If you keep reading, I’ll show you exactly how I – and many of my students – have built very successful careers as speakers.
Jason Connell – In Demand Speaking
Let Me Show You Exactly How I Built an Influential – and Highly Profitable – Speaking Business (Long Before Anybody Knew Who I Was)
Hi, my name is Jason Connell.
Since 2005, I’ve toured the world as a professional speaker for Fortune 500 companies, elite conferences, colleges and universities, and even national governments.
If you keep reading, I’ll show you exactly how I – and many of my students – have built very successful careers as speakers.
I’ll also show you the mistakes that stop most people from ever getting there (more on that in a moment…)
I Thought I Was Destined to Be a World Famous Speaker…
When I was just 19 years old, I decided that I wanted to be a speaker. Not only that, I was SURE that I was going to be great.
But there was just one small problem…
Nobody knew who I was.
And nobody wanted to hear what I had to say. (You’re probably already better off than I was.)
Still, I was naive and optimistic. I thought that if I put up a website and made a few phone calls, then paid speaking gigs would rolling in.
I even fantasized about buying a luxury apartment, taking my friends out to fancy restaurants, and flying all around the world to give speeches.
Unfortunately, that’s not quite what happened…
For YEARS, I struggled to book any speaking engagements – and I almost gave up (several times)…
When I first ed, I spent 10 hours a day reaching out to speech buyers, researching conferences, chasing agents, trying to schedule meetings, and just trying to get one speech booked.
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But after the first couple of months, I was forced to confront a very uncomfortable truth: nobody was hiring me.
Worse…nobody was even taking me seriously.
My savings were running out, so I ed cold-calling prospective clients. (My goal was 100 cold-calls per week.)
However, I was so afraid of just picking up the phone, that I’d often spend the whole day procrastinating and making excuses without making even one call.
Out of desperation, I ed offering free speeches. I thought that maybe – or magically – the free speeches would somehow generate paying clients after they saw how great I was.
It didn’t work (and it still doesn’t). When I realized that, half the time I couldn’t even give my speeches away I became wildly discouraged.
That’s when I ed making various excuses about why I wasn’t getting booked…
I told myself that professional speaking is all about luck more than anything else.
I told myself that I needed to work on my marketing, write a book, or get the media to pay attention to me.
I ed worrying that my topic was too narrow.
I feared that I wasn’t truly an expert.
And I told myself that if I were a real speaker, gigs would come to me.
I was supposed to be “working” on my speaking career, but I was actually spending my time worrying about the future, doubting my ability to succeed, and beating myself up for even trying.
It got so bad that other parts of my life ed falling apart…
After months of work with nothing to show for it, I ed falling apart.
And here’s why…
I looked around, and I saw lots of other speakers who were getting gigs and being flown around the world. But I couldn’t even get meeting planners or conference coordinators to talk to me – let alone hire me.
And that made me feel rejected by the world.
I ed thinking that nobody would want to be around me. So I ed avoiding my friends and family.
And besides, I was out of money. Even if my friends wanted to go out, they would have had to pay for me.
I was embarrassed, ashamed, and I prayed that nobody would ask me how my speaking career was going. I was too insecure to admit that after months of work, I had nothing to show for it.
You might not feel exactly like I did, but I bet you’ve had a similar experience…
Have you seen people on stage or in videos that don’t have your expertise or knowledge? Or maybe they’re just terrible speakers, but every conference and company keeps paying them to speak again?
That drove me so crazy that…
I Decided to Quit (and that’s Exactly When Things ed to Change for Me)…
At 4am on a Wednesday night, I was lying awake in my bed.
The facts of my speaking career to that point were very clear to me:
I had worked tirelessly trying to build my speaking business.
I had cold called, attended awkward networking events, given free speeches, and tried to market myself as a speaker with almost no success.
I had destroyed my health, my relationships, and my sense of self-worth.
And in all that time, I managed to make a grand total of $4,500 – not even enough to cover rent and food, meaning that I’d also drained my savings.
So I decided to quit and go get a job.
