How to Get Speaking Gigs and Discover Speaker’s Biggest Mistakes: Motivational Speaking 101

In this episode, Barbara and James discuss:
-How he kickstarted his career
-Some of the biggest mistakes that speakers are making
-How to get speaking engagements
-How believing to be a great speaker turns into a weakness
-Providing Call-To-Action After a Talk

Key Takeaways:

” If your why is strong enough, you’ll figure out all by yourself how to be successful ” – James Malinchak

Connect with James Malinchak:

Connect with Barbara Hales:

  • Twitter:
  • Facebook:
  • Business website:
  • Email:
  • YouTube: TheMedicalStrategist
  • LinkedIn:
  • Books:
    Content Copy Made Easy
    14 Tactics to Triple Sales
    Power to the Patient: The Medical Strategist


Dr. Barbara Hales: Welcome to another episode of marketing tips for doctors.

I’m your host, Dr. Barbara Hales. Today, we’re really lucky in that we have James Malinchak with us. He is the world’s leading authority on speaking and the number one Speaking Coach and Trainer.

James Malinchak is recognized as one of the most requested in-demand business and motivational keynote speakers and marketing consultants in the world. He was featured on the hit ABC TV show Secret Millionaire and was twice named National College speaker of the year.  James has delivered over 3000 presentations for corporations, associations, business groups, colleges, universities, and youth organizations worldwide.

James can speak for groups ranging from 20 to over 30,000. And he has done that, as a speaker, marketing coach, and consultant. James is the behind-the-scenes go-to-marketing advisor for many top speakers, authors, thought leaders, business professionals, celebrities, sports coaches, athletes, and entrepreneurs and is recognized as the world’s number one big money speaker, trainer, and coach.

Welcome to the show, James.

James Malinchak: Hey, Barbara, thanks so much for having me, appreciate it.

All About James’ Career

Dr. Barbara Hales: Why don’t you tell our listeners how you got started in all of this, and your very, very impressive resume.

James Malinchak: Well, I grew up in a van down by the river. Right. And that would everybody who speaks says they start out with I grew up in a van down by the river. No, I actually grew up in a small steel town outside of Pittsburgh, a population of about 6000 great folks.

We didn’t have much growing up. Dad worked in the steel mill and mom was a lunch mother at the school serving lunches to us kids. And so, it wasn’t like we came from anything, but I had some big dreams. And my first big dream was to play college basketball. So, I accepted a basketball scholarship out of high school and went to the University of Cincinnati. And then my coach had gotten relief from his duties, which is a nice way to say, and he got fired. And I ended up transferring and playing out in Hawaii. And the first exhibition game I caught a pass and ripped my knee in half. So, my aspirations of playing pro basketball were done.

So I started working on plan B.  Plan B was what I always wanted to do if pro ball didn’t work out, which was to be a stockbroker, a financial consultant if you will. So, I moved to Los Angeles after and started my career. And it was very fortunate to do well there. In my first year, I opened up about 200 new accounts and was working for a major Wall Street investment firm and was named the most outstanding performance from around the country for our training class of everyone who started at the same time, which was about 200 some folks.

And because of that, I got a telephone call one day, and it was from a guy who had said, hey, my son heard you did really well. I guess he works with you in the office, and I’d love to have you come and speak to my employees.

And that’s why I don’t speak I don’t even know what that means, like, stockbroker like I don’t know what that means. They said, Well, just can’t you just come and talk to them for about 40 minutes and speak to them about how you built your career. Maybe it’ll inspire them. And you did it so fast that he engaged and I said, I don’t, I don’t speak. I don’t do that stuff. And he said, and I’ll pay you $5,000 I said, I speak. Mama didn’t raise any fool.

Someone wants to pay you to talk you be quiet and take it. And that’s literally and I didn’t know what I was doing. I had no idea about any of this, you know, how to speak and all that stuff? Well, lo and behold, I found out that it was a very big industry. And that colleges, universities, medical conferences, corporations, associations, professional sports teams, you just name them, and they all bring in speakers for certain topics for certain things. And so I said, Well, if this is really a career in industry, maybe I should take this seriously. And so I did and one led to two and two led to three and next thing you know, here we are 3000 some talks later. So very blessed, very fortunate.

Dr. Barbara Hales: That’s pretty incredible. One thing I love to hear you say is how you could get people speaking engagements without any credentials, no experience, no connections, or even being a good speaker. How does that happen?

