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Round Up: How To Break Into The Speaking Business!


Can you hear them clapping?

That’s right, thousands of people eagerly awaiting your next words, followed by tons of back of the room sales, people asking how they can hire your company and more speaking invitations rolling in. . .

But how much should you charge? How do you create a speaker website that gets you booked? How do you attract meeting planners?

Good questions. JenningsWire queried speakers and those who work with them on how to break into the speaking industry. The response was plentiful. So much so, that we have to break this article into a series. Your success as a speaker starts right now and this is Part One.

Please keep your eye on JenningsWire for the rest of the articles in the series or you can send an email to annie@anniejenningspr.com with ‘please send speaking articles’ in the subject line and we will let you know via email when the next article is posted.

What does it take to break into the speaking industry?  You are about to find out!

One successful speaker’s game plan, broken down, step-by-step

The following speaking tips are shared by Alona Banai, Director of Operations, CMI:  Our company’s CEO is starting to give workshops and talks at industry conferences related to creating performance oriented organizations and based on his book, Front Line Heroes: Battling the Business Tsunami with Performance Oriented Cultures. You can learn more about our company and Bruce’s speaking by visiting his speaking page. In order to prepare for all of this our company did the following:

1. Bruce hired a coach to give him some speaking tips. Marty Zitlin of Strategic Creative Communications:

2. Bruce hired another speaking coach, Susan Levin, Speaker Services to help us learn how to break into the speaking world and prepare necessary materials. She’s been extremely helpful.

3. We hired a Ken Hall, Story View LLC, to film and edit Bruce presenting at a conference. You can view the results of those films on our YouTube channel.

4. We updated our website to include a speaker’s page which lists the various speaking topics that Bruce presents as well as a link for meeting planners.

5. We created a Speaker One Page.

6. We emailed all our existing clients to get recommendations for industry meetings where Bruce could present.

7. We’ve been emailing and cold calling leads that come up in Google searches and Google alerts.

Success!  Bruce is already scheduled to speak at 2 conferences this year and potentially a third. Last year he had 4 speaking engagements. Speaking is only part of what our company does so that is very successful for us.

Speaking tips submitted by Alona Banaim, Director of Operations, CMI, Strategic Planning For Today’s Challenging Business Environment.  Read Bruce’s latest  and visit Bruce and Alona at CMITeamWork.com, LinkedIn, Facebook and on their Blog.

More tools of the trade

An emerging speaker needs the basics: a good speaker sheet including a photo, bio and topic outline. A one-pager is more than enough. It should include credentials and what the audience will get out of the talk. A speaker page on your website is also a must. Include photos or video clips from previous talks (if you’ve done them). If it’s your first time, you could do a mock one so it demonstrates your speaking ability. Someone can have an amazing resume but not be a good speaker. Second, a speaker needs to either be a good pitch man him/herself or hire an assistant to help seek out speaking opportunities and book them. After awhile, they start coming to you, but even still, keeping your name out there is important.

Speaking tips contributed by Malena Lott, author of fiction books, Dating da Vinci and Something New, and the non-fiction books, Dance Mom Survival Guide and The Little Brand That Could. Please visit Malena at MalenaLott.com, Twitter and Facebook.

This speaker started a podcast

I have a unique angle on this that has been of huge help to me, and this is without the intention of becoming the now sought after speaker I have become. Start a podcast! I am the Host and Founder of EntrepreneurOnFire, a top ranked business podcast, generating over 150,000 unique downloads every month in over 100 countries. I interview today’s most successful and inspirational Entrepreneurs 5-days a week, with a lineup including Seth Godin, Barbara Corcoran, Guy Kawasaki, Tim Ferriss, Gary Vaynerchuk and many, many more. Having my voice go out to such a massive audience every day reaches a lot of people who have proof that I can talk the talk, and it has resulted in incredible opportunities.

Speaking tip submitted by John Lee Dumas of  EntrepreneurOnFire.com. You can listen to John’s podcast, Entrepreneur On Fire on iTunes.

Get started at a Rotary Club

My book is The Gold Investor’s Handbook I have made a great number of presentations to Rotary groups. Each Rotary Club needs a speaker a week. You can google Rotary Clubs to gain the directory of local clubs. A large city may have a dozen different clubs to approach.

Speaking tip contributed by Jack A. Bass of JackBassSteam.com. Please visit Jack on Twitter.

