Professional Speaker

December 8, 2010

Getting Started as a Professional Speaker as a Group Coach

If you’re successful as a group coach, chances are you already have the talent, experience and the interests that would make you a good professional speaker. But how can you get started as a professional speaker as a group coach? How can you go from group coaching to professional speaking – with the bigger audiences and bigger paychecks that go with it?

Here are several ideas to keep in mind as you pursue professional speaking to help grow your group coaching business:

• Speak for free (at first). The best way to get started as a professional speaker is to get started speaking – to any audience, even if you’re speaking for free. Every speech you deliver will help build your network, help get your reputation out there, and will give you another YouTube clip to add to your website. As your reputation as a speaker grows and you start to get referrals, you can start to charge for your speaking services.

• Develop a niche. Ask yourself, “What is my area of expertise that I can speak about? What special wisdom can I bring to an audience?” It can be hard to market yourself as a speaker if your subject matter is too general. It’s better to have a specific area of expertise – preferably where there isn’t as much competition. After all, there are already a lot of “motivational speakers” and “leadership experts” in the world; but what if you could offer a speech about “leadership lessons learned from my experience in the U.S. military” or “how to manage and motivate a diverse workforce in the IT industry?” Sometimes it’s better to be more specific – especially when you’re just getting started.

• Put yourself out there. No one is going to come hire you as a professional speaker just because you have a website – you need to get out and introduce yourself. Identify a few events and conferences and audiences that you would love to speak to, and then proactively get in contact with the event organizers and decision makers. Network. Send some e-mails, follow up with phone calls, and offer to drop by for an in-person chat. You might need to start small and start local – if you’re good, the bigger audiences will come with time.

• Be generous and entertaining. Remember to have fun with this! Bring some humor and excitement and energy to your audiences. Be generous with your time and talents – show your audience that you love them and that you care about giving them a memorable speech.

• Use technology to promote your speaking. Write blog posts about the types of speeches you’d like to give – this is a quick way to introduce yourself to prospective audiences. Put a dedicated Speaking page on your website with an introduction and a quick overview of the kinds of speeches you give. Use Slideshare to share your presentations online. Use YouTube to upload videos of your past speeches so people can see you in action. Now more than ever, it’s possible for professional speakers to use fast, cheap (or free) tools and resources to promote themselves and share their ideas.

Have you had some success as a professional speaker to promote your group coaching business or to supplement your income? How did you get started? What are the most important things to remember when getting started as a professional speaker? What are the best/worst/most exciting/most challenging aspects of being a professional speaker?

DeLores Pressley, Professional Speaking Expert

DeLores Pressley, Professional Speaking Expert

DeLores Pressley is an international keynote speaker, author, life coach and the Founder of the Born Successful Institute and DeLores Pressley Worldwide. DeLores has spoken to more than 107,000 people in over 65 major cities and countries. She has been interviewed on America’s top rated shows including, OPRAH and Entertainment Tonight. She produces Speak for Hire, an educational program teaching entrepreneurs, speakers and coaches how to speak and grow their business. More about DeLores

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July 13, 2010

Are you neglecting YOUR audience?

hallIt sounds like the simplest thing in the world, but you’d be surprised how many group coaches forget about their audience. There are too many speakers who fail to consider their audience’s interests, who do not maintain an engaging presence, or who do not even check to make sure the audience can hear them.

Group coaches need to remember to engage, reward and excite their audiences. Every time you’re in front of an audience, of any size, try to keep the following tips in mind:

