How to Turn Speaking Opportunities into Massive Amounts of New Business

Tom KellyI’ve been offering my talents as a pro bono speaker for groups in the Chicago area that are looking for a great speaker, but may not have the financial resources to pay my regular speaking fee.

I often get asked the obvious question, “Why would you want to speak for free?” I think it’s a great question, especially because, as a business coach, I always teach my clients never to undervalue their talents and services that they provide to their clients. My answer to that question may surprise you, as even though I’m not getting paid directly by the groups to whom I speak, I get paid in many other ways that far exceed my normal speaking fees.

Here are just a couple of reasons that you should really consider waiving your normal speaking fee and becoming a “free speaker”:

Speaking is the Best Form of Marketing

In my experience, speaking in front of a group is the best way to market yourself and your business. When an organization brings you in to be the speaker, it automatically elevates your status in the eyes of that group. It provides a level of “social proof” that you wouldn’t normally have. It also leverages your time in that you get to showcase your skills and talents in front of a large group of people all at the same time. As the speaker, you typically have the undivided attention of everyone in the room for 45 – 60 minutes at a time, which is worth its weight in gold.

Ongoing Marketing Opportunities

They say that the average person these days gets bombarded by between 3,500 – 5,000 marketing messages a day, and that it takes around 26 impressions to move someone from complete apathy about your product or service to “ready to buy.” Getting in front of large groups of people through speaking opportunities allows you to make a great first impression. It also allows you the opportunity to collect the attendees’ contact information, so that you can continue to market to them through vehicles like a monthly e-mail newsletter. This allows you to continue to make impressions on your audience over time. It almost always ends up in additional business.

Additional Business

Personally, I’ve found that speaking is the best and most effective way to grow your business.  Over the years, I’ve done dozens of presentations and speaking gigs for free, and I almost always generate additional business from the members of whatever group to which I speak. In fact, my longest standing client, who has been with me for close to 12 years, came from one of my first speaking opportunities.

While your initial thought may be that speaking for free doesn’t make any sense, the value that you receive when you speak for free often exceeds whatever your normal speaking fee is.

If you love to get out and speak to organizations and large groups of people and want to grow your business while adding massive value for people who may not be able to afford your normal speaking fees, consider doing a pro bono talk.


Tom Kelly is a Professional Business Coach who specializes in working with small business owners, entrepreneurs and salespeople. He can be reached at (630) 964-0112 or online at