So You Want To Be A Speaker?



Almost every week I get asked how to become a successful speaker and make enough money to live a great lifestyle.  Maybe you don’t want to make a career of it, but you would still like to be asked to speak and getting a little extra money would be awesome.  Here are a few tips:


1.     Starting today, get as many free speaking opportunities as possible.  In your company, your church, at the Rotary Club, etc.  Dad told me once that he gave over 3000 free speeches before he ever got paid.

2.     Join Toastmasters.

3.     Learn from the best – listen to great speakers every day, study them, and when possible see them live.

4.     Never copy another speaker!  It is fine to quote them, but don’t change their story and make it yours, and if you do use their story, give them credit.

5.     Use your own stories and examples as much as possible.

6.     Be real.  Talk about your wins and your losses. 

7.     Take your ego out of it.  You are there for the people in the room, not yourself!  If you don’t do this, people will see right through you.

8.     Create a marketing plan, and work on it every day.


What is a good marketing plan?  I am sure there are hundreds that would work, but if it were me this is what I would do.  This plan does not take a lot of money, but it does take commitment and time!


1.     Create an e-newsletter.  Write a short newsletter sharing what you are passionate about and what you also speak about.  Keep it short, and make it weekly if at all possible.  This way you can stay in touch automatically and give your audience value for free.

2.     Record a speech and give it away.  Make it a free download.

3.     Write a blog.  The best thing about blogs is you get comments.  Comments allow you to sharpen your thoughts – nothing like feedback to make you better!

4.     Write a book.  Think about it; if you write a newsletter and a blog, pretty soon you will have enough content for a short e-book.  When you have a couple of e-books, you have enough for a traditional book.  This gives you credibility for sure.

5.     Film a video.  Most companies want to see you in action before they will ever book you.  In the beginning, people will ask you to speak at their event because they saw you somewhere else.  If they haven’t seen you, or if they need to sell someone else in their company on you, they will want to see you on video.

6.     A simple but up-to-date website.  Most people spend too much time on their website and not enough on steps 1 – 5! 


This is how it comes together.  People hear you speak and you inspire them.  They check out your website and the first thing they see is your free newsletter, which, when they sign up, also gets them a free download of your best speech (no more than an hour long).  Now you have permission to talk to them every week!  They can also check you out on video on the site so they can show their friends or their boss.  Your newsletter will keep them informed of your new programs, your blog, and any special offers you have just for newsletter subscribers – like your e-book, which is free to subscribers.


With this simple approach you can build your speaking career while you are earning a living in your primary job.  Best of all, just think of the growth you will have as a person if you do these things!  It will be worth it, even if your speaking career never takes off like you had hoped.  If this seems overwhelming, just START with the newsletter.  In fact, even if it doesn’t seem overwhelming, the newsletter is where I would spend all of my initial energy.  It is the best way to reach your audience on a consistent basis.

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10 Comments on “So You Want To Be A Speaker?”

  1. Michael Hubler Says:

    I really appreciate your comments. It is great to have outlined a few steps that are necessary to take. I have recently joined Toastmasters and am enjoying it. I learn so much each and every week.
    Thank you so much for taking the time to share these tips with those of us who aspire to become speakers.
    Michael Hubler

  2. Thank you Zig!
    I am just launching a new speaking business and this helped me to realize we are on the right track. One other thing I would like to add is positng comments on various Blogs and Forums (like this one!) I have received a lot of positive feedback when I have done this and it is something the younger crowd does- not to age you or anything 😉

  3. Dedy Budiman Says:

    Thanks, zig
    It’s so inspired me,
    I will try your tips start from now.
    If you have time maybe you can visit my website and give some comment.
    I have a plan to release a book on October. I hope it can be done.

  4. Cindy Oates Says:

    As Zig’s middle daughter, I remember dad traveling, putting on dinner parties and speaking at every opportunity he got. He was driven by his passion for helping people get what they want. In return he got what he wanted – being able to share his knowledge and faith with people all over the world. I saw him work hard and long hours and I also saw the joy that came from and still comes from what he is so blessed to still be doing. He has truly been a faithful and humble servant and one of the sweetest and most loving father’s that a daughter could ever hope for.

    Thank you, daddy. I love you!


