Not everyone can succeed as a Professional Speaker!
Do you have what it takes?
Do you want to be a professional speaker, but you're not sure if you've got "the right stuff"?
This quick 10-question assessment (no cost, no registration, "no nuttin' ") will give you an idea whether or not you've got what it takes to make a living — possibly a lucrative living — as a speaking professional.
Ready? Click 'start' for your first question. (And good luck!)
Jim BarberHead Barber, The Barber ShopCreator, Pro Speaker U
Question 1 of 10
How entrepreneurial are you?
Here's the thing —
Professional speakers are in charge of their own careers, but they don't necessarily work for themselves... especially at the beginning.
So in your particular case....
You've already run a small business — good for you! Although the details are different, a business is, by and large, a business. Since you've run a successful small business before, you should have no trouble learning the details of running a successful speaker's business.
That's terrific that you want to leave the corporate rat race! A career as a professional speaker offers you a world of opportunity. Just remember that it's a business, and treat it with the same respect that you'd treat any other business enterprise.
It's OK that you're hesitant to work completely independently. Although most professional speakers operate as independent businesses, many of them got their start as trainers for seminar corporations or other training businesses. Doing it this way enables you to ease into a career as a professional speaker.
It's OK that you don't want to leave the rat race. Although most professional speakers operate as independent businesses, many of them got their start as trainers for seminar corporations or other training businesses. You can work for somebody else and still be a professional speaker (if it's OK with your employer!).
Question 2 of 10
Do you enjoy speaking before groups of people?
In general —
Believe it or not, it's not necessary to enjoy speaking in public in order to enjoy a successful career as a professional speaker. (But it is helpful!)
You love to speak — good for you! But do you know what's better than speaking to an audience? Getting paid to speak to an audience!
The jitters are perfectly normal — some seasoned pros still get them on occasion. The crucial question is not how much you enjoy yourself, but how much your audiences enjoy hearing you!
Smooth platform skills are helpful, but not essential. Develop a killer presentation on a topic of vital interest, market yourself effectively, and you'll be on the fast track to success. A speech coach can help you improve your platform skills.
Surprisingly, not enjoying speaking to people is not a problem. Through the wonders of radio, television, podcasting, and other electronic forums, it's possible to be a successful professional speaker without ever facing a live audience!
Question 3 of 10
Do you like to travel?
If you like to travel, then pro speaking is for you! But it isn't necessary for your career success.
So in your particular situation....
Since you love to travel, you should consider becoming a keynote speaker. People pay lots of money to attend a convention held at a luxurious resort. But as the featured speaker, all your expenses are paid — and they pay your speaking fee too!
If you don't want to travel internationally, you don't have to. Depending on where you live, there are probably many speaking opportunities within your own country.
Depending on where you live, there are possibly ample speaking opportunities within a short drive of your home. And through webcasting and other technological marvels, you don't even need to leave home!
Times have changed! Through webcasting, podcasting, and other technological marvels, you don't even need to leave home to earn a wonderful living as a professional speaker!
Question 4 of 10
What annual income do you want to earn?
The great thing about professional speaking is that there is no income ceiling. You can earn pretty much whatever you set your mind to achieving!
And in your particular case....
If you treat your speaking career with the same respect you'd give to any other profession, paying your bills shouldn't be a problem.
You'll enjoy your career as a speaking pro so much, you may not want to ever retire. (Many speaking professionals are still active into their 80's and 90's.) But if you treat your career with the same respect you'd give to any other profession, you should be able to comfortably retire when you choose to.
A six-figure income is well within the reach of a professional speaker. Remember to treat your business like a business!
Actually, making in excess of a million a year as a professional speaker is quite possible. (You probably won't do it your first year — but then again, you might!)
Question 5 of 10
Not to get too personal, but how old are you?
Generally speaking —
Age has no bearing on your success as a professional speaker.
When you're under 30, you can relate to audiences in ways that older speakers cannot.
When you're between 30 and 50 years of age, you can probably relate to audiences of all ages — younger and older alike.
In most industries, you're reaching the end of your career when you're between 50 and 70. But not professional speaking! Many successful speakers didn't begin their careers until they were in their 60's!
You're never too old to begin your career as a professional speaker. (But you're over 70 — what are you waiting for?)
Question 6 of 10
Where can you learn how to become a successful professional speaker?
You need to know that —
Pro Speaker U provides the free and convenient way to learn your craft as a pro speaker.
Regarding your particular response....
