Why You Need a Signature Talk to Kickstart Your Speaking Career

How do I market myself as a speaker? It’s one of the most common questions we get here at Speaker Nation, and it’s an important one! It’s a question that has a huge variety of answers, each one very different and situationally specific. But to boil it down to one simple answer applicable to most people early on in their speaking career… You don’t!

See, the problem with marketing yourself as a speaker is that people don’t hire speakers, they hire experts who give speeches and create results.  

People don’t hire speakers, they hire experts
who give speeches and create results.  

In the world of marketing, it is crucial to remember that people don’t buy what you do, they don’t even buy how you do it. What people DO buy is the result you create for them and how you make them feel. Think about a company like Harley Davidson, or Apple; in both cases the people who use their products are usually raving fans of the products, even though they cost a lot more and in many cases, are of lesser quality than some alternatives. Why is that?

It’s because Harley Davidson doesn’t sell motorcycles, and Apple doesn’t sell computers. Both of these companies sell a lifestyle, a feeling, and a result.

Harley Davidson sells the badass lifestyle, the motorcycle-riding, freedom-seeking individual that’s not held back by any of society’s rules. Riding a Harley makes people feel cool, powerful and it gets a lot of attention. That’s what people buy. You can hear it in the language Harley Davidson fans use when they talk about their motorcycles. Where most riders will refer to “my bike,”  Harley riders will refer to “my Harley.”  Just being able to say the word gives them the feelings they really paid for.

Apple is a similar case, they sell the creative, agile, entrepreneurial lifestyle. Similar to Harley fans, you can often hear Apple users refer to their iPhones and their Macbook, rather than the more generic terms phone and laptop, again, because simply saying the words gives them the feelings they paid for in the first place. 

So, what does that have to do with marketing yourself as a speaker?  

Think about you as a speaker being simply the product. Just like motorcycles and computers there are countless other companies that sell essentially the same product, maybe even of better quality at a lower price point. But your unique expertise, the results that only you can create, and the way you make people feel when you speak… That is what people will ultimately hire you for.

 The question now becomes “How do I market the results I create, position myself as an expert, and prove that I can make people feel amazing?” It’s easy for people like Tony Robbins, Brené Brown, Eric Edmeades, Simon Sinek… These speakers have spent years building their notoriety by proving time and time again that they are experts, get results, and make people feel amazing when they speak. They have the luxury of turning down more speaking engagements than they accept. But for someone just trying to break out in the speaking world, it’s a little more challenging. Luckily there is one simple hack that will make it easier.

Develop a signature talk.

Develop a Signature Talk

Picture taken at one of the Speaker Nation Speaking Academies
Create one talk that you can deliver in a variety of different timeframes, to a variety of different audiences, that has a very clear and specific message. This positions you as the go-to expert in your field who will get the audience to take action and achieve results. Develop that signature talk and then deliver it as often as you can to as many different audiences as you can, and refine it every single time you do.

Your signature talk is something that you can get known for. It’s a talk that will establish your credibility as an expert, it will prove that you can get results, and it shows event producers you can consistently make an audience feel amazing. The other, and perhaps most important, thing is that it gives you a product you can easily market. Imagine pitching yourself as a speaker. The conversation might go something like this:

You: “I’m a speaker and I would love to speak at your event!”

Event Producer: “That’s great, what do you speak about?”

You: “Lots of things, really. I talk about mindset, I talk about business, I talk about relationships. Whatever you need, I can talk about it!”

Event Producer: “Okay, I will let you know if we need you.”

After that sort of pitch, the conversation usually dies. Unless the event producer knows you personally it is very unlikely that you will get booked, and if you do you will likely not get a premium time slot.

On the other hand, imagine pitching your signature talk:

You: “Hey, I came across your event and I’m super excited, I’m a speaker and I have this great talk I do that would be perfect for your audience!”

Event Producer: “That’s great, what is it about?”

You: “It’s about how I spent most of my working life absolutely broke and miserable, until I discovered one secret that completely changed everything for me. It’s an incredibly powerful talk. When I delivered it at (Event Name) people went crazy for it. I still get letters from people telling me the most amazing stories about how learning my one secret changed their lives. If you want to see it, I’ve got a highlight reel from a few different events where I’ve delivered it.”

Event Producer: “That sounds awesome, how long is it?”

You: “That's the best part, I have done this talk so many times for so many different events that I can deliver it in anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours. I’ve even done it as a breakout session and it went over well.”

Event Producer: “That’s excellent. We have been looking for an expert on just that topic. How can we book you?”

Now of course that is a drastic over-simplification, but you can see how much more powerful it is to have your signature talk ready to go and you can see how it makes it so much easier to sell your speaking services. Event producers don’t have time to tell you what they want you to talk about, they want you to tell them how you can add value to their event. Having a signature talk makes doing that simple and effective.

The best part is, you don’t have to do the same talk forever.  Once you spend some time giving your signature talk and developing your reputation as a great speaker who can deliver results, you will likely find that people start asking you to come back to their events and speak on other topics. You may even have event producers ask you to come and speak about whatever you want. Getting to that level takes time and commitment, but having a great signature talk in the beginning will help get you there so much faster.
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