Adding speaking to your portfolio is a great way to grow your business and increase your demand as a founder. In addition, if it is done correctly, it can be quite lucrative as well. Once you've overcome the fear of speaking to large audiences of widely successful executives, the next phase natural phase is to book a consistent stream of paid speaking opportunities, where you can share your expertise at note-worthy events and conventions.

I have traveled around the world over the past six years, speaking at professional industry associations and conventions, financed primarily by my expertise and research. My firm has a non-negotiable policy around travel and accommodation stipends, which has allowed me to negotiate higher fees for my appearances and workshops. More importantly, speaking at high profile events has been a powerful corporate client acquisition model that allows me to have direct access to corporate decision makers.

You can take your speaking portfolio from $0 to $10,000 (or more) per talk by simply adding these five strategies to your business.


Build your network.

The foundation of a lucrative speaking business will depend on your network. It is necessary to attend industry specific network events and learning sessions, where you will have the opportunity to "rub elbows" with right decision makers. Do not attend with a stack of business cards; that is quite outdated and ineffective. Instead, prepare to exchange contact details via text or email while in attendance. Business cards are cumbersome and very few ever follow up, but the direct effect of a text introduction can make the difference to getting hired.

Change the right verbiage on your marketing collateral .

I am intentional about structuring language to create the right conversation(s). In the speaking industry, "booking" can imply "free" to those who are just looking to fill a time slot at an upcoming event. The event planner may begin to speak to you about how much "exposure" you will receive by accepting the invitation. Clear language will guide the conversation.

However, when you use the word "hire," it clearly defines the value of requesting your presence and the expectation of consideration. Be very clear in all of your marketing collateral about the value you bring to the stage by using language which implies value. For example:

  • Inquire here for my availability.
  • Hire an expert.
  • I offer a money back guarantee.

Add professional videos to your website

My speaking fees have more than doubled since 2015 with the addition of numerous video's to my website, which highlight my expertise. Using a variety of video's from media appearances, keynote talks, and high level presentations will make a difference to the value of your credibility.


Every professional video of you in front of an audience, with high-quality audio, will make a difference --financially. Executive event planners want to see what and who they are investing in, rather than taking a chance on a choreographed written script on a website or press kit. Make sure they "see" you in action.

Request a conversation before discussing fees .

Introductory conversations can have a huge impact on your fees. There was a time when my keynote fee was only $5,000. However, once we added the intro and expository calls, I doubled my fees by providing valuable feedback on how my expertise can be used in other ways during the event. The conversations also commence a relationship and referral network.

Be very clear during the call. Here is an example of key questions you should ask in the beginning of the conversation:

  • "Before we discuss your budget, what is the takeaway you would like your attendees to have once they leave the event?"
  • "Are there any specific expectations that your audience has requested?"

Present yourself as a problem solver, not just a speaker .

If you take a moment to Google the word "speaker," you will find numerous generic speakers, who can talk about anything. However, a problem solver can sell a solution to a problem directly from the stage. It places you in a unique position to be keynote or plenary presenter, which is the main attraction at any event.

Generic does not pay. Highlight your unique qualities in a simple, easy to read, context that will allow meeting and event planners to create urgency around your talk and topic. It will make you stand out at any high quality event.

Published on: Jan 4, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.