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How to land speaking gigs as an executive function coach

Updated: Dec 1, 2023

I received the question below from a colleague and wanted to share my insights on how to land more speaking opportunities as an executive function coach:

Hoping to join you as a speaker at one of the summits in the near future. Any tips on how to pave the road for this to happen would be great. I just feel I have so much to share and believe it is time to begin thinking on how to do it at a larger scale. You don’t grow unless you are willing to step out of your comfort zone, right?

Do you find yourself hitting a wall when trying to land speaking gigs? You're not alone.

The frustration of being overlooked for speaking opportunities is a common hurdle many experienced executive function coaches face.

As an executive function coach and speaker, I have been featured at some of the top events in the world including:

However, when I was first getting started, I was often rejected or outright "ghosted" when I reached out to pitch my ideas for speaking at a conference.

The rejection often pointed to one major gap: I didn't have an established following, a crucial element many organizers look for.

It's disheartening when you know you have valuable insights to share, yet you're turned away because you haven't built a sizable online following.

This challenge can feel like a vicious cycle: you need speaking opportunities to grow your audience, but you can't get those opportunities without an audience.

But there's good news. I've navigated through this daunting barrier and found effective strategies to build my presence and credibility, even without an extensive email list.

In this article, I'll share the actionable steps I took to transform my situation, secure speaking engagements, and establish myself as a sought-after voice in my field.

Dream global, speak local

In the pursuit of expanding your influence and reaching vast audiences, it's essential to embrace the philosophy of thinking globally while acting locally. This approach is particularly crucial when you're starting out or looking to broaden your reach.

While your ultimate goal might be to address large, diverse crowds or feature on prominent platforms, beginning with local opportunities can provide a strong foundation for your growth.

Consider pitching your expertise to your local Parent Teacher Association (PTA), libraries, or groups of parents. Here are some ideas to get your gears turning:

Ten places you could speak at locally as an executive function coach

  1. Local Schools: Offer to speak at parent-teacher meetings or special education workshops, addressing the needs of students with executive function challenges.

  2. Parent-Teacher Associations (PTAs): Collaborate with PTAs to provide insights and strategies to parents on supporting their children's executive functioning at home.

  3. Community Libraries: Host workshops or seminars on executive function skills, catering to both parents and educators.

  4. Local Support Groups: Engage with groups that support children with learning disabilities or ADHD, providing valuable insights on executive function coaching.

  5. Community Centers: Partner with community centers to offer sessions for parents and educators, focusing on strategies to improve executive function skills in children.

  6. Local Colleges and Universities: Conduct seminars or guest lectures focusing on executive function skills for college students, especially those in education and psychology departments.

  7. Youth Organizations and Clubs: Collaborate with organizations like the YMCA or Scouts groups to offer workshops for leaders and members.

  8. Mental Health Clinics: Work with clinics to provide sessions for therapists and clients on the importance of executive function skills and coaching methods.

  9. Local Business and Entrepreneurship Networks: Offer talks on how executive function skills can enhance productivity and organization in professional settings.

  10. Local Conferences and Educational Events: Look for regional conferences and events focused on education, child development, or mental health, and pitch to be a speaker or workshop leader.

These local venues offer a receptive and often supportive audience, allowing you to refine your message, build confidence, and gain valuable experience. Engaging with these smaller, community-based groups not only hones your skills but also helps in establishing a solid local reputation.

As you excel in these settings, word of your expertise can spread, gradually building a wider audience and opening doors to larger stages. This strategy ensures a steady, organic growth of your audience, aligning with your vision of global reach, yet grounded in the impactful work done at the local level.

What should I talk about in my speech or presentation?

The most effective way to determine the focus of your speech or presentation, especially as an executive function coach, is to listen to the questions most frequently asked by parents and students you interact with.

These recurring inquiries often highlight the primary concerns, challenges, and areas of interest within your community. By addressing these commonly asked questions, you ensure that your content is highly relevant and tailored to the immediate needs and curiosities of your audience.

This approach not only enhances the engagement and relatability of your presentation but also positions you as a responsive and informed expert who truly understands and addresses the specific issues faced by those you aim to help.

