There are different ways you can cash in on what you already know.
You can write a book or create an information product…
You can coach people or become a consultant. Or…
You can make money from speaking!
Speaking is not only highly financially rewarding, it’s personally fulfilling as well.
What’s not to love?
As a professional speaker you get up in front of a group of people who are interested in what you have to say.
Then you spend 30-60 minutes sharing a message you believe in.
You go to bed that night knowing you’ve changes some lives. Not one or two… but an entire room full of lives.
And for all that “work” you get paid handsomely.
Most of the speakers I know make $5,000-$10,000 per gig.
With top speakers commanding $25,000 (or more) for a single talk!
If you think you’d like to get paid to speak – or you’re already a speaker but want to earn more, here’s how…
1. Understand who pays for speakers
Every day thousands of organizations around the world hold gatherings that include paid speakers brought in to educate and motivate their audiences.
Where you speak depends a lot of your topic and message. Options include:
- Corporations (home office/field offices/company-sponsored destination meetings)
- Colleges and universities (students/faculty/staff/alumni)
- Association meetings (local, state, regional, national chapters)
- Civic groups (Lion’s Club, Zonta, etc.)
- Charitable organizations that raise funds for a particular cause (disabled vets, cancer research, etc.)
- Non-profits (YMCA/YCWA, animal shelters, etc.)
- Entrepreneur conferences and other events (government-sponsored, corporate-sponsored, hosted by other entrepreneurs or companies that serve this market)
- Conferences (association, industry, or theme-related)
Again depending on your topic some of these options will be a better fit than others.
Because of my topic I’ve been invited to speak at all of them.
In the last few months alone I’ve landed gigs to speak to audiences at such diverse organizations as…
- Romance Writers of America
- Northwest Mutual Insurance
- Meharry Medical College
- Newfoundland/Labrador Women Entrepreneurs Conference
- California Girls State (started by the American Legion to bring together 300 top high school juniors for a week to hold mock elections to learn how government works)
- MIT (my 6th time)
- And Facebook
Here’s a few pictures I took along the way…
Keep in mind I have no expertise in technology, romance writing, life insurance, medicine, law firms, or government…
I’ve also spoken to visiting nurses, district attorneys, engineers, lawyers, opticians, jewelers, librarians, and administrative assistants. And I have zero experience in these areas either.
What I do have is a topic that cuts across industries and occupations. For me, it’s something called the impostor syndrome.
Fundamentally, I speak about confidence.
About what to do when you hear that nagging voice that says, “I’m in over my head and they’re going to find out I have no idea what I’m doing.”
The point is, audiences that consist mainly of nurses or accountants or acupuncturists or business owners still need speakers who can talk about topics like…
- Work-life balance
- Career management
- Finding the humor in life
- Creativity and innovation
- Time management
- Customer service
- Financial literacy/money angst
- Social media do’s and don’ts
- How to be a better leader
- Millennials in the workplace
- Stress management
And on and on…
My focus is on “unjobbing.”
Yet last year I was paid to speak to 200 librarians on how to think more creatively on the job.
Then there’s Marla Cilley, AKA The Fly Lady.
Marla is an organizing guru with a huge following. Every day tens of thousands of people follow her decluttering and cleaning advice.
As it turns out Marla is also a very popular speaker on the thriving home schooling conference circuit! Who knew!
Most speaking engagements are planned months and sometimes a year or more ahead.
If you already know where you want to speak, start doing your homework now so you can get on the agenda in 2017.
But before you pitch your topic you need to first nail this next step:
2. Know your “POV”
Being a great speaker is only one part of the paid-to-speak equation.
I always knew I was a decent speaker.
But today I know I could hold my own on a TED stage. (Something I wouldn’t have said just a few years ago.)
The difference is that today I know that to be an amazing speaker you need to have a strong opinion.
In other words, no matter what your subject is, you need to bring to it a clear and compelling point of view –POV for short.
Your POV is what sets you apart from all the other people who speak on your same topic.
There are lots of people who speak on how to raise healthy happy children or how caretakers can avoid burn out or how eating the right food can reduce inflammation.