Later that week, I sat down with one of my mentors. I told him…
“I’m so grateful for your help, but I just can’t do this. People aren’t hiring me to speak at their events, and I’m embarrassed, discouraged, ashamed, and anxious. I just don’t have what it takes. Maybe I’ll try again once I’m more successful, but for now, I’m just going to get a real job.”
He smiled for a moment before he gave me the bit of advice that changed my life forever…
“Jason, every speaker has been in your exact position. And they’ve all felt the way you feel right now. That’s ok. But don’t quit. Just focus on delighting your clients and providing as much value as you can. Whatever you put out into the world, will come back to you ten-fold.”
Now, I know that sounds a bit “woo-woo”, and I’m not going to pretend that I suddenly got booked for ten gigs the next day. But that conversation re-energized my drive, and it allowed me to figuring out how to really sell myself as a speaker.
It also allowed me to figure out how to give my clients such a great experience, that they ed referring me to everybody they knew.
Immediately after that meeting with my mentor, I managed to talk to a few agents who explained how they regularly sold speakers for $10,000 – $20,000 per gig…
I Was Shocked: I Had Been Doing the Opposite of What I Needed to Do (…No Wonder My Business Was Failing)
I thought it was my job to dazzle my clients on the phone. I thought I needed to be famous. I thought I should be inexpensive so I can compete on price. I thought my clients wanted to see glitzy marketing from me.
Nope, nope, and nope.
Buyers feel a lot of pressure when they hire a speaker.
They’re worried about wasting thousands of dollars. They’re worried about disappointing all the people who will attend the speech.
Buyers don’t care about fame, fancy marketing, status, or even price. What they care about is finding one of the rare speakers who they can trust to really make a difference in their audience’s lives.
So I ed building a business that my clients dreamed of working with.
I made it easy for them to say yes to scheduling a sales call with me, and easy for them to hire me.
I then worked overtime to ensure that when I got on stage I exceeded expectations and formed deep connections with the audience.
And my business ed to grow.
Once the business structure was in place, I became obsessed with lead generation.
For instance, I figured out that if I invited a bunch of event planners to one of my speeches, that it would be easy to doing business with them in the future. Suddenly, I had a waiting list for sales calls!
At one point, I was staying with a close friend in Austin for about 10 days. I worked from his dining room table.
After just 10 days, I’d booked 100% of a national tour. One week later, I sold out an international tour that took me around the world.
I even got to speak at some of the hottest events in the world, including conferences where tickets cost over $5,000 a person.
In my first six months as a speaker, I didn’t make $5,000 total, and now people were paying more than that just to attend the events where I was speaking.
And because I was becoming increasingly visible, I got to consult for executives at Fortune 100 companies, work with members of President Obama’s White House, and work on projects that truly shaped our world.
It was a dream come true.
I’ve helped hundreds of people like you build incredible speaking businesses
Almost as soon as my career took off, I ed getting emails from other speakers.
They were curious how an outsider – someone without credentials or fame – managed to hack the speaking circuit. So without ever planning to, I began consulting for other speakers on how to build their businesses.
The first speaker I worked with was named James.
James was a very talented speaker. More than that, his content was amazing. I actually still use some of the ideas from his speech in my personal life.
He’d tried everything he could think of to get speaking gigs. He wrote a book, gave a TEDx talk, hired a virtual assistant, delivered webinars, chased agents, listed himself on speaker sites, gave interviews on popular podcasts, joined professional associations for speakers, built a following on twitter, and did a bunch of free speeches.
And yet, he still couldn’t close a deal.
James was experiencing most of the same problems and emotions I had faced…
He felt dejected.
He worried that people didn’t respect him.
His finances were getting tight.
He wondered why he couldn’t manage to close deals (especially the big ones), and why he wasn’t being hired to work with large audiences.
But I knew exactly what he was going through and exactly why he wasn’t getting booked – despite the fact that he was so amazing.
So I held his hand through the same process that I personally went through with my business…
I helped him pick a speaking topic and position it so that buyers would be interested in chatting with him.
I taught him how to generate leads.
I showed him how to manage sales calls.
I helped him create an amazing customer experience.
