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How To Start Speaking on Stage (& Get Paid) + BONUS: Watch My Interview With Gary Vee⬇️

Truth-I have a fear of speaking on stage. I fumble with the mic, my hands get clammy and the butterflies are like fireworks in my belly.

This is my truth.

There is an origin story to this fear. Rewind 20 years ago, I was presenting a case in front of a federal judge (yes, I do have a law degree), and blacked out. Yes, that is correct. I blacked out. My raw nerves frayed into a panic and I have no recollection of the event. I did not faint and I did not swoon.

What I did do is create a trauma bond with public speaking. The grip was so tight I refused to speak in public again.


Get my tips on how to create a speaker brand and how to launch your speaking career below⬇️

Fast forward two decades later, I am speaking on stage and am the host of two really great podcasts. And yet every time I turn on the mic, I feel a twinge of anxiety. However, I now reframe perceived anxiety as excitement.

The bridge from panicked speaker to celebrated voice is a jagged road of trial and error. If you fear speaking more than death, this blog is for you. I know this feeling and it is real. The feeling of overwhelm and loss of control leaves a bitter taste in the mouth of aspiring authors, creatives, and business people. While the feeling can be suffocating, it needs to be recognized that this fear of public speaking is a FEAR.

Fear is a liar

Everything you dream of is on the other side of fear. Before I get into the nuts and bolts of building out your brand as a speaker I need to give you a backstory. Clearly, I felt traumatized by speaking on stage. I retired my mic for a decade, built a successful consulting business, and knew that in order to grow my brand I needed to use my voice on various platforms. My four books were born out of a passion to teach others all that I have learned. My two podcasts were vehicles to share my wisdom. As a CEO and wannabe thought leader, I knew that I had to deal with my demons and throw my hat into the speaking ring again.


When you draw people into your ecosystem, your brand will experience exponential growth.

Start Small.

Start speaking wherever you can. Do it for free. Create a message that speaks to your desired audience and then re-create it.

  1. Define your message: Start by clarifying the key message you want to deliver to your audience. Identify the core purpose and value you want to convey through your speeches. This will provide a clear direction for your content development.

  2. Research and understand your audience: Know your target audience and their needs, challenges, and interests. Conduct market research, surveys, and interviews to gather insights. Tailor your speeches to address their specific pain points and provide practical solutions.

  3. Join Toastmasters: Toastmasters International is a non-profit organization that helps individuals improve their public speaking and leadership skills. It offers a supportive environment for practicing speeches, receiving constructive feedback, and developing confidence on stage.

  4. Craft compelling stories: Incorporate storytelling techniques into your speeches to captivate and engage your audience. Craft personal anecdotes or case studies that highlight your expertise and connect with your audience on an emotional level.

  5. Practice, practice, practice: Rehearse your speeches thoroughly to build confidence and improve delivery. Practice in front of a mirror, record yourself or seek opportunities to speak in smaller, low-pressure settings. Refine your content, timing, and body language through repeated practice.

  6. Utilize visual aids: Enhance your presentations with visual aids such as slides, videos, or props. Use them strategically to reinforce key points, provide visual explanations, or evoke emotions. Ensure that your visual aids are simple, visually appealing, and support your overall message.

  7. Engage with your audience: Interact with your audience during your speech to foster engagement. Incorporate questions, polls, or interactive activities to encourage participation and create a dynamic atmosphere. This helps keep the audience interested and reinforces their connection to your message.

  8. Leverage social media and video platforms: Record and share your speeches on platforms like YouTube, LinkedIn, or your website. This enables you to reach a wider audience and showcase your expertise. Additionally, use social media to promote your upcoming speaking engagements, share valuable content, and connect with event organizers and potential attendees.

  9. Attend speaking workshops and conferences: Seek out workshops and conferences focused on public speaking, communication, and entrepreneurship. These events offer valuable networking opportunities, exposure to industry experts, and the chance to learn from successful speakers. Apply the knowledge and insights gained to enhance your own speaking skills.

  10. Hire a speaking coach: Consider working with a speaking coach who can provide personalized guidance and constructive feedback, and help you refine your stage presence, delivery, and overall speaking style. They can help you identify areas of improvement and offer strategies to overcome them.

💡Take a deep breath and understand that creating a strong brand is the lynchpin to building out speaking opportunities. It is essential that you have a speaker one sheet and a sizzle reel.

Look into speaking bureaus to accelerate speaking connections. Here is my best advice:

Speaker Bureaus:

  1. SpeakerHub: Offers a platform connecting event organizers with speakers globally. Fees: SpeakerHub charges a commission fee of 10-30% of the speaking fee.

  2. eSpeakers: A comprehensive platform for booking and managing speakers. Fees: eSpeakers charges a commission fee of 10-30% of the speaking fee.

  3. National Speakers Association (NSA): A professional association that provides resources and connections for speakers. NSA has a directory of speakers for event planners. Fees: NSA membership fees range from $405 to $845 per year.

Pros of working with speaker bureaus:

  • Access to a network of event organizers actively seeking speakers.

  • Increased visibility and exposure to a broader audience through the bureau's marketing efforts.

  • Assistance with negotiating speaking fees and contracts, potentially leading to higher earnings.

  • A professional representation that enhances credibility and reputation as a speaker.

  • Streamlined logistics support, including travel arrangements and event coordination.

  • Opportunities for ongoing partnerships and repeat bookings through the bureau's client relationships.

Cons of working with speaker bureaus:

  • Commission fees: Speaker bureaus typically deduct a commission fee from the speaking fees, ranging from 10-30%.

  • Limited control over the booking process and potential restrictions on working with other bureaus or seeking direct bookings.

  • Dependence on the bureau's marketing efforts, which may not perfectly align with your personal brand.

  • Possible competition within the bureau's roster of speakers, reducing individual visibility.

  • Varied quality among speaker bureaus, with some providing better support and opportunities than others.

And as promised, here is my interview with Gary Vaynerchuk. I will admit, I had butterflies, but the butterflies turned into a beautiful experience I will never forget.

About Julie Lokun, JD

Julie is the facilitator of dreams. She elevates voices and brands of impact through her boutique public relations firm. She is the CEO of

The Mediacasters, which celebrates the power of podcasting, publishing, and presenting. She writes for Entrepreneur Magazine and Brainz Magazine. Julie lives outside Chicago with her family and her 2 French Bulldogs, Violet Rose and Axl Rose.

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