Ep 460: Helping Speakers Get Booked On More Stages with Joe Heaps



The speaking industry has grown leaps and bounds to the extent that speakers are now considered entrepreneurs, as they are now personal brands and businesses.

But finding work is not as simple as just sending a text or email, and being a successful speaker requires the same hard work and dedication that is necessary for any thriving business.

Joining AJ in conversation today is Joe Heaps, the Owner and CMO of eSpeakers, an online platform that connects speakers with their audience.

Joe believes that his business is crucial for the industry and credits its established systems and processes as the vehicle behind its prosperity.

We learn about the importance of the Audience Benefit statement, how speaking is no different than any other business, how speakers should prepare for their events, and what non-celebrity speakers need to take into account.

We also explore Joe’s special recipe for connecting speakers with clients, how to set your fees as a speaker, the trending topics that speakers are being hired for, and how speakers can play their part in upholding standards of diversity, equity, and inclusion.


  • Why it’s important for us to talk about what it means to be a speaker and how to get booked.   
  • A warm welcome to the Owner and CMO of eSpeakers, Joe Heaps.  
  • Joe explains the work of eSpeakers and why he thinks his business is vital for the industry.  
  • The Audience Benefit statement: the tools and skills a speaker needs to get booked.   
  • Speaking as a business, and the importance of having good systems in place.  
  • How (successful) speakers prepare for events, and the value of digitizing systems.  
  • Joe’s special recipe for making it easier for clients to find the right speaker.   
  • What non-celebrity speakers need to remember when looking for work.  
  • Setting fees and other money insights for both new and seasoned speakers.  
  • Our guest explains the speakers and types of content that are most sought-after right now.  
  • The role of speakers in upholding standards of diversity, equity, and inclusion.  
  • Defining success for speakers, and how to connect with Joe and his team.  


“The idea that a speaker can go out and just speak to anybody is false. I mean, you can collect a check, but we really feel like there’s a magic when the right speaker gets in front of the right audience.” — @jheaps [0:04:37] 

“[Having good] systems [in place] really gives you the freedom to work on revenue-generating activities.” — @jheaps [0:15:34] 

“The best video is you on the stage; engaging with the audience; [and] delivering some kind of content.” — @jheaps [0:27:31] 

“There’s a lot of value in specifically saying what you do and how you solve problems.” — @jheaps [0:30:50] 

“We live in a world where there’s so much diversity in the audience that the things you say, make a difference. They do matter.” — @jheaps [0:45:54] 

Longer Quotes: 

“If you want to make a difference as a speaker, I’d really dive into and address how you actually present to your audience, and what you can say and what you can’t say – even if you don’t speak on diversity, equity, and inclusion, you can do a better job—as speakers we can do a better job at being more inclusive in our presentations.” — @jheaps [0:46:23] 

About Joe Heaps

Joe Heaps is the CMO of eSpeakers, the producer of the No More Bad Events podcast, and the founder of Speak for Good. He has worked with thousands of event bookers and global organizations like John Maxwell team, Coca Cola, and Fidelity Investments. More than 25,000 speeches per year are managed through eSpeakers proprietary management and booking software services.


