Writers don’t just write, they communicate. They have a burning message that they have to get out there, and if they are successful, they find an audience hungry for that message.
But as an author you’re not just limited to writing when it comes to communicating with your audience. You can also speak to your audience. When you learn how to become a motivational speaker, you will connect with your audience in ways you never could as a writer, and you’ll be able to build a much stronger brand.
In this article we’ll set out to convince you that, if you’re serious about becoming a professional author, you should also think about building up your speaking career. Since becoming a public speaker isn’t easy, we’ve put together a few tips on how to get started so that you can begin planning your public speaker journey today.
Here’s why and how to become a motivational speaker:
- Speaking sets you apart
- Speaking makes you a better writer
- Speaking establishes you as an expert
- Speaking fees generate income
- Speaking sells more books
- It broadens your network
- You can test new ideas
- Improve your speaking skills to start
- Network to find gigs
- Get a speaking mentor
- Invest in yourself
- Have a marketing plan
8 Reasons Why You Should Become a Motivational Speaker
Once your book is published, your next move will determine your book’s success in the long term. We’ve already discussed how to launch your book, and some other ways you can market your book, but speaking will establish your author brand. Here are eight reasons why.
#1 – Becoming a Speaker Sets You Apart
The truth is, the world of self-published books is quickly becoming a saturated field. That means you need to do whatever it takes to bring attention to your book, including being assertive about marketing. Us writer types are often reserved and introverted and may not seek out public speaking opportunities. If you’re a speaker and an author, you stand out from those one-trick ponies!
While some authors prefer to stay out of the spotlight, it’s not a good marketing move. To find readers and make a name for yourself, you need to put yourself out there. Speaking engagements garner attention for your book and set you apart from the (shy!) pack who aren’t as comfortable in the limelight.
The good news is that even if you aren’t a born speaker, you can learn the skills you need to become comfortable on the stage.
#2 – Speaking Engagements Make You a Better Writer
Learning the art of both forms of communication — writing and speaking — will bode well for your career. Reading passages from your book is commonplace at book launches, author events and speaking engagements.
The beauty of this exercise is that you get to see your words through a different lens — that of your readers. You can see the real-world, real-time impact your words have on others. Not only is this a cool feeling, it can help you tailor your next book to whatever your audience responds best to.
There’s nothing like real-world feedback to let you know which topics ring true with your audience and which don’t.
#3 – Speaking Establishes You as an Expert
People make value judgments, and if you’re speaking in front of a specific group about your passions, then you MUST be an expert, right? While writing a book can also establish you as an expert, there’s something about standing up in front of a crowd that solidifies you in that “expert” light.
Speaking engagements in your professional area or your book’s niche will earn you professional credibility within that community. Your perceived authority and prestige will be boosted by your association with the event you choose to speak at.
#4 – Speaking Fees Generate Income
Speaking fees can add up when you consistently book speaking engagements. If you do it enough, speaking can become a significant income stream for you as an author. In fact, speaking fees can even surpass the money you make from book sales.
The more speaking engagements you book, the higher the rate you can demand for your services. The more you speak, the better you’ll be at it, thereby opening the door to lucrative engagements, like keynote speaking at large events.
#5 – Speaking Gigs Sell More Books
If you knock it out of the park with your speech, you’ll have attendees clamoring to buy your book. “Back of the room” sales can boost your book’s success!
Take your books to your events, and press the flesh in the back of the room.
Sign, smile and meet your fans, and you’ll make money while feeling like a rock star in the process.
#6 – Becoming a Speaker Broadens Your Network
Public speaking enables you to connect with your existing fans and create new ones. If you make a connection with your speech, and you take the time to develop a relationship by answering questions and signing books, you’re marketing yourself, your brand and your books.
By extension, this type of marketing will result in your fans talking about you to other potential fans. The word will spread that you’re a speaker who must be heard, and an author who must be read. Leverage these connections by collecting emails at your speaking engagements so you can follow up on future speaking dates and book releases.
#7 – Speech Writing Lets You Test New Ideas
Perhaps you have a cool new idea for a blog post or a book topic? Write up a speech and try it out during a small speaking engagement, before committing it to print. This is how big-time comedians test their material: a surprise appearance at a tiny venue. They get to see the audience’s reaction to what they’re saying up close so they can refine their messaging.
You can join Toastmasters International if you’d rather not test material on a “real” audience. Interacting with your audience and getting their read on your material can help you decide whether your ideas are publication-worthy.
#8 – Speaking Generates New Income Sources
CDs, DVDs, courses, and workshops: All of these options are secondary sources of income from your book and your role as a speaker. The more prolific you become as a speaker, the more marketable your additional revenue streams will become.
