So You Want to Be A Speaker?

By: Cathleen Fillmore



Like many people, you’re intrigued by the speaking profession. So was I. Ten years ago, I was teaching English as a Second Language to adult immigrants and bored silly. I was looking around for a profession that would supplement my income.

When my friend Danniel Star took a leave of absence from his teaching job, he started speaking to groups. He was getting paid more as a speaker than as a teacher and he got to repeat his material! Sounded good to me.

Danniel’s first year as a speaker was a little lean financially, though. When his leave of absence was over, his old employer called him in for a new opening for a part-time position. Danniel agreed to an interview and then later called to cancel it.

I thought he was nuts! I said “Danniel, you know speaking is not that secure a profession. It’s good to have something to fall back on!" And he said something that changed my life.

He said, “Cathleen, when you have something to fall back on, you fall back!"

It rang so true! I saw immediately and with a shock that the teaching job that I thought provided a financial cushion in fact was holding me back from pursuing my true talents and interests.

Or, as Robert Allen, the author of Multiple Streams of Income puts it: “You can take the door marked ‘security’ or the door marked ‘freedom’.

Just remember that the door marked ‘security’ lies. The only security is found within yourself."

A few months later, I quit my job, packed up my car, kissed my grown kids and friends goodbye and moved to a different part of the country to try my luck as a writer or speaker. It was a little unnerving to take the plunge in such a dramatic way but I’d been wanting to do it for a long time and finally, it was sink or swim time!

Well, I was initially so naïve about business and had so much to learn about the speaking profession that I certainly got dunked many times. I did everything the hard way and it’s one way to learn quickly. Ultimately, I thrived doing what I love to do. Because I was happier, my health immediately improved along with my outlook on life.

Speaking to large groups of people has never come easily to me. It’s a myth that speakers are extroverts. I’m not. I’m pathologically shy, yet somehow the fact that I believe I have something to share gives me the impetus I need to plow right through the shyness and not only get up on stage but love it!

The route I chose was kind of hair-raising and wouldn’t necessarily work for everyone but there are many ways to get into professional speaking which I share with you in my book, Speaking for Money. You choose the right route for you!

Cathleen Fillmore is owner of Speakers GoldFind Article, a proactive speakers bureau.

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