I talk to lawyers all of the time who want to use speaking engagements as a way to establish their expertise, provide value to a potential referral source, or as a means to reach an audience of potential clients, but they don't know where to start.
One of the easiest places to start is by becoming a CLE speaker. It's a great way to gain experience speaking, and most bar associations are looking for new, dynamic speakers with good ideasto present for them.
Jennifer Ellis from Freedman Consulting did a recent guest post on the Legal Productivity blog on how to become a CLE speaker and then be invited back. Her post contains some excellent, common-sense tips (which can apply to speaking engagements other than CLE programs as well), including:
Be specific: Make it as easy as possible for the CLE director to choose your proposal by giving him or her a specific program topic, rather than just expressing your interest in speaking on a broad practice area. I can tell you from my experience working at our local bar associations trying to choose program topics and presenters that those who just express and interest in speaking, without more, are rarely contacted.
Giving the program coordinator a topic idea, along with a proposed title and perhaps even a draft outline will put you head and shoulders above the rest. It is also helpful to include some information about you and why you think you would be a good choice to speak on that topic.
Show you're responsible: If you've never presented for this person or organization before, you need to prove yourself. Make sure you know all deadlines and meet or exceed them. Respond promptly to all requests for information.
Provide valuable information: Most states require written materials to accompany the presentation. Don't skimp on those materials or complete them at the last minute, as an afterthought.
You can read more of Jennifer's tips in the full post here.
If you want to do a lot of speaking engagements, you may want to create a speaker sheet or "one sheet." It's like a bio, but it is specifically targeted to showcase the information that would be attractive to someone seeking to engage you as a speaker for their event or program. Instead of being written with your clients in mind to sell your expertise and services as a lawyer, the speaker sheet is meant to highlight your expertise for a different audience.
If you want to try your hand at creating a speaker sheet for yourself, Carolyn Elefant at MyShingle has a one sheet generator tool that you can use to create a professional looking one sheet to give to organizations or program coordinators.