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If you are like many other speakers who are just starting out, chances are you have a passion to help enhance the lives of others in a specific area where you have some life experience or professional expertise. Your way of currently making a living might be coaching, mentoring, or training clients through group and one-on-one sessions either corporately (through someone else’s business), or entrepreneurially (on your own).

It is a logical progression then to want to grow your reach, impact, and business by speaking to more and more people in a way that also increases your financial stability and freedom. This transition is made by moving into the world of Professional Speakers.

In order to get paid the big bucks, the stage performance and content of the speaker has to merit the fee. Highly paid Professional Speakers who make a living at it do so by consistently getting booked. In order to get booked regularly, it means they have taken the time to not only polish their presentation, but also create systems and processes that allow them to tailor their presentation for the different types of audiences they speak to, as well as the different lengths of time they are given on stage.  

How to Transition into a Professional Speaker

YOU are the one who determines your title. Give yourself permission to announce yourself as a Speaker, and claim the role! Now, you need to find as many opportunities as you can to tell your story, give your message, and share your heart.

There are MANY local opportunities where you can speak for free; you just have to know where to look. Here’s a list of where you can start:

  • Service Clubs (Rotary, Kiwanis, Lions Club, etc.)
  • Professional Networking Groups
  • Chamber of Commerce Meetings
  • Special Interest Clubs (Mothers, Photography, Book Clubs, Running, Marketing, etc.)
  • Trade Association Meetings
  • The Library
  • Community Centers
  • Churches and Non Profit Centers
  • Meetup.com

One of the BEST things you can do is ASK your friends, family, neighbors, etc., if they know of any local events that need speakers on a regular basis – you’ll be surprised!

How to Monetize Your Free Speaking Gigs

As you secure more and more places to speak, you also have to consider how you will make an income. Financial support is a critical element in allowing you to grow your business while also sharpening your skills as a speaker.

For each engagement you secure, it is critical that you have only ONE item/product/service that you “push” to sell the audience. Do you want to take on coaching clients? Do you have a book, webinar, seminar, or class you want to promote and sell? Do you want to obtain more marketing clients? Do you want to secure other speaking opportunities where you have the potential of getting paid?

When you decide what the ONE THING is you want to sell the audience on, it needs to be done in a supportive, soft-sell manner and not be the whole focus of your presentation. No one wants to take part in a surprise infomercial. Here are some ways you can promote and monetize your ONE thing:

  • Use Your Brochure: Create a brochure that talks about your ONE thing and have it already available on the tables or chairs for the audience. Do not be tempted to put EVERYTHING you sell in this brochure. You can put in the brochure for people to visit your website if they want to learn more.
  • Use Your Introduction: Most events that bring in speakers will have an event leader or coordinator introduce the speaker to the audience. Be sure YOU give them your write-up of how you want to be introduced. In this introduction, include that ONE thing you’re looking to monetize. The framing of your introduction is VERY important. If your ONE thing is to get paid speaking referrals, you can add something like this into your introduction: “We are so lucky to have <speaker> here today, and waive <his/her> normal fee in order to bring you this incredible information about <your topic/theme/etc.> ….
  • Use Your Stories: Include a great story (or two) in your talk that supports your overall message about how a client experienced a great transformation or had an “a-ha!” moment because of your ONE thing (service/product/book/content/etc.).  
  • Use Your Product: Many places where you will be speaking often have door prizes that are given away to the attendees at the end of the meeting. Offer your product – or a variation thereof – as a giveaway and include a brief description of what that product is (your ONE thing!).  

It is important to clearly understand that if what you are looking for is other speaking referrals, you will not want to attempt to monetize other products. This is called your ONE SHOT / ONE KILL strategy.  

This strategy works best because as we meet new people, the brain will associate that new person with ONE thing. So as people in the audience are introduced to you for the first time, their brain is searching for that ONE thing it can attach to you in their memory bank.   If you try to add more, both you and your message will get muddled and you will not get the results you desire. If you find you’re not have any success in monetization, take a hard look at your whole process and see how many items/products you are actually trying to push.

Creating a successful Keynote Speaking career is not only doable, but also rewarding and profitable. I’ve done it and I want to help you do it too so be sure and pick up your copy of my newest book, the Bookability Factor – 67 Tips to Getting you Booked and Paid as a Keynote Speaker!

As Featured In:

Bookability Factor – 67 Tips to Get you Booked and Paid as a Keynote Speaker  [Amazon Link]

By Elizabeth McCormick

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