And after just two months, James went from being frustrated and unable to land gigs, to being flooded with more speaking opportunities than he’d ever dreamed of.
Today, James routinely makes over $10,000 per speech.
Since then, I’ve taken dozens of speakers through the exact same process James went through.
In fact, I’ve become so good and so consistent at helping speakers get paid to share their message with the world, that I’ve stopped taking on new clients unless they’ve been personally referred to me. Even still, my waiting list is becoming unmanageable.
I’m not saying any of this to brag, although I’m VERY proud of everything my students have accomplished.
But the real reason I’m telling you all of this is because…
You Don’t Need to Struggle. Building a Speaking Business is All About Getting 3 Attributes Right…
If you’re reading this, then you’re probably already making strides towards becoming a professional speaker.
Maybe you’ve given a few speeches and gotten great feedback from the audience and the event coordinator.
Maybe you’ve tried to put together a few paid speeches, but they fell through.
Perhaps you’ve already been paid to deliver speeches and you’re thinking of going pro, but you can’t quite fill your pipeline with buyers who want to hire you.
Wherever you’re at in your journey, here’s what I want you to know…
You can build your speaking business or career much faster and much more easily than you think.
When you get it right, a number of things will happening for you:
Clients with budgets and large audiences will seeking you out.
Fans who saw you speak will flood your inbox, thanking you and explaining how you impacted their lives.
Deals will close quickly because the people you’re talking to will want to hire you – you’ll no longer need to “sell” them or convince them that you’re worth it.
If you want, you’ll be able to string together a series of speeches and go on tour.
But to get there, you must get 3 things right…
Attribute 1: You Must Learn to Generate Many Leads All at Once (and it’s Easier than it Sounds)
Most speakers fail before they even get ed because they don’t understand where paid speaking gigs actually come from.
They believe – as did I – that as long as they’re good on stage that gigs will come to them.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.
Even if you’ve written an amazing book, delivered an incredible TEDx talk, or become famous in your industry, you’re still going to have to figure out how to find the people who can hire you.
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In other words, you first need to have a strategy for getting in touch with people who have the ABILITY to hire you.
And you need to find more than one lead at a time, because no matter how famous or great you are, you’re not going to be the right fit for 100% of opportunities.
Here are 3 Strategies that Consistently Work for Finding Multiple Leads:
Strategy #1: Use your natural network.
Even if you’re not well-connected, this can still work very well. And if you are well-connected, then this works amazingly well. And it’s very simple…
First, figure out which niche you want to speak in (Fortune 500’s, tech companies, colleges and universities, personal development, etc.). There’s not a right or wrong answer here – you just need to commit to the one that you feel most comfortable with.
Second, get good at explaining how your work uniquely improves people’s lives. Again, you don’t need to be saving lives – you just need to be able to explain how what you do (and what you talk about) can help your audience in a practical way.
Finally, ask your friends (one-by-one) this question: “I’m speaking about ________. Who do you know who is connected with a [company/university/organization] that might be interested in hearing about what I do?”
You don’t actually need a direct introduction to the decision maker – just someone who can be an advocate for you from within. One of my clients who recently graduated from college used this to land a speaking gig with one of the largest retailers in the United States.
Again, don’t worry if you don’t have a huge network. Since the digital revolution, EVERYBODY is more connected than they think, and your network will inevitably know some people who are interested.
Strategy #2: Target professional development groups or conferences that your dream clients attend.
This is the most underused strategy, but it’s one that I personally used with great success.
The goal is simple: get yourself in front of a large group of buyers and then deliver the best value you possibly can.
First of all, you just need to look around and figure out where your “buyers” hang out. If you’re targeting a certain type of company, which professional organizations are they a part of? Which conferences do they attend?
It’s not very hard to figure out – in any industry – what the big events and organizations are. And once you do that, you just need to find a way to offer that organization or event a lot of value to get in front of their members or attendees.
If you’re aiming for a professional organization, offer to give a free webinar for their members, and then offer a free white paper for everyone who attends. The people who request the white paper are the exact people you can follow up with, because they’ve shown that they’re already interested in what you’re talking about.
