(Paid) Public Speaking Secrets: The Beginning – How to Get Your 1st Paid Speaking Gig

In the summer of 2003, my coach asked me a simple question, right in our first coaching session: “If there was nothing to stop you, what would you attempt to accomplish?”; and without hesitation I said “I’d be the next Anthony Robbins! I often dream about speaking to crowds, motivating people, entertain them… and potentially inspire my audience to create some meaningful changes in their lives…”

Get Paid to Speak, by E.G. Sebastian

“And… what is stopping you?” she asked. And, boy, did I have reasons…

  • I can’t memorize two paragraphs, let alone a whole speech
  • My voice is too weak – I could never commend the attention of a large crowd (did not realize that microphones and speakers were invented 🙂 )
  • I have a stupid accent
  • My teeth are crooked
  • And… even if by some miracle I overlooked all the above, I’m so terrified of public speaking that I almost pee myself and collapse of fear each time I have to speak in front of even 4 or 5 people…

The truth is, I always knew that I wanted to become a motivational speaker, but I always knew that I’d never become one. My coach worked on me for only about three or four weeks, and I started telling everyone that I was a speaker and coach.

What happened next was nothing short of a miracle… well, at least in my book, because I was thinking “Who the heck would hire me to speak? “ I thought it’d be a looong looong journey till I’d get my first speaking gig.

Yet only about two weeks after I started telling people that I was a speaker (and coach), someone said “Wow, that’s great! We (Healthy Families of America) are having our annual fundraiser and we need a keynote speaker, would you be interested?” And without hesitation I said “I’d be honored.” And my knees started shaking and I thought “Holly crap – this is happening….! There’s no return from here…” Then I almost passed out; and I’m not kidding – I was scared beyond what words could express.

That event was coming up in about 2 months, so I had plenty of time to prepare. And, boy, did I prepare. I practiced in front of my mirror, I practiced while I was driving, even practiced in my dreams (actually delivered the presentation in my dreams many times, and flopped really badly).

On the day of my presentation I put on my poker face and focused on projecting confidence – after all, I was the keynote speaker, right? Then during my delivery, I forgot about half of what I wanted to say… and the whole experience was like a dream.

Yes, I was scared witless, but no one knew that only me. I stood up straight, I smiled, I spoke projecting the highest confidence I could muster… And people laughed at my humor; and laughed at points that I didn’t’ even plan to be humorous… Gee, they liked me – I felt like in the 7 heaven…

Then right after the presentation I got two invitations to two other events – both government agencies. One of these agencies had their annual conference coming up in a few months and they needed speakers. I submitted three proposals and two of them were accepted (Yey!!!).

I charged them somewhat less than $1000, and that made me feel like a million bucks… Little did I know that I majorly undercharged for my services, but it was my first paid gig: paid travel expenses, fancy hotel with ocean view, fancy lunches and dinners… It was the coolest, most exciting and rewarding experience! (I even brought my wife and kids with me, who enjoyed the pool and the ocean for two days – boy, were they proud of me).

And the rest is history. The more I spoke, the more I got invited to speak to other places… and one of the greatest feelings was when some organizations started re-booking me.

3 Key Habits to Getting Your 1st Speaking Gig… then Get Re-Booked:

Key #2: After someone agrees to invite you to speak to them, ALWAYS ASK “How much money do you have in the budget for the speaker for this event” or “How much do you usually pay your speakers for such an event?” You have to understand that the person who you are talking to does not own the money in the budget. He or she “just” works there – about 8 out of 10 will tell you how much money they have, and often even if they don’t have money in the budget, they’ll move things around and they’ll still find a way to pay you. The key is to ASK. THIS IS YOUR MOST IMPORTANT STEP TO PROPEL YOU FROM SPEAKING FOR FREE TO SPEAKING FOR A FEE.

Key #3: If they can’t pay you, ALWAYS ask if in exchange for your service, “Would it be ok to video my presentation?” The answer, most of the times, is “Yes.” Then ask “Do you have a video wizard”… Many schools, colleges, and even larger organizations, have their own video guy. If you can get them to video you, that would be the best. OF COURSE, I’d still bring my own video guy (spouse, friend, or ask an attendee to help you out), or in worse case, you set your video recorder on a stand and let it record you.

Recording your presentations is CRUCIAL!!! You’ll use snippets of these recordings later to create your demo video that you’ll send to meeting organizers who’ll refer you to your next highly paid speaking gigs; you’ll also put snippets of your presentations on your website, blog, uTube, etc.

Now it’s Your Turn…

Are you ready to implement this 3 Key Tips to get your first – or next – paid speaking gig? If not, why not? Post your fears, concerns or questions below…

Ok, enough chit-chat – get out there and Speak, Speak, Speak and let’s make a difference… and some $$$s 🙂

E.G. Sebastian is a Marketing & Client-Attraction Coach and the founder of myClientAttractionAcademy. Since 2004 E.G. delivered more than 1000 keynotes and workshops (most of them full-day and multi-day workshops). Find out more about E.G. at www.myClientAttractionAcademy.com

Do you need help putting together your next presenation… or need help putting a strategic plan together to become a paid speaker? Contact E.G. by clicking on the Get Support/Ask a Question button, at the bottom/right side of the website, and set up a time to chat…