Becoming a Speaker

Art Fettig

Art Fettig

I’ve heard it said that today, half the people in America claim to be motivational speakers. The driver on a crowded bus who calls out, “Step to the rear of the bus, please,” is a motivational speaker. I can recall talking with the president of a power company before my talk and he asked me what I do and I replied, “I am a motivational humorist.” and he replied I never met a motivational humorist before.” Ninety minutes later when everyone stood to give me a standing ovation he came up to me and said, “You sure as hell are a motivational humorist.” I was lucky enough to be in on the early days of professional speaking. The majority of professional speakers in the early 70’s were either famous athletes, former Miss Americas, college professors, sales super-stars like Zig Ziglar, authors or clergy. $500 was considered a good fee plus travel and I was amazed at the number of speakers who held to that fee for so long. I sold my first book to audiences for $1 a copy and made a good profit. For the first ten years I was a part-time speaker still working as a Communicatons Officer for the railroad. I managed an early retirement when I was 53 and at that time I had 35 years with the railroad. Two of those years were credits while I served in the Army.

There is just some kind of magic that is kind of hard to describe when you hear an audience laughing in the right places and then applauding . It can become something like a drug that drives you to get better and better every time they introduce you and when you get a dozen or so standing ovations in a row you begin to suspect that you are on the right track. When you learn that the members of that audience will sell more, manage better, work safer, become more professional and productive no matter what they do then you know for sure that you are on the right track.

In my youth someone suggested that I find something that I love to do so much that I would do it even if they didn’t pay me and then get so good at it that they will pay you a lot. Somehow,with abundant help from many others I figured out how to do that and then every speech was a blessing for me.

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