“The internalizing and transfer of information has been pivotal throughout human history. It led our ancestors to build stone tools, then communities then agriculture. It built our cities has dispelled our false understandings of our world and universe, it literally evolved our brain and will continue to change every aspect of human existence whether you like it or not.”

Daniel A. Janssen

Professional Speakers Guide

    1. Career Options & Opportunities:

There are many opportunities for a person to develop a career in public or professional speaking.

Seminar Leader.

  • Delivering your own seminar or workshop.
  • Working directly for a seminar company. (see below for details on seminar companies)

Corporate Trainer.

  • Delivering your own material.
  • Working direct for a particular corporation.
  • Contracting to or working for a seminar company.

Public Speaker.

  • Public seminars.
  • Workshops.

Tour Guide.

Infomercial Presenter.

Radio or Television Host or Announcer.

      1. Seminar Companies:

Working for a seminar company may be a way to get your speaking business up and going. There are a variety of companies who offer a variety of subjects and seminars that are marketed to corporations and the general public. At the time of this writing most of the companies carry similar topics. What ever is hot and selling they would all offer related seminars and in-house training, in fact many hold the exact same titles.

Here is a list of hot topics Career Track/Pryor listed in early 2003. The hot topics like below is where the biggest demand is for professional speakers/trainers. If you are dynamic and an expert on any of these subjects especially the computer related ones then you will probably have little problem getting your professional speaking career going.

Computer Software Applications: Microsoft Office®, Excel®, PowerPoint®, Access®, Advanced Access®, and Adobe Photoshop®

Computer Back Office Products: Windows NT® and Troubleshooting Your PC, Optimizing Windows 2000®, Networking

Professional Communication and Personal Development: Mistake-Free Grammar & Proofreading, Business Writing, Evelyn Wood Reading Dynamics®, How to Become a Great Communicator, and How to Handle People with Tact & Skill

Management and Professional Development: How to Supervise People, How to Deliver Exceptional Customer Service, and How to Manage Multiple Projects & Meet Deadlines

Finance and Budgeting: Finance & Accounting for Non-Financial People, and How to Develop and Administer a Budget

Seminar companies are generally looking for individuals who are experts in their field, great presenters and have excellent selling skills. They want people who can not only communicate their subject well but communicate other products and services the company offers. In other words they like credible people, dynamic preenters, content experts and sales minded individuals that will represent their company, products and services well. They will likely train you on their products and services along with a crash course on being an excellent trainer.

The three biggest training companies in North America are:

1. Fred Pryor/Career Track (http://www.pryor.com or http://www.careertrack.com)

2. Skill Path (http://www.skillpath.com)

3. National Seminars Group (http://www.natsem.com)

Working for a seminar company you can make some good money and gain some excellent experience. You will gain valuable exposure and begin building tremendous confidence and even client lists. Of course the customers you speak to at company booked seminars are the companies customers and you should do your best to fulfill their needs with the companies producst and services but you are a contractor so there is opportunity to market your own products and services in the towns and cities you visit. Be careful to operate with integrity and dedication to the company you are serving but also keep your eyes open for future opportunities for youself.

Life on the road can get quite brutal. These companies book you on what they call “runs” or “seminar tour”. This is where they have pre-booked seminars in various cities for about 3-5 days in a row usually regular business hours and business days. Rarely you will train for more than 6 days in a row. A run might go something like this;

The company calls you and says they have booked you for a run next week. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. With the complete runs flights and hotels booked you will fly to your first destination the night before, rent a car and drive to your hotel and check in. Get a good night sleep because the next day you will be expected to be at the seminar room an hour early to check over the materials for the next four days and the room set up. You will train 9-4:30, have fun, give your best presentation and try to sell as much of the companies products as possible. You get a good percentage so you will want to master the art of seminar selling or back end selling.

You will pack up all the materials and Fed-X necessary paper work to the company. Pack up all your motel room belongings into the rent-a-car and drive to the next city. Hopefully it is only an hour or two away and the weather and traffic isn’t too bad in getting there. Unpack, get a good nights sleep and do it all over again. You will do this for three, four five or six day in a row then fly home.

These companies usually expect you to be available for a certain amount of days per/month to deliver seminars. They usually have a minimum of about 8 days per/month and maximum. Top trainers will basically go anywhere and train as much as possible. You will get paid $200 – $300 per/seminar regardless if there is 3 or 300 people there and then make a commision of any products sold that day. Companies often pay a daily living expense (around $30-$50.00) and have other bonuses and incentives for selling and performing well.

Applying to be a trainer with these companies is almost identical. You will basically be asked to submit a resume and a 7-20 minute video of you presenting on your subject of expertise. They are not looking for a professionally produced videotape, just an example of what you look like on a platform and how you train. The company will review your résumé for specific background and experience. If you do not have a video you can make one specifically for this application. From your video the company is looking for your training style as well as platform and presentation skills. The topic on which you are speaking makes no difference, just as long as it’s some type of training, not just a speech. As an example, you could do a presentation on the three most important steps in interviewing for a job, or how to become a more effective communicator, or how to create a PowerPoint presentation, etc. If you stick with a topic along the lines of “how to . . .” that usually covers the ‘training’ aspect. We’re not looking for a speech or lecture of any kind — the video must show you conducting training. You do not need to show training on the seminars they offer but if you can all the better. Visit anyone of their websites to get a current list of seminars they offer because they are constantly adding new topics or revising/updating current seminars. As of this writing it is advised to send a VHS tape only. Do not send 8mm or any other tape formats.

