Secrets to Paid/Public Speaking Success – #2 [of 101] – How to Get More (or your first few) Speaking Gigs

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In the summer of 2003, my coach (Jennifer-Hoy Saint-Laurent) asked me a simple question – right in our first coaching session: “If there was nothing to stop you, what would you attempt to accomplish?” (it’s a bit rephrased – I don’t recall the exact wording, but it’s really close); and without hesitation I said “I’d de be the next Anthony Robbins!  I’d love to speak to crowds, motivate people, entertain them… and potentially inspire my audience to create some meaningful changes in their lives..”

“And… what is stopping you?” she asked.  And, boy, did I have reasons…  The truth is, I always knew that I wanted to become a motivational speaker, but I always knew that I’d never become one.  Jennifer worked on me for only about three or four weeks, and I started telling everyone that I was a speaker and coach (I got certified through IPEC Coaching in the spring of ’03).

What happened next was nothing short of a miracle… well, at least in my book, because I was thinking “Who the heck would hire me to speak? “  I thought it’d be a looooong journey till I’d get my first speaking gig.

Only about two or three weeks after I started handing out business cards that said

E.G. Sebastian, CEC
Speaker and Life-Balance Coach

(yes, that was my first niche)

… someone said “Wow, that’s great!  We (Healthy Families of America) are having our annual fundraiser and we need a keynote speaker, would you be interested?”  And without hesitation I said “I’d be honored.”  (and my knees started shaking and I thought I’ll pee in my pants – and I’m not kidding – I was scared beyond words).  The event was coming up in about 2 months, so I had plenty of time to prepare… 

During my presentation I forgot about half of what I wanted to say… and the whole experience was like a dream.  The truth is, I practiced even in my dreams daily, prior to the event, and now it was all like that dreamy state.  Yes, I was scared, but no one knew that only me.  I stood up straight, I smiled, I spoke with the highest confidence I could muster…  And people laughed at my humor; and laughed at points that I didn’t’ even plan humor… Gee, they liked me – I felt like in the 7th heaven.

Then right after the presentation I got two invitations to two other events: One from DHEC and the other from The Carolinas’ Housing Authority – they had their annual conference coming up and they needed speakers.  I submitted three proposals and two of them were accepted (Stress Management and Coaching Skills 101 for Counselors).

I charged them somewhat less than $1000, and that made me feel like a million bucks… little did I know that I majorly undercharged for my services… but it was my first paid gig, travel paid, fancy hotel with ocean view paid…  I was happy! [I even brought my wife and kids with me, who enjoyed the pool and the ocean for two days]

And the rest is history.  The more I spoke, the more I got invited to speak to other places… and one of the greatest feelings was when some organizations started re-booking me.

Now... get out there and Speak, Speak, Speak...
 Key #1: Speak whenever you have a chance.  In the beginning accept the chances to speak for free to any group possible; you never know in which group there will be someone who will link you to your next – or first – speaking gig.  Take action and go out in your community – look up all the groups that meet regularly… find the associations as well… visit large and mid-size companies and offer your services…  The key is to get out there and let people know what you do.  As Nike said, Just do it!
(If you don’t mind calling around, that’s an option too).

Key #2: ALWAYS ASK “How much money do you have in the budget for the speaker for this event” or “Do you have money in the budget to pay me an honorarium?”  You have to understand that the person who you are talking to does not own the money in the budget.  He or she “just” works there – 9 out of 10 will tell you how much money they have… and often even if they don’t have money in the budget, they’ll move things around and they’ll still find a way to pay you.  The key is to ASK.  THIS IS YOUR MOST IMPORTANT STEP TO PROPEL YOU FROM SPEAKING FOR FREE TO SPEAKING FOR A FEE.

Key #3: If they can’t pay you, ALWAYS ask if in exchange for your service, “Would it be ok to video my presentation?”  The answer, most of the times, is “Yes.”  Then ask “Do you have a video wizard” (“crew” – make up your own question that suits you)… Many schools, colleges, and even larger organizations, have their own video guy.  If you can get them to video you, that would be the best.  OF COURSE, I’d still bring my own video guy (spouse, friend, or ask an attendee to help you out), or in worse case, you set your video on a stand and let it record you (I suggest a camera that has at least 10-hours of digital recording space – mine records up to 30-hours of High Definition video).
THESE RECORDINGS ARE CRUCIAL!!!  You’ll use snippets of these recordings later to create your demo video (that you’ll send to meeting organizers), you’ll also put snippets on your site, blog, uTube, etc.

What stops you from getting out there and speak?

If you need a high quality program that you can use instantly to get out there and present to corporations, associations, and other groups, click on the “Present Your 1St Workshop Today” tab and take a look at some of the trainer packages. 

Each package is complete with high quality

  • scripted seminars
  • ice-breakers
  • group activities,
  • customizable professional looking handouts
  • customizable professional looking PowerPoint
  • and much more…

You can also view a more indepth description of each at www.egSebastian.com – just hover your mouse over the Facilitator Kits tab, and click on one of the titles…

!!! Call me before you buy!  These are high quality kits, with some programs that have been delivered to more than 150 Fortune 500 companies.  There is no refund once you buy a kit.  So give me a call toll free at 877 379-3793 to see if a particular program is right for you…  Or ask your questions in the comment section.

Join us on the Paid Speakers’ Support Group on LinkedIn to go more indepth with this topic.  Here’s the link: http://www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=1816042&trk=myg_ugrp_ovr 

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