Additionally, basing your speech topics on these questions allows you to provide practical, actionable advice that directly benefits your listeners, fostering a deeper connection and impact.

How do I make the leap from speaking locally, to speaking at conferences and online summits?

Making the leap from speaking locally to engaging in larger conferences and online summits often hinges on building a strong online presence.

Start by actively sharing your insights and expertise on social media platforms, blogs, or through a dedicated YouTube channel. The key here is to choose one platform and post consistently on it for 6-12 months.

Focus on creating valuable, shareable content that resonates with your target audience, such as tips, strategies, and success stories related to executive function coaching.

Engage with your audience by responding to comments, participating in relevant online discussions, and collaborating with other professionals in your field. Utilize search engine optimization (SEO) techniques to increase the visibility of your content.

As your following grows, leverage it to showcase your influence and expertise when applying to speak at larger events. Regularly update your online profiles and portfolio to reflect your speaking engagements and professional achievements, thus establishing credibility and attracting opportunities for conference and summit appearances.

Let's explore this topic a bit further.

What is an online platform?

An online platform is a digital service or space where users can create, share, and interact with content and with each other.

Examples include social media sites like:

  • Facebook

  • Instagram

  • Twitter

  • YouTube

  • Medium

  • LinkedIn.

What is the difference between an "rented" platform and an "owned" platform and why does it matter?

These platforms are often referred to as "rented" spaces because, despite being excellent for reaching and engaging with a wide audience, you don't own the platform or have full control over it.

To mitigate this dependency, it's crucial to funnel your audience from these platforms onto your email list.

An email list is a collection of email addresses from people interested in your content, services, or products. By encouraging your followers to sign up for your email list, you create a direct line of communication that's not subject to the changing algorithms or policies of these platforms.

This can be achieved by offering exclusive content, free resources, newsletters, or access to webinars only available to your email subscribers, thus providing value that motivates your audience to join your mailing list and stay engaged with your brand on a more secure and controlled platform.

How do I choose which platform to post on?

Choosing which platform to post on can seem like a daunting decision, but the truth is, the specific platform isn't as critical as two key factors: CONSISTENCY and the quality of your content.

Whether you choose LinkedIn for its professional network, Instagram for its visual appeal, Twitter for its brevity and immediacy, or YouTube for video content, what matters most is that you regularly post high-quality, engaging, and relevant content.

By dedicating yourself to a consistent posting schedule and actively interacting with other users, you create a routine that your audience can rely on and engage with. This approach not only builds your visibility and credibility but also fosters a loyal following.

If you commit to this strategy for six months, consistently posting and engaging with your audience and other content creators, I guarantee you will see tangible results. This could be in the form of increased followers, higher engagement rates, more inquiries about your services, or even invitations for collaborations and speaking engagements.

Remember, the platform is just a tool; it's your consistent presence and the value of your content that truly make the difference.

How do I get people from a rented platform onto my email list?

To effectively move people from a rented platform onto your email list, the key is to offer an enticing Opt-In – a high-value item that's free but feels premium, often referred to as a 'freemium.'

This strategy hinges on providing something of genuine value that resonates with your target audience's needs and interests. As an executive function coach, you could offer resources like a specialized checklist, a graphic organizer, or a unique tool that you already use successfully with your students.

For instance, you might create a comprehensive checklist for parents to help their children develop better organizational skills, or a graphic organizer template that aids students in managing their assignments and schedules more effectively.

By offering these tools for free in exchange for an email address, you not only provide immediate value but also establish a relationship based on trust and expertise.

Promote your Opt-In across your social media platforms, in your blog posts, or at the end of your YouTube videos, clearly explaining the benefits of the resource and how it can be easily accessed through signing up for your email list.

This approach not only increases your email list with engaged subscribers but also transitions your audience from being passive followers on a platform you don’t own, to active participants in your own digital space where you have more control over the communication and relationship.

How do I set up my first email list?

Certainly! Here's a simplified five-step guide to setting up your first email list using MailerLite:

Step 1: Create a MailerLite Account

Start by signing up for an account on MailerLite. This platform is known for its user-friendly interface, making it ideal for those new to email marketing. Once your account is created, familiarize yourself with its dashboard and features.

