If there is a speaking topic out there, it’s a pretty good bet that someone, somewhere is making money speaking about it. Some speakers have a unique background in the topic or work in a particular industry, and some choose the topic based on a burning passion to learn more about it and share that knowledge with others.

Here are three speakers with niche speaking topics who have made a career out of a passion:

Tom Ingrassia – Motown

Tom is an example of a speaker who took a passion and turned it into a book and speaking career. He’d had a long, successful career in education, but in 2001 he decided to act on a lifelong dream of working in the entertainment industry.

Tom is an accomplished music journalist, with more than 25 articles printed in publications ranging from Billboard, Record Auction Monthly, and San Francisco Hot Ticket. He collaborated with Barbara Alston (of The Crystals) on her autobiography, “There’s No Other,” and Carl Gardner’s (of The Coasters) autobiography, “Yakey Yak, I Fought Back” before writing his own book “Reflections of a Love Supreme: Motown Through The Eyes of Fans”. Tom is also the host of  “The Motown Jukebox” on WCUW 91.3FM, in Worcester, MA.

His pop culture programs, “Motown and The Civil Rights Movement” and “Girl Power: The Supremes As Cultural Icons” have been presented at the National Conference on Race & Ethnicity, on college campuses, for performing arts centers, museums, senior centers, libraries, and business groups.



John Granger – Harry Potter

John Granger is another speaker who turned a passion into a writing and speaking career. According to John, he became a Potter Pundit in response to the ‘Potter Panic’ of 1999-2007, during which it was widely believed that the popular series was “the gateway to the occult” and poorly written. His books and talks have overturned this narrative — and have earned him the title “the Dean of Harry Potter Scholars” from TIME magazine.

John is the author of several books on the subject of Harry Potter including “How Harry Cast His Spell: The Meaning Behind the Mania for J. K. Rowling’s Bestselling Books” and “Harry Potter Smart Talk”.

His speech “Why we Love the Harry Potter  Stories — Exploration of the Artistry and Meaning of Joanne Rowling’s Hogwarts Saga” has been given at universities, academic and fan conferences, and churches.



Julianne Soviero – Sports Scholarships

If you read through Julianne’s website you will see that she is absolutely obsessed with pitching. In fact she says so on the first page! And she has the credentials to back it up. She was an All-County Athlete, the recipient of a Division I athletic scholarship, and an academic All-American.  She has over twenty years experience pitching and over fifteen years of experience teaching pitching.

She speaks on the topic of sports scholarships, which is a surprisingly complex topic and is usually hired by travel teams. She’s even written a book on the subject called “Empowered Recruiting”. She says she got started on this topic because of working with female pitchers, many of whom earned scholarships in an increasingly complex market.



These speakers have turned their passion into a lucrative speaking career in a specialized niche. Do you speak on a niche topic?



The speaking industry is similar to Hollywood. Too many people chasing too few jobs. But, just like Hollywood, there’s a reason why you have no competition as a speaker.

After looking at a list of several speakers bureaus, I found that the average number of motivational speakers each one had was between 100-200 for that category alone. And I counted over 100 speaker’s bureaus in the U.S. That sounds like a lot of speakers. But when you consider that there are thousands of meetings and conferences that go on each year, suddenly the odds get a little better. There are still not enough decent paid speaking jobs to go around, but you can increase your odds as a public speaker.

Competition as a speaker

Pick a niche no one owns

Speaker Dr. Brene Brown has spent 12 years studying and researching the topic of vulnerability. Her list of speaking topics all reflect variations of that topic. I can’t say that I have ever heard of another speaker who speaks on vulnerability. She found a niche no one else was pursuing and she is definitely an expert. She stands out by going down a different path from everyone else. Sally Hogshead did a 3 year study on the topic of fascination. She not only wrote a book about it, but she has a slew of products, from books to a fascination advantage test. When her name comes up you know exactly what she speaks about and no one else can claim that.

Use your background

No one on the planet has exactly the same background you do. That includes your nationality, education, resume, family history, job skills, personality, and style. How can you use all of these or a combination of them to stand out in a crowd of speakers who are all speaking on the same topic?

Know more about your niche than anyone

Would you rather hear a speaker who has read some books on leadership or one who lead a disability group to the Mt. Everest base camp (then went on to be the first person with one arm to reach the summit) like Gary Guller? A speaker who has taken some leadership seminars or someone like Sir Richard Branson, a true leader who now has over 400 businesses under his control? Though most people can’t compete with Richard Branson or climb to the top of Mt. Everest, you can dominate your niche and know more about it than anyone.

So, the next time you fret about keeping up with your competition as a speaker, take a deep breath and realize there is only one “you”. Challenge yourself, not to compete with all the other speakers in the world, but to compete with yourself.