When I ask a speaker, “How did you start speaking?”, I get a unique and different story almost every time. But I have noticed that there are some similarities and pathways to a successful speaking career.
Some people start by speaking locally, whether at their own study club or for local societies. They may have no intention of becoming a speaker, but they catch the speaker fever and want to do more. One such speaker reached out to his contacts and offered to swap speaking engagements with his colleagues’ groups (they were glad to get a free speaker). Another speaker, a specialist, started speaking for her referral base and did patient education seminars as often as possible. At each of these events, these two speakers asked for feedback for improvements and testimonials for their marketing packet.
Another speaker who makes her living off speaking advises “At every little event, I hand out an index card to the attendees. At the conclusion of my lecture, I ask them to write down the names and contact information of 2 people they think would benefit from this information. These contacts end up being a goldmine for my business”.
The single commonality I have found among all speakers is the knowledge that you are only as good as your last event. Word of mouth is king, and while you can overcome small mistakes, an outdated or boring lecture can torpedo your reputation. The successful speakers I know are constantly updating and refreshing their content and their slides. They are voracious readers, researchers or innovators who understand that their platform is a gift and their obligation is to stay current.
When you see a speaker on stage, understand that these are ordinary people who have walked a thousand steps to get where they are. Take the first step today and see what tomorrow can bring!