There is money in being a professional speaker. Big money.
When I interviewed best-selling author Chris Brogan for my book, Soul Power to Your Message, he told me he makes $25,000 per speech. (There's more to that story. Read about it in my book sometime.)
I've been speaking for over 25 years. I started in high school as a card-carrying MADD (Mother's Against Drunk Drivers) advocate. In college I toured campus with a banana and a book of the many textures and flavors of condoms, teaching my fellow students how to protect themselves from contracting HIV. I spoke for free, from my heart, and with big passion for the impact I would make through my speaking.
Now, I often get paid nicely to speak. But not always.
Sometimes I speak for free. I do this under two very specific circumstances:
- My speaking will make a meaningful impact in an area of social concern about which I care deeply
- I will attract new clients, collaborators and community members to my message
I'm telling you about this because I believe you, too, should speak for free.
When you hear how it works for me, I am confident you will see how speaking for free (as well as for pay, if you choose), will serve your work in the world.
Let me tell you more about my experience of speaking for free so you can see the ways it will serve you as well.
Speak for Free When You Want to Make a Meaningful Social Impact
Back when I was touring classrooms doing my part to keep my fellow students alive and healthy (through sober driving and condoms), I got my first taste of the power of impactful speaking. I watched my student colleagues engage more deeply with these rarely discussed, otherwise (sadly) socially awkward topics. I reveled in knowing that the condoms I just convinced this room full of students to take with them could very well save someone's life (or many someones' lives).
There is simply no more powerful way to make a meaningful impact on a large number of people all at once than public speaking.
You can certainly get paid to do this kind of social advocacy speaking. But it's also a beautiful way to volunteer in a way that has powerful impact for causes about which you care deeply.
Speak for Free When You Have the Opportunity to Magnetize Clients You Love
Last year I brought in over $30,000 of new business from one free speaking event. And that's just the business we've got on the books. There will be more because this is just the beginning of our working relationship. After every speaking event, anywhere from 5 to 20 people hand me their business cards requesting more information. At least a few of them begin the conversation about how we will work together one-on-one right there at the meet-and-greet part of the meeting.
The beautiful part of this way of connecting with new clients is that they are pre-qualified, in many ways. They have a sense of your style and they know about your expertise. You often get time to chat casually after the event and in that short conversation you get a good sense of how you might work together. You get to hear what's on their mind and give them a real sense of ways you could help.
The power of these speaking events to spread your message goes way beyond this one event, too. The credibility that comes from a truly useful and engaging presentation attracts wonderful collaborators and joint venture partners. This means your message will reach further through the audiences of those new partners as well. If you “wow” the crowd, you can bet you'll also be invited to more speaking opportunities.
As you can see, the goodies keep coming as a result of engaging, room-moving speaking.
Of course, you don't want to fill your schedule with just any free speaking opportunities that come your way.
You'll want to create your own checklist to determine what makes a good free speaking opportunity for you. You want to approach the event with clear goals and strategies that make the most of it for both the audience and for you. If you prepare well ahead of time, though, speaking for free can be one of the very best (and most fun!) ways to grow your business and your position as a leader in your field. It's also an excellent way to set the groundwork for charging a high rate for future speaking events, if you choose to go that route.
I wanted to make it super easy for you to get out there and begin speaking
So, I have partnered with my brilliant friend and colleague, Stephanie Pollock, to host a **free webinar on May 30th** which will help you begin speaking to magnetize your best clients in great numbers. I absolutely know that your message matters. More people should hear it and be compelled to take action on it. This webinar will go over everything you need to get free speaking gigs and craft a presentation that magnetizes your best clients and fans to you in droves. And because presentations are done online so often now, we are going to cover some fabulous ways to get and keep attention of attendees during teleclasses and webinars.
Click here to sign up for the free webinar. Remember, it's free – easy decision.
That photo at the top – that's Farmer Tom, speaking to my daughter's kindergarten class. While he is not speaking for free because he does dozens and dozens of tours during the year, the fee is very small for a whole afternoon of amazing learning experience for the kids. Guess where we parents prefer to get our veggies and goat cheese? Yep, Farmer Tom. Speaking magnetizes clients.
I’ve gotten several paid speaking gigs from free speeches, but I also just love connecting with people and getting the word out. Looking forward to the webinar – thank you!
This is so brilliant Michelle!
I often make this same recommendation to my clients – it is so effective in so many ways for our businesses.
And I too am ramping up my own business with doing more speaking, so I really value the tips you’re giving here!