It was first suggested to me that I might become a motivational speaker by my sister in law, Kate. She pointed out that, as I’d always stood up in public as the Director of the charities that I’d worked for, I could just as easily do this for myself. Yes, I thought, what could be easier? Well, that was five years ago and it led me to joining the Professional Speaking Association. So, I was on my way, or so I thought.
Well it wasn’t quite as easy as I’d imagined and I’ve had to overcome a few personal hurdles along the way. The main one being that making a presentation for a charity was actually much easier than doing it for myself. In addition, I had no business card, no website, no social media presence, no show reel of me speaking, no testimonials, no brochure, no contacts in this world, no topic on which to speak (so I thought) and little else that I needed to make my mark in this new career. I also had an added problem which is that I find it very difficult to ask for help. So, what did I do?
Well, I went to PSA Meetings in London, took notice of what was said at the various talks and, gradually, set about getting all the above in place. I did a five minute talk in front of my peers, then a ten minute one and finally a twenty minute showcase; this latter in London and some of the other regions around the country. I even did a five minute stand up routine at a PSA comedy evening! In addition, I set about finishing the books that I’d started writing eight years earlier. I even, on someone’s advice, bought two complete outfits, suits, shirts, ties shoes and socks so that I made an impression when I stood up.
In fact, I did what I always do and got on with it. So much so that, four years after Kate’s suggestion, I had all the things that I needed in place; unfortunately, I was still getting very little decently paid work. So, I plucked up courage, swallowed my pride and asked for help. The response, I have to say, has, for me, been quite revelatory. You see, I’ve discovered that you aren’t alone and that people really do want to help.
“If you aren’t getting paid decently, motivational speaking is a hobby and not a business” is a quote from, I think, Nigel Risner, an experienced speaker. It is also a truism. Furthermore, given my voluntary sector background in which volunteering is the norm, I actually found it very difficult to quote a fee for my work. Although this latter can’t be quite accurate as I feel as most speakers have difficulty in this respect.
Well, (and I’m firmly touching wood as I type this) that may be changing and my perseverance over the past five years may be paying off. It’s early days yet but I am starting to get that work in and, in doing so, making those contacts. So much so that, this does feel different. I also have those three books published and a fourth one well in hand. Even I can’t pretend, as I often do, that all this is no big deal. So much so that I now feel that I’m on the next stage of my journey and one that I feel that will lead me to where I want to be. Much like any other journey, you just need the right equipment, a map and a little bit of support, to reach your destination. Oh yes, and a degree of perseverance.
I just hope that there are no unmarked traps along the way.
PS, Many thanks to Karen Wright and the staff and pupils from the One in a Million Free School in Bradford who, yesterday, saw me as that author and speaker that I’ve long wanted to be.