TJ Walker interviewed by The Gatekeepers Post

Q: How do you get started as a public speaker?

TJ: By speaking at every opportunity I had, including elementary school graduation, student government in junior high, and as a campaign surrogate in college.

Q: If someone doesn’t have the budget to pay you, should you still do the gig?

TJ: It depends. If it is local, usually yes. How can they help you if they aren’t paying cash. An organization could give you $10,000 worth of ads in their newsletter or website if they don’t pay you hard cash. Always ask. Is the audience full of thousands of people who will likely hire you in the future? Then maybe it is a yes. But if it is a Toastmaster club in another city, then the answer is no (even though I like Toastmasters and will speak to them if they are in the city I am in at that time).

Everyone speaks for free from time to time—don’t kid yourself. Bono, speaks and performs for “free” when he goes on the Today Show. You have to pick and choose on a case-by-case basis.

Q: How do you come across as charismatic when you speak?

TJ: There is no such thing as “Charismatic.” Be interesting and memorable and walk and move in a comfortable manner and people will describe you as “charismatic.”

Q: How do you get people to take you seriously when you first begin?

TJ: You won’t be taken serious if you call yourself a “professional speaker.” Nobody is looking to hire a professional speaker. Instead, develop a deep, deep expertise level in a specific area of interest. Then, write, talk, speak and communicate about this niche in every forum and medium possible. Then and only then will you be able to be taken seriously as an expert who has something to say worth listening to.


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