7 Steps To Becoming A Professional Speaker

If you are like me, you probably never seriously considered the possibility of becoming a professional speaker.

In addition to my role as an operations manager at a construction company in the Philadelphia area, I consider myself to be a writer. Notice, I said writer and not speaker. I joined Toastmasters in May to help me advance in my job by improving my overall presentation skills. And I secretly hoped it would help me with my writing career.

A few months ago, I received an email from my alma mater, Grove City College, that changed my perspective. My school contacted me about a speaking opportunity this coming February. I get to talk to students about leadership and delegation. What an opportunity! Because of this request, I have recently started to see myself as a speaker.

And I would like to challenge you to start thinking of yourself the same way. You are a speaker, and you have something to say!

Saying that you are a speaker and actually becoming a professional speaker are two different things. In the pursuit of learning more on this topic, I conducted some research which I’d like to share with you today.  In today’s post, I will help you identify some of the steps you will need to consider in order to become a professional speaker. And I hope you will start thinking a little differently about the possibility of making this a reality for you.

Let’s get started!

7 Steps To Becoming A Professional Speaker

  1. You need to start thinking of yourself as a speaker.  You must grasp the fact that you have something to say. This is a mindset shift you must go through in order to become a professional speaker.
  2. You must find your niche.  Business coach, speaker, and author, Jane Atkinson refers to this as “picking a lane.” She recommends choosing “a topic area to focus on, based on your expertise.” Don’t waffle around from one thing to the next. Finding your passion or area of interest is essential to building your speaking career. As a speaker in this area, you will be known as a subject matter expert, so it’s important you do your research and know your stuff.
  3. Practice and keep learning. Take advantage of every opportunity to speak. Pay attention to the feedback you receive as a result of these opportunities. And listen and learn from other speakers and the evaluations they receive. Sign up for speaker conferences. Conferences like The SCORRE Conference are great venues for improving your speaking. Volunteer for speaking opportunities at your job, at your church, and in your community. Each of these opportunities will prepare you to become a professional speaker.
  4. Set up your business. This sounds scary, but it doesn’t have to be. If you want to launch your speaking business more quickly, you will most likely need to invest time and money to get things off the ground. If you are okay with things moving more slowly, start by setting up a speaking blog or website. Create a landing page on Facebook or another social media platform. You may even want to consider setting up an LLC for your speaking business. Set up a checking account. Print business cards. According to Jane Atkinson, “it takes 3 years to launch a professional speaking career.” If you are serious about becoming a professional speaker, you need to get started now.
  5. Build your network. Use your social media platforms to connect with others. Change your profile description to include speaker. Attend conferences, and build relationships with attendees, organizers, and speakers. Get involved in community organizations like your local chamber of commerce. Hand out your business cards. And go to lunch with others. Social media expert and speaker, Chris Brogan, says “showing up at conferences and having decent conversations with people makes it a bit easier to start speaking at events, because then people come to realize and appreciate the kinds of things you’re about, and might want to know more about your ability to speak on stage.” It may take some work, but your network will pay big dividends in the successful launch of your professional speaking career.
  6. Market yourself and your speaking business. Many of us don’t like to talk about ourselves, but this is essential to establish ourselves as a speaker. Shoot video of yourself speaking. Post the video on your website, and send it out to potential customers. Speakers want to make big money, but speaking for free may be required for a while to show off your talents and to help you gain credentials in the speaking circuit.
  7. Just do it! Speak! You will never become a professional speaker if you don’t take the leap, open your mouth, and share with others. It’s a scary proposition for many of us, but we are all in the right place. Toastmasters can be the launching pad for sending your speaking career into orbit.

According to Forbes, speakers like Chris Widener have built their speaking fees up to $20,000 per talk. You may not make this kind of money ever or for a very long time. Or you may strike it rich as a result of your speaking. Regardless, you have something to say, and becoming a professional speaker is a great way to say it to the world.

What are you waiting for?

If you are already a professional speaker, what steps did you take to get where you are?

If you are thinking about becoming a professional speaker, what is the next step you need to take?