Learning How to Be a Thought Leader

Thought Leader

Remember the last time you attended a conference and saw a really great speaker knock it out of the park? Chances are that person’s stock went up in your mind.

…Not only as a speaker, but also as a businessperson.

Leading as a Leader

The reality is that standing on a platform is a powerful way to build your presence in the marketplace. In fact, speaking at a convention, conference, meeting, or training session gives you instant credibility. It makes a clear statement to those in attendance that the organizers of the conference had enough faith in your ability, knowledge, and expertise to put you on stage in the first place.

If they think you’re the real deal, the audience assumes you are as well.

Becoming That Leader

If being a speaker elevates your personal brand and raises your stock as a thought leader, how do you get speaking engagements in the first place?

One practical way in  this Internet age is through using content marketing to become a recognized name in your field and establish your credibility with event organizers.

Creating a Quality Platform

To showcase your skills, try these five ways to use content to land speaking engagements:

1. Create Consistent, Quality Content

Blogging frequently and consistently about a subject — both on your own site and as a guest blogger on others — gives you a strong online platform to build your brand and makes you discoverable for conference planners seeking speakers. One study of small businesses by HubSpot found that companies that blog get 55 percent more visitors to their website and 434 percent more indexed pages.

Don’t build your content around what’s most popular. Instead, focus on the subject matter you’re most comfortable with and have the greatest expertise in.

The more depth and breadth you can bring to a topic, the better chance you have of being asked to speak on it. Event organizers want experts who can bring true insights to your field, so content that reflects specialized knowledge gives you a better chance of being booked.

2. Write a Whitepaper or eBook

Self-publishing is all the rage these days. Anyone can author an eBook, but very few eBooks and whitepapers are both well-written and contain substance. There are two major benefits to writing a high-quality whitepaper or eBook.

  • First, being the author of these kinds of professional documents helps establish you as an expert.
  • Second, offering an eBook as a free download on your website, as well as Amazon’s, can bring you to the attention of event organizers looking for speakers on the subject.

3. Remember the Power of YouTube

Posting clips of your presentations on YouTube can help bolster your image as a thought leader and garner potential speaking engagements. Not only are the topics searchable by Google, but organizers will get a chance to see how you come across.

While written content shows your expertise and writing ability, videos highlight your presenting and speaking skills.

Just remember that YouTube is the No. 2 search engine in the world, and according to a 2012 survey by Software Advice, more marketers are using video to generate demand than whitepapers or webinars.

4. Create a Podcast

Sit down and make a list of 10 to 20 related topics in your area of expertise that you could talk about for 15 minutes each. Turn those topics into a podcast. A podcast is essentially a series of audio recordings made available digitally for download. The beauty is how easy they are to create.

By using a free conference call number, you can interview other experts in your field, record yourself speaking solo, or set up someone else to interview you. Regardless of the format, podcasts provide yet another medium to share your knowledge, and they have the added benefit of highlighting your speaking style.

5. Promise to Promote on Social Media

When you do get an inquiry for a potential speech, let the organizer know that you’re willing and able to promote your presentation on social media. Today, conferences and other speaking opportunities often come with requests to blog and push out the message to your followers on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. In addition, you can increase your interactions with other people interested in your topic by posting on social media.

Be The Expert

Finally, take a page from every great speaker’s playbook:

Showcase your enthusiasm for your area of expertise.

Highlighting your passion, as well as your knowledge, helps meeting planners, event coordinators, and conference organizers see you as an exciting speaker as well as an informed one — and that’s a winning combination.


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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

Karen Leland
Karen Leland is president and founder of Sterling Marketing Group
She is a Thought Leader in Personal Branding and Leadership Presence
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Web

Image Sources: astdnrc.memberlodge.org

L2L Contributing Author


  1. Dave Malnes on October 21, 2013 at 9:48 pm

    I have over 500 posts on my blog that I have written in the last six years. I’ve heard that it’s okay to put a compilation of popular posts and making it into an ebook. Would that be a good idea for the publishing of my first ebook? I’ve read mixed reviews on this.

  2. Rich Bishop on October 22, 2013 at 5:09 am

    Great thoughts, Karen!
    I would like to add that an important piece for when you do speak is to be prepared. Nobody wants to see a speaker who has their head buried in their notes the whole time. It comes down to practice, practice, practice!

    I would highly recommend joining an organization like Toastmasters. It is inexpensive to join, has chapters (seemingly) everywhere, and the purpose of the group is to help you become a better speaker.

  3. Bob Brescia on October 22, 2013 at 9:13 am

    Ditto on Rich’s recommendation for toastmaster training. Public speaking is essential to a leader’s toolkit so jump in now and look for opportunities to speak. It’s one of those skills that is only learned by doing!