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How to Book Speaking Engagements at Colleges

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If you work as a motivational speaker, want to publicize a cause you believe in or need to spread the word about your business, you may wish to speak to college students. Many college courses and events feature public speakers with expertise in a variety of topics. Because many others will be attempting to book speaking engagements, ensure your application is professional and thorough, giving the college sufficient reason to have you speak on campus.

Put together a thorough press kit with the help of a marketing agency or by yourself if you're comfortable doing so. The press kit should include your resume; a list of any credentials, awards or honors you've won; audio and video clips of you speaking to groups; and a list of groups you've spoken to in the past. If you're an author, include a copy of your book.

Write a cover letter explaining why you you feel your message is relevant to the college. Make sure the letter is specifically related to the college and department in question, rather than sending a form letter. Cite specific reasons why the college and its students would benefit from inviting you to speak. For example, if you went to the college and want to share your tips for success with students currently in the same program from which you graduated, include this information.

Explain in your letter why your speaking engagement will be different than others'. If your routine is highly interactive, giving students an opportunity to ask questions, include this information. Provide additional details about your presentation including how long it takes, when you're available and how much you charge. If you don't plan on charging the college, mention that while you usually charge for your speaking engagements, you wish to offer this one for free because you believe it will be helpful to students.

Send your cover letter and press kit to the college department in charge of the group you'd like to speak to. If you wish to speak to a sports team, send the application to the school's athletics department. If you hope to speak to a particular class or program, send the application to the dean's office for that program.

Follow up with a phone call or email to the department or group in question, two or three weeks after sending the package. A phone call is ideal, because it's less impersonal than an email. When you convey professionalism and courtesy on the phone, the person at the other end may develop a quick interest in you, and you may have more of a chance of getting the speaking engagement.


Toronto-based journalist William McCoy has been writing since 1997, specializing in topics such as sports, nutrition and health. He serves as the Studio's sports and recreation section expert. McCoy is a journalism graduate of Ryerson University.

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