Stephanie Chandler is the founder and CEO of the Nonfiction Authors Association and the Nonfiction Writers Conference (a 3 day virtual annual event). She is also the founder of, an educational blog for entrepreneurs. Stephanie is a frequent speaker at business events and has been featured in Entrepreneur, BusinessWeek, Inc., and Wired magazine.

If you’re a speaker or an up and coming speaker who is thinking about writing a nonfiction book to promote yourself as an expert in your field, I would highly recommend contacting Stephanie. A prolific writer herself, she is dedicated to mentoring nonfiction writers who want to benefit from her years of knowledge in the industry.

Do all speakers need to write a book?

Absolutely! I’ve never met a speaker who regretted publishing a book.

What are the advantages of having a nonfiction book as a speaker?

A book adds instant credibility and is a powerful tool for getting you in the door. Imagine sending a copy of your book out to prospects along with your marketing package? A book is powerful!

How do you establish yourself as an expert in your field?

A book is a quick way to claim your AUTHORity. There are many additional ways to establish yourself as an expert include blogging, hosting a podcast, producing videos, getting active with social media and writing for industry news sites and publications.

What is the biggest hurdle for beginning writers?

Some people struggle with the writing process or get overwhelmed by the idea of writing an entire book. But it doesn’t have to be as difficult as you think. Start with a solid outline. I use the storyboard method where I take a stack of index cards and write out every single topic I want to cover in my book, and then I start to organize those cards into a logical flow. That’s how I form chapters and the outline for the book.

Next, set a goal of writing 1,000 words per day—that’s just three typed pages. In 60 days you’ll have a 60,000-word manuscript!

Which comes first, the book or the speaking career?

For me the book came first, and then I started getting invited to speak (and consult!). But there are no hard rules. If you’re already speaking, then get to work on the book. If you’re working on a book, there’s no reason you can’t also begin speaking. Ideally, all of us should be doing both: writing and speaking. They just go hand-in-hand.

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned from putting on the Non Fiction Writers Conference?

Oh boy, lots of lessons! It’s a lot more work than people think. I suppose my biggest lesson, which applies to business in general, is to have a great team to help. There is no way I could do all of this on my own. I have great support from the people I’ve hired. Every speaker and author should have an experienced assistant!

Thanks, Stephanie, for taking time out of your busy schedule to speak to Speaker Sponsor. 

Stephanie can be reached at:

I had a long conversation with a meeting planner the other day about whether the audience prefers style or substance in a motivational speaker. The answer is “it depends”.

First of all, it depends on the speaker’s role. It seems backwards to me, but a breakout speaker who is there to give good, actionable content to an audience is actually paid much less than a keynote speaker. At most conferences, they aren’t paid at all.

If the speaker is a name celebrity, an entertainer, or is hired as simply a motivational speaker to pump up the crowd, they aren’t held to the same standards as far as bringing actionable content. The speaker’s role is different.

It also depends on the audience and what they expect to get out of it. I speak a lot to scientists and engineers, and they want actionable information that they can take back to the lab or office and put into action. I’ve actually seen them do it, which is exciting as a speaker to know your advice was taken.

I’ve also spoken to audiences that didn’t want any actionable information. They just wanted to hear inspirational stories, and could fill in the blanks themselves if they wanted to.

This is surprising to me, but then again, I’ve spent a big chunk of my life in Hollywood, where everything is style over substance. Value is in who you know, what kind of car you drive, or how rich or connected you are. What you know takes a backseat.

This is also how many people choose a political candidate. The average height of all American presidents since 1900 have all been close to 6 feet tall. Out of 43 presidents, only 5 have been below the average height. I know some very smart people who say they vote on a president based on their height and whether they look “presidential” or not.

Even in identical twins, the taller one tends to make money money (yes, even identical twins can be different heights based on environmental factors and growth restriction in the womb).

Studies show that university professors who are considered more attractive are rated as better teachers. And females who are considered more attractive by professors will tend to get better grades than females they consider unattractive.

Is any of this fair? Of course not! But as my speaking coach always tells me “The audience is never wrong”. So, how do you know if an audience member wants style or substance?

