Transitioning to a Public Speaking Career

It can be daunting to switch career paths, and you may have even more doubts when it comes to selecting public speaking as a profession. Maybe you struggle with social anxiety or don’t know how to go about refining your public speaking skills? Perhaps this is your first time exploring a career that isn’t a 9-to-5 office job, or you’re nervous about re-entering the job hunt?

Walt Disney once said, “If you can dream it, you can do it.” No challenge is insurmountable, but those nervous about changing career paths will be happy to hear there are some tips they can follow along the way to ease their transition and get them started on the career adventure of a lifetime!

How to Switch Career Paths

If you’re looking to make the switch from an adjacent career path, like a professor, spokesperson, or journalist, it’s important to highlight relevant skills on your resume. In previous work roles, did you gain experience developing content for a particular audience? Were you required to speak to numerous people day in and day out? If you have any video clips of you giving a speech at a company meeting or delivering an argument at a college debate, you can also consider including those in your portfolio.

Find Common Ground

If, however, your prior work experience appears to bear no relation to the public speaking profession, consider diving a little deeper. What skills did you learn that could be useful when translated to a career in public speaking?

Social work, for example, is one profession that seems to have nothing to do with public speaking. Different types of social workers perform different jobs, which can range from child welfare workers to healthcare social workers. Regardless of the position held, social workers are expected to display empathy and exhibit excellent communication skills daily, no matter the environment they find themselves in. These skills can stand you in good stead as a public speaker.

Besides the skills that social work and other seemingly unrelated careers endow you with, hobbies like performing and volunteering can also be advantageous when seeking work as a public speaker. Clients want to see initiative and passion. When you learn to properly market your skills, you’ll be able to attain the speaking roles that best suit your skillset.

Overcoming Mental Blockages

One of the biggest hurdles when embarking on a new professional quest is the issue of overcoming mental blockages. This problem is especially poignant for those attempting to break into the field of public speaking, where your face and words are the centers of attention.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, around 15 million people, or 7% of the U.S. adult population, are affected by some form of social anxiety. The truth about social anxiety disorder is that recognizing its symptoms and triggers can help you find the help you need, whether that’s in the form of medication, counseling, or alternative therapies.

On top of social anxiety, public speaking is among the top fears of Americans, routinely ranking alongside spiders and death. Preparing thoroughly before each performance and taking the time to slow down and engage the audience are just two of the top seven strategies to help you overcome a fear of public speaking. Other techniques include working on your body language and facing your fears.

In the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, “You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.”

Building a Public Speaking Career From the Ground Up

Once you possess the confidence to transition careers and overcome your mental blockages, you have the tools needed to start building your career as a public speaker. Of course, the type of public speaking career you pursue will depend on your personal goals. Some public speakers mostly speak pro-bono, for instance, while others rely on public speaking as their main source of income.

When you first get started, you’ll probably want to ease into things so as not to overwhelm yourself while you’re assessing your career options. For those just starting, membership services can help you build your speaking business by connecting you with potential clients. Mid- and high-level speakers can also benefit from paid membership packages as they continue to scale their businesses.

The Changing Landscape of Public Speaking

After the career shuffling caused by COVID-19, 2020 has seen the transition of public speaking to an online world. What exactly has changed? For starters, the rise of virtual events has meant speakers have had to adapt quickly to a new delivery medium. Adjusting presentation methods is an essential component of maintaining the speaker-audience connection, even across the internet, where you may be unable to see or hear your audience. Other tips to help you adjust to online speaking events include:

  • Keep it short and sweet.
  • Ignore disruptions.
  • Maintain eye contact with the camera.
  • Act like the camera is always on.

Understanding how to properly market your skills and overcome your fears will endow you with the confidence needed to launch your public speaking career. However, it likely won’t get off the ground until you understand the ins and outs of bookings, online payment, virtual events, and more.

Public speakers have the power to make a big impact by articulating their ideas to thousands or even millions of people; what’s holding you back?

This was originally posted SpeakerHub Skillcamp.

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