A colleague of mine asked recently for some tips to prolong a speaking career. I've been on stage for quite a few years now, so I suggested a few things that I've found helpful. I thought I'd share them with you, right here.
1) Treat every audience as you would treat your most important client.
When you speak, that's what they are. It''s really important to do your
best speech, every time. It doesn't matter how many people are there, or
how much you are being paid (if at all). That may be the only time
those people hear you speak. You owe it to them to deliver the best
possible value for their time sitting listening to you.
2) Throw away a third of your material every year, especially any
references to things that happened more than five years ago. If you have
a cracking personal story that stands the test of time, then keep it,
but be ruthless otherwise. This one is tough. It's tempting to keep
everything you've put in a speech, and simply to refine it. If you don't
change, your speech will go stale, you'll get bored delivering it, and
your audience will notice.
3) Outsource anything you're no good at. You're a speaker, not an
accountant, diary manager, web designer, etc. Many speakers are
one-person bands, and get bogged down doing stuff that will be done
faster and better by someone else. If you're a speaker, concentrate on
4) Keep doing what you talk about, and be a shining example of it.
Current experience trumps long-gone successes (see point 2). If your
speech is about something that happened twenty years ago, no-one under
thirty-five will remember it. That could be most of your audience.
5) (bonus tip) If speaking is no longer fun, give it up and do something else.