the podcast recap episode with aj & rory vaden

Ep 445: What To Know If You Want To Be a Highly Paid Professional Speaker | Shawn Hanks Episode Recap

Listen to the episode below

There’s more than one way to become a highly paid professional speaker.

But what are the best paths to success?

And how do you choose what’s right for you? In today’s special recap episode, AJ takes us through her top takeaways from her conversation with Shawn Hanks, CEO of Premiere Speakers Bureau.

We find out about the three non-negotiables for becoming a highly paid professional speaker, before taking a closer look at how to hone your craft, the evergreen speaking categories you should be aware of for exponential growth, and how to tailor your niche content for a new category, empowering you to have substantial increases over time.

AJ also covers why having an excellent video is crucial for speakers, how to go about creating a phenomenal reel out of your footage, what you need to include in your press kit, and a whole lot more.

To hear all of AJ’s insights on this fascinating topic, press play now!

Key takeaways from this episode

  • The three non-negotiables for becoming a highly paid professional speaker.
  • Why you need to have clear and actionable content.
  • The importance of honing your craft and being great on stage.
  • What you need to know about evergreen speaking categories.
  • How different high-level evergreen topics are priced in the market.
  • Why you need to have an excellent speech.
  • Tips for tailoring your content to a new speaking category.
  • The importance of having a great video as a speaker.
  • Advice on putting together an excellent video.
  • What needs to be included in your speaker press kit.
  • How to gather impactful testimonials.

Tweetable Moments

“You have to have amazing content, it needs to be clear, and it needs to be actionable.” — @aj_vaden [0:02:46]

“You’ve got to be great on stage. Just because you have great content – doesn’t always mean you’re a great presenter on stage.” — @aj_vaden [0:02:51]


Longer Quote:

“People are making a 15 to 50,000 dollar decision [based] on a five-minute video and a one-page description. Think about that. It needs to sell. And it needs to be really well-positioned. It needs to reach the heart and the core of who this is for, what it is for, and how we’re going to achieve it. That is your keynote description.” — @aj_vaden [0:12:00]

About Shawn Hanks

Shawn Hanks, CEO of Premiere Speakers Bureau, has two decades of experience in the bureau industry providing direction to speakers and developing strategic relationships. And he is the most recent Past President of the International Association of Speakers Bureaus (IASB.) An avid sports fan, Shawn enjoys CrossFit and watching the NFL/NBA. He and his wife, Heather, are native Texans that have made Nashville home for 23 years. They are the proud parents of Mia (20), Ethan (19), Ella Kate (16), Ava (14) and the world’s greatest golden-doodle, Poppy.

