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Everyone Has a Story: Here's How You Can Get Paid to Share Yours

If you've transformed yourself from mess to success, you might have the makings of a new career helping others as a motivational speaker.

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Public speaking is one of the most successful ways an entrepreneur can promote products and services. As a speaker, I not only get paid to give a speech, but there's also always a long line at the back of the room where I sell books and coaching services. Sometimes I speak for free because I know can make up for it selling product.


In my work as a motivational speaker, I travel first class and get paid to share my message with appreciative audiences. It's a far cry from my time as a standup comic. Back then, I flew coach so I could get heckled during my set and share a room at the local Motel 6. I now earn more from one speech than I did performing nine shows a week at a comedy club. My website offers video lessons, coaching sessions and online workshops to help people connect to their own stories.

Related: 10 Ways to Become a Paid Speaker

Do more than simply entertain.

Even motivational speakers hit low spots. When the recession hit in 2008, the public-speaking market went downhill along with many others. Companies could no longer justify hiring a pick-them-up, make-them-laugh speaker. They needed more than entertainment. They needed someone with a message who could deliver takeaways that improved efficiency, reduced sick days and boosted the bottom line.

I saw the writing on the podium and adapted my delivery style. I switched from being a "lighten-up humorist" to addressing topics such as stress reduction and leadership. I continued to use my comedy material to keep the audience laughing, but I added specific action steps to make my points and create lasting results.

Related: What Entrepreneurs Can Learn From the World's Best in Comedy

Define your 'mess-to-success' story.

Developing these steps is essential for anyone considering how to relate his or her money-making message to audiences. In my online speaking workshop, students define these crucial action steps by examining their own "mess-to-success" journeys. Then, they learn how to take advantage of the specifics that worked for them.

Each of my students has experienced his or her own life-changing events. But few of them had thought to examine how they lost weight, conquered a depression or started a business. They were so busy keeping up with LinkedIn and Facebook, they overlooked what life had taught them about overcoming a particular challenge.

Related: 5 Ways to Maintain a Positive Mindset (No Matter What Challenge You're Facing)

Find your action steps.

Getting in touch with your action steps is the way to earn extra income as a speaker. My personal action steps even transformed into a book, "The Message of You." Here's a brief guide to help you find your action steps and become a motivational speaker:

  • Make a list of your successes.
  • Next to each, note your starting point. It might be bad health, feeling directionless or something highly specific.
  • Explain how you got from your mess to your success.
  • Identify three things you did differently in your daily life to support that transition.
  • Give a name or label to each of those three tactics. These are your action steps.

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