Adam Franklin Social Media Speaker

How to get paid to speak

With over 100 keynote presentations and dozens of workshops under my belt after 5 years as a professional speaker, I want to share what I’ve learned about being a better speaker and a better paid speaker (and the two don’t necessarily go hand in hand).

Each has a specific set of things you must do.  I’ve discovered what has helped break through each level.

Adam Franklin Social Media Speaker

It’s worth noting I’ve only just broken past being an entry-level professional speaker.  In Australia at least, I consider a someone who charges $10k+ per speech a high level speaker, $5k – $10k mid level, and under $5k an entry level speaker.  The US market is way bigger so it’s common for speakers to earn $20k-$50k+ per speech but it’s rare in Australia.

However being a good speaker and being a well paid speaker are vastly different things.

Good vs Paid – what’s the difference?

Highly paid speakers:
Speakers who collect huge fees often aren’t the best presenters but they have a profile and people want to hear them. Credibility and demand more than make up for any presentation shortcomings.

Really good speakers:
Many great speakers don’t collect a cent but are funny, informative and knowledgeable but they lack profile and demand.  Think about the hilarious speakers you’ve heard at weddings, 21sts or corporate Christmas parties.  They are laugh out loud funny, thought provoking and throughly memorable but they aren’t taking a trip to the bank afterwards.

The common ‘industry’ trap

Many great corporate speakers get trapped only speaking at their own industry events, which can be great for credibility but not for the wallet. Speaking inside your own industry eg. being a marketer speaking at a marketing event, or a financial planner speaking at a financial planning conference rarely pays. Occasionally international speakers may get paid, but seldom, so be aware of this before getting to entrenched in ‘free speaking’.

The opportunity for paid gigs

Speaking at other industries events is where the money is.  Looking back I’ve spoken to mortgage brokers, financial planners, carpet cleaners, entrepreneurs, funeral directors, lottery executives, real estate agents, CEOs, kitchen designers, accountants, CPAs, food service executives, chefs, travel agents, rental industry execs and many more.  If you are the outside expert coming to educate their crowd, they expect to pay.

Why this is much easier anyway
To be an expert you need to know more than the people you are teaching.  At an industry event, this can be daunting. I am most nervous speaking to marketing professionals because many may be more accomplished than me, and they are often likely to be the most critical given it is their ‘space’.

Tips to speak and present well

  • practice and rehearse, even when you are seasoned.
  • always be watching, learning and studying the craft.
  • If you speak well, you will get rebooked and you’ll build momentum from there.

Increasing your fee

I went to Andrew GriffithsBusiness of Being a Professional Speaker recently and got a lot of clarity around increasing what you earn from speaking.  I went into the session thinking the goal was to get my keynote fee higher, and I came out realising the best way approach is to keep your keynote fee in the ‘sweet spot’ but add value by adding in an offer to do workshops, masterclasses, panel discussions, MC duties, coaching sessions, signed books or online training.

$10k+ speakers in Australia are typically big picture motivational or inspirational speaker, not more practical ‘how-to’ speakers like me.  Rather than squeeze a maximum price on a single presentation, look to grow it into a multi-presentation engagement! Great advice.

How I’ve charged

There is no right and wrong and as much of this is holding your nerve when you quote.   For the record here is where I was at when I reached each level.

$500:  I’d done ~15 free presentations over 12 months and took the leap of faith to become pro. I also engaged a speaking coach. (2010).
$1000: After one speech at $500 I had the confidence to double the rate for the next preso, and then raised it again (2011).
$1500:  I sat at this level for all of 2011.  I had ~30 presentations under my belt and credibility-wise had a Top 20 Australian Biz Blog and had been in some national press like BRW, Financial Review and SMH.
$2,000: I did my first international gigs in South Korea and Hawaii.
$3,000:  With 80 keynotes to my name and a book deal, I did ~20 presos at this rate (2013)
$4,000: I skipped this level entirely since my book had come out
$5,000: I had a book published (plus a podcast and had done 100 keynotes) (2014)
$6,500:  I bundled in books for delegates for this fee (2015).  That said, most booking so far in 2015 have been multi-presentation bookings, so rather than one-offs.  So they’ve been $10k-$20k engagements with different cities, workshops and panels and a lower rate ‘per presentation’ but there’s been lots of more them.

