How to Become a Motivational Speaker: The Complete Step By Step Guide

I hope you’re serious about this…

Because this post isn’t a “hack.”

And it’s not a “cheat sheet.”

I’m about to tell you everything I know about how to become a motivational speaker.

I’ve been booking, marketing, and coaching speakers since 2005. In that time, I’ve learned what works and what doesn’t.

What you’re about to learn won’t make you a six-figure motivational speaker overnight…

But if you’re serious about this, it can shorten your learning curve and give you an in-depth roadmap you can start following today to build momentum.

If you’re considering becoming a motivational speaker, you might have questions like…

  • “Where do I start to become a speaker?”
  • “How much money can I make from speaking?”
  • “How do I get booked to speak?”
  • “What do speakers do when they aren’t speaking?”

…and if you stick with me, I’ll give you the answers.

Table of Contents

  1. 3 Things You HAVE to Know Before Getting Started as a Speaker
  2. How to Start Your Career as a Motivational Speaker
  3. 5 Key Elements You Need to Be a Successful Motivational Speaker
  4. How to Get Booked
  5. How to Build Your Platform

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3 Things You HAVE to Know Before Getting Started as a Speaker

1. What Is a Motivational Speaker? (The True Definition)

I hope this doesn’t seem harsh:

But if you’re going to break into this field—

Don’t call yourself a “motivational speaker.”

That phrase is old and outdated. It’s still used, but there are two problems with it:

  1. It’s not completely accurate
  2. It often has a negative connotation

If you want to avoid people rolling their eyes at you, use any of these terms instead:

  • Inspirational speaker
  • Trainer
  • Keynote Speaker
  • Professional Speaker

I prefer “Professional Speaker.” It literally means you are paid to speak. That’s what you want, right?

Quick caveat:

Don’t say you’re a Keynote Speaker or a Professional Speaker if you have never given a keynote speech or if you have never been paid to speak.

People will see through that, and they won’t appreciate the dishonesty.

If you haven’t built up your speaking career yet, favor terms like Inspirational Speaker or Trainer.

2. The “Speaking Circuit” Is a Lie

If you hear any of these…

  • “I want to join the speaking/lecture circuit.”
  • “I can help you get on the speaking/lecture circuit.”

…RUN.

There is not a place for you to join a circuit…

There is not an application or a membership…

And there is nothing you sign up for that will guarantee paid speaking engagements.

People who are paid to speak have worked hard to get to that point. You will need to do the same.

3. Building a Motivational Speaking Career Takes Time

Becoming a speaker is not simple or fast.

If that’s what you want — look elsewhere.

But, with the right attitude and the information I’m about to share…

You can shorten the amount of time it takes and increase your odds of success.

How to Start Your Career as a Motivational Speaker: 5 Crucial Questions to Answer

How to Become an Inspirational Speaker

1. What is your expertise or specialty?

To find out, ask yourself these questions:

  • “What topic do I want to share with others?”
  • “Why do I care about that topic?”
  • “What am I knowledgeable about that others aren’t?”
  • “What makes my expertise different or better than someone else in the same field?”
  • “Based on my answers above, if I had to give a speech today, what would it be titled?”

2. What is your experience in that field?

Expertise is necessary to make it as a professional speaker. But it doesn’t make you unique.

The journey you took to arrive at your expertise is what makes you unique.

Think about it:

That’s why former athletes, politicians, and addicts can share the stage.

Their messages might be similar—

But their stories are unique.

So what is your experience?

What is your story?

What have you gone through in your personal or professional life that made you an expert on your topic?

And (this one is important) —

Why is it something others would spend their time and money to hear?

3. Who is your target audience?

“Everyone” doesn’t count. 🙂

Start with one target audience member. Picture them.

How old are they?

What is their job?

What’s missing in their life right now?

Why do they need to hear your message?

Once you’ve answered those questions, broaden things out a bit.

What companies or organizations are full of that type of person?

Does your message fit a sales staff, a group of teachers, C-level executives, or non-profit volunteers?

Who needs your message most today?

This isn’t just a hypothetical activity.

Getting this right can separate you from a lot of wannabe speakers out there who have a message “everyone” needs to hear.

