“How do I get started as a speaker?” Once again, I was asked this question. Here is my answer to all who are interested.

MARKETING: Start by designing a one-page profile which includes program title, description, objectives and a bio. Here are six one-page profiles, each tailored to a different audience. Export as a PDF and forward to as many people as possible.

OUTLINE: Write out your talk, like a book. This exercise alone will allow you to organize thoughts, flesh out ideas and delete weak sections. You don’t need to memorize your talk. Design an outline with 1-3 words on each line. Glance at this document to keep yourself on track. Slides can keep you stay on track too, but be sure not to read them. Use them to hold attention on your message.

PRO BONO PROGRAMS: Accept pro bono programs with Rotary, Chamber of Commerce, schools… You will begin to see what parts of your talk don’t feel comfortable or authentic and which parts are unique and powerful. Over time, you can expand the messages which seem to resonate with audiences. Once you book a program, ask questions about the demographics of the audience and the goals of the event. Tailor the messages to the audience.

TESTIMONIALS: After the program, ask people what the most memorable takeaway message was for them. If they said something profound, ask for their card or take a photo of their name tag, write up their statement and ask their permission to post it. Ask for constructive criticism too. Know you will never please everyone. Use the feedback to improve your presentation if it feels right.

FEES: At one time, I put a dollar amount for my program. However, I quickly became aware it was a detriment. Organizations with small budgets wouldn’t even consider negotiating or working together to find a sponsor and I would lose a potential client. My fee depends on many factors: how many attendees, if there is a fee, the company organizing the program, the kind of speakers this organization has hired in the past, whether a program is in close proximity to another around the same date, whether I can take one extra fight from where I am, or whether I need a r/t from home, the driving distance from the airport….so many factors!

OUTFIT: Wear an outfit with color. Wear a shirt that won’t pull from the weight of a lavalier mic. Also, if it’s a cordless mic, consider where you will attach the transmitter (waist of pants/skirt, belt, pocket). A dress with no pockets can cause problems.

BODY POSITION: Standing behind a podium is putting a divide between you and your audience. Try to stand up front and center as often as possible. A lavalier mic allows you to use both hands – use them. When you catch yourself clasping your hands in front of your belly, drop your hands to your sides or move around the stage to loosen up.

LIGHTING & SOUND: Good sound & lighting helps you look professional. In advance, ask about what sound system they use, whether you will have a podium mic (not recommended), a hand held mic, or a lavaliere.  Before you begin your program, look up at the lights. Notice where your face is most lit, and how far front on the stage will cause a shadow on your face.

Now, let’s talk. Post your questions below so I can address your specific interests.

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