The Secret Sauce to Creating a Winning Speaker Sheet

On our home page, it says, “We help Authors, Speakers and Coaches in two major areas where they consistently fall short: their brand identity and online presence.” We can not exclude speaker sheets from that list. 

As most of our clients are Authors, Speakers and Coaches, and we're members of those communities, you can say that we've become experts in speaker sheets. I put together this quick guide that highlights all of the elements needed to create a powerful one sheet... the right way.

What is a Speaker Sheet and what's it for? 

Sometimes called One-Sheet, EPK (Electronic Press Kit) or simply Press Kit.

As explained by Professional Speaker and Coach, Brian Thomas, "A speaker sheet is a PDF document that is extremely valuable in providing a potential client a quick snapshot of your mission, your brand, and your message." It serves as a quick glance that you can send quickly via email or hard copy vs. a website which may have bio on one page, photos on another, speaking programs on another, contact information on another. People have short attention spans and may not get all of the pertinent information from a quick visit to your site.

The purpose of it is to, frankly, get booked to speak. Though the speaker sheet may not always lead directly to a booking, it could be the tool that drives more interest towards your brand that does lead to a booking.

It is important to have a high quality, professional speaker sheet. It's just a "piece of paper" so you have to make sure it stands out, grabs the reader’s attention, and effectively communicates who you are and what value you bring to their audience.

The quality of your speaker sheet usually gives the potential client an idea of where you are in your speaking career and how serious you are with it.

A terrible speaker sheet may come of as if you don't invest much time into speaking or you're just getting started. If that's not the case, it is important not to paint that picture. Your speaker sheet is one of the most important visual tools you have for "selling yourself" outside of your website. No matter what level you're on, your speaker sheet should be top notch. If you're just starting out, a quality speaker sheet sets yourself leaps and bounds above other speakers with similar levels of experience. If you're experienced, a high quality professional speaker sheet should be a non-negotiable. The quality of your speaker sheet should be in alignment of your speaking ability.

What elements should I include on my speaker sheet?

I wouldn't create a speaker sheet unless you have these items in place:

1. Name/Personal Brand Logo

If you're just starting out, you may not have a logo and that's okay. Use a clean, simple font for your name but make sure it is a focal point on your speaker sheet. If you have a logo, make sure it is simple, memorable, timeless, versatile and appropriate. Many people get caught on the versatile part. If you have your initials and your name spelled out, can you read your name? Is it in a font that is easily legible on a small size?

2. Professional Headshot

You should always have a professional headshot on your one sheet, somewhere near the top. If you do not have a professional headshot, do not create a speaker sheet until you do. Selfies are unacceptable, no matter how nice the cell phone camera is. A photo that shows you from the shoulders up works best.

3. Title

This indicates who you are. Common examples are: Author, Speaker, Coach, Consultant, etc. What do you do?

4. Brief Bio

You should include a brief bio that is one to two paragraphs. It shouldn't be too long as you don't want it to take up the bulk of the page unless you have a multi-page speaker sheet (called an EPK). There are exceptions to every rule, but in most cases, the majority of readers do not want to read a long bio.

5. Speaking Topics & Programs

This gives the potential client a clear idea of exactly what it is that you speak about. What are your areas of expertise. They use this section to immediately determine if your subject matter applies to their audience. 

6. Outcomes/Benefits

These are the results. What can the organization expect to receive as a result of you coming in to speak to their audience?

7. Testimonials

You should have a minimum of one testimonial on every speaker sheet. It provides proof that what you say works. I don't need to explain the power of testimonials but it triggers a feeling of trust in the potential client's mind. They picture their own audience having the same feeling as the person who gave the testimonial.

8. Pictures of You In Action

This shows that you're active. It shows you naturally in your habitat doing what you love. There's something about raw, unposed, unscripted shots that help portray you as a professional speaker that knows what you’re doing and loves what you do. This is easy to achieve with a photo or two of you speaking. 

9. Places Spoken (Organizations, Companies, Institutions, etc.)

Notable organizations and institutions are always an easy choice, but don't use this as a trophy case. Be sure to showcase companies that are in alignment with your target audience and those you enjoy serving the most. When you're just starting out, you may only have a couple and they may be places that no one has ever heard of. That's okay, but as you get more gigs under your belt, those organizations will gradually become more noteworthy and recognizable. You don't need to use the logos, especially if you can't find high quality versions, but if you can, definitely do so.