Joseph Heaps on LinkedIn  

Joseph Heaps on X 


Blackwood Talent & Entertainment Speakers Bureau  

Art Berg on Amazon  

Dave Reed on LinkedIn  

National Speakers Association  

Canadian Association of Professional Speakers 

AJ Vaden on LinkedIn

AJ Vaden on Twitter

Rory Vaden

Rory Vaden on LinkedIn

Rory Vaden on Twitter

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AJV (00:02): Hey everybody. AJ Vaden here. Welcome to the Influential Personal Brand. I am super excited for today’s interview because I love when I get to do interviews around very niche topics like we’re gonna do today. And today we’re gonna be talking about the world of speaking and most specifically how to get booked as a speaker. And I have invited a newer friend of mine, but a good friend of my husband and a lot of the team at Brain Builders Group, Joe Heaps. And I’ll tell you a little bit more about Joe in a second, but I wanted to let you guys know what this interview is about and why you should stick around. And just before I hit record, Joe and I were talking about how, you know, there’s so much stuff on the internet, on social media about what it means to be a speaker and how you get paid as a speaker and how you get booked as a speaker. AJV (00:53): And the truth is, I think there’s a lot of value in some stuff that’s out there, and there’s no value in other stuff that’s out there. And so we’ve been on this kind of mission to help get some industry leaders in the speaking industry on this podcast to help create some clarity and expectations around if you have a dream, if you have a passion of becoming a highly paid professional speaker who is booked on stages because you have a message that you just feel called to share, right? There are some things you need to know that will prepare you and equip you to do that successfully, where you can take this dream and turn it into a very lucrative business. But if you think it’s gonna happen overnight, and you think it’s gonna happen by, you know, just posting some social media content, well, that may be where you’re a little off schedule, right? AJV (01:45): And so today we’re gonna have just an honest conversation of helping you build that dream of building your speaking business. So if you’re an aspiring speaker or even a speaker who’s getting booked, that just goes, man, I wanna get booked more. I do want this to be my full thing full-time thing, then this is the interview for you. So stick around get your pen and paper, take notes, because this is gonna be jam packed with tons of industry insights that’s gonna help you succeed in that endeavor. Now let me introduce you to the gentleman who’s going to help share some of these industry secrets. ’cause It’s not gonna be me today. I’m just going to be asking some questions. And quite honestly, I have my pen and paper too. ’cause I’m super excited to learn what’s new, what’s changing, what’s evolving. Because as a speaker myself, I have no doubt that Joe’s gonna share some tips today that I can put into practice in my business. AJV (02:39): So Joe Heaps is the managing partner and also the CMO at E Speakers, which you’re gonna learn all about. He is and why I think this is so helpful. He’s the one who’s responsible for all the sales and marketing strategies, which, you know, surprise, right? , if you are a speaker, you are in sales and marketing, right? Right. It doesn’t matter how you get booked, but you are in sales and marketing. So to have Joe come and talk about that, I think is a really fundamentally important part of this conversation. He is in charge of helping drive the vision of e speakers but also helping the the speakers who are part of e speakers improve their business and get booked and build a lucrative business, right? And that’s why I wanted to have him on the show today. And so Joe, as a, a part of the industry, I’m so excited to have you on the show. I’m so excited to learn from you. So welcome. JH (03:34): Thank you. Appreciate the invite. AJV (03:37): Yeah. And you know, as we’re kind of getting started and helping everyone learn about you and e speakers and why I got started, I just wanna start with like a little bit of background knowledge of like, what is e speakers and how did that even come about? Like how did you get started with that? Like yeah, tell us what it is and then why, why did it get created? JH (03:55): Yeah, you bet. Well first of all, our e speaker’s mission statement is we truly believe that the right speaker in front of the right audience can make a lasting, it kind of creates a magic. And and that right speaker in front of the right audience leads to like long-term improvement in organizations and individuals. And so the, the idea that a speaker can go out and just speak to anybody is false. I mean, you can collect a check, but we really feel like there’s a magic when the right speaker gets in front of the right audience and that change is made. And that’s really what this is all about. And I know any speaker that’s out there has felt that, like, you felt like maybe you just checked the box, you gotta check and you walked away and it really, you, like, you did your job, but you didn’t really connect with anybody. JH (04:42): And I know that people have been in the audience and done the same, but that, that change is really what’s important. And it’s what keeps a speaker getting booked, quite honestly, is if people in the audience feel their authentic self and they, they really connect with their content and they feel like they’re making a change in their life. And so our mission is to help speakers get on more stages and to make that change more often. Mm-Hmm. How we started was 24 years ago by a speaker named Art Berg, who Rory is a good friend of, I don’t know, AJ if you met r art before, or not he hasn’t. But art was a speaker he’s a quadriplegic and spoke, you know, over a hundred times a year, traveled the world. And that, and that at the time was a pretty big challenge, kinda like a a unique situation because he was in a wheelchair and traveling the world and on his own without any help. JH (05:47): And that, that’s a lot of work for a quadriplegic. And now there’s, there’s several more you know, and, and they do great jobs. But the fact that Art did that was a major thing that he tackled in his life to show that, you know, that wasn’t gonna stop him from making a difference in the world. And so one of the things that art he was really big on technology and how it connected with people. And he had this vision that through technology, his job could get easier and he could make the meeting planners, the buyers, the people that hire speakers, their job easier. And so he created a, a software with my business partner, Dave. And they started off with that technology. And the technology was really an event management tool that he could track all of his events in, in the calendar and everything. JH (06:45): And that he kind of gave a backdoor for speaker bureaus, which are kind of the in-between people that that book speakers off also, they’re kind of an agency. And those speakers bureaus kind of had a backdoor into the calendar. And at the time the cloud wasn’t really even a thing. Nobody knew of the cloud, and this was kind of a cloud technology. And so it, it allows people from their offices to be able to connect with speakers and be able to book them. Because at the time, you know, cell phones were just barely coming into the picture. No, internet wasn’t even around in the beginning. And so, you know, it just, it just blossomed from there. And unfortunately a few years into the Endeavor, art passed away. And but, and that’s when I joined the team and, and you know, that’s what Speers that’s where we started. JH (07:38): And