By doug SteVenSon, CSP
Do you want to be a pro- fessional speaker? Do you have something to say and want to get paid to
say it? I know the feeling. You see yourself standing in front of hundreds or
thousands of people, telling your stories and making your points. You have a
dream to make a difference and make a
living at the same time.
Maybe you’ve seen professional
speakers at meetings and conferences and
thought to yourself, “I could do that.”
And you’re probably right! You
could give a good speech. So, what do
professional speakers know that you
don’t know? What do they do that you
don’t do . . . yet?
One thing you may not know is how
the speaking business works. You see,
anyone can give a speech. That’s only
one piece of the puzzle. It’s the business
part that stops most speakers from
going all the way.
Here are the five pillars of the professional speaking business. When you
have all five working for you, you’ll
start making a living while you’re making a difference.
Your speech, stories, ideas and intellectual property are products that associations, corporations and government
agencies buy. They buy them in the
form of keynote speeches, breakout sessions, training, coaching and consulting
(as well as books and audio and online
programs). If you don’t have a well-developed product, you won’t get paid
a premium price. Are you a Chevy or a
BMW? How brilliantly developed is
When you understand that what you
say and how you say it is a product—a
commodity to be packaged, marketed
and sold—you will begin to take your
stories and speeches more seriously. You
will spend more time on research and
development. You will invest time and
resources to improve the product you
intend to sell.
Often, the biggest challenge people
face in making the transition to professional speaking is the ability to market
and sell themselves and their product.
If you don’t believe you and your
speech are worth a substantial fee, you
won’t get paid to speak.
How you show up in front of an audience is your presentation. It’s not just a
speech; it’s a show. It’s a seamless and
brilliant combination of content and connection, entertainment and education,
presentation and participation. The best
and most successful speakers are funny,
serious and smart. They have it all.
If your presentation consists of
standing still while giving your speech
and clicking through dense and boring
PowerPoint® slides, you will probably
fail to make the cut from free to fee.
Everyone has content. Everyone thinks
they’re unique. And everyone has stories. It’s how you present it all that
makes the difference.
Study the “greats” in the speaking
business. Watch their videos on
You Tube. Then, get to work polishing
your presentation. Learn how to tell
your stories in a more compelling way.
Get a humor coach. Organize your content into a methodology or system.
Learn how to design more visually
engaging and dynamic PowerPoint®
slides. Take your presentation to the