10. Contact Information

How can people book you? You will usually include an email and phone number here. You can also include your social media handles. Just be sure that the quality of your profile matches the quality of your speaker sheet. If you have no recent posts or 3 followers, you may not want to add these until you're more active on social media. 

Optional:

Mission Statement

This should be conveyed in your bio, but if there's space, you could include this separately and make it a focal point.

Books 

If you have published works, it may be a good idea to include them if they speak directly to the audience that you're looking to serve. Be sure not go into a full-on sales pitch for the book. You can do that on a separate sell sheet or flyer for the book. 

Coaching Programs

It may be beneficial to briefly highlight your coaching services for the same reasons as your book. Keep it a simple high level overview. This shows your versatility without selling the reader on coaching. A detailed breakdown of your coaching services could be listed on your website or a separate sell sheet.

Recent Initiatives

Do you have any significant projects or initiatives that you've started recently? You should include these to drive home your purpose, mission, and message.

Social Media Following

If you have a significant following on social media (10k+), naturally, you may want to include this to show your level of influence online. 

When should I make a speaker sheet?

Do you have any previous experience? Don't rush to create one. In some cases, having one that is incomplete can do more harm that not having one at all. You never want to paint the picture of: 'they don't really have anything going on'. To start off, you may want to consider a flyer. Something a little smaller, like 5x7 with a nice headshot, bio and contact information.

How should my speaker sheet look?

It should be clean and simple, yet still convey your personality. With our clients, their logo usually establishes the design language of the speaker sheet. This next bit is important: keep an eye on your margins! Do you have words too close to the edges of the paper? These will likely be cut off when printed. That's a no-no that can easily be avoided. 

Ask yourself these questions when creating your speaker sheet:

  • Make sure it is balanced. How does the eye flow through the sheet?

  • Can you read the sections in the proper order?

  • Are there elements that should be consistent like section headers?

  • Is there anything out of alignment?

  • Are there elements butting up against each other that are visually awkward?

  • Have photos been properly treated (color)?

  • Do any photos appear to be grainy or low quality?

How many pages should my speaker sheet be?

Most are 1-2 pages, but I've seen as many as 10. At that point, it's a full-on EPK (Electronic Press Kit) It really depends on: 1. Your Audience 2. Your Value and 3. What you're looking to convey through your speaker sheet.

What if I don't have everything to go on it?

Wait. Once you get a couple gigs under your belt, you may be ready invest in a one sheet. Whether that's with a  professional, or on your own. If you're doing it yourself, it will take more time than you anticipate, and that's time you can't get back. So don't rush!

How do I make one?

Hire a professional - I'm not just saying that because it's a service of ours. I'm saying that because it makes a big difference in the quality of your sheet. I'd be doing you a disservice if I suggested that you do it yourself.  If you have the design chops, then by all means, go for it. But that time could be better spent in your gift and in my experience, speakers are great speakers, but terrible designers. That's one of the reasons our studio caters to this specific market. When you work with a professional, gone are the days of wondering, "Is it good enough? Why am I not getting a call back? Can they tell I did it myself?" They can. Not saying that you won't get any gigs with a speaker sheet you designed yourself, but you're not showcasing yourself in the best light possible and the quality of your one sheet isn't an accurate reflection of your speaking ability.

You may not be at that place yet, but when the time comes, you'll know (and hopefully you'll call us when you do). A lot of our clients are still at their full time jobs, looking to make the transition into speaking, coaching and consulting full time. Creating a professional speaker sheet is one of the steps they take to help expedite the plan.

"I had a fraternity brother reach out to me and ask if I was available to speak for an event in Washington, DC. I told him I was and he immediately asked me if I had any marketing material. I sent him my one sheet. He was extremely impressed and is moving forward to bring me in to speak to his organization. Had I not had a professional one sheet, the one thing I wouldn't have done was make a powerful impression. The power of the one sheet allows you to have a leg up over the competition that do not have a quality one sheet. In addition, it helps to showcase who you are, the results that you've gotten, the people you've worked with as well as the topics you discuss. I made it easy for him, we were able to pick a topic, now we're rocking and rolling for me to speak to his organization."

Robert T. "YB" Youngblood, The LinkedIn Locksmith

A professionally crafted one sheet will save you time, frustration, and give you the confidence you need to land the gig. 

Quality is key!

You don't want your speaker sheet to look like you did it yourself, even if you did! If that's the route you decide to go. If you have a budget, definitely hire a professional. They are masters at what they do. Your Speaker Sheet is an extension of your brand as a speaker. You don't want to mess that up by giving the wrong impression. The quality of your speaker sheet, especially if