People who hire speakers aren’t looking for generalists. They’re much more likely to go with a specialist.

Think about it.

If you’re in charge of planning an event for surgeons — who would you hire?

A motivational speaker who has spoken at dozens of surgeons’ conferences?

Or a motivational speaker who has spoken at a few schools, a few companies, and a few random conferences?

You’d go with the specialist — because you want to give your attendees the most valuable experience possible.

Many people avoid this step. They’re afraid of limiting their ability to speak to large numbers of people.

They’re wrong.

In fact, the opposite is true.

If you are reading this and thinking…

“My message fits everyone so I don’t need to pick an audience.”

…you are going to have a difficult time trying to become a successful speaker.

Understand this:

Choosing your target audience right now does NOT prevent you from changing that audience or adding to it in the future.

And not choosing a target audience actually makes you less likely to get booked. (People are looking for specialists — not generalists. Remember that.)

Start with the audience that can benefit most from your message.

4. Where is your audience hurting?

This is the fun part.

If that sounds weird, stick with me and I’ll explain.

This is the part where you actually get to help people!

Remember that audience member you thought about in Step #3?

Let’s call him Steve.

Steve is hurting. He might not be aware of it, but there is something in his life that is actively hurting him mentally, spiritually, or emotionally…

And you can help him.

You can show Steve how to fix his problem.

Let’s say Steve is an insurance salesman — but lately, his sales have been dropping and he’s not sure why.

That’s stressful for him.

His oldest son, Bobby, is about to go to college, and Steve wants to be able to pay for it, so Bobby doesn’t have to go into debt.

But to do that, Steve is going to have to nearly double his sales numbers this year.

Lucky for Steve, you have some specific strategies and mindset tactics that can help him do just that.

THIS is why speaking is important.

If you can give Steve the help he needs to put his son through college — you have solved his pain and improved his life forever.

Focus on that.

How is your target audience hurting? And how can you help them?

Be specific.

5. How is your delivery compelling and unique?

There are a lot of terrible speakers out there…

And I don’t want you to be one of them.

So, here’s what I want you to do:

Think of yourself as a performer who wants people to hire you to play at their venue…

Because that’s what speaking is.

Done right, it’s honest, vulnerable, and motivational. But make no mistake—

It is a performance. And to be a great speaker, you must perform well.

One of the most important parts of putting on a good performance is understanding what makes you unique.

In other words:

Your strengths and weaknesses.

Here’s a simple — but not easy — way to figure out what they are, so you can double down on your strengths (and improve your weaknesses):

Get in front of any group who will let you speak.

Practice immediately and as often as you can. Record yourself, and listen to/watch each presentation three times.

This is tough and often painful, but you must know what your audience is experiencing so you can make improvements.

Ask for feedback.

Determine how you can deliver your message in a compelling way.

Are you a terrific storyteller?

Are you funny?

Do you light up when you are on stage and captivate everyone in the room?

Is your content outstanding to the point where people will stay engaged for an hour while you deliver the message?

How is your delivery going to captivate the audience to the point where people will pay you to speak over and over?

Why should they hire your act over the thousands of other available options?

What separates your show from the others?

It’s okay if you can’t answer these right now. But your goal is to be able to answer all of them confidently.

So now, you know how to hone your craft. You know exactly what you need to do to become a good professional speaker. But there’s something we haven’t talked about yet…

How do you actually get PAID to speak?

Becoming a professional speaker is about so much more than just being a good speaker.

You have to know how to “play the game.”

Because if you don’t, you’re less likely to…

  • Get noticed
  • Get booked
  • Get paid
  • Increase your fees
  • Negotiate contracts
  • Avoid potential disasters

We’re about to dive into all that.

But first, a warning:

This is NOT easy. It is a grind. And you will have to work hard to become a successful speaker.

But if you’re not afraid of hard work…

If you’re willing to treat this like a real business (because it is — if done right)…

If I haven’t scared you off yet…

Let’s continue.

Oh, and recognize this:

You are building the foundation right now. You can do this. But it won’t happen overnight…

Instead, it will likely take years.

Can you handle that?

What you do now will help. But there are no shortcuts. Don’t skip these steps.

Still with me? Let’s keep rolling.

