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:

The craziest place I’ve spoken was in a tent in freezing cold weather at the Frozen Dead Guy Days festival in Nederland, Colorado ( I emceed The Newly-Dead Game, a game I created as a competition between four couples to see how well they know each other’s last wishes. I was sponsored by a nonprofit organization called Engage With Grace, which seeks to get people to discuss how they would want to be treated medically in an end-of-life situation.

In subsequent years, I’ve brought The Newly-Dead Game back to the Frozen Dead Guy Days festival, and got to hold it indoors inside The Black Forest Restaurant – much better than in a tent in early March. Other sponsors have included the nonprofit organization Compassion and Choices and a funeral home, Carroll-Lewellen Funeral Home in Longmont, CO. The next festival is March 11-13, 2016, and I am working on getting another funeral home sponsor.

During the indoor years, I also presented the documentary “Grandpa’s in the Tuff Shed,” the true story of the frozen dead guy at the center of the festival.

Gail Rubin, CT
The Doyenne of Death®
2015 TEDxABQ Speaker
Certified Thanatologist and Celebrant
A Good Goodbye: Funeral Planning for Those Who Don’t Plan to Die


“I did a “motivational estate planning” presentation for maybe 50 attendees in the belly of Black Diamond Mine in Northern California about 6-8 years ago. It was a benefit for the East Bay Regional Park District in the San Francisco Bay Area. My role was to  was to: 1. Talk about creating wealth/ gaining financial success 2. Talk about turning financial success into significance (planned giving) 3. Present the East Bay Regional Park District and its programs to potential large estate gift donors.

“The room” was a cave.  It wasn’t rectangular, but sort of a bent football shape. This being said, the acoustics were quite good. It was probably 50 degrees in there and the lighting was, shall we say, irregular – just a series of mining spotlights that lit some areas overly brightly and other areas not at all. After the presentation we did a tour of the mine (as far as the public is allowed) and just chatted with some of the attendees about the mine and other East Bay Regional Park Properties.”

Jonathan K. Deyoe

President, DeYoe Wealth Management Founder

Author, Mindful Money: Simple Practices for Increasing Your Happiness Dividend (New World Library 2017) Speaker


“The craziest place I’ve ever spoke was in a limo, packed with champagne-swigging ladies on the way to see Sex in the City II. I had made up a little style quiz for them to take to see which of the character’s in the movie their own personal style was most like.

Then I gave them fashion tips on how to best achieve their character’s looks. I spoke about wardrobe, grooming, how to walk, sit, stand and talk as their character. As a former professional actress, I was able to help them channel their *inner Carrie.* I don’t know how much they remembered, given the amount of bubbly that was consumed, but we all had fun!”

Marian Rothschild, AICI FLC
Certified Personal Image Consultant
Best Selling, Award Winning Author; “Look Good Now and Always”, available on Amazon, 1st and 2nd place CIPA EVVY Awards, Best of Boulder 2014


“The craziest places I’ve spoken include on a jet chartered by Intel for the press from CES in Las Vegas to San Jose. (I held the microphone, like a flight attendant, and told jokes for about 20 minutes), on a golf course in Dubai, in a soccer stadium in Tobago, and next to an oil refinery in Trinidad.”

Dan Nainan, Comedian/Actor/Voiceover Artist/Computer Geek

Where are some of the craziest places you’ve spoken as a professional speaker?


3 Responses to “The New Speaker Platform Isn’t a Stage”

  1. G.L. McClendon says:

    Thanks for the new ideas. Some thoughts I had not experienced.

  2. Gabriel Najera says:

    I once held a motivational conference in a chicken feed barn to a crowd of 300+ people in a small town in Mexico. This was the largest indoor place they had where they could all fit.

  3. Julie Austin says:

    I love it, Gabriel!

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