If you are regularly producing quality content on a topic that educates, inspires or entertains, you are also likely to get asked to speak.
I made a conscious effort to get into paid professional speaking when I wrote my first non-fiction book and it continues to be an important part of my business. Most of my speaking opportunities come to me now because of my books, blog and podcast.
I know not everyone wants to speak, but if you spend a lot of time writing on your own, it can be a good way to get out of the house and make connections, as well as spread your brand – plus, it can pay very well.
Here are some of my top tips on speaking.
1. Decide on your target audience and what you will speak about
If you have a book already, the topic will naturally suggest itself and then you can consider the detailed possibilities. You can also decide on your target market and then design a talk or write a book that will appeal to them specifically.
Once you have some key topics, you can adjust your presentation per audience. Although I often speak on the same broad topics, no live presentation is the same, as I am always tweaking the content to make it more specific to those listening.
2. Call yourself a speaker
Add it to your business card and create a speaking page on your website. It should include what you speak on and how you can be contacted, as well as testimonials and upcoming events. Click here to see my speaker page as an example.
3. Start speaking for free and get some experience as well as some testimonials
You can start small and work up over time. My first speaking event in 2008 was at a writer's group in Brisbane, Australia where I shared my story of self-publishing for the first time.
In 2015, I did the keynote at a publishing conference to a ballroom full of several hundred people, and in October 2016, I spoke on the stage in a full-sized theatre. It just takes time and persistence, as with everything worth doing!
4. Get paid
If you want to earn money from speaking, then you will need to set your rates after you have been speaking for free for a certain amount of time.
I love sharing my passion but I have learned one important thing: the level of your speaking fee will be determined by the audience you speak for.
Clearly, keynoting at corporate conferences on leadership will pay more than talking to a writer's group on self-publishing.
5. Understand and manage your anxiety
The truth is that pretty much all speakers get nervous in some way, especially if you keep aiming for new experiences that are outside your comfort zone.
For example, I can run a full day workshop with 30 people and not be nervous. I can keynote a conference of several hundred and also be fine. But ask me to read from one of my novels in front of any size of group and I will feel sick with anxiety. I know what anxiety feels like and I accept it. I have my rituals to deal with nerves and you will need to develop them too.
6. Get some training and join a professional organization if you want to take speaking to a professional level
Toastmasters is great for learning the basics but if you want to be a paid professional speaker, then check out the National Speakers Association in America, the PSA in the UK or one of the other affiliated organizations from the Global Speakers Federation.
There's a lot more detail about the mindset and practicalities of speaking in my book, Public Speaking for Authors, Creatives and Other Introverts.
Yes, I am available to speak internationally 🙂 Here's my speaking page and testimonials if you'd like more detail.
This is an excerpt from How to Make a Living with your Writing, out now in ebook, print and audiobook editions.