Step 2: Set Up Your Subscriber List

Your next step is to create a subscriber list in MailerLite. This list is where the email addresses you collect will be stored. Navigate to the list creation section and follow the prompts to set up your first list. This will be the foundation of your email marketing efforts.

Step 3: Design an Opt-In Form

Utilize MailerLite’s form builder to create your opt-in form. This form is crucial for collecting email addresses from your audience. Ensure it’s concise, clearly communicates the value of subscribing (like receiving a free resource or special offers), and is visually appealing to encourage sign-ups.

Step 4: Create and Offer a Lead Magnet

Develop a lead magnet, which is a free and valuable resource offered to your audience in exchange for their email address. This could be a downloadable guide, a checklist, or an exclusive video. The lead magnet should be relevant to your audience’s interests and needs. Once created, set it up in MailerLite to be automatically sent to new subscribers.

Step 5: Promote and Engage

Finally, integrate the opt-in form on your website and share it on your social media platforms. Regularly promote the form and the lead magnet to encourage sign-ups. As your email list grows, use MailerLite to send out engaging content, updates, and exclusive offers, keeping your subscribers informed and connected with your brand.

By following these steps, you can effectively build and nurture your first email list, creating a valuable channel for direct communication with your audience.

What do I do once my email list starts to grow?

As your following grows, you become an increasingly appealing candidate for speaking engagements at various events.

This is because a larger audience signifies that you bring not just expertise, but also a potential increase in event attendance and engagement. Your established following is a valuable asset to event organizers, as it promises wider exposure and reach for their event.

To capitalize on this, regularly update your speaker profile and promotional materials to reflect your growing audience and engagement levels.

When pitching to event organizers, highlight your ability to draw attendees and enhance the event's visibility. As you continue to engage and grow your audience with quality content, your appeal as a speaker increases, opening doors to larger and more prestigious speaking opportunities. This not only boosts your professional standing but also expands the impact of your work in the executive function coaching arena.

How should I pitch myself to an event?

Sample email template to pitch yourself

Subject: Speaker Proposal for [Event Name] - Executive Function Coaching Insights

Dear [Organizer's Name],

I'm [Your Name], an Executive Function Coach specializing in [specific area, e.g., ADHD strategies]. I'm interested in speaking at [Event Name], offering insights from my [number of years] years in [field/area of expertise].

My sessions provide practical strategies for [target audience, e.g., students, educators], aligning well with your event's focus. Additionally, I bring an engaged audience from [your strongest platform, e.g., LinkedIn, YouTube, email list], potentially enhancing your event's reach.

I'd love to discuss how my topics, such as [list 1-2 topics], can contribute to the success of your event. Looking forward to the possibility of collaborating.

Best regards,

[Your Name]

[Contact Information]

[Website/Social Media Links]


As we wrap up this exploration on expanding your speaking opportunities as an Executive Function coach, remember that consistent effort and strategic planning are key to your success.

If you're looking for more personalized support, deeper insights, and practical tools to grow your speaking engagements, consider joining the EF Coaching Academy.

At the academy, you'll gain access to a community of like-minded professionals, where you can share experiences, get feedback, and find encouragement. Our resource library is filled with informative videos that cover a range of topics tailored to EF coaching. Plus, you'll find a variety of templates, like the email outreach template discussed, designed to streamline your efforts and enhance your effectiveness.

The EF Coaching Academy is more than just a learning platform; it's a community that supports and grows together. Join us to take your EF coaching career to the next level, expanding your influence and positively impacting more lives.

Ready to elevate your professional journey? Visit our homepage to become a part of our thriving EF Coaching Academy. We're here to help you succeed!

How can I learn more about the executive function certification course?

The program is not available for purchase. It is run throughout the year as a live course and to get updates on when the next enrollment window will be opening, you can subscribe to this email list.

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About the author

Sean G. McCormick is the founder of Executive Function Specialists, an online coaching business that guides middle, high school, and college students in overcoming procrastination, disorganization and anxiety by teaching time management, prioritization and communication skills so they feel motivated, prepared, and empowered.

He also founded the Executive Function Coaching Academy which trains special education teachers, school psychologists and other professionals to support students with ADHD and executive function challenges.

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