Article Summary:What does it take to become a professional speaker?
As I was sitting at a National Speakers Association conference recently, I was struck by how many people were in the room who wanted to become professional speakers and admitted to not knowing what they wanted to speak about. These were people who for some reason other than a burning desire or calling in their gut - wanted to stand up before others and deliver a message - though they just weren't sure what the message was.
I compare that to wanting to open a manufacturing plant - but not having a product to produce, not having a market defined, not having a sales process - in other words, really not having much of anything other than an idea.
I had to wonder, why were they there?
I think there are two main reasons:
1. They hear that professional speaking is lucrative - they can make a lot of money per speech.
2. That it's relatively easy to get into the field.
People hear the large sums of money that professional speakers can earn and they are seduced. They think that it's easy money and that anyone can do it - message or not!
I wonder, is there really such a thing as easy money?
Ask people who spend their days gambling to make easy money: Are you successful?
Ask an entrepreneur: Is it easy to be successful in business?
For most successful people, success comes from a lot of hard work, some hard knocks, and perhaps some luck along the way.
In order to be successful in the speaking business, here's what I believe you need to know:
The message comes first, then the hard work begins.
And, these are the traits and behaviors you'll need to succeed:
- A burning desire to share something that is significant to you
- A need and desire to share that is so intense that you share it for free - just so it reaches and touches people
- The ability to express your ideas creatively, articulately, and with clarity
- Knowledge and skills to think and act like a business person
- Willingness to do the things you don't like doing
- Ability to build relationships based on wanting to be of service
- Helpfulness and selflessness (not helplessness and selfishness - that would be a surefire way to disaster)
- A determination and persistence to keep at it
- Resiliency to be able to deal with rejection
- Tolerance for lack of a structured routine
- Healthy self-esteem and self-confidence
- Support from your family
- A network of professional support that includes an industry association or two, networking and mastermind groups, and trusted colleagues who you can bounce ideas off of and vent to when things aren't going well
- Tolerance for financial instability and uneven work schedules
- A clear vision of what you want to achieve and what you want it to look like
So, ask yourself - do you have what it takes to be a professional speaker? If yes, I wish you the best! And, if I see you on the road, I'll wave and wish you a good journey.
Dana Bristol-Smith is the founder of Speak for Success, an organization that works with companies that want their people to communicate with confidence and credibility. She is the author of Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking interactive manual. Dana works primarily with managers, sales and technical professionals and has delivered presentations and training to more than 100,000 people since 1992. For more information, visit Speakforsuccess.net