Public speaking is an act that terrifies a lot of people and excites the heck out of the rest. As entrepreneurs -- and particularly lifestyle entrepreneurs -- getting paid to travel the world as a public speaker is a dream and a goal. The thought of getting on a stage in front of thousands of people and sharing a message that could help someone’s life is exciting.
Many first-time and even experienced speakers start out the same way. You are taught that the way to paid speaking gigs starts with speaking at events for free to pad your speaker's resume. You’re told that you can speak for free but can get business at the event, which justifies speaking for free. The problem is that you’re not guaranteed to walk away with business because there are so many other entrepreneurs going after that same business.
You can speak for free for years at all kinds of events, but none of it will lead to paid gigs if you don’t know what you’re doing. There are some better ways to get paid speaking gigs that don’t involve you using your time and money on a strategy that’s 50 percent at best. Free speaking is not always the best path to paid speaking. Here are three better options.
Speak at your local chamber of commerce or Rotary Club.
In every city, there is a Rotary Club or chamber of commerce. These are business organizations that bring in speakers once a month to speak on various topics. These organizations are very approachable and a good place to naturally start your paid speaking career. You are speaking to business owners and, if you do a good job, you are far more likely to walk away with business because you’re the only expert/speaker speaking to that group of hot leads.
Get video of yourself speaking, which is important to have on your website to show event organizers. You can network to make connections that could lead to you speaking at some of the business owners' companies or an event they host. These organizations are a great way to help every part of your speaking business.
Host your own event or one-day training.
If you want to get paid to speak, what could be better than speaking at your event? You are in control. You can rent a room at a hotel or local organization for a couple of bucks or barter for it. You can have some snacks or just beverages. Your overhead does not have to be high. You then charge hundreds or thousands of dollars for entrepreneurs to attend.
You can use Facebook ads to fill the seats or local advertising. You can market it to your current audience. You can make a nice profit while speaking, getting more experience and video, and even upselling the audience on some of your other offerings. You can host these often and get all the social proof you need to pitch paid gigs.
Consult at companies instead of only focusing on events.
Speaking at an event in front of thousands of people can be exciting and lead to more opportunity but speaking at a company can be more profitable. It can also lead to speaking opportunities internationally. If you have never done any consulting work for a company, start locally. There is a tremendous opportunity for small local business consulting because these businesses are so focused on business that a lot of things -- especially online -- get neglected.
You can train at small companies to build your experience and resume and then approach larger companies. This type of speaking is to a smaller audience, but you can go deeper and companies aren’t limited by a speaker's budget. You can approach a company that operates in the United States but has offices in other countries to book international speaking gigs.
Speaking for free may have been what we’ve been taught but it’s not the best way to start your paid speaking career or the paid speaking portion of your business. Paid speaking can be a nice additional income stream to your business or you can even make a business from it. Start off on the right foot with a few of the things that I’ve mentioned here. Don’t accept that speaking for free is the only way to paid speaking.