Often, when speakers start out in the business (and sometimes even after they are established), they will offer to do free events. But a free event does not necessarily have to devalue you as a speaker. In fact, it can give you a number of benefits, if you go about it the right way.
Always go in with a positive attitude
This free event may just be a way to get practice. It may be a way to gain exposure. Regardless, you need to approach it with the same professionalism as a paid gig. Your attitude will shine through your presentation, and if it is positive you could get more business from this free gig.
Make other value arrangements
You can make arrangements to (gently, without being sales-y) make an offer to the audience at the end of your presentation. This can be a freebie in exchange for their contact information. It can also be a gentle statement that you are available for hire is whatever capacity and provide a way for people to learn more.
You have to be careful with this one. Your presentation needs to be educational and not a sale pitch. And some venues will not let you share a way to contact you at all. But, if you can arrange this, your free gig has just turned into a lead-generation opportunity.
Have something to offer
Even if you don’t pitch anything at the end of your presentation, chances are some of the people in your audience are going to approach you for more afterward. Of course, this will only happen if you’ve done a good job and provided excellent information.
So, you really need to have something to offer when they ask. This can be as simple as an opt-in newsletter with special report. You can direct them to your website. But better yet, ask them for their business card and permission to add them to your list yourself. This will guarantee that they get added … people do forget as the enthusiasm wears down.
Free gigs can help you build your confidence, testimonial page and business. Just go into them prepared and with your eyes open.