Start Getting Paid for Speaking Engagements

Start Getting Paid for Speaking Engagements
Get more out of your speaking engagements when you follow these tips

In Speaking that Connects: Decent and Excellent Are Not the Same, guest poster Eileen Sinett shared 10 best practices that can help you use public speaking to create a buzz around your professional service firm or small business. But did you know that you can get even more out of your speaking engagements? You can get paid to speak!

It all starts with your mindset, says image consultant and motivational speaker Janet Cargill, “Position yourself from the get-go as a professional speaker. You need to be able to say, ‘I am a professional public speaker and I need to be paid’ and believe it about yourself.”

When Janet started J. Cargill Image Consulting, she did not have any public speaking experience. She belonged to the New Jersey Association of Women Business Owners (NJAWBO) and was asked to create an initiative for women called “How to Build a Reality Closet.” After doing this workshop numerous times for various groups, she realized, “I could go on doing free speaking forever. But I had to draw the line because it was a lot of time and effort for me.”

So Janet adopted a different approach. She began considering each engagement individually and asking herself: is this engagement worth it? How many people will be there? What do I want to get out of my talk?

She also started setting expectations up front with the meeting organizers. “It goes back to your mindset. Don’t hesitate to ask right at the beginning, ‘What is your budget for this?’” says Janet. “If it’s a nonprofit, they’ll hem and haw, then you can negotiate and often can get an honorarium to cover your expenses.”

It also pays to think of compensation for your speaking engagements in broader terms. “It doesn’t always have to be a financial payment,” says Janet. “Is your target market going to be in the audience? It can be an excellent opportunity to be seen as an expert by your target audience, and get ‘warm’ introductions to them.” You will want to ask the organizers in advance for attendees’ contact information, so that you can follow up after the meeting with those who look like ideal clients.

Richard Nathan has used the “target market” approach with his public speaking engagements. Richard is President of IT management consultancy Tailored Technologies LLC, and speaks on IT efficiency and software assessment. “Accounting firms are a target market for me,” says Richard. “When I speak to CPA societies, I’ve not only gotten positive feedback, I’ve gotten client engagements.”

Another money-making idea is to bring your books or articles to sell. “Set them up in the back of the room and if you’ve given an excellent, relevant talk, you’ll find your audience eager to buy,” says Janet.

If you don’t have a book, consider offering attendees a discount coupon or product sample. These can help you continue the conversation with relevant prospects after the meeting. When I gave a talk for the NJ Professional Coaches Association, for instance, I offered a discount on marketing coaching calls, and gained several new clients for my Westfield, NJ, consulting practice.
As you gain speaking experience, as Janet has, you will want to set your sights higher. “Now I’m looking for larger organizations that can pay the larger speaking fees,” she says.

A final tip: if the speaking engagement is just not right for you, turn it down but don’t leave the meeting organizers hanging. Build goodwill by offering them names of other potential speakers. For example, I was asked to present my blogging workshop to a coaching association based in another state. The association was not able to reimburse my travel expenses, nor be flexible on the date or time of the presentation. It just wasn’t the right engagement for me, so I graciously declined and offered the names of other marketing consultants who may have been a better fit for them.

What do you think? Tell us how you get compensated for your speaking engagements.
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