Making a Fortune From Public Speaking

Motivational speaking is a real skill and I recommend watching some of the most popular speakers currently doing the circuit. More often than not they are not breaking ground with anything particularly new, but have the knack of being able to inspire with a fresh twist.

There are always presentational lessons to be learned from the likes of (rather scary) Eric Thomas mentoring on activating your inner beast or Australian evangelist Nick Vujicic preaching about overcoming adversity.

For a small, elite, group of personalities speaking is extremely well paid. Ex presidents and prime ministers fit into this bracket, as do those with proven track records in business, finance and even fashion. Out of office he may be, but President Obama’s star on the speech circuit still burns brightly over his 60- 90 minute speeches. Last year he attracted criticism after it was reported that he earned $1.2 million for delivering just three speeches to Wall Street execs (although much of that money flowed into charity projects).

At the height of his Apprentice fame, Donald Trump could command a cool million for his speeches, so it must irritate to see how much his beaten opponent is still netting. Hillary Clinton is a formidable commercial speaker and is said to have made a whopping $21.6 million over two years with speeches to banks and financial service institutions between 2013 – 2015!

For the Clintons cash-to-gas is something of a family business. Bill regularly nets $250,000 per appearance and even the former first daughter, Chelsea, put in a $65,000 dollar appearance behind the podium according to the Daily Mail.

On this side of the pond, Tony Blair tops the politician’s table, charging £195,000 a pop, while David Cameron can make a not too shabby £120,000 for an hour’s address. Meanwhile, business guru Richard Branson seems a snip at £77,000 a speech, which is the same amount that fashion magazine doyen, Anna Wintour, charges.

You’re probably asking what is it that you actually get for your money with these big hitters apart from a dose of celebrity? According to Jeremy Lee, who runs one of the UK’s biggest speaker bureaus, the content depends on the occasion – a keynote speech (read daytime) is serious in tone, with 80% substance relating to the speaker’s expertise. On the other hand, an after-dinner speech is more light hearted with 80% anecdotes. Sir Richard Branson, for example, promises to “share the inside track on his life in business and reveals the incredible truth about his most risky, brilliant and audacious deals.”

Celebrity or not, the key to winning an audience over, as with any speech, is being able to hold their attention. Twenty to thirty minutes is generally agreed to be the optimum speech length and it doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve achieved – without the proper prep that presentation will sink faster than the memory of a summer holiday!