Blog Post Speaking for a Living

Speaking for a Living



Speaking for a Living


Can you Speak?

Influence bookI know, most of us speak very well. You speak with your friends at a party or with your children around the dining table. But can you speak when faced with an audience? Most of us would answer that question with a very definite… No!

For some of us, that is really good news. Some of us welcome an audience as an opportunity to make a difference and because most people hate it, your talent to speak in front of an audience makes you unusual. According to an American Study published on, 74% of people have Glossophobia (speech anxiety).

The details of that study are as follows:

1. Fear of public speaking – Glossophobia – 74 %
2. Fear of death – Necrophobia – 68 %
3. Fear of spiders – Arachnophobia – 30.5 %
4. Fear of darkness – Achluophobia – 11 %
5. Fear of heights – Acrophobia – 10 %
6. Fear of people or social situations – Sociophobia – 7.9 %
7. Fear of flying – Aerophobia – 6.5 %

Based on these statistics, at a funeral, people would prefer to be in the box than doing the speech. This is plainly not true and that is the problem I have with statistics. Having said that, there is also a fear of statistics called Arithmophobia.

Whatever the statistics are, we know that most people don’t like to speak in public. For those of us who do, have you got something to say that is worth listening to? Being able to speak in public is a talent, having something important to say is a gift. If you like to speak in public and have something really interesting to say I have written a book just for you.

My new book is called “Influence – How to Start and Grow a Speaking Business”

This book is not about speaking skills. There are many good books on the market about speaking in public (the best is “You can present with confidence” by Paul du Toit. My book is all about the business of speaking for a living and it covers my journey over the last 20 years in the speaking industry looking at the successes and the failures, and advising other speakers how they can earn a good living from the best industry in the world.

In the book you will discover the most common mistakes made by new speakers like:

• Trying to be all things to all people

• Running your speaking business like a paid hobby

• Hanging on to your day job

• Expecting Agents will find work for you

• Believing you have made it when you get your first standing ovation.

• Allowing your ego to make decisions for you

• Thinking the industry is easy

But this is not just a book about things that can go wrong. The industry has been wonderfully supportive to me over the last 20 years and I have one hundred and fifty pages of good news and advice to share in the book.

The book covers a variety of ideas but if I were to extract just a few they would be:

Find your Niche

It is tempting to think that if you have a wide range of subjects you will get more work. This is just not true. The audience want to hear an expert in your field and you cannot be an expert in everything. The good news is that nobody was born an expert in anything so you can become the expert you want to be. Make your niche an inch wide and a mile deep.

Write your Book First

Writing a book helps you focus your ideas and creates the impression that you are the authority on your subject. Your book will also give you something to sell at the back of the room each time you speak

Get Experience by Speaking for Free

First you have to learn the trade. There are a large number of associations (Rotary, Round Table, Lions Club, BNI, Networking groups etc.) who meet regularly and who are desperate for good speakers. Learn your trade by speaking to as many audiences as you can.

Treat your Business as a Business

Create a proper business plan, marketing plan and strategy to grow your business

Develop your Speaking Skills

Learn how to speak in public. A good place to start is Toastmasters although you will have to unlearn some of the skills they teach you when you speak for a living.

Join your Local Speakers Association

The best way to learn the business is to hang out with other experienced speakers. In South Africa, speakers get together with regular meetings of the Professional Speakers’ Association of Southern Africa (PSASA). There will be a chapter near you and they will make you very welcome.

Listen to the Experts

While I was writing the book I asked some of my successful friends in the industry to give new speakers a few hints that may help them develop their speaking business. As usual I was amazed by the generosity of the industry. The industry is full of people who want to help new speakers. The contributors to my book are: W. Mitchell CSP CPAE (US); Allan Pease CSP (Australia); Lesley Everett CSP (UK); Frank Furness CSP (UK); Justin Cohen CSP (South Africa); Roger Harrop BSc(Hons), CEng, FIMechE, FCIM, FInstIB, FPSA, PSAE (UK); Brenda Bence MBA CSP (Singapore); Bronwyn Hesketh (Bureau Owner, South Africa); Lindsay Adams CSP (Australia); Dr Graeme Codrington CSP (South Africa & UK); Alan Stevens FPSA, PSAE, MCIPR (UK); David Koutsoukis CSP (Australia); Scott Friedman CSP (US & Singapore)

Buy my Book

In the book I have outlined the steps you will need to take to start your speaking business and to create a good living for yourself. Not everybody will be a successful speaker but if you feel you have what it takes, you could end up with a great career, a good living working from home with no boss to answer to and maybe, just maybe, you will make a difference in people’s lives.

Find a Mentor

One thing that almost all successful speakers agree with is that you will develop a speaking business much quicker if you have a mentor to help you. I have started a mentorship programme to provide such a service and you can find the details on my website. (

Speaking for a living is one of the most rewarding professions. Not only do you get paid rather well if you get the balance right but you also get to change people’s lives for the better. Speaking for a living is also a very risky business if you get it wrong and the majority seem to do this. I have seen many talented speakers leaving the industry because they just couldn’t make a living. With a few good ideas, however,  and a little help from your friends you are increasing your chances of getting it right.

“Influence, How to Start and Grow a speaking business” is packaged with 2 audio CDs and is available from good bookshops at R195.00. You can also order the book from or my website ( To get the ebook in any of the major formats including Kindle, epub, Apple iBook or mobi etc. go to Smashwords  (

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