James Malinchak: Well, so it took me a long time to figure that out because I used to think I had to have the highest, you know, credentials, the best degrees. Now, if you’re in the medical profession, and you’re going to be speaking at a medical conference, then obviously, that is a very huge part of who maybe gets selected, and maybe who doesn’t.

But if you are just trying to speak and share a message or inspire folks generally, meaning that it’s not a medical-related talk, right? You don’t really need any credentials or anything for that, you know, you need a message that uplifts people, a message that helps people, a message that speaks into their heart, their mind, their soul, and their spirit.

And then the next most important thing is you actually need to get in touch with the people who are the decision-makers who decide who’s going to speak. And when I figured that one out, because I already had that first slide.

By the way, my company’s called Big Money Speaker, and that’s why the logo is a coin. Because I say there are two sides to the coin. On the first side, you have a message, information, you know, strategies, things that you teach, wanting to help people wanting to make a difference in people’s lives. But then most people stop right there, thinking that’s all they need. And I say, Nope, there’s a flip side to the coin. That’s why the logo is a coin, there’s a flip side of the coin and that’s called the business of speaking.

And primarily, the number one thing for the business of speaking, you got to get to the people who are the decision-makers, you got to get them to pick you. And so that that’s why I say I can take anybody, and if I can just get them to understand that. And if they’re willing to just do that. They can go from zero to hero, so to speak, by getting booked and paid to speak.

Biggest Mistakes of Speakers

Dr. Barbara Hales: What are some of the biggest mistakes that speakers are making right now?

James Malinchak: Well, I would say for sure, number one, understanding that it’s not, they don’t know, understand that it’s a business. And they like I kind of already alluded to a little bit, they, they really think it’s all about the credentials, the message, that sort of thing, that’s only half of it, I would think that that is definitely the first one, the second is being led to believe that you actually need to be a good speaker.

Write it because people think, Well, I’m not a professional orator. And I’m, you know, I don’t like to stay within the frame, meaning don’t put my hands outside like, imaginary picture frame. And I’m not the most eloquent speaker. And I have my hand in my pocket. Therefore, I’m not a good speaker, it’s not about any of that stuff. All speaking is you have a message to say to help people and you literally share it to help people. I could care less where my hands are, I could care less if I’d fallen off three stages in my career.

What happens if you fall off the stage, get back up. On the stage get up. I was speaking one time for 11,000 people out here in Las Vegas. And it was the hardest stage ever, it was a circular stage. Meaning that people were all around you. And like two levels, three levels up. And when it’s dark, and they have spotlights on you. It’s very hard to see it’s like looking into car lights. And so, a little trick that I figured out probably about 15 years ago is you go to the local store, like your drugstore, and you get the white athletic tape. Kind of like when I played basketball, they would tape our ankles so that we didn’t sprain them, and they would all before every practice and game and they would use the weight athletic tape athletic trainers would tape it. Well, you put that weight athletic tape down about a foot away from the front of the stage when it’s super dark and anytime you’re on stage.

You can always see the white athletic taping; you know you don’t step past that. Well, I forgot my athletic tape. And so, I took a step and lo and behold there was no more stage. fell off the stage in front of 11,000 people you should have seen the guy work in the spotlight. He’s like what the speaker goes, he bounces the light around looking for me.

Dr. Barbara Hales: That’s really helpful. A helpful tip to know.

James Malinchak: Oh, it’s so simple, but you never think of it. Yeah, I mean, if it’s dark and there are spotlights, you literally can’t see because you’re looking into the lights. You don’t like you don’t actually like seeing the crowd. So the stage is only about three or four feet up. So it wasn’t like forced I didn’t get hurt or anything. But yeah, so it’s not about being a good presenter. Because even though I fell off the stage, I still got paid a check. And I still help people and I inspired them and I uplifted and so that is the second biggest mistake.

The first is not understanding it’s a business. The second is thinking that you have to be this great professional orator. And you have to not flub a word. And you have to, oh, God forbid, fall off a stage. You can’t do that, right? No. I mean, if you’ve seen me speak, Barbara, I’m sweating on the audience, like, because I’m hot, and I’m moving around, I have sweat flying everywhere, right? I don’t care. I have a message to help people. And I simply stand up and say, to help people. So those are, those are a couple of the biggest mistakes right there.

Getting Speaking Engagements

Dr. Barbara Hales: A lot of the doctors that are listening now may be saying to themselves, wow, speaking is a business, and I could get a lot of money for this. I want in on this. So how would you tell them that they can get speaking engagements? How did they go about that?

