National Speakers Association: Pro-Track 2006

Saturday found over 30 prospective and current members of the National Speakers Association (NSA) at the kick-off the year-long Pro Track training program: “Taking Emerging Speakers to the Next Level”.

We’ll meet once a month for a boot camp of basic training in the techniques and business of the professional speaker.

The Dean of the program is a 20-year veteran of pro-speaking: Michael Lee

Michael Lee, CSP

Michael, a 5th generation Asian-American, was dragged kicking and screaming into his niche market: delivering seminars, training, consulting and coaching on how to sell more products and services to the multicultural market in America (mainly to Realtors and Auto salespeople).

Embodying the true spirit of NSA founder Cavett Robert, Michael is giving freely of both his time and his ‘trade secrets’ by coordinating the program every month (giving up a valuable day which he could spend at home with his family – no small matter for a guy who spends 90+ days in hotel rooms, from Racine to Rochester).

We heard from a graduate of the 2005 Pro Track training, Cynthia Beck, who is about to launch her first book — written as a direct result of the information she picked up in the program. Cynthia’s tips for success included showing up for meetings and fully participating – something she did last year, despite fighting mononucleosis and caring for a sick child!

The bulk of the first day was spent watching all 30 of us, one by one, delivered our 3 minute elevator pitch to introduce ourselves and share what we wanted out of the program. This was videotaped:

Pro Tack Presentation

I was amazed at the range of expertise and backgrounds in the room. We had Realtors and retirees; sociologists and swim coaches; conversational theorists and Italians who conversed with gestures; the daughters of Toastmasters and the sons of Chemical Recycling Plant owners, not to mention the great-grand-daughters of former slaves (no-one confessed to being the great-grandson of former slaves owners, but Dr. Martin Luther King ‘s dream was alive in the room); workaholics and writing coaches; ex-Playboy Bunnies and ex-ski instructors (one stoked the slopes the other stroked the folks). Some lived down the road in Redwood City or San Francisco, others had driven from Sacramento and Fresno. One crossed state lines from Carson City, Nevada.

It’ll be a fascinating year getting to know these folks and be a part of the process of discovering the opportunities and overcoming the obstacles to becoming a professional speaker.


  • 12,000 – approximate number of professional speakers worldwide
  • $10 – approximate hourly cost of the Pro Track program
  • 637 – number of Certified Professional Speakers in NSA (demonstrated the ability to earn $25,000 from speaking over a 5 year period)
  • 173 – Number of NSA CPAE’s (Council of Peer Award of Excellence), some deceased.
  • Notable quotes:

    “Lack of income is the biggest obstacle to making the transition to full-time professional speaking”
    “You can only charge what your self-esteem will bear”
    “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”
    “Your niche is not a topic but an identifiable group of people who want to hear what you have to say”

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    Grat job at capturing the essence of the event!

    […] Saturday found 30 of us wanna-be pro speakers kindling the first flames this passion at the second NSA/NC sponsored Pro-Track training. Before the day was over we had been give the opportunity to choose our topic; outline it; make it interesting; market it and deliver it with style and panache. We were directed in this by two awesome ladies whose passions burned, as they say, as bright as a thousand sun’s. […]

    […] National Speakers Association Pro-Track: September Meeting – Graduation […]

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