No matter what kind of speaking you do or what your topics are, you need to belong to a strong professional organization. The fact is our speaking businesses are not islands unto themselves. Rather they are affected by the interdependent activities of other professional speakers. Here are three good examples of those interdependent activities and how they can directly benefit you.
1. Further develop your speaking and business skills. Professional speaking organizations often provide training in creating powerful and persuasive presentations, including performing and theatrical methods. They offer guidance on topic expertise and research methodology. Additionally, they provide information on business management, sales, and marketing, not to mention the standards of conduct and integrity expected among professional speakers. By joining professional speaking organizations you continue to invest in your speaking skills and ability to manage a successful speaking business.
2. Build credibility as a professional speaker. Use the brand name of the associations you join to build credibility. Add their logos to your website and business cards. Mention in your press releases and media kits which organizations you belong to and how long you've been a member. Talk up any awards, certifications, or training you received from the associations you belong to. Aligning yourself with well known organizations will help event planners trust your qualifications and help audiences trust your message.
3. Network with other speakers. Connect with members of the association you join by attending live conferences or participating in online forums. Develop strategic relationships with fellow speakers. Identify those who share your message and themes and increase your exposure by tag-teaming at events. Partner with speakers you can fill in for should they receive a speaking invitation they need to decline. Learn from the experience of other speakers on how to find the best events and which ones to shy away from. Find someone in the association willing to coach you through some of the anxiety of being a speaker. Expand your knowledge and possibilities by networking with those who have the experience and success you are striving for yourself.
While each and every organization is different, joining a professional speaker association like the National Speakers Association, Professional Speakers Guild, American Speakers Bureau, or Toastmasters is critical to our overall success. Whether we're kicking off a new speaking career or have been making a living at it for years, a continued investment in our skills, credibility, and relationships will help us be more effective in speaking well and convincing others we speak well.