So You Want to be a Speaker

It seems like everyone I talk to nowadays wants to be a public speaker. I remember not too many years ago people had little to no interest in public speaking, or thought it was reserved for celebrities or folks that were major players in their industry.

Little did we all know that we’d reach a point in 2020 where people would be calling themselves “thought leaders” and deciding that they, too, had a story to tell, and an idea worth spreading a la TED Talk.

Don’t get me wrong – this is great! I absolutely love the passion and enthusiasm to get yourself out there, hop on video, submit for a conference, connect with an audience.

I also understand how hard it is to be a speaker, and how folks get very, very discouraged quickly if they don’t see the returns they are expecting. And who can blame them? It seems like everyone in the age of “post your highlights” social media is “winning all the time.”

As someone who has done three TEDx Talks, is paid to be a speaker and trains speakers, no one is winning all the time.

You can, however, start making the moves to put yourself on a trajectory of becoming a speaker! Here are a few of my favorite tips:

Who are you talking to?

If you look at this question and think “everyone!” I want you to stop immediately. Go back. Think! Who are you talking to? Narrow it as much as possible. The best talks reach a very specific group of people, whether that is “professional women looking for confidence in their career” or “moms that are starting a side hustle” or “single women that don’t want to get married.” You need to be specific and focused. Sure, other people will find you and your information interesting – this isn’t to say that the only people that are allowed “in” to hear you speak are the people that are in your tightly defined audience. This is to say you should build your audience with people that already see your value.

One of the most powerful things another business owner told me also applies to speakers – focus on the people that already like and love you. Those are the people that will stick around. Don’t waste your energy on people that are not fans of yours – that energy is better spent on people that like and love you.

What are you offering them?

Motivational speaking is something that is now mostly done by celebrities and social figures. This isn’t to say you don’t have motivational talent – most “normal” people aren’t being paid to do basic motivational speaking. If you are offering something specific – a plan, advice, an idea, a focus, a takeaway – then you’ve got something! Yes, you’ll also motivate your audience – the key is to inspire them to do something tangible. That call to action that you’re so used to seeing in your email box or on your favorite website? Think about how you can take what you have to offer and convert it into a call to action for your highly specific audience.

Why you?

If you understand why you are the best person for this specific offer to this specific audience, you’re golden. This doesn’t mean compare yourself to other people that are in this space – what it does mean is think about your unique value add. It might be your personal experience or your offer or the success you’ve had in the space that you’re talking about or talking in – whatever it is, make sure it is specifically defined, and you can sum it up in a few short sentences. While you might not tell people these specific sentences, you should use this as a lens when you talk to people – and a confidence boost. You are the best person to talk to your group about your specific offer. Promise.


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