Want to get paid $5,000 or more for speaking to a room filled with prospective customers, clients, or potential employers? Most women in business are qualified but few know how to join the lucrative world of professional speakers. There are 4 steps to winning career building paid speaking engagements according to personal branding expert Maggie Jessup, author of Fame 101.
Step 1 – Pick the right audience and venue. Most women in business intuitively sense that speaking engagements can translate into a big inflow of new customers or clients, and they are right, but for most their effort is doomed from the start: they pick the wrong venue. “In my experience women in business believe that sharing their expertise with others in their own industry will generate opportunities” notes Jessup. “While true to a modest extent, they will pick up the occasional referral, the big play is elsewhere.” Jessup suggests that events attended by prospective clients should be their focus. For example, a financial consultant will attract many more clients speaking at the Illinois Republican Women’s Annual Conference than at the Chicago Financial Planners 2010 Gathering.
Step 2 – Deliver the right message. Professional women and business owners who do manage to get in front of an audience filled with prospective clients too often waste the opportunity with the wrong message according to Jessup’s book on personal branding, Fame 101. They have massive amounts of specialized knowledge and want to share everything they know in the interest of completeness. Professional speakers know they are entertainers as well as educators and they are masters at selecting the right message for the audience. For example, a beauty consultant with an amusing but informative speech entitled Lose 10 Years & 10 Pounds in 10 Days will attract more clients than one focusing on the new compounds in development for anti-aging creams.
Step 3 – Prepare like a pro. Many women in business are good communicators but there is more to speaking that simple communication. Great speakers, the ones with audiences that leap to their feet with applause at the end of the presentation, train to master the art of speaking. “Great speakers study their art with the diligence it deserves. No matter how good you think you are already, you must constantly be refining and improving your content and presentation style” said Maggie Jessup whose publicity and personal branding boutique Platform Strategy uses speech writers and trainers for every client. According to Jessup, speakers will attract new business opportunities in direct proportion to their proficiency as a professional speaker and to achieve that status requires a minimum of 1 hour practice for every minute on stage. The good news is that once what she calls your “Big Speech” is developed, it can become the base material for another 20 presentations.
Step 4 – Pitch professionally. The gatekeepers to the 50,000+ paid speaking engagements annually in the United States are meeting planners. In good economic times or bad these meeting planners have money in their budgets for keynote presenters at their regional, national, and international events. Professional speakers pick up checks of $2,500 to $20,000 for a 45 to 90 minute talk but surprisingly few are winning the opportunities. The reason? Would be speakers make the wrong pitch. The engagements go to speakers who develop compelling audience-specific content and package the offering in a way that captures the meeting planner’s attention; their qualifications, other than completed successful presentations, should be a simple addendum.
“Great professional speakers are among the country’s highest earners and the spin-off and career benefits are phenomenal. If you can master the art of speaking, identify target-rich audiences of potential clients or customers, and market yourself properly you will attract more opportunities than your top five competitors combined” said Jessup. www.platformstrategy.com