Need help building your personal brand? Click here to get a copy of our ultimate guide that reveals secrets we’ve used to grow the brands of New York Times Bestsellers.

5 Key Elements You Need to Succeed as an Inspirational Speaker

5 Key Elements You Need to Succeed as an Inspirational Speaker

1. “You’re a natural!” (…or you can fake it)

If you’re extroverted, professional speaking might feel natural to you.

And even if you’re introverted — you’re not doomed. But there are 2 things you need to do:

  1. Recognize your natural tendencies
  2. Become excellent at “faking it” and becoming an extrovert on stage

I’ve worked with dozen of introverted speakers who can do this.

They’re natural introverts, but they have an on-stage persona they can tap into and deliver their message.

Why would they do that?

They’re eager to share their message and help others. And they know presenting an extroverted version of themselves will help do that.

But one thing is true whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert —

You must become comfortable on-stage.

If you’re not, an audience can feel it. And they might not listen to you.

So, there’s one word I challenge you to embrace:

Practice.

The more often you get on-stage, the more comfortable you will become with it.

This is actually what separates many master speakers from the amateurs or wannabes.

The masters either have extensive experience or they are willing to consistently practice —

Even when it’s uncomfortable.

2. Authenticity

Think about it:

When you see a politician, boss, or church leader that sounds fake — almost robotic — what’s your reaction?

You probably walked away thinking:

“I don’t believe a single word he said.”

There’s a reason for that.

Humans are wired to connect with other humans. It’s hard for us to connect with robots.

So, speakers who come across that way make us feel empty and uneasy. We say things like:

“There was just something off about him. It was hard to pay attention.”

And that’s the LAST thing you want as a speaker.

Thankfully, there’s an incredibly simple way to overcome this. People can tell when you’re being genuine.

Don’t try to fake it.

When you’re on stage, talk about things you actually believe in.

And let your passion come through loud and clear.

3. Relatable

Jerry Jenkins is one of the bestselling authors of all time. But he’s also a writing coach.

Many of his students write in the inspirational market. And if you write for that market, there’s a fatal flaw you want to avoid at all costs:

Being “preachy.”

Authors in this market want to help people — much like you do.

But sometimes, they make a mistake when they try to do that.

Instead of guiding readers to a lesson…

They beat them over the head with it. They come across as all-knowing, “holier-than-thou.”

To combat this, Jerry recommends a simple solution.

It’s called The Come Alongside Method.

Rather than preaching from the mountaintop, authors come down and join readers on their path.

Using their own experiences, authors show readers the way, rather than telling them.

Here’s why this works:

We want to learn from someone who is relatable —

Someone who is willing to share their stories with us, but doesn’t make us feel bad about ourselves for needing their help.

Here’s how you can take advantage of this when you’re developing your speech. Ask yourself:

“If I was attending this presentation, what would I want to hear from the speaker? What would help me the most?”

Your experience and your expertise gets you onto the stage. But your relatability gets you into people’s hearts.

4. Awareness

A lot of speakers overlook this — but it’s very simple.

Know your room.

I’m not talking about “reading the room” during your talk to see how people are responding (although that is important).

What I’m talking about now is knowing exactly who is in your audience before you even step foot into the building.

This can give you what you need to turn a good speech into a great one.

To find out exactly who’s in your audience, just ask the right questions before the event:

Who is going to be in the audience?

Is it all executives?

Or is it every employee in the company?

Has the company experienced any major changes lately?

What’s the overall tone of the industry in which the company operates?

Why are you being brought in to give this talk?

What is the organizer of the event hoping you can provide?

Are there any topics you should avoid?

How many people will be in the room?

What’s the age range of the audience?

Is there any other demographic information you should know?

The more you know, the better.

Remember — you are talking to real people with real problems.

And the more you know about those people, the better you will be able to give them the help they need…

Which leads me to my next point.

5. Flexibility

This is where the magic happens.

This is where you take the foundation of your speech and turn it into a custom-tailored talk.

This is how you solve the specific problems of your specific audience.

And here’s how you do it:

Take what you learned about your audience in #4, and weave that knowledge throughout your presentation where it makes sense.

