But what she wants you to know may be even more valuable: “If you want to ask me, ‘Anne, do you make a million dollars or more a year as a professional speaker and trainer?’ Go right ahead. The answer is ‘no.’ I do, however, make a decent living and I am passionate about speaking and trainingjust like all of you are who are attending ASTD-ICE this year! I look forward to seeing you at my Authors Chat on Monday at 12:30 1:30 pm in the ASTD bookstore. I think youll be very glad you came.”
I wrote the book, Speak for a Living because I saw the need for a practical real-world tool that can help people like you to build a thriving speaking and training practice. Just as a doctor builds his or her medical practice over time, or a lawyer builds his or her law practice over time, so does a professional speaker and trainer build a practice. And just like any other profession that helps others, the reason you go into a business like this one, is to (in the words of famous speaker Zig Ziglar) help other people get everything they want in life and more. The real pro knows that when he or she has this intent, the minute they step out on a stage or into a classroom, they also will get everything they desire as a speaker/trainer and more. Thats the magic of this business. Its a business where success is built on the authenticity and genuine intent of the presenter. Thats you.
“If your ultimate goal as a professional speaker and trainer is to become rich and make a million dollars a year and more traveling the world, that is a fine and respectable goal. I know many people in this industry who do just that. But heres the catch. All of them first and foremost seek to serve their audiences and enrich others with the information theyve formulated to share within the context of a platform speech, training session, or one of the many other formats available to themall of which I will go over with you in this book. My point is that your initial intent and desire to help others to help themselves is what counts. From that point you can decide that you want to make 10 million dollars a year in this business. Thats up to you. But the original focus has to be enhancing the lives of your audience and the people you are training and speaking to. Your effort must be audience-centered, not speaker-centered if you want to succeed.
“I am confident that if you start out in this business with this goal in mind, you can achieve more success than you ever imagined possible in the lucrative world of speaking and training. From this platform of success you can expand your world to include authoring books, creating product lines, being a life coach or consultant, teaching internationally, and building the professional speaking career of your dreams!
The Approach and Purpose of This Book and Speak on This Topic
The reason I wrote this book and will be speaking on this topic at ICE is because as someone who makes her living as a professional speaker and trainer, I am constantly being asked by people how they too can get into this business and make a living doing the same. Well, let me say this. Its one thing to do a speech for which you are compensated one or two times and another to ride the roller coaster ups and downs of this crazy industry and survive and thrive in it for 10 or 20 years.
There are lots of you-can-do-anything-you-want-in-this-life-even-though-youre-not qualified-to-do-them books out there. These books often preach the same sermon to everyone from the household plumber to the kindergarten teacher, the freelance writer, to the retired Air Force fighter pilot. The message is that they can quit what they are currently doing to support themselves and launch into the professional public speaking and training professionand that all of this can be accomplished with practically little or no experience, and then that person can start raking in millions of dollars a year. I disagree. I do not believe that anyone can do this kind of work. Even if you are a published author, thats no guarantee either. In fact, most authors I know, are not necessarily riveting speakers.
Thats why youll find in my book Speak for a Living, there is an important questionnaire that will help you to reveal if, indeed, you are truly cut out for this profession. You may or may not like the questions, but answer them all and be honest with yourself. For example, a lot of people fail to realize how physically grueling this life can be. Many of us are on the road a good deal of the time, flying 80,000-plus miles a year, lifting and carrying boxes and training materials from our hotel rooms to our training rooms and back, running to and from airport gates, standing on our feet for 12 to 14 hours a day at conferences and book signings, and setting up and cleaning up training rooms long after the class has adjourned. Yes, the trainers clean the classrooms! Does this mean you have to be able bodied to do the job? No! I work with disabled presenters who have more energy than Ill ever have. But they accept the grueling part of the work and make accommodations for it and keep moving, never whining or complaining. This is not a business for martyrs. In many other professions, people often complain on and on about how tired their jobs make them, but when youre in this business, you are always ON. Everyone looks to you to set the example and to be the beacon of light that draws people in. Theres no room in the professional speaking arena for complainers or prima donnas. We all learn to go with the flow in this business (and it is a business first and foremost) and when things dont go as planned, our audiences dont have a clue. Why? Because the real pros in the business make it all appear seamless by virtue of their fortitude and attitude. Ill address this later in the book, as well.
It is from my 15 years of experience in this business that I have created this real-world guidebook for actually starting your own speaking and training practice and have used my own four-step approach to success. I guarantee you that after reading this book, you will have a good idea if this profession is right for you, or if you are right for it.
In this book, not only will you get the strategies and lessons I have field-tested time and time again in hundreds of seminars, workshops and international conferences, but you also will gain a powerful course of action that will allow you to navigate the sometimes turbulent waters of this wild career choice. You will get valuable tools that you can apply immediately and try out in the beginning stages of building your own speaking and training practice.
Some people might call this a how-to approach to the speaking and training business. I like to think of it also as being a what-to approach: What is it that I can bring to audiences that will touch hearts and change lives? What is stopping me from pursuing my dream as a professional speaker and trainer? What can I do to sharpen my skills as a presenter and develop my contacts for better speaking opportunities? What can I do to expose my programs to the international marketplace? What will it take for me to pursue this dream and what will it cost? And finally, What is calling me to this profession?
Speaking and TrainingIs It A Calling?
Every successful speaker/trainer I have ever known has a story to tell about attending a conference or seminar, or being part of a training session where the facilitator or presenter touched them in some profound way. Many actually describe the compelling feeling of being called to the platform or the training industry.
Perhaps there was a time when you sat in an audience and during the presentation it felt like that speaker spoke only to you. And in your head and heart you were thinking, I can do that! I want to do that! And when you left the auditorium perhaps you were saying to yourself, I too will be on that stage someday. This is what I am being called to do with my life! Can you remember who that dynamic speaker or trainer was who first motivated you to consider this profession? Maybe it was Dr. Wayne Dyer, Stephen Covey, Ken Blanchard, Zig Ziglar, or Pastor Rick Warren. Or maybe it was Suzie Humphreys, Maria Shriver, Lance Armstrong, Debbie Ford, Keith Harrell, Warren Buffett, Maya Angelou, Brian Tracy, Tony Robbins, Tony Alessandra, or Les Brown. It also could have been a great orator from history, like Dr. Martin Luther King, Winston Churchill, John F. Kennedy, Margaret Thatcher, Eleanor Roosevelt, or Ronald Reagan. In any case, when you have the opportunity to hear great speakers, whether that is in person or captured on a DVD from years past, there is a likelihood that the experience will stir your spirit and awaken your desire to heed the call to the podium, or stage.
What to Expect from Speak for a Living
My goal has been to present to you in this book, in the most straightforward manner I know, a four-part plan to become a successful speaker and trainer. The objective is not to tell every reader that he or she can make millions by simply reading this book. I know that would not be true. What I do know to be true is that I have kept this book real-world and practical, because I have written it based on my years of extensive experience in this field speaking to audiences around the world and doing so in every professional speaking format and venue that exists. I have made my living doing this work and I continue to make my living in this marvelous arena, and now I am sharing it all with you at ASTD-ICE on Monday, at 12:30 pm in the ASTD Bookstore.