It’s back to school time for kids, but what about you? Are you taking intentional steps to improve your speaking skills, to start a speaking business or to grow your speaking business?
While there are excellent books on speaking skills and on building a speaking business (one of my favorite is World Class Speaking by Craig Valentine), nothing quite takes the place of a hands-on experience, with accountability built-in.
Here are three ways I have found to be personally effective in moving forward in speaking skills or in building a speaking business:
1. Toastmasters. Toastmasters is a great value if you want regular practice in improving your speaking skills. This world wide organization helps members improve their speaking (and leadership!) skills in a supportive, workshop-style environment with peer-to-peer feedback. I joined a club more than 10 years ago, with no desire to be a professional speaker. It was through the practice, feedback, encouragement and connections I made in Toastmasters that I decided to become a professional speaker. I now belong to two clubs: PowerTalk Toastmasters (for professional and aspiring professional speakers) and Humor Mill Toastmasters (a specialty club focusing on humor).
Annual cost: less than $100; Time Investment: weekly meetings, plus working on ocassional speeches, 1-2 hours a week
Benefits: speaking skill development, confidence, leadership skills, networking
Sign-up: On-going Click here to find a club
2. The National Speakers Association’s Local Chapter Speaker Academy (Minnesota Chapter Link). The Speaker Academy program attracts people who are seriously considering becoming a professional speaker. I participated in the program in 2009-2010 and 2010-2011, before joining the association in 2012. While there is some development on speaking skills, the focus is on developing a speaking business. Being able to meet professional speakers at the Chapter meetings was a plus.
Annual cost: $1000-$2000 Time Investment: Monthly meetings plus homework, 4-8 hours a month. Chapter meetings are an additional $350 to attend all.
Benefits: business development, networking, speaking skill development,
Sign-up: Until Oct 6. Program runs Oct-May. Click here for more information
3. SpeakerBiz Institute. Vitalia Bryn-Pundyk, a polished professional speaker, business owner and accomplished Toastmaster runs small group programs for aspiring professional speakers to help them develop speaking businesses, giving detailed steps and resources. I took her signature program, the Expedition Course in 2011-2012. She was instrumental in helping me take steps to get paid engagements.
Annual cost: $1000-$4000 Time Investment: Monthly classes plus homework, 6-12 hours a month. Programs include generous Toastmaster benefits (payment of dues in a club of your choice and more)
Benefits: extensive, personalized business development, networking, speaking skill development
Sign-up: Until early September. Program runs Sept-May. Click here for more information
Take action on your dreams. Turn them into reality. Go back to “school” this fall.