Before you can speak somewhere, you have to find a place to speak. Speaking opportunities can be found in a lot of places, and they come in various sizes. Look for all kinds so you can build up your repertoire and scale over time.

The most crucial part of this process will be list creation. You can use page 1 of the worksheets I designed to help you through this process, Any.Do, Google Keep, a spreadsheet, or any other list tool. The purpose is to create a framework for organizing the information you are about to aggregate. Once you have created the home for your list, the search can begin.

Meetups

I got my start through speaking at meetups, which are networking events centered around shared interests. Meetup organizers are often looking for meaningful ways to fill time at upcoming events and getting speakers is a great way to do so. Attendance varies depending on the group, but most meetups garner under 200 people and many have less than 50 attendees on average. Visit Meetup.com to find relevant groups and put any that sound interesting on your list.

Educational programs

Another way to get speaking experience is to present at local schools, bootcamps, and community programs. Teachers are often looking for guest speakers who work in fields related to the subjects they cover. Programs such as Girls Who Code, Black Girls Code, and Dev Bootcamp are always searching for people who can do guest lectures and run classes or workshops. Look for relevant educational programs in your area, find contact information for their organizers and/or faculty, then add this information to your list.

Conferences

Professional conferences are the best way to gain experience and get invited to speak at other events. Lanyrd and Eventbrite are popular services that you can use to locate conferences, but there are many other resources you can use as well: WikiCFP, Call to Speakers, Technically Speaking, and CallbackWomen are just a few. Some conferences request CFPs, or calls for proposals, while others do not. Search for both types of conferences add them to your list.

By the end of your search, you should have a nice number of places you can speak. As I mentioned before, gather opportunities of different sizes so you can cast a wide net. The more engagements you appear at, the more cred you will have. Over time, you will work your way up to the big stages.

Next step: Generate interesting topics

The next post is about creating interesting topics. Without topics to propose, it’s often tough to obtain speaking opportunities. By the end of the post (and with some practice!), you’ll be able to generate topics like a pro.