend somebody kind of get started in that space?
Tim David: Let’s go way back. Before we do any of that work, there’s sort of pre-work. Personally, I had an experience where I was already doing speaking gigs and you’re absolutely right. You defined the cruelest catch 22 imaginable. You need speaking gigs in order to get speaking gigs. That is the perception that’s out there and in many ways that’s true. Meetings and conventions magazine, they frequently survey meeting planners and event professionals and they say, “Where did you find your speakers? How much did you pay them? What did they speak about?” But when they ask, where did you find your speakers? The number one answer, in fact, 88% of the people who hire speakers say, “I hire the person that I already saw speak or that someone else saw speak and told me about.”
So standing on stages is certainly going to be among your best marketing, but how do you get on that first stage? This was the challenge that I was facing because marketing a magic business and any other business that I had run related to marketing is very different in the speaking world. It’s very relational. It’s much less of a mass marketing approach. Social media, email campaigns, all that stuff has a place, but it’s a small dial turner. The bigger dial turners have to do with relationships.
We always start where we are and every speaker is at a certain tier. Maybe you’re doing local events, low fee, and no fee. The challenge that you’re running into is those gigs are turning into other gigs that are also low fee or no fee and you’re just not getting any traction and you’re not getting to that next level of paid speaking gig or even highly paid speaking gig. Every level that you get to, the landscape looks different so when you’re here and you’re trying to use marketing techniques that got you these gigs, that’s only going to get you more gigs at the same tier. You’ve got to change your approach and do something completely different to get to the next level.
For example, Victor, if I were to say to you, “Well, here’s how I’m going to get my next speaking gig. My speakers bureau is going to send me an email and they’re going to say it’s $10,000 enough to go to Chicago?” That’s what I’m going to get. I’m going to get a dates of fee and that’s it. That’s where my next speaking gig is to come from. Somebody going to have read one of my books which was published by Penguin Random House. I mean this is not where you start, right? These are not the same marketing tactics or ideas or gig getting strategies that would be at tier one.
So to answer your question, the most important question to be able to answer as a speaker is what do you speak about? If I were to say nine times out of 10, at least the speakers that I talk to and work with, before I work with them, I always say, “Hey, what do you speak about?” You know how they answer me? They answer me with their speech. They give me this whole speech and there’s no clarity, but there’s also no differentiation. The work before the work that needs to be done is answer the question, what do you speak about in a way that when I hear it, I know immediately that your content, your material, your expertise, your knowledge is going to scratch the itch that I already have.
Don’t try to tell people about something new and different than that that they don’t even know about. Speaking is not about giving people new information. People have all the information they need. We know that we should quit smoking. We know that we should eat right and diet and exercise. We know these things, but speakers aren’t paid to teach people. Speakers are paid to change and to transform their audiences. So you’ve got to have that transformative message that scratches the itch that they already have. Let’s say it’s a corporation who needs to make more sales. Your topic may not be sales, but if your topic is let’s see.
I’m trying to think of somebody who just worked with, he said his topic is visualization. People don’t have visualization problems. They didn’t wake up in the morning and say, “Gosh, I need to learn how to visualize better.” The problems that they have is sales. Now, visualization may very well be able to help sales, but you’ve got to package it in such a way that it’s clear enough, not just in your own head, but so that you can translate that clarity to make the person feel I need that. It’s the itch that I need scratching. Here’s the key via a means or a method that I did not expect.
That’s the formula for a highly paid key. This is all I do is keynote speeches, corporations, associations. I’m not a breakout guy. I don’t do coaching packages and programs. I stand on a stage. I do a keynote and I fly to the next city and I take a check and I look at all the people doing the breakout sessions and this and that. Not that there’s anything wrong or anything. For me to go out for just 4,500 or what have you. That’s what I’m after. A keynote speech does two things, scratches the itch you already have, scratches the itch your target audience already has via a means that they did not expect.
You’re basically taking a spotlight and say, “You guys are focused over here. Why don’t you angle that a little bit? Focus over here, and then you’ll get the results.” You don’t have a sales problem. You have a visualization problem, so now they get it right. That is an ultimately at the end of the day, that is step one. I want to share with you a story of how I came to this realization because like I said, I’ve been doing speaking a while. I started in 2009 and about two and a half years ago, I met a guy who said, you’ve got to change a few things with your packaging. He gave me some advice.
In fact, I was at a hotel, I had a speech the next day. I had been working this business like a business. I have a system of 39 action items that I do, 39 things that I do at every single gig to turn gigs into more and higher paying gigs. It’s very important to leverage every single opportunity to the max, right? So 39 things before, during, after every single gig to leverage those opportunities. It was great. I was getting two, three gigs from every gig that I was doing. If I did it right on average, some of it was none, some of it was four or five. Then I met this guy who said, your messaging, and your packaging, take it, tweak it, move it.
