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Public Speaking

6 Things You Need to Do to Become a Paid Public Speaker

Want to get paid for speaking appearances? Here's how.
6 Things You Need to Do to Become a Paid Public Speaker
Image credit: Hero Images | Getty Images
Guest Writer
5 min read

Public speaking can represent many things to an entrepreneur. It can be an opportunity to network, develop a business, spread a message or give back in a meaningful way.

Getting paid to speak is a whole different thing.

I've had the opportunity to share at universities as a guest lecturer, and here are my tips for how you can get paid for your first speaking engagement.

Related: 7 Ways To Grow Your Personal Brand in Less Than a Week

6 Things You Need to Do to Become a Paid Public Speaker

Tape the talk

Many entrepreneurs believe you must work your way up to the big stage, but all you really need is a professionally filmed talk that highlights your best moments.

Taylor Conroy is an entrepreneur, philanthropist and social innovator who has lectured at places such as the United Nations, Harvard and Disney. Taylor shared some valuable insights with me about public speaking and how to get paid doing so.

"The number one thing that will help you book paid talks is a good filmed talk," Conroy notes. "You don't need to follow conventional wisdom and share on many smaller stages before landing a bigger talk. The right video with the right strategy to get in front of the right people is all that matters."

Most TEDx talks are filmed, so that is an excellent place to start. At the time of writing, there are 1810 upcoming TEDx talks across the world, so there are ample opportunities. That said, you could land a talk anywhere and bring your own film crew out to capture footage. 

6 Things You Need to Do to Become a Paid Public Speaker

Prep the talk

Don't try to get all your ducks in a row before booking your first talk. You may never do the work necessary to prepare for a speech unless you've got a speaking engagement booked in your calendar. The only way to get over your fear is to face it.

Conroy says practicing in your office or bedroom simply doesn't illicit the same fear as talking on stage, so it's not the ideal place to practice. He prepares by talking in front of people who don't want to hear his talk in the first place. He says he's practiced in front of a Starbucks barista, in a hotel lobby and even in airport departures.

Related: 8 Reasons a Powerful Personal Brand Will Make You Successful

6 Things You Need to Do to Become a Paid Public Speaker

Do the talk

Performance coach Todd Herman has done over 730 speeches and workshops. He says, "If you're speaking at a conference, get there early and meet at least 10 to 20 of the attendees. Talk with them about why they're there, what they're working on, what they need help with -- in a nutshell, get to know them. Those friendly conversations create 'friendly faces' in the crowd."

Here's a good pre-engagement ritual to help you with your delivery: Before you even open your mouth to speak, wiggle your toes, take a deep breath and smile. These steps will help reduce anxiety.

Also, while talking, pick out three people to focus on -- left, right and center stage. Select those who are nodding along and seem engaged in the subject matter, as this will build your confidence.

6 Things You Need to Do to Become a Paid Public Speaker

Edit the talk

Now that you've got your video, it's time to edit it. This step is more important than you might think.

Here are several tips to help you get the best edit possible:

  • Don't edit out the applause. Ensure there is applause at the very beginning of the video.
  • Boost the audio of audience participation -- gasping, laughing and so on.
  • Change camera angles frequently, except during the peak of the talk.
  • For emotional parts, the camera angle should be a close-up of your face. That way, the viewer can connect with you.
  • Key people will decide whether to book you at the end of the video, so end the video at the peak of applause instead of waiting for it to dissipate.
6 Things You Need to Do to Become a Paid Public Speaker

Spread the talk

When promoting and sharing your talk, resist the temptation to spread it everywhere. Go narrow and deep by finding influencers, podcasters, bloggers, content creators or writers with an audience that would resonate with your presentation.

Promoting is not about being a flash in the pan. It's about building on small successes through targeted outreach and sharing.

Nathan Chan, publisher of Foundr Magazine suggests evoking emotion to generate better ROI, citing the example of Always's #LikeAGirl campaign. He notes: "When creating your viral videos, be sure to focus on your target audience members and consider how to evoke a specific positive emotion from them."

Related: 5 Steps to Building Your Personal Brand From Scratch

6 Things You Need to Do to Become a Paid Public Speaker

Find a paid talk

As Conroy told me, "If you spread your talk to the right people, they will come to you".

Identify relevant events that pay speakers. Get in front of decision makers and gatekeepers, such as event organizers, by reaching out to them with your filmed talk. By now, your video should have plenty of views, which will boost your social proof.

It is also possible to find opportunities by using a speaker directory like eSpeakers. By viewing speaker profiles, you can see what companies have hired them in the past and then reach out to them yourself.

Add to Queue
  • 6 Things You Need to Do to Become a Paid Public Speaker
  • 1. Tape the talk
  • 2. Prep the talk
  • 3. Do the talk
  • 4. Edit the talk
  • 5. Spread the talk
  • 6. Find a paid talk
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