Did you know that most speakers have a successful speaking career because they followed a roadmap (consciously or unconsciously)?
They may not have known they were following a roadmap, but they do. There’s a step-by-step process you can follow that will yield greater, long-term returns.
The only problem is you don’t know the path to take or how to get there. Maybe you’re new to the speaking industry.
If that’s the case, it’s all good! I’ve got you covered. That’s what The Speaker Lab is all about.
The first step is deciding that you want to a be a paid speaker. Awesome!
You want to make the declaration to your family, friends, and co-workers, but you’re afraid they’ll ask you questions you can’t answer right away.
Some of your family members are supportive, yet some are not. I get it, but I too have some questions for you to answer so we can get you on the path to a successful speaking career right away.
Sound good? Great. Let’s get started.
It took me years to figure out The Speakers Success Roadmap and since then, I’ve been testing it out with thousands of speakers — just like you.
And you know what I’ve learned, it works! Time and time again, the roadmap is a blueprint for your growth and success.
You’ll also get bragging rights at the next family party because you’ll be able to clearly answer all the skeptical questions from Aunt Sally and Uncle Sal.
And you can finally stop hating Monday mornings.
WHAT IS THE SPEAKER SUCCESS ROADMAP?
Well, it’s an easy to follow, step-by-step roadmap designed to help speakers start and scale a business from the ground up.
It looks a little something like the image below:
It’s easy to remember because it’s the acronym S.P.E.A.K.
If you follow the steps that I’ve laid out below, you’ll be on your way to being a paid speaker and living life on your terms.
No more working for someone else and you can finally stop going in circles trying to figure it all out.
S: Select a Problem to Solve
When trying to figure out what problem you solve you have three areas you can dig into to learn more.
Who do you want to speak to?
“I want to speak to everyone, Grant.”
“Everyone needs my help.”
“I want everyone to hear my story.”
“I want to help anyone willing to listen, that needs motivation, inspiration, education.”
Ahh, stop right there. No, you don’t.“If you think you can speak to everyone, you can really speak to no one.”
— The Speaker LabClick To Tweet
You can’t talk to anyone that will listen. This is a common mistake I see all the time with speakers.
If you’re having a hard time choosing a niche, here is a list of the 7 most common industries hiring and looking for speakers:
- Associations (Any group that gathers around a common group or cause)
- Education (K-12)
Are you currently working in one of these areas now?
Which area are you most passionate about or have the most knowledge in?
Use the chart below when choosing your industry based on ease of entry and potential earnings.
Once you have your industry decided, choosing which problem to solve will become much easier on your road to becoming a successful solving which problem will be much easier.
What do you want to speak about?
Most people answer with, “Well, what do you want me to speak about?”
When you go to a restaurant, the hostess will give you a menu, right?
What if you walked into a restaurant with no options? Only a blank wall with no menu to choose from.
How would you feel? Lost, hungry, confused, overwhelmed and tired?
Wouldn’t you be skeptical? Isn’t that why we have American, Mexican, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, BBQ, and Indian restaurants?
We like options and if I went to a Brazilian steakhouse, I wouldn’t order the seafood.
Same goes for doctors. I wouldn’t think of going to a brain surgeon for a knee replacement.
Pick your niche based on your interest.
If you don’t, you’re wasting your time and people won’t know how to refer you.
Say you love movies, podcasting, and acting. You’ve been on TV as a reality star and you’re a local celebrity. You enjoy speaking but you say, “I’ll talk about whatever you want” to a potential event coordinator.
But here’s the deal: you can’t talk to everyone.
You can’t talk to corporate CEOs, health enthusiasts, entrepreneurs, married couples unless you have experience in those areas.
Now, this same person might be interested in business, health, entrepreneurship and have a relationship advice, but it’s best you stop saying everything because it’s not “everything.”
Stick with something you enjoy talking about. Are you good at tech, web design, landscaping, and horticulture too? Probably not.
Don’t try to be everything to everyone.
You’re not missing out on an opportunity by narrowing your focus.
In fact, it’s the other way around. You’ll be more appealing to more people if you pick an interest and go deep.
Stop trying to be a jack of all trades, and a master of none.
Once you choose a topic and niche ask yourself, “Could I speak on this topic for the next 5 – 10 years?”
