As a thought leader, you may be great at telling stories through a presentation deck,…
Being a professional speaker is one of the greatest jobs in the world. You get paid very well, you get to travel the world, you’re always the center of attention and every time you work you get applause (except when you speak to actuaries).
Being a speaker is one of the worst ways to make a living there is. You live from gig to gig in a very transactional business. You’re exhausted from all the travel to exotic locales like Pittsburg and Des Moines and you never get to sleep in your own bed.
“I want to speak more!”
“I want to speak less!”
Given my somewhat unique vantage point in the world of thought leadership, along with my global client base, I actually heard these statements from two clients on the same day. I enjoy the challenge of trying to hold two contradictory thoughts in my head simultaneously and this caused me to do so. Here’s what I concluded.
- Authors and Thought Leaders that don’t speak often want to speak more.
- Speakers that speak frequently, say 50 times a year or more, want to speak less.
They’re both right actually. Sort of.
Speaking can be fun, can be very satisfying from an intrinsic and ego perspective and it can be very profitable. It can also be tiring, and lonely. You don’t get to see the impact of your work beyond the moments in time people respond to it from the stage. You don’t get to see the benefits to your clients of mastering your models and how it impacts their businesses and their lives. It can be very unsatisfying.
The best approach is integrated and balanced.
Ask yourself how much speaking you’d ideally like to do (it can be much more or much less than your current state) and then figure out how to get to your desired state.
If you’re in a place where you’d like to reduce the speaking load, focus on what else you can be doing with your content that will generate real value, real dollars for you. What else would your clients pay for?
- Assessment tools?
- Video enabled training?
Speaking is a fantastic paid business development vehicle if you have enterprise solutions that have been thoughtfully developed. Ideally you should be able to generate close to 10 times what you generate as a speaker through these vehicles.
If you’re in a place where you’d like to speak more, and frankly this is a bit harder then wanting to speak less, you need to be creative. The barriers to entry in the speaking business are pretty low. You need to differentiate, you need to be able to tell your story and bring your content to life in ways that will blow an audience away. Every time. Without fail. You need to master your craft and study and learn from the best of the best.
You also need to develop a full suite of solutions based on your content and not be solely dependent on speaking to generate revenue. Again, webinars, assessment tools, video enabled training systems are a few options. They may not be as sexy or exciting as speaking but there is a viable market for content that has an impact on business results.
So there you have it. Speak more. Speak less. The choice is yours but in either case you need a full suite of solutions that are derived from your content in order to do more or less of either effectively and profitably.