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How to find public speaking opportunities?

This post is for anyone wants to find opportunities to try out public speaking. I’m hoping it will be especially helpful for those passionate about sustainability wishing to raise awareness about sustainability.

After moving to the UK I had done presentations as part of my role, but nothing externally. Then, a year ago I thought to myself I’d like to do some public speaking. I had actually done public presentations in Estonia in Estonian and mainly in an academic setting. Thus, I knew I’m capable of public speaking in principle. However, I didn’t have much experience in public speaking in the UK and in a commercial setting. Plus I didn’t think I had much of a network that would help me get my foot in the door. After following the tips below I’ve had the opportunity of doing five external talks and one live webinar within the last year. And if I can do it so can you!

How did I make it happen?

My first step was to decide I want to do some public speaking as mentioned above. This I find is very important as once you decide something for yourself you start noticing opportunities in that area – and this isn’t certainly just restricted to public speaking.

My next step was to seek out a mentor. I was working in a company that had a mentoring scheme, so I reached out to the people running it. If that’s not available to you I’d recommend having a little look around as there a lot of networking events, formal and informal schemes out there as well as numerous articles and podcasts about finding a mentor. I was fortunate to get a mentor who had vast amount of public speaking experience. After our very first session I took actions that led me to do an external talk and a live webinar just two months later.

Ask for advice

During the first session with my mentor I said I’d like to do external public speaking and asked for any suggestions. I also ended up giving an example of an event organised by a company I worked with as part of my role, and where one of our directors had presented previously. Considering the talk was done by a director (and I wasn’t one) and our company had already done a presentation at the event a year before (if you’re an event organiser you normally want to mix up the companies who present at your conferences from one year to the next) I didn’t think much of it. However, my mentor said something that got me thinking – they mentioned I could email the person I was working with and ask what do I need to do to get on the agenda for that event?

After the meeting I went ahead and did just that. My contact kindly directed me to the event organiser, who appreciated me contacting her. Although she indeed thought it’s a bit too much to have our company presenting two years in a row she did suggest some alternatives. However, very soon after she got back to me again asking if I could present at that event after all. I happily accepted and had a really positive experience presenting.

Key takeaways

I learnt that it’s always worth asking as you never know where it ends up taking you. In my case I also ended up doing a live webinar – and I had never had any experience in doing webinars in any language or country – two weeks after the talk, which went equally well. It was all thanks to sending that one email.

If you think you’d like to try out public speaking and you have an event in mind just ask the organisers “what do I need to do to get on the agenda?”. Feel free to rephrase this of course to whatever feels comfortable to you. Also, if you don’t get a positive reply straight away certainly don’t give up, because

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” – Wayne Gretzky

Plus event organisers have to work really hard to find speakers, so you’ll certainly be noticed.

To summarise, my three tips for finding public speaking opportunities are:

  • Decide that you want to do it
  • Get a mentor
  • Reach out to an event organiser

I hope you found this post helpful and just go for it, you’d be surprised where it ends up taking you.

Beyond this blog

A side note – if you happen to know of any sustainability related events in the UK, please let me know, as I’m keen to email the organisers and ask what I need to do to get on the agenda. Thanks.

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