If you’re aiming for a conference, then your primary goal is to get a meeting with the conference organizer. If you can get an introduction from a mutual friend, do that. If you can’t, send her an amazing gift chosen especially for her, with a personal note. A few days later, follow-up by email to see if she’s interested in chatting.
The point is this…
These organizations and events already have a group of people who are all potentially in a position to hire you to speak. So all you need to do is offer the organization or event a valuable way of putting you in front of their audience.
Then, once their audience has seen you live, getting them interested in working with you is easy.
Strategy #3: Strategically offer one – and only one – free speech.
I’ve said this before; doing free speeches doesn’t lead to paid speeches. This is because event coordinators who can’t afford to pay their speakers tend to hang out with other people who can’t afford speakers.
The trick is to do a free speech for someone who could hire you, and pre-negotiate referrals.
Here’s how to do that…
Target one of your dream clients. Reach out to them and offer to do a free training for them.
But when you reach out, offer a simple agreement: if your training/speech is a waste of time, they can tell everyone that you suck. If, however, you provide amazing value, they’ll agree to introduce you to five people at other organizations who may be interested in hiring you.
But don’t stop there.
Once you’ve setup your speech, invite ten people from other organizations that you could help to be your “VIPs.” Take the VIPs and your client out for dinner afterwards. In doing so, you’re showing them just how good you are on stage, while also forming personal relationships.
From there, doing business together is easy.
Attribute 2: You Must Focus on the Experience of Your Customer (and Your Customer is NOT the Audience…)
Speaking gets heady quickly. Successful speakers make thousands of dollars per hour and routinely perform for huge crowds around the world.
Because of this, many speakers forget that they need to give their clients a white-glove experience. After all, it’s the client who decides who gets hired and who doesn’t. The better you treat her (and her audience) the easier it is for you to get on stage.
Your client is the person who hires you.
The title of this person might be different from organization to organization, but whatever their title is, they’re the person who has the power to put you on stage and to invite you back.
The audience is obviously important, but you must also focus on the client.
Your customer experience – that is, how your client feels when she interacts with you – should be an extension of your speech. This is more of an art than a science, but the goal, really, is to make it so that your customer smiles whenever she hears from you.
The way to do this is by giving as much value as you can whenever you interact with your clients.
Help them improve their lives and their businesses even when you’re not on stage. Pay attention to the details and surprise them with gifts every now and then.
Here are a few suggestions:
Call them after your speech to make sure they were happy with your work. If they weren’t, offer a refund. If they were, ask if they know anyone else who might be interested in working with.
Stay in touch even when you’re not working together or on tour. The more your clients like you, the easier it is for them to hire you and make referrals.
Most of all, work really hard to delight your audiences. Set the bar for your speech high and then leap over it. Take the people who hung around after your speeches out for drinks, and pick up the tab. Respond to the fan mail you get and make your speeches interactive and playful.
Doing this stuff is fun! It also makes business easy and exciting for everyone involved.
Attribute 3: You Must Truly Want to Change the World
To successful speakers, it’s all about giving back and making a difference.
This sounds a bit cliche, but your mindset will determine how far you go and how hard the road is for you.
I love making money as much as anybody and speaking is a great way to do that. However, your first thought must be about sharing your story and insight with the world. It’s about identifying the people and communities you care about and investing in their success.
Ironically, putting clients and audiences first tends to boost your profits. Experienced buyers can tell which speakers are profit driven and which actually want to make a difference (and they prefer the latter by a huge margin).
Successful speakers tend to use speaking as a launch pad to work on deeply influential projects. It’s not unusual for a good speaker to find herself working with Fortune 500’s, best-selling authors, governments, or entertainers. I did, and it was amazing.
Introducing the In Demand Speaking course
Over the past ten years, I’ve closed hundreds of speaking engagements (many in the five-figure range) for myself. More importantly, I’ve helped other speakers collectively close thousands of deals.
In Demand Speaking takes everything I’ve learned and packages it into a clear, step-by-step system that you can use to build your own speaking business.
