As a speaker bureau, one of the hardest kinds of speakers to book is a generalist. Being exactly like every other speaker and speaking on exactly the same topics means you blend into the woodwork. When a meeting planner asks what’s different about them, it’s usually met with a silence that means “not interested”.

How to be a paid speaker

I’m not saying generalist speakers don’t work. They certainly do. But there is a way to guarantee you’ll get more work.

In my course, “Create Your Own Job“, I talk about the 3 ways you can guarantee you’ll get more work than you can handle in any economy. One of those ways is by doing something no one else knows how to do.

Lessons from casting to be a paid speaker

I remember when I was working in casting we were looking for a good actor who could also play the piano. Good actors are a dime a dozen. And we could also find plenty of good piano players. But finding both in one person was extremely difficult. We put out a call to everyone we could think of and were willing to see absolutely any actor from anywhere who could possibly fit the part.

Have a story no one else has

There are a lot of inspirational speakers who are in the category of having a story that no one else has. Nick Vujicic is one of those speakers. According to Wikipedia he was “born with tetra-ameila syndrome, a rare disorder characterized by the absence of arms and legs. He is one of the seven known surviving individuals planet-wide who live with the syndrome.”

Inspirational speaker Michael Hingson has a story no one else has. He was working in the Twin Towers on 9-11 when the planes hit. Since he is blind he had actually read the building manual in braille. When it was time to escape, he was able to lead others to safety because he knew the layout of the building. No other speaker has that same exact experience and no one ever will.

As a speaker you can set yourself apart and be booked constantly by doing something no one else knows how to do or by having a topic no one else has that you know better than anyone else.

Have a topic no one else has

The best example of an in demand paid speaker who does this is Brene Brown. This info on her website tells it all: “Brene’s reputation as a speaker is built on her ability to explore difficult topics”. Brene says” I’ve spent the past 16 years studying courage, vulnerability, empathy and shame”. She knows the value of speaking on a topic no one else speaks on and knowing it better than anyone else.

Another way to do this is through primary and secondary research. Secondary research is by studying what experts have written about a topic and drawing your own conclusions about it. Primary research is by conducting your own experiments and publishing information you can’t find anywhere else. This is the best way to guarantee you will be the only speaker who has that topic. You truly would have no competition at all by doing it yourself.  

Stay on top of your industry’s regulations

Many organizations have to deal with changing regulations on a constant basis. There is always a need for speakers who are on top of what’s going on in their industry as far as regulations are concerned. If you’re a good speaker and can address new and current regulations, you will probably get a lot of work in that industry, especially in the medical and financial industries where regulations are changing constantly.

If you think all of this sounds like a lot of work… it is! But the speaking industry isn’t easy, and the competition is enormous. If you really want to work as a paid speaker you have to be willing to work harder than the next person who wants that job.



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