Get­ting paid for pub­lic speak­ing

Jamaica Gleaner - - BUSINESS - Ya­neek Page Ya­neek Page is an en­tre­pre­neur and trainer, and cre­ator/ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer of The In­no­va­tors TV se­ries. Email: ya­ Twit­ter: @ya­neek­page Web­site: www.ya­neek­

QUES­TION: I grad­u­ated from univer­sity with a de­gree in psy­chol­ogy two years ago, but I have not found em­ploy­ment in my field at the mo­ment. I have al­ways wanted to be­come a mo­ti­va­tional speaker who is also paid. With ev­ery­thing hap­pen­ing in Ja­maica to­day, we need pos­i­tive role mod­els who can in­spire oth­ers to achieve their goals and help them tap into the power of their mind. I know I am good at mo­ti­vat­ing peo­ple, but I need help with the busi­ness side. I have a few ques­tions for you re busi­ness: I see where you are al­ways speak­ing at events, do you get paid for this? Do you know of mo­ti­va­tional or other speak­ers who get paid to speak in Ja­maica? Should I start a busi­ness in mo­ti­va­tional speak­ing? Can such a busi­ness be vi­able? – Marsha-Ann

BUSINESSWISE: You would be sur­prised at how many univer­sity grad­u­ates have asked me if and how they could get paid to speak at events.

Some young peo­ple be­lieve it is easy to be­come a pro­fes­sional speaker and that you get paid hand­somely for sim­ply talk­ing of the top off your head.

It’s a myth that any­body can be a pro­fes­sional speaker and that it is easy money, a point I’ll get back to af­ter I ad­dress your spe­cific is­sues.

To an­swer your first two ques­tions, I have been in­vited to do mo­ti­va­tional speeches at sev­eral events and I typ­i­cally am not of­fered pay­ment for this. How­ever, where I am in­vited to de­liver talks re­lated to my ar­eas of ex­per­tise, that may be an­other mat­ter al­to­gether.

I do know sev­eral mo­ti­va­tional speak­ers who get paid for their ser­vice lo­cally, across the Caribbean, and else­where in the world. How­ever, I am also aware that large cor­po­rates that typ­i­cally hire mo­ti­va­tional tal­ent tend to look ex­ter­nally for ex­per­tise.

We can’t an­swer the ques­tion of whether you should start a mo­ti­va­tional speak­ing busi­ness un­til we ex­plore the is­sue of vi­a­bil­ity.

The most well-es­tab­lished model for earn­ing from pro­fes­sional is a for­mal speak­ers’ bureau, which is an en­tity that pro­vides a cadre of pro­fes­sional speak­ers who are ca­pa­ble of speak­ing on many di­verse sub­ject ar­eas, fa­cil­i­tat­ing func­tions, or be­ing key­note or mo­ti­va­tional speak­ers at var­i­ous events. Th­ese types of en­ti­ties usu­ally have sev­eral rev­enue streams such as an­nual mem­ber­ship fees for speak­ers on their data­base, train­ing and de­vel­op­ment work­shops, and ser­vice fees for speak­ing en­gage­ments booked, etc.

The speak­ers’ bureau model is es­pe­cially pop­u­lar in North Amer­ica and parts of Europe, how­ever it hasn’t yet taken root in the Caribbean. I am not aware of any es­tab­lished lo­cal speak­ers’ bu­reaus that cur­rently pro­vide th­ese ser­vices, how­ever if this is a model you are in­ter­ested in ex­plor­ing, you should do a for­mal in­dus­try and com­peti­tor analysis to bet­ter un­der­stand the ex­ist­ing com­pet­i­tive land­scape and pro­jected trends.

Even when you have done the analysis of the in­dus­try, the only way to es­ti­mate vi­a­bil­ity of the busi­ness would be to de­ter­mine the spe­cific value you need to cre­ate for your tar­get groups, then as­sess whether they would be will­ing and able to pay for this value, and fi­nally, how of­ten and for how long they would be will­ing to pay.

I doubt such a model would be vi­able if you only tar­get Ja­maican speak­ers and lo­cal op­por­tu­ni­ties.

It is likely that you would have to ex­pand the con­cept to in­clude other Caribbean coun­tries and re­lated di­as­po­ras, and even then, the pro­posed rev­enue model would need strict val­i­da­tion.


Ear­lier, I made the point that be­ing paid to speak is not as easy one might think. As a speaker, I know the in­cred­i­ble work that goes into pre­par­ing and de­liv­er­ing pro­fes­sional pre­sen­ta­tions.

You have to meet with clients;, un­der­stand the ob­jec­tives they have for your pre­sen­ta­tion and get rel­e­vant back­ground de­tails; learn the de­mo­graph­ics of the au­di­ence that will be in at­ten­dance; con­duct re­search, de­velop con­tent, and then cre­atively craft a pre­sen­ta­tion that will be dy­namic, en­gag­ing, mem­o­rable; and, of course, meet the or­gan­iser’s ob­jec­tives.

In some cases, you have to share a draft with client, make re­vi­sions where nec­es­sary, prac­tise your de­liv­ery, con­firm the au­dio vis­ual equip­ment and other ma­te­ri­als needed, and fi­nally, turn up on the day of the event and ex­e­cute flaw­lessly.

In re­al­ity, 45 to 60 min­utes of pre­sen­ta­tion time pales in com­par­i­son to the hours spent on prepara­tory work. But even be­fore you get the chance to do that work, there is the mat­ter of de­mand.

To be­come a cred­i­ble speaker who peo­ple will ac­tu­ally want to spend money to book, you need to dis­tin­guish your­self in a par­tic­u­lar field or dis­ci­pline or have had a trans­for­ma­tional life ex­pe­ri­ence/tes­ti­mony that peo­ple want to hear about or which may in­spire or en­lighten.

Many speak­ers have au­thored books, achieved in­cred­i­ble feats, or lead il­lus­tri­ous ca­reers. Ul­ti­mately, you may not yet be ready to start a busi­ness pro­mot­ing your own ser­vice, how­ever you can ex­plore other ways to cap­i­talise on your pas­sion for im­pact­ful pub­lic speak­ing.

One love!



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