11 Proven Steps To Become A Professional PAID Speaker

Stocksy_txpa0403b37QMc200_Small_2979560You absolutely show up in rooms differently when you are getting paid what you are worth to be there. We seem to know this when we are working for a company or running our businesses. However, when it comes down to being on a stage we get loss in the sauce.

With thought leadership becoming such a hot thing right now, getting on a stage just to share your thoughts, is a missed opportunity for everyone. I believe startup founders and creatives especially should be speaking more, and most importantly start asking to be paid for their expertise!
Over the years I have been invited to speak on some of the worlds largest and most respected stages to speak for a number of reasons, to launch and grow a movement around tech inclusion, train on personal branding and overcoming imposture syndrome, to talk about entrepreneurship or to educate or sell something.  Most people accept invitations, get on stage and don’t have a strategy…and that’s cute but I want you to think bigger🤗

I created this article to share with you some tips and tools to help you launch or grow your speaking business/platform or side business.
1. First what does getting paid to speak mean for you?

  1. As a startup founder you can use speaking honorariums to raise money for your startup or for your salary and also get new users.
  2. As a author, promote your book, sell more books and get paid.
  3. As a podcaster, charge for your live taping on stage.
  4. As a non-profit, don’t just get on stage to evangelize for your movement, raise money for your salary or your cause.
  5. As an executive for a company, position yourself for an internal or external power move, and use your speaker honorariums to give yourself a raise or build a platform as a thought leader to gain more respect and help you climb the corporate ladder!
  6. If you are jumping ship from cubicle nation, turn in your pink slip, package your leadership or technical skills that you learned at that job and charge to speak at conferences.
  7. As a consultant or coach use speaking in front of new audiences to grow your coaching or consulting practice.

I want you to get paid for your time and expertise. Especially if you have a message that add’s value….

Your personally leaving money, and business opportunities on the table but most importantly you are not serving the audience in the right way. I’m going to say it again…You show up in rooms differently when you are getting paid what you are worth to be there.

2. Begin with a signature talk

Many people believe they can talk about anything, and you are probably right but picking one topic that showcases your zone of genius, and most importantly adds value to your audience is the first step. Avoid ambiguous topics or topics that are too extensive to cover. Instead, settle for topics that are well-detailed and focused. Such topics allow you to easily discuss your experience with others and increase your chances of getting hired. For instance, go for a topic like “How To Convince Industries To Hire You As An junior developer” instead of “How To Secure Job Opportunities As a recent college grad.” Or How to Increase Profits by Becoming more Customer Centric instead of “How to get more customers”

3. Determine your best delivery style and length. 

How do you best deliver your message? A quick Tedx 5-15 minute talk with an idea worth sharing, a 30 minute talk, 45 minute and  hour-long talk. Or are you more of a workshop presenter than a keynote speaker? Remember as a paid professional speaker you have options. Others include, delivering an in-depth master class, being a facilitator, 1/2 day workshop, full day workshops, multi-day and even working as a Host/MC. 

4. You need a press kit + a Sizzle video

It is common for companies and organizations to seek more information about your keynote or training. So, you should be concise about who you are and your offers but also paint the picture for what its like to work with you. And there is no better way of putting this together than to create a sizzle video and one-pager on your topic.

If  you don’t have a quick video to showcase your speaking ability and how you command a room. STOP here and create one. When I first started speaking, over 10 years ago, you could kinda get away with just a press kit, but these days you need to show video proof of your skills. Hire a freelancer to cut your clips together in a way that puts your best foot forward and shows organizations how you will rock the stage.

The ideal format for your one pager is shown below;

  • Identify the keywords that are linked with your training style, and make them the first word(s) of your one-pager. This will easily capture the attention of your reader.
  • Social proof is important, use logo’s from past events and companies, conferences and organizations that you have spoken at, to quickly show that you have receipts (aka proof of your awesomeness)! 
  • Describe your training in two paragraphs at most. If possible, introduce each point in different bullet points.
  • Experience counts a lot here. Add a testimonial that shows how your training has helped your past employers, conference attendees or events. So, be clear about your previous involvement and the results you have achieved. 
  • Show your Receipts! Remember receipts are proof of purchase, proof that you’ve done the work! This comprises the logos, names, and other important details of the people you have collaborated with on the same or similar topic in the past.  
  • Lastly, add your contact information or the contact info for whoever is handling your bookings. Do not list your rates, encourage them to get in touch for a quote. Your goal is to get them on the phone!

 5. Create an outline for your website

Start by securing your domain if you don’t already have one and then draw a personalized vision for what you want it to say about you. Alternatively, you can modify an already existing model to suit your preferences I really like squarespace.com for speaker websites. For best results, ensure that you include theses four essentials in your outline:

  1. Create a place where visitors who visit your website can join your mailing list by adding their name and email. This information is what you use to build your list. 
  2. Ensure that they get some freebies or incentives for dropping their names and email in those spaces you have created.
  3. Include a short biography about yourself to tell people more about yourself and what you do.
  4. Put up something for sale. There is no way to make money without selling something. Some great ideas of products to sell via your website include information products, books, coaching courses, speeches, or seminars. This is really important for after your speaking engagements. Remember once you get off the stage people want to take a piece of you home with them, they can’t take you of course, so they will try to find some other way to continue to learn from you or share you with others. Don’t miss this opportunity by not having something for them.

