Episode #51

What It's Really Like to Start a Speaking Career

With Melanie Deziel

On today’s episode of The Speaker Lab, I have the privilege of talking with one of my very own Booked and Paid to Speak students, Melanie Deziel. Melanie offers a unique perspective on beginning a speaking business.


Finding time to start a side hustle is difficult. Melanie shares her strategy for finding time to develop her speaking career while working full-time as a design strategist. She found a way to let her speaking dream compliment her career simultaneously.

“I think what’s been lucky for me is that I am able to put the work in while I have a job still, and that they are related, that I’m not taking time away from my job but it is still growing my skills and growing potential business leads for my current company.”

She also offers great tips for preparing and delivering your first few speeches by sharing insights on her first speaking experience and how it sparked her interest in making a career move. Her first gig what pure accident!

“My company needed a representative at a conference, a series of people were unavailable. And so I was able to go. I was definitely not the first choice at that point; I was kind of lower in the hierarchy, but I ended up there and it went super well.”


That first happenstance gig was the springboard for her future full time speaking career:

“A few people reached out to me afterward the first gig and said, “Hey, you know, we’re looking for someone more locally.” or “Hey, we’d love to have you at, at our thing in a few months.” And so it just kind of started to build like that, word of mouth. Any time I would speak in a conference, I would end up getting someone reaching out about a potential opportunity.”

Melanie offers personal insights into the process of networking in order to book additional gigs and gives advice for the early stages as a speaker.

She did the grunt work by creating a her own opportunity pipeline, becoming diligent in her follow-ups. With her marketing background, she share some tips and tricks for creating presentations tailored for each specific event.

Overall this is a story of success and one that I know you won’t want to miss!

I hope that you find this episode an inspiration as you consider how to make a career in speaking work for you–or even just begin your journey!


  • How Melanie got her first speaking job.
  • How much time should you spend researching your content?
  • What can you do to make each presentation individual to the clients?
  • How to transition into paid speaking jobs.
  • What types of conferences should you focus on?
  • How can you use acronyms and simple imagery to your advantage?
  • The importance of being able to gauge the crowd before your talk.
  • How to balance a full-time career and speaking on the side.
  • And much, much more!
About Melanie Deziel

Want to know exactly what to say to land more paid speaking gigs?

We’ll send you the exact three email scripts you can send to conference planners and event organizers that Grant Baldwin (our founder) used to book over $2M in speaking gigs. 

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