Interview: Jane Atkinson – The Wealthy Speaker

NSA/NC September Meeting

Jane Atkinson September marks the start a new year of meetings for the Northern California Chapter of the National Speakers Association (NSA/NC). It kicked off with a “Wealthy Speaker Seminar” conducted by Jane Atkinson, who promised to share a “Proven Formula for Catapulting You To The Top 3%” of the speaking business. Jane reported that top speakers earn over $1 million annually.

Jane has been helping speakers grow their businesses for more than 18 years. As an agent for speakers, she has represented speaking super stars Vince Poscente, Joe Calloway and Peter Legge as well as best-selling authors and celebrities. A former vice president of International Speakers Bureau, Jane has seen the industry from many angles.

The Wealthy Speaker

The Wealthy Speaker Jane’s new book, The Wealthy Speaker: The Proven Formula for Building Your Successful Speaking Business details many of the tools she shared in the morning seminar.

These include:

Ready, Aim, Fire: first, get crystal-clear about what your expertise is; then roll out marketing materials that enable customers to find you; finally deliver your expertise to audiences from the podium.

Focus on your speech: “No fancy brochure or website can overcome a mediocre speech.” Tips for creating a powerful speech include:

  1. Use humor – once the endorphins kick in, the audience is more receptive to your message.
  2. Be real, open and authentic.
  3. Be congruent with your message, both on and off the platform.
  4. Deliver a focused message with one main idea and three points.
  5. Tell great stories – especially ones that are about the audience, not you.

Outline your speech: Pick one theme and a through-line. Would the message of the speech look good printed on a T-shirt? Does it have three main points and a hook to hang it on?

Ask, “Who do I need to become to take my speech to new heights?” It’s all about positioning: become an expert first, a speaker second.

“Clients no longer want to hire speakers. They want to hire smart people who happen to speak.”

Expertise – Topics – Revenue

Jane recommends that we each become an expert in one area we are are passionate about. This is the “lane” we travel in. Don’t get stuck doing things we are merely good at. Find an area of expertise people will pay for. Choose this one area and develop a number of topics around it.

Ask “What do I need to become, to be the expert?” It might be focusing on a topic. It might be standing tall and stepping fully into the knowledge you already have.

In my case, my expertise is helping executives communicate effectively. The topics I’ve developed center on my services as a speechwriter. These services include writing one-time speeches for CEOs as well as company overview or Vision Pitch presentations delivered multiple times in the Executive Briefing Centers of major Silicon Valley companies. More recently, I’ve added topics involving Social Media and re-purposing a speech with podcasting. This allows asychronous communication of the speech outside the room in which it is delivered.

Jane suggests that we build revenue streams which flow from each of our topics. In my case, I have my consulting fees and more recently the recorded webinars, workbooks and clinics ranging in price from $39 – $499 available on Practical Social Networking.


Jane reminds us that a good website is a key requirement for a successful speaker. One-sheets are so last century. A good website clearly positions you and shares a promise (or brand) that will make the prospect curious about what it is that you offer. She recommended Rene Godefroy’s and Keith Harrell’s as great examples.

Podcast Interview

After the program ended I sat down with Jane and asked her what was the one piece of advice she would share with someone who wanted to become a wealthy speaker and make it into the top 3% of those in the business who make over $1 million a year. To hear what she told me, click on the podcast icon below.

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This is an excellent summary of Jane’s seminar yesterday. You captured the highlights and flavor of her presentation just right and hit all the high points.


Great summary and podcast–thanks, Ian! Nannette

So true! Obviously, it is important to connect with the audience and entertain them – but when the business speaker has reached a particular station in life, his or her very presence will motivate the audience as well.

Keep up the great work here!


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