Through the years, I’ve helped many people get started in the speaking business. Here are the five coolest ideas I have for becoming a public speaker.
1. See every gathering as a speaking opportunity. Start speaking now. Speak everywhere. Speak in your doctor’s waiting room and on crowded elevators. Don’t be weird about this. Get used to engaging people in a variety of settings. Be the voice that toasts and the first person to ask questions in a group setting.
2. Learn to enjoy the willies. Are you nervous when speaking? Dale Carnegie said that the only way to get used to something is to do it often. After a while, your system will adjust and speaking won’t be quite so challenging for you. The willies might never go away, but you can eventually get used to them.
3. Listen to lots of speakers. Attend lots of speeches and analyze them in audio format. Pay attention to personal styles and techniques that seem to work. Don’t copy other speakers. Instead, try to adapt your own style. Study the masters, in person and on audio or video. I recommend Zig Ziglar, Alexandria Brown, Brian Tracy, Les Brown, Tony Robbins, and Frank Kern. Listen for tone, cadence, volume, pitch, and the space between the words.
4. Live for networking. Get your name out there in every possible way. Start a database. Collect business cards from everyone you meet. Develop a “hit list” of influential people that you want to know and people that should want to know you. Do the same with the big shots in the speaking business. Use your database to send periodic messages that offer value-added information about how your speaking skills can serve them.
5. Know the three revenue streams are available to you. Start thinking ahead. Good speakers are good because they have something worth saying. Most things worth saying are worth writing and some things worth writing are worth publishing. Speakers who are published authors have more credibility and in general get paid more for their speeches. Dottie Walters, author of the classic Triple Your Income, recommends speaking to sell your writing and writing to sell your speaking. She also suggests that you use your speaking and writing to sell your consulting services.
Michael Angelo Caruso is president of Edison House, a Michigan-based consulting company. His blog appears regularly on dbusiness.com.