Don’t focus on being simply a keynote speaker anymore than you should focus on being a faxer. Speaking is just one way of conveying your expertise. Focus on finding the mode that helps people the most and that they will pay for.
Too many people focus all of their energy on trying to be a keynote speaker at major conventions or a bestselling author. The truth is that might not be the best delivery mechanism for their expertise. If you are in any sort of religious or spiritual niche, you aren’t likely to be hired to be a corporate keynote speaker, no matter how good a speaker you are. If you are an expert on the greatest standup comedy routines of all time, books might not ever be the medium for you, but CDs and audio downloads might be.
It’s great to be very targeted and concrete when it comes to your goals for mastery of your subject matter and to develop new insights and creative ideas in your field. But when it comes to the delivery mechanism, especially the delivery mechanism that pays you the most money, it pays to be flexible.
Personally, I love giving keynote speeches in front of thousands of people. But the vast majority of the time I am paid very nice fees to give 8-hour workshops to small groups of 12 people or fewer. If I had focused exclusively on selling keynote speeches, I would have starved to death and gone out of business long ago. But experimenting until I found the right delivery mechanism for me and the marketplace, I was able to survive and thrive.
Sometimes you must experiment for months or even years: speeches, workshops, books, consulting, coaching, training, online content subscriptions. There are many many ways of sharing your expertise, knowledge and transforming ideas with people, but not everyone will be a commercial or financial hit. They don’t all have to be big hits, but you need at least one medium that works in order to feed everything else you do, including your own mouth. Once you have one medium where you are successful, say giving workshops, then you will have the freedom to write books or give occasional keynote speeches, even if the books and speeches don’t pay that much. Some media may very well be losers for you. Others will have promotional value only. A few will actually make you money. They key is to find the one or two media that actually help you help the most people and then you will likely find the one that helps you make the most money too. Then and only then can you plow back resources into all other formats of expression and sharing.
The blind spot for many would-be gurus is that they focus on the glamour activities of giving keynote speeches and writing best-selling books. It’s damn hard to start off in either one of these niches. Instead, focus on a less glamorous mode such as 1-2 day workshops of even personal coaching over the phone.
Ultimately, it’s not the medium that’s important. It’s your ideas and your ability to help, move and inspire people in the way they choose to access you, not the way you choose to be assessed, that’s important
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