If you have a part about perseverance, and you know the company has just gone through hard times —

Think about how your message applies to their specific situation, and tailor your talk to give them the help they need.

But be careful. It’s easy to overdo this part.

Don’t try to be an expert on an industry you don’t know.

If it feels like you’re reaching to make a point — don’t.

Your presentation should be flexible, not fake.

How to Get Booked as a Speaker

Before we move on, I want you to notice something all 5 elements above:

They’re simple.

You don’t need to do any complex calculations or be a mind reader.

All you have to do is put in the work.

Dedicate the time and effort to perfecting those 5 elements and you’ll become a much better speaker.

Now, onto the big question:

How do you get booked for a speaking engagement?

If you’re looking for guarantees, I can’t give you that.

But, I can tell you the next best thing —

How to position yourself as a professional and increase your chances of getting booked.

Titles and Descriptions

By this point, you should know:

  • Your area of expertise
  • How you’ll use your experience to show that expertise
  • A title/theme for your presentation

Now, you need a summary — an elevator pitch.

Imagine you’re in an elevator with someone you admire.

If this person saw your speech, and liked it, everything would change for you…

Doors would open that you didn’t even know existed…

But the elevator is moving fast.

And if you can’t convince this person to watch you — you might never see them again.

What do you tell them?

Why should they watch you speak?

Don’t talk about how hard you’ve worked or how special it is to you. I’m sorry, but that’s not your best angle.

Instead, pretend they’ve asked you this question:

“What’s in it for me?”

What benefit is the listener going to get from your speech?

What will you give them that they didn’t have when they walked in the room?

How will their life be changed?

Be specific. This is your sales copy.

Show it proudly on your website. Have it memorized like the back of your hand. It should become second nature.

Make it concise and clear.

Here are some great examples from one of the best out there, Mel Robbins.

Video Samples

As soon as possible, put a video of you speaking on-stage on your site. (You can include up to 3.)

Include the best material you have.

Because you only have a few seconds to capture someone’s attention. Event planners review a lot of speakers, so don’t keep your best stuff secret…

Lead with it!

People want to know who you are as a speaker. If they can see evidence that…

  1. You have done this before
  2. You are skilled

…they’re more likely to hire you.

A warning:

Do NOT create a fake event and film it just to get a video.

I’ve seen several speakers hire someone to film them in an empty room or a video studio and try to recreate their presentation like they’re in front of a live audience…

But it’s obvious the room is empty.

Potential clients can tell if a video is staged, so don’t even try.

In fact, this goes directly against one of the key elements you need as a speaker:

Authenticity.

A Quick Note on Preparation

When you get booked, there are certain things you’ll want to know.

Here’s a list of questions you should ask your client before you ever step on stage. This isn’t exhaustive, but it’s a good start. Add to it as necessary.

  • What is your desired outcome for this event?
  • Does the event have a theme?
  • Is this a recurring event? If so, how often does it happen?
  • Have you had an outside speaker before? If so, who was it?
  • What is the dress code for this event?
  • What time will the presentation start and when does it need to conclude?
  • Is there anything else I should know about your group before the event?

How to Build Your Platform as a Speaker

Platform Building for a Speaker

Need help building your personal brand? Click here to get a copy of our ultimate guide that reveals secrets we’ve used to grow the brands of New York Times Bestsellers.

If you want to get hired as a speaker in today’s market, there are 2 things that will drastically increase your chances.

In fact, if you don’t have these things, I’d say the odds of you getting booked are low.

Very low.

1. Clarity on your personal brand.

If you’re a speaker, you’re also a personal brand.

And personal brands need an online presence to get attention in today’s market.

If you’re not sure what that means, here’s an illustration:

For just a second, let’s pretend your name is Jillian Wallace.

At home, you might be Jillian Wallace — wife, mother, and ultimate board game champion…

But on-stage, you’re Jillian Wallace — confident, vulnerable, and courageous storyteller.

The first description is who you are as a person.

The second description is who you are as a personal brand.

Your personal brand is the side of yourself you show to the world. It’s the side of you that people hire to get on-stage.

If you’re not sure who you are as a personal brand, here are a couple questions to get you started:

  • What makes you unique?
  • What can you give people that no one else (or very few people) can?
  • When you’re on stage, what do you do differently than everyone else?
  • What’s your message? And how is that different from what other people are saying?