Well, you could ask the meeting planner. But sometimes they don’t even know themselves. You could even ask the audience, but I doubt you’d get a straight answer.

The best way to handle it is to strive to be the best speaker you can be, bringing actionable content for those who value it, and a little sizzle for those who don’t. In any audience, you’ll always have a mixture of both.

As someone who favors substance over style, I feel cheated by a speaker who is all style and no takeaway content. But not everyone thinks that way.

Speakers who sell the sizzle and not the steak may succeed in the short term, but it’s the speakers who have substance and bring value that will succeed in the long term.






I just arrived home after delivering a keynote speech to 700 executives at the Mega Conference in Austin, TX on the future of newspapers. Part of the speech was about how live events and small business sponsorship are going to be a big part of the future for local newspapers.

The newspaper industry has seen a sharp decline in their small business advertisers in the past few years and have been looking for alternatives to their current business model. Enter… live events.

It wasn’t just me who was talking about live, local events for newspapers. It was a buzz that permeated throughout the conference, and is starting to be seen as a new, additional revenue stream for newspapers.

This is incredibly good news for speakers who are looking to partner with local and regional media for a mutually beneficial arrangement. It’s also good news because small businesses are literally an untapped area for sponsorship.

Many small businesses don’t even know about sponsorship. In my experience, small businesses often think that they have to invest millions of dollars to play in that game. But a small business could sponsor a speaker or small, local event for very little. And their return on investment is good because they are reaching a very targeted audience.

The big corporations of the world have been involved in sponsorship for several decades, but small businesses are the new frontier. Big corporate sponsorship has become a very crowded field, making it difficult to break in, especially for a beginner.

I’m encouraged and excited about the direction small business sponsorship is going. Right now, it’s in it’s infancy. But that’s good news for speakers who want to get into a multi-billion dollar industry on the ground floor before it becomes too overcrowded.

Disruption is occurring in all industries. The newspaper industry, like the speaking industry, has had the same business model for many years. And that’s worked just fine… until now. If you don’t learn how to innovate within your industry, you risk being made irrelevant.

But the good news is that opportunities are everywhere. Even in the speaking industry.


According to the sponsorship organization IEG, global sponsorship is projected to grow 4.7 % in 2016. Just in North America alone the increase is expected to be 4.5%, bringing total spending to over 22 billion dollars this year.

Keep in mind that 70% of all of this sponsorship will be spent in the sports industry, but that still leaves 23% for arts, entertainment and cause sponsorship. This is good news for speakers who are looking to supplement those free speaking jobs with sponsorship. And even better news if you’re a speaker/artist who has a cause topic.

Sponsorship looks like it will outperform advertising and marketing. One reason is because brands are looking for ways to deliver a two-way message instead of just a one way message.

A newspaper, magazine or TV ad is a one way message. The ads don’t talk back. But with social media and sponsorship you can have a two-way conversation that is interactive with your customer. Millennials are especially interested in interacting with brands these days.

Even small businesses, who have typically been left out of the sponsorship game, are starting to realize that they can also sponsor, even if it’s not in the same multi-million dollar game as the big corporations. This is great news, since there are over 25 million small businesses just in the U.S. alone.

With advertising and marketing budgets being cut left and right, sponsorship has still been holding steady for the past few years, and has even increased.

Sponsorship is based on long term, mutually beneficial relationships between a brand (the sponsor), and an a sponsee. Speakers and artists should start developing those relationships as early as possible and nurture them. A speaker or artist can create a whole career with sponsorships alone. The money is there, and the need, according to IEG, will only increase in 2016. So it’s time to jump in the sponsorship game and start getting a piece of that multi billion dollar pie.




Like many other industries, the speaking industry is undergoing a radical transformation. That means that the same ‘ole way of working suddenly isn’t working anymore. Most speakers who have been in the business long enough know this. Most speaker bureaus and meeting planners know it too.

But the good news is that innovation is taking its place and opening up new and exciting avenues for speakers at all levels. You no longer have to be a celebrity speaker to make a good living at public speaking. But it does mean you have to start expanding your horizons and thinking about speaking in a whole new way, which includes where you speak.

