Last updated on April 8th, 2019 at 03:47 pm
When you first launch your public speaking dream, you’ll hear ‘truths’ about what it takes to be a successful public speaker.
And trust me, there are a lot of “truths” being thrown around the speaking business circuit that isn’t true. Or at least not true all the time, or rather not right for everybody. If there is one thing I have learned about the business of public speaking success, it’s that there is not one right way.
For every truth, you will find a speaker who has been successful without following that truth.
11 Supposed ‘Truths’ to be a Successful Public Speaker:
1. “You must be funny to be paid.”
2. “You have to have a one-sheet if you want to get business.”
3. “You are not a speaker; you are a content expert.”
4. “It’s all about the list. You’ll never make it without the list.”
5. “You don’t have to be funny to be a good motivational speaker.”
6. “One-sheets are passé.”
7. “It’s not about the list; it’s about social media.”
8. “You’re not any good unless you charge at least ten thousand dollars.”
9. “It’s all about publicity. Unless you are famous, you don’t exist.”
10. “It’s not content that sets you apart; it’s being a good speaker.”
11. “If you want to work you shouldn’t charge ten thousand dollars.”
All of the statements above are universal truths you will be told about the speaking business. Every one of them is true. And every one of them is false. The answer whether the statements are true or false depends on the speaker involved.
And every speaker has a list of items they swear worked for them. And they are right–those plans did work for them. But it doesn’t mean they will work for you.
Just because something works for one speaker, doesn’t mean it will work for you.”
We live in a world that encourages blending. We are tempted to look around, see what’s working for our competition, and copy it. My success as a public speaker has been dependent upon sharing best practices with my peers in the motivational speaking circuit–collaborating about what works for motivational speakers and what doesn’t. We are stronger together—no doubt about that.
But no two paths to being a successful speaker are the same. They can’t be the same. You are an individual, and you bring something different to the stage.
You bring your perspective, your stories, your message and content, your life experiences, your family members, your set of quirks, your way of entertaining and engaging your audience, your way of telling the world that you are here, and your fans. Sure, you may do some of the same things as other successful speakers, but still, every career path is different.
Create a Public Speaking Success Plan to Fit You.
Developing a speaking business success plan unique to you is important because you will be tempted to compare yourself to other paid speakers. You will be tempted to scrap your business plan because it doesn’t look like a successful speaker’s plan. You will think their way is right and yours is wrong.
The only wrong plan is the one that doesn’t feel true to you, and the one that doesn’t bring you closer to your public speaking dreams.
In the beginning, and probably throughout your speaking career, you will be adjusting your business plan and model. You will add new ideas and remove concepts that don’t work for you. Life is about adapting to change, and any story that becomes stagnant dies. So you must regularly breathe new life into your business model. Your speaking business should vary as much as the world around you is changing.
Fight the urge to stay in your comfort zone. Fight the urge to play it safe. Fight the urge to do what the other speakers are doing. Playing it safe and copying others will not serve you. Have the courage to create a successful plan that is unique and suits you.
Dream big, but dream wisely and realistically.
Focus on what you want, but focus even more on what your audience wants. The best visions are those based on a need you see in the world around you–not based on something you want to create and convince people to buy. Build your yellow brick road, brick-by-brick, mistake-by-mistake, new venture-by-new-venture.
And when you come to the end of your yellow brick road, your public speaking success might not look like you intended, but you won’t regret it. Because the path was all yours.
Now, go find your right path and enjoy your speaking career journey.
I’ll be right here, encouraging you every step of the way.
Kelly Swanson is an award-winning storyteller, comedian, motivational speaker, Huffington Post Contributor, and cast member of The Fashion Hero television show airing on Amazon Prime. She is also the author of Who Hijacked My Fairy Tale, The Land of If Only, The Story Formula, and The Affirmation Journal for Positive Thinking. She was a featured entertainer for Holland America Cruise Lines, keynote speaker for the International Toastmasters Convention, and has keynoted major conferences and corporate events from coast to coast. She just launched her one-woman show Who Hijacked My Fairy Tale in theaters, and it is being booked all over the country. In July of 2022, she was inducted into the National Speakers Association Speaker Hall of Fame.
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