The National Speakers Association provides great continuing education for established pro speakers. Unfortunately, it requires that you already be speaking professionally before you can join NSA. To learn more about becoming a successful professional speaker, listen to the episodes right here at Pro Speaker U!
Toastmasters is a terrific organization for improving your presentation skills, and I strongly recommend it. But frankly, it's of little benefit in learning the business side of speaking. To learn more about enjoying a profitable career as a successful professional speaker, just listen to the episodes right here at Pro Speaker U!
Unfortunately, almost no educational institutions offer degrees — or even classes — in becoming a professional speaker. To learn more about enjoying a profitable career as a successful professional speaker, listen to the episodes right here at Pro Speaker U!
You can learn how to be a pro speaker the hard way, or you can learn from somebody else's mistakes. (Learning from someone else's mistakes is better!) At Pro Speaker U, you learn "the truth from the trenches"... and shorten your learning curve by years!
Question 7 of 10
When you dream of speaking, how big is the audience that you're addressing?
Although a "speaker" needs an audience, it can be of any size... and the audience doesn't even need to be physically present.
You should consider keynoting. It's an emotional rush to establish a connection with thousands of people at once!
Groups of a hundred or so are appropriate for either keynotes or training programs.
A few dozen people is an excellent size for an effective training program.
Years ago, this would have been a problem. Now though, through the wonders of the Internet, your audience can be "virtual" and millions of people can hear you without your being in front of a "live" audience at all!
Question 8 of 10
Are you an expert on a topic that people want or need to hear about?
The truth of the matter is —
Expertise (in either content or delivery... or both) is essential, but it can be learned if necessary.
So in your case....
Good for you! Now all you need to do is to acquire decent platform skills (if you don't already have them), and learn the business of speaking, and you can enjoy a successful career as a professional speaker!
Not a problem! It'll take research and study, but with time you can acquire the expertise you need. Of course, you also need to have decent platform skills and you need to learn the business of speaking. But when you have all these things, a successful speaking career awaits you.
Your problem isn't your particular expertise, it's learning how to market yourself most effectively. Do that, and a wildly successful speaking career awaits you!
Not a problem! It sounds like a contradiction, but an expertise in generalism can be in great demand. You need to acquire decent platform skills (if you don't already have them), and learn the business of speaking, and you can enjoy a successful career as a professional speaker... even without a specialized expertise!
Question 9 of 10
Are you female or a member of a minority group?
Unlike many other industries, being "different" actually works to your advantage in the pro speaking industry.
Unlike some other industries where you can have trouble advancing your career (or sometimes even entering the field), there are numerous highly-successful female professional speakers.
Today's audiences usually don't care about your background or ethnicity; they care about your expertise and how you can help them.
In the professional speaking industry, you've probably got the best of both worlds! Unlike some other industries where you can have trouble advancing your career (or sometimes even entering the field), there are numerous highly-successful female professional speakers.
And today's audiences usually don't care about your background or ethnicity; they care about your expertise and how you can help them.
It might surprise you, but being a non-minority male is probably a slight disadvantage. But you can still succeed as a professional speaker! You need to determine what other unique characteristics you have, and use them to "stand out from the crowd".
Question 10 of 10
Why do you want to be a professional speaker?
It's true that —
Professional speaking is one of the most effective ways of helping people and getting a message out. (And because there's no "salary caps", it's also a good way to make lots of money.) But make no mistake about it, being a successful professional speaker also requires a lot of effort. It's a fun job, but it's still a job.
As a professional speaker, you can help hundreds, thousands, or conceivably millions of people every single day. Very few other occupations can say that.
Professional speaking is undoubtedly one of the best ways (perhaps the best way) of getting your message out.
There's nothing wrong with making lots of money. When it comes to professional speakers' incomes, "the sky's the limit."
You might want to think again. Although public speaking can be fun and might require little effort, professional speaking is a lot of work. "It's the hardest job you'll ever love!" is a catchphrase at the National Speakers Association.
Check your score›
Your "can I be a pro?" score is
I hope you've enjoyed taking this little aptitude test. The object of this exercise was simple — have some fun. And maybe you've even learned something new. (My motto is: Learning is good; learning while having fun is even better!)
But this test was not meant to serve as any sort of professional career guidance — however you look at it, making a career change based on a 10-question quiz is not a good idea! (However, if you do decide to pursue a career in professional speaking, you should seriously study every episode of Pro Speaker U.)
Whatever you decide, here's wishing you every success in whatever endeavors you do undertake!
Jim BarberFounder, PSU Career Enrichment Center
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