  5. Shivi Kumar Says:


    First of all thanks for the steps you have outlined above. They really do lay out a path to start a speaking career on and they are very detailed. I am a 16 year old in high school. I am not too knowledgeable about business yet but I do aspire to become a top-notch public speaker like YOURSELF. I really enjoy speaking and have no doubt that this is the right career path for me. I have been reading bible verses aloud at the wednesday mass in my catholic school from 3rd to 5th grade. And since 6th grade up until now in 10th grade i have competed in every local speech contest and made it to top ten in nationals for the last 2 years. I know I am capable of becoming a great speaker but i am unsure what step to take next. My father studies all the ZIG ZIGLAR books and audio cds and that is where I noticed YOU. If you could give me some feedback on what to do next and be on the path to becoming like you i would honestly appreciate.

    Shivi Kumar

  6. Tom Ziglar Says:


    I commend you for taking action to improve your speaking skills, that’s fantastic! I would consider doing a few things that will give you a combination of experience, speaking opportunities, and confidence.

    Seek out a local Toastmasters Club and join it. It would be even better if you are the youngest in the group by 10 years. Nothing like getting feedback and encouragement from like minded people from the business world.

    It sounds like you are active in your Church. That is a great place to volunteer, and perhaps in an area where you can speak and lead a group younger than yourself. Leading a Bible study will teach you how to connect and present and best of all you will learn what God says in the process. I worked at a Christian camp when I was 16, so perhaps you can do the same.

    I would seek out a direct sales job that has a presentation involved. Many times these are scripted presentations, but they really only work if you had your personality, style, and humor into the presentation. Best of all people will tell you NO when you ask them to buy. Nothing hones your skills faster than learning how to deal with objections. This is how my Dad learned how to speak. Being 16 years old and taking this path is a huge advantage for you. You will be surprised how fast you grow as a speaker and how much you will learn. (I sold fire extinguishers when I was 16)

    Make sure you keep your ego in check and give everyone you can credit for helping you. More speaking careers have been ruined by ego than anything else!

    Embrace the Struggle!


  7. I think this was a wonderful blog because it hit on so many things. You are very correct in getting free speaking gigs is a wonderful step (as well as Toastmasters of course).

    Another thing you hit on is writing a newsletter or blogging. That is the absolute best way to promote yourself or your business. Even the big organizations (like Zig Corporation 🙂 is doing it. A lot of people don’t know how, or don’t have the time. So I wanted to let you know that is what I do. I help the people and businesses be successful through blogging. Just like your Dad always says, “You can get everything you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.” 🙂

  8. HI, it is great information. Something I was looking for from great people like you. It is practical and I see what need to be changed in my attitude.

  9. Tom,
    Thank you for sharing this post on Twitter.
    I have always followed your Dad and now you, and even worked with your Dad and Art Linklatter in OKC in my early 30’s on a special seminar they did that earned money for my Business & Professional Women Club.

    I have been a member of Toastmasters for 8 years, and now I’m the District Governor, My theme this year is Courageous Devotion, because I survived Lymphoma 8 years ago. I have been giving free seminars this past year thru the Speaker’s Bureau on how to give effective presentations. I have been told, I’m ready to become a professional. I am just starting my blog, and I’m also giving free speaking for the National Lymphoma & Leukemia for Light up the Night, telling my story.

    Your tips are wonderful, and just what I needed to help me, because I have always felt to get going, I must give it away, to get known, just like your dad.
    Thank you again.


  10. Wow! Thanks. I’m the president of Temecula Toastmasters Club 1677, recently elected as a division 12 governor. So, what? I thought the same thing about 1.5 yrs ago. I have academic credentials, galore: RN, MBA, Broker Assoc, but NOTHING…NOTHING compares to the stellar, rapid, acknowledged rise through the speaking ranks as my ACTIVE participation in Toastmasters. Having fulfilled the requirements for an advanced communicator/leader bronze, I have a ways to go to become as Distinguished Toastmaster…but I’m here to tell you that opportunities ABOUND within the confines of TM organization which are lauded and recognized all over the world. Half of the battle is just showing up to meetings prepared for those opportunities. It’s that way for every other speaking engagement, too. Blessings to you all.

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