How To Become A Paid Speaker with Jess Ekstrom

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This episode is presented by Instil, a nonprofit platform built to leverage the power of modern technology to help nonprofits do their best work. Instil holistically manages supporters including donors, members, and volunteers to deepen nonprofit connections with their community, increase revenue, and maximize impact. Learn more here.

Have you ever thought about enhancing your thought leadership strategy and becoming a paid speaker?

I have followed the career of influential keynote speaker Jess Ekstrom for years. I’ve purchased headbands from her company Headbands of Hope, I subscribe to her email newsletter, and now she’s here to share her wisdom on entrepreneurship, thought leadership, how to build a brand as a paid speaker and so much more!

We also cover the big mistakes speakers make, the impact of powerful journaling prompts, and how to get yourself booked for well-paying gigs (Jess shares so many juicy tips).

Become a thought leader by getting paid to speak

Jess has built an incredible career for herself as a beloved speaker and author of the bestselling book, Chasing the Bright Side: Embrace Optimism, Activate Your Purpose, and Write Your Own Story. Speaking has opened up so many doors for her that she wouldn’t have otherwise had. And even now, it blows her mind when she hears from someone years later that read her book or saw her speak on stage.

I can only echo how amazing it is to get into public speaking, which is my not-so-secret #1 strategy for increasing your brand awareness. (Tune in to Episode 31 to hear more about my speaking journey!)

If you’re curious about flexing your thought leadership muscles, Jess inspires us to first decide what you want your transformation promise to be. Imagine you’re up on stage, completely crushing it, people are crying and laughing – you’re the best speaker they’ve ever seen!

What do you want the people in the audience to think, feel, or do differently after they hear you speak and they’re heading back to their real life?

Whatever that aftermath is can help you build the content for your talk and be based around that powerful transformation.

One of the biggest mistakes speakers make

Are you trying to be everything to everyone?

When you’re building your speaking skills, you HAVE to pick a lane. Jess shares that her signature talk is connected to her book. If you hear Jess speak, you’ll immediately want to grab a copy of it afterward because of how much it intertwines with the message she shares on stage. 

But it doesn’t quite work as well if you have a newsletter, a podcast, and a website that each cover different topics.

You might think, “if I’m a nonprofit leader, I should be speaking to other nonprofit leaders,” when in fact, you could be massively broadening your reach if you think about your experience as a nonprofit leader, and how that’s transferable to people in all kinds of industries!

What is your chorus? What’s the one thing you find yourself constantly repeating? And how can you tie that into your transformation promise?

How to get booked for paid speaking gigs

If you build it, they will come. Are you ready to be known as a speaker? 

If you’re not leveraging the word “speaker” in your social media bio, on LinkedIn, or even on your website, you’re missing out on the opportunity for people to book you to speak. So add it in! Create a speaker reel and showcase photos of yourself speaking.

Tap into your network next. Who could potentially book you to speak? Do you know someone who works for a corporation in your industry? Do you know someone who works at your high school or college that loves bringing back alumni to speak?

Also, negotiate, negotiate, negotiate! Jess shared so many juicy tips here. If you’re pitching yourself to speak and you quote a $7,000 speaker fee, but they offer $5,000, perhaps they could make up the difference by purchasing your products or your book. Maybe there’s another way you could collaborate with a sponsor.

If your rate can’t be met, maybe that organizer could refer you to other opportunities that are looking for speakers. Having great testimonials and referrals will keep your calendar full!

Jess shares tons of resources on navigating the world of speaking on her website here.

Jess’s Ask

Jess is launching a new project in November for 8-12-year-olds who want to be entrepreneurs. Do you have any kiddos in that age group or want to be part of Jess’s launch team? Shoot her a message on Instagram at @jess_ekstrom.

Notable Quotes from Jess

“The aftermath of a ‘no’ is rarely going to be life-ruining, but the aftermath of a ‘yes’ could be life-changing, so when you weigh your odds, you might as well make the ask.”

“You can’t be everything to everyone, unfortunately. You have to pick a lane and start building off of that, otherwise you’re going to feel like you’re putting out so much output. If you have a newsletter and podcast and speaking and writing a book and it’s all about different things, it’s going to be a lot of energy for not a lot of movement.”

“They’re not paying for an hour experience. They’re paying for a ripple effect.”

Resources & Links

Is your CRM working for you? Join me at my FREE webinar with Instil on September 28th where you’ll learn how to audit your existing CRM technology and understand what features are important to have.

Follow Jess Ekstrom on her website and at @jess_ekstrom on Instagram or on TikTok. You can also learn more about Headbands of Hope. For every item purchased, a headband is donated to a child with an illness. 

Get on the list for Jess’s Monday morning Hype texts! Text the word HYPE to 704-228-9495.

Mic Drop Workshop is where Jess offers courses to help you sell and tell your story as a paid keynote speaker and author.

Check out Jess’s book, Chasing the Bright Side: Embrace Optimism, Activate Your Purpose, and Write Your Own Story and explore her other company, Prompted, that offers guided journaling prompts to help you achieve your goals.

Jess recommends we follow @morganharpernichols on Instagram.

Want to make Missions to Movements even better? Take a screenshot of this episode and share it on Instagram. Be sure to tag @positivequation so I can connect with you. 

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