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A look at career options: speaking

a microphone that could be used for a speech performed by a person with a disability

I enjoy doing speeches but they are not a big part of my career. Over the years I have gotten paid to speak at colleges. In this article I will share my experience with writing and performing speeches.

Writing speeches using eye tracking

I use eye tracking to type out speeches. I type by looking at letters and word predictions. Words take on average two to ten seconds to type.

Non verbal communication

I cannot talk but use text to speech software that I created to perform. This allows me to pause for laughs. I originally created the software to do stand up comedy.

I answer questions afterwards by pointing to letters on my tray for people to read out. This is just quicker than using eye tracking.

I don't use slides unless specifically requested.

Speeches at universities are usually five to ten minutes long.

After I write my speech I have to speak it a few times with the text to speech software and make small adjustments so it speaks correctly.

Sometimes I would repeat speeches or slightly tweak it if I am doing a speech at a university on the same subject.

How I get speaking opportunities

Usually people know me already and ask me to speak. I may have asked one or two people to speak.

You could ask people who have worked with you previously. If you know of people who now work at a college you could contact them.

You could alternatively pitch to any organization that works with people with disabilities such as nursing homes, hospitals, disability services. If you need experience you could offer to do speeches for free.

Books

Sometimes I would sell books at speeches to give me extra revenue. I would definitely recommend writing a book if you're thinking about public speaking as part your career.

Books can be a great way to build credibility and authority, these things may help to get speaking opportunities.

Social media

You may want to plug your social media at the end of the speech.

Education and skills required

I dropped out of high school so I have no formal education apart from school certificate. I have mainly spoken about my experience as a person with a disability.

It will help if you get good at public speaking. You can practice your speaking skills at a toastmasters group. You also should get good at answering questions afterwards.

I once knew a stand up comic who wanted to do corporate speaking but he was using comedy open mics to practice speaking in front of crowds. This could be a good option if you want to try stand up comedy simultaneously.

It'll help if you're a people person and can maintain good relationships. I'm not a people person but can communicate with people sufficiently so they want to do book me.

Some colleges will pay you more if you have an academic qualification.

Humor

Usually I insert humor in my speeches and not just because I was a stand up comedian. From my experience people appreciate humor in a speech.

Finances

I usually get $20-$100NZD per speech. This is not great money if you're only doing them every six months.

Another way that you could make money is by helping organizations to design materials.

Traveling

I have never travelled to do a speech. When I did a speech for a University in Wellington I sent a video to them and answered questions through the chat feature of Skype.

If you have connections in different cities and are traveling to them anyway you could try seeking out a speaking gig. I did this a lot with stand up comedy.

If you do want to travel in this industry you'd probably have to get famous and/or do stand up comedy.

Public figure

I believe that it would help if you're a public figure. I was a stand up comedian and that put me on people's radar.

You are probably more likely to get booked for speeches if you are a high profile person who has a disability. You could be a performer and/or grow a following on platforms such as YouTube.

Inspiration

If you want to inspire people you could try performing inspirational speeches and see if corporations will hire you to do speeches. This is only an idea and I don't know how worthwhile this would be.

You could also try running your own speaking gigs and sell tickets. I don't know how viable this would be. This could be better if you were a stand up comedian.

YouTube

You could release speeches on YouTube if you think it's important to have the information online. You could also make money from the video views but I have never made significant money from putting speeches on YouTube.

If you sell anything such as a book you can put a link to it in the video description. This will promote your product to your audience.

Conferences

You could speak at conferences however you probably would either have to partner with a company or create a product to promote.

I have spoken at two conferences.

I worked with someone I knew for the first conference. I think that this could be more enjoyable than doing everything yourself because I like bouncing ideas off someone.

If you want to do this it would be a good idea to see wait until relevant conferences have Expressions Of Interests available.

If you're selling something at conferences you may want to consider how many people will be at the conference. If the number of people is low going might not be worthwhile.

Would I recommend speaking as a career?

I wouldn't recommend public speaking as a career if your only goal is getting paid. I don't believe that it would produce significant income alone.

I would recommend performing speeches if you genuinely like sharing knowledge. I fall into this category.

Even though I don't want to be a public figure I still would do speeches if opportunities come up.



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