really art art’s vision really is what we use every day to kind of keep us moving forward is just that idea of making speakers more readily available to book and giving them the tools and, and the things they need to be able to, to get booked. And then making it easy for meeting planners to connect with them and, and their job. And especially in this day and age, it’s you know, you can search the internet for any type of speaker and find something, right? But again, is it the right person and are, is it making it easy on the buyer? So that’s kind of what we have an event management tool that we can talk more about if you’d like. Or we have also have an arm of our business that is all about promotion and marketing of a speaker and specifically to those meeting planners or those buyers. So that’s kind of AJV (08:34): What we do. You know, I, I love that. And I know I’ve heard, you know, so many different great things about e speakers through the years and, you know, we’ve known of you guys since we’ve been a part of the National Speakers Association, but I mean, it has to be at least 20 years that I’ve known about you guys. So what did you guys start in the nineties? JH (08:53): 99. 9 99? AJV (08:55): Yeah. ’cause I know it’s like, even in the early years of us being a part of the National Speakers Association, I remember seeing e speakers and, you know, I spent some time on the websites, you know, kind of getting up to date on the all the news speakers that you guys are featuring. And I think that’s and I think talking about both of those would be really interesting in interesting for our conversation today. But one of the things that I would love to start with since you are, you know, a huge part of like the sales and marketing strategy I’d love to start there of just going, like, when you think of a speaker and what assets, what, what tools they need to get booked as a speaker, right? So when you’re thinking of like, what do meeting planners need to make quick decisions, and what does speakers need to have readily available to supply? Like, what would you say are the most important marketing assets that a speaker needs today? JH (09:46): Yeah. Well I think probably the thing that we see that peop, that speakers stumble on quite a bit is what we call our audience benefit statement. It is it’s front and center on a speaker’s profile and the audience benefit statement. We tend to see speakers and they don’t really have that defined in, we’ve actually gone through your course Brand Builders course ourselves. And, and and so I know you, you know a lot about this as well, but really talking about the benefits of hiring you rather than in marketing. Marketing 1 0 1 talks about features and benefits of a product. Doesn’t matter what product it is. A good product is marketed with benefits. Like, it’ll help you do this, you’ll feel better doing this. It’ll, you know, and, and we give lots of examples of companies that do that in their advertising. JH (10:38): But the benefits of hiring a speaker are way more powerful than the features. So we see speakers lead with things like, I’m a New York Times bestseller, I’ve written these books. I’ve, I’ve talked to these people, I’ve presented to these groups, I have these degrees. I went to this school. You know, and that, that’s, that’s really, really common. In fact, seasoned speakers still tend to kind of slide back into that because speakers are unique in regards to a product because you do talk about yourself a lot, and you’re building your own personal brand as you know, right? And so that’s one of the things that causes some pain for speakers is they’re wondering, why am I not getting booked? And it’s because they’re leading with the features of the product. They’re the product and they’re leading with the features rather than the benefits. And the benefits are things like, why would somebody hire you? JH (11:31): What do you, what benefit are you going to bring to that audience? And so you need to lead with things like when I come speak to your group, we’re gonna identify these key things and your audience will walk away knowing how to do this, this, and this. Right? And so that’s really kind of the idea of a benefit statement. Yeah. And, and there’s a lot of different examples. I mean, if, if, if people wanted, they could go to our directory at e speakers marketplace and, and go through and search on a topic. And you can see, in fact, if there are speakers listening, I’d encourage you to do that. Put your topic in and, and see the reco the results that come up. And you’ll see some really good ones. We’ve tried to really work with people on that audience benefit statement, but some of ’em come up and, you know, they’re, they’re just, like I was talking about, in fact, they lead with their name. JH (12:18): Like, you know, it would say, Rory Vaden is a New York Times bestseller and speaker and author and trainer. Well, we have like 20,000 speakers in our database. And same thing, most of ’em are trainers, authors, and speakers, right? And, and could be New York Times bestsellers. So you know, that that type of, just getting that outta the way and the process of working through that audience benefit statement really sets the stage for the benefits. And then you take those benefits of hiring you and they become, you know, bullet points in your bio and they can become even programs like your speeches, right? And so that’s really the probably the biggest thing that we see. The other thing in regards to just, I mean, that’s the marketing side. I know that’s what you ask about. But the other thing that we see is speakers tend to struggle with systems. JH (13:08): And that’s where our tool really shines, is that, you know, a good system means that you can be away from the system. And, and our, we live in ACI in a world now that everything is connected, everything ties together, whether it’s through I calendar, whatever. And you have all these different ways now, even since the pandemic, zoom is the new thing, and, and everybody, you can zoom from an airport if you needed to, right? And, and on the road. But speakers are super busy. And you know, having a good system that keeps them on track mm-hmm. Is, is really important. And that’s one of the things that Art started in the very beginning is, you know, being, having such a demanding schedule with over like, you know, 200 presentations a year or whatever. One staff member, he found the value of systems and the, the freedom a good system gives you to like chart this course of success. JH (14:07): And so really that’s, that’s kind of what he harnessed in our tools and, and we see as a real big value. And it’s still a big struggle for speakers, is is having a good system. Could they be away from their business for a week and everything continued to run? That’s good. And, you know, that’s, that’s really not just, I mean, of course we expect speakers to take a vacation, right? But not just vacation. It’s, it’s being booked three times or four times that week. And just the intricacies of going to Nashville, going to Dallas, going to Chicago, flying to LA and you know, just don’t have time to keep up with things. And so having a good system is super important. So, oh, well I, that I’m not sure if I answered your question, but No, AJV (14:49): I think I have some follow ups, but I think that that systems part of the conversation wasn’t even on my radar. And the truth is, is most speakers, at least when they start out, they are the sales department, marketing department, operations department, billing department. Right? Right. It’s like they’re all the departments. And I don’t think if a lot, I don’t think a lot of people realize, it’s like, no, being a speaker is being an