If you write nonfiction, you might be surprised at the many benefits of doing live speaking engagements.
I’m specifically talking about authors of nonfiction that is instructive, educational or information-based. This isn’t as true for authors of literary nonfiction or memoirs, although I wouldn’t rule it out.
But often, we write these books not just for the potential financial reward, but for lots of other reasons as well, like:
- Enhancing your authority within your field
- Gaining access to potential clients or sponsors
- Creating a “calling card” for consulting or other services
- Spreading the word on a topic that you’re passionate about
In every one of these cases, live speaking events can have a powerful impact on your work and your income.
If you haven’t considered “taking your show on the road” and speaking to groups, maybe you should give it some thought.
So here are 5 reasons that this might be the best thing you can do for your publishing program. See what you think.
5 Big Benefits of Speaking for Nonfiction Authors
- You can meet people you won’t meet online
Let’s face it: although you may spend a lot of time reading blogs, attending webinars and networking in social media, there are still large parts of the population you won’t meet online.
Sure, everyone has email, and most people will log into their Facebook account once in a while, but many folks are still not that comfortable with online learning or socializing.
For instance, if you write about a craft or hobby, there are probably a lot of people who don’t spend hours online looking for information on that topic.
But at speaking engagements, workshops, presentations and events you can meet people who are more comfortable in the real world, and that’s a big benefit. One way to leverage this exposure is to make sure you have a way to collect email or mail addresses at the event so you don’t lose contact with the people you’ve just spoken to. I often use “response forms” for this reason. More on those in a minute.
- You get to try out ideas that aren’t ready for publication yet
At a live event you can present new material you’re working on, a new way of doing things that might be revolutionary within your field.
Being able to interact with people about your ideas in a one hour talk might be really valuable, instead of waiting the months it could take to get a book out on the subject.
And this is another place those “response forms” come into play. You can ask attendees for their opinion of your new material, or if there are things that would make your presentation better. This gives people a direct way to interact with you.
- Your authority and prestige will be raised by association with the group you are speaking to.
If you are invited by a prestigious trade organization or government body, it will help raise your own profile within your community.
After all, if they want you to talk to their members, you must have something valuable to say, right? All of us make these mostly unconscious calculations all the time.
- You get to show more communities how your work can benefit them
One of the most beneficial parts of giving talks actually takes place long before you walk up to the podium in front of the audience.
It’s likely you’ll be given a topic or asked to contribute to the theme of the event. This forces you to think about how your information fits into that topic or theme.
This is a great way to extend the reach of your ideas and to adapt them to more communities of interest within your field, something that might well lead to another book on the topic.
- You can repurpose the work you do to prepare for your speaking engagements
If you have a way to sell products, either online or off, realize that the presentation you are preparing might make a great product for all the people who could not attend the live event.
After all, workshops, seminars and trade events draw only a small fraction of the total number of people interested in your area of expertise.
Keeping this in mind while you’re preparing your presentation can pay big dividends. Visual presentations can be turned into video products like webinars and mini-courses. Audio presentations can be made into teleseminars and educational recordings that others will pay for to enhance their own learning.
Taking all these great outcomes into account, you can see how live speaking engagements can help your career as a nonfiction author in many ways.
Of course, the “x-factor” is what you don’t expect: meeting someone in your audience who might order hundreds or thousands of books from you; getting asked to write for the top magazine in your field on the topic of your talk; establishing a peer-to-peer relationship with a top influencer in your field.
If you go, you never know what might happen. So don’t be just an author, reach out for opportunities to turn your expertise into speaking engagements to grow your author platform.