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As a professional speaker and public speaking coach, how to become a public speaker is one of the most common questions I am asked.

My answer is, well it depends. It depends on what your overall objective is in becoming a public speaker. 

Let’s start with Why

Purpose drives action. Before you consider the what, let’s look at the why. Here are some questions for you to ponder as you think about why you want to become a public speaker.

  • Would you like to use speaking as a medium to boost your sales?
  • Would you like to speak in public to build your network and professional relationships?
  • Would you like to inspire others with a message that they want to hear?
  • Maybe you have a TEDx talk on your bucket list, with a single idea that you’re burning to tell. 
  • You are a purpose-driven leader with a desire to leave a legacy, and speaking is a way of getting a message across one to many. 

You may have a desire to do all of the above, or you may begin in one direction and over time, your public speaking will develop and evolve. 

Once you have considered the reasons why you want to become a public speaker, the next step is to determine what you are going to speak about – your speaking topic. 

When I began my public speaking journey eleven years ago, I knew that I wanted to speak, despite feeling terrified at the thought of standing in front of an audience. And I also knew that I would need to dedicate time and resources into becoming very comfortable speaking to an audience, as well as mastering the craft of speaking.

But at the time I didn’t have a strategy. I hadn’t thought about public speaking as a business. I was in the hobbyist mindset.  I went about learning the basics of public speaking, but I wasn’t clear about my speaking topic and I didn’t really know who I was going to speak with, even though by this time I no longer feared having people in the seats. 

I certainly hadn’t considered the most important question of who would be willing to pay me to be a guest speaker? I thought I would figure it out as I went along, and I did. 

Knowing what I know now, I could have shaved off years of experimentation and saved time and money by investing in the right skills and the right people, to help me at the right time. If you are ready to explore becoming a professional speaker, you may be interested in my next Get Paid to Speak program. You can register your interest here

How to decide on your topic as a public speaker 

You can speak about anything you want, but if you want to get booked and paid as a public speaker, then getting clarity on your topic is essential.  

My advice to anyone who would like to get started, is to think about a broad topic you would like to speak about, and then narrow that topic to a single focus. 

Begin by doing some market research into what topics are hot and relevant now, as well as the topics that are likely to be evergreen. 

There is no point speaking about a topic that won’t get you a booking if you want to get paid to speak.

What do you love to do? 

What do you love to do? Speak about that! This is an ideal place for a beginner.

What is something that you really enjoy doing that you could speak about? Maybe a skill or craft, a sport, your travel adventures, or possibly some adversity or stories. 

When you speak about a topic that you love your energy and enthusiasm will shine through.

This is where most hobby speakers start, and then many stay stuck playing in this space even though they want guest speaker bookings and to move from free speaking to paid speaking opportunities. 

Truth Bomb!

No one cares about your story, until they care about how your story helps them.

Choosing a speaking topic that you enjoy is ideal when you want to be a volunteer speaking for free to clubs, associations and peers. If you want to get paid as a public speaker, read on. 

If you are serious about making a career out of being a public speaker, my previous article about becoming a professional speaker will help you.   

What is it that you know? 

What’s your area of expertise? Do you have skills, qualifications or certifications, or perhaps awards and accolades in a particular industry? 

When you combine speaking about what you love with speaking with what you know, then your credibility is higher and you get ahead faster. You may consider guest speaking opportunities that are a fit with your brand and are unpaid. 

Like anyone getting started it is likely you will be speaking for free until you are confident and ready to ask for a fee.  

Still not sure on your speaking topic? 

Speak on a topic you have earned the right to speak about.

What topic will the market pay for? 

If you aspire to getting paid to speak or even becoming a full time professional speaker, earning as much as a C-suite executive, then you must be very clear on what the market is paying for. 

Speaking is a business, and the role of a speaker is to not only be skilled in the areas of platform delivery and crafting a message, but also highly skilled in sales and marketing, branding and positioning, and relationship building. 

Fundamental to your success as a public speaker, is the commitment to investing time and energy in finding and working with people who can help you. 

Is working with a speaker coach right for you? 

If you are ready to work on your speaking business as well as your speaking craft, then I recommend that you consider finding a skilled and experienced public speaking coach who can help you navigate the process. 

Getting paid to speak

It becomes a reality that you will get paid to speak when you combine what you love, what you know, with what the market will pay for. 

Do some research to find out which speakers are also speaking about that topic.
What is their angle and how you can be different (it’s not cool to copy others ideas or to become a cookie cutter). So think about what unique insights you can bring to the topic. What experience and skills do you possess that are different or unique, and how can you package that in a sellable service. 

Becoming a speaker is primarily about running a business and that means being very comfortable with sales and marketing, having a standout brand, being visible, and being able to adapt and, if necessary, reinvent your brand and your topic to remain relevant.


About the author

Lisa Evans helps leaders and entrepreneurs to craft compelling business stories and become exceptional speakers.

She has coached thousands of leaders across a range of industries, including resources, banking, finance, engineering, retail and sales as well as not-for-profit and community associations. 

If you wish to take advantage of a complimentary session in order to chat about how you can become an exceptional and successful speaker with a stand-out brand, then use this link to book a time to chat.

Here’s how I may help you 

My services include: 

Virtual – Live Online Training – Public Speaking and Presentation Skills, Business Storytelling and executive Speaker Coaching is available online.

Business Storytelling Coaching – together we can get started to create your suite of stories. A minimum of three sessions is recommended 1:1 in person or virtually via Zoom.

Executive Speaker Coaching – if you have an upcoming guest speaking opportunity, funding pitch, conference talk or you want to be an outstanding speaker, we can work together on your technique. You will see the results after one session.

Get Paid to Speak Register your interest for the next date.

Storytelling for Leaders Interactive Workshops – I can come to you, or we can host a workshop offsite for your team. From half-day to two-days immersive, this customised workshop is an ideal way to kick start your business storytelling strategy and get the whole team telling stories. 

Keynote/Guest Speaking at your next conference live of virtual event – I have several topics to choose from ranging from a 30-minute talk up to a 90-minute interactive session.

Lisa Evans, MBA is the CEO of Speaking Savvy. She is one of less than 150 Certified Speaking Professionals in Australia. She is a Certified Public Speaking and Storytelling Coach, Certified Virtual Presenter, Accredited Business Coach (ICF), Author, TEDx Speaker Coach, NLP Coach, Graphic Recorder, Host and Curator of Stories From The Heart, and Improvisation Actor and Marketing Director at Perth Playback Theatre.