entrepreneur. It is a business. Yeah. You gotta do all the same things that you would do as a small business owner. You, and if you don’t have a good system, all of a sudden it’s like, it’s not so fun anymore. Yeah. Now it’s, it’s a lot of work. And you’re working all the time, traveling all the time on stages all the time. And it’s like, oh, all right. This thing I thought I wanted to do, I don’t wanna do it anymore. Yeah. JH (15:34): Well, and if people, if speakers only, if all you had to do is say, Hey, you have an event this day, show up at this address and speak on this topic, and that’s all you had to do then I think things will be a lot easier. But the truth of it is, is that it is literally a business. Mm-Hmm. . And you have to do the sales and the marketing and the accounting and the business development and, you know, clean the toilets and, you know, all that stuff too. You know, I mean, you, you all, everything. And you know, I, if you have staff you know, that adds another element to it where the staff now need to be connected to you and have a system that are connected to you. And so it gives you a little bit more freedom. And really what we try to focus on is, is systems really give you the freedom to work on revenue generating activities. It doesn’t mean you’re just gonna go, you know, set up on the couch and drink diet Coke and eat cake or whatever you wanna do, watch a TV show or whatever to relax it. It means that you’re gonna go focus on things that now generate money, right. And being in the business instead of, you know, work on the business instead of in the business. Right. And so that’s really what a good system will set up for you. AJV (16:50): No, I love that. And, you know, often I refer to speakers as artists, right? And it’s like, the reason most people wanna be a speaker is because they have this message that they wanna share and speaking is a, a craft that they want to get better at. And, and it’s like, but then you get kind of stuck with all you’re doing is sending out emails and proposals and, and contracts and, and all of a sudden all the things that you wanna do, the things that you love to do, you don’t, you don’t really get to do those anymore. And having a good system gives you the freedom to work on the message, hone the craft and do the revenue generating activities, be excellent on stage and do the pre-event calls. So I love that you brought that up. That wasn’t even on my radar for our conversation, but it’s such an important part of where most people get into something and then all of a sudden they’re like, I’m exhausted, right? AJV (17:42): I’ve got major burnout, I don’t know if I can keep doing this. And it’s because you didn’t have a good system to start with. So I love that part of it. Right. And I love the, the benefit statements. ’cause You’re right, it’s like most speakers start with, here’s, here I am, right? Like, these are my credentials. So I love that benefit start statements piece. But then you also mentioned a few other things like program descriptions and all of that. And so do you find that it is still necessary that speakers have like a media kit or a press kit, a demo video? Like what’s most important, what’s least important? How long should they be? Like, what are those things look like today? JH (18:18): Yeah, no, those are good questions and yes, super relevant. All of that is still needed. I mean, and just to give the listeners a, a kind of a blast from the past, the way this used to happen, I’m answering your question, I promise. The, the way this used to happen was quite literally, if any of you were old enough to remember how you used to order things over the phone instead of online, you’d open the JCPenney catalog and you would find the number and call ’em and say, Hey, I want x, y, z number. Well, the same thing happened with speakers. Specifically bureaus would print this big, like catalog of speakers and they would ship that out to all the buyers, all the meeting planners. And then the same thing happened. They call and they look through and say, Hey, these are the speakers I want. JH (19:06): And so it, it changed from that to then speakers had like individual websites and then social media came into it. And then people were still mailing VHS tapes and then CDs and, you know, all of that. And that media kit has graduated into this digital media kit now. And so yes, it’s still valuable, but, but different. And, and one thing that I think speakers need to know is that just because you have a website and everything’s there doesn’t mean that that solves the, the doesn’t make it easy for a buyer to hire you. They have to go find your website, they have to navigate that. And you have to give them things easy at their fingertips. And I mean, I, I haven’t seen the numbers on this lately, but seems like before the pandemic MPI, which is meeting professionals international, they’re a big group of meeting planners. JH (20:06): And they had listed being a meeting planner was in like the top five most stressful jobs in the US. And I’m still, it’s, I’m sure it’s probably still up in the top. But they have a lot on their plate. And if you just say, yeah, go here and do this, then that’s, that’s not easy. And we’ve become a society where we want things instant. Like we go buy something online and you want to actually see if they have those red shoes in stock. And if they don’t, you’ll go somewhere else where you know, they have it in stock. ’cause You don’t wanna wait. Mm-Hmm. , right? And so that’s how a meeting planner literally feels they wanna buy people. And that’s where we’ve kind of evolved into actually having an end-to-end process of hiring a speaker online through our directories. They can inquire with them, they can engage with them through you know, direct message through our platform. JH (21:00): They can narrow it down to one of ’em, hire ’em and and sign the contract and pay ’em all through online. And all of that is generated or has come about because of the, the type of buying that people are doing online. Right. That’s a new, and anyway, so my point is, is that that digital kit is so important and yes, have it all on your website, but that’s one of the reasons that our, our profiles, our online profiles have done so well is something we launched about 10 years ago. And we had, we saw this need where speakers were sending their kits out to all the speakers bureaus and all their meeting planners. And it’s a huge cost number one, ’cause you got to, it’s a big box, you know, then you’re shipping that out and then they have to then go through that and digitize the video or then take the video and put it on the website. JH (21:56): And it’s a lot of work for all those people to do that. And we heard from the bureaus that they have rooms to just boxes full of VHS tapes or CDs, right? And, and meeting planners have the same thing. People just send meeting planners random boxes of stuff and just say, Hey, I’m a speaker on leadership, hire me. You know? And so they just had a hard time processing all that. So the, the digital media kit is effective in the, in the sense that it’s one thing that you can send them and it has everything in it, and it’s easy for them to like save in a folder and, and share with people and things like that. And that’s one of the things where the profile, our profiles have really shined is on the profile itself. We have all the different marketing materials that, that are, we’ve found that speakers or the buyers want to know, they don’t have to leave the profile at all. JH (22:49): They have their bio, they have all their topics, their fees, they have videos, they have marketing materials, they have all their programs, their calendar, if they do virtual work, all of