Tips to get high paying bookings

This is what I’ve found helps getting bookings.

  • you need to be visible (especially on Google and LinkedIn!)
  • you need to have a highlight reel or a bloody good endorsement, unless someone has seen you before.
  • you need some degree of credibility.  A book, a blog, a podcast or a compelling story are good ways to boost credibility.
  • you need to hold your nerve on pricing (you set the fee!)
  • Build relationships with conference organisers.

Comedy and humour

My new friend (sounds like high school!) David Nihill teaches TED talkers and CEOs how to add humour to their presentations. His book Do You Talk Funny is excellent and funny, his website is a great resource and the 50 Tips download is a must.

I’ve studied comedy from David and others like Marty Wilson and Kevin Ryan.  Firstly I was relieved when they said you don’t need to a naturally funny person to be humorous on stage.   How to be funny is the topic for another blog… and another blogger!

But rest assured you can be funny, when you follow what comics will teach you.

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Adam Franklin

How to present

I picked up Michelle Bowden’s book How to Present when I realised I’d forgotten to pack a book for my flight to Brisbane.

I always love to pick up little tips that I can practice to make my presentations more exciting and keep the audience awake. With the launch of my first book in May, I am booking in plenty of speaking engagements and hosting a few events, so I thought Michelle’s book would be the ideal way to brush up on my skills.

Some of the things I picked up from Michelle’s book:

  • Use music at your events to signify the end of the break.  Increase the volume gradually and then let it reach the end of the song.
  • “The right word may be effective but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.” Mark Twain
  • What happens when you don’t the answer to an audience question…  I was literally asked this exact thing by a friend just this week, and I told my friend that when that happens I simply ask if anyone in the audience would like to share their answer to the question.  This way, someone else in the room gets to shine by sharing their story. After all the presentation is about the audience, not the speaker (you)!
  • Adam FranklinIf no-one volunteers to answer the question (which is rare), I’ve now learnt from Michelle to do the following to buy some time so you carefully consider your answer… Re-iterate or paraphrase the question, and also explain why it is an important question for people in the audience.  If you’re still drawing a blank and no-one comes to the rescue,  offer to find the answer for them after the talk!
Learn much much more when you read How To Present by Michelle Bowden.

Read the first chapter free.  And follow @MichelleBowden on Twitter.

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My 10 Point Checklist for Keynote Speaking

Having done over 60 social media keynote presentations, I swear by this 10 point checklist to avoid embarrassment and ensure that I’m properly prepared.

1. Use your own pointer & laptop

tech logitech remote r-r001
Hands down the best pointer. Logitech 2.4GHz cordless.

If you don’t use your own gear, stuff breaks. Nearly always.  I don’t know why but it does. And you look stupid, not the AV guys.

They’re paying you good money for you to give a great presentation, so it’s your obligation to have your equipment working properly.  I use a Logitech 2.4 GHz cordless pointer (with laser and built in timer) and run Keynote on a Macbook Pro.

If you use a Mac, always bring your own VGA adaptor to plug into projectors. It sounds obvious but remember to plug your laptop into a power source and carry spare batteries for the pointer. Also always have your presentation on a USB stick as a back up, just in case.

2. Set your monitor not to fall asleep

You don’t want your laptop falling asleep prior to or during your talk. You’ll often be speaking after a breakfast, lunch or afternoon tea break, and this means your opening slide may be up on the screen for ages. Many computers are set to ‘fall asleep’ after 10 or 15 minutes, but you need to ensure this doesn’t happen.

