What Does It Take to Become a Professional Speaker?

Choosing a career as a professional speaker can lead to immense personal and financial rewards. You may choose to deliver keynote addresses part-time, or you can dive right into a full-time career. What’s more, guest-speaking topics can range from broad areas to highly specialized niche topics. Health and wellness, real estate, sales, productivity, leadership and marketing: your speaking topic choices are endless. Plus, you can deliver your addresses in-person, virtually through webinars or even prerecorded. But no matter how you choose to make money as a professional speaker, there are seven key elements for success:

1. Make your personal journey into a relatable story.

The best professional speakers rely on the awesome power of storytelling. Engaging stories can turn an informative lecture into an unforgettable keynote speech. And as with any story, yours should have a beginning, middle and end: the challenges you faced, how you met them and the success or reward you achieved.

And don’t be afraid to dig deep. At your point of crisis, did you feel lost, alone or depressed? Did you face homelessness, become self-destructive or suffer health problems? Don’t worry about sounding weak or vulnerable. These details make you more relatable while also speaking to your overall strength, resilience and ability to develop a growth mindset. Look to speakers such as Anne Grady and Suzy Batiz to learn how to weave personal challenges into your story of success.

2. Convey how you succeeded at something… differently.

Today’s best motivational speakers typically provide a message of positive mindset, personal responsibility and hard work. Those attributes serve as a great model for any audience and industry. But alone, they do not offer something unique.

As with any entrepreneurial endeavor, think deeply about your personal brand. Then, figure out how it relates to your message as a guest or motivational speaker. Did you succeed by finding some untapped niche through methods such as Blue Ocean Strategy? Were the challenges you faced somehow unique in and of themselves? And what exactly is the success that you achieved? You don’t need to be a top real estate mogul like Grant Cardone or a former fighter pilot like Carey Lohrenz to interest an audience, but defining your success at a personal level and describing the methods you used when obtaining it make your message more engaging.

3. Develop your speaking skills at every opportunity.

If you want to become a professional speaker, you probably feel comfortable speaking before an audience. But like any skill, you get better with practice. Take every opportunity to develop your oratory skills by speaking virtually, live or both. No speaking opportunity is too small if it helps you learn and improve. In the meantime, create a podcast or YouTube channel. Top motivational speaker Trent Shelton began his speaking career with short, simple personal messages on YouTube.

And don’t forget that humor may be one of the most important ingredients for a speaker. The ability to know what makes audiences laugh, and to weave those moments through deeply emotional passages, takes more than talent. It requires both live and virtual audience feedback to hone your skills.

4. Don’t neglect your social media presence.

While we’re on the subject of podcasting, be sure to strengthen your overall social media presence. Learn how to use each social media platform to maximize your reach. For instance, Facebook is great for developing your story while Instagram gives audiences a peek into your life.

Social media serves multiple functions for the professional speaker. It spreads your message while building your audience, and allows you to develop your personal brand while gaining all-important feedback. Just try not to let negative comments affect you. If people are viewing, sharing and responding to you, you’re already on the right track. Practice your skill at interweaving the personal, the humorous and the profound while staying on brand. The best posts and tweets often manage all of them at once.

5. Ensure that your drive to share your growth message is genuine.

When you learn a new trick or skill at the office, do you keep it to yourself? Or do you share this valuable information with others? In your personal life, are you more likely to hold onto that great recipe so that yours is the best dish at the next dinner party? Or do you share it with others so that they can make it for themselves?

There are no right or wrong answers. Each approach to life can have its benefits. But to truly succeed in your career as a professional speaker, you want to be in the sharing category. To engage and motivate audiences, you need to be ready to deliver your secrets for personal and professional success. Today’s top motivational speakers and coaches all have something in common: a boundless passion to impart their best tips, tricks and guides to success.

6. Build your organizational skills and stamina.

Whether delivering a virtual address nationwide or an in-person talk locally, few things dampen your career like showing up late. Unlike turning in an assignment late to your manager, you can’t provide a personal excuse to dozens, hundreds or thousands of people waiting for you at 10:15 a.m. on a Thursday. Your organizational skills must be impeccable.

You also need to build your personal stamina. Your early morning keynote address following a 10-hour flight and no sleep must be as exciting and dynamic as the one you gave fully rested. To achieve that stamina, you need to remain mindful of your physical health and strength as well as your mental well-being

7. Find reliable booking representation.

With the right drive and a story to tell, your career as a professional speaker can lead to great rewards. But professional speakers sometimes fall short of their true potential. The problem isn’t a lack of talent—often, it’s right when a speaker’s career takes off that things fall apart. Back-to-back engagements aren’t easy to handle when your phone, email and direct messages blow up with inquiries.

That’s where being prepared with a trusted booking agency comes in. The Success Speakers Bureau makes your peak times manageable while keeping you in the public eye during the slow times. That way, you can focus on what you do best: delivering your message to ever-growing audiences.

Build your brand while leaving the logistics to us. Learn how to become a future speaker with the Success Speakers Bureau today.