James Malinchak: Well, the very first thing is you got to figure out who you want to talk to. Right? Most people make the mistake of starting with a message. Right? That’s not their fault a lot of times because you’re you listen to things that are perpetuated out in the world, especially on the internet, right? Because everything on the internet’s Correct. Right. And it gets perpetuated, oh, you have a message, and you need to share that message. And so, what happens is, we get trained to start with that message. And know the very first thing you have to do is start with your Who, who do you want to speak for.

So, if I want to speak for chiropractors, my message is going to be different than if I want to speak for kids. If I’m going to speak for professional athletes, or retiring professional athletes, my message is going to be different than the message I give to kids. Right? So, if you start with the message, then you’re really shooting yourself in the foot. Do you always start with who do you want to speak for? If you’re in the medical profession, and you want to speak at other like medical conferences, let’s say, well, then, even inside that, who’s your who? I mean, are they, cardiologists, you know, are they podiatrists? Are they medical technicians? I mean, who’s different and your message will be different based on the hoop. Okay, so that’s the first part start with the hoop.

The second thing is you start with so to and then why? Why do you want to speak for that group, that demographic? And you get a really strong, compelling reason. Right? So, like, when I started my who was kids, I went to teenagers. And why did I want to do that? Because somebody spoke to me when I was in eighth grade, at our high school, and that person spoke to my heart and changed my life. And my why was I want to do that for other kids. Because I know how it positively influences me, right? And so now, now, you know, you’re who and now you have a why because that why will make you successful, I truly believe. I always say you need to get a red hot. Why? Right? Why do you want to do it? Because if your why is strong enough, no obstacle matters. You’ll figure a way to go over it under it or around it, you know, and you’ll figure out how to be successful.

I tell students all the time when I speak for them because I still like to speak for kids groups. And I say, Look, if your why is strong enough, you’ll figure out all by yourself how to be successful, you give me a chance to have an A student with not why or a C student with a strong why I’ll take the C student with a strong why every single day of the week. Because that student’s going to figure out how to make it happen, that student will do whatever he or she needs to do to make it happen. Why? Because I got strong why I got a strong reason.

And like, you know, sometimes kids will say, well, my wife, or I’ll ask, Why did you come to college? And it’s amazing, like, I’ll hear well because I have to, I have to help support my aging mom, who has a disease. And so I go to school, and I’m working two jobs to help take care of mom. I will hire that student in a heartbeat over a student that makes straight A’s and looks perfect on a resume but doesn’t have that. Why? You know, the reason is that the student is working two jobs and going to college. While that student’s doing it.

That student has a strong why. They’re doing it for their mom to take care of their mom, they’re gonna make it happen. They’ll do whatever they have to they’ll stay up all night, though, they’ll ride the bus 10 miles one way to one job and 20 miles the other way. If they have to crawl through mud, they’ll crawl over broken glass, they’ll do whatever they have to do as they got a strong why.

So, when it comes to speaking, and if you’re a doctor trying to get you to know, in this profession, what’s your who and then why. Come up with a strong compelling why and you will never ever, ever lose.

And then the last part is what. Now you come into what’s your message. So, you have your who you know why it’s so important to you. You got the who and the why. And now you bring in now what’s the perfect message for that who, based on my why. So that’s how you start to think about it. You don’t start with a message. Because your message is different based on your who and why.

Weakness in being a speaker

Dr. Barbara Hales: That’s really helpful to know. One of your blog posts says, why the same kryptonite that weakens Superman is weakening your ability to become a big-money speaker. What’s that all about?

James Malinchak: Yeah, it’s, it’s the kryptonite for us as speakers are actually believing that you have to be a great speaker, meaning this, you hear this all the time? Well, you have to walk into V, you have to use hand gestures, you have to make sure you make eye contact with every single person in the room.

So basically, it’s telling you that you have to be this great orator. And that’s not what it’s about, it’s about sharing a message that helps people puts an imprint on their heart, their mind, their soul, their spirit, not worrying about who cares where your hands are, who cares if you looked at everybody with perfect eye contact. I mean, who cares if your hands were in your pocket when you’re speaking, or they were touching a podium, or whatever, who knows? Who cares about that?