Put this over here, try this, move that around. I stood on the stage the next morning and the reactions at the end of that speech we’re so different. I see. I get the same high fives. People would always come up to me, high five oh, shake your hand. Oh, that was so great and smiles and they loved telling me what they thought of the presentation. Usually it was good. That was always the reaction that I would get. No problem. This time it was different. The reaction that I got was people would come up to me afterwards and they had like desperation in their face and a business card in their hand and they said, “We need to talk. We need to work together.” That was the complete turnaround. I booked eight gigs from that one gig to the tune of $84,500. I’m looking over here because I just had an interview with him and I looked up all the numbers that does not include any of the gigs that were booked from that and then from those gigs.
That’s just directly from that one gig, $84,000 worth of business. Now that’s the key, right? You can have all the marketing strategies in the world, right? My messaging was okay and it worked, but when you have really strong messaging that scratches the itch that they already have via the means that they didn’t expect. Put those two things together and it’s like nitroglycerin. That’s why I do zero called outreach.
I did it once in 2009 and never had to again. I didn’t do cold outreach in the way you were talking about, Victor earlier about researching the people who hire speakers in corporations and this and that. You’re going to have almost a 0% conversion rate on that. I mean, just a stranger emailing you or connecting with you on Linkedin is not going to turn into a speaking gig. Because remember, huge percentage is 88% of the people hire speakers they’ve seen before or know someone who has seen them before.
So when you do cold outreach, if you really have to, you go after what I call low hanging fruit gigs. These are the organizations and they’re huge organizations worldwide that have all of these local chapters that need speakers. We’re talking tens of thousands of speakers they need every single week. If you were to fill all these gigs that just doesn’t happen. You go after those gigs, you book those gigs at a rate of 80% instead of 0.0001% and then you leverage those gigs and turn them into speaking gigs.
That’s how I got my first paid speaking gig. I did what I call low hanging fruit gigs and had my 39 point system to sort of leverage them to that next level and get a check. I think it was a $997 was my first speaking gig that I did for money. I don’t know if that answers your question. I know I kind of zoomed back. I went up 30,000 feet. We talked about some of the different avenues, but for me as a corporate keynote speaker and I know there’s lots of different kinds of speakers and trainers out there, but the way I looked at it, I’m going after the big checks.
I want to go after the big checks. That’s where I stood. That’s where I stand. You find that messaging. You really do the hard work that other speakers are not willing to do that will differentiate you, that will earn you the right to put yourself in front of people and say, “This is what I speak about with confidence, with clarity, two or three sentences.” And you book the gigs, man. I mean that’s the long and the short of it.
Victor Ahipene: It’s brilliant. I think the other thing like there was a lot of gold in there in the sense of you see, oh I talked to a lot of speakers. Oh, what do you want to do? I want to be a motivational speaker. Eh, wrong. You want to create you’re talking about it, this transformation that you’re the visualization person. I could probably walk down the street and throw a blanket over the amount of speakers that want to be a motivational speaker. I want to be the next Tony Robbins because I’ve seen Tony Robbins speak once and I’m like, “You’re not getting it.”
Tim David: I can’t get that person to speaking gig. Even if my clients, I send a message out to all my clients to say, “I learned about this great speaker, you’re going to want to bring this person.” They’re going to say, “Well what do they speak about?” They’re going need in order to bring back to their committees and justify spending fifteen thousand, ten thousand dollars $20,000 on a motivational speaker. You’ve got to go through the hiring process and come out the other side with them still saying yes.
Even with the best marketing system, the best outreach, even with a personal introduction, I simply, you’ve got to make yourself referable and bookable. The way you do that is with clarity of messaging. Yes. It’s important to have, I mean you mentioned the sizzle reel. I think the best kind of demo video and I’ve interviewed hundreds of meeting planners. The best kind of demo video, I always ask them and they say, “Stop it with the fancy effects. Stop it with the testimonials of other people who saw you speak. I don’t want to hear any music with fancy edits and this just you on a stage speaking. That’s all I care about. Get to that. That’s all we need.”
Not for like a sentence or two. We want to see you speak a couple minutes, two, three minutes. You can have more than one of those videos. That’s just a rant from a little out of left field there of course with their demo videos. You’ve got to make yourself referable and bookable and all those— for example, I always have my coaching clients through get speaking gigs. I was having them put together a one sheet, not because any person who has ever booked me asked for a one sheet, but so that you can have the clarity of messaging and you can see it in black and white and you can know this is exactly what I speak about.
These are the takeaways. This is the title of my speech. Stop it with the boring speech titles, guys. You’ve got to have those two components. My number one speech that I book the most, it doesn’t have the greatest title, but it includes two important pieces. The title is the magic of human connection. In my past as a magician and I do a little magic in my presentation. The magic of human connection, a lost art in a digital world.