Even if you start off speaking for free to 10 students at the local community college, your speaking career can evolve to higher levels. If you’ve recently been published in a well-known publication, had a media appearance or hit a best-seller list, you can up your speaking engagement fee and product prices accordingly.
You may now be convinced that it’s time for you to you dust off your shoes and hit the public speaking circuit to sell more books, but the question remains, how do you become a motivational speaker? Where do you start and how can you guarantee success?
5 Steps to Becoming a Motivational Speaker
Becoming a public speaker can launch your books to the next level and add credibility to your author brand. Sometimes there’s nothing that screams “expert!” louder than seeing someone give a speech on stage to an attentive audience.
However, if it was easy to become a speaker, then everyone would do it. We’re not going to sugar coat this: Becoming a speaker can be tough, and it can be hard to figure out where to start. But, we’ve made things a bit simpler by putting together five steps that you can follow to get started on your speaking journey.
#1 – Improve your speaking skills
You’re getting into the field of speaking to build credibility and heighten your audience’s perception of you as an expert.
But, there is no quicker way for your audience to think you don’t know what you’re talking about than to bomb on stage.
If your talk is filled with lots of “ums” and “ahs,” you get flustered when the microphone stops working, or you speak really fast, your audience will lose confidence in your message faster than they can say “refund.”
Before you run you first have to learn how to walk, and before you can fill out a room and sell more books, you first have to learn effective public speaking skills. You need to learn the right tone of voice, perfect your body language and hone your speaking abilities.
You can do this by joining your local Toastmasters club for practice and by watching lots of motivational speeches by successful speakers. Find a speaker’s style that you like and see how you can adapt your own speaking style to match.
#2 – Network Like You Mean It
To get better at speaking, and potentially build a speaking business around your book, you’re going to have to meet other speakers. Only they have the know-how of the industry in your local market and know the names of agents and venues that can land you speaking gigs.
Meeting inspirational speakers will not only improve your speaking skills, it will in turn inspire you on your speaking journey. Any self-employed project can be disheartening, and you’ll need all the inspiration you can get, so network like it’s your job.
Ask your friends and family if they know anyone with public speaking experience. Find and join your local Speakers Bureau and the National Speakers Association.
Networking will also introduce you to something else that can fast track your success.
#3 – Get a Mentor
Often as writers we avoid any formal or informal training. We choose to be self-taught instead of seeking training or mentorship. This can be fine, as some of the best writers in the world were self-taught. However, many other crafts require you get a helping hand before you succeed.
Can you picture Rocky Balboa without Micky? Harry Potter without Dumbledore? Or Thoreau without Emerson? It’s not possible. There’s no way any of these characters or writers could have undergone their personal development journey without a mentor, and you’ll need the same in your speaking journey.
Speaking is still a “who’s who” type of industry. There isn’t a formal marketplace for speaking gigs and speakers. Mentors can help you get a leg up and introduce you to speaking gigs if they think you have potential.
#4 – Invest in Yourself Up Front
Before college we have to go to high school, before high school we go to junior high, and before junior high we go to elementary school. You can’t go straight from elementary to college. Sure, there are some geniuses who get to skip all of that, but those happen once or twice in a generation. The rest of us mere mortals have to go through each stage.
Public speaking is the same. If you stick at it, continue to improve, build your network and your reputation, there will come a day where your inbox will be filled with lucrative speaking opportunities. However, before you get there, you need to invest in yourself. And that involves giving lots of free speeches.
Take up any speaking gig you can find. Whether it be at local events that match your book’s topic or speaking to college students who are studying something related to your work, land any free speaking gig you can.
Most great speakers succeeded because they were in it for the long term and weren’t ashamed to take free or low-paying gigs in the beginning. They knew they were investing in their future. Adopt this mindset and instead of thinking of free speaking gigs as a burden, you might start to become excited to do them.
But don’t speak for free for too long. The next step is crucial.
#5 – Have a Marketing Plan
Think about your cliché pirate story. There’s swashbuckling pirates, the one-eyed baddie, the seven seas and what else? Treasure, of course!
And how do they find the treasure? With a treasure map! Even though they brave the fierce seas, battle sea monsters and put down crew mutinies, the protagonist in a pirate story is confident they’ll find the treasure eventually because they’re following a treasure map.
You have to do the same with a marketing plan. In case you didn’t notice from everything else we’ve mentioned in this article, speaking is competitive. In order to see success, you’ll not only have to differentiate yourself from other good speakers, you’ll need to have a focused and consistent effort to get the word out there to potential clients.
A marketing plan will help you with all of this. Often newbie speakers use a “hope and pray” approach to marketing, or follow their latest creative marketing idea, and this is why they fail. You cannot fall for this trap. Having a solid marketing plan will keep you focused, give you room for continual improvement and help you discard what isn’t working.
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