It’s long been said in the speaking profession that if you want to solidly establish your credibility as a professional speaker, you should write a book! In this business, having a book is like having an oversized business card; it tells others what you know and how good your information is, and it establishes your professional image. Once you have the book and have marketed it appropriately (and incessantly), you may be invited to do paid speaking engagements. But how does that happen? Here are three quick and easy tips to help you out.
1. Make sure your book and your topic are engaging
It’s great to have a story and expertise in an area—but make sure your content has value in the marketplace. I have met incredible storytellers over the course of my career, and many of them tried to make the transition to getting paid to speak. What they didn’t realize was that while their story was entertaining at a cocktail party, it didn’t translate to a presentation in front of a paying audience. When writing your book and your speech, ask yourself: Why would someone pay me for this information and these stories? Will it further their business, motivate their employees, or give them new and unique skills and techniques? And how can I customize it to speak specifically to this audience? The days of a one-size-fits-all speech are gone—those hiring speakers want you to tailor your expertise and information to their audience. If you don’t, they will likely move on to select someone else.
2. Speak, Speak, Speak
The best way to book more speeches is to . . . speak more often! When you are developing your message, and even once you have it refined, you need to practice, practice, practice. Do it in front of a live audience as often as you can, even if they aren’t paying you. You’ll learn something every single time you practice live, and if you can video record it you’ll learn even more when you go back and review the footage.
3. Free to Fee
You will likely have to speak for free quite a few times as you establish your credibility and following, but once you have your message refined, it’s time to find audiences that not only want to hear what you have to say but are also in a position to hire you to say it. Find Rotary Clubs, chambers of commerce, and other associations and volunteer to speak for them—you never know who will come up afterwards and ask what your fee is to make that same presentation to their company or group. At that point, you can negotiate based on the budget they have available until you establish demand for your speech and can attract higher-fee engagements.
Speaking is a business, and as any in other business it takes a lot of time and effort to establish yourself. Many get into speaking wanting to be an overnight success, but that rarely happens. Create your plan and work it—and I look forward to seeing you on the platform!