So you want to be a professional speaker? You may have seen Tony Robbins walk off stage and get swarmed by people waiting to shake his hand. Or you may have been motivated by the head coach of a football team getting his team ready for a football game. The candidate that you are going to vote for may have said something that brought a tear to your eye. A famous general just gave a speech that was so amazing that you want to join the military yourself. You see these things and you think to yourself “I can do that”.
Let me be the first to tell you that you most certainly can become a professional speaker. However, it is more than the large audiences and book signings that you see on television and YouTube. Becoming a professional speaker isn’t something that you just wake up one day and decide to do. It takes time, practice, and lots of humility. The first question that you should ask yourself is what will you speak about.
Many of the speakers that you see talk about themselves. If you think about it, you are the ONLY expert on you. Think of a speaker that told a story of how they went from rags to riches. Now...think about how many other speakers that have told similar stories. Before becoming a speaker, half of the battle is to stop doubting yourself. Many people think “no one wants to hear my story”, or “I’m the only one going through what I’m going through”.
Many speakers, myself included are just ordinary people who were bold enough one day to tell people about their lives. Making yourself vulnerable to your audience is what makes a speaker memorable. It doesn’t matter if their speech is inspirational, motivational, education or humorous, all speakers are giving you a piece of themselves while on stage. My professional speaking career was actually started while in group therapy sessions.
After getting injured in Iraq and moving back home (Rochester, Ny), I entered a program for veterans needing help adjusting to civilian life. In this program we had weekly group therapy sessions. After one therapy session someone approached me and said I do such a good job telling my story in a group setting that I should try it in front of an audience. I have my first speech at a fundraising event for the veteran program and the rest was history.
You may not be a veteran, but I can make sure that you can take something from my story that you can use in your everyday life. If you are thinking about becoming a professional speaker than this should be a goal of yours. If you are in it for the money, book signings and interviews on the local news you shouldn’t pursue professional speaking. Even if you do make it to the big time and companies pay you to speak, they are paying you to share your message. So make sure that your story or topic you choose to speak about is valuable to your audience.
If your message is true then the speaking request will come. When you are speaking on stage you should feel a sense of pride because you are telling your personal story. A great way to get practice is at your local employer. Many employers have employee groups that you can become a part of. If you aren’t interested in joining a group at work (and I don’t blame you if you aren’t), then you can look for a group on the website MeetUp. There are many groups out there for literally everyone, no matter what you are going through. If you don’t see a group designed for what you would like to speak about, create it! There are many people just like you who just need a little push to speak about their story as well.