Fact: Speaking publicly is the most common fear shared amongst people! At least that’s what statistics say. I’m one of those random people who is fortunate enough not to fall into that fear category. I remember the first time I was paid to deliver a keynote speech. It was for a high school pinning ceremony at the Academy of Inkster (a small city outside of Detroit). It was 2008 and I was offered $300 + airfare. At the time I was teaching in the South Bronx in NYC. I thought about the offer… Yup! I’ll do it for sure. The concept of being paid $300 an hour made my heart leap! LOL:)
The audience was filled with faculty, staff, parents, and former students that I taught for a half year straight out of college. I had a clip-board with bullet notes. It was an epic speech! I don’t recall the exact words but I do remember the emotions that were evoked. I mixed a couple stories with, humor, empathy, and related back to the future of the graduates. Oh yeah, I did include that one story about one of my students in NYC who “sharted” in the middle of class. Not sure how that related to the pinning ceremony, but it worked at the time. After delivering this speech I was hooked on the speaking profession. I figured immediately I would rise to the top of the speaking charts! Haaaa… before I could make it to a comfortable space I had 3 obstacles that eventually led to 6-figures through speaking.
1. Brand Identity: Who am I? Who do I serve? Why do I serve them?
I started to get busy! I spoke for free or for a couple hundred dollars every time I had the opportunity. It was a natural extension of my work to speak to crowds of youth and educators at various venues. I spoke at colleges, high school ceremonies, relationship panels, career panels, churches, fitness events, policy and government talks. I was literally all over the place or better yet all over my interest. I increased my price to $2,000 per event, but often times I would settle for less. Sticking to the path I began to make appearances on the news for my work with youth and fitness. I watched my friends pursue their speaking careers and excel tremendously! I was definitely excited for them. Shout out my people, but also shout to the concept of friendtors! I reached out to my good friend, Shaun Derik, and started coaching sessions:
Shaun D. quickly identified two major issues with my platform:
Shaun D: Bro you have everything you need, but there are a few items that need to be fine tuned.
What’s your expertise?
- Who are you?
- Who is your audience?
- How do you serve them?
What’s your product?
- Some gentleman products etc…
By the time we finished the course I discovered I am the Mentorship Specialist and have been featured as such in Forbes Magazine, Black Enterprise, The Source, Jet Magazine, Uptown Magazine, etc. and even delivered a TEDx Talk “The Science of Mentorship” for my work in the realm of mentorship. This all further solidified my expertise. I was already in the process of finishing my book which is titled “How ‘Bout That For a Crack Baby: Keys to Mentorship and Success”. Naturally I speak about leadership and entrepreneurship, but my niche is mentorship. Everyone needs to solidify their expertise. You can expand once you get traction in your lane.
Have you found your niche?
2. The Work Material: Do you have everything you need to market yourself professionally?
I was invited to speak at a national conference. The coordinator of the event is a mentor of mine that wanted a favor. At the time I was the Director of Youth Services in the Detroit Mayor’s Office. I couldn’t be more ready to deliver my message and expertise. At this point I had even been featured on CNN. I should get paid for my expertise, right? Nope! This event was for a good mentor that I respect. It’s all good.
I was the last conference speaker and before I spoke there was a check presentation for all the conference speakers, except me. They were paid thousands right in front of me. Righttttttt… How would you feel? I felt slightly disrespected. Right before I speak though? C’mon son.
Say no more! This finna be a breeze! I had to switch my state of mind and deliver an impactful message. That’s exactly what I did. I spoke as if I was the highest paid speaker at the conference. In turn this is what I received:
- There was a long line of people interested in my expertise with questions
- I made a ton of valuable connections
- I booked 2 speaking events
- I gained a couple new professional speaker friends
- I captured the event on video
Needless to say, every speaker that was at the event had a book, products, speaker kits, video of them speaking, and at that point I didn’t have any of that. Many of them had far less professional credentials, but far more speaker credentials. I simply had the ability to speak a powerful message without the ability to display it through professional speaker material.
Are you a speaker? Do you have all the material you need?
3. Speaker Etiquette and Customer Service: Do you have an Executive Assistant?
I was in New York celebrating a friend’s birthday. Good times! While I was there I went to visit a school where a friend of mine was the vice principal. Meeting with the staff I ended up conducting a professional development on creating culture and mentorship. One thing lead to another and they wanted me to come back to deliver the keynote for the graduation. Typically, I would refer them to a team member to discuss my fee, but I didn’t have anyone to refer them to. I loved the kids at their schools so much they talked me down to $500 + travel and lodging. Bruhhhhhh… Let’s just say I care so much about impact that sometimes I can overlook some of the elements of income. My team NEVER lets me do that.
I still didn’t have an executive assistant so I set up an email and my new “executive assistant’s” name was Shannon. In other words I made an email address that connected to my personal account. When people would inquire about engagements I would tell them, “You know what, I’m going to get Shannon on top of that. She’ll take good care of you!” LMBO
Hey, you must have a professional presentation to seal the deal. Once I get on stage… That’s the easy part. These are 3 reasons why having an executive assistant is important.
- Clients will take you serious
- As a speaker you should not speak directly to the clients unless they request a conversation.
- There are too many goals to hit and meet benchmarks to work alone
If you don’t have an Executive Assistant, you are one. Literally. You will have to do all the work alone. 🙁
Do you have a team?
My speaking career is always growing. At this point I can bring in 6-Figures a year and so can you. However, you need to make sure that you take tips from this post.
- Mentors/Coaches will take you to the next level.
- Make sure you understand your brand identity.
- Make sure you have all of the necessary speaker material.
- Make sure you understand speaker etiquette and customer service.
If you want a deeper dive into taking your speaking career to the next level check out the Author Speaker Secrets Courses here!
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