• How To Create A Speaker Website To Get More Engagements

    PUBLICATION DATE: 13 Mar 2019 | AUTHOR: Johan van Seijen | CATEGORY: , WordPress, Website Builder, Speaker,

  • Quick Summary: A website is an amazing tool to build up your audience and get more incoming speaker engagements. Maybe you like the interaction with the audience, you have this drive to extend your voice, or you want to better be able to promote a certain product or service. No matter what the reason, public speaking is a great way to cover all of the aformentioned goals, and a speaker website is a great tool to assist you in this endeavour. In article we'll reflect on the various aspect when starting with your speaker website. What to look out for in terms of hosting and templates. And what type of content to include on your site considered a must for any speaker website. Here goes.

    Screenshots we're taken from the Bouncy Castle WordPress Theme Photopack

  • What's the goal of your speaking website?

    In the world of public speaking you matter for obvious reasons. It's not just about your message, but how you come across to your audience. And this should be reflected in your speaker website. The theme and goal you set for yourself and your speaking engagements should be the same as the message you conveying on your site.

    So if it's about the speaking engagement itself, the bulk of the content on your site should be associated to getting that engagement and why you're the speaker to look out for. If public speaking is a tool for another service or product you want to promote, that should be just as clear as well. The last thing you want is for a certain engagement to tank because of differing expectations. You'll can be sure you will never be asked again, at least not by the same person.

    Is the DIY approach the best one for a speaker website

    Is it more important for a speaker website to look "professional" than it is for, let's say, the local plumber. You might say yes because of the aformentioned appearances and that perfect first impression you want to make. If that's the case you might be wondering if a DIY approach to building a speaker website is the best one. If you have no idea what's involved in building a professional speaker website, than how can you expect to come across the way you want to.

    That being said, you might not have both the budget and the inclination to relinquish control to an unknown web designer. And letting your site be build by somebody else might take longer (not to mention more money) than you care to invest. Why not start out doing stuff yourself and see where you end up. That's a great approach to any challenge isn't it. And you might learn something on the way. Something you can take into one of your engagements.

    Website builder solutions

    Fortunately, there are a lot of very good solutions out there for the DIY-people. You can either go for a a full-service solution like Wix, Weebly or Squarespace. When you opt to build your speaking website with one of these organizations, they handle everything but the content of your site and that's a good thing. Because you definitely do not want to concern yourself with anything technical like servers, software installations, updates and the like. Trust me, they will get you into trouble. If not in the short term, most certainly in the long term.

    The downside most often cited with any of these providers is that they are closed system. Meaning, you can never transfer your site over to another provider because each one has there one specific website building software they will not just give away. Buying a subscription, whether montly or yearly, means you are locked-on with the provider of your choice. That's not necessarily a bad thing, because you don't want to spend learning more than one content management system anyway. But you also have to be aware that very few web designers will be skilled using one of these systems, so opting for one after the fact will be difficult as well.

    WordPress

    The most popular alternative to these kinds of service provider is the self-hosted WordPress solution. WordPress is a free piece of software with which you can mostly create textual content and upload images. Mostly I see, because if you want to you can go really, really deep. WordPress is being used as the go-to webbuilding tool for almost every professional web designer and developer out there. It powers almost 30 percent of the world's websites so you can be sure it's pretty powerful.

    You can extend WordPress in two ways: with a theme and with plugins. Both come in free and premium versions. The most popular marketplace for WordPress themes is Themeforest. Themes are used to create the look-and-feel of your site, not its content (with a couple of exceptions). WordPress plugins are mostly free and can be downloaid from the plugin repository or from with the dashboard of Wordpress itself. Plugins extend the functionality of the site from an extremely diverse range of options. Functionality seen on the site like price tables, accordion panes, tabs etc., to things like ecommerce functionality, sitemaps, search engine optimization and the like.