  • Make the room your own. Whether you’re in a small classroom or a large auditorium, you as the group coach need to convey feelings of comfort with the room you’re in – for yourself and for the audience. If a microphone doesn’t work, turn it off and speak louder. If a lectern is too far from the audience, move it. If tables are too far from the projector screen, re-arrange them. Before you even begin your presentation, go to the venue and test the sound system.  By making yourself more comfortable in the room, you will also help your audience to feel more comfortable in your presence. Making the room your own will also help boost your credibility as a group coach; when people see you take charge of the room and overcome limitations of the equipment or the space, they will feel reassured that you are a “take charge” person who is worth listening to.
  • Maintain eye contact. Whether you’re speaking to 10 people or 1,000 people, every good speaker and coach needs to maintain good eye contact with the audience. Sure, if it’s a big crowd, you’re not going to be able to make one-on-one eye contact with every person in the room – but just the act of making eye contact with a few people in the crowd will have the effect of drawing and deepening the attention of the rest of the people listening.
  • Focus on the audience’s needs. Before you even start planning your talk, ask yourself, “What does this audience need from me?” Focus on what the audience is most urgently interested in hearing about – not so you can “just tell them what they want to hear,” but so you can adapt your message and communication style to be most effective.
  • Challenge your audience. Of course, you need to adapt your message so that your audience welcomes and accepts you, but every good group coach also needs to bring a certain energy and sense of challenge to her audiences. You need to challenge their thinking and prompt them to take action – not in an aggressive or overbearing style, but in the spirit of encouragement and engagement.
  • Give them something to remember. If you’re giving a 45 minute presentation, it’s hard for most people to remember all of that material. Even if people take notes, it can be hard to retain much of what we hear on any given occasion. So every good group coach needs to find ways to deliver a few memorable takeaways from any speech or training session. Use verbal cues like: “If you only remember one thing from today’s speech, I hope it will be this…”

What are some other ways to engage audiences that have worked for you in your group coaching business? Who are some of the most memorable speakers you’ve ever seen, and what was so memorable about them?

DeLores Pressley, Professional Speaking Expert

DeLores Pressley, Professional Speaking Expert

DeLores Pressley is an international keynote speaker, author, life coach and the Founder of the Born Successful Institute and DeLores Pressley Worldwide. DeLores has spoken to more than 107,000 people in over 65 major cities and countries. She has been interviewed on America’s top rated shows including, OPRAH and Entertainment Tonight. She produces Speak for Hire, an educational program teaching entrepreneurs, speakers and coaches how to speak and grow their business. More about DeLores

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June 17, 2010

The Life of a Professional Speaker: Myths and Realities

microphoneMany people might think that the life of a professional speaker is glamorous, easy and fun. While it's true that those of us who are in the speaking profession often love our work, it's not always easy - or glamorous!

Here are some popular myths and misconceptions about being a professional speaker, motivational speaker or group coach - and the "real" realities:

Myth: Professional speakers get paid to talk.
Reality: It's not just "talk" - there's a lot of planning involved. The best speakers put in several hours of research and preparation for every hour that they spend actually speaking or coaching. There is a lot of “behind the scenes” work that has to happen before the “show” can start.

Myth: Being a motivational speaker is all about presentation, performance and pizzazz!
Reality: You need to have some substance behind what you're saying. It’s not enough to just put on a good show; you also need to be a respected authority in your field of expertise. And some of the most popular speakers are not necessarily the ones with the most charismatic styles of presentation – there are many ways to win over an audience.

Myth: Professional speakers and group coaches just talk off the top of their heads, using a standard script that they’ve memorized and delivered thousands of times.
Reality: The best motivational speakers and coaches take the time to prepare something special and unique for each audience. They adapt their message and target their expertise to the particular needs of every audience – so that every speech or group coaching session is a little different. The best professional speakers don’t give “cookie-cutter” speeches.

Myth: Professional speakers and group coaches just show up, deliver a speech, collect their pay and move on – they don’t really have to think about the longer-term effects of their work.
Reality: It’s much more than “just” a speech. The best professional speakers and coaches make sure that they leave a lasting impact on each audience that goes beyond the time they spend speaking. Every group coaching session or motivational speech is a chance to help change an audience and influence the direction of the organization. Whether it’s a cleverly-packaged “leave behind” document, an e-mail survey to gauge audience feedback, or a formal follow-up session, the best speakers and group coaches find a way to leave a lasting impression with their audience that will have lasting results.

What are some other misconceptions that you've heard from other people when they hear you're a professional speaker or group coach? And how do you work to overcome these misconceptions in your own business?

DeLores Pressley, Professional Speaking Expert

DeLores Pressley, Professional Speaking Expert

DeLores Pressley is an international keynote speaker, author, life coach and the Founder of the Born Successful Institute and DeLores Pressley Worldwide. DeLores has spoken to more than 107,000 people in over 65 major cities and countries. She has been interviewed on America’s top rated shows including, OPRAH and Entertainment Tonight. She produces Speak for Hire, an educational program teaching entrepreneurs, speakers and coaches how to speak and grow their business. More about DeLores

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