How to secure keynote speaker gigs for your business

How to secure keynote speaker gigs for your business

The best way to get your new business recognised is by sharing good content, contributing something worthwhile to the market and getting people excited enough to talk about you too.

You can do all three of these things as a speaker at big events.

Getting a top speaking gig is a big deal. Being recognised as a thought leader is an incredible feeling and gaining access to inspiring speakers and engaged press is a huge bonus. However, the best part is having the opportunity to share your knowledge, challenge assumptions, entertain and teach the audience something new.


Every startup wants to get to the stage where event organisers are inviting them to speak, and Startup Mzansi is no different.

How I secured speaking gigs for my startup (hint: it involved a lot of hustle!)

Firstly, let me reassure you that my journey from small stage to mainstage hasn’t been easy, these opportunities didn’t fall into my lap. It’s taken a lot of hard work, persistence and ambition to get here.


I’ll give you some context:

The first big conference Startup Mzansi attended was Global Entrepreneurship Congress (Liverpool) in 2012. We were new to the game, and understood that we needed to hustle A LOT. So that’s what we did, we created good relationships with the organisers, we would talk to anyone who came to visit our stand as if they were the most important person in the room and stand there all day ignoring our urges to eat, take a break (even visit the bathroom!) because we were afraid of missing out.

We treated every conversation as a potential game changer, and we did that at numerous events globally.


Pitching requires preparation and a good understanding of your audience. A struggle we had to overcome as a sextech brand is gaining the recognition we deserved.

How you can secure speaking gigs for your startup

From one hustler to another, here are my tips for any startup looking to go from pitch to main stage in a year…

Show that you mean business

There’s no room for haphazard effort. If you’re serious about your business’ growth it needs to be obvious and you need to show that you’re in this for the long run. This is where that persistence comes into play.

It’s really important you make good connections with event organisers because they’re your key to connecting with other speakers, business and press. If you want something from someone what do you do? You make an effort to understand how you can help them.

Having this insight allows you to structure your pitch and content accordingly.

Position yourself as a thought leader in your industry

People trust people. If your peers and customers are talking about you, and you’re consistently sharing good content and commenting on the market then you’re halfway there.

You should be considered a thought leader in your industry before speaking at any event, because it’s only then the audience will engage and take you seriously.

Talk about your market, and it’ll talk about you. That’s the formula we’ve been working with.

Expand and develop your network

Networking is the oldest trick in the book, because it works! There’s no better brand ambassador than other thought leaders in your industry giving you good feedback. Some of the best and most exciting opportunities we’ve experienced have come from conversations with interesting people.

If you meet someone cool at a conference and they offer an introduction to someone new, always follow up!

It’s also really important you listen to conversations and offer valuable input. Don’t just give to receive.

Create good content that steals the limelight

This should be your priority. There’s nothing worse than listening to a presentation that lacks enthusiasm and interest. You need to have a good mix of informative, fun and thought provoking content.

You want the audience to go away thinking;

  1. “I want to learn more about that business”
  2. “That talk resonated with me”
  3. “They’re really cool, I enjoyed that”

Deliver on this advice and you’re likely to clinch those great keynote speaker slots that will help your business stand out. Of course, following the steps of one blog post won’t make you the next StartupGuy, but it’s a good place to start…

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