Think about these. Expand on them.

As you do, you’ll get more clarity on your personal brand.

2. An online platform.

A lot of connections happen online these days.

And if potential clients can’t find you there, you’re destroying your chances of getting booked.

So, if you want to get hired as a speaker, you need an online presence —

A platform.

That’s the place online where others can experience who you are, learn from you, and engage with you.

Often, this is a website, blog, or social media channel.

You don’t need to be everywhere, but you do need to be somewhere.

Carve out your place online. Make it “home.” And make sure that, when others come there, they know exactly who you are and what you’re about.

Questions to consider as you build your platform

1. Do you have a website?

If done right, your website can act as a 24/7 “salesman” for your speaking career.

It can provide valuable information about your skills to potential clients — even if you have no idea they’re looking!

A great website doesn’t guarantee you’ll get booked, but not having a great website guarantees you’ll miss out on opportunities.

If you don’t have a website, you can start here to create one.

But if you already have a website, make sure it includes these things:

    • A crystal-clear definition of the value you provide to others. Jerry Jenkins’ headline “Let me help you write your book” is a great example of this. Show your value immediately, and people will want to know more.
    • A biography. Who are you? And why is your story relevant to readers/listeners?
  • A current, high resolution photo
  • A speaking tab or an obvious place someone can click to learn more about your speaking services. As an example, Michael Hyatt has a terrific speaking page.
  • A place for people to connect with you. Often, this is a social media platform, but use whatever works for you. Just give visitors a clear way to engage with you.

2. How do you communicate with your following?

Do you write blog posts?

Do you send email newsletters out?

Do you create new podcasts or videos?

Do you engage with people on social platforms?

There’s no wrong answer here, but there must be an answer.

As you build a platform, it’s essential to communicate with your audience. That’s how a brand (remember, the brand is YOU) grows and becomes more valuable and more profitable.

You don’t have to be on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram and Snapchat and LinkedIn or write a new blog post, release a new podcast, and record a new video every week—

I’m out of breath just reading that.

Don’t try to do a little bit of everything. It’s terrible for your brand and your audience. I repeat:

Don’t try to do a little bit of everything.

Pick one social platform you enjoy and engage with people there.

Or consistently put out a podcast or email newsletter. See how people respond.

Notice, I said consistent not constant.

You don’t have to write a new blog post several times per week or even once per week if it doesn’t work for you.

What you do have to do is pick a content delivery schedule and stick with it.

People need to know what to expect from you. And they need to know you’ll do what you say.

Pick a schedule that works for you. Stay consistent for at least 3-6 months. Then re-evaluate to see if you need to adjust.

3. How do you get booked to speak?

If you want to get booked to speak, you have an amazing resource at your disposal right this second…

It’s not a speakers bureau or a booking agent. Sorry.

It’s actually better than a bureau for your career today.

It’s you.

You know you best. You know your expertise and experience. You know your target audience. You know your connections.

Speakers Bureaus are great.

I was a VP at one of the largest, most profitable bureaus in the country for over 5 years. I still have a great relationship with them.

They are the best at what they do. Their agents are great at helping clients find the best speaker for their event.

But that’s not what YOU need right now.

And frankly, you are not what the bureau needs right now either. Let me explain.

A bureau is a business just like you. They want to make money.

They do that by pairing the best, most in-demand speakers with their massive list of corporations and organizations who host events regularly.

If you aren’t currently an in-demand speaker, a bureau isn’t going to work with you.

At least not now. And that’s okay.

Because, right now, you can make incredible progress without their help…

And, once you become an in-demand speaker, you can consider working with a bureau.

But right now, start by utilizing your existing network of connections.

Who do you know that is already a professional speaker?

Who do you know that is a decision maker for a company or organization that regularly hosts events?

What company in your city do you know that has a need you can address through your speaking?

Who can you help?

Start with those questions.

If you have trouble answering them — or finding people who fit those descriptions — keep thinking.

Ask friends. Reach out to people and ask for help or introductions. If you really want to pursue this path, it’s worth having a few potentially awkward or random conversations.

