I frequently have people say to me, "I think I'd make a good motivational speaker. How do I go about it?" And since I get this question a LOT, I decided to my share my advice in a blogpost so that I can direct people here when they are looking for answers. And while this isn't everything you need to know, it's a great start.
- Have something extremely important to share with people - information SO valuable that you know it will change people's lives for the better.
- Write a brilliant, funny, substantive, Pulitzer Prize winning (metaphorically), story-rich one hour speech about it.
- Make certain it is DIFFERENT than the other brilliant speeches out there. Not just better (which is a given) but DIFFERENT.
- Do NOT present it until it is ready (bad press is worse than no press.)
- DO, however, preview it to professionals in the meetings industry who will critique everything from the content, to your delivery style, to what you are wearing to why you keep saying or doing "x." You NEED to know what is and is not working.
- Do NOT rely on your friends to tell you how good your performance is. They love you, they don't want to hurt your feelings, they want you to like them - and most importantly - unless they are talented, successful, working motivational speakers themselves, they don't actually KNOW what is good and what isn't.
- Once your speech is ready, give it away to deserving, appropriate groups for free or a very low fee. You need to know from experience what is working, what isn't, where the laughs are, etc.
- Hire a professional videographer to shoot several of these sessions. GREAT quality video with good lighting and sound. Cheap video in a dumpy looking conference rooms will work against you.
- Hire a professional editor (preferably who knows what meeting planners are looking for) to edit a rough cut for you.
- Get feedback from someone in the speaking profession to take a look at your rough cut and make more suggestions about what should and shouldn't be included. (8, 9 and 10 could be the same person - but they NEED TO KNOW WHAT MEETING PLANNERS ARE LOOKING FOR! This could be a very costly mistake if they don't know what will actually get you booked.)
- Build a VERY professional looking website with all your great video clips, plus photos of you speaking AT actual events (not the posed, "Oh look at how I am pretending to speak" photos.) If you do not have a great website, people will not book you 999 times out of 1000. You are competing with professional speakers who have AMAZING sites. My web guy is beyond brilliant: Teejay Joel of IAMTEEJAY.
- Hire a professional to optimize your website for search engines. You want to try and achieve the following: That when people are searching the term "motivational speaker," of the 3,370,000 results that appear (no, I'm not kidding on that number), you will come up at LEAST in the top 10 pages of results listings. Sadly, many meeting planners won't search past page 2 or 3. This step is something you can work on later, after you are established.
- Figure out how to market yourself to meeting planners and speakers' bureaus. And be prepared again - these people don't know you and don't have any track record with you. But they DO have a track record with hundreds of other speakers who are years ahead of you, who have made them look like rock stars for recommending them and who have made those bureaus and meeting planners lots of money in commissions. Don't be discouraged by this fact. Start meeting people - now! (See #14)
- Go to your local chapter meetings of the National Speakers Association. They are in lots of cities around the U.S. Go to www.nsaspeaker.org to find a chapter near you. They bring in professional speakers who cover every topic you need to know about: Presentation skills, marketing, business tools, technology needs, social media advances, working with speakers' bureaus, business practices, ethics, etc.
- Go online and visit speaker websites of people who do this for a living and are FANTASTIC! Watch their videos, look at their topics lists, study them. DO NOT copy them, their material or anything they do - just use them as inspiration and as a model for what is effective and working. I love Christine Cashen's site, Kay Frances' site and, I am rather partial to mine (another huge shout out to Teejay Joel.)
- Plan from the very beginning to be the absolute easiest, most well-prepared, hassle-free, likable, content-rich, AMAZING speaker in the business. Never waiver from that commitment. Your reputation will follow you everywhere.
- Don't go into this business to make money. Go into it to provide TREMENDOUS value to everyone who gets to hear you. HUGE value. WAY more than they pay you for. If you make a lot of money as a result - that's great.
- And finally - don't quit your day job. For a while, at least. The great news about this business is that you can start out slowly and build momentum.
- You don't have to be funny...unless you want to make money. We're not talking about stand-up comedy, just well-placed humor that enhances your point and makes people laugh. Check out this funny clip from one of my presentations that demonstrates how I make the point that men and women are different when it comes to multi-tasking.
About the Author
Linda Larsen, CSP, CPAE is a Hall of Fame Speaker, professional actress, best-selling author and serious lover of doggies. Linda speaks at conferences and meetings around the world, helping people bring the very best version of themselves to life every day! To talk to Linda about how she can contribute to the success of your next event, call 941-927-4700. Or go to Book Linda Now!