As you can imagine, I get approached by many who want to investigate speaking as a career. In fact, I created a product, From Go to Pro: How to Get Started in Speaking just for these people. It gives the real skinny on what you need, what you’ll experience and quite frankly, how tough it is to make a living doing this.
Now why, you may ask, would I create a product that may actually discourage people from doing this? Those of you who are doing this for a living know exactly why! It is a tough, tough business. You only get paid when you work, and you work like hell to get every opportunity. My favorite quote in the speaking business is by Shep Hyken, CSP, CPAE. He says “The job is not giving the speech. The job is getting the speech!” Truer words were never spoken.
Another reason I created this product was because I never, never want to be approached by anyone who can say “Lois, you suggested I quit my job and jump into speaking!” Speakers must feel a real “calling” to be in the business. You have to love it to stick out lean years and hard work. Now don’t misunderstand me, I think speaking is a great business, a great career – for some people.
Often when approached I hear “I want to be a motivational speaker and tell my story. My story of overcoming the problems I’ve had, a comeback from the dead story, climbing a mountain, a medical challenge, etc.”
It’s important to have stories in your speeches; however, I tell these inquirers that they have to do more than merely tell their story. (Unless they are an entertainment type act, say a comic.) Why should someone pay you to tell your story? Ask yourself, what will your audience learn from the telling of your story?
If you’ve overcome an obstacle, you must share with us the techniques you used to overcome your problems and how those same techniques may help me do the same. Spell out your formula for overcoming obstacles, keeping hope alive, living with optimism, etc.
Now to the “motivational” tag. I tell my clients don’t say you’re a motivational speaker. If you want to use the word say, “I’m a high content speaker who is motivational/inspirational in style and tone”. That’s the way to say it if you want to make money speaking! There are some great people who truly are “motivational speakers”. I say, “don’t assume you’re going to be one of them”. Not to be a contrarian, (OK, maybe to be a contrarian), but to point out that the market has changed. It’s not the 80’s. Speakers who are known as motivational speakers and make a lot of money doing it started decades ago and have the market cornered. To newer speakers I say simply “that ship has sailed”.
As speakers you get approached all of the time by the curious about what you do. The biggest gift you can give someone is to tell it like is. It’s a hard job. It’s a tough job. It’s a crazy job. It’s a job you must love if you are going to be successful.
To those of us who love it, I wish you much success!
Copyright 2012, Lois Creamer. Lois Creamer works with professional speakers who want to book more business, make more money and avoid costly mistakes! She can be reached in the following ways:
For more information on Lois’ business check out http://www.bookmorebusiness.com as well as http://www.bookmorebusiness.tv!