Once you’ve identified those people—

Talk to them. Tell them who you are, what you’re doing, and how you might be able to help them.

But there’s an important caveat. And if you get this wrong, you’ll end most of these relationships before they even get started.

It’s simple, but often overlooked.

Develop a connection before you ask for anything.

I’m going to say that again, because I can’t emphasize it enough.

Develop a connection before you ask for anything.

Look, these people are humans too. And more than likely, they actually want to help you.

But you have to give them a reason.

Unless you already know them well, you can’t start your conversation with:

“Hey, can you help me get booked for speaking engagements?”

Not only will they ignore you…

They’ll categorize you as a newbie, somebody who just doesn’t “get it,” or worse —

Someone who’s trying to use them to get ahead.

So, before you try to get something from these people, develop a genuine human connection with them.

Show them you’re a normal, socially-aware person. That you’re not just trying to use them to get what you want.

That you’re someone who actually deserves their help.

4. How do you get paid to speak?

Getting paid to speak is different than getting booked to speak.

Your local rotary might book you to speak but odds are they won’t pay you anything other than a cup of Folgers.

So how do you actually make money from speaking?

Deliver TREMENDOUS value.

If you can do that, you can get hired.

Here are some examples of speakers who can (and do) deliver tremendous value to listeners:

If you are able to help a company or group of people overcome a challenge they have…

You can get paid to speak.

I could give you more thoughts to consider, but I’ll defer to the great work of Grant Baldwin at The Speaker Lab.

Grant has helped countless speakers get started. And he’s someone any aspiring speaker should follow.

5. How much can you make by being a speaker?

I’ve worked with speakers who had fees ranging from $500 to over $1M per event.

Yes, you read that correctly…

$1M or more for one appearance or speech.

You know this already, but I have to say it anyway—

Those numbers are not normal.

I won’t say names, but you can make a logical guess about the type of person who could demand seven figures for an hour of their time.

But if paychecks like that are what motivate you to become a speaker, please stop now.

If you’re not a former president or someone of a similar stature, here’s the truth:

You won’t make a full-time income from speaking any time soon.

You can reach that point eventually. But it will likely take several years to get there. Like any other business, you have to build your speaking business over time. If you want to earn as much as a pro, you have to become a pro.

So, let’s talk about reality for a new professional speaker.

If you are just beginning and you’ve never been paid to speak—

Start by quoting $1,000 per speech.

Set a benchmark, like 10 bookings at $1,000 in one year. And if you hit that benchmark, raise the fee.

But do NOT raise your fee immediately after one booking for $1,000. Let the market validate your price before you change it.

If it takes awhile to get booked at $1,000 — or if you don’t get booked at that price at all…

Consider taking a lower fee several times before you go back to quoting $1,000. Find the price point that allows you to build momentum.

The harsh truth is:

If you can’t get traction at any price point — the problem isn’t the price. The problem is you are not conveying enough value to potential clients.

So, if you’re in that situation, start back at square one.

Evaluate your expertise, experience, and target audience. Re-work your content to be more engaging and helpful for that audience. And think about hiring a coach to help you find out what’s missing.

Every situation is different. And there isn’t a set formula for you to follow regarding fee, but there’s one rule you can always follow:

It’s easier to increase your fee than decrease it.

Don’t set your fee too high, realize it’s not going to work, then go back to your potential clients and tell them you have a much lower fee now.

That won’t look good. And it probably won’t get you booked.

That means…

Don’t increase your fee too quickly.

As you become more experienced and your demand increases, you can gradually increase your fee over time.

And when I say “increase your fee over time…”

I mean over several years.

If you’re in high-demand and can’t keep up with the speaking offers, consider raising your fee (likely by a notable amount).

If you’re steadily receiving offers, but there’s no growth or great demand, you could consider a small fee increase and see how the market responds.

But if you’re not getting a regular stream of inquiries or offers at your current fee…

Raising your price isn’t going to fix the problem.

Want more help in this area?

I’m happy to do a 1-hour coaching call with you to map out the best strategy for your speaking fees.

Questions you should be ready to answer

1. How many speeches have you given in your lifetime so far?

There’s no wrong answer here, but your response will give potential clients an idea of your experience level.

And, if you’re just getting started in speaking—

It’s all the more reason to practice.

