A Practical Guide to Break Into Public Speaking


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About the Book

From the bestselling author of The Quarter-Life Breakthrough comes a groundbreaking guide for a new generation to take over the speaking industry.

THE BREAKTHROUGH SPEAKER shares the lessons I learned on my journey from an unpaid storyteller to a paid speaker who is regularly paid $10,000 for 30-minute presentations. Part I: Speak your truth will help you discover your story, craft an anchor to earn credibility, and discover how to align your zone of genius with a top-of-mind hook that organizations care about and are willing to pay for. Part II: Share your truth will give you the marketing tools to spread your message, reach a wider audience, and make your work stand out from the crowd. Part III: Get paid for your truth provides tips for you to break into the corporate speaking industry, stand in your worth, negotiate higher speaking fees, and become a speaker who clients love.

Public speaking has become an essential life skill. The lessons in this book will help new speakers looking to break into the corporate speaking industry, as well as entrepreneurs, creatives, and influencers who want to gain exposure, build their personal brand, and make a greater impact. This practical guide provides helpful lessons, tools, interviews, and workbook-style exercises for speakers to start earning money from sharing their story.

The Breakthrough Speaker is the first guide for the next generation to take over the speaking industry from Boring Old White Dudes. There has never been a better time to break in and shake up this archaic industry. 


"The Breakthrough Speaker is a practical and powerful guide for anyone who wants to build their personal brand and grow their speaking career."

-Dorie Clark, adjunct professor at Duke University's Fuqua School of Business, contributor to Harvard Business Review, author of Entrepreneurial You


“Smiley’s voice is what every speaker needs to face their fear, get onstage, and give their most authentic performance.”

-Amber Rae, author of Choose Wonder Over Worry


“Everybody wins when our networks expand to include a diversity of voices and ideas. Thank you Smiley for sharing your truth and providing a roadmap for others to be heard.”

-J. Kelly Hoey, author of Build Your Dream Network


“A playbook for impact-driven makers, storytellers, and leaders.”

-Debbie Sterling, founder and CEO, GoldieBlox


“Genius book! Smiley’s gifts are pure gold for all of those breakthrough speakers waiting in the wings.”

-Claude Silver, chief heart officer, VaynerMedia


“We need more diversity on stage, and we need more books like this one, which give speakers a toolkit to share their voice with the world.”

-Talia Bender, chief catalyst officer, The Female Quotient


“Crafting a compelling story is tough, making money while doing it on stage doing is even harder. Smiley’s lessons and constructive encouragement in The Breakthrough Speaker are a MUST for anyone, especially women, looking for their own breakthrough on the speaker circuit!”

-Cassidy Blackwell, director of strategic projects for public affairs, Airbnb


“Candid, comprehensive, inspiring, and actionable. A no B.S. guide covering all the things nobody ever shares honestly when it comes to corporate speaking.”

-Vanessa Shaw, founder of Human Side of Tech and The Workplace Lab


“There are so many people whose ideas, messages, and stories should be heard, but who are being held back by lack of access to information or lack of confidence in their value and worth. With this book, Smiley connects the reader not only to everything they’ll need to know to launch their speaking career, but also to the conviction that they can succeed.”

-Emily Anhalt, speaker


"Smiley's voice is a torchlight for a new generation of speakers and influencers." 

-Jessica Minhas, human rights advocate, speaker, founder & CEO, I'll Go First

A Few Things You'll Learn

How do you storyboard an inspiring talk?

How do you turn your 15-minute TED talk into a business that can generate $2,000 to $20,000 an hour?

How do you break into an archaic corporate speaking industry?

How do you market yourself as a speaker when you're just getting started? 

How do you stand out in a sea of speakers doing similar work? 

How do you know when to take an unpaid speaking gig? 

How do you book your first paid speaking gig?

How do you know what to charge for speaking gigs? 

How do you increase your speaking fee from $0 to $10,000 a gig? 

How do you get a speaking agent? Do you need a speaking agent? 

How do you write a book that will grow your speaking business? 

How do you empower other speakers in your community? 

How do you ensure all conferences and events book diverse speakers?

How do you maintain balance in an industry that is often grueling and lonely? 

The Women Speaker Initiative 

The intention of this book is create opportunities and assets for new voices in public speaking. This project supports The Women & POC Speaker Initiative, a community which aims to increase the number of women and people of color speaking at conferences and companies, as well as ensure that women and POC speakers get paid competitively as compared to their colleagues.

100 percent of the profits from sales of the book after expenses will go toward supporting efforts of The Women & POC Speaker Initiative (which now has over 1000 members!). If you are interested in learning more about The Women Speaker Initiative, please join us. It is free to participate. Anyone who supports increasing opportunities for women and POC in public speaking is welcome. 

 Work with Smiley  

Smiley is available for speaking engagements, trainings, and coaching.