Your first 60 seconds on stage really sets the tone for the presentation and this opportunity will be ruined if you’re busy typing in your username and password to re-activate your screen.

Set your Preferences to ‘fall asleep never’. Or Mac users can also install the Caffeine app.

3. Carry a print out of your 30 second intro in size 20+ font

MCs are in charge of introducing you, but many are inexperienced and under-estimate their importance.   Many MCs print out introductions in a font that is too small, or they forget their printout, forget their glasses or they intend to wing-it. All four scenarios are disastrous.

Be prepared and chat to the MC beforehand. Always have the bio you want read out –  in size 20+ font!

4. Use a lapel mic

With a lapel mic you can extract yourself away from the lecturn, which makes for a more dynamic presentation.  It shows you are confident, knowedgeable and don’t need notes.

I love the freedom of walking around the stage.

Adam Franklin Social Media Speaker
Photos courtesy of

5. Use the stage

The stage is often quite large so move around it. Walk to each corner at least once so you can focus on the entire audience. I even try to walk down from the stage and amongst the audience at least once per presentation.

My speaking coach, says stand still when you are making a point and walk around when you are telling a story.

6. Dress better than (or at least the same as) the audience

If even one person in the audience is in in a suit and tie, then you should be too. I will wear a suit and tie for all keynotes and may ditch the tie for a workshop, if the audience is particularly casual.

NB. There are some exceptions, like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Google’s Larry Page wearing hoodies or tee shirts, but until you’re a 20- or 30-something billionaire, I’d err on the side of overdressing.  It makes you feel more confident too.

Of course this is my checklist, so for girls different dress standards would apply.

7. Be well groomed

Polish your shoes the night before, make sure your suit is dry cleaned, your shirt is pressed, you’ve shaved, your hair is neat and that your tie is done properly.  Simple stuff but when the bright lights are shining and all eyes are on you, every little detail is amplified.

Again this is my checklist, so for girls different grooming would apply 🙂

8. Finish on time

Never go for longer that your designated slot, and you must remember to factor in 2-3 minutes for the MC to introduce you and to thank you afterwards. Plus 5 minutes for questions.

If the event is running behind schedule ask the MC or organsiser if they’d prefer you finish at a certain time (be prepared to shorten your presentation on the fly) or whether you have permission to still use your original time allocation.

Keep track of this by using the built in timer on your pointer. I also keep my iPhone on the lecturn with the timer running (and obviously you can also see actual time too). If the MC is has approached the side of the stage and is waiting nervously, that is a good sign to wrap things up too.

Adam Franklin social media keynote

9. Have a question to kick off Q&A

Turning to the audience for questions can often silence them.  If you’ve got a question up your sleeve it always kicks things off nicely, and people will start putting up their hands.  I say, “a question I am often asked is _______?” and then answer it myself.

When someone asks a questions, I always repeat it for the benefit of the audience because they may not have heard it properly, or the keynote may be being recorded.

A word of warning, some audience members often mistake Q&A for a chance to ramble incessantly about themselves, rather than actually ask a question. As the speaker it is your responsibility to wrap them up and regain control. This is a delicate process, however the rest of the audience will be grateful even if you offend the rambler.

10. Close down other applications on your laptop

Your slide deck will sometimes be minimised before or after a keynote – often during testing and change overs. It’s important to close down your email and any other programs with sensitive or potentially embarrassing information that you don’t want beamed out via the main projector screen.

They’re the basics – good luck!

These are 10 things I’ve learnt from my public speaking and it’s a mandatory check list for me.  There is much more to factor in to deliver a really memorable presentation, but if you can check these 10 things off, you won’t let your audience or event organiser down.

In a future blog post, I’ll share presentations tips from some of my favourite speakers!

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Speaking to Win – 11 Tips

Sometimes what works for Yanks doesn’t always wash with us Aussies, especially when it comes to speaking!

