Side gigs

I’m often asked by professionals, clinicians, and friends who attend my lectures how someone can become a speaker. In many ways, it’s really not that hard, and there is always room on the platform for anyone with a unique, interesting, helpful, and encouraging point-of-view. It does take some commitment and work to clarify your message, hone your speaking skills to hold the attention of the audience, and get yourself booked, but that’s all part of the growth and fun of becoming a better version of the speaker you were on your last gig.

If you feel you have a fresh outlook, important information, or relevant expertise that would benefit your industry, community, colleagues, or the world at large, my advice would be “come and join us!” Here are a few suggestions to consider:

  • Know your “Why”: A young AV guy helped me unhook all my equipment after a speech and casually asked how someone became a speaker like me. When I inquired what he felt passionate or compelled to speak about, he answered, “I have no idea.” To this I asked, “Why do you want to speak then?” His reply? “I’d really like to travel the world.”  I chuckled and assured him there were much easier ways to accomplish his goal of world travel (and patted myself on the back for the audiences I had just saved from some bad speeches!) Be sure you have something compelling to contribute to embark on this journey. Your message doesn’t have to be deeply scientific, profound, or even moving, but it does have to be interesting, honest, and helpful.
  • Get some coaching: I’ve had several speaking coaches, attended numerous workshops, read dozens of books, and have been a member of the National Speaker’s Association for years to get better at my craft. School is never out for the pro, and getting help will shorten your learning curve by decades as well as deliver a better speech for the benefit of your audience.
  • Clarify your outcomes: It’s the first question I ask speakers who hire me for coaching:  What do you want to happen as a result of giving this presentation or workshop?  Getting clear on what you want the audience to do with or because of your message drives your choices on and off the stage.
  • Speak about what you know: With what have you been successful? Don’t assume that everyone knows how to do even the simplest things well. There are always those who know more, but there are also lots of people who know less and would benefit from your expertise. Speak to those who are behind you in the journey and for whom you could help pave the way or shorten the path. Our job as speakers is take the complex and make it seem simple. The narrower and more niched your focus is, and the simpler your message is to understand and apply, the more in demand you become.
  • Keep your day job. Lots of people make a full-time living being a speaker, and it’s a terrific career. If you’re thinking about it, but don’t know where to start, keep your day job and explore the possibilities of adding speaking as a side gig at first. This allows you to ease into the work, make sure you love it, and then take the leap to full-time, if you feel the calling.

There are people who would benefit from your experience and perspective. If your message makes things easier, happier, simpler, better, or more predictable or satisfying, then the world needs you to take the stage. You can learn to craft a great message, you can become an entertaining and interesting speaker, and you can learn to manage your nerves.  Trust me, I know.

My dear friend and colleague, Vanessa Emerson, is a specialist at helping people who wish to speak to dental professionals get noticed and booked as well as to build a great business model for speaking and coaching.  She has graciously agreed to allow us to reprint her article for those of you who want to explore the possibilities and see what it would take to share your knowledge and help others in the work and life. Please take a moment to read it if this is something you’re interested in. There’s no one better or more experienced in this field than Vanessa.

Here’s to a world made better by your courage, message, and contribution on the platform! If you’re interested in getting help to craft your message and deliver it well from the front of the room, ask us about getting connected with one of our amazing speaking coaches and learning a simple speech writing formula, tips for delivering a dynamic performance, and handling those pesky nerves. We’d love to help bring your message to those who need it!


So, You Think You Might Want to Speak/Consult in Dentistry?
By Vanessa Emerson

Are you a dental professional with years of experience?  Would you like to give back to the industry and simultaneously grow a speaking/consulting side business?

Many dental professionals would benefit from guidance in practice systems, communications, leadership and/or advanced clinical skills.   They are seeking an expert with knowledge in a certain area of focus.   Could that expert be you?

It is natural for dental professionals to develop advanced knowledge and skill in their area of focus over the years and to ultimately become viewed as experts, mentors, and influencers.  They share their philosophies, techniques, and best practices with colleagues who would like to achieve similar success.   They may even be told, “You should speak or consult on this topic.”

There are multiple benefits associated with speaking/consulting including flexible hours, no commute, ability to “be one’s own boss”, and unlimited financial growth potential.  More importantly, speaking and consulting offers dental professionals an exciting and challenging opportunity for growth.

Steps for Developing YOUR Speaking & Consulting Service

  • Define Your Niche
    • What problem or challenge do you see in the industry that matches up with your ability to solve that problem?
    • Formulate a strategy around your unique solution.
    • Evaluate your level of expertise in the area. Does your education or past experience position you as an expert?
    • Determine your target market. Who would pay for your services?
  • Determine Your Business Strategy
    • Give consideration to “why” you want to be a speaker or consultant. Identify the life you’d like to live and build a business that supports that vision.
    • Create a strategic plan for your business that remains congruent with your life vision.
    • Do research to learn what licensing or certification may be necessary.
    • Meet with your accountant to learn of any special considerations.
  • Develop Your Program Content and Training Skills
    • Accumulate your notes in one location, draft your training module outlines, then continue to develop and refine the information that will become your training program content.
    • Improve your coaching, problem solving, communication and leadership skills.
    • Study and apply adult education techniques – adapt your training content to meet the needs of the learner to ensure the best end result.
    • Identify a mentor. Join a mastermind.  Learn from others who have been there/done that and apply their recommendations.
  • Differentiate Yourself and Your Program
    • In a sea of experts offering similar services, how will your services stand out?  It’s important to establish oneself as an influencer in your niche area.  Email to receive my Differentiation Exercise which can help you determine how to position your services.
  • Discover the Power of Networking
    • One of the best ways to become known is to network with colleagues, publishers, meeting planners and vendors. Dental Speaker Institutes offers solid opportunities for networking through member­ship and attendance at our annual meetings.

Speaking and consulting are exciting opportunities that you can customize to meet your career goals. Whether you provide consulting a few hours a month or full time, offer hourly coaching over a shared computer screen or the phone, or travel across the nation to work in-office or to speak at a meeting, the only limitation is your imagination and commitment.  Go ahead.  Dream big and share your knowledge, improving not only the quality of the practice and patient experience, but also your career.



Founder of Dental Speaker Institute, Dental Speakers Bureau, and The Dental Speaker, Vanessa Emerson is recognized as a business strategist and thought leader.  She frequently mentors professionals in business development, marketing, event management and strategy.  Her annual conferences attract speakers and consultants who gather to learn, network and support each other in growing their businesses.

Honored by Dental Products Report as one of the Top 25 Women in Dentistry (2017) and twice selected for the Denobi Award Shortlist (2021, 2022) for her outstanding contributions in the dental industry, Vanessa is known as the ‘go to’ resource that helps meeting planners create stronger meetings, speakers acquire more bookings, consultants attract and retain clients and all to meet their business goals.


Communication works for those who work at it.

~ John Powell

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