Making a Living as a Public Speaker

The wonderful dearly departed comic Chris Farley had a character that was a professional motivational speaker. That character was Matt Foley and he was an absolute mess. His speaking style was painful and destructive and he lived (say it with me) in a van down by the river. Well, as hilarious as that routine was, that characterization of professional speakers is obviously for comedy purposes only. If you have been given the gift of public speaking, there is every reason to believe that you can make a very good living doing it for a living.

One way to view making your living as a public speaker is to see it as a variation on the profession of a professional author. When you think about it, a writer of informative books takes an area of expertise that they have excelled at and they used their skills in writing to lay that out for people who need that knowledge. And when people buy that knowledge, it’s a fair exchange to pay that person for that valuable knowledge and allow that author to continue writing.

You can also compare a professional public speaker to the noble calling of a teacher. A teacher, after all, is someone who does public speaking every day for his or her students. And that public speaking has a vital function in our society. Without it, our children would not be educated and the way our culture functions would be in serious danger. So professional public speakers are important.

How to get your own career as a professional public speaker going is the challenge. You may be used to public speaking to help with your work or as part of your membership in a church or other organization. So it may not be a big leap to think of taking that skill to the next level and seek ways to get paid doing what you love to do, speaking to larger groups about your area of expertise.

As might happen if you took your area of skill that you have the most knowledge an put that in a book form, that focus is your meal ticket to be successful as a professional public speaker. So to get the ball rolling, the first step is to add to the level of notoriety you may have as a professional in your field of knowledge. The internet is a good starting place. By building a website where you can showcase your knowledge and using the skills of internet marketers to get some traffic to that website, it is where you can begin to build an audience for your knowledge area and to keep them informed on times and places where you will be speaking.

Once that website is in place, it can be a foundation for your new public speaking career. You can send people to it after each talk you give where they can learn more about how to use your talents for their function and for their audience. But don’t just rest on the internet and expect it to do all the work. There are lots of organizations that you can speak at either for free or for a small gratuity (sometimes just lunch). But the value of these meetings is not the pay, its getting momentum and some buzz as a speaker.

From then on its just a matter of networking. As members of those groups carry your business card with them, they refer you and you get more and more “gigs” presenting your talk to bigger groups. Before long the gratuities turn into real pay. And when you are on your way and things start to click, you will never look back on your decision to become a professional public speaker.