Lots of people who speak on how to be an effective leader or how to overcome adversity.
So how is your message different?
If you’re not sure, imagine you’re a part of a panel brought in to discuss your general topic.
How would your solutions or approach be different from the other panelists?
How do you look at the topic slightly differently than others?
What kinds of things do other experts recommend that you strongly disagree with?
Obviously there are other people who talk about impostor syndrome.
One is a well-known psychologist with a big bestselling book that contains a chapter on impostor syndrome.
I agree with most of what she says. But I disagree strongly on her proposed solution to just talking about your impostor feelings.
The logic is the more you talk about something, the less powerful the feelings become.
I do agree that giving voice to anything that evokes shame is an important first step.
But I am emphatic in telling my audiences that contrary to what some experts tell you, you can’t share your way out of impostor feelings.
From there I back up my POV with scientific evidence and then proceed to share the three things that do work.
Your POV is also what makes you stand out with the media.
I’ve been interviewed on numerous radio shows on the topic of career change.
Other career experts tend to talk about things like how to use social media to get a job, how to nail the interview, or doing informational interviews of people doing the job you covet.
Useful information… but hardly unique.
Then I come on and say things like…
“The problem is we’ve become a nation of occupational sheep passively waiting for someone to give us job. No one ever taught us how to make our own job!”
Or when they ask me about the key to my success I say things like…
“I think it’s because I don’t spend a lot of time in the real world.”
(A statement I quickly follow up with the fabulous quote from Will Smith who said, “Being realistic is the most commonly traveled road to mediocrity.”)
Do you think having a unique POV might set me apart from other career experts?
Do you see how having a unique POV would capture the attention of my host and more importantly, their listeners?
The bottom line: The more you can get your audience to think, the more successful a speaker you’ll be.
3. Start where you are
If you know you need to work on your platform skills, join your local chapter of Toastmaster International.
If you need to polish your talk, then focus on that.
Just don’t do it by sitting at home endlessly tweaking it.
Instead get as much practice and feedback as you can.
Volunteer to speak anywhere and everywhere you can. Speak to informal gatherings in church/synagogue/mosque basements.
Speak to PTA groups or Meet Up groups or to local business owners.
When I started out I did tons of talks for free.
Trust me, no one at a conference or meeting knows whether you’re being paid or not.
Not only will you continue to grow as a speaker, but your next paying gig could very well come from someone in your audience.
4. Decide on your business model
The speaking business is just that… a business.
And there are three ways you can make money speaking:
- Speak for a fee/keynoter
- Speak for free and sell products or services from the stage
- A combination (after my friend Barbara Winter speaks, she cheerily informs her audience that she’s brought along some books and “the store is open!”
I’m definitely a keynote speaker.
The person who has played a crucial role in accelerated my speaking business is six-time (count ‘em) New York Times bestselling author Larry Winget.
Larry is the one who taught me about the need to not only have a strong POV, but also not to minimize it by saying things, like… “I think…” or “In my opinion…”
(If Larry were here he’d tell you that we know you thought it because you’re saying it!)
I am tremendously fortunate to make good money speaking.
But my fees are nowhere close to the $25,000 Larry commands for a one-hour talk.
You always want to be learning from people who are where you want to be. For me, Larry was – and to this day continues to be – that person.
The other person who has taught me a lot is my former business coach and friend Suzanne Evans.
Not long ago Suzanne was a gloried administrative assistant job struggling to pay the bills. Today she runs a 7-figure coaching business that’s made it onto the Inc. 500 list three times.
Unlike Larry and me, Suzanne rarely gets paid to speak.
Instead Suzanne uses speaking as a way to introduce audiences to her products and services and then offers them the opportunity to work with her.
For the record, anyone can sell from the stage without sounding “salesy.” Well-respected experts like Barbara Sher and Barbara Winter do it all the time.
The key is to deliver good content.
Are you a coach? Share your best advice and end by offering a free strategy session.
Are you a dog trainer? Talk about the biggest three mistakes people make with a new puppy and then offer a discount to anyone who signs up for your next class.
Speak on nutrition? Give great information then follow your talk with a book signing.
