Ever since I started speaking to some of the top speakers in the country, my mind has been moving a mile a minute. I find I’m asking myself all sorts of questions about my life and where it’s headed next.
One interesting commonality I’ve found among many of the speakers I’ve interviewed, is how they happened to get into this crazy business. A number of them just started speaking for free at various public venues without any real training or experience. After their talks, members of the audience might come up to them and say, “How much do you charge? I’d like to have you come speak to my business.”
Brian O’Malley, one of my interviewees, was totally perplexed when first asked these questions. He was a full-time firefighter at the time and was caught totally by surprise, so he blurted out $300. One thing led to another until he was speaking at a large corporation. The CEO laughed when he said $300, and responded with, “Well, you’re getting $1,000 from us!”
He ended up a speaking super star for a few years until the economy tanked. His clients were mainly banks and other large corporations that were hit hard by the recession. Another interviewee, Kim Wolinski, also rode the gravy train in the nursing field for a few years at the beginning of her career, creating continuing education programs for nurses, until health care reform came along in 1993 and decimated her main business.
One thing I’ve learned from these experts, choose your speaking niche carefully and always be thinking about ways to expand it. This field is so dependent on economic realities. You need to keep abreast of current trends and try to keep ahead of the curve!