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Smooth Talking!
Explore the Paid Speaking Market

By Cathleen Fillmore

You've got a good solid business, expertise and experience. It's time to get paid (well!) for sharing that wisdom with an audience.

Money is not the only reward. There's something about the immediacy of being on the platform that has great spin-off benefits.

So whether you do it for the fees or for the contacts or both, you can't lose.

The first step is to get training. Start with Toastmaster's. Then offer your services as a speaker to non-profit or community groups.

Maybe you're a good story teller and a natural on the platform. Not so fast! Are you also good at structuring your speech and sticking to the time frame? It's deadly to go overtime or ramble. Don't fall in love with the sound of your own voice.

Maybe you've been well trained and have your own staged choreography: arms open here, two strides forward there. Stop! You need to unlearn all this.

Perhaps you have a string of degrees and have done tones of research. You know your stuff, you're earnest about it and eager to share. Stop! You have to unlearn all this too. You need to rephrase academic material into conversational language.

You can do almost anything on the platform as long as you're real. Please don't be staged, fake or stuffy.

Be authentic. Be conversational without being patronizing.

Involve your audience. Forget about yourself and focus on what value you're bringing to your audience.

Find a title for your speech. You know that buying decisions are based on chemistry, not intellect, so create an attractive title. Your subtitle should clarify.

A personal story will help audience members identify with you.

Throw in a couple of other stories and make your six or seven points. End with something inspirational - so that people are reminded why they should care about what you've said.

You can offer to 'waive your normal fee' when giving speeches to groups in your own community. Once you have a number of speeches under your belt, you'll be ready to charge.

Now that you have some expertise, use the contacts you've gained at your no-fee speeches to get testimonials as well as find a paying audience.

Ask the meeting organizer to put his or her testimonial in writing on letterhead and add this to your press kit. Also ask if they know of any other organization that would benefit from hearing you speak. You can get a list of Associations from Micromedia (416-362-5211) and corporations from either the library or Board of Trade.

When calling an Association, ask to speak to the conference organizer. Then ask what the theme is and whether they've got their speakers lined up. Large conferences usually plan a year or more in advance.

Let them know what you speak about and offer to send them your material.

Once hired, customize your speeches by talking to the organization leaders as well as employees and addressing their concerns.

To be taken seriously as a professional speaker, you'll need a single sheet that will contain your bio, your photo, three of your speeches with a blurb about each, client list and testimonials. That can be a very powerful marketing tool.

The focus should be on how your prospective client will benefit from hiring you.

Go for it! Share your wisdom with others - become a 'smooth talker' in the very best sense of the phrase.

Cathleen Fillmore is President of Speakers Gold bureau, author of four books and 200 articles, a Certified Professional Consultant and member of the American Chamber of Commerce Canada. To contact her, visit or call 416-532-9886. Inquire about her e-course, Speaking for Money. See her Sources listing here.

See also:
7 Tips for Effective Speeches
Review of Your Guide to Public Speaking
Secrets of a Worthwhile Presentation
Don't Neglect Your Presentation Skills
Seven golden rules for more effective speaking
Going to the Public: Ten public speaking tips
The HotLink Resource Shelf: Going for Gold!
Speaking to the Media