So I approached this book with a very open mind but was also prepared to adjust on the fly as I put Brian’s advice into practice.

By the end of 2011, I will have done 10 public speaking appearances, 1 television audition and 1 radio interview, so I’ve been able to apply many of these speaking tips.

Here’s what I learnt.

1.  Do as much speaking as you can. 
It’s just like any other skill but speaking is possibly the most important of all.  There are NO short cuts.  Brian constantly reminds you, if you want to be a better speaker, do more speaking!

2. Pretend you are auditioning for a Hollywood movie.
Experiment with tone, pace and emphasis. Practice by reading poetry aloud. You’re best off doing this on your own and then in the car once you know the words off by heart!

Brian Tracy’s favourite poet is Robert W Service and you can find all his poems online.

3. You are the main event, not Powerpoint.
If you must use Powerpoint, make sure you are main show and Powerpoint is the supporting act.  If you must use words on your slides, bring up one line at a time, and no more than 5 words per line.

The view 15 mins before show-time!

4. Always do a full rehearsal 5 times before show-time!
Ideally film yourself and give the talk to someone you trust so they can give you constructive and honest feedback.  And always test all your slides and videos on site. It’s amazing how many times they’ll decide not to work on a new projector on the day.

5. Practice pays off!
You have three speeches. The speech you plan to give, the speech you actually gave, and the speech you wish you gave. The more you practice the more the three will converge!

6. Overcoming nerves.

Everyone gets nervous before a presentation.  It’s natural and it’s your body’s way of getting energised before giving an important speech. If you’re not a bit nervous, you’re heart’s not in it.

You can address your nerves by speaking to people beforehand, look at them while you speak and tie them into your talk in a positive way.

As you’re being introduced, breath slowly!

Also do breathing activities 5 minutes before you’re on. Breath in the nose for 5 seconds. Hold it for 5 seconds. Then breath out through the nose for 5 seconds.  Go for longer if you can.  It will calm you down and put plenty of oxygen in your lungs!

7. Your 60 sec introduction.
Too many MCs fail at their task of  introducing speakers. They fail because they don’t appreciate how important it is to give the audience a reason to listen and they aren’t prepared.

Of course it is very difficult (and culturally frowned upon in Australia) to talk up your own accomplishments and this is why MCs should do this for you.  Make their job easy by sending them with a 60 sec introduction that they can read out.  And print out  a spare to take on the day in case they forget).

Always put your name last and accomplishments first. It builds suspense.  For example:

 “Today’s speaker is…. such and such at Company XYZ and will teach you about XYZ … and has achieved XYZ… (remember always finish with your name) … Please welcome… Adam Frankin

Then it’s up to you – practice pays off!

8. Once you’ve been introduced.
Walk up to the stage, stand tall, stand still, smile, look at four different people in the audience, wait for silence (this builds anticipation and shows you’re confident) and start with a friendly statement.

9. Your opening statement.
You should always know your first 60 seconds and last 60 seconds off by heart.  The rest will come to you if you’ve practiced enough.

There are several opening statement techniques you can use.  My favourite is to draw a connection from your experience to the audience’s industry.  I like to tell a personal story and use a real photo as the slide if I can.  For example, to the FSAA (Foodservice Suppliers Association Australia).

I told the story of how I’d worked in kitchens in Austria, Greece and Spain and how that meant I suddenly became multi-lingual in four letter words.

Me (left) working in a Kitzbuhel kitchen

It resonated since many of them had started their careers in a kitchen or were chefs or caterers.

Alternatively, thank the organiser, comment on local news or compliment the audience, although I’ve found this last technique doesn’t work as well with an Australian audience so I’ve stopped using it.

10. Give them a teaser and 3 reasons to pay attention
Highlight what’s in it for them and try to speak in 3s. For example

[teaser] I have some good news.  [1] Now is the best time in our life time to be marketing your business. [2] The web tools we have available to us now are free and they didn’t exist 10 years ago.  [3] And the opportunity for you to get ahead of your competition is right now.