The higher your answer to this question, the more qualified you are in your client’s eyes.

As an added benefit:

If you are just starting out, practicing will reveal your strengths and weaknesses.

You’ll quickly identify the areas you need to improve.

If you’ve done some speaking but not much, practicing will improve your skills and give you more insight into what works with an audience and what doesn’t.

Every major comedian tries out their material in smaller clubs before they take it on tour or put it on TV.

Treat your content like a professional.

Test it. Then test it again. Use what works, and tweak or remove what doesn’t.

If you’re not already making over six-figures per year from speaking…

You are not beyond this level.

Keep practicing.

2. How many speeches have you given in the last year?

Again, no wrong answer here, but your answer will determine your next step.

If you’ve spoken 25 times in the last 12-months…

You’re doing great. Keep up the pace. And think about ways to reach your next goals (more events, higher fee, different type of audience, etc.).

If you’ve spoken once in the last 12-months…

That’s okay. But you need to get out there more. Get in front of people and speak.

Like, now.

There are way too many groups who would consider your services if you offered them for free or cheap…

Chambers of Commerce, churches, schools, and so on.

If you have value to offer, you can find an audience willing to let you speak.

Note: Earlier, I said the 3rd thing you needed to know before becoming a speaker was your target audience. I also said that “everyone” doesn’t count as a target audience.

That’s still true.

However, your goal here is to practice. And when you’re practicing, “everyone” is an appropriate target audience.

Just make sure your speech is tailored to a specific audience, not “everyone.”

3. What type of group do you speak in front of most often?

Have a GREAT answer for this question, especially if a speakers bureau is asking you.

A booking agent needs to know what you’re best at in order to sell you to their clients.

What group responds to your message the best?

What group resonates with your story more than others?

That’s usually the type of audience you should be in front of most often.

4. How long is your presentation?

Can it be shortened or lengthened at all? If so, by how much?

Can you speak for a full hour?

And can you speak effectively if you only have 25 minutes?

Pay attention to how long your audiences stay engaged in your speech — and how long you feel comfortable speaking.

The best speakers I’ve worked with know their exact sweet spot down to the minute.

They will tell their clients something like:

“I believe I can deliver the most value if you give me 75-minutes on stage, but I’m happy to accommodate whatever time you have available in your schedule.”

Doesn’t that sound good?

Most of their clients will give them the 75-minutes or close to it.

But you have to know what YOUR best number is. And then you have to make sure you deliver in that timeframe.

Clients usually get irritated when an outside speaker comes to an event and derails the agenda…

Don’t be that speaker!

5. What was your best speaking engagement? Why?

This question lets you brag on the perfect scenario for your speaking services.

What’s the best audience you’ve been in front of? And why was it so great?

What did you say that made it memorable for you and impactful for them?

If you could create the optimal event for yourself as a speaker…

What would it look like?

If you can answer these questions in your own mind, it can help when you’re talking to a potential client and when you want to find more of those perfect audiences in the future.

6. What was your worst speaking engagement? Why?

This one requires you to be a little more self-aware.

You need to know — and acknowledge — that you are not the perfect fit for every event.

Your target audience can’t be “everyone,” remember?

So if that’s true (and it is!), what’s the event from your past that was not good?

Why didn’t it work? What went wrong?

What can you do to make sure that outcome never happens again?

And what can you do to make sure you never put yourself in that situation again?

The ONE Thing You Need to Know About Becoming a Professional Speaker

So, that’s it.

That’s my best advice to help YOU become a professional speaker.

Look closely, and you’ll notice something.

While there are certain “rules to the game,” there’s one thing that is the glue holding everything together:

Hard work.

That’s really how you become a professional speaker.

Think about it—

Being a professional speaker looks pretty easy, doesn’t it? All you have to do is get on-stage and talk for a bit.

That’s what it seems like from the outside, at least. But that’s not the whole truth.

The truth is that it’s an incredibly demanding profession.

To become a professional speaker, you’ll have to put in countless hours of hard work, get on-stage even when you don’t feel like it, and have the courage and perseverance to continually put yourself in uncomfortable situations.

It might look easy on the surface. But it takes a lot of effort to make it look so effortless.

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