Thursday, February 11, 2010

So You Want to be a Professional Speaker...?

Welcome to the new format for Thursdays - Promo Tips and Other Things from the Spunky!

Speaking professionally - where to begin? Part I

For most authors, speaking begins with book signings and appearances. Maybe you give a talk at the library. Perhaps you discuss your book with a book club. If you're lucky, a couple of these venues might even give you a token cash gift for appearing. For the most part though, you are doing it for free.

So how does one transform into a paid speaker?

Bottom line - you need a platform. And your platform cannot be your book! Businesses and organizations are not going to pay you to come in and pitch your book for an hour.

So how do you build a platform? Well, if you've written a book, then you are an expert on something. It took research. It took expertise, experience, and knowledge. That is your starting point!

Speakers don't just 'talk.' They have a message that is designed to help their audience. Their goal is to inform and educate their audience on how their lives can be better. Products are designed to help people be healthier, wealthier, sexier, or to save them time. You as a speaker need to deliver your 'product' in much the same manner.

What can you tell people that will enlighten their lives? You don't have to be a dynamo, but you must appeal emotionally, logically or both. Your message must be both informative and entertaining. Don't think of it as a 'speech' - you are talking WITH your audience.

So if up until now you have been talking solely about your book(s), start brainstorming! What's your expertise? What message do you want to convey? Who can you help with your message?

To be continued...

Any questions?

Now, go do your homework!


  1. An enlightening, informative and enjoyable post!

  2. I'm glad you've started this series, Diane. It'll be fun learning from you.

    Straight From Hel

  3. Guess I need to get busy on that homework...

  4. Good advice and this has the makings of a great series. I give talks on freedom from addiction occasionally, but would really like to ramp up my pro speaking career so I'll be here at class front row and center!

    Marvin D Wilson

  5. I'll be right next to Marvin, front and center. So glad you are doing this, Diane.

  6. I like what you say about how you are "talking with your audience". Since that is the case, you'd better know what you're talking about up one side and down the next and be prepared for any questions or rebuttals. Nothing too much more awkward than stumbling over a question you don't know or having an audience member out-expert you and perhaps even discredit you--although it is always possible it could lead to interesting discussion, but that's not probably something a speaker is looking for in most cases.

  7. And Lee, sometimes it happens anyway! LOL

  8. Fantastic points and advice, Diane. I agree with all of it.

    I think your point about how a speaker is not giving a speech but talking with the audience is very important. It's a two way street, a communication process, and by remembering that it brings a much more dynamic and interesting feel to the event.


  9. Jai, you got it! If you just stand there and give a speech... well, it's really boring! Ask any college student attending a lecture.

  10. I"m also looking forward to this series. :]

  11. Good stuff :-) I was talking with an author the other day that was terrified of speaking for a few minutes. What she didn't realize was that it wasn't a speech. It really was a give and take conversation. Sometimes the conversation from the audience is in facial reaction. Just being receptive to how your message is received really helps. And you do need to know if they expect a speech, teaching, or interactive workshop.
    Great stuff, thanks :-)