Pleasantly Persistent PR Blog
How to be a Paid Speaker
May 26, 2021
Quality speakers that inspire audiences to make personal or professional improvements are valued by organizations of all types. In addition to the satisfaction that comes with enriching people's lives, speakers can earn considerable fees for each speaking engagement.

Sounds great, right? Earning money by giving speeches that help people in some way?

The catch is that you have to do a ton of leg work to become a paid speaker. This includes:

  • Developing your brand
  • Building your speaking credentials
  • Pitching like a pro
  • Potentially getting help from a speaker's agent

Read on to learn more about how to be a paid speaker.

Developing Your Brand:
What Makes You Stand Out?
Getting into the speaking game means you have to have something to say or to teach that is innovative, insightful or inspiring. What life or professional lessons have you learned that would be of value to other people? How can you turn your story into one that is memorable and encourages the audience to make positive changes?

It goes without saying that it's not just your message that is important, but it's how you deliver it that is critical. To be a successful speaker, you need to feel comfortable presenting to an audience and know how to give a presentation that is compelling.

Besides finding your value and turning it into an engaging story, you will also need to figure out what kind of speaker you are:

  • Motivational Speaker
  • Inspirational Speaker
  • Leadership Speaker, or
  • Sales Speaker

Organizations typically look for speakers in one of the categories. A company that aims to hone the leadership skills of their upper management, for example, would be in the market for a leadership speaker. On the other hand, an organization that is devoted to some kind of personal improvement would be in need of an inspirational speaker.
Building Your Speaking Credentials:
Doing It for Free & Making a Website
In order to become a paid speaker, you need to pay your dues by speaking for free at local organizations such as a rotary club or chamber of commerce. Lunch and learn series are another great way to fine tune your speaking skills.

When building up your speaking credentials at free gigs, bring along a professional videographer and photographer to take video and photos of you in action. Also, gather as many testimonials and reviews of your presentation as possible.

Here's why: the video, photographs and testimonials will form the backbone of your speaker's website. You can check out this example of Scott Huesing's speaker website, a client that I represent.
A speaker's website is vital to becoming a paid speaker. A website that effectively communicates your brand and what sets you apart can equate to significantly higher speaker's fees.
A speaker's website can lead to more bookings and higher pay per booking because it is often the only way an event coordinator can vet you. Event coordinators will want to see footage of you speaking and hear about how awesome you are from previous audience members before writing a check. Besides seeing you speak in-person previously, a speaker's website is the best way an event coordinator can verify that you are a valuable speaker worth hiring for an engagement.
Pitching Like a Pro:
Know Your Audience
By the time you have a series of free speaking events under your belt and have put together an attractive speaker's website that communicates who you are and the quality of what you do, you should know your market inside and out.

If you haven't already, research your competition. Do your due diligence on other speakers in your market and see which events they have spoken at in the past. Only when you feel like you have exhausted your market research is it time to pitch.
Remember, pitching really isn't about you; it's about them.
Understand the people in your space - your potential audience members. Know what they want, what their concerns might be and how your product meets their needs and assuages their concerns. The more individualized the pitch, and the less it seems like spam blasted to a mass email list, the more likely you will get attention.

Keep in mind that prospecting is going to take up the majority of your time when you start out. A new speaker will need to prospect 100 events per day and then craft a pitch (in the form of an email) that is catered as much as possible to each prospect. Don't doubt how hard, time-consuming and completely boring this work can be.

What you are doing here is playing the numbers game. You will eventually get some bites, but your pitch has to be great and it has to go out to a whole lot of organizations first.

The rule of thumb for a newbie speaker is to go for a quantity of leads over a quality of leads.

And it of course doesn't end with sending out a single email to your contact. You will need to follow-up.

In fact, there is an art to crafting a series of emails to the same contact to peak their interest in what you have to offer, rather than doing a hard sell right off the bat. Asking questions, allaying concerns, speaking the organization's language, addressing the correct contact and generally showing that you've done your research - all of this is part of the email pitch and will make or break a sale.

Related Content: How to Become a Thought Leader
Taking It to the Next Level:
Getting Help from a Speaker's Agent
Doing all of the sales research, pitching, follow-up and event planning on your own is a herculean task. This is where a speaker's agent can be invaluable.

Speaker's agents prospect events for clients, in addition to doing all of the contract negotiations and transportation booking. Basically, a speaker's agent performs the grunt work so that the speaker simply shows up to the event and does the rewarding thing that they are good at: speaking.

You may be ready to work with a speaker's agent if you:

  • Have already honed your branding and messaging
  • Know what type of speaker you are
  • Have done at least some market research and generally know your speaking space
  • Have spoken at a few other events (including free)
  • Don't have the time or know-how to pitch to hundreds of contacts each week
This is a comprehensive overview on how to be a paid speaker. As somebody who has represented speakers, I can tell you that this is only the beginning in understanding the ins and outs of being a paid speaker. If you are ready to learn more about becoming a paid speaker, reach out to me today.
Feel free to contact me
Julia Brown
Book publicist
Phone: +1 619-888-7956
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