If you’re someone who has plenty of experience in running a business and you bring insight or expertise that others can find useful, then there is a career that could very much use that to fuel a career that involves mostly sharing those experiences. Also known as being a professional speaker or a public speaking career, being a keynote speaker means that you are essentially paid to give talks on topics that you have an authority on, but it doesn’t just mean that alone. It’s not just a career, but a business you have to manage, and here are a few tips that can help you learn how to manage that business and excel.
Have something to talk about
A lot of people love the idea of standing up on stage and giving a rousing, inspiring speech that talks to the hearts and needs of the audience. But there’s has to be some substance, some sizzle to the steak, as well. Look back on your experience, and see what you can draw from to serve as the fuel of your talks. Find your niche, and don’t try to be too broad. If, for instance, you worked in-depth on digital marketing, then you can bring the perspective of someone who can speak with expertise on how marketing is crucial to businesses.
Be able to sell it
Even if you’re not speaking on your career as a marketer (because maybe you never had one), you are still going to need some marketing skills in order to excel. Once you find your authority, find your niche, and know what you’re going to talk about, you then need to be able to sell it to other entrepreneurs, decision-makers, or department heads. You have to be able to look at who your audience is (or will be) and figure out what their needs and perspectives are. You then have to look at how to frame your expertise to make it seem vital from their perspective, which means being able to walk a mile in their shoes.
Practice your public speaking
This might seem like it’s too obvious to cover, but a lot of people get into speaking gigs without really taking the time to work on their on-stage presence. You can have charisma coming out of over pore of your body, and be a reliable authority on the topic that you’re going to be talking on, but you don’t know how well that’s going to translate to your stage performance until you try it. As such, you want to make sure you’re sharpening your body language, your rhythm, and other public speaking skills. Public speaking groups like Toastmasters are great for helping you get that practice and working on your public speaking skills.
As a speaker, it should be relatively obvious that you’re going to need very good verbal communication skills. However, you’re going to have to be able to write well enough to sell your ideas in the written form, as well. Not only do you have to be able to market your speeches through text, but a lot of keynote speakers will expand into another revenue stream: writing books and ebooks. These books are a perfect opportunity to expand on what you talk about at your speeches, so your speeches can effectively act as convincing marketing material for a much more extensive look at what you work on. You may also be able to sell ebooks to those who may not be able to afford to hire you or attend one of your more public events.
Running a business on the road
The life of a keynote speaker is one that sees you traveling from place to place, often country to country. This might sound glamorous and, often, it definitely can be. There are some very nice perks to networking with decision-makers and thought leaders in your industry of choice. However, it’s also demanding. Look at the tips on running an online business while traveling the world from Northeastern University and pay attention. After all, most keynote speakers do not work entirely alone, they have an admin team that is helping them book gigs and sell books from home, and you have to be able to manage them from afar.
Be loose and be comfortable with your emotions
You might think that having a buttoned-down approach to giving a speech and being able to communicate clearly and concisely are the most important skills when it comes to a career in public speaking. However, it’s empathy and emphatic communication that will really grab the attention of your audience most of the time, and you have to be able to tap into that. Humans naturally crave an emotional connection, so if you feel like you have a swell of emotion coming while you’re making a point, be willing, able and comfortable with hopping on that wave. Gesticulate, raise your voice, and don’t be afraid to tap in humor, or even a little intensity, to help drive a point home.
If you want to make sure that your speeches are always relevant, you can’t just rely on the career you’ve had in the past. Your stories are going to lose relevance as time goes on. As such, you are going to want to stay up to date. You can do this by following publications and blogs that speak to your niche and applying your insight into what news and trends you learn about there. But you should also use the experience and network you continue building as a keynote speaker. Take inspiration and borrow stories from your clients and attendees. For instance, if someone comes to you with a problem, speak about that problem and how your method or skills would solve that problem.
Be a good teacher
The truth about keynote or professional speakers is that the vast majority are also in the training business. Much like selling books and ebooks, it’s another way to add a new revenue stream to your repertoire. JobHero outlines the kind of steps you need to take to become a corporate trainer, but often it means getting some sort of certification to teach specific skills that are related to the topics that you speak on. As such, your training career, speaking gigs, and book can all come together as a holistic educational experience that sees you becoming a respected authority on your chosen subject.
Be competitive and productive
In order to truly excel in a public speaking career, you have to be laser-focused on finding new work. Depending on your niche, it can be a very competitive field indeed. What’s most important is that you’re always able to find an audience. As such, you should never turn down a speaking opportunity, even if you’re not entirely sure your audience is your usual one. Learn how to be able to get people together in a room. Networking and marketing both play a huge role in this, but you also need to be able to manage your time well enough to be able to travel from place to place as your work demands it. If you can’t, your rivals will be taking the opportunities you miss.
Keynote speaking is not an easy career. It involves life on the road, a lot of introspection and insight, and being able to hold a crowd’s attention time and time again. But, hopefully, the tips above can help you with that.
Related content from StrategyDriven