• Kevin Snyder

How I got started in speaking: Part I

When I first started speaking to audiences in 1998, I knew only two things about speaking:

(1) People had told me I had an inspirational, funny story of being a game show winner on The Price is Right. (for you Bob Barker fans, click here to watch the old school video of me on TPIR living my dream on stage with Bob.)

(2) I had more passion for speaking than anything else I had ever felt in my life. I felt something inside me that I wanted to share and help others. I had battled depression when I was young and had been arrested. I wanted to help struggling youth find their strength. But I had no clue how to properly craft my crazy TPIR experience into a signature story. I had no clue how to find paid speaking engagements. My first two years of speaking every single gig was for FREE. Heck, I didn't even know you could get paid for speaking until a college asked me what my speaking fee was! I also had no clue how to work with event organizers and meeting planners whose job it was/is to book speakers. I reached out to speaker bureaus too, but none of them would even write me back. Looking back, I knew I could speak but I knew absolutely nothing about the speaking business. It's like a baker who thinks they can bake, but they don't know how to run a bakery. Even if their bread is the best in the world, they won't know how to get customers and they'll eventually run themselves out of business.

It's no different with a speaking business ... except owning and running a speaking business is totally different than any other type of business. And I didn't learn this until a few years ago.

You could be a successful, seasoned executive or a startup founder, yet knowing how to get paid to speak and running a speaking business is not the same. Keep reading.

Because I didn't understand that professional speaking is really about knowing how to run a niche business in a very targeted industry, I floundered around for several years when I first started speaking. In fact, I became content with floundering because there were times that I didn't feel good enough to get paid. I battled imposter syndrome and I accepted mediocrity. Looking back, I'm actually surprised I didn't quit speaking. If I didn't have so much passion for wanting to speak and help struggling students like I was, I would have quit for sure. Then one day, I got tired of being tired. I got fed up with not being able to feed myself in speaking. I got fed up with my boss at work too. The "security" of my day job wasn't secure at all. I wanted to be my own boss.

I was bringing in speakers to my college, paying them $3,500 yet I didn't even know how to get $350. I share a story in my book, PAID to $PEAK, when my turning point began. One of the speakers who I hired to speak with my students mentored me. He took me under his wing and helped me go from floundering to flourishing within just one year. He guided me through the same process that you'll experience in Modules 1 and 2 of my book. And Module 3 is where I started getting PAID to $PEAK! You can learn what I know in a step-by-step process to make it your own.

I stand behind the process I outline in the book because not only did it work for my mentor who taught it to me, but it worked for me too ... and it's worked for other speakers I've coached to become professional speakers.


I'm forever in debt to my first mentor. With his guidance, support and accountability, I became "New Speaker of the Year" the year after he worked with me and a "TOP 10 Collegiate Speaker" the year after. Soon after that, I started earning more in 2-3 speaking engagements per month than I did in my full-time 8am-5pm job. And that's when I quit my full-time "dream job" to pursue professional speaking full-time. That was 2012. Since then, I've never looked back ... and I've worked harder than I ever have in my life. I've also achieved every goal I've ever set for myself in speaking. And in 2020, I have some serious speaking goals that I look forward to growing into. So look, I'd love to help and support you like my mentor did for me. I always tell my audiences, "the best way to learn something is to talk with someone who's already doing it. Ask questions. Find a mentor."

Unless we've previously spoken, I just don't know what 2019 has been like for you in regards to your speaking.

If you're content with how many speaking engagements you've received and are happy with your current speaking fees, then no need to read any further. Or perhaps you're tired of having "Speaker" on your business card but not really speaking? Or perhaps that "idea" of speaking has taken a back seat for too long.

If you're tired of being tired like I was, then make 2020 your year to launch yourself. You have to want it bad. And if you want it bad enough, I can help. Don't flounder like I did. Instead, build your speaking business so you can be your own boss and quit your job like I did. It will feel amazing! In 2006, I found my mentor and made a conscious decision to grow my speaking business to the next level. Although my mentor paved the way for me, I had to walk in my own shoes. I share this philosophy with my own speaker coaching clients. As much as I want to sometimes, I can't do it for them. I'd love for you to have the same result as I have ... the pie of speaking opportunity is HUGE! There are hundreds of meeting planners and event organizers looking for speakers every single day. One key is knowing how to find them and then knowing how to connect with them.

Of course, you have to also have an extraordinary presentation that is polished and ready to go. For speakers, the presentation is the product of their business - not them. And that product could be delivered in keynote, workshop, training, or emcee formats.

So whether you envision yourself being a keynote speaker or a workshop facilitator or emcee, there are meeting planners and event organizers who needed to find a great speaker yesterday. There are also hundreds of planners and organizers who are looking for speakers today and tomorrow. So every day you wait is another missed opportunity.

How much longer are you content with waiting for your speaking dreams to take root? Becoming a professional speaker doesn't mean you have to quit your day job, but envision being able to within a year or two because you can.

Imagine taking steps now to plant new seed for building a speaking business that will bear fruit next season. Envision being paid to travel and share a life-changing message with audiences who desperately need to hear your message. Imagine depositing your first speaking check ... then another, and another. Focus on that end in mind and ask yourself what steps you need to take to manifest that reality in your life.

Envision earning $2,500, $5,500 or even $10,500+ per speech. It is possible and I am living proof. I started with nothing but a unique story and passion ... if I can do it, you can do it too.

In fact, you can do it much quicker than I did when you follow a proven process. The process I share in PAID to $PEAK is the one I applied when my mentor coached me. It's the process that enabled me to quit my job. It's also a process that I refined for over a decade to share it with others like you in just a few short pages of my book with templates and stories to back it up. I truly and sincerely would love to help you spark newfound awesomeness in your life through speaking. All you need to do is read my newest blog and simply reach out to me to schedule a complimentary call to discuss your speaking goals. As you read my blog, read it with a lens for your speaking business. I was thinking of you all when I wrote it for my leadership newsletter.

Click here to read the blog.

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