Speaking Tips: Speaking for Free Public Speaking Opportunities
The writer speaking to a hundred-plus audience at a Sydney Probus Club in May 2010
The Do It For Free Circuit
Welcome to Speaking Tips: Speaking for Free Public Speaking Opportunities
The Do It For Free Circuit, often referred to in Australia as the "Freebie Circuit," is a great way to start your speaking career.
The Free of Charge Circuit is that world into which speakers and storytellers can break as ‘unpaid’ guest speakers. And, if you’re any good, it is relatively easy to get into. There are countless thousands of meetings taking place around Australia at any one time. A great many of these meetings require the services of a guest speaker. To name a few off the top of my head: Apex, Rotary, Lions, Soroptimists, VIEW, Zonta, Inner Wheel, Masons- all service clubs, many of which meet weekly. To name a few more: Probus, National Seniors, Golden A, VIP, who meet once a month. Probus alone has more than 2,000 separate clubs throughout Australasia. It’s membership would currently be over 200,000 people. And Rotary or Lions, internationally, would probably run to millions of members.
Your professional speaking career can begin as simply as this
In your endeavours finding out how to break into public speaking, do not ignore the smaller organizations
Then there are those smaller organisations. A quick flick through some of my filing cards reveals: Australian Institute of Navigators, Australian Retiree Pensioners Association, Chambers of Commerce, Catenians, Church groups galore, historical societies, ex military groups, Legacy, Masters Mariners- I could go on and on. I estimate I have about a two hundred such cards.
It is a ‘suppliers’ market. As previously mentioned, there are thousands of meetings every week and only a handful of volunteer speakers. By this, I mean people who are willing to go along without being paid.
Another Club, another ' Do it for free' speaking opportunity
Speaking Tips - Speaking for Free - Public Speaking Opportunities - On the Freebie Circuit, don't turn up expecting to sell them something
There are, of course, quite a number of organisations such as Red Cross, the Heart Foundation, the Cancer Society- organisations who provide paid employees to address charitable and retiree groups, for example. But these speakers have a vested interest. They might wish to sell a ‘funeral fund plan,’ or raise money for a hospital, or research. Such speakers are ‘informative,’ generally. And there are quite a lot of them. But as a storyteller, or an entertaining speaker, you will be ‘one of the few.’ You’ll be welcomed as ‘a special treat.’
Speaking Tips: Be a person of merit; that's how to become a speaker
Public speaking opportunities abound for people who love speaking
A year or two ago a friend of mine showed me a list of speakers being circulated among Probus Clubs at that time. My friend has been a member of Toastmasters International for around thirty years and knows a lot about the merits of speakers. His list had 160 names on it. He had picked out a dozen speakers whom he thought were interesting enough to invite to the new club he was endeavouring to charter. Twelve out of a hundred and sixty! The twelve that he picked were all independent individuals, not working for any organisation- but speaking because they loved it.
It is not difficult to find audiences
So, if you love speaking, love telling stories, it is not difficult to find audiences. There are several ways to set about doing this. You could talk to a friend who belongs to a particular service club. He could then ask his club’s committee about the matter. You could find out the name and telephone number of someone in, say, a local Lions Club, and give them a call. Or you could ring up the parent body of one of the bigger organisations and ask if they could provide you with a few names and addresses. They usually will. Here’s how I went about it.
Here's how you get started
I contacted Rotary Headquarters, that is Rotary South Pacific, at Parramatta, NSW. This is the head office for all Australia and New Zealand. This office lists every Rotary and Probus Club in the South-western Pacific Area. From Rotary, I received the names of various district governors and their phone numbers. I phoned and got their postal addresses. I then sent each of them a letter, listing my experience -then limited to speeches before Toastmaster and Rostrum audiences, that is, public speaking clubs to which I then belonged. Responses were slow in coming. But I did get them.
Speaking for Free - Check the local newspapers for local organizations
From a local newspaper, I noted an organisation which met in my area. I phoned the contact number. It turned out to be a business women’s club called Zonta. They met at a restaurant close to where I live. Yes, they were interested. A booking was made. Excitedly I put down the telephone
I recall that first ‘outside’ presentation back in 1981. It was a dinner meeting. They fed me; made me feel important, then asked me up to speak. Despite my almost overwhelming nervousness it obviously went well. I relished the applause, knowing I was ‘on my way.’
I hope you got something out of Speaking Tips: Public Speaking Opportunities. I wish you luck.
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