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Published:August 2nd, 2008 16:47 EST
How to Become a Professional Speaker

How to Become a Professional Speaker

By Glenn Brandon Burke (Mentor/Speaker)

Hey, Glenn Brandon Burke,
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(Weekly Column)
Glenn Brandon Burke, M.A.Ed, is a...
Motivational Sales Speaker * Author * Columnist * Educator * CEO
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I been on and off the road at speaking engagements over the past few weeks which is why I have submitted anything for The SOP. But now I`m back!
And during my travels, I was asked multiple times how someone can get into the world of professional speaking. So, this week`s article is about how one becomes a professional speaker...

How to Become a Professional Speaker / Motivational Speaker


Whenever I want to learn something new, I research, and speak with people who are doing what I want to do. If someone is successful in a given field, you know they know what they`re doing. Otherwise, they wouldn`t be successful.


When I first decided to become a professional speaker (2002/3), I sought out mentors. I live in Las Vegas, NV, and through my research found a motivational speaker who was, and still is, very popular, and he happened to live relatively close to me. So I found his number, called him, introduced myself, and asked if I could take him to lunch for the purpose of asking him questions to aid me in becoming a motivational speaker. He responded by saying for $1,600.00 you can take me to lunch for one hour and ask anything you want. ? I laughed and asked if that crap really works? He replied by saying that if I really want a career in this industry, I will pay him. What a joke!


A couple of years later at a (paid) speaking engagement, I ran into the same guy who said if I want a career in this industry, I would pay him all that money. Since he and I actually never met in person, I introduced myself (didn`t mention our conversation other than saying, I believe we spoke a couple of years back? ?) and he said, yeah, I know who you are, you`re the guy who owns that sales company and was a high school dropout and now has a few college degrees. ?


Now, really curious as to how he would perceive me, I ask if he would like to get together and have lunch. He quickly agreed, and did so because he now saw me as an equal. We had an interesting conversation. He talked most of the time about how great he is, and how he began in the world of professional speaking. But I did pick up some great pointers.


Now that you know my first step into this world, allow me to welcome you to the exciting and lucrative world of professional speaking! There are many fields where you may earn a great living as a professional speaker. Corporations and associations throughout the world hire speakers. However, before you run out and start selling yourself to those who hire speakers, you must have your speaking business professionally ready. Otherwise, you will never get hired.


When I first decided to enter the professional speaking world, I learned the hard way that there were very specific things I must do in order to get hired, paid, and re-hired. I`ve listed below what must be done to become a professional speaker.


1. Topic:

To begin, you must have a sellable topic(s). Your topic must have value and be of benefit to your prospective client(s). You must present your material very effectively. A great way to begin is to practice your presentation(s) for free. Places such as the Rotary & Lions Clubs are always looking for luncheon speakers. There are also local community organizations, churches and schools. Lastly, you may consider joining your local Toastmasters chapter. Toastmasters` is a great place to improve your public speaking skills, and you may also want to hire a professional speaking coach to help you put together your topic in a coherent manner, and work on its delivery..


2. Branded identity:

Like Coca-Cola and Pepsi, you need to brand yourself with an identifiable logo. This logo will be on your business card, stationary, one sheet, head shot and promotional tape (VHS or DVD).  Place your logo in one spot on any and all material you will be giving to your potential client(s). Also make sure you have your contact information on all material. Imagine sending a promotional kit to the ABC Corporation and they liked everything about you, but somehow everything from your kit but your one sheet ends up missing. If your contact information (your web address works well) is listed, they will still be able to contact you.


3. Web site, E-mail and Business address:

With the world now working at the speed of light, it is imperative you have a web site. Your web site should contain everything you would send in your promotional kit to a potential client. My web site, for instance, contains the following:

  1. Home Page (One sheet)
  2. Presentations (Feature & benefits)
  3. Testimonials (Nothing beats a great recommendation " includes video clips)
  4. Promotional video clip. (Preferably from a live presentation)
  5. Client List
  6. Press (Articles, interviews, etc.)
  7. Media Resources (Downloadable head shots " color and B&W, plus my logo)
  8. Sponsors (Companies who sponsor me to speak)
  9. Links (Relevant to who I am and what I do)
  10. Store (Product sales)
  11. Contact (Book) Glenn
Your site should be simple to navigate. No one wants to go to your site and have difficulties finding what they need. Also, though flash sites may look cool, they do take longer to download and it is more difficult to get search engine ranking. I would recommend the simple HTLM.


For professional reasons, you will want to have a personal E-mail address. Though I do have an AOL account for personal E-mail, I also have a professional address. Doing so adds that touch of professionalism. You can setup your personal address through Microsoft Outlook. For instance, mine is

Unless you want everyone who receives your business card to know your personal business address, I would recommend getting a mailing address from a mailbox store.


4. Promotional kit:

A promotional kit (promo kit) is a package that will supply your potential client with all they need to know about who and what you are. The promo kit should contain the following:

  1. One Sheet (basically, a bio of you and your speaking experience - include small head shot in or near upper right corner)
  2. Head shot (8 x 10 color photo " not always needed if on the one sheet)
  3. Testimonial letters (copies from past clients)
  4. Press clippings (copies from write-ups about you and your speaking)
  5. Promo tape (5-10 minutes, professionally edited)
  6. Business card (include logo and consider a head shot, too)
All of this should be placed neatly and organized in a professional folder. For myself, I have professionally printed folders that include my logo and contact information.


Actually, I have now created an Online Press Kit. ? It is my web site ( Everything I previously used in my physical press kit is on my Online Press Kit ? and in the order in which I mentioned above. I did this because in the world of Internet marketing and sales, I found it to be far more cost effective and faster than putting together actual press kits.


I now send a personal letter (on letterhead) to potential clients, or a personal E-mail. I make sure I have the proper spelling of both their first and last name. I follow up with a phone call within 5-7 business days. And once I have someone on the phone, in their office, it`s easy to refer them directly to my Online Press Kit ? where they will immediately see all they need to know about me and how I WILL be of benefit.


Once you are ready to take the leap from free (practice) speaking engagements into the world of professional speaker, you need to get yourself booked. Look for my next article on How to Get Paid Speaking Gigs.


Glenn Brandon Burke, M.A.E. is a Motivational Speaker, Author, Columnist, Educator & CEO. Glenn may be contacted via his Online Press Kit ? at  Article contributions by: Troy Evans (, Victor Antonio G. ( and Rahja McKee-Cray (


Copyright © 2008 Glenn Brandon Burke, M.A.Ed.