I’ll Take Chris Brogan’s Cast Offs

Chris Brogan recently announced that he’s cutting back on speaking engagements. He blogged:

In 2011, I’m cutting back my amount of time on the road. My family has been lovely at letting me get out there as often as I have been, but with new company obligations and with my family wanting me home a little more often, I’m going to pull back some of my availability on the road. Here’s how that will work.

Every month, I will be available for a total of three (3) paid speaking engagements, and (1) industry event (meaning something that pertains to my industry – like BlogWorld Expo). Thus, if you’re holding an event in January, and you’re interested in getting me there, I currently have 2 slots left, as I’ve booked one already. These will be handled first-come, first serve. My fees aren’t very negotiable.

I sent in a comment that I know many speakers – especially female ones – who would gladly take his speaking engagement cast-offs (including me).

Chris has been speaking publicly since 2006 and gets primo engagements, and not just the tech industry events but business and corporate as well. Many female speakers with comparable or even longer speaking resumes still struggle to get booked. I’ve been speaking professionally – and represented by agencies such as Greater Talent Network and more recently The Speakers Group (although I just noticed I’m still not listed on their site. Hmmm…)- since 1995.

In the 90s, I was blessed to be invited to speak globally including for an NGO gathering at De Haag; at an educational technology conference in Stockholm; at a women’s leadership conference in Wellington; and a women’s business summit in Buenos Aires. That was on top of corporate appearances such as symposiums at Arthur Anderson (now called Accenture), internal events at Kraft, and an array of national conferences for organizations such as the Association of Small Business Development Centers and the University Continuing Education Association.

I continue to work diligently to build my professional profile, publish widely (including my 8th book coming out Spring 2011 about crowdsourcing), social network with the best of them, and try to translate that into more paid speaking engagements. But the engagements that are well-suited to my background – and especially those that pay – are predominantly covered by male speakers.

This is not an attack on male speakers – and certainly not on Chris Brogan who is a lovely human being and an engaging presenter. This is just to state a reality that many female speakers face: even after years presentation experience at the keynote level with high ratings and reviews, we still have to fight tooth and nail to get a gig, and most often are offered a fraction of our male counterparts. I’ve had speaking agents tell me flat out that there are very few women on the professional speaking circuit today who can “break $10,000,” but getting $10,000 or more for even a novice male speaker is an easier sell than a seasoned female one. I kid you not.

In the spirit of full disclaimer, I haven’t yet broken $10,000, but I’m close. However, speaking gigs at that level are rarely found in the social or new media industries so my main focus of opportunities are outside of technology. There are many verticals where an expertise like mine in Internet marketing that spans 20 years can bring valuable insights to anyone regardless of if they are selling widgets, booking travel, building green buildings, or manufacturing toilets. (Yes, I’d be honored to speak at the Japan Toilet Association‘s annual conference or the World Toilet Summit in Philadelphia.)

So I’m willing to put myself out there and say to Chris Brogan “I will take your speaking cast-offs,” and if I am not qualified or available, I will gladly share the opportunities with other dynamic, experienced speakers. And yes, I’ll probably refer a lot of awesome female speakers I know who are in the same boat as me. Because we have to stick together. And if I have something to share, I will share the wealth. That’s just the way I roll.

What have been your experiences getting booked as a speaker or finding and booking speakers?

About Aliza
I'm a human being, wife, mother, author, and speaker. Online since 1987. Web pioneer (founded Cybergrrl/Webgrrls in 1995). Author of 12 books. Freelance writer.

7 Responses to I’ll Take Chris Brogan’s Cast Offs

  1. I guess my initial reaction is….I’m not in business to take Brogan’s castoffs. 🙂

    No question, the guy’s a sweetheart personally and is one of my very favorite speakers; he absolutely deserves every kudo and dime he earns. But everyone reading this knows things that he does not, and has expertise in areas where he has none.

    Do the people who schedule speakers (or can influence in that scheduling) know that you’re that smart? How many times have deserving women speakers “asked for the sale” — gotten up in front of whoever plans meetings on the topic that they know a ton about and said, “Hey, book me. I’ll give your audience a presentation they’ll talk about for months.”

    No one books sloppy seconds unless they have to. They book the folks about which everyone says, “You HAVE to get this person to our conference to speak! They ROCK.”

    Be that person.

    • I think the tongue planted firmly in my cheek when I said “cast offs” was missed.

      I’d like to think that any booker who hears Chris Brogan is no longer available doesn’t perceive the person who is willing to fill that slot as sloppy seconds nor are the opportunities diminished because Chris rejected them.

      Chris and I speak on comparable topics so anything he is unable to accept could be filled by me or many other qualified speakers. In the professional speaking business, most of us have agents who sing our praises and provide tons of references, high marks on ratings sheets, etc. We spend the bulk of our time continuing to hone our skills and producing quality work through consulting and writing to bolster our reputations.

      Ironically, most of my speaking gigs come not from my agent but from people who have seen me speak who bring my name up to the bookers of other conferences. I’m grateful for that, but it’s a slow process. And I do submit proposals to conferences to speak but regardless or my smarts or experience, am more often rejected than not. When I ask why so I can learn and improve, I am most frequently told that they are looking to book either people who they’ve heard of or think their audiences have heard of or that they would rather not rebook anyone who spoke in a previous year if they can help it.

      I’ve also learned that many corporations pay to place speakers and panelists rather than the conferences paying the speakers. This then becomes a money issue that’s hard to overcome.

  2. Dayngr says:

    I agree with Shiela! Go get em!

  3. Yep, I’ve found the same thing is most fruitful – people hear me speak at one place and ask me to speak at another.

    My comments are directed at those women who know their stuff, but mistakenly assume that speaking bookers also know it, and women who don’t want to appear “pushy” so they spend time waiting for the phone to ring or the email to come, rather than out hustling for gigs.

    I don’t think that you, Aliza, suffer from either problem. 🙂

  4. I take Seth Godin’s cast-offs. : )

    I love the post and I wish you happy hunting. Oh, and charge $10,000. Then you’ll break the 10K line.

    • We would all love Seth Godin’s cast-offs, too. 😉

      Hahaha…and if it were only as easy as simply charging $10K. But point well taken.

      You do not get what you do not ask for…

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