    The good thing about this open-ended ecosystem is that there's a huge variety of options to choose from. The downside of any person not very well versed in the do's and dont's of web design is that you have no idea what's a reputable service provider and what's not. The biggest risk associated with using WordPress are compatibility issues breaking the site. If you're not the type of person that wants to take this type of risk, you're best bet is an online website builder where you have a single point of support, not ten, twenty or more.

    Picking the best theme to build a speaker website

    No matter what tool you pick for the job, an online builder like Weebly or a self-hosted system like WordPress, you will need a starting point. You'll need a template that'll create the look and feel of your site. You absolutely do not want to start from scratch. Let me reiterate the fact that you want to stay away from taking on the role of web designer. This is not your goal. Your goal is to get speaker engagements. Either as the end goal or as a tool for promotion. Web design is fun until it's not anymore. Don't stray too far from your initial goal. A best case scenario is that you had a lot of fun, a worst case scenario is you wasted a lot of time and money.

    Just as you need to know upfront what goal you'd like to achieve, you need to know what the theme or template needs to do for you. There are some web design best practices we're going to cover in the next few paragraphs and there are a couple of areas I consider specific for the speaking industry. Areas you might already be familiar with but it's always a good thing to refreshen your memory with a different perspective.

    Is blogging in line with your speaking goal?

    Some aspiring speakers wonder whether they sould start with a blog or a site. Technically the same what most of them mean with "blog" is that for the most part the site is comprised of a collection of articles spread out across a number of categories. My advice would be to not start with a blog but to setup a core speaker site surrounding your main goal first.

    Unless you really like writing for the web, always a good thing, and don't really care about the type of people you attract to your site, strictly focusing on a blog will probably dilute your main goal of getting speaker engagements. Blogging also doesn't just involve writing in a way people find interested but also optimizing blog content for the search engines and using social media to actually have people reading it. This is something that's probably very different from what currently your focus is, hence it's going to be a distraction.

    It's fine that a couple (or a lot) of blogs are part of your site, but your target audience is not the one who'll be attending your seminars but the ones hosting them. So your site should be directed to the last type of people and they want to see something else besides you're undoubtely very interesting blogs.

    Let me stress that indeed a blog section can be a valuable part of any website, so look out for it when considering a speaker template.

    What to focus on when building a speaking website

    For a lot of DIY web designers, especially those that make money in part in the way how they present themselves, design is crucial. But let me state, that it's not that important for your audience. It's the core reason why a lot of website owners focus the majority of their time tweeking the design, colors and fonts, instead of actually creating fresh content and doing some (online) marketing. That's just the way it is, there's nothing I will be able to do about it, but I've said it yet again in this article.

    The more intricate and complex a theme, the more awestruck you feel with all the dazzling design features, the more things can actually break. A template is nothing else but a product and the more moving parts, so to speak, there are, the more likely the theme will show issues in the long run. Sometimes less truly is more, and that's definitely the case in the theme business. Trust me.

    That's not to say design is not important, it just should not be the main focus when building a site. Try to see if a theme, from a reputable provider, covers the basics and maybe a bit more, and provides the proper support when you will need it. For instance during our years of operation we've cover dozens of areas with our support with hundreds of both FAQ's and videos. That's something you'll only find with reputable providers, not with the next best person who's tried there hands on theme design for a few times.

    Your programs overview

    If it's clear what your goal is and the way you want to make money, it'll also be clear what your core programs will be and they need to be directly accessible on your homepage. With references to separate pages detailing these services or programs. Don't try to get to fancy here. A title, image or icon and a small piece of text will cover the basics.

    I love the WordPress plugins's website where he makes a clear distinction about improving lives on a personal and professional level. Just 2 areas covering the entire width of the screen. Of course that man is giant covering many topics, but the basic message is clear.

    Detail pages about your programs

    Each individual program can lead to a separate detail page where you can explain in more detail what the program entails. On these pages you can use other elements besides plain text to further drive your message home. A good thing is to always have a way for people to contact you on those pages, maybe context-specific. But in most cases a phonenumber will suffice.