Your job is to learn how to use them and my job is to teach you!

11. Always dress equal or better than the audience.
You’ve got to look the part!

You can buy Speaking to Win by Brian Tracy on Amazon (affiliate link).   Brian Tracy’s tips have enabled me to be much better speaker. I now have two speaker bureaus representing me and I have been able to increase my fees as a keynote social media speaker from $550 to $3,300 in the space of 12 months.  If you’d like to book me to speak, I’d love to hear from you!

And I’d love to know if these tips work for you!

PS. Here are more speaking resources I’ve found:
How To Be The Best Public Speaker on the Planet – James Altucher
11 Unusual Methods for Being a Great Public Speaker – James Altucher
Nine steps to Powerpoint Magic – Seth Godin


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Confessions of a Public Speaker

I have to say it was Scott Berkun’s title that caught my eye – Confessions of a Public Speaker. Then when I watched his video from Ignite , I discovered that Scott’s sense of humour was a classic!

Scott's book

Scott Berkun is only in his late 30s yet has been speaking for 15 years so has many tales to tell. He’s done all forms of public speaking – TV and radio interviews, lectures, you tube videos, conferences and live comedy.  Plus he usually earns $5000 per hour for the privilege.

For me, the two most valuable parts of the book, as indicated by my dog eared pages & notes in my iPhone are:

#1: Getting people to sit up the front (see page 49) .  If the audience is scattered up the back, it really sucks the energy out of the room.  Scott has a counter-attack for this but warns that we are a lazy species, so…

Make it a game. Offer a prize to the first person who gets up first. Ask the audience members if they need exercise today & when they raise their hand (people who go to lectures & conferences always crave exercise) tell them you have just the right thing for them to do!

#2: Getting constructive feedback (see page 120-121). Since most people avoid conflict they’ll say, “you did really well!”  What you also need to ask are these questions:

  • How did my presentation compare to others?
  • What one change would’ve most improved my presentation?
  • What questions did you expect me to answer that I didn’t?
  • What annoyances did I let get in the way of delivering what you needed?
  • Was this a good use of your time?
  • Would you recommend this presentation to a friend?
  • Are you considering doing anything differently as a result of this talk?

However the two best ways to tell if you did a good job, according to Scott Berkun are:

  1. Video tape yourself – practicing & delivering – your talk.  Since you are hardest judge of yourself, you can pick up things that most people would be too polite to tell you!
  2. See if you are invited back to speak by the event organiser.
Scott Berkun.

The book is hilarious & very practical. It is complete with plenty of pics so you really get a sense of what Scott goes through.

You can follow @Berkun on twitter, read his blog, check out the Speaker Confessions website.

Photo credit: Strandell (Flickr)

Conference Speakers Brisbane: If you’re looking a speaker like Scott, but don’t have a spare $5000, try myself or Toby Jenkins.  Call 1300 258 394 for more.

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5 Tips from Professional Speaker, Kevin Ryan

Kevin Ryan, CSP & business partner Toby Jenkins after my first prsentation

Since my business partner Toby & I started doing public speaking for work about 12 months ago, we thought we may as well learn the ropes from someone who ‘does it exceptionally well.’

That someone is Kevin Ryan CSP.  The CSP beside his name stands for Certified Speaking Professional & it is the highest, internationally recognised, accreditation for a professional speaker.  There’s only about 500 people in this category.

We engaged Kevin’s service & here are five of his speaking tips:

Tip 1:  Find Four Friendly Faces (The Four Fs)
Before you start, split the audience into four quarters & find a friendly face in each quadrant.  These will be the faces you makes eye contact with during your presentation, to help keep you focused and relaxed.

