You may be asking yourself, “How do I Break into the Professional Speaking Business?” or “What Can I do to get Paid to Speak?” At the moment, you may be very comfortable onstage or as they say in the business “being on the platform” or perhaps you want to build your skills in order to someday become a speaker to share your message and inspire others.

wcca6.speaking.danielfontDifferentiate. In the end, what differentiates you as a professional speaker is whether people will pay money to hear you speak and whether people will make the time out of their business schedules just because they know that YOU are the person delivering this message.

I will review several types of speakers. These are generalizations and many of you may fall into multiple categories. What you’ll find about each of these types of speakers is that the method of delivery is the only thing that changes.

Basic Core Items. Everyone still needs the basics three core items.

  1. As a speaker, you need to understand your market.
  2. You need to understand your audience and what the audience needs.
  3. You need to know how your message is aligned with your market and why your audience needs to hear it.


When I first started in speaking, I was a workshop instructor for the Duke University Certificate Program in Nonprofit Management. I taught full day workshops in strategic planning and leadership development. These full day workshops typically run anywhere from 6 hours to 8 hours with a one hour break for lunch with an audience of anywhere from 6 to 40 nonprofit professionals in a classroom.

In the beginning of my speaking career, I was asked to teach these courses by distilling well known techniques from the business world and apply these to the nonprofit space. I would demonstrate well known practices from Harvard Business Review methodologies and techniques as well some of my own content as part of a workbook to integrate those concepts together into a comprehensive course.

classroom1Qualified. I taught for Duke approximately twice a month in the early days of my speaking career which qualified me to join the National Speakers Association (NSA). Duke paid me to teach these courses, so I was being paid professionally for my speaking skills.

This is how I first started in the speaking world as a workshop speaker or “breakout” before I began giving keynote speeches and also worked on facilitations.

Various Backgrounds. Many of us come to the professional speaking business from a variety of backgrounds. Perhaps you spent years in the financial sector and have the ability to read spreadsheets and financial statements well and want to share your knowledge with others. You may be an athlete who has achieved a goal that only a few people can claim (i.e. Olympic athletes, football players, etc.) You may have overcome an illness and want to share your life experience and help others also overcome it. You may be a very religious person who believes your higher power can help others. You may be a craftsman who understands how to build or create something that others want to know.

People Willing to Pay. Regardless of how you grew into your speaking profession, if people want to pay you to hear your message, you ARE a professional speaker. If people do not want to pay for your message or spend the time to hear your message, then you need to readdress what market you are trying to reach and why is your message important to them.

Let’s take the example of the financial speaker. This financial speaker may target his or her message to corporate individuals or entrepreneurs who want to better understand how to read a financial statement. Your speech may include terms such “Return on Investment” or “Depreciation and Amortization” or “Tax Strategies”. This may be fine and well received by this market.

If, however, you take that same speech, and try to deliver that same speech (without customization) to an audience of ten year old students, you will likely lose their attention and not be asked to return. It doesn’t mean your message wasn’t a good one. It just means you didn’t deliver a message that the audience wanted to hear.

1000 Cranes, LLC  Naomi TakeuchiCommunication Powerhouse Tip of the Week: My Market and My Message. When you consider what kind of speaker you are, you must ask yourself, “What is my market?” and “Who are the people who will hear my message?”  Answering these two very important questions will help you as you prepare for your speaking career.

How About You?  Have you wanted to begin a Professional Speaking Business?  Have these tips been helpful?

Stay tuned for Part 2: Ways to Deliver Your Message next week!