Public Speaker  What They Do

Just the Facts

Insider Info

dotPublic speakers and workshop leaders perform an important role in our society. They are expert communicators who use their skills to share information in different environments.

They include lectures (formal speeches given to an audience), seminars (a small class for lecture and discussion), or workshops (less formal gathering for activities and exchanging information).

dotPublic speaking professionals come to this kind of work from many different backgrounds. They are teachers, scientists, doctors, nurses, writers, managers and businesspeople. The one thing they have in common is knowledge and the ability and desire to share it with others.

"The world seems to be getting more complicated and there's so much information out there! There's a real need for people who can deliver this information to others in a clear and organized way," says Fiona Lo, a workshop leader.

dotWorkshop leaders and public speakers work in a number of different settings. University professors lecture in front of hundreds of people at a time. Workshop leaders work with groups as small as six people. You'll find these people working in large companies, as independent consultants, on university and college campuses and in community organizations.

dotPublic speakers have to plan and research their speech or workshop. Then they must make their presentations, field questions, provide charts and handouts if necessary and direct the activities of the group they work with.

dotDepending on where they work, public speakers may also be in charge of planning the workshop, lecture or seminar they're giving. That might include booking the venue and arranging for parking, refreshments, advertising and budgets. This can be a tough job!

"The logistics of putting a workshop or seminar together can be a real pain. It's the part I like least," says Jim Mulvaney. He is the director of a public speaking company based in San Carlos, California.

dotPublic speakers can also expect to be on their feet for long periods of time and must also be able to speak for as long as six hours.

dotThere is really no average working day for these professionals. While some on-staff workshop leaders may work a typical 40-hour week, most public speakers work irregular hours -- working 60 hours one week and possibly as little as 25 another. They may also need to travel in order to speak to people in other cities.

At a Glance

Make public presentations

  • You have to plan and research your speeches
  • Be prepared to be on your feet for long periods of time
  • You need life experience and the gift of gab