Tip 2: Know your first 60 seconds
You should know exactly how you are going to start (and close) your presentation.  Your first 60 seconds should entice the audience to want to know more and should establish ‘why’ they should listen to you in the first place. It can be best to do this by telling a short real life story that encapsulates ‘what’s in it for the audience.’

Everything after the first 60 seconds should be done “on the fly” since you know the material & you have your slides too.

Tip 3: Audiences need to use Imagination & Linkages
For a presentation to be great, an audience requires two things:

IMAGINATION: Use pictures & tell stories since they fire up the imagination & are memorable.
LINKAGES:  Have memorable points that link to your core message.  Eg. Mistake #1, Mistake #2 can link back to your core message.

Tip 4: Do “Q&A” BEFORE you give your closing statement.
If you do this, it saves you from an awkward exit if there are no questions from the audience. [Side note: you should always have one up your sleeve to get the ball rolling. Eg.” A question I’m often asked it…” ]

Tip 5: Know & practice your closing statement.
If you follow Tip 4, you’ll be able to do your Q&A and then end the presentation with a powerful closing statement. Know your closing statement off by heart & practice it. According to Kevin, one of the best ways to close is with a ‘triplet juxtaposition.’

What is that you ask? Well, I’ll fill you in on a future blog post!

Thanks for your help so far Kevin.

Conference Speaker Brisbane:  If you’d like me to speak at your event, please call 1300 258 394.

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Ignite Brisbane

5 mins, 20 slides, 15 secs each – Ignite Brisbane

The fact that Ignite came to Brisbane is great news.  And what’s especially flattering is that I had the opportunity to be one of the speakers!

What makes Ignite unique is that all presentations are 5 minutes long.  You have 20 slides which rotate (automatically) every 15 seconds.  What a brilliant format.

I’ve been studying other presenters at some of the other Ignite nights from around the world and taking notes. Practice, practice, practice & don’t rush seem to be the resounding lessons from past speakers.  Plus don’t worry if you stumble — everyone does — just focus on getting back on track & entertaining the audience.

Anyway, my time came & I really enjoyed the experience.  Here it is:

Thanks also to all the tweets you made during my presentation.

Tweets during Adam Franklin's Ignite
Some tweets during my Ignite talk

Twitter speaker: If you’d like someone to explain Twitter at your event, I’d love to hear from you. Call 1300 258 394 or tweet me @Franklin_Adam

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A Speaker’s Worst Nightmare

Seinfeld famously said that most people would prefer to be in the coffin rather than giving the eulogy.  Apparently, people’s #1 fear is public speaking and their #2 fear is death.

I tend disagree as I’ve been an speaker for just over a year and have really enjoyed it.  That said, the pre-presentation butterflies are always there, but I’ve actually learned to enjoy them, if I’m prepared enough!

Luckily, preparation is key as we all know Murphy’s Law dictates that things will go wrong at the worst possible time.

On that note, all three of these shockers have occured to me in the last month!

Shocker #1: My slides, audio & projector don’t start, despite testing all three, 30 minutes earlier.
Shocker #2: My laptop doesn’t work with the projector.
Shocker #3: My slides blank out mid presentation.

The first shocker was a bit awkward because I had to wait 3 long minutes for the projector to wake up.  And the audio was very quiet coming just out of the laptop.  A tough way to start with the audience!

What happened? Projector fell asleep & audio decided not to work.

The second shocker was luckily aborted, 5 minutes prior to kick off, when miraculously someone decided to try Ctrl F8!

The third shocker was fun… a full room & the slides blank out 5 minutes in. Luckily, I’d practised enough and after a brief pause kept talking through my case study.  After a few more minutes, the slides returned.

What happened? The power cable fell out of the computer!

It really does go to show that anything can & does happen, but that makes life interesting.  I’ll definitely keep practising my presentations and I look forward to the next challenge that comes my way!

Conference Speaker Brisbane: If you like me to speak at your event call Bluewire Media on 1300 258 394.

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