And this topic must be a two-way street. Meaning, just because YOU think it’s important doesn’t mean it’s important to your audience.
It has to be something your audience has a problem with and wants a solution to.
A two-way street.
You have to be interested in the topic and others need to know it’s valuable.
And it might be extremely valuable, but if no one believes or knows it yet, no one will show up to hear you speak.
Plus, if you pick a topic and master your talk, your friends, family, and coworkers will think of you immediately when someone needs help with their podcast, sales or relationships.
Friends and family will know how to refer you rather than say, “Yeah I have a friend that likes speaking. If you need someone he will talk about anything.”
Boooo! That sounds horrible and people can’t make the connection.
Do this instead…
You’re talking with a friend at a coffee shop and she says, “I’m hosting an event for singles, do you know anyone that might be interested in speaking at the event?”
“Ah, yes, yes I do know someone… Let me put you in contact.”
Are you qualified to talk about this subject?
“…but Grant, what if I’m not an expert? I feel pretty good about the topic, but there are people that know more about it than I do.”
Let me give you an example, I know nothing about cars. I’m completely clueless.
Here’s what makes you an “expert:” You know more about a subject than someone else.
You’re two or three steps ahead of the person asking for help. I know nothing about cars, so the local mechanic is an expert in my eyes. Since he knows more than me, he has car credibility.
“You don’t have to be the best in the world to be considered an expert.”
— The Speaker Lab
At this point, we covered industry, interest, and integrity and you should be thinking about your sweet spot in the middle.
Is it coming together for you? Solving a problem for your ideal audience takes time to piece the puzzle together. If you’re still not sure, it’s totally normal.
Be patience with yourself. Keep going. You got this.
Now that I’ve explained all 3 I’s and have defined how to Select a Problem to Solve, it’s time to move on to Prepare Your Talk.
P: Prepare Your Talk
Speaking is a true work of art. You can be a natural speaker or you might have to spend years and years perfecting your craft.
Chances are, you might be a little bit of both. You could have that natural ability to speak in front of people, hold their attention and help them see a new perspective with greater clarity, but you might also need to work at this.
Successful people work at what they do. They work endless hours on the “thing” that lights them up. They don’t see it as a job. It’s something that they obsess over until it feels complete.
Speaking does that for me. I would write and recite for hours when I was preparing for a speech. In the beginning, it would take me weeks to finally feel like I had a talk worth delivering.
Now that process is much faster, but I still love the process of speaking, preparing the speech and delivering to the best of my ability.
For an introvert, you wouldn’t think this process would be so fulfilling, but it is. I’ve alway been fascinated by the art of speaking.
Listen, you can’t suck on stage.
You can have the best speech planned, but if you can’t deliver you won’t be successful.
And on the reverse, you can master the delivery, but if the talk sucks, meaning you couldn’t connect the dots for the audience, you’ll never be a successful speaker.
Here are a few resources I’ve compiled for you so you can learn what you need to know when it comes to preparing your talk.
How to Organize Your Talk
What you’ll learn:
- How can you organize your thoughts into a talk?
- What is a “brain dump”, and how can it help you be organized?
- The power of just one line or phrase, and how you can find yours.
What you’ll learn:
- How to find the best speaking points for your talk.
- The “Excel” method of outlining your presentation.
- What do you need to change for your different audiences?
- How can you use your stories and humor most effectively?
What you’ll learn:
- Why having a single idea makes your preparation easier and your talk better.
- What are the types of structures you can use to organize your content?
- When to create an outline and why it’s useful.
- Why I recommend never “winging it” with your talk.
The Art of Speaking Online Training Course is an all-encompassing program designed to help you crush it on stage. You’ll have everything you need to prepare and deliver the talk of a lifetime.
E: Establish Yourself as an Expert
There are two things you must have to be considered an expert.
- A demo video
- A website
Without these critical marketing pieces, no one will take you seriously.
After working with hundreds of speakers across the globe, to establish yourself as the expert, people will ask, “Do you have a demo video? What’s your website?”
If you say, “My site is currently under construction or I don’t have one yet.” You must begin building a site and posting your demo video on YouTube, pronto.
Here’s where most speakers make mistakes — they try getting paid gigs and building a site before they know the problem they solve or how to prepare their talk.
You should not be focusing on building a website if you don’t know who you are talking to or what industry you want to speak in.
