How to Become a Speaker at Events


Public speaking is a career goal that many people aspire to. Whether you’ve got pioneering insight that you want to spread awareness of or you’re keen to contribute to conversations around relevant topics in your industry, being a guest speaker at events is a great way to elevate your professional reputation.

If you’re only at the start of your journey into guest speaking, you’re likely wondering how you begin the process of becoming someone who is asked to speak at events. In this article, we explain the different types of guest speaking opportunities and then outline how to become a guest speaker in seven steps.

What Is the Role of a Guest Speaker?

There are two main roles for a guest speaker at an event; providing specialist insight and incentivising attendance.

A guest speaker acts as a source of insight, experience and expertise. No matter the kind of discussion or presentation they are involved in, they will act as the voice of authority on a particular topic or opinion and provide valuable information and ideas for the audience.

Guest speakers can also be a key draw for attendees to come to an event if they’re well-known and well-regarded in the industry. This can help elevate an event’s reputation and bring more attendees, which in turn can help to raise the speaker’s profile.

Types of Guest Speaking

You’ve got various options when you’re a guest speaker at events, as there are several different types of talks or presentations that you might be invited to. Here are three formats for guest speaking and what each one involves.

Keynote Speaker

As a keynote speaker, you’ll lead and deliver an entire presentation yourself. Whilst the event organiser may request the talk title and some of the content, you’ll have control over what you say and will be the only person on stage during the presentation.

These kinds of guest speaking opportunities are usually given to experts who have particular insight into a topic or are considered leaders in their field with valuable information to share. If your goal is to become a keynote speaker at events then you’ll likely need to carve out a niche in your sector and make a name for yourself as an expert on a particular topic, speaking at things like conferences or specially organised events.

Round Table Speaker

A round table speaker is part of a discussion alongside several others, often taking part in a conversation facilitated by a host. Guest speakers at this kind of event are often chosen to represent a diverse range of perspectives, either providing opposing views or specialist insight into different areas of a topic.

What defines a round table discussion is that it’s set up to be like a conversation that an audience spectates but doesn’t get involved in. The host or moderator will guide topics and ensure that everyone gets a chance to speak, but the conversation flows more naturally and is designed to be an interesting opportunity for attendees to listen to multiple perspectives.

Panel Guest

As a panel guest, you will have been chosen alongside several other speakers to participate in a Q&A-style conversation. Unlike a round table discussion, where a conversation develops more naturally, a panel usually has a host who asks questions directly to different speakers and also accepts input from the audience.

There might be a range of different perspectives or experiences on a panel, or you might be one of several guests who are considered leaders or experts in your industry sector. On a panel, you may be given the questions you’ll be asked in advance and the format of the event is much more structured.

How to Become a Speaker at Events

If you’re considering how to get into public speaking, knowing where to start can be the biggest challenge.

Perhaps you’re already relatively well-known in your field with connections that could lead to guest speaking opportunities. Or perhaps it’s a goal you’ve had in your career plan for a while, but you’re unsure how to start building the kind of reputation that will lead to guest speaking opportunities.

Here’s an outline of how to start a public speaking career if you want to become a speaker at events.

Define Your Expertise

The first thing you need to do to become a successful public speaker is define your area of expertise. Very few people become famous enough to be invited to speak about a range of general topics, and you’ll find it much easier to do many of the other suggestions in this section if you decide on the area you’re going to speak about.

If you already work in a niche industry sector or focus on a specific area or idea in your work, defining your expertise might be a very straightforward task. However, not everyone has this kind of clarity in their career.

Think about the topics or subjects that you’re really passionate about; the ones that you wish more people in your industry were aware of. Also consider what makes you an expert in this area; do you have a lot of job experience? Have you been involved in pioneering projects? Have you completed research which has unearthed new information or perspectives?

You might find that you start to diversify what you talk about when you’re a lot further into your guest speaking career. But when you’re starting out, you need to carve yourself a niche and stick to it.

Build a Personal Brand

One of the most essential elements of how to become a keynote speaker is building your personal brand. Once you’ve decided on your area of expertise, you need to create a professional image that you can then promote like you would a product, helping to develop a reputation that will lead to public speaking opportunities.

You can treat building your personal brand like you would developing the brand of a company or product. Start off by listing your unique selling points and the value that you can offer other people. These are the key features of your brand that you need to focus on promoting.

