28 Jun Accelerate Your Professional Speaking Career.
People believe that becoming a professional speaker is easy. You find someone who will let you up on stage and away you go… The truth is becoming a successful professional speaker is hard. Really hard. Speaking is highly competitive and so you need to be better, work harder than the rest of the crowd and you need to understand how to find and land gigs. There are countless speaking coaches and PR firms, but when it comes right down to it, it is up to you to hone your craft and be successful. Depending on your path, these essential components and resources can take your speaking business to the next level:
I. Hone your craft – You are probably not as good as you think you are.You can be a better speaker than you are now! Speaking is an art and a science. Cindy Ashton, the Founder of Speaker Stardom Agency and Academy feels many people have a low image of what “good” is. She has a litmus test for speakers who tell her “I am so inspiring.” She asks, “Are you getting great bookings? Are you getting referrals from gigs? Are you getting rebooked year over year?” If you said no to any of those, then you can be a better speaker.
Improving the craft of speaking is Cindy’s business. “Even seasoned speakers don’t always have good stage craft.” She offers comprehensive speaker training: preparation, stage craft and how to create intimacy with the audience. Cindy, an accomplished actress, opera singer and speaker herself, provided a starting point- at any stage of a speaker’s career:
- Your personal story does not make a message. It is not enough. How does it change the life of the audience in real world terms? WHO are you helping, how will it affect them with their specific needs?
- Look at video of you. Watch yourself and how you respond to audience reaction. If you are speaking and not listening to the audience, they will disengage. Even when the talk is carefully scripted, great speakers know how to feel the energy in the room and react to the audience. You need to create intimacy with your audience. One way is through learning improv. It is all about being ‘in the moment’ and reacting to what your listeners are giving you.
- Develop unique content. A lot of speakers have a similar topic to you. How can you stand out? Do some research. Go deep into your own background to uncover how your point of view is different. You need to say something fresh and new.
- Improve your voice. Get voice training – speech therapy, voice singing lessons. Try yoga. Stress in your body affects your voice. It either makes it too loud which pushes you away, too high pitched which makes people you tune out or sound meek which reads as insecure. Do vocal exercises before you get on stage. Tension can be seen and heard. Training will help you open your voice and give you a full, dynamic voice without having to push the voice or do fake speech effects.
- Have a pre-stage routine – move and breath with body. Relax. Focus. Ground your feet, notice your body – release tension. Shoulders, knees, etc. Stretch anything that is sore. Inhale, exhale more slowly. Helps relax… Stretch mouth, wide open and close. Do vocal exercises to get voice vibrant.
II. Peer support and industry learning. While at first glance it might seem counter-intuitive to join a group of your peers, aka competitors, it can also be your greatest source of education, networking and inspiration. The National Speakers Association (NSA) provides professional speakers with the comprehensive resources, mentoring and professional connections they need to become more efficient and more effective in all aspects of the trade. There are various levels of membership requirements.
- NSA has 3,400+ members including thought leaders, authors, consultants, coaches, trainers, educators, humorists, and motivators. NSA provides opportunity to learn by watching other speakers, participating in the learning programs and networking.
- 34 chapters – join a local chapter and attend meetings to get 1:1 networking with peers
- Become a Certified Speaking Professional. A CSP certification tells event managers that you has reached a level of speaking mastery.
III. Land gigs. Get connections and pricing.
The Speaker Exchange is a membership organization comprised of strategically formed groups of speakers who share real information on past and present gigs, contact information and pricing. The groups are structured and monitored for maximum effectiveness. The Speaker Exchange was originally formed for speakers by speakers to create a tactical methodology of sharing information to land gigs. Application is required for membership.
- Small peer groups that provide warm introductions, gig insider information, real leads
- Virtual meetings that let you join your networking group from anywhere to keep you on track, on focus, and growing your business
- Trade leads, learn prices, grow your business, land more speaking gigs
IV. Create content and sell it, easily.
Many speakers create and give content away in order to build a reputation and to sell the deep dive material. Udemy gives you a platform to create and sell material. No cost, easy to use and customers standing by.
- Udemy allows anyone to create content and walks you through the steps to make it successful.
- You create content to sell to what they claim is the world’s largest online learning marketplace.
- Build a reputation as an expert. People hear you speak and experience your value first hand. Turn inquires into paying gigs.
Being a speaker is easy. Being a successful, professional speaker is hard. But for the driven and dedicated, the world is your stage!