Yes, Virginia, You Can Be a Highly Paid Speaker

By Darren LaCroix | Stage Time Articles

Dear Darren,

I want to be a highly-paid professional speaker . . . now.

I hired a speaking coach to develop my keynote and delivered 12 speeches (which is adequate), but no one is approaching me after my presentations to offer me a paid gig. I purchased your programs regarding the business of speaking (nothing new there), but I’m not making any money yet.  I have no products or services to offer so I need a check for each speaking engagement. Why haven’t your programs given me the speaking business I want?

Sincerely,

Virginia

 

Dear Virginia,

You can be a master presenter and get highly paid, but first you need to be a master student. Hiring a coach and buying the programs won’t automatically make you a highly-paid professional speaker. You have to do the work.

First, I have to ask: What is your why? Are you a speaker, or are you an expert? If you are in this business just to make money, you are in the wrong place. Consider buying a lottery ticket. Find another industry that you want to dedicate your time and effort to. If you want to address audiences because you can help make a difference in their lives, keep reading. No one pays for a speech. As Alan Weiss says, “We get paid to improve the client’s condition.”

Giving a speech is just one way to give “transformational information” that leads to improving a client’s condition. I always recommend to new speakers (and seasoned ones too) that you hire a speaking coach to take you to the next level. Congratulations for taking that step! A coach can offer you tailored advice on how to improve your speech and provide the encouragement needed to make your speech world class.

But they won’t do the work for you. Ask yourself, “Am I coachable, and am I willing to do the work?” Have you taken their advice and their instruction to heart? Have you made the changes they’ve suggested? A coach can be expensive. If you aren’t prepared and willing to take action on what they tell you, you are wasting your time and money.

I have a test called “Get the Book.” I use it when people who wish to be funnier ask me for advice. The first bit of advice I give is to get the book called Stand-up Comedy the Book by Judy Carter. If they come back to me, the first question I ask is, “Did you get the book?” Often I hear, “Well, no, but . . . “ Stop! If you won’t order a $12 book, you will never do the hard stuff. Why waste my time giving advice if you won’t do the easy stuff? I won’t.

You, Virginia, invested in my program and told me I did not give you anything to do. At the end of the program, you will find a list of things to do. Based on a search I did, I know that you did not do those simple steps to help set you up for success. I would never have dreamed of asking a mentor for advice and not following through before I asked for more advice. I realize I have to earn my time with action. Action is a funny thing; it teaches you memorable lessons that serve you. No action, fewer teaching moments.

Before you can become a highly-paid speaker, you must first become a paid speaker. Everyone comes into the industry with a different background and position. If, for example, someone comes from having a coaching business already in place, adding speaking to the business is easier and faster. Why? Because they already know their why and are already experienced with improving the client’s condition.

How do you define getting paid? We all have our own definitions. If you think that my program wasn’t working because you didn’t get a $2500 check in a week, please send my program back for a refund. I recently heard a guru say something brilliant: “Your short-term expectations are too high, and your long-term expectations are too low.” If you go back and listen again to the program, you’ll hear that I clearly explain that there are many ways to get paid to speak. One of them is to be paid by getting a testimonial which helps increase your marketing leverage. Another is to build your list which increases your influence. I also mentioned offering other experts’ products in the back of the room as a resource. You can do in your next presentation and for as long as you want until you have your own. If a check is the only thing that counts for you, it will take longer.

Also, if people don’t approach you after you speak to ask for your prices, it could just mean that you aren’t speaking in front of people who hire speakers. The real test is whether or not people approach you to say how much your speech helped them or to ask what they can do to get more information. If no one does that, your speech isn’t world class just yet.

My programs are a mixture of the years of study and work that I have put into my speaking business. Twenty years ago, many speakers lived off of the speaking fee alone. The industry has changed dramatically. No one lives off their speaking fee alone. Even highly-paid speakers have other streams of income. That’s why I offer many different ways to get paid and build the foundation of your business. The programs are meant to give you insight into the speaking business, direction in your marketing, and a checklist to get started speaking and start getting paid.

You can also add a signature line to your email, possibly about writing a book and more. In my efforts to help you, I did a quick Google search after reading your letter. And I found nothing. You have no website. You have no mention of speaking in your social media profiles, no testimonies available. Perhaps you’ve already heard everything I’m saying, but you haven’t actually acted on it. Ask yourself again, “Am I coachable, and am I willing to do the work?”

In order to see improvements with coaching, in order to derive benefits from using programs, you need to take the advice of the mentors you’ve chosen to guide you. There is only one secret to making it in the speaking business: Be coachable, and do the work.

My teaching won’t help you if you are just speaking for the money. If you are truly coachable, you will apply what you learn, learn from each mistake, remain a continual sponge, and figure out how to improve the client’s condition, while letting people know you can help them too. Then, yes, Virginia, you can become a highly-paid professional speaker.

 

Sincerely,

Darren

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