Then identify the kinds of people that will benefit from your insight. This is your target audience, and this is who you should have in mind when you’re pitching ideas for guest speaking opportunities.

Next, decide how you’re going to promote your personal brand. Are you going to focus on LinkedIn and other social media platforms? Or are you going to have a personal website with a portfolio of work and free content for your target audience to engage with?

Once you’ve got a clear idea of what you offer, who will find this information useful and where you are going to start prompting yourself, the last stage in building a personal brand is to create a plan for sharing this with the world. We’ll explain how to do this in the next sections.

Curate a Following

We’ve already talked about how guest speakers are a useful way of bringing more attendees to events. If you already have a following of people who like your ideas, engage with your content and want to hear more from you, it’s much easier to secure guest speaking opportunities because you’ll bring an audience with you.

But how do you catch the attention of this audience in the first place?

Curating a following as a guest speaker means putting your voice and your ideas out there and getting people to take notice. Public speaking is one way to do this, but in between these events you should also work on your digital persona and start connecting with your audience online.

We’ve mentioned setting up your own website or using platforms like LinkedIn, both of which are great ways to start sharing content and be recognised as an influential figure in your industry. You could set up an email newsletter through your website to curate a mailing list of followers, or sites like LinkedIn are fantastic for regularly sharing short form content and quickly gathering an audience of followers, both inside and outside of your industry sector.

The more people who start to recognise you as an influential voice in your area, the more likely you are to be noticed by someone who might offer you a guest speaking opportunity at an event.

Connect in your Industry

As well as gaining a following of people you might not know in real life, another part of how to start a public speaking career is to make connections in your industry. Not only is this the best way to meet people who might run events where you could speak, but it’s also necessary for making a name for yourself in your industry sector.

You can connect with other people in your industry online and offline, using social media websites and also attending things like conferences and networking events. The more people in your community you can talk to about your work and your interests, the more you’ll start to be recognised for who you are and what you do.

Start Guest Posting

Becoming a recognised name and face in your industry sector becomes easier once you start sharing your knowledge on other, established platforms. Association and endorsement are everything when it comes to building a reputation, and one of the best ways to get your name associated with being a reliable source of insight is through guest posting.

Guest posting involves creating content that gets shared on a platform associated with another person or organisation. This might involve writing a blog post for a publication website or hosting a takeover of an organisation’s account.

It might seem daunting the first time, but the best way to start guest posting is to reach out to different publications or creators and offer your services. Once you start guest posting it gets much easier to keep finding opportunities, as you can use your previous posts as evidence to give you more credibility.

Be a Podcast Guest

Leading on from that last piece of advice, you can also help progress your career as a guest speaker and hone your skills by appearing as a guest on industry podcasts. Once you’ve got examples of guest posting and partnerships or collaborations under your belt, you might be asked to appear on podcasts or you can start to approach podcasts that you like or that you think have an audience who will find your ideas valuable.

Speaking on podcasts is great preparation for public speaking because it’s an opportunity to verbally share your ideas without the same pressure of speaking live. Similarly to guest posting, once you’ve got one podcast appearance on your resume, it’s easier to start receiving more invitations, so it’s worth putting in the outreach effort at the beginning to find a podcast you can feature on.

Reach Out to Events

With all of the previous steps under your belt, you should be in a great place to start reaching out to events and offering your services as a guest speaker. If you’ve been cultivating your online reputation, guest posting, appearing on podcasts and successfully networking, you might end up with public speaking invitations coming to you without reaching out yourself.

If you have specific events in mind, or want to start seeking opportunities at your own pace, you can also start contacting event organisers and ask whether they’re looking for guest speakers. Make sure that you do your research into the events thoroughly to be sure that you’ve got expertise and a following that is relevant, and also be prepared to have a pitch for a talk ready to share.


Public speaking can be a nerve-wracking experience, but for many people it’s an incredibly impactful stage in their career that can lead to a wide range of other opportunities, as well as increased recognition and an improved reputation. Becoming a guest speaker does require work to develop a personal brand, carve out a niche and start to build a following or at least become well-known in your industry sector, but once you’ve laid the groundwork you can start taking the next steps that will hopefully lead to numerous opportunities.


Looking for something else?