Tips on Getting Started as a Pro Speaker

Some pointers on getting started as a pro

Many avenues exist for those who wish to earn money as a speaker.

I constantly receive calls from people asking, “How do I get started? How do you acquire speaking engagements? Who hires you and what are your fees?”

I answer with my own questions, “Do you have something to talk about? What is your area of expertise? What are you passionate about? What do you have to offer? What kind of audience wants to hear your message?”

Many professional speakers began as I did. My area of expertise is communication skills. Under that umbrella I speak on Customer Service, Networking, Speaking Skills, and Networking. Once you have decided on your topic, become a specialist on that topic by researching and reading everything current on that topic. Then you can take the next step by developing a keynote, a training session, or even coaching and consulting. The material you have developed expands as you constantly research the information.

Do you believe in free speech? Well, that’s where it begins. Start networking with local Chambers of Commerce, approach various business associations, and go to business card exchanges. Rotary Clubs, Kiwanis Clubs and hundreds of business and professional groups hold monthly meetings. And guess what? They are always looking for speakers!

Of course, you're not a paid speaker — yet. They usually do not have a budget for speakers. But you will receive a free lunch or dinner, sometimes a plaque, or some other small trophy with the organization's name. More importantly, this is an excellent method to gain experience in front of an audience.

Also, you can ask for a letter of recommendation, written on the organization's letterhead. (You can use that on your website or to get future speeches!) Every time you offer a “gratis” speech, you gain experience, meet new people, and get the opportunity for “spin off” engagements.