It’s broken down into three phases:
Phase 1: laying the foundations
You’ll by developing the mindset of a successful speaker. If you’re questioning your ability to provide value, get paid, or close deals, we’ll address those issues right away.
Don’t worry – mindset issues are normal. This stuff is hard. I’ve worked with doctors, politicians, and professional entertainers, along with college students, mothers, and authors to help them develop the mindset they need.
From there, we’ll setup the external foundations of your business. You’ll learn how to:
Pick a topic that you’ll love while ensuring that there’s an active market for your topic. My first speech lost thousands of dollars because there was no market for it. My second speech made hundreds of thousands. The difference? I chose a much better topic the second time around.
Setup your marketing system. There are a few marketing pieces – like testimonials – that make a HUGE difference to buyers, and we’re going to double down on them while avoiding the tactics that waste time and money (like videos and social media).
Figure out how to price yourself so that you can enter a market competitively, and then quickly raise your rates. In most cases, emerging speakers should be charging $2,500 + travel for their first five speeches, and then raise their rates shortly after that.
Phase 2: sales – step-by-step from generating your first leads to closing the deal
This is where you to make money.
You’re going to build out your sales system, and I’m going to make it very easy for you. You’ll begin by learning where paid speaking gigs actually come from and where they don’t.
After that, you’ll use the exact email templates that my clients and I have used to close thousands of deals.
You’ll also get a minute-by-minute breakdown of a typical sales call so that you know what questions to ask and how to structure the call. The call is laid out in a conversational format so you can feel as comfortable as possible selling yourself.
Along the way, I’ll teach you how to automate huge chunks of the sales process enabling you to choose how you spend your time.
Finally, I’m going to give you multiple strategies to generate leads so that you’re never lacking for clients.
To ensure your success, I’ve included four things
1) A live recording of a sales call between myself and a prospective client where I close a $10,400 speech. You’ll hear both sides of the 47-minute call.
2) A complete transcript of a cold email that leads to over $100,000 of business from a single client. You’ll notice that I’m using the exact same templates and sequence that you learned earlier in the course.
3) An email transcript where I botch a $9,000 deal. It should have been an easy close. Instead, I make a few small – but critical – mistakes that result in the buyer rejecting me.
I highlight each error so that you can learn and benefit from my mistakes.
4) Finally, I’ve included a blank contract and a suggested rider for you to use for your gigs. This alone will save hundreds of dollars and many hours of headaches.
Phase 3: the psychology of premium pricing, running your business on referrals, and more…
The final phase includes diving into all the little hacks that will delight you and your customer while speeding up your success.
How to create a world-class customer experience that leaves your clients delighted (and excited to hire you again and again)
How to generate referrals and hot leads at every speech
The difference between a $2,000 speech and a $10,000 speech and how to position yourself so clients expect to pay you handsomely for your time
How to quickly form deep connections with your audiences.
This course is not for you if…
Look, In Demand Speaking isn’t for everyone. If any of the following apply to you, I probably won’t be able to help you:
You just want to become a better speaker. This course covers the business of professional speaking. If you’re looking for a course on being a better speaker or how to be confident on stage, this isn’t for you.
You’re looking for a magic bullet that will just make speaking gigs appear in your inbox without any effort on your end. With In Demand Speaking you’re signing up for a clear, step-by-step process for building a professional speaking business. While I think this process is the most simple, straightforward system that exists, it will still require you to follow along and do a bit of work on your end (though not more than a few hours a week).
If you’re not psychologically ready to work in the public eye. Honestly, most people aren’t. It’s a lot of pressure and travel. It will make your life very different from your friends’. Most people don’t want the spotlight. That’s cool. I get that. Just pause and consider whether or not speaking is right for you at this point in your life.
This course is for you if…
You know you want to be a professional speaker and want expert guidance while you build your business
You’re already a working speaker, but you want to make more money, do more gigs, or both
You’re looking for clear instructions for how to build your business, complete with all of the sales templates, phone scripts, and other goodies that will make the process as easy and fun as possible
You’re able to dedicate an average of 2-4 hours per week of focused attention on building your speaking business
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