How can I get paid speaking engagements?
It is a question I have been asked so often in the last few months that I promised a few people I would devote a couple posts to exploring the topic of speaking professionally a bit further. There are all kinds of good reasons to speak. To teach, help, inspire, raise awareness and share your ideas with others who can benefit. Additionally, speaking can be a lucrative path to accelerating sales to build your business. From where I stand it beats trade show booth duty any day of the week.
What follows are a few thoughts and resources that have certainly been beneficial on my journey and I hope prove useful to you.
Two books I recommend include The Wealthy Speaker and Confessions of a Public Speaker. The Wealthy Speaker is a valuable “how to” guide and Confessions breaks down the business from the entertaining perspective of a pro. The Why Speakers Earn $30,000 an Hour excerpt offers a bit of insight into the getting paid part of the business.
Five key considerations on getting started:
1. Speak: The more you speak the more speaking opportunities you’ll generate. The more you speak the better you’ll get. Most people I know that speak professionally did a lot of FREE speaking prior to getting good enough to get paid. If you speak and immediately generate more requests to speak as a result, that is a good sign you are good enough to do the work.
2. Write: A bestselling book is a gateway to getting paid speaking engagements. Short of that writing helps organize your thinking, accelerate your credibility and connect you to people and opportunity. This blog has been a catalyst for growth in my business. The secret to writing is that, as Seth Godin and Tom Peters explain in this video, you are ultimately doing it for yourself.
3. Study: I recommend checking out the National Speakers Association. I am a graduate of both their Professional Development programs for emerging speakers. You can subscribe to their Speaker Magazine for a great monthly update on the business. You can also follow other speakers via twitter, the blogosphere and tune into Ted Talks to see expertise in action on the platform. You can also tune in tonight on Learn it Live for the class from speaking pro Simon Bailey on How to Create a Successful 6 Figure Speaking Business. One hour with Simon will be invaluable for anyone who wants to know more about the art and science of professional speaking.
4. Invest: While the barrier to entry and fixed capital costs to start a speaking business are low the best professional speakers run it like any other business. That means establishing a budget and a business plan with specific and measurable objectives. That also means investment. Website. Video. Marketing. One of the best investments I’ve made is a professional coach.
5. Sell: You have to know how to sell yourself first before anyone else can succeed selling for you. We have scheduled selling time built into the calendar every week. There are wonderful 3rd party partnerships that can accelerate sales growth for a professional speaker, however, it takes time and patience to cultivate the right Bureau and Meeting Planner relationships. It also takes a demonstrated track record of success.
Speaking is competitive. It typically takes patience and persistence to push through and eventually get paid. It can also be very rewarding and worthwhile as a hobby, part time endeavor or full time career path depending on what is right for you.
Your experience is unique. Your expertise is valuable. Your ideas and insights are worthwhile and can most certainly have an impact. If you let them go.
Every opportunity to speak is an opportunity to make a difference.
That seems like work worth doing. I hope this helps.
Ryan Estis is a Keynote Speaker & Management Consultant blogging about business performance.