The key to success is to set yourself apart from the others

Speaker tips submitted by author, speaker and filmmaker, Robin Jay: I am the founder and president of the Las Vegas Convention Speakers Bureau and I regularly hear from new speakers who are looking to break into the business. Most of them want to become professional speakers because they love speaking and they believe they can earn five figures doing what they love. Sure, it’s possible, but for most new speakers, speaking can become a very expensive hobby.

Set yourself apart from the others. Big time. They need to understand that this is a business, an industry. There are certain steps they must take if they are serious about succeeding. They need to ‘Set Themselves on Fire’ in order to distinguish themselves from the thousand or so other speakers who speak on their topic. This requires them to have a hot, best-selling book, appear in the latest movie, be selected to appear on television, and it also requires a powerful web presence. The five-figure speakers today have tremendous followings online.

Hire a successful speaker to show you how it’s done. My best advice for new speakers is to find someone who is doing what they want to do, at a level that they aspire to achieve. There are MANY speakers offering coaching or training, but they are not earning their living on the platform. When I attended the National Speakers Association national conference a few years ago, they announced that 95% of their members earn less than $50,000 each year from speaking. That ­ to me ­ is not a living! That means these speakers have to have other income-producing jobs.

Important tools to have. Speakers need to have an outstanding media kit (digital is fine), great video (not over-produced with booming voice overs and keywords flying across the screen, but rather a great video that shows them connecting with the audience immediately!), and great topics. They need to specialize­ and not try to be all things to all audiences.

Robin Jay is an author, speaker and a filmmaker. Robin has been on both sides of the fence. She has booked everyone from a local social media expert to NASA Astronaut, Captain Jim Lovell and everyone in between. Robin is the producer of the personal development movie, The Keeper of the Keys, that won the Las Vegas International Film Festival award for Best Independent Film. The movie starred Jack Canfield, Marci Shimoff & John Gray, PhD. Please connect with Robin at RobinJay.com, Las Vegas Convention Speaker’s Bureau and TheKeeperoftheKeys.com 

Speaker with 17 years of experience says to do this . . .

Ad Agency Executive and Conference Speaker since 1995, Eric Weaver, shares the following:

Set up a website. Google drives a majority of speaker searches these days, so being found is a key component to landing your first gigs. The site doesn’t have to be glitzy, it just has to provide clarity around who you are, what you speak on, and why hiring you would be a benefit to the organizer and the event attendees. Even if you are just getting started and can’t list any real events yet, being clear on what you are an expert on is key.

Post your speaking schedule. Post your future and previous event list, whether or not you were a keynote, to give event organizers an idea of the types of events you’ve done so they can determine if you’re a good fit.  Include the specific talks you give, who the typical attendees are, typical length, and what attendees will walk away with.

Sell those organizers! Write copy aimed at them, not at attendees.

Testimonials are golden. Even if you haven’t yet started, procure testimonials from others who believe in you as an expert in your particular subject area. Are people posting positive comments on Twitter during or after your presentation? Ask them if you can reuse their tweets on your website, and link back to the original tweet as validation.

Post videos. What’s your onstage demeanor? Do you seem friendly? Awkward? Knowledgeable? Do you put an audience to sleep or leave them feeling energized? All this can be told via a video of you speaking at an event, or, if you’re just getting started, speaking directly to the camera.

Leverage the right social channels. Having a speaking-focused presence on social channels is good, but not essential. If you are a working expert in a particular field, rather than a full-time speaker, be sure to edit your LinkedIn profile to note this, as LinkedIn drives 3x more potential leads far higher than Facebook or Twitter.

Dress for success. Living in dressed-down Seattle, I made the mistake once of showing up at an event with a jacket and jeans, no tie. Walked into a grocers’ conference to find that everyone was dressed far better than me. Dress your best for every event to avoid triggering social tripwires that might bring your credibility into question.

Work at landing gigs on a daily basis. If you’re serious about becoming successful as a speaker, and you don’t have a bureau looking out for potential work, spend a few minutes every day searching for Calls for Speakers that align with your knowledge area. The more you have under your belt, the more you’ll be considered for.

Know your topics inside and out. Many speakers worry about on-stage jitters or potential equipment failures. Schedules get changed, projectors fail, hecklers interrupt and awkward questions get asked. If you know your topic(s), none of these issues will bother you, because you’ll be able to share your knowledge and your passion around your subject matter expertise with your audience with ease. No question or tech failure will throw you off your game or be an on-stage nightmare. Know your stuff and the confidence will be there.

Create a one-sheet. Once you look interesting, organizers will often need to vet you with their management. Create a one-page PDF that includes a headshot, brief bio, speaking topics, list of previous events, testimonials and links back to your website and social presence. Post it on your website so that organizers can find it.

