Friday, March 13, 2015

The Best Kept Secret for Becoming a Sought-After Speaker

I’m going to give you that secret in a minute. Some of you will skim down this post to find it and some of you will take the time to avoid doing that. But I want to bring attention to two of the words in the title of this post; SOUGHT-AFTER. I didn’t title this THE BEST KEPT SECRET FOR BECOMING A SPEAKER or even a GOOD SPEAKER.

What does SOUGHT-AFTER mean? It refers to speakers who get invited to speak at events numerous times, and are usually paid the fee they ask for. Conference and meeting planners love when they have the name of a speaker who performed really well and one who wowed the audience. These are the kinds of speakers who get invited back, over and over again.

I meet people everyday who desire to be one of these speakers, but they’re not. They get hired to speak to groups but then wonder months and years later, why they never got hired to do it again. And unfortunately, many of these folks never take measures to find out why.

So what does it take to become one of these speakers? You must have awesome stage presence and a high level of professional skills. And what can you do to develop these things? Are you ready… here’s the best kept secret… find and join your local Toastmasters chapter.

Toastmasters is an international nonprofit organization that fosters the development of
communication and leadership skills, using a “learn and then practice” model. You learn by attending business meetings, reading materials, selecting mentors, watching others, being open to evaluation, and then getting up in front of your peers to do it.

I joined over 20 years ago and have been a member since. Participating in the meetings is what really helped me to develop the skills I needed to get noticed, get hired and get invited back again and again.

So why do I refer to this as a best kept secret? Because Toastmasters chapters don’t usually have a marketing and advertising budget so very few people know they exist. And the professionals who do know about the chapters, don’t take measures to join the organization and participate.

So if you want to be one of those busy, highly paid, and much sought after speakers, go find your local Toastmasters chapter, join and participate. The kind of speaking skills that get people hired quickly and invited back again require regular learning and regular practice.

Just because you speak for a living doesn’t make you a good speaker. Stop whining about not getting opportunities and stop blaming your lack of success on someone else. After you join a chapter, LEARN, PRACTICE, PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR EVALUATIONS, MAKE CORRECTIONS, and REPEAT. Eventually the invitations to speak will increase.

Have questions about Toastmasters International? I don't benefit financially in any way, so I invite you to ask me.

Bill Corbett is the founder and director of the Hartford Springfield Speakers Network and the author of the book, From the Soapbox to the Stage: How to Use Your Passion to Start a Speaking Business. He has started or mentored numerous Toastmasters chapters in Nashville, TN and New England. Bill has been speaking professional for nearly 20 years and will deliver the keynote at a national conference in Holland in September 2015. You can learn more about Bill at


  1. Great advice Bill! As a Toastmaster myself I think it is the single greatest self improvement vehicle out there. As you know, not only do you get to develop your speaking, communication, presentation and leadership skills but you also get to meet some amazing people who become great, go to, friends. Thanks for the great post!!!

  2. Thanks for your comment Richard. I received my first speaking gig at a Toastmasters event, early in my TM career. All for a whopping $50, but that was what started me on my journey. I wrote this post hoping to make an impression on folks in our group who hope to get hired to speak, but who have not yet taken the time to discover the value in their local Toastmasters club.