Business Speakers – Don’t Follow Your Bliss – Follow Theirs!

As a professional telemarketing speaker, customer service speaker, and negotiation speaker, those that aspire to this profession or that just want to be paid for their platform pyrotechnics, ask me for advice.

Recently, just such a hopeful, residing in a town with a famous prison, said to me she wants to position herself to speak for money. I gave her the standard suggestion for novices.

Start “free,” and evolve into “fee.” This is to say, offer your services gratis to service clubs such as Rotary and Lions. Suggest a breakfast speech topic or two.

Join the local chamber of commerce, and do the same. And in her case, I suggested she offer speeches and training at the prison, particularly on vocational topics that have a good chance to attract funding.

She wrote back that the lockup “is not a place where any of my topics would fly.”

If there’s anything more annoying than someone that asks for free consulting it is a person that argues with it once it is politely tendered. Anyway, here was my reply to her rebuttal:

“Fit the topic to the venue. We don’t get paid to deliver what we want to say, but what audiences want to hear, and above all, what they’ll pay value for. Joseph Campbell notwithstanding, don’t follow your bliss, but theirs. Over and out.”

Public speaking seems to be a great profession for extroverted egomaniacs that want to strut their stuff. But it is a career disaster if we don’t put audience wants and needs, first.

If that speaking wannabe is genuinely interested in talking for a living, she should pitch the prison. That will help her to come face to face with the relative constraints and freedom involved in starting her own speaking enterprise.