So, stop trying to be a speaker, and just be a person that has a message that shares it to help people and watch out like, because Barbara, I used to get so freaked out and nervous, because I would worry about all that stuff, that all that mechanical stuff to be really deemed what’s called a great speaker. Look, a great speaker to me is somebody who gets paid to check the talk. It’s not like, you know, I because I moved in a V formation on stage, you know, and I never moved from around the podium kind of things like that.

So that’s like, that’s the kryptonite that crushes folks. Because what it did for me was, I would get so freaked out by all of those mechanical things that I was being led to believe that I had to do in order to speak but I literally would forget what I was supposed to talk about. Because I was so freaked out worrying about, well wait, did I take two steps to the left, and was I supposed to walk into v to the right. And so, the kryptonite for all of us is worrying about all that stuff. I call that nonsense. That’s all nonsense. And the only people that that’s important too, are the, you know, the speech coaches that try to sell you high-priced programs that tell you that that’s important. I could care less about any of it. And I’ve done 3000 paid talks. So, I guess, I guess my philosophy works.

All About Call to Action

Dr. Barbara Hales: One of the biggest mistakes that I find listening to speakers is that when a person is a newbie speaker, the one thing that they forget, which to me is one of the most important things is that they forget to insert a call to action.

You know, it’s nice that people laugh at your jokes, or enjoy what you have to say. But without a call to action, they’re going to just move on to the next speaker, or go home with a smile on their face. And that’ll be the end of it.

But hopefully, you want the audience listening to you to do something once you get off the stage. It might be to call the office for an appointment, but they may not be ready to do that. So you may have other costs cost to action that you want them to do, as long as it’s only one call to action. You don’t want to say, Well, you could do this. So you could do this. So you could do this because then they wind up doing nothing call to action by pay. Hey, I have an I think FAQ sheet of the most popular questions that people ask me. And you know, if you go to this website, or you make this telephone call, we’ll ship that out to you for free immediately. Or maybe it’s a little ebook.

The thing is that whatever it is that you are offering, it should be in sync with the services that you provide. You wouldn’t want as a doctor to get up there and say, Oh, and by the way, I have a great ebook on antique cars. There might be some people in the audience that like antique cars, but the whole purpose of you as a physician being on stage is to get people to want your medical advice or your coaching or your consultation.

So, think of what people are struggling with the questions that they have, and come up with your solution which I’m sure you do every day of the week with the Patients that you see, and put it down in a little guide or a little ebook. And you’d be surprised how many people who turn into prospective patients will be not just asking for, like what you can provide?


James Malinchak: Oh, it’s great. Yeah. By the way, I like to say also, not giving a call to action at the end is actually doing the audience at this service. Right. Because if they listen to you, let’s say they watched you on a webinar or zoom, or they saw you live in person. Speaking somewhere, it could be a group of two people could be a group of 2000 people, it doesn’t matter the size, but that that group was, you know, into what you were saying they were, you know, hanging, they like love that they learn tips and strategies. And now to just say, Okay, I just talk to you for 30 minutes, bye, bye. You’re doing them a disservice. Right?

So you should allow them to have any type of continuing education. And that doesn’t mean you have to sell it. It could be like, exactly, I love what you said, Barbara, a simple little ebook, or could be just a zoom is free, jump on, jump on Zoom, right, jump on Zoom, and hit record. You could jump on Zoom, hit record zooms a free account and just talk into the camera, you know, and give advice and share things and then they could get that free Zoom video that could be 15 minutes, that’s a continuing of what you are going to be talking about, then it may go deeper on the subject, and you were able to go in the time allotted for the talk. So to send folks out after a talk without the opportunity to have more continuing education on the topic from you, aka giving them a call to action to do it is doing them a disservice.

So if you truly believe what I believe everybody feels they do, which aims me adds value, make a difference. enriching lives, if you are speaking and adding value making a difference and enriching lives, then it’s your duty and responsibility to allow audience members to do that more and deeper with you. By having something you give away. By doing a CTA a call to action.

Dr. Barbara Hales: That’s really such a great way to look at it. Because some doctors are actually embarrassed by the thought of promoting something, we’re selling something. And if they instead of looking at it, as you know, selling something, they are thinking of it as providing an additional service, it really takes all the pressure away.

James Malinchak: Yeah. And I always tell folks, stop selling start serving more. Right. And so by doing that, which we just discussed, you’re actually servicing them and serving them on a deeper level, which should make any doctor feel great because that’s probably what I had if I sat down 1000 doctors and say, What’s one of the reasons you got in the profession, it would be to help serve folks and heal folks and take care of them and make their life better.

