Motivational Speaking: How Authors Can Become Speakers—for Pay, Publicity, and More!

Motivational Speaking Opportunities

How Authors Can Become Speakers—for Pay, Publicity, and More!

By Don Hauptman

I'd be willing to bet on it: As a writer and author, you know a lot of stuff. Have you ever considered deploying and recycling all that knowledge—as a speaker?

You can share what you know—and get paid for it! What’s more, public speaking is a great way to publicize your books, build your reputation, and generate writing assignments. You may also discover that you enjoy the acclaim and celebrity that speakers are routinely accorded.

You say you don't have spectacular speaking skills? No problem! I'm not a dazzling speaker, yet my presentations are always well received. It's the quality of the content you deliver that matters.

For more than 30 years, I was a freelance advertising copywriter. But I quickly discovered that there was a demand for what I knew, and I developed a lucrative sideline delivering in-house training presentations for client companies. For these assignments, I received fees that ranged between $4,000 and $10,000. I also spoke frequently at industry gatherings, where the attendees were prospects for my copywriting work. In these ways, I expanded my platform and my revenue streams.

Any nonfiction "how-to" or practical topic has a built-in audience. For example, if you’ve written a motivational book, you might find opportunities to do motivational speaking.

Motivational Speaking Tip: It's the quality of the content you deliver that matters.

motivational speaking

While researching my new e-book, The Versatile Freelancer, I interviewed numerous authors and writers who became popular and well-paid speakers, and who found many other benefits and synergies from the two activities.

Take my case. Most of my paid speaking assignments involved corporate training. Companies throughout the U.S., and even abroad, hired me to teach copywriting and marketing to their staffers.

Motivational Speaking Tip - Many companies will hire you to speak to their employees if you have special skills that they can incorporate into their training programs.

If your own specialty offers benefits to businesses—leadership, increasing productivity, cutting costs, avoiding workplace discrimination lawsuits—you might have a speaking niche. Many companies have formal training programs and need to invite outside speakers and trainers—and compensate them. Usually, larger companies have the budgets for that, although I've spoken and trained at relatively small ones as well.

Now consider more "public" speaking. The possible venues are almost infinite.

Every industry and profession has its conferences, conventions, seminars, breakfasts, lunches, and other types of gathering. National trade associations sponsor annual meetings and often additional events throughout the year. Many of these groups have regional and local chapters that host their own events. Still other organizations are independent, such as the "mastermind" groups of business owners and entrepreneurs that meet regularly to network and exchange ideas and contacts.

These events need speakers. That's what draws attendees. What"s more, sometimes the sponsor is desperate to fill an opening with a qualified presenter who has something of value to share.

Most of these groups don't pay speakers. In some cases, the presenter may receive travel expenses and/or a small honorarium. But you receive exposure, visibility, a platform. I built my own career, in large part, by this kind of speaking.

Of course, another big advantage of public speaking is that it provides a venue for selling your books. Even famous and highly paid author-speakers often make more money from "back of the room" sales than from the fees they receive! Immediately after a presentation that establishes the speaker as an authority, audience members love to meet the author, buy the book, and get an inscription.

Motivational Speaking Tips: Speaking engagements can provide a venue for selling more copies of your book.

Some authors do receive substantial speaking fees. Leil Lowndes has written numerous books on business and personal communication, most recently the best-seller, How to Talk to Anyone: 92 Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships.

Among her frequent speaking venues is the Young Presidents Organization, a national business association. She began by addressing its local chapters free, then that experience got her booked for its national meetings, for which she is well compensated.

Another idea: Speak at events for writers. Probably not a week goes by that a conference, workshop, or retreat for writers isn't being held somewhere. You can find many of them listed or advertised in Writer's Digest, among other places.

Here too, the pay may be nominal or even nonexistent. But one big benefit is that, as a speaker, you're on an equal footing with other speakers, many of whom are book and magazine publishers and editors, and sometimes famous authors.

I never sought out such bookings. But every few years, I received an invitation to speak at a writers' conference. I usually accepted. I enjoyed the experience and often obtained valuable contacts. Sponsors actively recruit people who have valuable information to impart to attendees, who include both experienced and aspiring writers.

Motivational Speaking Tip: Public speaking can provide another revenue stream that is important, especially in lean economic times.

Here's a final—and not insignificant—advantage: These sideline activities can give you some protection against a weak economy or a recession. In other words, what we're experiencing right now.

How so? You'll have a wider portfolio of skills and services to offer. You'll have not just one source of revenue, but "multiple streams of income."

Motivational Speaking Tip: Public speaking can bring authors many rewards, monetary and otherwise.

Many of the people I interviewed for my book told me that their businesses were unaffected by current economic conditions and that they are doing as well as ever, or even better. In many cases, they credited their survival and success to their versatility. Because they have multiple careers and income streams, when demand for one declines, another often picks up.

The moral of the story: Speaking can bring authors many rewards, monetary and otherwise. Are there organizations and companies and audiences just waiting to hear you? With a little creative thinking and a powerful pitch, you'll get those bookings!

About the Author:

Don Hauptman is author of The Versatile Freelancer: How Writers and Other Creative Professionals Can Generate More Income by Seizing New Opportunities in Critiquing, Consulting, Training, and Presenting. The book explains how to find speaking assignments, easy ways to get started, how to prepare and deliver a successful presentation, how to polish your speaking skills—plus tools and tips for using visual aids, handing the Q&A, conquering stage fright, dealing with unexpected problems, negotiating fees, and more. The Versatile Freelancer comes with a free bonus report and a 100 percent money-back guarantee of satisfaction.

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