What’s the Best Way to Become a Paid Speaker?
“For those who are looking to do keynotes, it’s important to think about who are the decision-makers who are booking keynote speakers for where you want to go.” – Alexia Vernon
Last September, Alexia Vernon was dealt a massive blow: thyroid cancer. And she couldn’t escape the irony.
Over a decade earlier, she realized she had an intermittent relationship with her own voice, and an epiphany led the leadership advisor to finally step onto a stage to speak. But today, she is a living dichotomy — a speaking coach who underwent throat surgery.
Now on the other side of the knife, Alexia joined me beforehand on this week’s episode of “Authors Who Lead,” where she talks about her book, “Step Into Your Moxie: Amplify Your Voice, Visibility, and Influence in the World,” her journey from a shy girl to a successful keynote speaker, and how she grappled with her recent diagnosis.
“It’s been an interesting experience,” she said, “going into the world as a speaking coach and never knowing on a given day if I’m going to have a voice, or if it’s going to be a little raspy like it is today, or if there’s going to be no symptoms whatsoever.”
Hobbyist Vs. Professional Speaker
I first asked Alexia what she thinks the differences are between a hobby relationship with speaking versus actually building a business around it. She sees three distinctions:
- Hobby speaking can be a calling. Some people have a burning story to tell, or a desire to make an impact on others. Decisions around these kinds of speeches are based on intuition.
- Professional keynote speakers have a set fee. This type of speaking pays the most.
- Coaches, consultants and online creators who have programs can be professional speakers, too. And while their focus areas may not lend themselves to large keynote speeches, smaller groups or organizations may still pay for their expertise.
Which Comes First: Speaking or Writing?
While a publisher accepted Alexia’s book proposal after she was already professionally speaking, she recommends that you start before your book is finished — because none of us start anything new, like speaking, and nail it the first time.
“There is a curve before you’re going to really be in your home zone and be making the maximum possible impact as a speaker,” she told me.
Also, speaking can close the gap with creating email lists and a social media following that publishers will want you to have, she explained. And, for most authors, creating speeches with a signature talk can help narrow down your “idea worth spreading” before time is wasted writing the wrong book.
The Keys to Keynote Speeches
Regardless of whether you’re writing a modest speech or a TEDx talk, it’s important to start small, speak strategically, and angle the talk toward your book’s “idea worth spreading,” Alexia stressed.
Keep in mind that keynote organizers make all the decisions for their stage. They listen to podcasts, interviews and speeches to find new talent. This is also a great reason to create your talk first — so that it can be turned not only into a book, but also a keynote speech someday.
How to Make a Speech Soar
Alexia’s speaking career came almost by accident.
It started while refining her speeches as Miss Junior America, a position that required her to speak to youth groups for nearly 18 months — which provided not only great speaking experience, but also time in front of tough crowds.
Alexia and I agreed that the opportunities we have to speak, write and help others do the same are a great blessing. Our stories should be messy and full of emotion and have a strong call to action.
That being said, it’s not easy.
“It took me a really long time to exhale in front of people and tell stories in the way you’re talking about,” she said.
The final piece of any great speech is a call to action. As speakers, we want to not only entertain our audiences, but also inspire them in such a way that leads to true transformation in their lives.
As you think about writing a book and speaking on stages, remember my greatest takeaways from my conversation with Alexia:
- There are many paths for speaking, and remember that no one starts out great.
- There are some speaking opportunities that can provide good paid opportunities.
- Understand how powerful your stories are — and how they can be even more powerful if they inspire people to take action, or stand up for a cause they previously didn’t.
What was your biggest takeaway from the episode? Are you writing a book and starting a speaking career? After listening to Alexia, which will you do first? Share in the comments below!
That’s all for this week. Take that next step — start writing and speaking today!
Free Opt-in: bookcorporategigs.com