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Accredited Professional Speaker (APS) in 2024

Do you remember the last time you were utterly captivated by a speaker? The kind of experience where the words resonate deeply, and the message lingers long after the talk has ended?

We all know that a great speaker can make a world of difference, whether it’s in motivating a team, selling a product, or inspiring change.

Although I’ve always believed that one doesn’t need accreditation to become an excellent professional speaker, I’ve come to realize that clients often look for some sort of validation that the speakers they are hiring have undergone proper training and are, in fact, being paid for their craft.

This realization led me to ponder the amusing fact that some people acquire acronyms after their names simply by attending a week-long public speaking seminar, as if that alone qualifies them as professional speakers.

Toastmasters, for example, has produced many great speakers who have trained for years. Yet, many of them understand that the acronyms earned through Toastmasters won’t automatically make them professional speakers unless they get paid for speaking. I say that the program of Toastmasters is superior to any public education platform you will find. In its legacy program, it has Advanced Manuals that will teach you professional speaking.

Experience, fees, knowledge, and continuing education are key factors in distinguishing a true professional speaker.

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Professional Speaker Certification

In light of this, I am excited to share my project for 2024. Although I do not yet have all the pieces in place, I am considering the development of an accreditation program for professional speakers through the Public Speaking Academy, the speaking education platform of Strategic Learning Consultants.

The program would not only consider experience and fees but also knowledge and continuing education.

The proposed certification would include three levels:

Accredited Professional Speaker (APS)

  • Eligibility Criteria: Minimum of 2 years of professional speaking experience and at least 20 paid presentations in the past 24 months.
  • Examination: Pass a written examination assessing knowledge of public speaking, presentation skills, audience engagement techniques, and basic knowledge of the speaking industry.
  • Renewal: Renew every 3 years by completing a minimum of 30 hours of continuing education in public speaking and related fields.

Expert Professional Speaker (EPS)

  • Eligibility Criteria: APS certification, minimum of 5 years of professional speaking experience, and at least 50 paid presentations in the past 36 months.
  • Examination: Pass a written examination and submit a video recording of a live presentation for evaluation. The examination and evaluation assess advanced knowledge of public speaking, presentation skills, audience engagement techniques, and knowledge of the speaking industry.
  • Renewal: Renew every 3 years by completing a minimum of 30 hours of continuing education in public speaking and related fields.

Master of Professional Speaking (MPS)

  • Eligibility Criteria: EPS certification, a minimum of 10 years of professional speaking experience, and at least 100 paid presentations in the past 60 months.
  • Examination: Pass a written examination, submit a video recording of a live presentation for evaluation, and submit three client references. The examination, evaluation, and references assess mastery of public speaking, presentation skills, audience engagement techniques, and knowledge of the speaking industry.
  • Renewal: Renew every 5 years by completing a minimum of 30 hours of continuing education in public speaking and related fields.

Continuing education for all levels should include topics such as ethics, business management, marketing, and technology. A professional body or association should manage the certification process to ensure its integrity and credibility. But in the beginning, the SLCI will take care of this.

The goal of this accreditation program is not just to provide a stamp of approval but to ensure that certified speakers have a proven track record of experience, knowledge, and continuing education. It’s about creating a community of speakers who are great at what they do and committed to continuous improvement and professional growth.

Of course, this is a significant undertaking, and I won’t be able to do it alone. I am considering enjoining professional speakers to help develop a respectable and trusted accreditation program. Together, we can create a system that truly validates a speaker’s professionalism and skill set.

In a world where anyone can claim to be a professional speaker, it’s more important than ever to have a trusted and credible accreditation system. Let’s work together to make this vision a reality and raise the bar for professional speakers everywhere.

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