When you think of a professional speaker, the first image you have is of a speaker on a stage with a microphone. But there are some speakers who have made a living speaking on buses and planes, in barns, and in shopping malls.

My first paid speaking engagement was in a bowling alley overlooking the lanes. I made $2500 for that first speaking job because I had sponsors and went against what everybody told me was possible.

Here are some examples of other speakers who have spoken in crazy locations: (more…)

No matter where I go these days I’m constantly running into someone who says they are a speaker. At the grocery store today there was one person in front of me and one behind me who got into a conversation about speaking. In L.A. you expect to run into someone who is an actor, writer, director, or all of the above on every corner. But speaker? Hmm, what’s going on?

This is interesting because, according to studies, glossophobia, or the fear of public speaking is the number one phobia Americans have. You would think more people would shy away from it, but I get calls every day from people who say they’ve just become a speaker or they want to become a speaker.

Since I’ve been working in the entertainment industry in some form or another since I was a teenager, I look at the speaking industry as being very similar to the entertainment industry. For example, you have a handful of actors who are on the A list, who make millions of dollars, a lot of actors who make a living some or most of the time, and a lot of wanna-be actors who never make any money from acting, who eventually give up and do other things, maybe acting from time to time as a hobby.

This is because the entertainment industry is full of supply, but not enough demand for all of that supply. It’s the same in the speaking industry. Most actors want to be on the A list, making the big bucks, waiting for someone to write a check so they can focus on their craft and showcase their talent. Most speakers want the same thing. I admit, I’d love nothing better than to just show up and get a big, fat check to be a rock star. Who wouldn’t? But the speaking industry, like the entertainment industry has far more supply than demand. It’s a seller’s market. Far more sellers than buyers.

So, that’s the bad news. The good news is that there has never been a better time in history to be a speaker or entertainer. But, just like the entertainment industry, it’s an incredibly difficult path if you’re simply standing in line with everyone else. Personally, I don’t have the patience to wait in that line. For the past 20 years I’ve been writing, producing and staring in my own productions, either with angel investors, my own money, or with small business sponsorship.

When you go the self-funded or sponsorship route, supply and demand doesn’t matter. You find the demand first, then supply the talent. That means finding niches that need what you have to offer and then finding a way to get paid for it.

A good example of this is historical keynote speaker Lord Scott, who bears an uncanny resemblance to George Washington. He not only looks like him, but is the right size and age to portray Washington. Scott has used this to his advantage, booking educational presentations at schools, 4th of July celebrations, corporate events, and churches.

He has also started his own non-profit “We Make History”, putting on historical events on both the east and west coasts. His team now includes over 200 actors, and continues to expand. Scott has found his niche as a public speaker and performer by thinking outside the box and creating his own speaking career.

As a professional speaker how can you create your own career and bypass the supply and demand problem of the speaking industry?





If you follow this blog you know that Speaker Sponsor specializes in small business sponsorship for niche events. While all the other sponsorship agencies target big corporate sponsors, we have found our niche in the over 125 million small to medium sized businesses in the world, instead of the under 50,000 large corporations. That’s only a rough estimate based on D&B data and other resources. But you get the point. There is much more opportunity in small business sponsorship, especially for speakers and artists.

With the explosion of niche markets of all kinds, small business sponsorship is a goldmine for speakers. I’ve noticed that a lot of speakers tend to gravitate towards general topics, like leadership and customer service. That’s great if you’re only looking to be hired by corporations and organizations who give you a paycheck for speaking on that topic.

But if you want to try something new as a speaker and create your own speaking career without having to wait around for a meeting planner to call you, consider creating your own niche events and finding small business sponsors to fund it. Here are two examples of performers who forged their own path and created their own successful niche events.

If you watch Shark Tank perhaps you’ve heard of Ten Thirty One Productions. This is their simple logline: “We are an entertainment company that creates, owns and produces live attractions in the horror genre”. Period. They don’t put on job fairs, weddings, birthday parties, or conferences. They don’t do comedy, westerns or action. Just horror. Not everyone is a horror fan. But you can bet that those people who are are die hard fans. No pun intended. (more…)

I talked to a speaker recently who was contemplating taking a speaking job where he would have to fly ‘cross country, would make very little money, was asked to do a keynote and a breakout, for a boring conference in a boring city, in the dead of winter.