Links Mentioned

Premiere Speakers Bureau

Shawn Hanks on LinkedIn

Shawn Hanks on X

Mel Robbins

Tony Robbins

AJ Vaden on LinkedIn

AJ Vaden on Twitter

Rory Vaden

Rory Vaden on LinkedIn

Rory Vaden on Twitter

Take the Stairs

Brand Builders Group

Brand Builders Group Free Call

Brand Builders Group Resources

The Influential Personal Brand Podcast on Stitcher

The Influential Personal Brand Podcast on Apple

AJV (00:03): You need three things to become a highly paid professional speaker. And we’re gonna talk about each of those three things right now. First and foremost, you need amazing content and an amazing speech. That’s the barrier to entry. It is no longer about just having great assets and a great sizzle and you know, we assume that because you’re well known or that you know it’s a hot topic, that you’re going to be good. Now it’s like we need proof that you have amazing content and that you’re an amazing speaker and some of the assets we’re gonna talk about that will help support that. But we live in a day and age that people can go online, on YouTube, on Instagram, on TikTok, just go to Google and find clips of you speaking. They better be good. And the content needs to beuh powerful and engaging and innovative and original. AJV (00:56): So let’s just stop with that. You have to have amazing content. It needs to be clear and it needs to be actionable. And you’ve gotta be great on stage just because you have great content. Making videos behind a camera like this doesn’t always mean you’re a great presenter on stage. That’s an art, that’s a craft, and it needs to be honed. So let’s just start with this, that you must have amazing content and you must be a great presenter on stage. Those are two things that are a given in order to become a highly paid professional speaker. Now, assuming that you have those two things, ’cause you’ve been working on your content for years, and that you have been honing this craft and you’ve been speaking, which you don’t become a great speaker the first time you speak FYI that is something that happens over the course of time. AJV (01:41): So speak as much as you can. Speak for free, speak for money, just speak, speak for speak. For groups of three, speak for groups of 3000. You need the practice. You need to figure out what what parts of your story do people remember? What makes them laugh, what makes them think? Where do you need pauses? Where do you need a little bit more humor? Where do you need a little bit more seriousness? Where do you need slides? That only comes with practice. And so the more you do it, the better you get always. Now, second to that the prerequisite is you got to have an amazing speech and you have to have amazing content. There are some other things that help you enhance your ability to become a highly paid professional speaker. First of all, you have to know, categorically speaking, what topics are evergreen topics that are naturally going to allow you to increase your fees over the course of time. And what I mean by evergreen topics is it does not matter what market we’re in, what economy we’re in, what company it is, what industry it is, that there are some categories that are always going to be requested when someone is looking for a speaker. Some of those, Speaker 2 (02:58): This is not all of them, but some of those categories that are evergreen that also allow for highly paid speak speeches would be leadership. There is always going to be a need in associations, education, government, corporations, for there to be a discussion around how do you become a better leader of people. Now, within that category of leadership, there’s communication, there’s management, there’s all other types of things, but just think about leadership is a category. Another one would be culture. No matter what culture is always gonna be a part of a conversation. Teamwork. How do we work with others as leaders, but also as employees? That’s top down, bottom up. But teamwork would be another one. So if you think about like large, widespread, categorically speaking, those are three categories. And like I said, they’re not the only ones, but those are three categories that are always going to be requested that allow for your fees to grow without you ever leaving that category. Speaker 2 (04:04): If you think of some of the most high pay professional speakers out there like the, the Mel Robbins of the world, it’s like there are components of what she is talking about where it is, you know, overcoming, you know, fear, right? But a little bit of that is overcoming fear to do something right, to be a leader, to make the sale, to ask for the thing. You’ve got people like Tony Robbins, right? And his is about empowerment. And it doesn’t matter if you’re a leader or a frontline employee, but there are some general conversation topics that are always going to allow for you to grow within that vertical and increase your fees. There are other evergreen categories of speeches that will always be needed and requested, but doesn’t allow for the same fee intensity for it to grow as exponential. Speaker 2 (05:01): And I’ll give you a quick example. Can you tell me 10 different social media speakers who have fees of $40,000 a keynote, maybe likely not. That is a, a topic that is considered, you know, important, but it’s probably more considered of like a 5,000, $10,000 speaker, not a $40,000 speaker on social media versus I could list you 30, $40,000 speakers right now in leadership. Tons of them. Now, it’s not saying that the content for social media isn’t important, it’s just that it doesn’t allow for that same fee exponential increase as some of these other categories. So social media that would be an example. But other evergreen categories that are important, that are always going to be important would be sales Speaker 3 (05:57): Customer experience what we used to refer to as customer service, branding, marketing. Now again these are high level categories and those are evergreen categories, but don’t allow for the same fee growth as maybe a leadership, a culture a teamwork type of topic. So the first thing you wanna look at is how does my content that I believe in that is unique and niche to me, fit within one of these categories that are gonna allow me to have fee increases over time? And whatever it is, it’s like, how do I weave in components of culture, leadership, and teamwork into what I’m doing so that I fit within that request as those are always going to be highly requested topics for events. Doesn’t matter what the event is. So how can what you do also weave in some of those elements so that you fit into those categories outside of that video is the silver bullet. Speaker 3 (06:56): You have to have amazing video, a demo video. So I’m gonna just talk about some of the key bullet points of what you need here. One you’ve got to have a five to seven minute speaker demo video. If you’ve got some, something really original, something unique, maybe 10 minutes, but five to seven is the sweet spot that event planners are looking for today. It needs to be short and punchy. You cannot have a one camera shoot, right? So you’re looking for a two or three camera shoot minimum to get the different angles. What angles do you need? You need closeups on your intimate stories. You need wide screen so you can see the power of the stage. You have to have audience shots. People need to see audience reactions in your footage. If you are telling a joke and no one is laughing and there’s no footage of the laughing, how are we supposed to know if it’s funny? Speaker 3 (07:48): Maybe we didn’t think it was funny until that the, we like, oh, okay, the audience loved that meeting. Planners need to know the audience loved that. How do they know that? You show the audience in your footage. Audio quality is key. You’ve got to be clear and concise. Same thing with video quality. You won’t, you don’t want shaky footage, blurry footage, those you can’t use that. You can’t use that. You need to have three to four different speeches in your demo video. It cannot be you on one stage in one outfit. So you need at least three to four different stages with you in at least three to four different outfits. So don’t wear the same outfit on every stage. And then you’ve got to answer the question, why are you the expert that I should spend money on to bring to our event? Speaker 3 (08:31): And that needs to be answered in the first 15 to 20 seconds. That’s that I need that credible validation that I know what I’m talking about and I’m worth the investment that I’m asking for. Then needs to immediately jump to stage footage. So that’s the video. A speaker press kit. Here’s some of the key things that you need in a speaker press kit. A great headshot, a high rise headshot that really shows you today, not 10 years ago, not five years ago today. Make sure it’s eye catching, original, really enhances who you are and make sure it’s high res your bio. This is your unique positioning. Again, you’ve got to say, why am I the expert? Why am I different? Why should you hire me? And that needs to be in your, your speaker bio. Then you need your keynote description. Think about it like this. Speaker 3 (09:24): What you’re trying to describe in this keynote description is what are people buying when they buy this program, when they pay you whatever, you know, $15,000, what they’re paying for is what you have written on that page in your video. It’s this is what you’re buying, right? And then it’s how are you going to deliver that? Some of that is just bullet point takeaways, right? It’s like, here’s what the program is about. Here’s what your audience is going to leave with. And that’s, they’re people are making a 15 to $50,000 decision on a five minute video and a one page description. Think about that. It needs to sell and it needs to be really well positioned. It needs to reach the heart and the core of who this is for, what it is for and how we’re going to achieve it. Right? That is your keynote description. Speaker 3 (10:16): Then you need reviews or testimonials. If you can organize them by industry. So if you are being submitted to speak at an insurance association, make sure you have lots of insurance testimonials. If it’s a, a real estate right event, make sure you’ve got real estate testimonials. So try to customize and, and organize those by industry if you can. But what’s most important is we need to know these are real people. So what’s their headshot? What’s their name? What was their position and what did they say? AJ was the best speaker, not as impactful. AJ was the best speaker we have hired in the last 10 years. I have never had so many people request that we bring her back as I have had with this event. Right? That’s the type of thing that you’re looking for. So be really intentional about what you’re trying to get across with your reviews and testimonials. And the last thing I would say when it comes to becoming a highly paid professional speaker is at the end of the day, you have to be so good at what you do, your craft, that other speakers are willing to tell meeting planners and bureaus about you. So be so good at what you do, that other people tell others about what you do. And that is how you become a highly paid professional speaker.

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