It’s speaking. If you’re comfortable (or can learn to be) speaking in front of others, you could earn thousands of dollars per hour.

I know it sounds too good to be true… but most people would rather get a root canal than speak in front of others. Therein lies your opportunity.

As a rule of thumb, the more specialized the topic, the higher the speaking fee you can charge. For example, we know an experienced chemical engineer who commands astronomically high fees (over $5,000 per hour) for giving talks on designing hydrocarbon distillation towers.

But you won’t get there overnight. Almost every professional speaker we know learned his craft by starting out for free at low-profile, low-pressure venues. These can include the chamber of commerce, the Rotary Club, and the Elks Lodge, as well as local chapters of associations.

In the piece below, PBRG friend and colleague Bob Bly shares his tips and tricks on public speaking. Bob’s a part-time professional speaker who has earned $10,000 for an hour of speaking. Mastering his recommendations below can put you in high demand in your local—even national or international—speaking circuit…

From Bob Bly in the Extra Income Project: Mark Ford has four suggestions for becoming a better public speaker:

  • First: It’s always better to speak about what you know.

  • Second: Stick to one big idea in your talk.

  • Third: Memorize the first sentence and the last sentence of your talk.

  • And fourth: Look at people—individual people—as you speak.

This is good advice… and point No. 4 is the key. Why? Most people are intimidated by the idea of speaking to a group. When they look out over the audience, they get butterflies.

The solution is to pick a few people in the audience. Look directly at them. Start with audience member No. 1. After several seconds, shift your gaze to another attendee.

When you do this, you feel like you are having a one-on-one conversation rather than “giving a speech.” It’s an instant anxiety reducer.

Here are some more tips:

  • Another good way to gain confidence as a speaker is to prepare twice as much material as you think you’ll need.

    Beginning speakers often fret about whether they’ll have enough content to fill their time slot. Having extra material on-hand eliminates that worry.

  • Another way to take the pressure off yourself, especially when giving lengthy seminars, is to show a short training film on your topic. The video should be brief—no more than 10-20 minutes long.

  • You can also give yourself a breather by having attendees break into small groups to do an exercise.

  • I am shocked at the number of aspiring speakers I meet who admit that they never go to conferences to hear other speakers.

    The only ways to become a good speaker are (1) give a lot of talks and (2) listen to a lot of talks by other speakers.

  • Toastmasters International is often recommended as an inexpensive way to learn public speaking. While I don’t agree with some of their recommendations on how to speak, the experience you get in front of a live audience is invaluable.

    And it can prepare you to enter the world of paid speaking.

If you’ve mastered a topic—whether work-related, a hobby, parenting, sports, or more—this is an easy way to convert that wisdom into thousands of dollars in extra income (per hour).