I said, “maybe you shouldn’t do it”. “But I really need the money”, he said.

It reminded me of the days I used to do casting for actors. I mostly worked on low budget films. Some of them were very low budget. I happen to love the world of B movies, but we would always get actors who auditioned for us because they were either just getting started as an actor, weren’t getting any roles in big films, had their TV show canceled, were running out of unemployment, or worse.

I could tell they really didn’t want to be there, and would rather be at Cannes promoting their lead role in a studio film rather than auditioning in a dingy theater rental space for “Beach Bunny Zombies, Part 6”.

And then there were the actors who just wanted to work. It didn’t matter if it was a B movie, a bit part on a TV show, or a medical industrial film. They were happy to be getting paid money for doing something they loved to do.

Public speaking isn’t that different from acting. You’re on a stage communicating to an audience. And that audience can tell if you really don’t want to be there. No matter how hard you try to hide it, there’s just something the audience will pick up on that they may not quite be able to put their finger on. And it’s hard to get them to like you if they suspect you would rather be somewhere else.

Whenever I catch myself copping an attitude about a speaking job that’s not as good as I’d like it to be, I remind myself of my grandmother, slaving away in a dirty, noisy factory her whole life, making almost no money, or my grandfather who worked in a dark, dangerous coal mine. Then suddenly any kind of job where I actually get paid to do what I love, sounds absolutely awesome.



Hard skills are those skills that are teachable, based in fact, and can be defined and measured. Some examples would include time management, sales training, social media, copywriting, and accounting.

Soft skills are less tangible, often associated with personal traits and character, and are harder to quantify. Some examples would include communication, leadership, teamwork, adaptability, and conflict resolution.

With more companies focused on the bottom line, I asked speakers, meeting planners and speaker bureaus if they were seeing more requests for hard skill topics or soft skill topics in the speaking industry today. Here are their answers:

“Soft skills is the most commonly requested presentation with content, content, content, content.  If you have a dynamic, humorous way of presenting the content you will be chosen hands down over the trainer type with content. You want to be motivation with content versus a content motivator.”

Wilene Dunn

Global Speakers Agency


“Conferences in the digital marketing industry always state that they are

looking for experts on the given topic of an event, session or panel —

they say want people who have the hard skills and “know their stuff.” But

what they rarely state — and what they may not even realize consciously

that they want — is that they also want someone with the soft skills that

will enthrall the audience.


People attend conferences because they want to experience something amazing. They want to be star-struck when meeting the celebrities in their field. They want to reconnect with old friends. They want to leave talks with their mouths agape while thinking, “Oh. My. God.” If someone wants “just the facts,” then he or she can read a blog post or watch a webinar.

People go to conferences for the emotional high.The best speakers have both hard and soft skills. A great speaker without substance is fluff, and a renowned expert can be extremely boring.

Personally, this is where I have been seeing conferences going. Conferences

first check that a speaker is knowledgeable and credible and will be

presenting something original.


However, more and more conferences are also insisting on previewing videos or even traveling to see a prospective speaker give a presentation elsewhere. At any serious conference, hard skills and knowledge among the speakers are absolutely necessary first and foremost. But soft skills and the ability to amaze an audience are a very close second.”


Samuel Scott

SEO and Internet marketing speaker


“Actually, we’re experiencing just the opposite. More than ever companies realize that there’s a direct link from employees’ abilities to the bottom line and they seek us out to learn how to traverse that path. There are many studies and lots of data to support tangible results when hard and soft skills are addressed as a symbiotic relationship in successful organizations.

Marian Thier

Listening Impact


So, it seems that both hard skills and soft skills are needed today, and the speakers who can integrate both, while delivering the information in an entertaining way, will be more in demand.


What do you think? Are you seeing more requests for hard skills or soft skills as a speaker, meeting planner, or speaker bureau?