How To Become A Motivational Speaker

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Motivational Speaker Kelly Swanson is an award-winning storyteller, author, and comedian who teaches you how to harness the power of your story to connect, engage, and get results. In this blog, Kelly focuses on the business of professional speaking. Kelly’s post day is Friday. If you aren't sure how to comment on this story, click here.

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Funny Motivational Speaker Kelly Swanson

How do I become a motivational speaker?

 I feel like I’m supposed to be a motivational speaker. Can you give me some tips on how to get started?

I get asked this question about once a week. Unfortunately the career track to being a professional motivational speaker is not clearly spelled out like the path to becoming a teacher. While teachers know the classes to take, the degree to get, and the process for getting hired, speakers are left to figure it out on their own. Well, not totally on their own. There are resources. Me for one. I’ll get you started, and hopefully guide you toward your next steps where you will undoubtedly meet more people who can share advice. So, in a nutshell, here are my “tips” to becoming a motivational speaker. If you want something deeper, I’ve included a link at the end of this post that will lead you to my mp3 recording of “How To Launch Your Speaking Business”.

  1. Know your message and how to convey it. Know what you want to teach that audience to do. What is the problem they have? What is the answer you have? How can you help them fix their problem? The point of a speaker is to come in and help that audience get something they want. Be very clear on what you are teaching them to do and how it will make their lives better.

    Being a speaker isn’t just about telling your story. It’s about telling theirs.

  2. Have an interesting well-written story that you can tell on stage in a compelling way. If you just walk up on a stage and tell people what they need to know – you are not a professional speaker, you are a teacher. If you have a curriculum, or a list of things to teach, and that is all, then find a different forum. Write a book. Teach a class. Become a professional blogger.  Professional speakers are hired to come deliver an experience that includes the message and your own personal perspective on how that message changed your life.

    In this crowded market, it’s not the content that will set you apart – it’s the story.

  3. Determine your market. Figure out who needs your message the most. Is it a certain group of people in a certain industry? Is it a certain problem? While your message might be great for everybody, you need to go find ideal groups to reach out to – who will pay for what you have to offer.

    The best way to find your best market is to focus on the problem they have that you can solve in an experience that really connects to that demographic.

  4. Find your WOW factor. You need to find out what sets you apart. Why should they book you over the fifty other speakers they found who talk about the same thing. What makes you different? What makes you fun? What makes your experience something they will rave about?

    Most speakers work so hard to “play the part” that they cover up their differentiating factor because they have made the mistake of thinking that blending is the way to success when success is actually found in NOT being like everybody else.

  5. Have a website that reflects what you do and how you do it in a compelling way. The website is where most of your selling occurs. This is your album cover, your billboard, your press kit, your commercial, the magnet that draws the world to you and your message.  You will always be in a constant state of investing time, energy, and money into this valuable tool.  Most of your clients will determine your value based on this website.  Function is important, but getting their attention is even more important. The most important components of this website are: the contact information, a compelling tag line, cool pictures, good video, great testimonials,  a clear explanation of what you do and how it helps people, and a window into your style and personality and what makes you different.

    Your ability to sell is dependent on your ability to connect to your buyer emotionally, yet many speakers forget this when creating websites, not realizing that the website is doing your selling too.

  6. Start a community. From the very beginning start gathering fans and collecting them on social media and staying in touch with them. These are people who like you, like what you do, and need your message. Be an ongoing resource for them.

    Many speakers view their “list” as a pool of people to sell and market to, when this list is really your chosen family that you will take on this journey with you, and who will become your foundation.

  7. Find a community to learn from. Surround yourself with people who do this for a living – that you can learn from. Don’t send out random messages to busy speakers asking to “pick their brain” – find associations of speakers that you can network with and find continuing education. Read blogs like mine. I have been writing about this business for almost a year now on this blog. Go back and read all the posts I have written. Get Judy Carter’s book “The Message of You”. Read books on how to be funny. Take storytelling workshops and classes. Be a sponge.

    The best place for an aspiring speaker to learn this business is the National Speakers Association. Google them. Find a local chapter. Attend the national meetings.

  8. Make a plan. You won’t know if you’re right, and you’ll head down some useless paths for a while, but you need a plan to tell the world that you are here, any way you know how. You need to figure out where and why other speakers are getting booked. There isn’t anybody who will tell you this plan, or can tell you a plan. You just have to start experimenting and figure it out on your own. It’s what we all do. And every plan and every path will be unique to the speaker and their market and their message.

    A failure to plan is a plan to fail.

  9. Treat this like an art as much as a business. This is as much entertainment as it is business. Speaking is a craft, and the more you work at your craft – the more you practice – the more you strive to make it better and outdo yourself – the more you will be paid and the more you will be booked.

    Too many speakers are trying to sell a mediocre product. Make that product (the speech) brilliant and the marketing will start to take care of itself.

  10. Believe in what you’re doing and how it helps people.  The moment this becomes all about you and how much money you can make and having people love you, is the moment you have lost. An audience knows how much you care about them.  And if you don’t believe in the power you have, then neither will they. This is a tough business. You’d better love what you’re doing and believe in it so much that it will carry you through the days and years when you don’t make any money.

motivation for speakers

Launching Your Speaking Business with Kelly Swanson – 75-Minute Audio Coaching Session

Want to become a speaker and have no idea where to start? Wondering how to get people to actually PAY you to speak? It’s a scary place, knowing you want to be a speaker, and having no idea how to do it. There’s no college course, rule book, or manual. And there’s advice coming at you from all directions, and a lot of it contradicting. The number one question we get over and over from speakers, new and even seasoned, is “How do I get people to pay me to speak?” This value-packed session addresses just that, as Kelly shares 20 things speakers need to get booked and get paid. And better than just giving you a list, Kelly actually discusses this list with one of her coaching clients on this session – so you can actually see how this applies directly to the speaking business. While your message and brand will be different, the principles are still the same. This is another one of those recordings you will want to play over and over and over.

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