6 ways to make money from public speaking

OPINION: A dab hand at presenting? It could be a lucrative sideline, says Nick Gold.

by Nick Gold
Last Updated: 07 Dec 2016

Unfortunately, in this world, everybody wants something for nothing, and this will include your public speaking engagements. But everybody also knows that some things are worth paying for. Great content and seamless delivery in a speaker are hard to come by. If you are delivering these assets without getting paid, follow these six handy tips and you will hopefully be reaping the rewards in no time.

1. Network

Being a great networker is an invaluable skill. The ability to make relative strangers laugh and have insightful conversations will help propel you along any career path. But in terms of networking helping to monetise your speaking, it will have twofold benefits. Firstly, if you are attending events within the speaking circuit, you will get to witness other speakers in action, therefore enabling you to see what works and what doesn’t. This window into the inside will help you to hone your own skills and make you a better speaker. 

Secondly, you will be mixing with similar groups of people. Whether event organisers, speaker bureaus or agents, they will all be involved with paid speaking gigs in some form or another, so it is a good idea to make yourself known to them. Being able to chat to these kinds of influential people will help get your name out there and ensure that you are securing those much-needed contacts in the industry. Seeing the same faces crop up time and again will help you to build relationships and work towards securing a paid engagement.

2. Understand the value of your add-on products

A live speech is a very powerful tool, but it can be compounded with add-on products. Whether this be a recording of your speech, books or summary cards, these additional products complement the event and add value to your speech as they allow attendees to reflect on your content.

By selling these extra resources, not only will you make you a few pennies on the day, but it will also lock your content into the memories of delegates. Providing your attendees with the ability to re-live your speech is an exceptional resource, as it works as a reminder of how great you are. They can then share these products with their colleagues and the word-of-mouth recommendation is done for you.

3. Do unpaid gigs

This may seem contradictory, but we don’t mean do every unpaid gig under the sun. We suggest a careful selection of unpaid spots that are likely to land you with that coveted paid gig.

Major platforms such as TED do not pay their speakers, but they do provide prestige and the credentials that relatively unknown speakers need to get their name out there. Having the backing of a prestigious name like TED makes it a lot easier for speakers to certify themselves and is very appealing to event organisers. 

4. Know your marketing collateral  

You may be the best speaker in the world, but if you are confused as to where to pitch yourself or what type of brief you would suit, then how can you expect to fit into an event? You need to be clear on what exactly you do, what services you offer and what type of speaker you are.

Find your target market and build yourself into their community. Become a pillar of this society, contribute to both on and offline conversations with your target audience and start to build your profile as an expert in this specific domain. By placing yourself at the centre of your specific market, your expertise and status in this area will only grow, causing people to think of you as a leading speaker in this area. 

5. Brand yourself - with a splash of colour

Branding is a dynamic tool that we see at work all the time. Take Coke, for example, and the colour red springs to mind; Sainsbury’s, and one thinks of the colour orange; Jo Malone, cream and black.

Once you have picked your own brand colour, theme your slides around it, match any corporate gifts or giveaways to it, and try to wear items of clothing in this colour. This may seem like a simple thing to do, but it is very powerful. Branding yourself in a colour will make you memorable to event delegates and will establish you as a professional label and, in turn, one that should be paid for engagements.

6. Identify critical clients

The key to developing a widespread speaking portfolio is to make sure you have identified possible clients who regularly work on multiple events across the year.  These clients generally have a strong network of connections within the corporate circuit – their resources will soon become indispensable to you. These contacts come from the world of event agencies, production companies or the best of all (and clearly this is a completely impartial opinion) speaker bureaus! 

Nick Gold is managing director of Speakers Corner.

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