As an aspiring public speaker, perhaps you’re wondering what to charge people to hear your words of wisdom. Tony Blair is reputed to be paid £2,000 a minute. How much ambition do you have?
You have things to say, but you’re not quite sure how you get to say them in a room full of people. This guide can help you become a professional speaker.
How to Become a Professional Speaker
Becoming a professional speaker isn’t about the training, though you can get training. It’s not about qualifications, although there are qualifications you can get. Being a professional speaker is about running a business where the product is public speaking.
Think of it as a business and you can begin to understand what you need to do to be successful. You need a great product and be clear about who your customer is. You need to market yourself and continuously improve what you do.
When speaking is your product it’s important to speak well. That means learning and honing your speaking skills. It’s also about having something to say that is engaging.
Get some public speaking training if you haven’t had any and take every opportunity to practice. You can take free gigs just for the experience and you don’t even need to speak on any special subject. Many organizations need speakers such as the Women’s Institute, University of the Third Age and even schools.
Practice by recording yourself and reviewing your performance. Correct any annoying habits. Develop a style that is compelling and natural.
Focus Your Message
You may have lots of things that you want to say. For the sake of your audience, keep it simple and focussed. This should be the theme of your speech.
A useful structure for your speech is to start by telling your audience what you are going to talk about. Talk about it and then tell them what you’ve told them. This framework will leave your audience clear about the message they have heard rather than wondering what your talk was really about.
Your message has to have an audience. Be clear who that audience is and market your services to them.
If the audience isn’t big enough to generate enough business, you need to re-think your message. If the market is flooded with other speakers then, again, you need to re-think your message.
Network like mad. Use your connections and make more connections and let people know you are a professional speaker. Ask satisfied customers to recommend you and make and share a showreel on YouTube.
Ask for feedback and listen to it. Constantly honing your performance is the sign of a professional speaker. Take out what doesn’t work and add more and better material wherever you need to improve the audience’s engagement.
Matthew Willetts MA is the Director of Comicus who has over 35 years experience in television, film, theatre, and comedy club/cabaret entertainment, working as a performer, screenwriter, producer and agent. He lectured at Southampton Solent University in Comedy, Screenwriting, Television, Theatre & Radio. Matthew can sometimes be seen and heard on TV & Radio and often quoted in the national press and media publications. As well as speaking regularly at festivals and industry conferences, he has been a judge at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the Montreux Television Festival.