An effective way to capitalize on being an author is by developing and marketing yourself as a professional public speaker. Is this right for you?
A lot of the money to be made from writing books doesn’t flow directly from book sales. As often as not, it flows from the authority and public interest that being an author can bring your way. An effective way to capitalize on this is by developing and marketing yourself as a professional public speaker. This path is certainly not for everyone – but it might be for you! Here’s a checklist of factors to help you make the determination.
Do you have something to say that anyone is interested in hearing?
If your subject is, say, the Kardashians, and you, yourself, are a Kardashian, lots of people are going to be interested. Good on ya. But your subject, and your proximity to the action on the subject, hardly need to be this broad and lowest-common-denominator. A more specialized subject, drawing less but more focused interest, will most likely be your ticket to the party.
Have you done anything that is of interest to people?
For example, have you climbed Mount Everest while walking backwards? Most successful speakers have done nothing of the sort, but if you have, it can be an advantage (assuming you’ve survived your backward-facing trek and are ready to tell the tale). In the case of most speakers, you’ll have much less flashy accomplishments. Nothing, in other words, that anyone will have heard of, until you get to the next item… (drumroll)…
Do you have a good book, published on the subject about which you want to speak?
Books are important. They are great ambassadors for your idea. They can reach both broadly and deeply. Myself, I’ve been hired several times when a CEO or other executive read one of my books and got obsessed with it to the point that he/she required his/her employees to read it as well, and went out of his/her way to set up an event where I could speak on the themes found in the book.
Do you have a speech?
You need a speech, one good speech, that you can modify from audience to audience. Probably 75% or more of your speech will be similar from one audience to the next, with good reason. As Seinfeld says about standup, audiences want your best stuff, not your latest stuff; they want the well-rehearsed material that you know works, rather than the material that just popped into your head. So, spend some time, a lot of time, working on your speech. There are professionals who can help you do this, by the way (Nick Morgan is a great one).
Do you like being onstage?
Please don’t misunderstand my point here; success as a speaker doesn’t require you to be one of those gregarious, over-the-top, hyped up speakers. In fact, audiences these days find those people kind of irritating. And, you don’t need to be an extrovert in real life to be successful as a professional speaker. You do need to be able to relax enough onstage to be fluid and unstilted. This is important for the sake of your comfort and the comfort of the audience. Now, you shouldn’t expect to be comfortable onstage the first or even the fifth time. But if you’ve delivered your speech for ten trial audiences and you’re still hating life in the front of the room, maybe this isn’t for you.
Are you relentlessly relentless?
This business depends on answering the phone, following up every lead, being flexible, and not giving up. You literally never know where the next gig will come from, and you have to be wildly optimistic about the power of every phone call and email to bring you in front of the people you want to be speaking to. Does this sound like you?
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