Originally published on Entrepreneur Magazine on January 6, 2016.
Have you ever been to a conference and watched speaker after speaker and thought — “I wish that was me on that stage!”
It’s not uncommon for executives and CEOs to move into the speaking world once they have decided to shift into a new chapter in their lives. And no doubt people from all different kinds of situations and businesses will take the leap over to speaking professionally — that means getting paid — in 2016.
Taking the stage either scares or thrills you. There is usually little middle ground. If you are excited about making the shift to being a paid speaker, let me share with you the wisdom of an expert. I am a professional speaker, but I would rather let someone with a deep-rooted experience give you the insights you need to make that change.
Recently I interviewed Jane Atkinson about speaking to get paid so you can get started on the right foot. For the past 20 years, Jane Atkinson has planted her roots firmly in the world of professional speakers, first as an agent and today as a business coach. Her book, The Wealthy Speaker 2.0, gives the formula to success in paid speaking. Some of her clients, like Ryan Estis, have catapulted from zero to a million in speaking revenue in less than four years.
Here are three tips from Jane to move into speaking as a part of your business model:
1. Pick a lane.
You’ve obviously done something right in your life and career to get you this far. What has it been? Some of the most memorable speakers break it into a simple three-part formula for their audience. An easy to remember path to success. So once you identify your formula, step back and see what topic it might fall under. It could be leadership, team building, negotiation communication or a dozen other topics. The key is not to try to be all things to all people but to become known for one thing.
This is one of the biggest problems novice speakers — and some struggling experts — have is creating a list of possible speeches instead of picking a lane as Jane has explained. As an example, Jane shared a story about Mike Robbins, a former professional baseball player, who realized that his strength was appreciating people. Now you might think that appreciation is a pretty soft skill, but fast forward several years, and Mike speaks all over the world to Fortune 500 companies on how to Focus on the Good Stuff (the title of his book). Why? Appreciation leads to good morale and employee engagement, and with more than 80 percent of workers disengaged, companies will pay to solve this problem.
2. Package it up.
Packaging might consist of two things: Your brand and what Jane calls your promise statement. A statement that clearly defines the benefits of your work. No matter what you are selling, good packaging is essential.
Another example is Kate White. Kate is the former editor and chief of Cosmopolitan Magazine. When she left her job at Cosmo, she transitioned into speaking and writing full time. Her brand is Go Big or Go Home which promotes “breakout success strategies for gutsy women.” Today, Kate speaks to corporate conferences to help women apply her strategies for climbing the corporate ladder.
Why would companies want to invest here? Well as of 2016, there is still not an equal ratio of men and women in the boardroom, and smart companies are taking action to help solve that in order to attract and retain a stronger female workforce.
In order to create your promise statement, ask yourself the question — “What problem am I helping to solve?” Here are more examples of Promise Statements to guide you.
The promise is something that is often missing on speaker’s websites. So make sure you have it clearly identified on every page.
3. Be awesome marketing.
This is my favorite tip, because without it, you are going to struggle to get paid for speaking. Jane says, “There is no better form of marketing than a great speech.” Being good isn’t enough — you have to be awesome which means crafting your presentation.
Presentations coach Lou Heckler says, “The first words out of your mouth when you get to the stage should jar people awake and grab their attention.” Many speakers simply open with, “It’s nice to be here with you in (whatever city you are in) blah, blah, blah.”
Instead, try diving right into a story that is going to lead you to your overall point about your subject matter. When you craft it and write your speech out, it gives you the opportunity to swap out dull words (5-cent words) for extraordinary words (50-cent words). It’s not the goal to memorize your presentation but to have rehearsed it many times and show up, be present, and have a conversation with the audience.
And when you are awesome on the platform, guess what? One speech leads to more paid speeches.
This is the year to take action if you want to be a paid speaker. Using the three tips here will give you something to focus on as you make your move to take the stage.