Well, you have to look at your call to action with your giveaway, if you will, the same way you’re not selling, you’re serving them better. And what I always say is this, I always ask this question. And Barbara, you’ve been in my training enough, where you’ve heard this probably 10 times. But always ask the audience, how many of you believe in your message meaning the information that you’re sharing and talking about? And everybody puts their hand up? And that’s it?

Well, second question. How many of you truly believe that it does what I call AME,  adds value makes a difference and enriches people’s lives. And again, every hand goes up. And I say, well, then why wouldn’t you want to put stuff together? That allows people to take more of you and your message home with them. That’s where there’s a disconnect. Yeah. And they’re like, oh, I never looked at it like that I like so. And by the way, if you want to throw a little price on it and make $10 $1,000 $10,000 is nothing wrong with that. As long as you’re coming from a place of service where you’re adding value, making a difference, and enriching people’s lives.

And now you’re just able to do that in a bigger, better way or a more personal way. You know, I hear you speak, you give great information. And I’m like, wow, I really should like maybe to go have an appointment with this doctor. I really liked you know, the new technology they’re doing or the way they’re doing it or new the new process he talked about, or she talked about, and now I come to you and then I become a client for life a patient for life and my customer value goes through the roof because I’m spending x number of dollars a year with you forever.

Sometimes, right, so that’s how you look at it, it all started by you weren’t selling, you were serving. Okay, whether you put a price on it, whether you didn’t put a price on it is irrelevant, but you have to have something if you truly are trying to serve people, and you have to tell them about it at the end so that they can all you got to remember, so they can go deeper with you, or on a more personal level, and get more, you know, knowledge about this topic. That’s all you got to remember. So it’s not selling it’s, you know, doing a good thing by serving them by offering it.

Connecting with James and Last Piece of Advice

Dr. Barbara Hales: Well, I’d like to tell the listeners that every year in addition to the webinars that you give to enlighten everyone, you usually have a summit, which is like a three-day event. And it’s fantastic. Have you gone back in person? Summit? Are you still virtual?

James Malinchak: We actually are having our first in-person one in about five months, I think I think it’s actually a little long. I think it’s October, or maybe it’s August, I can’t remember. But it’s the first one that we’ve had since the whole pandemic thing had happened. But

Dr. Barbara Hales: Okay, five months, you all have time to rearrange your schedule and go. So how do they enroll with you, James?

James Malinchak: Well, the first thing I want to get away to do is to say I’m on this mission. You know, I sort of like retired a little bit about, I don’t know, two years ago, not doing as much as I was I’ve been blessed, I accomplished everything I wanted to do kind of thing. And I just sort of drifted and played little golf and walked on the beach. And then I just started getting irritated by some of the stuff I see perpetuated online, and misinformation.

Things like I talked about earlier, start with your message. No, you start with the who, right, because that’ll be so much more beneficial for you. So it’s things like that. I said, You know what, I should come back and do this, and, and help people and I said, but how do I help as many people as possible in the biggest way because I really want to leave a legacy.

So what I did, unbeknownst to a lot of folks is I’ve been working on over the last year taking my four-day training and putting it into actually a book. Right? Because I mean, Barbara, you’ve been to my training and they are 12 hours, some days, right? They’re long, we go into the evening. And so and I teach a lot of content. So I said, you know, I’m going to just put it in a book, because that’s the way to help as many people and I said, how else can I help as many as I can just give it away for free. No charge, no credit card, don’t have to go to Amazon and buy anything.

So if anybody would like to learn how to really master getting paid to speak, you simply go to And you don’t need a credit card, you don’t need anything, you just simply download it. And then after that, then we will email you and let you know when we start announcing the actual four-day training.

And if you want to come to it, great. If you don’t, great, you got the book. And there’s more, more than enough in that book that will help propel you to getting paid to speak if that’s something you choose to do.

Dr. Barbara Hales: What a great gift that you are offering.

James Malinchak: It’s a great way to help a lot of people and spread the word. Yeah.

Dr. Barbara Hales: Well, thank you so much for me and thank you from the listeners.

James Malinchak: Oh, thank you for what you do. Barbara, you know you’re one of my favorite people. We go way back and thanks for having me on your show. I truly appreciate it.

Dr. Barbara Hales: It’s really been a delight. This comes to the end of our episode marketing tips for doctors with your host Dr. Barbara Hales speaking with James melon check till next time