New Podcast Episode: Introduction to Professional Speaking with Josh White

Speaking is becoming more and more of a priority for many authors looking to grow their professional brand, so we’ve invited Josh White, the Managing Director of Epic Keynotes, to explain how to begin developing your speaker brand, where your book fits in, and goals to consider.

Why might someone want to be a speaker?

There are a lot of reasons why someone wants to be a speaker. They might want to share ideas and have an impact. Another reason is that they want to help grow their brand. A third reason could be to help both monetize or create a revenue channel from their thought leadership.

For all three of those examples, you have a captive audience. Each individual in that audience is opportunity for you to impact somebody, grow, gain a fan. So grow your brand and monetize the content if that’s something that you’re looking to do. Some speakers get paid a lot of money to speak, but you can also create different products or revenue streams that audiences can help grow as well.

Are there certain characteristics and book genres that lend themselves more to speaking? 

That’s a very interesting question. There are groups of people interested in everything, but some topics, industries, or genres have more of a revenue potential as someone getting paid to go speak. If you’re a business, a thought leader on business topics, well corporations tend to have the biggest budgets for keynote speakers. But also, if you’re an educator, author of books on education, there’s a whole market for schools K-12 and colleges and universities looking for speakers. There’re all these different markets. 

But if you’re looking to have an impact or share your ideas or grow your brand, there are a ton of opportunities that don’t necessarily pay a lot but can get you in front of big groups of people that would be interested in your ideas and have common interests.

What are the opportunities within speaking?

Basically think about it on two forms.

You have the types of organizations that would hire a speaker: You have nonprofits and social service organizations that are more philanthropic, supporting a cause. You have education K-12, colleges, and universities. Then you have a whole host of associations, whether they’re professional or function type or supporting a specific idea, that have all types of conferences that you could speak at. And then you have the corporate world, and these are all companies that are holding external events for their customers and potential customers, or internal events for their employees. 

Beyond that, as you think of yourself as a speaker, what are your opportunities? One is that keynote slot. At most events, meetings, even dinners, they will have a keynote speaker or a few keynote speakers who are the main speakers at those events. They are typically who we think of when people say that they are a speaker. But beyond that, there are varying modalities. Lengths of sessions, from workshops that range from 90 minutes to a full 8-hour day, to more formal trainings, or even programs where someone is hired to give a series of speeches or series of educational moments over the course of months or years even.

How would someone get started speaking?

Everybody gets introduced to the speaking world in a different way. But when I think about it, it really comes down to two ways: One, someone wants to do this, they want to have their impact, and so they have to chart a course for how to get there. And maybe that’s more of what you’re asking. But on the flip side of that is a lot of people who write a book or are interviewed on something or something happens in their life, and they are thrust into speaking whether they want to or not, and they either lean into it or lean out of it. But sometimes the opportunity is so grand that even if they want to lean out of it, they can’t escape it. 

What you’re really asking is not, “How do you become a speaker?” but really, “How do you become a great speaker?” And I would say it starts with being very intentional about what your goals are, why you’re speaking, and where you want to go with this.

First, figure out how good you are at the craft of speaking. Because there’re really three parts: 1) Your thought leadership. Do you have something unique to yourself that is going to resonate with a lot of people or a big enough subset of people? 2) How are you at the craft of speaking? Holding attention, communicating… 3) What’s your marketing and business development strategy? We’re taking stock of where you are and mapping out steps of how you’re going to climb up the speaking world.

How does being an author factor into speaking?

Yeah, so going back to some people are thrust into speaking. Sometimes a book is what thrusts an author into becoming a successful speaker or sought-after speaker. But also books are valuable in many other ways. For example, sometimes writing a book is a good excuse for somebody to hone their thought leadership and get it down to a single idea. Books are also, if you are already a speaker, a great opportunity to help create another revenue stream for your thought leadership. Because even if you’re getting paid to speak, people in those audiences are going to want to buy your book after you speak. 

Some speakers will waive their fee or accept a lesser fee in return for bulk purchase of their books. There’re a few reasons why people do that. One is they want to ensure it’s a bestseller. Other speakers do it because they want to get that book into as many hands as possible. A book opportunity as part of the fee is just another foot in the door and another reason someone should consider hiring you.



Joshua White launched Epic Keynotes to help companies and speakers leverage the full potential of speaking engagements. Epic’s business model does not quantify bookings as the measure of success; instead, Epic focuses on generating the maximum impact possible for its clients. To that end, Epic works not just with thought leaders but with leaders of thought, those rare individuals who can impart something so profound that it will stay with audiences for the rest of their lives.

Over the past decade, Joshua has been at the forefront of the professional speaking industry, working with some of the world’s most renowned keynote speakers and corporate clients and charting a new direction for the sector. With Epic Keynotes, he helped pioneer a new approach to booking keynote speakers, from a transactional bureau to a consultant for both corporate clients and the keynote speakers themselves.