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

Speaking job

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”.

Actors who wanted to work

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 not take the speaking job.

Do what you love as a speaker

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 little 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.


4 Responses to “Do You Really Want to Take That Speaking Job?”

  1. Alyscia Cunningham says:

    Great article!

  2. Alyscia Cunningham says:

    Well said. Great article!

  3. Julie Austin says:

    Thanks Alyscia!

  4. William Offen says:

    Speaking to an audience can only be fulfilling and therefore worthwhile, if it is for the right reasons. If the appearance is to give information and value, which we believe is beneficial to our audience then the appearance cannot be considered boring. Certainly, speaking just for money is completely the wrong motivation and will stand out as poor performance.

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