Four Steps to Becoming a Professional Speaker | African-American News and Black History

Business & Money -

Four Steps to Becoming a Professional Speaker

Business & Money -

Four Steps to Becoming a Professional Speaker

Yesterday on the Happy Black Woman Facebook community, someone asked me where I find my speaking engagements. (Speaking at conferences is a low-volume, high-price service that makes up the bulk of my income most months.) My response was that they find me! I’ve been speaking professionally since 2008 (when I got my first paid gig) and most of my clients just come to me through the various marketing channels I’ve cultivated over the years. Now I know that generic answer is not very helpful to you if you want to start getting paid as a speaker, so I’ll break down a few of the steps I think are important to the process.

Be Clear on Your Speaking Topic(s)

I know that many ladies here say they they want to be a “motivational speaker.” OK, that’s cool, but what, exactly, are you going to be talking about that will motivate people? What are your speaking topics and how will they benefit your audience? It helps to be able to share as much information as possible about your speaking content with event organizers who are considering whether to hire you. For example, in my work, I speak mainly about nonprofits, leadership, social media and personal development. I also give workshops and trainings based on my expertise, experience and education in those areas. I lay this all out prominently on the speaking page on my website. Speaking of websites…

Get a Professional-Looking Website

No, it doesn’t have to be expensive or fancy to be professional! Over the years, I’ve designed my blogs myself using Bluehost (affiliate link) and Studiopress themes (affiliate link) that allowed me to highlight my speaking services more prominently. My websites look professional and it tells conference organizers everything they need to know about me as a potential speaker for their event. This is why I really don’t understand why people balk at the thought of paying to host their blog or buy a premium theme, let alone hire a web designer. If your website can pull in paying clients every month, isn’t that worth it to you? It definitely has been for me! 

Refer to Yourself as a Speaker

On your website, social networks and business cards, be sure to state that you are a speaker. If you are currently a coach or author or health professional but you want to start getting speaking opportunities, it’s important to let people know that you are available for them! No one will know what you have to offer unless you tell them. Start referring to yourself as a speaker now, and the opportunities will begin to show up.

Offer to Speak for Free

My very first speaking engagement was as a panelist for an event discussing African American leadership in the nonprofit field. I looked at the current speaker list and realized that there were no young leaders slated to talk about our experiences. So I emailed the conference organizer with a link to my blog and my bio, we followed up with a phone conversation, and they added me to the panel. I prepared and overprepared and gave the best remarks I could. Then, people began to contact me for other speaking opportunities as a result of seeing me on that panel. And guess what? The second speaking engagement after that first one I did for free was actually PAID. So don’t wait for someone to ask you to participate in an event or conference; the first step may be you reaching out to them!

For more in-depth information and training on how much to charge for speaking, I recommend my full 3-hour online course, “How to Become a Professional Speaker: Earn a Great Income and Make a Big Impact Teaching and Inspiring Audiences from the Stage!”

How to Become a Professional Speaker: Earn a Great Income and Make a Big Impact Teaching and Inspiring Audiences from the Stage!

Have you been called to teach and inspire others? If so, this class will show you exactly how to become a professional speaker and get paid to share your message! This 3-hour, on-demand digital class comes with a webinar recording in video format, a convenient MP3 audio-only version and three BONUS speaking templates for you to model in your own business.


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