TED talks, YouTube rants and Mr. Peanut, the mascot for Planters Peanuts, are all signs of just how highly valued the art of oratory is today.
“Yep, even Mr. Peanut can be seen in Planters ads giving TED-style presentations; people are spending top dollar to attend a well-presented speech with useful information from an inspired perspective, and the best speakers may be regarded fairly as today’s rock stars,” says expert speaker coach Jane Atkinson, author of “The Wealthy Speaker 2.0” and “The Epic Keynote” (speakerlauncher.com).
“The ability to command a fee is a sign that you’ve made it as a speaker. However, as with rock stars, it’s a long way to the top if you’re just starting. But if you have something to offer, then you can reach that fee status, and there’s a reliable path to follow.”
Jane Atkinson has been helping speakers catapult their businesses for over 20 years. As a former speaker’s agent, she has represented business speakers, celebrities and best selling authors. Today, she coaches some of the industries biggest stars, with some earning over $1M per year. Atkinson outlines the three phases to becoming a paid speaker:
Ready. “Picking a lane” in your topic is the first step to becoming not only a paid speaker, but a wealthy one, too. Ask yourself these questions, “What topic do I want to be known for five years from now?” and “Will someone pay me for that information?” When looking for a speaker to deliver a keynote speech at a conference, who will be picked from a pool of experts – a jack of all trades or someone who hits the center of the bull’s-eye on a topic? When picking a lane, consider delving into topics including leadership, engagement, corporate culture or communication. In this phase, you’ll want to really develop your bona fides, including your material and establishing the goal of how you’d like to help your audience.
Aim. Here is the marketing phase that cannot be underappreciated. It includes aspects like your website, which may include a well-written blog with relevant content in order to drive traffic there, and media exposure. However, the most important way to market yourself is to have an outstanding speech. A good speech for a speaker is like a great pastry for a baker – a quality product speaks volumes itself. There is no better form of marketing than a great speech. Therefore, if you think your speech could use help, take care of it right away. No amount of marketing dollars, fancy Facebook page and ultra-cool website can overcome a mediocre presentation. However, when you market yourself, you’ll want to include a number of materials, including your brand, promise statement, photos, a bio illustrating credibility, testimonials and more.
Fire. Now, you need to identify your target market and determine the best method to reach them. You need to roll out your product and continue to build momentum. Be ready to fire your message to your target market via a public relations campaign strategy. There are multiple ways of effectively getting good attention from the media, but don’t believe all attention is good attention. Carefully consider your press releases. Atkinson says the mistake most speakers make is sending out a press release that does not answer the question: “So what?” They don’t tie it to anything relevant into which the press can sink their teeth. Another way to “fire” is to identify your ideal customer, also called the The Attraction Method, as detailed in the book, “Attracting Perfect Customers: The Power of Strategic Synchronicity” by Stacy Hall and Jan Brogniez.
“If you feel as though you have something to offer audiences via oral presentations, then you probably do,” Atkinson says. “These days, so much content can be had for free online, but that doesn’t take the place of a live experiential presentation. A presentation that is ‘epic’ will remain in your memory for years. The ability to present your content live, and make the presentation worthwhile and relevant, means you can earn a reliable stream of revenue based on what you’re good at.”