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How To Get Paid Speeches When You’re Getting Started

by | How To Become A Motivational Speaker | 5 comments

make money get paid to speakI want to share with you one big secret that is really fundamental to you as a motivational speaker. When I’m privately coaching new or advanced speakers, I make sure they really get it. I call it a secret because far too many speakers miss it.

The one big secret I share with my private coaching clients is exactly what I’m about to share with you right now. You should tattoo it on your brain forever. It’s the secret weapon that all of the highly successful speakers use to get to the top of the speaking field. It’s how you can get paid speaking gigs even if you are just getting started. Are you ready to hear it?

Great! Here it is…

When you’re getting started, speak anywhere, whenever, and anytime for low or no fees. When you are a pro, still continue to use the same strategy whenever your calendar is not busy. Now, let me explain what I mean.

I just booked a gig for $500 for this coming July. That’s about 5% percent of my corporate fee. I bet you’re doing the math in your head, right? Anyway, the speaking engagement is going to be in Atlanta where I live. Let’s see why I accepted it. First, let me walk you through how the conversation went. Don’t worry. I’ll make it short.

I got a call from a woman who is very influential with the department of education here in Georgia. They are having a big conference for about 4,000 people. She is not the one in charge of the conference. However, she’s in charge of a small luncheon for her department (300people). They have not allocated any money for her event.

She told me, “I know you are a big fee speaker. There’s no way I can afford you for what I’m calling you for. I only have $500 and I really want you as the keynote speaker for my luncheon. I’m just taking a chance. Hey, ask and you shall receive.” I said, “What about me that makes you think I’m a five-hundred-dollar speaker?” she said, “Nothing. You have a huge presence and reputation out there. I’m just bold enough to ask you.”

A few years ago, I would tell her I’m not the one and refer her to someone in my database. I have done that many times. I still continue to do it. But now, as long as I have the date available, I will find a way to take it. Of course, it has to be a speech with potential spinoffs.

After I asked her a few strategic questions, I told her to donate the $500 to my non-profit organization. That’s one of many strategies in order to accept a low or no fee engagement. I have many other ways to save face. Now, let me tell why this is not about my fee.

I told the lady I would do it only if the person in charge of the whole event would show up and listen to my presentation during that hour at the conference. I’m sure you know why I said that, right? Yes. Once I deliver an amazing keynote, they will book me at my normal fee to speak at the big event next year. And I know once I am in front of those 4,000 people, I will get even more bookings from it.

Here’s my point: The way to get paid speeches is to go after free ones. There are several advantages to doing low and no fee speeches. I don’t have time to explain them all here. Just keep in mind that strategy should be your number one marketing weapon as a motivational speaker.

Now, I’m not saying every situation is going to be as ideal as this one. When you’re getting started, you have to be willing to speak for 10 or 20 people. You can get those everywhere. Start with the Civic Clubs in your town.

I hope you see the power of this strategy. It doesn’t matter if you’re a pro or you are just getting started. Find opportunities to speak for free. You should never be above free speeches! In fact, I prefer to call it marketing speeches. Got it?

Listen, I know big celebrities in the speaking industry that are still doing free engagements. Most of them are my friends. We are in the big fee leagues. You would be surprised if I start mentioning names.


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  2. RB Platinum

    this is very helpful to me I am already a preacher but i am launching this venture on the side right now. I do have one question what do I need legally to get started

    • Rene Godefroy

      RB, I would not worry so much about legality right now. You are not making an income yet as a fulltime motivational speaker. Focus on getting gigs to build platform experience.

      Once you get the point when you’re ready to set up your office and do this fulltime, you can think about your legal papers. When I started in the speaking arena, I was a doorman. I was speaking on the side for some time before I started setting up my office.

      Simply put, my speaking got to a point where my doorman job started interfering with it. I had to leave. Of course, i had a great deal at work. They basically told to come whenever I wanted to for a whole year. Also, at that point, I was not doing doorman duties. I was there like a hotel ambassador in suit. That was because I started getting lots of exposure in the media.

      Keep in mind that when you get to the point your current is interfering with your speaking, it’s to leave. So, if your boss is giving you a hard time because you’re speaking, start thinking about speaking fulltime. For example, I had a boss who started getting very jealous of me. Well, I gave them my resignation. Guess what? The big bosses didn’t want my resignation. Duh! They told me to make my own schedule. Sweet!

  3. ana micaela babao

    In our location, maybe doing it like for a small fee and donating it to a project will work rather than doing it for free. esp. when doing it with the person in-charge present…that’s a good strategy…a lot of people want to have you for free and the spin of the situation will not be good here…maybe making yourself as a sponsor for an event will do good rather than just for free…what do you think.well, i just thought about it based on my experience….

    • Rene Godefroy

      Well, Ana just don’t call it free. It’s actually a marketing talk. Always try to get something in return such as a great testimonial letter, video taping, referrals, etc.


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