Do You Have What It Takes To Be A Professional 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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Is Professional Speaking the Path for You?

The truth is that pretty much anyone can be a professional speaker. There is no degree required, no barrier to entry. Hang your shingle and you’re a speaker simply because you say so. But that doesn’t mean people will start paying you to speak.  Many speakers spend years “getting ready” only to find that nobody wants them. So first question answered – yes, you can become a professional speaker. The true question is should you?

Are You Good Enough?

While this seems to be the obvious question, it’s just the beginning. Yes, you need to be good at what you do, or at least as good as what you charge and what they expect.  You can’t afford to be a bad speaker or even a mediocre speaker or you won’t find enough work to pay the bills. Your speech is your product and you can’t outsell a crappy product. Eventually it will catch up with you.

Do You Like the Job?

There are many jobs out there that people do without really enjoying it. This isn’t one of them.  In order to make this career work you must absolutely LOVE it. You must love it so much that you are willing to sweat through a lot of tough times. This job makes you an entrepreneur requiring you to handle much more than just your hour on stage. If you think you could do this just because it looks easy, you are wasting your time. It’s not.

Do You Like People?

Being a professional speaker requires so much more than that hour on stage.  You are “on” before you speak, after you speak, online, etc.  There are many speakers who do not interact with their audience at all. They breeze in and breeze out.  These speakers can obviously afford to lose potential contacts and connections. The rest of us can’t.  Clients and audiences want to interact with their speaker in hallways and receptions. It’s part of the experience we deliver. So start working on your networking skills.

Are You Willing To Treat This Like a Business?

This isn’t a job that starts paying you on Monday. It takes time to grow the business, and a lot of work to handle ALL aspects of the business from scheduling to contracts to taxes.  Yes, you can pay someone to do it, which means your business must be able to support staff salaries.  If you have no money saved, and no side money coming in, you’re going to find yourself in a tough spot. It takes time to build a speaking business that pays you like other jobs.

Do You Have Something To Say?

You are not a speaker until you have a speech. Period.  People pay us to give speeches. You may have a great life story, but that doesn’t mean you have something to say.  You are not ready to be a speaker until you have a speech. (I can help you with that part if you need it. Just email for more information.)

Do You Have Something They Want To Hear?

Clients pay you to come teach their audience something – to help them avoid a pain they are having, or help them get a pleasure they are seeking.  They pay according to the value they see in what you are bringing their audience.

Do You Have A Unique Perspective?

There are thousands of speakers out there all speaking on the same topic, most of them wearing the same suit.  Your clients, thanks to the internet, have thousands of choices. What will make you stand out among the others?  Your information will never be what sets you apart. What sets you apart is YOU – your unique perspective on the world – the combination of your life experiences and what they have taught you.

Are You Entertaining?

It’s not just about what you have to teach, it’s how you wrap it in an experience that is enjoyable for the audience. If they just wanted information, they could buy the book or look it up on the internet. They are paying a speaker to come in and deliver that information in a way that engages, entertains, and has impact.  (I can also help you with that.)  You can’t afford to be a boring speaker. If you want longevity in this business and bigger stages with bigger clients, you’d better be entertaining every moment you’re on that stage.

Do You Believe In Yourself?

Do you really believe in what you’re doing, your right to do it, and the message you are bringing? This job requires rock solid confidence and an unwavering belief that you belong on that stage. When you feel it – when you own it – you command the stage. Not believing in yourself will be the one thing that will affect every aspect of this job, and your ability to make it in this business.  It takes time and practice and experience to build this confidence up. But it is something you must constantly work on. Just don’t go too far in the other direction.  Nobody likes the diva.

You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

Just like any new business, you don’t know what you don’t know. You need your car fixed, you go to a mechanic. You need your taxes done, you find an accountant.  You’re sick, see a doctor.  Same goes for the speaking business. Other people have the information you need. Learn everything you can from the masters. There is no guide book or degree in this business.  There are only those of us who have been there. Find the best teachers and coaches to teach you what you don’t know.

If you have decided that this is the business for you, and you are willing to do what it takes, and you are ready to find out what you don’t know about making it work and delivering speeches that get standing ovations, then the time is right for you to enroll in Story Impact Academy.   If you are interested, contact me at .  Mention this 8womendream blog post and receive a 20% discount.