Well, what does that do? It gives them the itch that they have. The itch is a bit vague here. It’s this feeling of we’re losing our humanity in this digital world. AI is taking over big data and robotics, whatever internet of things and we’re losing that human connection. We’re not talking to each other. We’re emailing, those types of feelings are aroused. So there’s an itch that they already have and the means that they didn’t expect is human connection in the digital world.
Everybody’s so focused on this big data, these new robotics and artificial intelligence and all these other things. But if you focus, if you just shift that spotlight over here, you’re going to have success in all of those avenues that you’re trying to do with more sales and better leadership and more innovation. Human connection can actually bring you those things. That is my speech title. Those are the two key components when you’re writing yours and don’t be cutesy. When I say not stop it with the boring speech styles, I don’t mean you’ve got to have like a play on words or a pun in there. I simply mean it’s got to do those two things clearly, directly and succinctly.
Victor Ahipene: Nice. Well, I think having that clarity to get— I mean, a lot of people are great speakers. That’s not the difficulty here. It’s being able to position yourself, being able to display the value in the way of being able to show these organizations what they want and then you can go and wow them with your great speech. If it’s your first time, you’re going to go above and beyond and spend a crazy amount of hours working on that presentation compared to what you may be asked a hundred, 200, 300. Because you’ve got runs on the board by then. I think having that clarity to actually get your foot in the door is the biggest barrier that I see a lot of speakers go through.
Tim David: Yeah. People don’t hire speakers because they’re good speakers. People don’t hire speakers because they’re great speakers. That’s not why they hire you. They hire you because, when I say scratch an itch that they already have, there’s two kinds of itches. There’s business itches and there’s meetings itches. Business itches are we’re lacking innovation. Our teams aren’t working well together, our sales are down. Leadership is a problem, ineffective leadership. Those are business problems.
Meetings problems are things like how do we get butts in seats? How do we engage our audience? Because we’re going to have 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM and it’s going to be all regulatory and compliance and legal and heavy hard information. They’re going to bring in their industry speakers who are going to teach about all those things, but they’re also going to bring in outside speakers to mix it up to give people that new perspective. That’s what you do. That’s the value that you bring. You solve the meeting problems and you solve the business. I try to solve both.
As a magician, I’m entertaining so I’m engaging, but I also have this content that can solve their business problems as well. Keep that in mind. The test is, if people ask you, what do you speak about? Do you feel comfortable being able to answer that and not in an elevator pitchy kind of way conversationally, one or two sentences in a way that you’re absolutely confident that if they’re a prospect for you then they’re going to lean in. They’re going to say, “How do I get that? We need that so bad. How do we make this happen?” If you’re not confident in that, then that is absolutely step one, clarify that message.
Victor Ahipene: Well, I think there’s the step that everybody who’s listening needs to get clear on and make sure that they can take the next steps on. We’re going to have to get 10 back for another episode in the future to get through those other steps and have a look at the checklist, the 22 or 32 point checklist that you go through to find out those ways of being able to leverage once you are on stage. I think even seeing a lot of speakers who do get booked at different things. I think many of them are still missing that clarity at the front end to be able to make that impact and be able to position themselves and their talks to be able to get rebooked. For that term, I’m super appreciative and I just want to welcome you to our speaking nation of people want to get in touch, to find out more about you. Where should they go? What should they do?
Tim David: I think the obvious first step is https://www.getspeakinggigs.com/. There is a place to pop in your email address and get the 39 ways to turn gigs into more and higher paying gigs as well as a list of 44 organizations worldwide who will book you tomorrow. As long as you can have some semblance of an answer to what you speak about, you can get your foot in the door and book these organizations at a very, very high rate. Those 44 organizations, like I said, we’re talking about tens of thousands of speaking opportunities. If everybody listening to this podcast and all of their a speaker friends and all of their speaker friends, children were all out there trying to do all these speaking gigs, you just couldn’t do it. There’s just too much opportunity out there.
That’s a hungry, desperate audience. As long as you have a plan and a place and a system to leverage them, it’s a great, great, great place to start. That’s what I will bribe you with. I’ll email it to you right away through the automated system. You know how this stuff works. You download that list of organizations and then the steps of turning those gigs into paid gigs.
Victor Ahipene: Brilliant. Well, we’ll link all of [email protected] where you can get that plus all our previous episodes and we’ll link to all of Tim’s social media accounts there as well. I appreciate this so much. I’m sure we’ll have you back in the future. We can a deep dive on another one of those steps or those strategies to come in. They’re highly sought after and highly paid speaker, but for now, thank you so much. It’s been an absolute ball and look forward to hopefully catching up at some event together at some stage in the future.
Tim David: Beautiful. Would love that, Victor. Thank you so much.