Some of us fear public speaking more than death! I was in that group at one time in my life – until I stepped up and made the decision that teaching, training and inspiring was my mission. I knew I HAD to become a better speaker if I wanted to share my words with the world. The road was not always easy, and at times, I wanted to quit. But I took the tips below and followed each of them, and it worked. Today, I make my living as a coach, speaker and sales trainer. My goal today is to share my journey in moving from a free or ‘volunteer’ speaker to a fee paid professional speaker. These are 12 tips and lessons learned about how to move from a free to a fee speaker, from my personal journey.
P-PICK A LANE-WHAT IS YOUR TOPIC? What is YOUR mission in the world? Who is your audience? Lessons, Wounds, Wisdom…. Niches lead to riches. I recently heard that ‘to be specific is terrific.’
R-REVIEW YOUR PLAN-CREATE A BUSINESS PLAN. Are you looking at a speaking career as a hobby or a profession? Like any business, speaking is a business that involves the following plan: Sales, Marketing, Financial Goals, Legal. What is your plan, and what goals are you setting for yourself in each area?
O-OBJECT, SHINY OBJECTS-AVOID THEM! Sadly, like many other businesses in this world, there are snake oil salesman that prey on aspiring speakers. If you hear an offer that you can ‘make millions as a speaker in 1 course or workshop,’ or if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. I have personally made the mistake of investing in courses that didn’t deliver promises. I learned – and invite you to do this: get references, talk to friends, speaker peers, and ask them about courses or offers before you spend your hard earned dollars on them!
F-FREE OR FEE? I once heard ‘get to places with butts in seats!’ This means get practice, exposure, and if you speak for free to get started, there may be 1 person in the audience who could hire you or refer you to a paid speaking engagement – it has happened to me! If you are just getting started, you can check local chamber of commerce groups, Lions, Kiwanis, Toastmasters, local conventions, non for profit groups, the list goes on.
E-EDUCATE YOURSELF ON THE BUSINESS OF SPEAKING-NSA SPEAKERS ACADEMY. Learnt the business of speaking. I was a 2 time student of NSA (National Speakers Association Speakers Academy). I have also served as a Dean of Speakers Academy 4 times. Each time, I learn something new. Dont try to learn the business on your own. Go to www.nsaspeaker.org to see if there is a Speakers Academy or NSA chapter near you.
S-STAND OUT! DEVELOP YOUR BRAND-ONE SHEET, BOOK, PRODUCTS, BLOG-SOCIAL MEDIA. Your image is everything in public speaking. People will watch you whether you are on stage, ZOOM, or off stage. Watch the shadow you cast (watch politics, controversial posts)-establish yourself as the expert in your area of expertise. Be unique, be different.
S-SELL-LEARN TO SELL YOURSELF AND WHAT YOU HAVE TO OFFER. If you don’t know how to sell, read my book
“From Zero to Sales Hero-How to double your income in less than 90 days!” Focus on activity you are doing every day to move your business. You can go to a speaker bureau/agent (they can get you gigs, but you give them a %).
I-INVEST IN YOURSELF, INVEST IN HELP-DONT WAIT TO BE MAKING BIG MONEY BEFORE YOU HIRE HELP! Self-development, workshops, Toastmasters, books, seminars, masterminds, accountability coaching/partnerships are great ways to build your self and speaker confidence.
O-OPEN TO FEEDBACK-EVALUATIONS-PAPER, SURVEY MONKEY. Feedback is a gift. Every time I speak, I get feedback/surveys and I also ask myself, ‘what went great that I can repeat? And What didn’t go great and what would I do different next time?’
N-NEVER STOP PRACTICING YOUR SPEAKING AND TOASTMASTERS PARTICIPATION! I have been a member of Toastmasters for over 12 years now. Once I started getting paid to speak, I thought I was getting ‘practice’ speaking. I forgot about Toastmasters, I returned with a speech full of “ums and uhhs.” It was a reminder to me that to be the best, we must constantly practice our craft of speaking!
A-ATTITUDE, ACCOUNTABILITY, ACTIVITY-Do you have a daily ritual? I do a morning mindset ritual every day, for 1 hour before my full day starts. Don’t blame or be a victim-this can be a very lonely business – you get out of it what you put into it. Stay connected-get an accountability buddy, coach, mastermind to keep you to your goals. Remember, activity = results: the numbers do not lie! Are you setting daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly activity goals?
L-LEARN FROM LEARNABLE MOMENTS! Excellence is a journey, not a destination! Every time I speak I ask “what worked, what didn’t work, what will I do next time?” Be a constant learner, the learning never ends. Attend NSA monthly meetings, Toastmasters, speaking and presentation skills excel the more we invest our time in it.
The road to being a professional speaker or trainer is a journey. Just like excellence, it is not a destination! In my experience, it is worth the ride, and I haven’t found a profession more personally fulfilling than the business of speaking!
Amy Lemire, DTM