that thing. All of that is on one profile. And it, what it creates is a an a a better experience for the buyer. And they have everything they need right on that one page to make the purchase decision. And yes, they could go to the speaker’s website, yes. They could be go to the speakers social media, yes, they could look at this PDF, but you know, ultimately, like having one place where all of that is, is together is, is still valuable. So, yes. AJV (23:28): Yeah. I love that. And I think one of the things you said that really stands out to me, and which I don’t think a lot of speakers are probably doing when they think about their demo videos or speaker press kits is, am I building this to appeal to the, the buyer, right? Am I building this to attract them, make it easy for them? ’cause I see a lot of Prescott that are like 12, 13, 14 pages and it’s like, takes me forever to go through it. And I’m supposed to be doing that for our clients, right? It’s like, that’s really long. Or demo videos that are 20, 30 minutes. And I’m like, I don’t have time to watch this. So I’m guessing a meeting planner doesn’t either. So for, when you’re thinking about making it easy for this buyer, right? The meeting planner to make decisions, is there like a special recipe of like how short it is this? Yeah. Tell us about that. Yeah, JH (24:16): There is, well, specifically with programs, so we, let’s just talk about that audience benefit statement that it’s kind of your lead in, right? It’s what’s your, the benefits of hiring you. And then as you take that, you go into your bio and your bio should always start with an extension of that audience benefit statement. ’cause You don’t want ’em to all, all of a sudden go to your bio and now all of a sudden you’re talking about being a New York Times bestseller and all this stuff. And you said, Hey, I thought you were a leadership expert that could change the culture of my organization. And now all of a sudden you’re talking about this. So it’s kind of the segue paragraph. That first paragraph is the segue paragraph that really ties in your audience benefit statement into, now this is all about me. So you have that, that segue paragraph that talks about the benefits still and explains them in more detail. JH (25:06): And then the rest of the bio is all about you as a speaker. Sure. Say all those things that we talked about. These are the things I’ve done, books I’ve written places, degrees I have, or what makes you be able to support that. You, you can change culture in an organization because you’ve done all these things. Right? And then the, the next extension of that is in the programs, your speeches. So when you outline your programs, you always lead with the benefit, right? So this is the benefit of hiring, this is why you want me to speak to your group on this program. And then the format of that is always great to identify who this is good for. This is great for senior leadership, middle management, you know, salespeople, whatever. And so you identify kind of who it’s for and then the last thing you look, make sure you always have in the program description. JH (26:01): You have the program description and then the takeaways. Mm-Hmm. . So what are the key takeaways to, for that program? What are people gonna walk away with knowing how to do or how to implement or whatever, right? So that’s kind of the structure of a program. And it’s usually, oh, I don’t know, four, five paragraphs kind of in, if you were to look at four or five paragraphs, four paragraphs, it’s about that length. And you know, it’s obviously not all paragraphs ’cause you have bullet points and thing takeaways and all that. But you know, it’s a, it’s a little bit, I don’t know the character count, but it’s usually shorter so they can process it. Mm-Hmm. . And and then I’ve seen speakers do a really good job of doing like a one page that’s just on that program. Mm-Hmm. . And so it’s a little bit more so if say, Hey, that’s really great, tell me more. JH (26:50): And they can send ’em this PDF that’s a one page about how to create culture in an organization and kind of more about what you present. So that’s kind of the general gist of kind of the content that you should have on your profile, you know, really driven by the benefits. And then you asked earlier about the video and we find effectively that somewhere around 30 to 40 minutes of video total is like probably the most valuable. But we, we prefer really small segments. Hmm. So I wouldn’t ever put a raw video up there. It’s like 30 minutes of you speaking. ’cause That’s just boring Right? and nobody’s gonna make it through that. I mean, we’re lucky if they make it through 30 seconds of it. Right. So really it’s the, we find that the key like clip is between 30 seconds and like two minutes at the most. JH (27:49): Wow. And so, and, and really we found more success with short little video clips. So let’s say you know, a AJ or aj your speaker, right? Mm-Hmm. you speak. So you may have a topic of branding or leadership or business. And so what you would have is of a clip of your video. And it, and a lot of people say, I don’t have any clips of me on the stage yet. I’m brand new. And the truth is that you don’t really have to have, I mean, ultimately yes, you have to have the best video is you on the stage engaging with the audience, delivering some kind of content. And somehow we’ve got into this weird video sizzle reel thing that there’s this voiceover and there’s testimonials in it. And there’s, you know, like all these words on the screen that people are reading, they’re like, hold on, I wanted to just see ’em in action. JH (28:48): Like, what’s all this stuff? And so if that’s not, if they don’t see you on the stage in the first 30 seconds of the video, they’re out. Right? So I’d always lead, and I don’t have any problem with voiceover videos, but, you know, if you want to take the first couple seconds and say, Hey, this is AJ Vaden leadership expert, and then show you on stage where you’re delivering content, that’s where the value comes. And that’s really what they want to see. They want to see you delivering your content, how you interact with the audience, if they’re engaged with you less about the content itself and more how you’re working with the audience. And then secondly comes the content, right? And so that’s where, if aj, you’re a, a branding expert, they want to see the content. This is, this is AJ speaking on branding, it’s the video name. JH (29:37): And the next video might be, you know, AJ speaking on corporate culture or whatever, right? And they expect when they, when they listen or watch that, they’re going to hear a segment of your speech that talks about branding, about corporate culture or whatever, right? It’s not just somewhere in that 30 minute video or 15 minute clip. It’s, it’s in that two minutes. And you can obviously go longer than a two minute clip. But we found that we, in our system, you can have six topics, up to six topics. And so that would give you six individual videos that would show you delivering your content and with those particular topics. And that’s a really great way to do it. And then of course, you can also add other videos that would be like a testimonial video. So if somebody was interested in hearing testimonials, not just reading them, you can, you can go in and add those testimonial videos and, and of, and if you wanted to outta a sizzle reel. But in our system, you can set a primary video that always shows up on your profile and that particular one I, I don’t like making it anything other than something that you’re right up on the stage in the very beginning to catch ’em. So AJV (30:52): I love that. That’s what we, I think that’s really insightful