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Top Ten List For Becoming A Speaker

1. Be Prepared!

The number one reason why people get nervous is that they don’t feel prepared. It is important to practice your speech over and over and over in the mirror and on tape so you can feel comfortable that your message will be strong.  Fear is minimized by visiting the location of your speech in advance, meeting some of the people in advance if possible and dress for success!  If all else fails, use deep breathing exercises before you go on stage to remain calm.

2. Know your subject well and have facts to support your opinion.

You will have left brained and right brained people in your audience. Some people respond best to facts and figures and some of them will respond best to stories.  But your story will be unique and it is important that you pay attention to getting the facts straight and list your resources.  People will remember how they FELT in your presence.. and not all of the facts and figures you’ll toss out. But, it’s important to show your expertise along with being a great story teller.

3. Be a great storyteller!

Not only must you have great facts to back up your speech or training, but make it personal by adding stories that are fun, interesting and have a point. Make the stories short enough to keep peoples attention and if you can be dramatic during your presentation.. even BETTER!  Be willing to BE YOURSELF and incorporate aspects of your life that are unique.. if you ride a motorcycle, or have a child, add it! These are ways to make people feel closer to you as a person.

4. Have Strong marketing tools!

Speakers traditionally have a one sheet that is a glossy printed sheet of a short bio, references, their picture or pictures, and the topics they can discuss. Speakers also must have a well written bio, topic sheets, any press that you have had on you, articles that you’ve written or have been written about you, and as many references as you can get on letterhead if possible.  If you have out of date reference letters, white out the date and copy the letter and send it. If you have a book, you can include it but it’s not necessary.   The video is perhaps the most important and should be between 5-10 min. of you speaking in front of a live audience.

5. Have a marketing & PR plan in place.

These expert plans continue to evolve because of social media but it starts with a Website and free downloadables so people will sign up for your newsletters.  Workshops and teleconferences are done to spread the word, and network with other speakers to mutually support one another.  Spending time getting your name out to the media is a very worthwhile thing to do and ALWAYS mention that you are available to speak and your website by referring to it during your interview.  You can offer some sort of free list or information if people go to your website. People always like to get stuff for free!

6. Be willing to be flexible and tailor presentations.

Many organizations are going to want a tailored presentation. They might have a need for a keynote and a seminar and if you can offer both, you might get the business over someone who can’t. Also, if you offer a 3 day workshop, the corporation might only have 1 day available for you to work, so if you can also offer a shortened version, you’ll be seen as flexible. Many speakers work with the meeting planners or agents in advance to get as much information as possible about the group or industry.  This shows you’ve done your homework and aren’t just showing up.

7Assess your audience in advance.

Organizations are made up of many different skills and skill level. Education backgrounds vary according to industry or job title.  Be aware of the group that you are talking to so you won’t speak over their head, or quite frankly, below it. Audiences are smart and you really can’t ‘wing it’ much any more. While they might be polite to your face, they WILL tell your agent or spread the word and not have you back.  Stay away from sexual jokes, political talk, religious references and knocking an industry or company if they are down on their luck. It is best to only speak positive about others because you are ON STAGE and people ARE WATCHING.

8. Speak for free!

When you are first starting your speaking business, do whatever you can including speaking for free, workshops, training, keynotes, coaching and consulting. You never know when opportunities will arise and most speakers do a combination of all of the above in their business until they are well known and profitable.

9. Create a Call to action

This way people will continue to engage with you!!!  This needs to be a VERY creative idea that will make people have an emotional response!

10. Be a social entrepreneur

Be involved with a cause or charity and well versed in it so people understand you give back. This will enhance your personal brand!

11. Meet as many agents and bureaus as possible.

If you are working with several agents, you are more than likely to get more bookings. Agents are people and like working with individuals who are professional, trained, and successful. It makes them look good. Agents usually get 20-30% commission on top of your fee, and they earn every penny. They are on the phone and marketing full time and developing the relationships that you need in order to be booked at associations, corporations and colleges.  You can meet them either by visiting them in your city, by finding them on line, by going to national conferences such as the National Speaker Association conferences (www.nsaspeaker.org)

12. Show me the Money!

Back of the room sales can more than pay for your honorarium if you can arrange it. Speakers sell books, DVDs, video tapes, Paid subscriptions to YOU TUBE channels or websites,  workbooks and collaborate with other speakers on projects to sell them jointly. These are always available on the websites as well. The most common advice is “do products before you think you are ready”. You can always upgrade and you should continue to upgrade!


Mary Gardner is a contributing blogger for JenningsWire.