I'm often asked this question.
I haven't really struggled. And there are a few reasons for that, some of which may surprise you. I'm actually really content to stay home and write til' the cows come home, but people keep asking me to come speak. I'm humbled and honored, each and every time.
I believe one of the reasons I continually get invites is, I know how to do exactly what I'm asked to do.
Don't ever underestimate this.
Even if you're good at what you do, maybe even GREAT at what you do, you have to become good at doing whatever people ask you to do.
How good you are at what you do doesn't really matter to those bringing you in unless you're actually delivering what they want. If you're a chef and someone asks for chicken cordon bleu and you deliver them a lobster, certainly lobster is amazing but if it's not at all what they wanted, or they may even be allergic to it, they are never going to ask you for anything again.
A while back I was asked to serve on a speaking team for a conference and there were three other people on the speaker team, all of whom did exactly what the host told them NOT to do. We were all instructed about how important the time factor was in keeping the conference on track.Everyone was given 30 minutes per presentation. I came in right under time, but all three of them went over time, so much so, I literally saw sweat pouring down the face of one of the conference organizers as they dabbed a handkerchief to their face with one hand and looked at their watch with another. Rule #1: Leaders do not like to be stressed! (I know, I am one.)
Were the other speakers good? Actually they were great. However much of the impact of their message was totally lost on the organizers due to how stressed they were about lost time and the subsequent need to adjust the schedule. And, the crowd was getting antsy from sitting way too long. After the conference was over I never heard much about the other people's messages despite their great content. I did however hear from both organizers, "Deanna, you delivered exactly what we asked for and we just can't thank you enough."
I've been invited back since.
I haven't seen the other three people on any marketing materials for the same organization.
I've asked people to do things in the church we pastor. For instance, I may ask someone in the church to share a brief illustration for five minutes about the Holy Spirit and the next thing you know they are taking fifteen minutes to tell everybody about a turtle they picked up in the street that was a divine appointment. Needless to say, no matter how great what they shared was, I may be a bit slow to trust them with a microphone again.
Here's the point -- obedience brings rewards, not just obedience to God, but to those we answer to.
What do I mean, "answer to"? Well, although when I visit another place I am not under the authority of that pastor, leader or organizer on a regular basis, when I come in as a guest in their organization I am under their authority just for that event. Larry and I went to speak at a marriage conference in New Bern, NC this past weekend. We were not there under our own authority but that of the pastors of the church, John and Bonnie Watford. We came and did exactly what we were asked to do, and the weekend was very blessed.
I have noticed when some people get their first invitations to speak, they go bonkers. They feel they need to go on and on because they've never been given the chance before. They sorta think, "think is my big moment!" So they feel compelled to share everyyyyyyyyyything they know.
This usually means it will be even longer before they get another chance.
Do exactly as you are asked to do.
Interested in more posts on this topic? I did a series a while back on keys to effective speaking. Check it out here.