Lets look at the exact process with the top three seminar companies.

Skill Path Seminars.

At the time of this writing their website (http://www.skillpath.com) does not detail the application process but you can call 1-800-873-7545 and speak with a recruiter and they would be happy to answer any question and email you out the details of applying to their organization. Skill Path has two main divisions which you may fit in. The “management division” which deals with topics related to business writing, leadership, management, communications, etc. and their “technical division” which deals with computers skills and training, etc.

The application process at Skill Path;

– submit a resume

– 15-20 min video

– a recruiter will follow up for telephone interview.

National Seminars Group.

National Seminars [http://www.natsem.com] to has detailed information about what, how and who they are looking for to become contract trainers. This link should take you there [http://www.natsem.com/CareerOpps.cfm] or go to their home page and look under career opportunities. Telephone contact 913-432-7755 or 1-800-258-7246.

General requirements include;

  • A bachelor’s degree.
  • 3 years of relevant business experience.
  • 2 years of public speaking experience.
  • A valid drivers license.
  • An active credit card.
  • Access to email.

To apply for a contract position they will request you to send to their “Screening Committee”

  • A resume with academic, professional and speaking background clearly delineated.
  • A list of National Seminars topics that you are qualified to present.
  • A nonreturnable VHS video of you presenting a program. The topic can be of your choice and should be approximately 15 minutes. (This can be professionally done or can be an impromptu tape. The technical quality of the presentation is less important than its ability to illustrate your manner of presentation, how you relate to a group, your ability to overview, summarize and transition, and the way in which you teach a point.)

Fred Pryor/Career Track Seminars

The Pryor/Career Track group has a detailed explanation on their website of how to become a contract trainer, what they are looking for and hot topics. Visit http://www.careertrack.com or http://www.pryor.com and search for “contract trainer” or “career opportunities”. This infornation was listed under the “About Us” link at the top of the page when I was last there.

The Pryor/Career Track 4 Steps for a Successful Audition:

  • First, remember professional attire and image. Appear as you would if you were presenting an actual seminar.
  • Second, choose your topic carefully; topics must be business-related; we prefer topics similar to those we currently offer.
  • Third, demonstrate the qualities of a successful seminar leader.
  • Fourth, and most important, be yourself! Show us those special qualities that make you a unique, exciting person!

The Pryor/Career Track 11 Qualities That Can Make You a Top-Notch Trainer.

  • Powerful presentation skills: Are you energized by being in front of an audience? Do you present information to groups in a lively and concise style? Strong presentation skills are the foundation of every successful trainer. Combining talent and technique, you must be able to capture the attention of an audience, and keep it – for an entire day.
  • Sales-minded: Your success and earnings potential are directly tied to your ability to promote other products and seminars. We offer books, tapes, videos, and software at each seminar to enhance continued learning and training. You will have unlimited access to our extensive resource library. Your job is to be familiar with these materials and to be able to recommend appropriate resources to customers. You should be able to explain their benefits and relevance to your audience, and encourage sales.
  • Real-world business experience: While every seminar follows an established, outlined curriculum, our contract trainers illustrate and enrich the material with their own expertise. You should be able to relate the seminar to your own experiences, as well as those of the audience. We count on our contract trainers to convey their individual insights, and to provide “real-world” applications for the subject.
  • Flexibility and independence: You’re “on your own” most of the time – that means you must be able to handle a multitude of situations independently. If you’re adaptable, a problem-solver, remain calm in a crisis, and like the independence that comes from handling things on your own, you’ve got what it takes.
  • Personality-plus: Do audiences like you? Do people feel they can relate to you, connect with you? As a trainer, you’ll need to form a special bond with each audience and have the affable, charismatic personality to establish a relationship from the platform. You are the seminar!
  • Training Ability: Leading a seminar isn’t easy. We’re looking for professionals who are excellent speakers and trainers. You should know how to reach and teach the adult learner, and be comfortable in group training situations. Some successful trainers have many years of experience, while others start with little training experience but nevertheless have what it takes to succeed.
  • Entertaining: Seminar audiences expect more than just information – they expect learning to be entertaining as well. If you can present material in a fun, fast-forward style, if you can teach your subject matter in a captivating, engaging format, you’ll deliver what our audiences expect – a creative, high-content program that keeps them entertained, engrossed, and attentive.
  • Professional appearance and credibility: First impressions are all-important. Our contract trainers always present a positive professional image – credibility depends on it.
  • Love of learning: Are you curious and inquisitive? Do you strive to stay on the “cutting edge” of your field? When you contract with us as a trainer, the learning has only begun. To keep on top of the latest management thinking requires extensive reading, networking, and ongoing training.
  • Travel-ready: You’ll be presenting back-to-back one-day seminars in 3, 4, or 5 day tours. Advance scheduling enables you to coordinate your seminar calendar with other commitments – but you must be ready and willing to travel, with the ability to tolerate the strains and rigors that sometimes challenge the frequent traveler.
  • Mutual commitment:  We’re committed to your success, and want you to be committed to ours. We strive to build mutually beneficial relationships with our contract trainers, and we back that up through extensive resources, training, networking, and corporate support. Though we are your client, we want you to think of us as your partner.

This post was written by Daniel Janssen.

Daniel A. Janssen

4 Comments on “Professional Speakers Guide”

  1. Dan says:

    Great set of content

    1. Russell says:

      Hey Dan,

      I absolutely agree. This guide is a great help to me and it’s very well organized.

  2. Lena says:

    Look forward to more of his work.

  3. Zangwill says:

    It’s a very useful book!


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