A good while ago I went to see Craig Valentine at workshop in Makuhari in Chiba, Japan. He is an incredibly entertaining and informative speaker, and the 1999 World Champion of Public Speaking in Toastmasters. At his workshop, Craig talked a little bit about quitting his job and becoming a professional speaker. After the workshop was over, a couple of my friends gathered and one of them, said “I wish I be like that. Wouldn't it be fun to get on stage and present for a living.” Have you ever seen a great speaker and thought the same thing?
I did. Sure, it would be great, but what do you needed to do? What separates the people that earn a steady income from public speaking from those that don`t. There seems to be 5 differences between those that do well and those that don`t. Those that do not do well have these qualities:
- Afraid that they need to be THE Expert
- Are not clear on the problem to be solved
- Are not clear on who they want to speak to
- Have no clear menu of presentation
- Do not have a clear idea of what to charge
I will focus on each problem one at a time. Let`s start out with the first one:
Do you need to be THE Expert?
The simple answer is no. You do not need to be the world’s, Japan`s or even Tokyo's greatest expert in X. You just need to be a credible professional.
There are plenty of people who do not even get started because they think they do not have enough knowledge. But how much is “enough?” Who determines that? Or they think they need to be “THE expert” at X. But again, who determines that? How much do you really need to know to get started? A lot less that you think. In fact, you only need to know enough to solve your customer`s problem. That is all.
Not too long ago, I tried to install a brand-new water filter in the kitchen. It was a big failure. So, I called a plumber. I didn't search for the best plumber in Tokyo or in Japan. I just needed a regular plumber to solve my problem. The plumber came and fixed my problem. I know that he also knows, that he isn't Tokyo`s or even Japan's most expert plumber, but he still does his job and does it well. I was happy to pay to him.
The same goes for mentoring or tutoring. When you were in high school trying to pass exams, how many of you got help from college age tutors? These people may not have been experts in their fields but they knew more than you did and your parents paid good money for them. Many of you were probably happy to get the help from these people, and they helped you pass the entrance exam.
When it comes to the world of public speaking the same thing also applies. When Ichiro Kishimi became famous with the book Kirawareru Yuki (The Courage of Being Disliked) he was already the biggest expert on Adler Psychology in Japan. But does that mean no other Japanese would pay to listen to another person speak on that same subject. Not at all.
Search on google yourself and search for Adler Psychology. I found that there a were a lot of people giving talks or seminars on Adler Psychology. You will still see big names like Ichiro Kishimi and Toshinori Iwai, but you will see others. For example, a woman named Hiromi Suga who was a middle school teacher, a guy named Lemon-san who is a DJ and former head of the PTA also gave talks on this subject.
They may not be anywhere near the expert as Ichiro Kishimi or Toshinori Iwai, but they have already established credibility in that area and have gotten people to attend their seminars. I have also done the same thing in the exact same subject. I know that I am no Ichiro Kishimi, but I can get the information across in a way that is understandable and useful to my audience.
If a non-native Japanese like me can earn some money on speaking on a subject that he only has had two years of real word experience with, I`ll bet that any native Japanese could do much better with a topic that they have much more experience with. Don't you agree?
The questions come down to what topics could you talk about? To choose one, you need to go through the following three step process.
1. Brainstorm on all possible topics, based on experience, hobby, interest, etc.
2. Look to see if there is a real market for your topic
3. Reexamine to see if you feel comfortable talking about this topic for 3 to 5 years.
First go back to you school years. What topics were you interested in? What book topics fascinated you? What classes did you like? What clubs did you belong to?
Next look at what you did after finished college. What skills have you picked up at work? What hobbies do you have now? What things have you learned along the way that your friends or others around you don`t know. What causes are you interested in? etc.
As you look back at your life, you probably learned and experienced many things that those around you have not. Right now, even if you think that they are not important list them anyway. Right now, even if you think they are silly, list them anyway. Right now, even if you think it is something that everybody should know anyway, list them anyway. You might be surprised.
After you have gotten the list you can then do a search on Google or some other search engine to see if there are people speaking on the same subject. This will give you a good feel as to what is out there. You narrow down your list based on if there is any interest already in the subjects you want to talk about.
Finally, once you have narrowed down the list, pick 2 or 3 that you think you could speak passionately about for several years to come. After that pick 1. I know that picking one is very hard. Sometimes you don't which one is the right one. So, I recommend having 1 or 2 back up topics that you could use in case the first one is not as interesting as you had first though.
In any case the topic you will have chosen will be based on your personal experience or interest that you have developed. You should be able to establish a reason as why people should listen to you on this subject. You may not need to be the world’s foremost expert at it, but it will be start and you can always go from there.
So, please let me know go through the process and let me know what you came up with. I would love to hear what you think. If you need some help, as feel free to email me. I will be more than happy to help.
*I do coaching and consultation for people worried about their English Presentations, or if they want to expand their Art Business (yes two very different things). If you are curious, please email me.
*I do MeetUps on Creativity and Art, if you are interested in that please go here: