September 2014 STS – Tips for Jump Starting and Sustaining Your Speaking Business

Tips for Jump Starting and Sustaining Your Speaking BusinessShep_Hyken
by Shep Hyken, CSP, CPAE, 2014-15 President, National Speakers Association

There are fundamental necessities for starting, growing and sustaining your speaking business. These ideas may seem like the basics for starting out, but even if you are a seasoned pro, don’t discount these tips as being just for beginners. We can all use a refresher on the basics and what we need to focus on every day to keep our speaking businesses thriving.

Success starts with a website. The cost of entry into the world of professional speaking is dramatically less expensive than just a few years ago. The website must be search engine optimized and like any promotional materials, the website should accurately reflect your value. (A new speaker starting out in the business isn’t expected to have a $20,000 speaker’s website. And conversely, a high-end speaker shouldn’t just have a basic website that could be compared to a black and white tri-fold brochure that fits into a No. 10 envelope.)

A video is key to getting hired. When clients visit the website, it’s important to have a video that will catch their attention and interest. Today, video is dramatically less expensive to film and edit than just a few years ago. (There seems to be a theme here.) The video can be a nicely edited montage of short clips, ranging from just a few seconds to several minutes. Hint: The client will probably want to see more than a 10-second sound bite, so it’s best to shoot for about a 3-4 minute clip highlighting your offerings.

Publish a book. If you are an authority on your topic, have you written a book on your area of expertise? Today it is dramatically less expensive and easier than ever to publish a book. (There’s that “less expensive” theme again.) With tools like Amazon’s Create Space program, you can write a book, have it edited, hire someone to help with the cover graphics, and in a very short time, you are the author of a published e-book. The book provides credibility in the speaking business – and may make you a few dollars along the way. For more advanced speakers, consider publishing a new book when your career needs an update to take you to the next level. If it is time to update the website and video, it may be time to update your career with a new book as well.  

One more thing, and it is the most important building block of your business. Even with a great website, a great video and a great book, you must have a great speech. Be amazing. It’s ‘table stakes’ in the business. Repeat business and word-of-mouth from your happy clients depends on you being amazing on the platform.

Shep is a customer service expert and New York Times bestselling author. He will be a keynote speaker at #CAPS2014 convention Dec 6-8th!

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