Paid to Talk

Photo courtesy of Phyllis Groner

An unintended consequence of being a writer is being paid to talk.

Never shy about sharing my knowledge or opinions in print, I now speak them out loud to just about anyone who wants to listen, and I do it in a way that’s not just informative but also entertaining. And yet – just as in my opinion pieces – I challenge my audience to think about current problems in new and not always comfortable ways.

I have a collection of popular off-the-shelf talks, and a nearly limitless willingness to talk about anything about which an audience and I have a mutual interest. Give me a topic; I’ll give you a speech.

Currently, I have four off-the-shelf talks: Lessons From the Long Trail, about my transformative end-to-end through hike of The Long Trail when I turned sixty, and three through The Vermont Humanities Council Speakers Bureau:

Getting From Here to There: The history of transportation and settlement in VT

1964: A Watershed Year in Vermont Political and Cultural History

Why Are We Still Reading Jane Austen?

I make customized motivational and celebratory speeches to groups who want to hear what I have to say. After teaching reluctant writers, leading Weight Watchers, and raising three children, I’ve developed some serious motivational skills that can be translated into a celebration and/or call to action.

I’ve also spent the past ten years learning about restorative practices as well as Roberts Rules of Order, so if a group needs a facilitator, I’m good at making sure everyone in the room has a chance to be heard.

Of course, I’m always ready to talk about and teach writing and literature, from blogs to biographies. Earlier this year I lectured on Virginia Woolf for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, and I’m currently teaching a grant-funded memoir-writing class at my local library. We’re having a blast.

Between writing, teaching, and public speaking, I’ve fallen behind on other tasks, like keeping my website updated, but that’s next. In the works is a calendar where anyone who wants to attend one of my public lectures can find out the what, where, and when. And for those who may be interested in a custom-made talk, just contact me.

At the end of the Long Trail, 9/8/2016.

Deborah Lee Luskin posts an essay every Wednesday at


19 thoughts on “Paid to Talk

  1. Loved the first line of the post……An unintended consequence of being a writer is being paid to talk.

  2. Speaking has been suggested to me (I’ve taught college and presented to groups a handful of times), but I haven’t seriously considered it. I’ve heard it’s a good way to also gain readers. Congrats on the Long Trail…what a great accomplishment. I enjoyed the post you linked to. I hike short trails regularly but would have to figure out a way to manage a heavy pack with a bad neck. :\

    • Public speaking is a natural extension of teaching, so if you like to teach, I highly recommend it. Sorry about your neck. Looking into ultra-light hiking gear might help, as you could carry a lighter pack. But you’d still have to heal first. I hope you can find some relief. Thanks for commenting.

  3. Being paid to talk! How cool and never thought about it being a freelance journalist and writer. Guess, it’s the trait to rant on and on. I think Public Speaking help a lot in weaving stories in fiction form and crazy ideas do brew while speaking to an audience.

  4. Since my book launch I’ve been asked to speak to several volunteer charity groups, all unpaid appearances though.

    • This is fantastic! Be sure to bring copies of your book with you. Make yourself available after your talk to sell and sign copies.
      Bring change, a good pen. Be prepared to collect sales tax, if applicable. (You can also calculate it into the price of the book and deduct it from your gross later, which is often easier.) Do check with your hosts that books sales are okay with them, and offer them 10% if they’re a struggling non-profit whose mission you support.
      All these are win-win-win: getting your message out, selling your books, supporting good causes.
      And practice in public speaking.
      Good luck!

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