Public speaking is one of the top ways athletes seek to leverage and communicate their brand.
But many athletes don't know how to transform their story into regular speaking work. That's why we've got a special guest joining us on today's blog to share their experience of becoming a paid speaker!
This exceptional athlete is sharing their experience to help other athletes understand what the process looks like, how to get started and navigating getting paid!
Hi, Louise! Thanks so much for sharing your journey with us. To start, can you please tell us a little about you?
Hi all, my name is Louise Johnstone (aka ‘silverfox’). I am based in Dundee, Scotland where I began this journey after a pretty full-on rugby injury back in 2011. As someone who utilised physical activity and exercise to manage my mental health this was devastating to me. From this challenge came a huge direction change in multiple areas of my life at that time.
Can you tell us about your experience with public speaking? How did you get started and what has the journey looked like?
My experience as a public speaker has been varied and an area I have actually thoroughly enjoyed. I have to admit I am a nervous wreck leading up to the start and then it’s like I’ve always done it.
I have spoken in numerous primary and secondary schools, businesses and organisations and at larger conferences.The size of the audiences I have spoken to ranges from less than 10 to school assemblies of 270 – 550 young people and teachers. Within conferences (e.g. National Running Show) each section had focused speaking stages, those attending knew who was talking and what the topics were.
How did you start getting paid to speak?
Initially, I must admit to feeling incredibly hesitant to even consider broaching this topic. I felt like an imposter, how could I justify asking to be paid?I decided to take a middle-ground approach. I started by getting my associated expenses covered and then as I gained more experience, I began charging a fee for my speaker services.
We know it's common for organisations to ask athletes to speak for free. How did you broach the subject of getting paid?
As explained earlier I would utilise the middle ground initially and could often build up a rapport with them. This often led future conversations. In addition, over time, my confidence rose and I felt more capable as a speaker and therefore more capable of asking to equate my time and knowledge/ experience as being worthwhile of payment.
What have been some of the benefits of becoming a speaker?
Pure and simply the people you get to meet. Hearing the stories of others is so important to me, hearing their experiences, relating to each other on another level. That makes it worth it for me, every time.
What is your purpose for speaking and how has that purpose helped you on your speaker journey?
Personally I have utilised the opportunity of public speaking as one where I can reach a broader audience for my message.
It was and is a chance to perhaps reach a different type of audience, to show both the differences but also what makes us similar. It fits really well with the mental health for all message. There is not one person on this earth not affected by mental wellbeing on some level. The ability to positively impact our wellbeing through more movement is possible for all of us.
It is this purpose that drives me, if I could help everyone I speak to see the potential and get even a tiny part of the feeling I get, it is worth it. Public speaking serves a much bigger purpose.
What advice would you give to other athletes who want to become public speakers?
Know what you want to communicate, know your message. That’s the easy one as most of us are driven by our content, the reason we do what we do. It builds a passion we don’t even need to think about.Perhaps who you want to speak to, who do you want to connect with. How do you want to do that? Consider the type of speaker you are or want to be. But remember there is no one way. The best way (e.g the one others tell you you need to follow) isn’t necessarily the one for you. That is not to say you don’t adapt your message or how you get that across for the audience, but to do it a way that is congruent with your beliefs and needs.
The final word
We want to sincerely thank Louise for sharing her story and experience with us! You can follow her amazing journey on Instagram.
Louise's journey as a public speaker is similar to many athletes. She started by building her experience and confidence before she starting getting paid to speak. Plus, she's got a strong purpose to share her story on stage that drives her. We loved getting to learn more about the process behind her speaker journey and hope you also found it valuable!
Do you dream of becoming a paid speaker?
Now more than ever events and businesses (of all types and sizes) want to hear from athletes (and former athletes) just like you. Athlete stories are in hot-demand and it’s time for you to tap into the incredible opportunities sitting at YOUR doorstep.
We know that many athletes just don’t know where to start their speaker journey OR they hit brick walls every time they do try to engage paid work. Sound familiar? You’re not alone.
While there’s an abundance of opportunity waiting, you need the right strategy, tools and skills to secure regular bookings and paid work.
That’s where we can help.
Join us for a hands-on masterclass, created specifically for athletes, where we’ll teach you how to engage paid speaking work and develop a powerful presentation.
The workshop takes place on Saturday, November 18 on the Gold Coast. You can find out more about the event and how to book tickets here.