    How to integrate social media on your speaking website

    Social media is a big thing nowadays. Some even say that a personal website is not even necessary anymore, but you can go social all the way to the bank. I don't necessarily disagree, but I'm a control-freak and like to have my own little place on the internet, not being dependant on what the big corporate guys decide to do with all the valuable input I place on their sites. So a website has always been the go to online platform for me.

    Social media outlets, especially Facebook, get more powerful in terms of tools and functionality, everyday. However with great power comes great responsibility. That's actually from Spiderman but relevant here nonetheless. I absolutely abhor the complexity of certain platforms, especially when they are apt to change every other day. However since you here reading this article, you want to know how to build that great speaker website and how to deal with social media is another core aspect for any site owner.

    There are two options with respect to social media: referencing or integrating. With the first you convey to people that you are active on other channels, with an emphasis on "active". Simply referencing them with small icons will do the trick. Another way is actually integrating your social media channels on your site. A Twitter stream, your Facebook timeline or your latest Instagram snapshots, everything is possible. Just make sure they actively support the main goal you set for yourself and not serve as another way to show of the many selfies you make. Just kidding, you get the idea.

    Introducing yourself

    Hey, this is going to be a website about you, so why not introduce yourself with a small bio; it's what WordPress plugins does on his site. You might not have a track-record spanning four decades, but then again, you might, so why not tell it to the world.

    Dealing with testimonials

    On a number of occassions I've seen testimonials that would actually deter me from attending someone's seminar or speaking engagement. They we're lifeless, seemed scripted and sucked the energy out of me instead of the other way round. Or it could just be me.

    Either way, testimonials are still a great way to showcase some trust in your skillset and an absolute must-have for any speaker website. You can put a couple of textual versions on the homepage or go all-out with a dedicated video testimonial section on a dedicated page. Just make sure that the vibe you want people to feel when you're on stage come across in the way people express themselves detailing their experience of your offering.

    Using trust icons

    Trust icons are those small icons providing information about your affiliations, awards, or brands you want to associate yourself with. There not often seen as a combination of these three. So choose one and add a couple to your site. Speaking engagement usually occur in conjunction with a larger conference or within the context of a certain corporation. After you've asked for permission, brand logo's are a great way to display the trust people had in your skills and what you've obviously brought to the table for these brands to want to deal with you.

    Adding your contact info

    A contact section servers as the place where you obviously put the basics how people can reach you. Simple address information, a Google map if applicable and a contact form cover everything you need in this area. Besides your contact information put in it's separate section, having your phonenumber in either the header or the footer is also a good thing.

    Integrating video from past speaking engagements

    If they are available placing videos about past seminars and speaking engagements really drives home what type of energy you bring to the table. You can also decide to put the best one on the homepage or showcase a demoreel of various video snippets.

    One thing you should not do is place the videos directly on the same server where your website is hosted, if you've decided to go for self-hosting. Dedicated platforms like Youtube and Vimeo are so much better than your (probably cheap) server to provide solid streaming services. Never ever use your own server for this. The same goes for soundclips if you're thinking about placing podcasts.

    Time to stop talking and start building your website

    Enough talk about building a website to get some traction getting those speaking engagements, let's actually start building one. We have the perfect plan for people starting out with their DIY website. Easy to use, easy on the wallet. The perfect solution for people who want both control but not the headaches normally associated with hosting, servers, and websites. And, as you might now, there are many. Take a look at one of the templates we have to offer and start a no-risk 30-day money back guarantee journey of going online.

  • About the Author

    Johan van Seijen

    Co-founder Nexus Themes

    johan@nexusthemes.com

    Johan van Seijen is co-founder of Nexus Themes and our lead designer. After gaining a Master's Degree in Information Science he decided to try his luck in the illustration industry, working for clients as Avantgarde, Cosmopolitan and Glamour. With the return to the software industry grew the desire to create something to be truly proud of and which could spearhead his ambition of having his own company. And this company is what followed. He lives with his wife and daughter in Amsterdam.