Speaking‎ > ‎

Becoming a Paid Public Speaker

posted Jul 27, 2015, 11:45 AM by Anjuan Simmons   [ updated Jul 21, 2016, 4:45 PM ]
A friend recently asked me this question about becoming a hired speaker:

@anjuan: Where did you start with presenting yourself as a hired speaker? Organizations? Inner network? Free engagements then started to charge? Was it a massive email saying you were available? #seriousinquiry

Here's my answer:

• You’ll probably have to speak for free before you can speak for a fee. Start hitting up local meetups and bar camps and volunteer to speak. You won’t get money for these talks, but you will get extremely valuable experience speaking in front of crowds and honing your public speaking skills. Make sure you connect with your audience before, during, and after your talk. Post your speaker slides, notes and pictures to social media.
• As you get more experience, apply to speak at conferences. Ideally, you will have several talks that align with a conference track. Again, start local and branch out to your greater metro area. You will probably have to drive to these conferences and pay for your expenses. Continue to connect with people and project your content via social media. I think that creating a newsletter that people can subscribe to is a great strategy. Email marketing is very powerful.
• In time, you’ll find conferences that offer to cover your expenses when they accept your talk. However, even if not offered, you should *always* ask to have your travel (flight and hotel) expenses covered. Of course, your registration expenses will be covered as a speaker. Some conferences offer an honorarium, but that is fairly rare.
• You will eventually reach a crossroads. You can seek speaking gigs that offer more money, but that requires full dedication to life as a public speaker. While I know people who are full time public speakers, it is a life of constant travel and all the complications of life lived out of a suitcase. Or, you can enjoy a set number of speaking gigs that let you travel around the world and talk about your passions. You’re not making enough money to support yourself, but you are getting some nice air miles, hotel points, speaker gifts, and cool relationships. 

I’ve chosen to take the path of a handful of speaking gigs each year that require me to keep my day job but allow me to get in front of audiences around the country and share my ideas. This path supports my current professional and personal goals while gratifying my love of performing on stage.