YOU want to speak professionally, but you're just starting out and don't know how to get your foot in the door. The following tips will get you out there and in the public eye immediately.
While these jobs may not pay the big bucks, they ensure that you get noticed and get more bookings which can lead to bigger assignments and give your public speaking career the push it needs.
1. Rotary clubs
There are probably about a dozen Rotary, Lions, Probus or other similar service clubs within 15 minutes' driving time.
Most of these clubs need interesting speakers at each meeting. You will typically get about 15 to 20 minutes with about five minutes for question time at the end. Visit www.rotary.org, go to your local Rotary website, to do a search.
I've always found I have to slow down my speaking pace at service clubs due to a percentage of the members not being Gen Y-ers like myself. This is a great learning experience and has actually dramatically improved my speaking.
Hook up with a Rotary club to speak while travelling and you will be able to say to future clients that you have recently arrived back from speaking in Brazil (or wherever you've travelled). It gives you a touch of glamour.
I have found in my many speaking experiences that kids are painfully honest. While this can be brutal at times, if you can wow a room full of high-school kids, you can speak almost anywhere.
Write to your local schools, include a profile and tell them why you should be allowed in to shape young minds.
Get kids to remember you by setting up a myspace page that they can log into and join as your "friend".
If you really crack a kid audience, they'll go home and tell their parents and you may get more work.
3. The 5 x 5 strategy
If you have five patient friends, you can do this. Set up a regular time each week for five weeks and give a 20-minute presentation to five of your friends.
Then sit down with them for 20 minutes and drill them for feedback. Each week, give a different presentation. Be well prepared - don't waste your friends' time.
Pick friends who won't just tell you that you sound great over the microphone. You want honesty. Get the friend who tells you that you look fat in a certain dress!
With only one week to prepare a new speech, you have to stretch yourself. Use this to your advantage and don't cancel for any reason, even if there's only one person in the room!
4. Be industrious
If your industry has a local or national convention, volunteer to play a part in it. Introduce one of the keynote speakers, provide an update on a new technology or do as I did and offer to do a keynote at a convention of over 1,000 real estate agents before you have ever done a big speaking job. (You never know, they just might say yes!)
Your local industry group is the best place to start, as is attending a conference first, so that you can get your bearings.
Your peers will be one of the more terrifying audiences you will ever speak in front of. Rock this crowd and you'll be a legend; fall on your face and you'll never live it down.
Speaking is a great way to become known as an expert in your field. Being an expert naturally leads to more business.
5. Film yourself
Before you attempt any of the above tips, videotape yourself giving an entire presentation.
Many digital still cameras these days also have a video function, so you'll be get a camera easily.
The thing to remember: Regardless of the fact that there's no audience, do not stop for anything. Pretend you're on stage and kick through it, regardless of how badly you miff your opening line.
In five years' time, when you're an old hand at this, you'll have some hilarious videos to watch with a cocktail in hand!