Got the gift of gab? Make a living out of it

Talk is cheap. Or is it?

Last week Bill and Hillary released their tax returns from the years after they moved out of the 1600 Pennsylvania Ave and the numbers were big: Since 2000, the democratic duo have brought in $109 million, some $52 million of which came from President Clinton's numerous speaking engagements. Wow!

Wouldn't it be nice to get paid to talk? The experts say it's possible and it doesn't take ex-presidential status to make a living, or even a second career, from professional speaking.

They say that a speaker who works three times a month, making $3,000 per speech (modest for the speaking profession) can earn more than $100,000 each year. However, most decent speakers bring in anywhere from $15,000 to $35,000 for each speech.

Tom Antion, publisher of and veteran of more than 27,000 paid speeches, says, "Success in professional speaking does not require a high school education, advanced degree or even any level of celebrity. It doesn't matter is you are short, fat, ugly, pretty, male, or female," he says. "You just have to have something that people want to know about."

Philip van Hooser, vice president of the National Speakers Association: "Of course, there are also certain skills that aid in transitioning an interesting knowledge into a paid speaking career. Although it may seem obvious, a person needs good oral communication skills as well as an entertaining or inspirational theme."

David Brooks, a member of Toastmasters International and the 1990 "World Champion of Public Speaking" says that to be successful, it's important to tailor thoughts to a specific audience. "People that try to be generalists will starve in this business," says Brooks. "If you have a specific medical problem you will go to a specialist to have it taken care of. The same is true in the speaking profession."

Laura Moran writes for
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