How to Become a Public Speaker
If you dream of enthralling audiences with inspirational talks, why not release your potential and make public speaking your career? All you need is some professional training, plenty of practice and a passion for your specialist subject.
Here’s how you can become a public speaker in five simple steps.
1. Know Your Topic
According to public speaking coach Elaine Powell, your niche should be “an inch wide and a mile deep.” In other words, if you want a speaking career, you need to become an expert in a specialist subject you’re passionate about.
Of course you can’t just choose any niche, as you need to make sure that it will actually attract audiences. To do this, try asking people you know and relevant online communities whether they’d be interested in your talk. What intrigues them about the topic? Would they pay to find out more about it?
2. Get Professional Training
While you don’t need formal qualifications to become a public speaker, taking a course in public speaking could improve your delivery and your chances of success. Experienced public speaking trainers will:
Skill Set Required for a Public Speaker
Ability to engage
Before you start marketing your services professionally you’ll need to gain some speaking experience in front of an audience. This will help you to improve your speaking skills, conquer any nerves and adjust to being in the spotlight.
To begin with you’ll probably need to find a few small unpaid speaking gigs. If you’re not sure how to find these you could start by checking out a website called meetup.com, which is an online platform for finding special interest groups. Most of the groups hold local meetings and events, so once you’ve found one that might be interested in your niche topic, get in touch to see if they would like a visiting speaker.
You could also approach your local chamber of commerce or a couple of local business networking groups, to see if they require speakers. Alternatively, check out Toastmasters, which is an educational organisation that teaches public speaking. Join your local club and you’ll get the chance to co-write speeches and deliver them in front of small groups.
Whenever you can, make sure that you film your talks, as doing this will allow you to see yourself from the viewpoint of an audience member. And if you give a talk that goes down particularly well, ask a few audience members to give you short filmed testimonials.
4. Perfect Your Showreel
The fourth step in the process of becoming a professional speaker is to create a showreel featuring clips of you speaking. This will provide evidence of your abilities as a speaker and is particularly important if you intend to speak at higher profile events run by organisations like TED.
It’s well worth paying a professional videographer to create a polished, professional looking showreel that you’re proud of, as you can then upload it to YouTube, share it on LinkedIn and feature it on your website.
5. Market Your Services
You’re now ready to take on your first paid speaking engagement. If you haven’t already, now is the time to set up social media accounts and a clear, attractive website. Upload your showreel and video testimonials, then start to build relationships with organisations and communities that might be keen to use your professional speaking services.
You’ll also need to create a speaker profile sheet, which is a 1-2 page document that describes your professional and speaking experience. It needs to include:
Once you’ve created this, you can send it off to any organisations that you’re interested in working with events that would use you.
Becoming a professional public speaker won’t happen overnight, as it takes time to build a reputation. But if you follow our mini guide you’ll boost your chances of being offered plenty of paid bookings. Keen to start training immediately? Then we recommend checking out our latest public speaking courses.