Becoming a Wealthy Speaker Requires “Picking a Lane”

Imagine you are someone who hires speakers and you are looking for a speaker to talk about leadership. You start looking online and you find four speakers who do leadership plus several other topics. Then someone recommends a speaker who wrote the book on leadership and delivers only that topic.

Who would you pick? The jack of all trades or the master of one? Of course you want the best for your group, the expert, the guru. As a speaker it is possible to offer services on a few related topics and perform well. But as a Wealthy Speaker, you want to be the expert — the one meeting planners call upon for a speech on that topic. So you need to focus your attention and talents on one topic area.

My friend Joe Calloway calls this “picking a lane.”

[Tweet “A good speaker can talk on a variety of topics, but a Wealthy Speaker focuses on one topic @janeatkinson”]

One expertise, one set of speech materials — or even one speech (customized, of course) — under the same umbrella. If you want to be the recognized expert — the one that meeting planners call upon when they need a speaker on that topic — you need to bring all your skill and energy to that topic. You must pick a lane.

For those of you who have picked a lane or changed lanes, what has been the benefit?  Please share in the blog comments below.

Interested in learning more about becoming a Wealthy Speaker who gets gets booked more at higher fees? Check out The Wealthy Speaker University HERE.



  • eduleadership

    For me personally, picking a lane (mine is “High-Performance Instructional Leadership”) has helped me focus. It’s helped me to say no, and to make sure that everything I do is consistent with the message I want to reinforce.

    Another side benefit is that having this focus has helped me see the connections between different aspects of what I teach that I’d otherwise have missed. In other words, intentional lane-branding has actually made my content more coherent and integrated, so my clients can see how it’s all connected, too.

    I wouldn’t have anticipated that something like this would benefit my existing clients, but I think it does.

    • speakerlauncher

      Terrific reinforcement!

  • Paul McIntyre

    Great! You just wrecked my webpage. Seriously, after interning at Trout Ries Advertising, the guys who wrote the Positing book, that positioning truism has always stuck in my head. The best way to be nothing is to try to be everything.

    • speakerlauncher

      “The Best Way to be Nothing, is to Try to be Everything” – that’s a great quote Paul – is it from The Positioning Book?

  • Sylvio (Syd) Gravel

    I have a very specific lane, “Developing Resistance and Resilience to Trauma Within the Workplace” and within that lane are 6 small sub-lanes such as developing peer support, developing support for families, developing supervisor skills in recognizing trauma within the workplace to name a few. This helps tremendously because my speeches and workshops are geared to the objectives of creating that environment, what to look for, how to get there and some tips and tricks that make it all work right from the get-go. I don’t get called to Train Trainer’s or to certify people and I don’t want to, though I will share what to look for in a trainer and what the end product should produce. I get called to help develop the mind-set to make changes and why those changes have to occur. Makes it easy when one has a lane. First time I heard about the “lane” was from listening to you Jane, when you were in Ottawa and it is done well for me in the development of my website at and my work so far. Booked for 12 events before April 2014.

    Sylvio (Syd) A Gravel, M.O.M., Staff Sergeant (ret’d.), Ottawa Police Service,
    Author of:“56 Seconds” & “How to Survive PTSD and Build Peer Support”

  • Doug Sandler

    Hi Jane, of all the things I have learned from you by far the BEST is “picking a lane.” Focus on a specific subject and a specific market makes my Nice Guys Finish First program so easy to promote (I know my message and I know my market). My marketing program is designed to brand me as that Nice Guy. I can’t tell you how many times I will be at a networking event and someone comes up to me and says “I get your blog — I love your message — I love your topic.”

    If I promoted my business as though the world was my market, I would be way too busy trying to figure out who to talk to and what to talk to them about.

    Thanks for everything Jane

    • speakerlauncher

      Sometimes Nice Guys (DO) Finish First Doug! I believe that you have something that is sticky. Being focused on customer service – which is what you do best in your other business – is a perfect fit! Congrats!

  • I’m still somewhat struggling in picking a lane. I agree it needs to be done, but it is not easy for me. Even my “mental, emotional & physical fitness” is too broad. However, each day I work on this and I get a bit closer. Thanks!

    • speakerlauncher

      Sometimes the pieces of the puzzle just fall into place and when it does, it’s magic. Keep working Dachia, you’ll get there. If you need some help, check out my Focus 40 session.

  • Oof, this is tough. I have so much yet to learn. And my current audience cannot afford me. I’m in transition and I don’t know where I’m going yet. ARGH!

    • speakerlauncher

      Hey Jeff, let me know if I can help move you towards a lane that will pay. The goal is to combine passion with profits (one without the other, not so good). Drop me an email and I’ll share details of a introductory session that we could do to help you get this straightened out.