How to make money as a motivational speaker

THE PUNCH Newspaper-Dayo Oketola

Mr. Tobi Olatunde, 45, a human resource practitioner, had always wanted to combine his paid employment with public speaking and create multiple streams of income but anxiety and fear in front of the audience deterred him. He had since worked on himself and mastered the art of public speaking but not making money from it yet.

His situation simply reflects the views of many pundits that becoming a motivational speaker is easy but making money from it is hard.

Being a speaker, according to experts, cannot be learnt in school, but you have to become a professional first, succeed in a certain field of trade and then ride on your industry experience for a successful speaking career.

Given that only 53 per cent of the income of professional speakers, according to some statistics, come from speaking engagements, adding value outside the speech has become a key element in becoming a wealthy public speaker.

A Nigerian born inspirational speaker in the United Kingdom, Mr. Richie Jonhson, says that a speaker needs to reach a point where people automatically think of him when they are looking for information on a certain topic. He therefore, says that continuous learning is very important to making money as a speaker.

He says, ”People demand excellence and reward; that excellence with referral after referral. Devote a regular part of your week to learning new skills and sharpening existing ones. Knowledge in every field doubles every five years. If you do not ‘sharpen the saw‘, you will be an expert in a field that does not exist anymore.”

Johnson adds that one must become a marketer and create awareness about one‘s speaking ability, adding that the desired speaking engagements may not come if a speaker sits at home waiting for things to happen.

”Your step to become a wealthy public speaker starts with your marketing skills. There are literally thousands of people in your area who need and deserve the professional services that you provide. Make them aware of what you do. Be vocal about your abilities and qualifications,” he says.

Johnson also joins other experts to say making and selling products such as books, compact discs and other informative resources could also enhance a speaker‘s earning capacity.

He says, ”Being a public speaker means that you have an expertise over something. If you are getting your fair share of bookings, then chances are that you are already regarded as an authority on a particular subject. You can create products relevant to your topics and sell them to the public. Commonly these products are books, CD‘s, and other informative resources.”

Another Nigerian motivational speaker who plies his trade in the United Kingdom, Mr. Dayo Olomu, agrees that most speakers earn extra income outside speaking activities.

He says, ”Most of the speakers I know and respect, apart from speaking, earn income from other sources such as coaching, consultancy, training and products sales.”

Olomu adds that providing consulting services, facilitating conferences and seminars as well as anchoring events of varied peculiarities have been sources of income to him as well as hundreds of speakers.

Speaking on the practical steps he took to improve his earning capacity, Olomu says, ”The first thing I did was to develop myself because I believe that the more you learn, the more you earn. I joined Toastmasters International to develop my public speaking skills and after delivering 30 evaluated speeches, I became an Advanced Toastmaster. To train in the UK, you require a training qualification hence I did my post graduate too.”

”I also got myself a website; wrote a book; produced an audio CD and a DVD; started a talk show; network more with people who are going where I am going because your network determines your networth; and I got myself a coach and mentor.

”Finally, like cars, bottled water, chocolate bars and Nollywood movies, there are so many professional speakers to choose from and success in a crowded market depends on differentiating yourself.”

Olomu further argues that anybody could speak but not everybody could earn income from speaking.

He says, ”Before you can earn income from speaking you must have a powerful story that people would pay to listen to and this can take years. You must know how to turn your expertise and life experiences into saleable topics that will mean cash for you and your family. Also you must know what works in front of today‘s fast paced audiences.”

He also adds that motivational speaking could be combined with paid employment.

”You do not have to quit your job and you can run your speaking business from a corner in your home,” he says.


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