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Become an Inspirational Speaker: Step-by-Step Career Guide

Learn how to become an inspirational speaker. Research the education and career requirements, training information, and experience required for starting a career in public speaking. View article »

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  • 0:00 Become An…
  • 1:05 Become An Expert
  • 2:25 Develop Public Speaking Skills
  • 3:20 Build Experience
  • 4:05 Begin Working In The Field

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Video Transcript

Become an Inspirational Speaker

Degree Level Postsecondary training
Experience Several years working in a profession or interesting real-life stories
Key Skills Ability to speak clearly, stay on point, engage audiences, and address audience needs; comfortable answering questions; good stage presence and energy
Salary $47,851 (2015 average for lecturers and speakers)

Sources: Associated Universities, Inc., University of Pittsburgh, University of Texas, PayScale.com

Inspirational speakers use their life experiences and knowledge to talk with others and motivate them to take action or change their lives. They can have practically any background. For example, speakers might be experts in their field, have survived diseases, have experienced significant life challenges, or be living with disabilities.

The demand for an inspirational speaker's presentations is highly dependent upon factors like the subject matter, popular interest in the field, the speaking ability of the individual, and their experience as a speaker. The potential for income is high, but getting started as an inspirational speaker can be uniquely difficult.

In addition to being able to speak clearly, inspirational speakers need knowledge of their audiences' needs. They must be capable of keeping audiences engaged, familiar with speech techniques for staying on point, and comfortable answering questions. They also must have good stage presence and be able to use reasonable arguments and capable of remaining energetic during meetings.

Let's trace the steps to become an inspirational speaker.

Step 1: Become an Expert

In this context, the term 'expert' is more of a general term describing a person with significant life experience or academic training. Many times, people acquire compelling life experiences by happenstance, but not everyone evaluates those experiences to determine if the lessons they contained could be used to help others. Inspirational speakers evaluate themselves frequently so that they can pass any useful information on to their audiences or clients. Common motivational life stories could discuss family relationships, overcoming an addiction, or handling racial issues, or possibly consist of stories about positive personal growth.

Individuals can also become experts through academic training and work experience. Becoming an expert in a particular field often involves attending college, developing a wide set of skills, earning degrees, and working at one or more jobs. Because some career fields include on-the-job training, not all fields require college degrees. Vocational experts often use their knowledge to find innovative ways to solve problems. Many also try new approaches and continue learning about their fields. They then talk about what they've learned during speaking engagements.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Mass Communication Studies
  • Speech Communications and Rhetoric

Step 2: Develop Public Speaking Skills

Although most inspirational speakers are experts, not all experts can become inspirational speakers, especially if they do not possess strong public speaking skills. Individuals can gain public speaking skills by taking formal classes in the subject. Public speaking courses offered by colleges or other schools might provide information about delivering persuasive speeches, incorporating body language, using technology, and fielding audience questions.

There are also organizations and clubs that focus on helping people become better speakers. Some of these organizations are meant to help people improve their speaking skills in the workplace, but many of those lessons are applicable to individuals wanting to become professional inspirational speakers. In many of these organizations, people learn how to speak better through consistent practice and receive constructive criticism from fellow members.

Step 3: Build Experience

Inspirational speakers require real-world experience to develop their style and presentation. Professionals with no previous public speaking experience might consider volunteering to speak at local events or during business meetings. Vocational professionals can also volunteer to speak at schools, charitable organizations, or community centers.

Success Tip:

  • Look into certification programs. Inspirational speakers can prove their level of professionalism by becoming certified. Several organizations offer different types of public speaking and leadership certification programs. To become certified, individuals might have to complete training classes and speak at a specific number of live engagements.

Step 4: Begin Working in the Field

After building enough experience, individuals might start charging money for speaking at events. Some inspirational speakers organize their own seminars, which involves advertising, renting a location, and processing collected fees. Other inspirational speakers prefer employment at events organized by event coordinators. People who are experts in their field might not require any previous public speaking experience to work as an inspirational speaker, but experience can help professionals become more comfortable in front of crowds.

Success Tips:

  • Join an agency. Several agencies specialize in connecting conference organizers with inspirational speakers. Joining one or more of these agencies might help inspirational speakers find more employment opportunities. Additionally, several agencies are willing to handle fee negotiations, event scheduling, and other pertinent details, allowing professionals to focus the majority of their time on their speeches and presentations.
  • Publish your speeches. Many inspirational speakers write books or blogs. Sometimes, people do not become inspirational speakers until after they have already published their works and been asked to speak at events. Using online platforms for blogs also allows inspirational speakers to market themselves and develop a strong following of fans.

To recap, there's no set path to becoming an inspirational speaker. One way to enter this field is to become an expert in a subject and gain public speaking skills.

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