I was petrified. My hands were sweating, my mouth was dry and I couldn’t stop moving my feet. I had a piece of paper in my hand with words on that, due to my nervousness, looked like something out of the Matrix. It was the longest 5 minutes of my life. This is all I could remember from the first time I spoke to 1,000 people in October, 2007.
In January 2008, I decided to turn my sales e-Book into a training course. I invited my closest friends around to my flat in London on a Saturday for a 2 hour “taster” session with the added bonus of pizza and beer. This was my first real taster into being a “trainer” and whilst it was nerve wracking preparing a presentation, workbook and take-away actions, I was excited.
Fast forward to 2017. I have had more than 1,000 hours worth of stage time. I have travelled around the world and built a successful online presence and business with an amazing team. They help me day in day out to deliver my passion to 10,000’s of business owners, entrepreneurs and sales and marketing teams.
The journey to getting to where I am today in the professional speaking industry has been a massive learning experience. I have worked with three different coaches who have helped me bring my personality, and passion to the table so that I get paid to do what I love.
When looking at the above, it got me thinking; at what point did I transition from public speaking, to professional speaking, and how can I help YOU do the same.
What’s The Difference?
Are You Pro-Action, Or “Sit Back and Wait”?
When I first started my speaking journey, I was a “sit back and wait” person. I didn’t seek out speaking opportunities, and I didn’t have the confidence to position myself as professional speaker.
Now, I have processes, strategies and templates in place when speaking to companies about paid professional speaking engagements. I am very much pro-action, and always looking at ways to better my brand online.
Are you someone who goes to networking events, stands up for 10 minutes and introduces yourself to the room? If so, chances are you are still in the “public speaking” category. You don’t just become a professional speaker overnight; it’s all about experience. Start small, and try and speak at as many relevant events as possible, until you have the experience under your belt to look at going professional, and getting paid to speak.
Are You Being Paid?
The biggest difference for me, is based on whether you are generally being paid to speak at events. Whilst there are some events that do not pay me to speak, we have contracts in place where I am able to nurture their audience, and generate leads.
A public speaker is more of a hobby, and unlikely to have any financial reimbursement. If you’re a professional speaker, you are in the arena of being pro-action, having experience and therefore, being paid for your time.
As someone who has gone from being a public speaker, to a successful professional speaker, I wanted to share with you my top three tips.
1. Start Off Speaking For Free
Although speaking for free may not be what you want to happen, you always have to start somewhere and to build trust within an organisation, you need to be confident on stage, and develop a “style” through practice.
It has taken years for me to build trust within certain organisations who run events worldwide, and this did start out with me talking for free but this has now evolved, as my “style” has become popular, and my online presence has increased.
Part of building a strong personal brand through professional speaking is understanding where you need to make changes, and this comes hand in hand with talking at events for free. There may be a slight gap between your brand and your reputation. Ask yourself, what three words would YOU associate to yourself?
Once you have the three words, ask someone you trust the same question. If these don’t match up, think about why this is, and whether this is reflecting a gap between your brand and reputation. This could be what holds you back from becoming a professional speaker.
2. Know When To Say NO
This can be very difficult because you look at every opportunity as a way to grow as a person, but you will soon find that you have spread yourself too thin. Think about each potential speaking “gig” that you are being offered, and whether you feel as though it will be worth you time.
This year for me, has been the year of saying NO. I am now a dad, with a 2 month old daughter, and my time is more precious now than ever before, and to make sure I am having the “lifestyle” I want, I need to say no to opportunities that I don’t feel will benefit me in the future.
3. Know Your Worth
I get contacted on a weekly basis to deliver talks at Universities, meet-ups, trade shows, conferences, entrepreneur group etc. I am usually asked to speak for free, as there isn’t a budget. Whilst I do speak for free, I always look at knowing my worth, and making sure that I am being valued, and that it is a win-win agreement.
As a professional speaker, I have 5 key revenue streams that I will take into consideration when being booked for a professional speaking event.
- Being paid to speak
- Selling my book at the end of my seminar
- Offering group face-to-face training from MBA to SME to Corporate
- Business coaching
- Being a brand advocate
All of the above might sound like things you hear on a regular basis from professional speakers, but what makes my business model unique, is my online training academy. I get to speak to an audience (on most occasions, my target market) and continue to work with that audience online. This has enabled me to build an email database of 17,000 people, and an online following of 80,000.
If there’s one thing you are going to take away from this article, just go for it. Take that leap into the world of professional speaking. It has been a life-changing experience for me but just remember to have a business model in place that enables you to be a speaker, whilst also running a business that goes hand-in-hand.
I’d love to hear how you first started your journey from public speaking, all the way through to professional speaking.