Be a great story-teller. We love to be entertained by a great storyteller. Inspire your audience with stories in which you (or others) have overcome a challenge that audiences might face. Make sure to share a personal experience that will make you seem human and someone they can relate to.

Eric Weaver is a social media marketing and social business expert with 22 years in the digital marketing business. Eric has been speaking at National Conferences for 17 years and his events include Consumer Electronics Show, Microsoft Social Media Conference, Digital Leaders UK, Innovation Dublin and Social India. You can connect with Eric at SocialMediaSpeaker.us, Linkedin

What are you going to talk about?

The following tips submitted by Jennifer Geronimo, of Life-Enlightenment.com, who has offered her services as a speaker manager for over 12 years:

Start by creating 3 speaking topics. If they are committed to being a public speaker I next have them hone in on their message if they have not done so already – we come up with 3 topics full of valuable content they can share with audiences and create a speaker one sheet to which they will use to market themselves.

Be sure your website is media planner friendly. We also at this point make sure their website is meeting planner friendly meaning it includes:  their speaker one sheet, testimonials, a video of them in action, a list of media they’ve done, a list of past speaking engagements and most importantly a well written bio.  Once all the marketing materials are in place the next step is to identify their target audience and then start pitching those organizations and groups.  When just starting out I advise clients to start with some local service clubs, meet ups, and organizations within your target markets so you can get some immediate exposure and testimonials.  From there, the sky is the limit.  There is a meeting and conference for just about everything these days and most invite speakers to present.  It takes some research to find them sometimes – there are lots of places that list events where speakers can find wonderful leads.

What is your speaking fee?

Jennifer Geronimo works with speakers at Life-Enlightenment.com continues to share her advice on how to set your speaking fees:

What’s their budget? I advise speakers to first try to find out what is in the meeting planner’s budget and decide from there if that works for them financially.  Most of meeting planners already know what they can pay a speaker and asking “what is your fee?” is a way for them to weed out those they can’t afford.  If they insist on a fee, I recommend quoting a fee range to limit the chance of over quoting or under quoting.  The fee range I quote is based on how far away the event is, how long my client will be speaking, how many people in the audience, if they are able to sell to the back or the room, etc.

Don’t put your fees on your website. Fees should never be posted on a speaker’s website (in my opinion).  For example if a meeting planner goes to your website and sees that for a 90 minute talk your fee is $3500 and they only have $2000 in their budget, they will not even contact you.  Most speakers I know would welcome the $2000 for a 90 minute talk but if you are advertising $3500, you will be missing out on other great opportunities.

Should new speakers speak for free? New speakers usually start out speaking for local service clubs, local business organizations, chamber events, etc that do not pay or just offer a small honorarium so that they can get exposure, speaking testimonials, and build a following.  I have found there are 3 levels of speakers in terms of payment – the newbies, those that speak professionally usually 4 – 6 times per month and make a decent income from that, and then there are the celebrity speakers that rarely make less than $15000 per speaking engagement.

Speaker tips submitted by Speaker Management Expert, Jennifer Geronimo.  Please visit Jennifer at Life-Enlightment.com

The resources used by a successful speaker

Social Marketing Specialist, Cheryl Lawson, CEO of Party Aficionado and Social Media Tulsa shares some of the ways to break into the speaking business that have been successful for her. Cheryl provides her list of favorites:

One of my favorite new websites to house my speaker profile (and to find speakers) is Speakerfile.

I have a specific page on my website for people interested in me as a party effecientato and a website exclusively for speaking gigs and requests. Having content on sites like Youtube and other social  networking sites help me provide examples and evidence of the type of work I do.

Speaker tips submitted by Social Marketing Specialist, Cheryl Lawson, CEO Party Aficionado, LLC  and Founder, Social Media Tulsa.  Please visit Cheryl at Google+

How this speaker achieved success in just one year . . .

Who is Aman Motwane? His team put him on the fast track to success. And here’s how he did it. The following tips are shared by Samantha of Aman’s company, Skills2.com.

Within a year of starting in the speaking business, Aman was being invited to do Keynotes at mid-sized Conferences and Featured Speaker at large conferences (15,000+ attendees). Aman typically sells 2 to 3 times more books than other speakers at the Conference. And other speakers often refer to his talk in their own talks. Many also refer to his book in their own talks. Which adds to the buzz and to the book sales.

