10 Sell Yourself Strategies for Speakers

An article on speaking professionally by Patricia Fripp CSP, CPAE

For professional speakers, there is always the debate: should you sell YOU or your TOPIC? If the topic is hot-hot-hot, like a best-selling book, go for the topic every time.

But MY long-term approach has always been to sell ME. Many repeat-business clients book me well in advance, never asking what my subject will be. They are confident that my message will be appropriate and adapted to their current needs.

If you want to change what you’re selling from your topics and expertise to YOU, here’s how to start.

1. Be sure you’re totally comfortable with who you are. Top speaker Larry Winget said it perfectly: “Find your uniqueness, and exploit it in the service of others.”

2. Have an ongoing, consistent, and relentless strategy for your marketing and client contacts. But always be available to refer others and give free advice. (NOT getting paid for everything you do can be invaluable.)

“You don’t close a sale, you open a relationship if you want to build a long-term, successful enterprise.”

3. Make yourself interesting to others. Here are just a few FRIPP examples.

At a large convention, where I was the only General Session speaker, I held the sign that directed everyone to the Board of Directors bus. (The staff thought it very entertaining, but it also gave them another body to make things run smoothly and made me look like a good scout.)

I visited the sponsor’s booth at the convention trade show, wearing a Rhinestone Cowgirl outfit. This boosted interest and attendance to the booth, and the client BEGGED to be my sponsor the following year.

In addition to doing the closing talk at a Women’s Program, I emceed another part of the event, wearing a Wonder Woman costume. I was billed on the program as Diana Prince (Wonder Woman’s mortal persona).

“If they expect you to be a character, don’t disappoint them.”

4. Acquire a reputation for being sincerely interested in your audience before you speak. Wander around and talk to them informally long before you get introduced. Be your own “warm-up act.” (I call this my schmooze factor.)

“You don’t close a sale, you open a relationship if you want to build a long-term, successful enterprise.”
“There is no point going anywhere unless people remember you were there.”

5. Create your own interesting sound bites of wisdom — I call mine ‘Frippicisms’ — so your audience and other presenters quote you all through the convention.

6. Help people remember you.

  • Mention your own name in your stories to help them remember who you are. (I reinforce my audience’s memory by emphasizing that FRIPP is an acronym for Frequently Reinforce Ideas That are Profitable and Productive.)
  • Merchandise yourself. Give out buttons (Mine say, “I’ve Been Frippnotized”) or sell tee shirts (mine have Frippicisms on the back).

7. Have an information-rich website. Emphasize to your audiences that all this information is constantly updated and FREE for their use. (You can get conference attendees started by suggesting, in the pre-conference materials, that they refer to your website for more information on the keynote speaker).

8. Offer your clients real value. Don’t be attached to doing only the keynote slot. Show them how they can use you in additional ways, and they’ll be delighted to pay your fee. (For example, I offer “speaking schools” before the convention for the industry speakers. These people are often subject- and experience-heavy, but nervous and lacking confidence about their delivery. After my sessions, they are excited and confident, and their sessions go much better. With another client, my willingness to “double in brass” has made me a fixture at their annual convention. I started as a general-session speaker, but now I also do breakouts and vendor programs. This can go on forever!)

9. Appreciate and repay client favors. For example, if they sell your products in their store or help promote them, give them a very healthy percentage or write a check to their charity or foundation.

10. Cultivate PR partners. Have famous pals talk about you in their presentations. (Susan RoAne and I both got positive feedback from clients when we began referring to each other in our talks. We now use this as a STRATEGY. She always talks about me. I always talk about her.)

And attend the client social events with someone who will talk you up while you do the same for him or her. (At a recent ASAE convention in Nashville, Al McCree was telling people, “Fripp is one of the best speakers in the country,” while I was saying, “Al McCree wrote my jingle for me — he writes theme songs for many of my Association clients.” Al swears he will never go to a networking event without a ‘”partner” again.) Al McCree wrote and produced my famous FRIPP jingle that I use on every audio tape. Topics can come and go in popularity, but when you make YOURSELF the product — a stimulating and valuable one — you’ll always have an eager market.

  1. Incredible! This blog looks exactly like my old one!
    It’s on a totally different subject but it has pretty much the same layout and design. Great choice of colors!

    Here is my web site Luke

  2. Wow! Amazing… this blog is so good! Thanks for this post. Finally I’ve found a blog like this. It is so helpful for me ‘coz I will be preaching this August in other church! Thanks a lot!

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