How You Can Become a Professional Speaker

So you have been giving speeches and getting lots of compliments about your skills and abilities, and now you’re wondering how you can become a professional speaker.


Although you don’t need a Bachelors degree to become a professional speaker, you can still benefit from some education and training. Courses in communication, marketing, and business are especially beneficial. At the very least, you should have some experience with public speaking. In order to gain experience and develop your speaking skills, you might want to join Toastmasters International or the National Speaker’s Association. You can also volunteer to speak at community groups and clubs like the Rotary or Lion’s clubs. In addition, you can teach community education classes at local schools or colleges. The more you speak the better you will get, and ideally you should try to speak about three times a week.


Once you feel confident in your speaking abilities, you need to decide on the topics you want to speak about. In order to do so, you need to determine what your areas of specialty should be. In order to do so, you have to think about not only what you are passionate about and interested in but also about what would be salable. Choosing material to talk about that nobody will pay to hear won’t help you getting your speaking business off the ground. The more you can specialize the better off you will be, especially if you can become an expert in a particular area. What you need to do is to find an industry niche you can fill and then develop your topic(s) about that. Maybe your niche is retail sales and your specialty is improving customer service. You might come up with a speaking topic entitled, “How to Improve Customer Service in order to Increase Retail Sales.” You will also want to decide if you prefer to give keynotes, seminars, or workshops.


After you have decided the topic(s) you will be speaking on, you then need to market yourself to businesses and organizations. The first thing you need to do is to develop marketing materials like business cards, brochures, web sites, etc. If you are on a limited a budget, decide what you most need and then make what you create of the highest quality you can afford. Make sure you emphasize all your relevant experience related to your topic and include as many testimonials as you have. Many companies will want to hear a CD or watch a DVD, so you might want to develop these as soon as you are able to do so. You can also include footage of you speaking on your web site. Try a wide variety of marketing techniques including mailers, email blasts, and even cold calling. After all, the more decision makers know about you, the more likely they are to hire you to speak to their group.

Negotiating Fees

Starting speakers don’t usually command fees as high as more experienced speakers. You might start as low as $150 to $500 for a local engagement and charge more like $1,000 to $1,500 plus travel expenses for national presentations. Be willing to negotiate, especially if you will be able sell your products (books, articles, CD’s, and DVD’s). You might also consider giving a discount if can arrange repeat bookings. In addition, you will want to think about what kind of networking opportunity the speaking engagement will offer you when you are deciding on the fee you will charge. The more you will be able to network, the more beneficial the speaking engagement is to your future business; therefore, you don’t have to make as much off the actual gig itself in order to make it worth your while to go ahead and do the presentation. Usually national and international speakers command much higher fees than regional speakers, but they also often have to do quite a bit of traveling, so you have to decide what is most important to you in your life and for your career.