THE professional speaking and training industry is growing fast, boosted by the corporate world's demand for reskilled workers and the emphasis on continual learning.

Many medium-sized enterprises, corporations and associations pay top dollar for professional speakers and trainers who have made their mark in their field of expertise.

There are essentially two types of speakers:

* Public speakers who give free talks as experts in their field, and

* Professional speakers/trainers who charge a fee for speaking appointments and running courses.

This article focuses only on the second category.

Professional speakers' speeches are classified as:

* Keynote;

* Half-day;

* Full-day; and

* Multiple-day speeches.

They are paid accordingly. Professional trainers are paid according to the type and duration of each of their training programmes.

What it takes

There are four main factors that contribute to your success as a professional speaker and/or trainer.

* Knowledge of self;

* Knowledge of packaging;

* Knowledge branding; and

* Knowledge of marketing.

1. Knowledge of self

This refers to the worldly knowledge and experience you would have acquired over the years as a professional. It is about understanding yourself, your interests, your passion, your capabilities and how to develop them further.

This knowledge will enable you to design and develop speeches and programmes that you are passionate about, and which can be effectively delivered to your audiences.

You have to hone your skills and develop an extrinsic value, so that you can command your price and feel really good about it. More importantly, you will be in demand because people think you are worth every cent.

2. Knowledge of packaging

ou have to package yourself and your programmes as one ensemble that will be delivered with precision, efficiency and your unique flair.

You may want to focus on specific subjects that you are very knowledgeable and passionate about.

Alternatively, if you have a passion for a particular field, but are in a career that you are not satisfied with, then you will have to gain the relevant expertise by research and learning from the experiences of others.

3. Knowledge of branding

Ideally, you want audiences to associate you with your passion or subject specialty. Is your name on the top of everyone's list when, for example, the subject of executive coaching is raised? If it is, that is the power of branding.

That is how you sustain the demand for your services. Identifying your niche and excelling in it is one of the most important elements of branding.

4. Knowledge of marketing

Do your market research to find out what is in demand. Or work on creating demand for your area of interest.

You have to learn to market yourself in the most effective manner to your targeted clientele.

You have to learn to price yourself right as a professional speaker or trainer to pitch yourself effectively in the market- place. It is very important to work with the right marketers, who will efficiently promote you as a talent.

When you are new to the industry, it is essential to learn from those who are already successful in the industry and have the know-how to training others to become professional speakers and trainers.

This will aid you to becoming a successful professional speaker or trainer in the shortest time possible.

Five top reasons to be a professional speaker/trainer

Your passion for your field aside, professional speaking and training is a business that you have to work hard at to establish yourself. But the top five benefits of being in this industry are:

1. Flexible work hours.

You decide what your working hours are, leaving you with more time for your loved ones.

2. High income potential.

Once you have an established clientele and are in demand, you can command the fees you want.

3. Residual income.

As you venture into developing information products such as books and DVDs, you will be able to earn royalties.

4. Being appreciated and well-known.

As a sought-after speaker and trainer, you will find satisfaction in the recognition you get and your capacity to help others improve themselves.

5. Develop great friendships.

As you travel around the world on speaking engagements, you will widen your network of friends and associates, and increase your business opportunities.