Be fresh, be bold. The key, we found, is to be fresh and bold, to talk about things others aren’t talking about.  True, many conference planners are looking for the traditional stuff and don’t want to rock the boat with bold content. But those conferences rarely create much buzz. Which means your talk (and your speaking career) won’t have legs outside that conference.  Once you have identified a theme that’s truly fresh and bold, the hardest part is behind you. Make your theme the cornerstone of your web site, your proposal and your actual talk.

The teaser. We send a teaser email to conference planners, inviting them to view the web site and a demo.  When we hear back from them, we invite them to view all the recommendations on his LinkedIn profile. This process alone landed Aman in the top 10% most viewed of all LinkedIn profiles.  We’ve found it is key to keep the connection alive while they are deliberating through all their alternatives. So, we periodically send follow-up emails, adding tidbits of helpful information.

Create buzz. The acid test of whether your theme is fresh and bold is whether people buzz about your talk in the hallways after your talk is over, and whether people line up to buy your book.  Of course, don’t wait to find out after your talk whether you passed this test. Think things through thoroughly before you even make your proposal to make sure you’ll pass this test.  A note about evaluations: We’ve seen many speakers scrounge through their feedback evaluations looking for clues for upping their game. That’s too late. Your most important feedback is the buzz and book sales, during and after your talk. If you don’t have that, nothing else matters.   At Conferences, Aman’s book typically sells 2 to 3 times what other speakers sell even though the title of his book is seemingly unrelated to what he talks about.

Make friends with the meeting planners. One of the things Aman always endeavors to do is forge a connection with the event planners before his talk. That way, after his talk and after they’ve had a chance to experience the buzz and witness the book sales, he can approach them and ask them if it’s okay to use them as referrals.

Aman Motwane, author of Yes, You Can Change The World.  Aman speaks about taking business to the next level with leadership, engagement, innovation, performance, customer service and more, and getting ready for the fast-paced unpredictable world ahead.  Please visit Aman at Skills2.com and LinkedIn.

Want to breakthrough your fear of speaking?  Take a comedy class

Speaking in front of people can truly be terrifying. As you probably heard, Jerry Seinfeld said that people fear speaking more than death, so he said they would rather be in the casket than giving the eulogy. It truly is terrifying.

As I mentioned, my Intel job involved speaking with the CEO on stage at events around the world, and the technical part was easy but the speaking was terrifying. I realized I had to do something. First, I joined the Intel Toastmasters club, but the problem with that was that I was only speaking in front of 10 or 12 computer geeks like myself. It wasn’t good enough to simulate speaking in front of a large audience.

There’s an old quote (Mark Twain I think), do what you fear, and the death of fear is certain, or something like that. I completely agree. I realized that the only thing that could possibly be more terrifying than speaking on stage was speaking on stage and trying to get a laugh. There was a comedy class being offered in San Francisco, so I decided to take it.

Let me tell you, there’s nothing on earth more terrifying than trying to do comedy, and I can guarantee you that doing so will cure anyone of the fear of speaking very quickly. The best place to take a comedy class is at your local comedy club – and if you’re in a big city, more than likely there are comedy classes that are not affiliated with clubs as well. In New York and Los Angeles, there are probably five or 10 comedy schools in each city, and there are more scattered around the country.

Click here to see President Barack Obama call Dan “Hilarious”.  See Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak and Mayor Mike Bloomberg comment on Dan’s comedy. Watch Dan perform for 4000 people, introduced by Tim Conway.  This YouTube clip just surpassed 1,300,000 views!  Check out Dan’s Apple commercial with Justin Long and John Hodgman.

Speaking tips submitted by Dan Nainan, Comedian, Actor, Voiceover Artist and Computer Expert.  Dan is the author of the new book, The Best Book On How To Become A Full-time Stand-up Comedian. Please visit Dan at Nainan.com, Facebook and Twitter.

But what if you think you have too many competitors? And it all just seems too hard

Note From Annie, Creator of JenningsWire: 

Never look back. Once you have what you feel is a winning strategy, stay totally focused and work your strategy every day. My secret? Here’s how I accomplish a tremendous amount of forward moving work. At the end of the day, when I have done all I can, I do FIVE MORE THINGS that I would not have done otherwise. It’s these five things that set the stage for your stunningly fast advancement. How do we know it works? Take a second to look up at the top of this page. You’re reading JenningsWire: The World Of Success, right? Well, lots of our progress is due to this method as otherwise there are simply not enough hours in the day! Try it and watch your world of success happen.

How To Break Into The Speaking Business, Part One is written by Annie Jennings, Creator of JenningsWire.

Just Posted!  Round Up: How To Break Into The Speaking Business, Part Two


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