Dedicated tools for website building include WordPress and Squarespace, although you can decide to DIY or outsource it to a freelance website designer.

6. No Hotmail/AOL/Gmail…get a professional email

To reach your potential clients,  you need a personalized and professional email address for this. 1and1, Godaddy.com and WordPress and others offers this, and with a few clicks, you can buy a unique domain and email address for yourself. You could have something like contact@janedoe.com, jane@hourlythoughts.com, or info@hourlythoughts.com. Your choice will depend on your preferences, although anything other than a Gmail or Yahoo account will work just fine.

7. Build your prospecting list

You need to start reaching out to people that know you and have events that they plan or have influence over as a first step. Then you will need to build your cold prospecting list. Unless you are worldwide and on a first name basis like Beyonce, you can’t avoid the cold calls and emails!  Here are the three lists to create at this stage:

  • The first list will consist of the names and details of past and/or current customers, colleagues, bosses, and clients who would be happy to recommend you based on your previous performance. Some of their testimonials can come in the one-pager you created in Step (3) above.
  • The second list will consist of past and/or current customers, colleagues, bosses, and clients that would be willing to bring you to offer individual coaching or group training, or a keynote. 
  • Cold list, you can find leads from doing “Call for Speaker” searches on Twitter and Google and start compiling a list to reach out to.
  • The other idea is getting on the “scraps list” of your friends that are paid speakers, I should come up with a better name then scraps, but the easiest way to put it, speakers that are charging a certain rate, are often turning down engagements that don’t fit the bill, and its worth its weight in gold for them to say, “hey this gig is not a good fit for me, but I know someone who would be great.” In exchange offer them a little finders fee, this could open up the flood gates for you if you have the right topic and connects. 

8. Get your ‘ish together make CRM software your BFF.

CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management software, and as a speaker this is a service that aids list building. With this in place, you can automatically build your list by collating the names and emails submitted by the visitors to your website or people you engage at networking events. Ensure that you take this stage seriously, considering that you will meet a lot of people as a newbie, and strategically capturing their details would be a plus. This also positions you for even bigger business prospects in the future, but most importantly be able to track what stage you are in the relationships and deliverables. 

9. You need printed promo materials and swag

You already know what a business card does. However, ensure that your business card, rack cards, and brochures reflect the design of your website and your brand messaging. It is essential to be consistent with your branding, so make sure to get it right. My personal favorite is Moo.com

10. Get on the phone!

When someone is interested in having you speak at their event, at some point they are going to want to get on the phone with you. This is not necessarily a sales call, you want to be prepared to go over the anatomy of your talk, expectations and get a better understanding of what success means to them. 

You may even get asked to give us a sample of your talk. During this meeting, ensure that you are at your best. Your main goal in such meetings is to show your potential client their biggest challenge and show them how you can help them get over it. Note that your solution, in this case, is your speech or training. 

By showcasing  your value through this, you increase your chances among other speakers who offer no value or solution. Let your potential customers understand why and how you are the solution to their frustration and your readiness to get things working for them as soon as they bring you on board. Another hack here is to always conclude the call on a high note, and try to keep the calls to less then 20-30 minutes. Your only business is to convince them that you have more to offer apart from what they have gotten from the complimentary call. 

The most important aspect of the call is what I teach my students in the No Introduction Required Mastermind, is you should use these calls to introduce ways that you can work together on the other side of your successful speech. Do you offer consulting, a course, an accelerator, a program, a product etc? Then start talking about what you can do together to keep the momentum going for event attendees. 

11. Stop trading time for dollars

As mentioned earlier, there is no real money without a product. Becoming a professional speaker means you want to earn good money from your craft…As you should!

So, how do you go about turning your skill or knowledge into cash? Start by collating all the most frequently asked questions by audiences after each of your speeches. Once you have a decent amount of data, analyze it, and come up with detailed answers to these questions. However, such answers should come in the form of an informational product.  And nowadays there are so may platforms that make it so easy.

  • You could record your talk and turn it into an audio course that people pay for. 
  • You could produce a follow on course 
  • An Ebook
  • A Podcast
  • Journal 
  • Consulting/Coaching Program/Mastermind
  • Masterclass
  • Corporate Coaching Program
  • Product

For instance, it is typical for audiences in different engagements to show interest in knowing how to become a professional speaker. This means you would offer them some useful information and tips that will help them as much as possible to become better speakers. Now, how about you turn this information and tips into a more streamlined note or collection of tips and sell it? You can sell a finished product for say, $99, and people can conveniently buy it. After all, buying such a piece of information is easier and more convenient than trying to set up a one-on-one meeting with you. 

And there you have them; the eleven proven steps to start your speaking career as a novice. As mentioned earlier, these steps do not have to end when your platform launches, they really can’t because you need to have a system in place that continues to bring in leads and helps you secure more and more bookings.  Happy Pitching!

PS: Whenever you’re ready, here are two ways I can help you grow this year

Take my free Masterclass PIVOT PITCH PAID to learn 7 ways to find leads and paid opportunities in  this new normal to deliver your message as a solutions driven communicator. CLICK HERE

Work with me!
If you’d like to work with me directly to build your speaking platform in the innovation economy… just click here and put “Private” in the subject line. Tell me a little about yourself and what you’d like to work on together, and I’ll get you all the details!


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