What is also not unusual is a beginning speaker not even knowing where they WANT to speak. They have a topic, they want to speak to people, but they have no end in mind! At best I hear, "well, maybe colleges, or women's groups, or IBM".
If you don't know specifically where you want to speak, how will you ever get there? It doesn't mean you have to start there and only there, but knowing your direction, actually pursuing your targets, is going to get you closer to success than just thinking "I want to speak to some unidentified, nonspecific, random gathering of people."
Make a list of 10 places you want to speak at anywhere in the world. Conferences, specific groups, colleges, companies. Go on the web if nothing comes to mind, and google companies, associations, or conferences. Come up with 10 identified audiences. Then do it again, but stay local. List 10 places that are within an hour's drive.
Find someone you know on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn (or even, shudder, real life) who can get you some information, and find out about their events and who is in charge of them.
Make a phone call to one of the 20, ideally a local event, but not necessarily. Not an email, but an honest-to-goodness phone call. If you have to leave a message, tell them you want to get information about their event. Don't wait for them to call back though, call them everyday until you get a live person. Leave a message every other day.
Once you can talk to them, ask them straight out if they are looking for speakers. If they are, great, let them know you'd like to help them. Use the word help - who doesn't want help? Let them know what you can speak about that relates to their audience, which you are now well versed on after your first two steps of research.
If they are NOT looking for speakers, tell them you would like to be available as a substitute if someone cancels, and then go into how you can help them. As I said yesterday, you never know when you'll be called on to speak. This works well for local events, as you can show up quickly, and be the local hero!
We'll go into what you need to next - answering the question of 'Why YOU', tomorrow. The goal today is to make yourself create some goals, to decide where you want to speak and to whom you want to speak. It's OK if your dream speaking opportunity is commencement at The Ohio State University, or the keynote at a technology conference, or a TEDtalk. It's OK if you just want to speak to the biggest rotary club in your town, too. Think how much easier crafting a message will be, how much easier building your credibility will be, once you've determined your audience!
No dreams are too big or too small, except dreams undefined.
It may change over time, but at least start a list today, and go after it. Who knows? Next spring, you may be getting an honorary doctorate from Harvard, or sending people to the link of your TEDtalk, like Toastmaster Loy Machedo! Lay applied himself, used his network, and as you see in the video below, went out and hit the mark! I know another Toastmaster, who just last week called on a major university to speak at their commencement next spring, and generated interest he never imagined would exist. It doesn't happen if you don't know Where and Who you target is, and actually do something to connect you to them.
Who is YOUR dream audience? Let me know in the comments below, or on Facebook and Twitter.