about Yeah, it’s great to have a sizzle and it’s great to have testimonials, but that needs to be ancillary to the main thing being the main thing, which is you on stage, which is what this meeting planner needs to see first. Right. JH (31:07): And the interesting thing is that we’ve seen speakers do this and they create these little clips and you can be, so if you don’t have stage video and you can be just like, AJ is right here to me in the Zoom window, and and you can just say, Hey, my name’s AJ and I, I’m a, I’m a expert on corporate culture and when I come speak to you, we identify this, this, and this, and you audience will walk away knowing how to do this, this, and this. I mean, it’s just simple as that. Hmm. And it can be a video just like we’re on right now. And you know, it, it works out great. And and it’s something that can be shared on your own social media and on your own website and meeting planner really like that. And it can be even a marketing, we have a couple speakers that just did some marketing emails out about being an expert in whatever it was that they were an expert and that video was part of that email that they put out. So anyway, it just, there’s a lot of value in like, really specifically saying what you do and how you solve problems. You AJV (32:08): Know, I love that for the, the brand new speakers who are just starting out where, you know, so much of it as you hear, it’s like, you’re not gonna get booked without a demo video. And it’s like, well, you’re saying yeah, you can. Yeah. So I think that’s a, a really one hope inspiring for everyone who’s just beginning. But for those people who are just starting out going like, Hey, I’ve got my message. I know what I’m doing. I just don’t have any stage footage yet. I haven’t had that opportunity to get it filmed on stage. You really think doing something like this that’s just articulating what you talk about, how you do it, what the benefits are. You think that meeting planners are booking speakers that way? JH (32:44): Yeah. Well, a hundred percent. I know they are. AJV (32:46): That’s awesome. Yeah. That’s, I think that’s really hope inspiring for everyone out there going eventually you need stage footage, but you don’t have to have it to give back. JH (32:57): Yeah. Well, and the crazy thing is, is we all know people that have big names, celebrity figures, Malcolm Gladwell, Simon Sinek, whoever, AJ Baden, , you know, all those people. And and the truth is, is that those kind of, we call ’em celebrity speakers in the sense that they don’t really have to work super hard for new leads coming in. They’re, they’re, they have to actually work hard on turning down leads ’cause they’re requested so much. Mm-Hmm. . And that is a, a situation we all wish we were in. Right? and, and in fact, I think we tried to book Simon Sinek one time and they said, yeah, he’s a year and a half out. His next availability is a year and a half out because he just doesn’t book himself. He doesn’t overbook himself. Mm-Hmm. . And and I mean, luckily for us the pandemic hit and we were the first people to book him for a virtual job and which was, which was great. JH (33:55): And and anyway, but that, so that’s how we got him to get booked. But you know, the, the, the point is, is that that if you’re not a celebrity figure, which the majority of us aren’t then how do you get jobs? And it, it takes, it, it really takes the doing all the time. I think, oh man, I, I don’t remember who it was. It might’ve been I don’t know. I was listening to David Goggins I think one time, and, you know, he said to Grove something, you really have to do it. You have to be in doing it. And it’s all about the doing. And I’ve always remembered that as just like, it, you, you can’t, there, you can’t just like all of a sudden say I’m a speaker one day and not do anything to like build your business. JH (34:46): Right. You has, you have to do it. And so when you’re small, it means doing everything. And when you’re larger, it means you know, making sure that other people are doing everything right and that everything’s still happening and all the boxes are checked. So that’s, that’s what we’ve seen as we work with speakers and we’ve actually seen, I have literally seen speakers come and I’ve talked to that haven’t had one speech. They not even call them. Supposed they’re just learning about speaking to now they’re charging $20,000 a speech and they’re booked over a hundred times a year. You know, so it’s, it, it, it, it happens, it does happen, but it just ha you have to, you have to go and get in and do it. And that’s what people, they have to roll up their sleeves and get to work and it just doesn’t happen automatically. So AJV (35:41): Yeah. It’s, but it’s back to, it’s treating, speaking like a business, right? It’s like Right. Say you’re a speaker doesn’t mean anything’s gonna happen. Right. But you gotta put yourself out there and do the right things to get yourself booked, so. Right. All right. So I’m watching the time, and I know we have this a little bit longer, so I’ve got a few other questions here. So one of the things that I think we hear all the time at Brand Builder’s Group is how, how do you know how to set your fees? And so any insights around, doesn’t matter if like this is your first engagement, you’re just starting out, or you’ve been doing this a while. Is there any sort of thoughts, insight, or is there some magical strategy of how speakers should be setting fees? JH (36:23): Well, I’ve always heard this philosophy, it, it’s whatever people would hire you for is what your fee is. Right? And so it’s a sup, it’s a supply and demand thing. But in general we encourage new speakers to just get out and get experience, speak for free, get low paying jobs. You can start with like, rotary clubs are a great way, chambers of commerce are a great way. Like you can, you can really get out and get paid $50, a hundred dollars a speech just giving speeches. You just, you can’t I don’t know. I had a, I was talking to a guy recently that was a CEO at a company and he was transitioning over into speaking and, you know, he makes a good amount of money as a CEO and then came into speaking and felt like, well, I’m not gonna go earn a thousand dollars. JH (37:16): You know, it’s like, well, you have to then build your brand. You have to, you know, like you have to give, there has to be some reason that they would hire you for more than a thousand dollars. And so we kind of helped him recreate his what he was doing in a different approach and, and added more value to it by his experience as a CEO. And, but if you’re just starting out, that is obviously gonna be a lower fee. And so you just keep pitching it. And I’ve, I’ve heard this question a ton is when do I know when I can raise my fee? Hmm. And so that really comes when you’re getting booked enough of that fee that you feel like if I raised it, I’d still get booked and everybody’s different. There’s no secret sauce on fees. Unfortunately in my, in, from my experience start low, like if you wanted to start, like low range is, you know, 500 to a thousand, that’s really low range. JH (38:17): In, in our database of our speakers, you know, like a lower range would be like 2,500 to 5,000. That would be a good place to start. So if you, if you’ve spoken a bunch maybe for low fees and you’re trying to set some type of fee, you know, 2,500 is a good fee that p somebody would pay to get you to, to book you. And then like the 2,500 to five is a general good range. If you’re a, you know, if you’re like five to 75 is another good range, but like right around 10 is a, is a fee range that you see most speakers kind of ride around. You know, they’re, they’re booking 80 times a year 80 dates, and