Why You Need to Pick A Lane to Win as a Professional Speaker

This blog post will not be the first time I have talked to you about picking a lane. We talked about it back in 2014 when I told you that Becoming a Wealthy Speaker Requires Picking a Lane. We also talked about it again last June in our 4 Marketing Essentials to Ensure Your Positioning Isn’t Costing You Gigs. And we are going to talk about it again today. Why? Because it as an absolutely ESSENTIAL piece of speaker marketing and I still see too many speakers straddling lanes and struggling to grow their speaking business.

Years ago, my good friend Joe Calloway turned me onto the phrase “Pick a Lane,” and that term has taken on a life of its own in our industry.

However, let’s define it, just to ensure we are on the same page.


PICK A LANE:  To choose a topic area on which to focus your expertise.


Here is Joe Calloway’s take on picking a lane:

 Essential to picking a lane is knowing what to say “no” to.  We all get inquiries about speaking on topics that we could do, but that we know are out of our “lane.”

One of the worst things you can do for your business is to be the wrong speaker in front of the wrong audience.  Saying “no” to the wrong business creates space for the right kind of business!

Like everything in our industry, there are certainly exceptions to this rule, but knowing what you are going to focus on every day –  in your work, in your writing, in your social media and when delivering presentations – makes your life so much easier.

From the client’s perspective, being known for one thing can be incredibly helpful.  Imagine two decision makers having a conversation…

George:  Hey, I am in search of a keynote speaker to kick off my June 2018 event, got anybody in mind?

Tina:  Possibly, what topic?

George:  We need someone to talk about Dealing with Difficult Leaders.

Tina:  I know someone named Kris Plachy who specializes in that topic, let me forward her website.

Often when someone does not pick a lane, it is in fear of losing a piece of business, when in fact, more business comes to you the more specialized you are.

Patricia Fripp is a professional speaker and the past president (and first female president) of the over 3,000 member National Speakers Association. Another advantage of picking a lane is that it may allow you to change the way that you deliver your message and give you more flexibility. This is true in Patricia’s case and here’s how picking a lane affected her business:

“Changing my lane from being a keynote speaker to an expert on all forms of presentation skills has focused my attention and made my business easier to market. My advice can be delivered in person, online, or in Zoom meetings. I can help one executive or speaker, a group, sales team, or large audience.This keeps me very much in demand and with more flexibility long after being the “new hot speaker” or looking quite as good on iMag. (although I don’t look bad!)”

I realize that there is more than one way to run your business, and I appreciate other business models.  However, if you are not picking a lane, please consider if you are doing that for the right reasons, or if fear is driving the bus.

If you need more help on picking your lane, check out the next webinar in our Wealthy Speaker Fast Track Series: Pick A Lane Webinar. There are only 10 spots for this LIVE 2-hour interactive event where we’ll be working to gain clarity around the lane you want to be known for and so much more!

See you soon Wealthy Speakers!

Jane Atkinson

  • Jonathan Edwards

    Jane, is “High Performance” a lane?

    • speakerlauncher

      Yes indeed, it is. Thanks for asking Jonathon.