Public Speaking: Why Holding Your Own Event Is a HUGE Mistake

Public Speaking: Why Holding Your Own Event Is a HUGE Mistake

If you’ve been a speaker for any period of time, you’ve likely heard the advice: run your own events. 

There are guru-types out there, running their own events, teaching you how to run your own events. 

It’s great, they say.
You’ll make a lot of money, they say.
Just hold a free event and the people will come, they say.

Hahahahahahahahaha, I say. 


The following question was asked recently in a social media group I belong to. With this post, I want to share my caution with you, dear speaker, lest you heed this crazy advice and think you need to hold your own event in order to be successful getting new clients. You don’t.

Question: I want to put together a free coaching event for prospective clients. Any ideas for a good format?

Here’s My Answer (I avoided screaming in all caps, “IT’S A TRAP!!!!” I’m calling that a win. This is what I wrote instead):

Yep. Don’t do it. Unless your zone of genius includes event planning, it’s a lot to take on. I did a live event once and it about put me in the grave. 

Find groups and meetings that already exist full of your ideal audience and go speak to them. Some suggestions:

  • Local service organizations (Rotary, Lyons, etc.)
  • Go to and search for groups in your area
  • Local churches usually have various support groups / ministries (job seekers, marriage, Moms, etc.)
  • Local libraries often host local experts
  • Chambers of commerce have various sub-groups or committees where you can easily reach your ideal market

You’ll be able to plug into these and speak at at least one of them in the next 2-4 weeks, I would imagine. 

If you insist on moving forward and doing your own event, here’s what you’ve got to do:
– Find a location that will allow you to sell: that means you’ll almost definitely have to pay for a venue, which will likely include buying food if you go to a restaurant, hotel, or golf course; so now you’ve got to meet minimums, figure out menus, worry about people’s myriad dietary restrictions, beverages, etc.
– Determine a date that will work for most people knowing you’re going to get negative feedback from people who say they’d go if only it was earlier or later or on a weekend or on a weeknight or the second blue moon of the 14th month…
– Market it for months in advance – use your email list, press releases, social media posts, Facebook and LinkedIn ads, pay per click, and more. Filling an event is a full time job.
– Coordinate the venue’s contracts, room organization, and all audio visual needs (usually costing extra).
– Figure out how people are going to register. Will they register on your website? Then you need a sales page and autoresponder set up to thank people and send multiple reminders. Also, when people don’t pay for an event, they are less likely to attend, even if they are registered and reminded. You could think you’ve got 35 people registered and 4 show up. I’ve seen it happen. It’s very awkward being one of the 4, I’ll tell you. 

SO many considerations.

Or you can have the group do your marketing for you, get their borrowed credibility to boost yours, let them fill the room, and you show up and do your awesome thing. 

Either way, good luck!

I have more free tips on making speaking at local events work for you in my free Signature Speech Secrets training at

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One Comment

  1. Jen Lindblad May 4, 2018 at 8:40 am - Reply

    Felicia – I have a background in marketing and event planning. I successfully put together events for more than 10 years. Even I was not able to hold my own speaking event. I think this is a clear example what Proverbs 25:6-7 says about not pushing ourselves into a place of prominence but letting others promote us to a place of prominence.

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