The calls and texts usually come in while I’m cooking eggs.

“Bryan, Siemens asked me to give a talk for $25,000.”
“I’m going to be featured on Simon Sinek’s platform.”

These kinds of opportunities weren’t on our clients’ radar when we started working together, but they’re a testament to their willingness to start small, see a greater vision for their brand, and be patient until it grew into something much bigger.

You’re probably wondering, What made it all possible, though? How do you find the right audience, share your expertise, make an impact—and get paid well to do it?

Let’s dive in.

The Hidden Benefits of Speaking Gigs

Bringing in a big paycheck for a short gig is definitely appealing, but speaking comes with a slew of other benefits.

First off, prepping for a speaking opportunity requires you to package all that hard-earned knowledge in a concise, highly digestible, and meaningful format. You can do it once and take that material with you, sharing those insights in the same form as part of multiple other engagements—all with little additional effort. And the exercise itself primes you to translate other content for video, courses, and other avenues that have the potential to deliver returns while you sleep.

Preparing and delivering a presentation is also valuable in and of itself. You’ll find it helps you get to the heart of what you’re trying to say, which makes you better at pitches, presentations, and conversations at large.

Second, when you speak on a stage—or even at the front of a room—you’re automatically positioned as a subject matter expert. That stretches beyond the gig to a whole host of future opportunities. You never know who’s listening or what they can help you bring to fruition.

Third, speaking acts as an introduction. When they’re compelled by what you have to say, they’ll look you up online. That can mean more newsletter subscribers, book sales, or course attendees. When you’re speaking to large audiences, we’re talking about significant passive income from a single engagement.

Fourth, when you speak to a live audience, it’s often filmed, which provides material for you to share on social media and in your own assets online—all to audiences who will now see you as a speaker. If content is king, then a well-done video is pocket aces.

So, what do you have to do to get there?

Make It Strategic

Most people want to start with a talk or “product”—it seems like the fastest route to ROI. But you shouldn’t do it without giving thought to the underlying brand infrastructure. You’ve got to understand the foundation of your brand: who you are and your message. Next, the thought leadership should come—your unique take on your subject or industry. Then, that can be packaged into a talk.

Part of that strategy is getting started. Once an individual understands their brand and message, most people turn to a speaking bureau. But that’s not always the best option if you want support refining your message. Others get a lucky break; someone in their network sees something they shared and asks them if they want to speak to their group or organization.

That’s why building a brand is so valuable. When people are familiar with your platform, they’re more likely to present you with opportunities.

The 10-Year Overnight Success

Remember, it takes 10 years to become an overnight success. Being a thought leader isn’t sexy at first. You have to roll up your sleeves and fully lean into yourself and your message. That can come with a lot of trepidation and vulnerability—putting yourself out there and telling your network who you are, what you’re doing, and what you’re looking for.

Expect excitement, discomfort, and a slow build. Nothing worthwhile is easy to do. Building momentum takes a lot of reps.

Sometimes, the fastest way to get there is with free gigs. It gives you an opportunity to package your material, get in those reps, and generate content—all of which prime the pump for paid engagements.

How do you build on that?

The more you can do to identify your message, build your brand, and expand your surface area—reaching more people who can promote your work, the better off you will be.

It’s also a good idea to find speakers who are a bit further ahead of you to learn from, ideate with, and build alongside. They’ll challenge and inspire you to up your game and rise to their level.

From there, finding an individual (or firm) who believes in your material is a great next step. The right facilitator can identify events, companies, and organizations to get you in front of, and they’ll help you chart your course.

Ready to Get Started?

Begin your speaking journey by answering the following questions:

  1. What does a successful speaking career look like? Where do you want to be five years down the road?
  2. What’s your area of expertise? What topics do you want to address with an audience, and why are you best suited to do it?
  3. What’s your angle? What can you bring to the table that no one else can?
  4. Who in your network can help create opportunities for you?

As you answer these questions and think about your future, your Arc, and how you want to impact the world, it’s also important to consider if you have the people around you who will help guide you to your destination.

If you’re curious about how we integrate speaking gigs into our clients’ Arcs, check out the beta version of our speaking platform here. It’s part of our larger strategy for bringing our clients’ products and services to the forefront of their industries and also how we envision creating sustainable ROI and wider distribution easier for all.

Working together means it will soon be you who shares good news with me during breakfast.