Expert Advice: Becoming a Well-Paid Professional Speaker


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Expert advice: becoming a well-paid professional speaker

Public speaking can turn anyone’s knees to jelly and set their heart racing. And yet hundreds have overcome that uncertainty to live their dreams as well-paid professional speakers, traveling the world to inspire and educate others on their craft. Motivational speakers are revered for their strong presence, having voices that can fill an auditorium, and their unyielding optimism in the face of what thousands of their listeners believe to be a skill too intimidating to attempt.

If you want to become a professional motivational speaker, you’ll need to do more than give yourself a pep talk in the mirror. Here, we discuss how to bolster your chances of success and kickstart your career by doing the preparation work necessary before you can become a professional public speaker.

Overcoming the hurdles to professional speaking

You’re almost ready to start speaking, but you’re still lacking confidence. Every professional speaker has been in the same boat, and they’ve overcome their initial reservations using the following three tips and tricks:

Practice makes perfect

This is especially true in public speaking. You shouldn’t shoehorn yourself into positions to speak at all occasions, but you can offer to give a speech at a friend’s wedding, for charity events, or your child’s school. Ask for feedback, too. When addressing children, just bear in mind that they can be brutally honest.

Offer to speak for free

Giving your services for free while establishing your name not only gives you practice, it can add much-needed credence to your professional speaking career. For some, you’ll begin as a familiar face and voice, which can boost attendance, bookings, and sales.

Focus on your audience

Project your message to your audience using personable language, asking about experiences with your topic, and empathising with sharers. Bring your audience into the conversation so you’re talking with them, not at them. Make a connection and nurture it; you’ll soon develop a following.

Conceptualisation: Create your brand

Much like any business, you need to be recognisable in your field, and that means you want to have a brand you can stick to and speak about. Your subject matter should be something you’re passionate about, can relate to, and possess a deep understanding of, but should be presentable in the medium you choose. Let’s break it down into four, bite-size chunks:

Know your message

What do you want to tell the world? Are you focused on environmental issues or political injustice? Perhaps you’re hoping to promote self-love and self-improvement? It can be whatever you choose, but once decided you should stick to it. People are more likely to want to hear you speak if they know what they’re signing up for.

Know your market

Once you have a topic, you need to decide who your target audience is. Are you aiming for a select niche of individuals, or trying to engage a wider audience? Who do you want to fill auditorium seats or view your video online? Is your topic and angle unique, relevant to, and easy to represent to your audience? All of these points will make your voice unique and enjoyable.

Choose your medium wisely

The traditional view of a professional speaker is someone standing in a large concert hall, projecting to hundreds if not thousands of listeners live from the stage. This can be daunting even to Hollywood stars, but not to worry, modern technology has the answer — upload your speech to YouTube or host a livestream. There, the audience can grow far larger than that in an auditorium without the pressure of all those faces staring at you. Choose the medium you find most appealing, to boost your confidence.

Choose your methodology

Motivational speaking can take a variety of forms. Traditional keynote speakers would have an hour or so of planned speech, while more modern lifestyle and career speakers can be seen to contain their presentations to fifteen, twenty, or maybe thirty minute videos. Are you comfortable talking for an hour? Or would shorter, deep dives into topics fit your character better? In as much as you have control over speech times, these are important questions to ask yourself before deciding on your plan.

Creation: final tips for success

Professional speaking is based on character, meaning you need to be relatable and interesting while also turning a profit. Here are a few tips on cultivating success in professional speaking:

Charge what you’re worth

As your popularity grows, don’t be afraid to increase prices for your speech, and always charge more when travel is required.

Be active on social media

An easy way to stay in touch with clients, social media allows you to respond to queries in real time on the go or at home, advertise booked venues and dates, sell extra tickets, and thank existing customers.

Film everything

After a live show or stream, having footage of your speech to share through your social media accounts, offer for purchase, or upload for free to media sharing sites is almost free publicity. You can use short clips if you want to keep your talks exclusive to paying customers, or upload the whole thing for exposure. It’s up to you.

About the author:

Kendra Beckley is a business development manager and editor at She helps companies enter a new market and build long-term relationships with partners. She is also interested in writing articles on various topics.


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