If you want a successful roadmap, figure out “S” and “P” before you build a fancy website.
What’s more important is that you know the problem you solve and how to prepare your talk.
If you try to jump ahead, you might get lucky, but it won’t last. You’ll eventually have to go back and figure out your problem and how to deliver you talk.
It’s just how it goes. You can try to jump around if you like, but most likely you’ll be back at “S” soon enough.
Ok — you ready to move on? Great. Let’s talk about how to establish yourself as an expert.
Here’s a list of resources to get you started:
What you’ll learn:
- 9 tips for an enjoyable experience with your videographer.
- What is a “raw file” and why do you need to request a copy of it?
- How to shoot a video without a videographer.
How to Pick Your Domain
What you’ll learn:
- Should you secure your own name as a website?
- Where do I recommend purchasing domains?
- What suffixes should you buy — .com, .net, etc.?
Now that you have a foundation for a website, how do you build a site that looks professional?
I get this question a lot, “Grant, what theme should I buy for my site? I’m not a designer and don’t know what I’m doing.”
I constantly hear people searching for WordPress themes. There are so many to choose from and often times they’re either too robust or lack creative function.
Choosing the right theme can be hard so here’s what I recommend.
It’s called, Podium, a WordPress theme designed with speakers in mind. I mean, it’s named “Podium.”
Isn’t that cool? I know, I’m a pretty clever guy sometimes. I surprise myself.
Install Podium and you can get started building your site today. I’m all about action if you haven’t noticed. 😉
Phew! Isn’t this fun? I love seeing you take the first steps to a successful speaking career.
Ok, you have your demo video edited and it’s ready. Your website is “under construction,” but not for long.
You’re ready for the next step.
A: Acquire Paid Speaking Gigs
This is your bread and butter. You’re finally ready to start searching for paid speaking gigs. You have your foundation set and now it’s GO TIME!
IMPORTANT: if you don’t have an email list of contacts or decision makers, word-of-mouth marketing and Google are you best friends.
You have to start building your list of contacts which means you have to build relationships with influencers.
How do you start building relationships with decision makers?
Reach out in an email.
“But Grant, what do I say in the email?”
Introduce yourself and tell them you’re a fan of their work. Give them an example of how their work has made an impact on your life.
Did you read their book?
Have you been to their live event?
Have you changed something about your life as a result of their work?
Don’t make this a long-winded email, but give them the SportsCenter highlights version.
It should take them 20-30 seconds to read the entire email.
They will appreciate you being brief and at that point, you’ve opened the doors for communication. Don’t expect them to reply right away, but if they do.
You have their attention.
But now that you have their attention, DO NOT SELL or say something stupid.
Please, please for the love of all things holy, ***DON’T BOMBARD OR SELL THEM***
You will lose the relationship before it even starts. Take a break and walk away from the laptop, Friend. If you come off pushy and spammy you’ll lose all credibility and the potential of a long-term partnership.
Don’t be annoying on the first date. You won’t get a second chance.
At this point in your speaking career, you’re always building relationships and your list of contacts. This is important for scaling to the next level.
It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. To have a successful speaking career, it’s imperative that you build relationships.
Want a free cool calculator that will tell you how much to charge for your first or next speaking gig?
Check out How to Determine What You Should Charge! You’re going to love it.
K: Know When to Scale
Well, you made it. This is the last piece to the successful speaker roadmap.
Knowing when to scale your speaking career beyond the stage.
When is it time to go “off the road” and take your knowledge, skills, and experience to a new level with products and services?
I can’t answer that question directly because there is no set time or limit to when and what you can create.
What I can help you with is a list of products (physical or digital) you can create that give you the next level you’re looking for.
So if you’ve been on the road and you’re looking to go beyond with your skills here’s a list of 10 ways you can make money beyond your speaking fee.
- Online Training Course
- Train the Trainer
Awesome right? There are plenty of ways to build revenue and income streams past the one-time speaking fee at a conference or fundraising event.
Your roadmap to a successful speaking career is here! You’ve made it through all five steps.
Want to take your learning to the next level?
I’m proud of you!
How you feelin’? Good? Great? Confused? Ready to conquer the speaking industry?
Now, I’d love to know:
- What are your biggest takeaways?
- What excites you the most?
Do you have any questions? Comment below.