“I have to get on the public speaking circuit.”
As a professional speaker, I can’t tell you how many times I have heard that exact phrase from people who would like to add public speaking as either their main or a supplemental source of income to their business or career.
I have been professionally speaking in many capacities since I began my career in 1992, always in front of audiences for one thing or another. So people naturally ask me all the time,
“How do I get on the speaking circuit?”
Here’s the thing. It’s a big secret we speakers keep to ourselves so we know when we’re talking to a fellow speaker or just someone who thinks they may want to be on stage somewhere someday.
There IS NO speaking circuit.
So unless you want to look like a total beginner, stop saying you want to get on some type of circuit. Seriously there is none.
Let’s look for a moment at the definition of “circuit” according to Dictionary.com:
“a periodical journey from place to place, to perform certain duties, as by judges to hold court, ministers to preach, or salespeople covering a route.”
“a number of theaters, nightclubs, etc., controlled by the same owner or manager or visited in turn by the same entertainers or acting companies.”
Perhaps in the acting or preaching industries there may be a circuit. And in fact, this could be where some of the confusion around the topic comes from, especially because public speaking can often involve travel “from place to place.” But make no mistake, there are not many professional stages that qualify as a “circuit.”
Every speech you are booked for is usually just for that one stage and that one occasion. And that’s it.
To others on the outside of the speaking business it may appear there is some sort of speaking circuit. That’s because in certain niche markets a handful — say 20-30 of the most popular speakers often appear at various events together or in some combination at the events for that niche market.
And how do those same speakers get hired time and again? Simple: results. The information they share gets the audience the results they want. When audiences are happy, event planners are happy. When event planners and audiences are happy, speakers get a good reputation. And that’s what gets you the next speaking gig.
So don’t despair that there isn’t really a speaking circuit. Because as you get hired and continue to market yourself and grow as a speaker, the opportunities will flow to you as easily as if there was a public speaking circuit.