The Five Building Blocks of A Successful Speaking Career

This post is the second in an occasional series about professional speaking careers. I often get asked about how to become a successful (i.e. sustained) professional (i.e., paid) speaker. My response, from many years of working with people to establish, to ramp up, and to sustain professional speaking careers, is that there are five essential building blocks. People try to get by without one of the five, and inevitably suffer as a… Read More

Where Are the Women Speakers?

Where are the women speakers? My evidence is anecdotal, but it’s overwhelming: women are underrepresented on the dais. Women are half the population, but only a tiny percentage of the keynote speakers. I was at a conference recently where the attendees had a roughly 50-50 gender split, eyeballing the room. And yet, after a day of speakers – on the order of 8 or so – the audience started to wonder where… Read More

How Do You Start A Speaking Career?

People ask me all the time how they can get started on a public speaking career. Perhaps they’ve seen someone give a keynote speech at a conference and they think to themselves, “I could do that. Better.” Or perhaps they’ve heard that there’s a lot of money to be made – at least, per hour – giving those big-conference keynotes. Or, most likely, they are passionate about an idea and want to… Read More

Five Signs You Have What It Takes to be a Public Speaker

I frequently chat with people who wonder if they should throw their hats in the ring of public speaking and go for the rarified life of a paid public speaker. The money is appealing, of course, but mostly what they wonder is, “Do I have what it takes?” By that they mean, “Does the world want to hear me hold forth on my area of passion and expertise?” When I ask them… Read More

Here’s how to handle a problem most speakers face

You’re a speaker. You’re going to give the morning keynote speech at 9:00 AM at a top conference with an audience of 1,000. You’re pumped. As part of the invitation to speak, you’ve been asked to attend a dinner the night before, in order to meet the audience, mingle with them, and – by the way – say a few words. How do you respond? It’s hard not to accept, but what… Read More

The Public Speaker’s To-Do List for 2015

Happy New Year. Is this the year you break out as a speaker, at a level that matches your ambition? How high do you want to fly? Do you want to excel at the keynote level, in hot demand at $40K per speech, all over the world? Or do you want to have constant invitations to give your free speech about better mousetraps, building great connections and potential clients everywhere? Or do… Read More

Speakers Need to Think About Their Branding

Susan Fiske, Professor of Psychology and Public Affairs at Princeton University, studies the psychology of branding, consumers, and the motivation to buy from one company over another. She’s worked out how we pick friends, and companies – both the ones we decide to like and the ones we decide to hate. Her book, The Human Brand: How We Relate to People, Products, and Companies, written with marketing expert Chris Malone, is a… Read More

A Few Things I’ve Learned About the Speaking Business

It may be presumptuous of me to reflect on nearly 30 years in the speaking business and offer a few tips I’ve learned along the way. But I’m doing it anyway, and let me start by inviting you to add your insights, disagree with mine, or simply say yes. That way the lessons won’t just be one person’s thoughts but a magnificent edifice of ideas built by many minds. Here goes. 1…. Read More

How Much Should A Speaker Charge?

How much should you charge to give a speech? The question is complicated by a number of factors including perception, the market, your expertise, the audience, and your celebrity appeal. I’m going to approach the subject from the point of view of a speaker trying to gauge the marketplace and price to get bookings. Be advised from the start that the market is highly fractured and variable and your experience may vary. The… Read More

The Happy Speaker

The professional speaking life takes a tough constitution. First of all, of course, it means travel, on today’s terms – which are not pleasant. Unless you’re going first class all the way, and even then, travel is stressful. You have to manage your health, and your time away from home, and your diet, and your exercise, and, well, everything else. It’s all tougher out of a suitcase. Then, there’s the adrenaline cycle…. Read More