When I entered the speaking industry I thought it was simply about speaking to corporations on topics like leadership and communication. But the speaking industry is much more expansive than I imagined and covers many different markets. The conscious and transformational speaking industry is one I had never heard of. Here is an overview of what it is and how you can earn a living as a speaker in this lucrative business.

A transformational speaker’s mission involves impacting personal and professional evolution—whether that’s mindset, spirituality, empowerment, wellness, personal growth, parenting or purpose-driven business success—moving toward a happier, more high performance life.

Other speakers may focus more on business, leadership, sales and wealth building—missions that are more focused on business development growth, corporate topics or personal finance. Transformational speakers and conscious speakers can be very similar, but a conscious speaker comes from a perspective of global oneness and is very aware of the transmission of energy by people and the universe.

To become a transformational speaker you need to have a body of work and experience that empowers people to higher levels of achievement, clarity, business and life success, internal and external peace, relationship success, self-esteem and self-acceptance, pursuing work that fulfills a passion, and positive engagement in the world. You’ll need a program or methodology that teaches people your path to success as you define it. Your speech must enlighten, provide value, motivate and offer people ways to engage with you as a guide for further development. Ideally, you will have a story arc that powerfully tells your own transformation, how you learned this work and how you have arrived at your method of success.

So, if you’re wondering whether you could make money as a speaker in this industry, here are some stats:

According to Brandongaille.com: “Up to $500 million is spent on personal development products every year. Including market segments from holistic approaches, motivational speakers, inspirational websites, personal coaching, and other forms of personal development, the net worth of this industry is estimated to be almost $11 billion. This market is also beating global economic trends as it is averaging over 5% growth each year.”

Just like the speaking industry in general, the “paid” speaking market for transformational and conscious speakers is diminishing, while the “speak to enroll” market continues to grow, meaning that a speaker doesn’t get paid to be on stage, but instead uses a non-paid speaking engagement to invite or enroll the attendees into their programs.

If the offer is right, and the target demographic in alignment, a speaker can make a lot more money “speaking to enroll” than at a fee-based speaking engagement. And if you don’t yet have your own programs you could also get sponsors for those free speaking engagements. There are plenty of sponsors who would want to get their brands in front of those types of audiences.

If you think you fit into this market, there are many places you could be speaking. A few of them include centers for spiritual living and Unity Churches, women’s organizations, fraternal organizations and service clubs, Chambers of Commerce, libraries, bookstores, wellness centers , yoga and retreat centers, mind-body spirit expos, health and wellness groups, vitamin stores and book festivals. If you don’t want to research and submit to all of these places individually, check out Jackie Lapin’s Speakertunity, Transformational Leads Tip Sheet.

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.






The term “motivational speaker” may have developed a bad rap because of so many motivational speakers who just fire up the audience but don’t really give them any solid advice for what they need to do once they leave. But a good motivational speaker will incorporate high energy motivation with user-friendly tips to help their audience improve their lives in some way. They should also weave in stories of people who have achieved great things and give the audience the hope that they could also achieve greatness if they apply themselves. They should leave the audience with a call to action.

An inspirational speaker, on the other hand, delivers a real and inspiring message of overcoming obstacles. Though the two overlap, an inspirational speaker is usually telling their own story of overcoming hardship more than just using generic stories. An inspirational speaker should instill a message of hope that they can succeed against all odds, no matter how rough life gets. They may or may not leave the audience with a call to action, but do leave them inspired. (more…)