STARTUP

Advice for Aspiring Speakers

If you are interested in becoming a motivational speaker, here are a few tips to get you started.
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Work Cheap
Most motivational speakers do their first speeches for free or for a nominal fee. Ask friends, relatives, and business associates to talk you up at organizations they belong to, such as local chambers of commerce, social organizations, and Rotary clubs.

Film It
You will need excerpts of a performance before a live audience for your website and a sample -- possibly a full speech -- to send to speakers' bureaus. Include shots of people looking rapt or laughing and, if possible, testimonials from sponsors or audience members.

Target Your Audience
Most speakers' stories are especially resonant with specific groups: members of a particular profession or demographic or people trying to build a business or overcome a handicap. Establish your reputation in a narrow segment first and build from there.

Seek Heterogeneous Audiences
Professional association and multicompany conferences are better venues than single-company events. Impressed audience members carry the news of your prowess back to their groups, creating more booking opportunities.

Always Be Tweaking
Keeping your speech fresh may help you book multiple engagements with a single client and prevent your dying of boredom. (Tracking software for professional speakers allows you to log which stories you tell at which engagements so you don't repeat yourself.) Make sure your opening and closing are flawless, and tuck untested material in the middle.

Last updated: Dec 1, 2010

LEIGH BUCHANAN | Staff Writer | Editor at Large, Inc. Magazine

Leigh Buchanan is an editor-at-large for Inc. magazine. A former editor at Harvard Business Review and founding editor of WebMaster magazine, she writes regular columns on leadership and workplace culture.




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