Leading a retreat in Belize for people who want to find their calling? Talk about the importance of slowing down long enough to hear your inner calling and then do a drawing for a free spot at your retreat.
Are you getting the idea?
So yes, both Suzanne and Larry have hugely successful businesses.
As importantly, speaking is what allowed them to also create amazing lives.
Every year Suzanne takes a group of people to South Africa to coach economically disadvantaged business owners for free.
And I have often donated my time to speak at organizations that support a worthy cause. It’s an amazing feeling to know that your words can make a difference in more ways than one.
5. Get and stay in the game: The Big Shift
Even seasoned speakers need to constantly improve.
I hate watching videos of myself on stage. But if you’re striving for continuous improvement, as painful as it is… the camera doesn’t lie.
Like anything else, getting good – and staying good – takes concerted effort.
Over the two decades as a part-time speaker, I estimate I’ve addressed over 80,000 people. As impressive as that sounds I wasn’t exactly breaking the bank.
Then three years ago I experienced a huge shift in my speaking business.
Instead of getting 7 or 8 speaking gigs year, I started booking 20+.
And for the first time ever, my speaking income began to consistently hit the six-figure mark.
I’m not telling you this to impress you.
I’m telling you this partly because a lot of people sell themselves and what they have to offer short.
Far too many of us – and women especially – undervalue ourselves and the message we have to share with the world.
And everyone loses when bright people play small.
The other reason I’m talking about money is because I want you to know that for some of you, speaking is by far your fastest path to cash – and to freedom.
For me the big shift began three years ago when I attended a speaking boot camp taught by Larry and Suzanne.
Again, using two very different models, they’ve both managed to create immensely successful businesses built on speaking.
The shift came when I applied three simple principles I learned from Larry and Suzanne.
To make it as a speaker you need to first get good, then get known, then you get paid. In that order.
I’ve grown enormously in all three areas. And so can you.
Last year a gaming enthusiastic and maker named Stephan was there.
Stephan was not a professional speaker when he arrived at the boot camp. In fact, he clearly struggled to find his voice.
But he was determined to use speaking as a platform to spread the message that games can be both fun and educational. So he kept at it.
This week Stephan is speaking in Japan.
And if he can do it… so can you.
Be My Guest at the “Build Your Speaking Business Boot Camp”
Like I said, my booking increased just in the last three years.
That’s why November 17-19 I’ll be back to Atlanta to attend the “Speaking Business Boot Camp.”
This is my third boot camp. I’m going back because it’s just that good.
Like I said, you always want to learn from people who are where you want to be.
Which is why I’m super excited that they’re adding several other $25,000+ a day speakers to the faculty.
I’d love for you to join me in Atlanta.
I have the opportunity to bring 10 guests with me. And I hope you’ll be one.
Not only will you learn a ton, but I’m also going to organize a little meet-up of everyone who joins me.
That way you’ll walk in already armed with a mighty support group!
How to take advantage of your complimentary “Friend of Valerie’s” guest pass
Step 1: Read all about the event here.
If you want to take advantage of the opportunity to be one of my 10 guests, DON’T REGISTER.
Why? Because as my guest, you won’t pay $297.
Instead you’ll receive a separate complimentary event ticket.
That’s where step 2 comes in…
Step 2: Send an email with the subject line “Speaker Boot Camp” to Valerie (at) changingcourse.com with your first and last name, primary email address, and best phone number to reach you.
Obviously they need to know how many people to expect. So all us (including me) need to put down a small deposit – but you get it back in full as soon as you arrive.
And if you’re looking for a hotel mate, let me know and I’ll try to match you up.
Step 3: Look for an email from either me or the event organizers at SuzanneEvans.org who will contact you directly to redeem your “Friend of Valerie’s” Free Guest Pass.”
The truth is: You have a message to share that the world needs to hear.
And you really can get paid to share what you already know.
Whether you want to be a well-paid keynoter like I am… or you want to use speaking as a means to grow your business…
I absolutely credit the 3-step get good~get known~get paid I learned at the Speaking Business Boot camp with making 2016 my BIGGEST speaking year ever.
And if you can’t go? Follow the advice I just gave you and never, ever give up!