they have a pretty good business. And anybody above that, they either have some content or experience, they landed a plane on the Hudson River, they wanna race, they sold this business for whatever. JH (39:13): They have some reason that’s taking their fee, you know, to a higher level and or their content is just so valuable, right. You’re a Simon Sinek and you know, people will come just because of your content. Yeah. And that, and that’s a whole different thing, right? You, you know, those, those, those people are 50 to a hundred thousand a speech or not, or more. Right? And so it really depends where you’re at. But that’s, that’s that’s in general I think kind of the fee ranges that we see. And I really would just start with people, things like chambers of commerce and, and rotary clubs and, you know, volunteering free stuff. Just get some experience underneath you. ’cause You don’t want to go get somebody to say, yeah, I’ll pay you for 5,000 and you don’t have the experience delivering that speech and you don’t do a great job. And they’re like, yeah, not so great. You want all of your speaking experience, your, all of your bookings to build upon each other so that you can get references. Because that’s super huge in, in speaking as you want to be able to have testimonials to say, yeah, they delivered a great speech. And those also help in raising your fee. AJV (40:28): Yeah, I think that’s really, I think that’s really wise. And it’s, I think it’s interesting to hear, it’s like most speakers are around that $10,000 range. It’s like, if you’ve been doing it for a while, would you say that’s the most crowded fee range where that’s like, where it’s like, man, is there the most competition in that fee range? JH (40:47): In which one? AJV (40:48): The 10,000? JH (40:51): I would probably say five to 10,000 is probably the range, but probably more so there’s probably more people in the 7,500 to 10. They’re the, they’re the speakers that have figured it out. They have system in some place. They have they have a good database of, of contacts. They’re, they’re getting leads off the web. You know, they’re, they’re, they’re kind of well-rounded mm-Hmm. you know, they’re, they’ve got some good testimonials under their belt. So yeah, I would say that, you know, 10,000 is a good range. It just depends honestly, where you’re coming from and what kind of value. I know the people, a lot of the people you work with are brand builders, have established businesses and bigger names possibly. And so yeah, I would start them at a higher range. And it just all depends on where you’re coming from and every speaker’s a little bit different. AJV (41:49): Yeah. And I think that’s really helpful of just going like, Hey, starter fees, you know, it could be as low as $500, but somewhere between 520 500 if you don’t have like, a lot of name recognition or credibility or, you know, books or content that’s gonna set a higher precedent. I think even having that idea for everyone who’s listening of going like, okay, like I thought my fee was gonna be 10,000 . It’s like, no, it’s probably a little bit lower than that. At least to get started and then follow like basic laws of supply and demand and Right. It’s like as you get booked more and there’s, you know, less supply and more demand, then you increase the fees. And, and I love that too. It’s like as you’re getting, you know, 10,000, 15,000 and over, it’s usually because whether you’re getting booked so much that you can do that, or there’s something else has happened, rather your content’s gone viral. There was a bestselling book, or, you know, you climbed my Everest, or you know, you did some sort of like, things Exactly that’s gonna like position you in the marketplace. JH (42:48): Some of it’s exposure too. I’ll give you an example. A local speaker here in Utah I had a youth group activity in my backyard and I had him come speak and it was, I don’t even remember what the topic was. It was just probably about achieving your very best or something to that effect. And he came and did it for free. ’cause He was looking for experience. Right. He was just transitioning into it. And that was probably eight years ago, and I just ran into him the other day and his fee is 50 grand. That’s awesome. And it’s all because of exposure. He got, he, I, I always thought he was great. He’s the same great guy now that he was then he has the same content, he’s better at it. Yeah. But he literally has the more exposure, he got more people like, wow, where’s this guy come from? And he just, it just, it just ballooned from there and got bigger and bigger and bigger. And now, you know, he’s 50 grand of speech and that’s amazing. Right. And that’s about eight years ago. Eight, eight years of work, and now he’s going from zero per speech to 50, and he’s still booked, you know, 80 to a hundred times a year. So AJV (43:59): That’s amazing. You know, but, but my favorite sayings is the more you speak, the more you speak. Yeah. Right. And it’s like, you just gotta get out there and as you’re, as you’re in, you know, a beginner mode doesn’t mean you’re a beginner in business, but a beginner in the speaking world, it’s like you just say yes. Right? You take the gig. It doesn’t matter if it’s at the Chamber of Commerce or, you know, the, you know, networking group in the back of Applebee’s. Like whatever. Right. You just say yes because you never know who’s in the audience. Right. And that’s always been our take. It’s like you just never know who might be there that can lead to the next event and who’s gonna be there that lead can lead to the next event. All right. So I’ve got two last questions for you. AJV (44:40): That was I think super insightful, especially for those in that beginner range and aspiring of going, like, what is a moderate price to start with? All right. So two last things. Who would you say is booking most speakers today? Or what topics are getting booked the most? Like, are there any industry trends of going like, Hey, like education is just like booking everything or ced, or are, or are there any topical trends that you’re seeing of going, Hey, doesn’t matter what, you know, year we’re in culture’s always gonna be top. Because I know for a long time there was like this huge rise in social media speakers but I’ve also seen that really go down. And then there was like, you know, diversity and inclusion speakers was really high, and then it’s kind of dropped off. So are you seeing any trends with like, industry bookings or topical bookings that we should know about? Yeah. JH (45:36): Yeah. Well, let me ask you this first. This is a roundabout answer. What percentage do you think a speaker hiring a speaker is in all the things that a buyer does a meeting planner does? What percentage do you think, where did that rank? AJV (45:55): Oh, maybe 5%. JH (45:58): What, okay. What, what priority do you think? Yeah. Oh no, 5%. Five percent’s good. I mean, that’s a good guess. The truth is, is that we did a recent poll with our database of meeting planners, and it’s 81% of event organizers said it’s in the top three things that they do. Wow. Is hiring a speaker. 81. 