075: How to Get Booked and Paid to Speak: Interview with Grant Baldwin

Despite outranking death as a fear, public speaking is a popular life goal for many people. The next worse fear is explaining what they want to speak about.

075 Grant Baldwin

It seems strange to want to be a speaker and not know the why, what, or who behind the drive. There’s an adrenaline rush when you get to connect with an audience, but you’ll fall flat without enough self-awareness.

As a full-time speaker, Grant Baldwin has presented at 400+ engagements to over 350,000 people. Grant knows his purpose, his message, and the best target market.

This week on The Portfolio Life, Grant and I talk about becoming a better speaker and a practical way to make a living with your message. Listen in as we discuss trial by fire and a specific audience that forces any speaker to improve.

Listen to the podcast

To listen to the show, click the player below (If you are reading this via email, please click here).

You can also listen via iTunes or on Stitcher.

The art of making a bold ask

A few months ago, we got the great idea to host the first ever Tribe Conference just outside of Nashville. Besides a venue and attendees, one of the essential elements of a conference is speakers.

For anyone who watched the closing keynote live or online via the stream, you know Grant killed it. He had the daunting task of being last in a lineup of great speakers and he brought us all home in style.

What you may not know is that I didn’t ask Grant to speak at Tribe Conference. In fact, before that afternoon at The Factory I’d never seen Grant speak live before.

So how did Grant land the closing keynote? He asked. There’s a little more to it than that, but making the ask played a major factor in Grant speaking at our event.

Grant has proven himself for years as a competent speaker with a portfolio of experience and skills. And perhaps even more valuable than that, we’re friends. Grant invested in relationship with no ulterior motives a year before Tribe Conference was even planned.

One of the things I find most interesting about successful speakers is their hustle for relationships. Even full-time speakers will give presentations for free knowing the return on that investment will pay strong dividends down the road.

I think Grant said it best during our interview:

Don’t go after gigs. Go after relationships.
—Grant Baldwin

Show highlights

In this episode, Grant and I discuss:

  • The best thing about being a speaker
  • What practice does to prepare you for spontaneity
  • A trade secret to create a foolproof cue card
  • Practical ways to make a living with your message
  • Continuing the conversation around your content
  • Two essential marketing tools for every public speaker
  • How doing free gigs leads to large paid audiences
  • The art of hunting down leads
  • One type of speaker event planners want to book
  • Diversifying your portfolio of work

Quotes and Takeaways

  • Nothing compares to getting in front of a live audience. It’s all theory until you get on stage.” —Grant Baldwin
  • The best speeches are practiced and rehearsed, but not scripted.
  • People won’t know that you’re a speaker if you don’t tell them you’re a speaker.” —Grant Baldwin
  • You really don’t become something until you start doing it and acting like it.
  • You want to be as good offstage as you’re onstage.” —Grant Baldwin
  • Everybody starts at the same spot. Everybody starts at zero.” —Grant Baldwin


Bonus: Download the full transcript here.

Do you want to be a speaker? Who do you want to reach? What is holding you back? Share in the comments

10 thoughts on “075: How to Get Booked and Paid to Speak: Interview with Grant Baldwin

  1. “Don’t go after gigs. Go after relationships.”

    I appreciate this advice SO MUCH! I’m beginning to grasp just how important relationships are for an aspiring artist. There is so much to gain from them, and so little to lose. And yet they require such a focused and intentional pursuit, such tender and prudent nurturing. Thank you for this powerful anecdote!

  2. Does public speaking really outrank death as a fear? Craziness. I’ve got my my first story reading in front of a big crowd in a month, and I can’t wait! I love public speaking . . . just don’t ask me to make a phone call!

    Heck, I’m writing this to procrastinate making an important call. I think your (well, Grant’s) key point is about as solid as business advice can get though. Gigs are there and gone, relationships are what it’s about.

  3. Wow, this is GREAT and will Sure Help me be a good speaker. Am More confident and More convinced that my Presentation in Nov. Will Sure be GREAT. Thanks Jeff !

  4. Thanks Jeff & Grant, for pointing out the similarities between writing and speaking: Know your why, what and who. Know you audience. Practice, practice practice.
    Especially the importance of building relationships. Period. Then things start to happen. Earn the trust & respect of others first!
    Great podcast!

  5. Good goin’!

    Once I got past my fears, thinking “who cares about me (memoir presentation) and my stuff,” or “this is very personal and I am exposing myself to bunch of strangers, it was a blast!

    I love being the center of attention of a room full of people! It gives me a hit of high energy.

    Keep on truckin”.

  6. This was right up the alley for me, as I’m a presenter who wants to take speaking to the next level. Thanks so much for sharing this! I may watch this again, as well as the other things you’ve got here on speaking. Great times!

  7. I just love articles on speaking and this is a great one. im trying to make my website autooutline.com more popular and i think speaking will help me with that. thanks for sharing

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