81% said that. And so the, the thing I want to bring up is that you know, speakers always, it’s, it’s a small thing. I mean, like booking an event or scheduling an event, you book the space. Mm-Hmm. , you have to do all the food and beverage. You have to worry about attendance and how to get attendees to the show and exhibitors and sponsors, I mean, all those are huge things. But it was interesting for us to find that the meeting planners still a priority in the, it’s in the top three things of an an event is what speakers they hire. And so just realize that what you’re doing makes a difference and you’re important. And even when they negotiate with you and all these things, like you’re, you’re an important factor in that, the success of that event. Now I forget the actual question you gave me. Sorry. AJV (47:10): Just like, as meeting planners or, and I think that’s fascinating. ’cause It’s like, I would’ve thought it probably would’ve been further down because it’s like, my gosh, there’s so many logistics to do these big events. Yeah, yeah. But it’s like, are there any trending topics? JH (47:24): Oh, right. That’s right. Yeah. So knowing that, that they’re, they are hiring speakers. I’m going right to our live statistics right now on e speakers. And the top topic that’s being searched right now in our database is inspirational. Hmm. Inspirational healthcare humor health and nutrition customer service, leadership. Those are some of the big ones. Women in business. Those are some kind of trending right now. I do know that corporate culture is huge. I mean, we, we get a lot of re inquiries about that changing the culture of, and it, and it has been since the pandemic because it’s unique environment, right. Culture is a big deal. And, and diversity, even though it has dropped off a little bit in regards to our focus of it, it’s still one of the top things that people get booked for. JH (48:24): Diversity and inclusion, equity inclusion, it’s all, it’s all super important. And, and anyway, so I, I actually was at a conference for speakers in Canada for the Canadian Speakers Association, like NSA in December. And there was a speaker that spoke about how we need to do better jobs as speakers of being diverse in our presentations. And this is, this is one of those things that you don’t really think about as a speaker. It’s like, I don’t speak on diversity, equity, and inclusion. I speak on these other things, but really you do, because we live in a world where there’s so much diversity in the audience that the things you say matter make a difference. Right. They do matter the way you address people. And I’ve even, I I, I took this to heart and because I say you guys and hey, you guys, and hope you guys are doing well and all of that. JH (49:26): And I, I know that’s changing now, right? But you can’t just say guys, and you can’t even even say men or women or ladies and gentlemen even. And it’s, it’s very specific. And so it, you wanna make a difference. As a speaker, I’d really dive into that and, and address how you actually present to your audience and what you can say and what you can’t say and, and make a difference that way. Even if you don’t speak on Mm-Hmm. , diversity, equity, and inclusion. You can do a better job speakers, we can do a better job at being more inclusive in our presentations. And I’ve, I’ve just been thinking about that a ton since she gave that presentation as it’s not one of the topics that’s getting booked a lot as recently, like it was maybe a year ago. But I think maybe forward thinking or looking forward that’s going to be a super important thing for speakers to address in their presentations. Mm. AJV (50:28): Yeah. I think that’s wise. ’cause They’re like, you know, I thought that was interesting and I had jotted this on when you said it, it’s like inspirational as a top trending topic. But it’s like the truth is any speaker could make their topic inspirational. Right? Right. And it’s like, same thing with, you know, diversity, equity, inclusion. It’s like you could integrate some component of that into pretty much anything that you talk about. Right? Same thing with culture, right? And it’s like, same thing with customer service or experience. It’s like if you just focus on like, Hey, these are things that are important out in the business world today. These are what people are looking for, and learn how to integrate that into your message without changing your topic, then it really does make it a more well diverse option right. Across the board. JH (51:12): Yeah. And, and one of the things that we’ve seen where speakers are more successful is where they actually have an outcome that comes from their, their topic, right? So you’re solving a problem, there’s an outcome to your topic. And if you don’t already have that, if you don’t know what your outcomes are, then I would highly recommend that you look at that because you’ve gotta know what, what is the outcome that this buyer wants me to deliver on? What problem do they have and what outcome am I delivering? What am I solving? What problem am I solving? And if you don’t know that, and just say, I’m a speaker on this and, you know, hire me to speak, you’ve gotta talk about, you know, solutions and problems and you know, outcomes. And we’ve seen a, the speakers that focus on an outcome driven content Mm-Hmm. , they seem to connect really tight with their, with their meeting planners and those audiences, AJV (52:08): I love that outcome because JH (52:09): They’re actually solving the real problem. Right? What’s that? AJV (52:12): That outcome driven content. Yeah. JH (52:15): Yeah. They’re really solving problems. AJV (52:16): Yeah. And that is the hard work of making sure you know, the problem that you’re solving and are you speaking to that. And I, that’s all back to honing that craft of practicing that. And it’s like, sometimes you only figure that out because you’ve done this speech a hundred times, right? And sometimes it’s a hundred times for free, right. But the point is, is you’re getting out there, like you said earlier, and it’s like you’re doing the work whether you’re paid or not, you’re out there doing the work. Joe, if people wanna learn more about e speakers, where’s the best place for them to go? JH (52:49): Well it’s pretty easy. E speakers.com and there’s some dropdowns there for speakers on how you can learn more. You know, we you know, if you, if you contact us and tell us that you listen to this podcast, we can give you a free base account because we’re partners with brand builders and, and love these guys and they do great work and and we’ve gone through it Ourself has been amazing and, and they’ve changed some of the things and the ways we do things even so. But anyway, yeah, east speakers.com is where they can go and get a free profile and get started. And if you’re brand new, that’s a great way to kind of put a stake in the sand and say, Hey, I’m in the speaking industry. And if you don’t have a system in place and you are a successful speaker and if seasoned and you don’t have systems in place, we have great solutions for that and tie into a lot of the CRMs and financial software. And so we have, we have 24 years of business behind us, under our belt and most of the new features and system, the features that we work with and the benefits that we’ve come from or we’ve I guess that we, the benefits that we provide are driven by our customers, our speaker customers. They say, Hey, look, this is what I need to run my business better. And so we provide solutions and and tools for them to be able to run their business with them. So AJV (54:17): I love that. And that’s so super generous. So if y’all didn’t hear that, go to e speakers.com, mention that you heard about e speakers from this influential personal brand podcast with Brand Builders Group, and they will let you set up with a free account. So cool. So generous. Joe, thank you so much for being on here. And for everyone else, stick around, listen to the recap episode and then join us again on another episode of the Influential Personal Brand. We’ll see you next time.

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25 of the World's Most Recognizable Influencers Share Their Tips on How to Build and Monetize a Personal Brand

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