Learn More:
847-991-0772 or Christy.Moore@nsa-il.org

The NSA-IL Spring 2022 speakers Academy Program

March 26, April 2, April 23, April 30, May 14, and May 21, 2022

Sessions are held VIRTUALLY on Saturday mornings from 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. 

Build your speaking business in just 6 sessions - with the guidance of established professional speakers!

Each session contains essential information, ranging from improving platform skills to marketing and running your business. Participants will get the tools they need to succeed as professional speakers.

Meet Your Academy co-deans

The core syllabus of Speakers Academy will be presented by the Spring 2022 Co-Deans, Conor Cunneen-IrishmanSpeaks and Kevin O'Connor, CSP

These gifted speakers have decades of speaking experience and live "The Spirit of Cavett" by generously sharing their wisdom and hard-won lessons to support future generations of speakers.

About Conor Cunneen

Conor Cunneen is IrishmanSpeaks. This in-demand keynote speaker, Master of Ceremonies and award-winning humorist is happily exiled in Chicagoland where he says the Guinness is good, the natives are friendly and he has been force-fed more corned beef and green beer than he ever had in Ireland. (That is absolutely true, folks!) 

Conor’s mission is to Improve People, Performance and Productivity – with a Smile, and has done so for clients from Harley-Davidson to Helsinki, from Memphis to Madrid. 

He is a multiple author including two books on Mark Twain. As an Irish immigrant, he is very proud to have received from President Obama, the President’s Gold Medal for Volunteer Service for the work he does with the unemployed. For five years, he hosted JobTalk on Chicago radio. 

A strong proponent of professional development, Conor has been actively involved in NSA for many years, including a term as President NSA-IL.  He is a recipient of the National Speaker Association Nick Carter Award for Commitment to the Speaking Profession and has represented Chicago on two occasions at Toastmasters World Championship of Public Speaking.  He is a Chicago Humorous Speaker of the Year.

Conor is husband to his long-suffering wife, Pat, dad to John and Amy and adores his darling granddaughter, Maggie. He bleeds Manchester United red and likes to play Metallica – very loud! 

About Kevin O'Connor, CSP

Kevin is an experienced executive coach, consultant and professional speaker, as well as an author and lecturer. He is an Adjunct Senior Instructor at Chicago’s Loyola University and has also taught at Columbia College of Chicago

In addition to being one of 550 people in the world to hold the highest, earned speaking designation -- Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), Kevin holds three Masters degrees (in education, counseling psychology, and pastoral studies). His expertise focuses on career development, the challenges of leadership, business relationships, successful communication and the effectiveness of teams. 

Kevin knows how teams think and how to help their leadership help them think beyond. His distinctive, interactive presentations exceed the expectations of today's ever-more demanding, skeptical professional audiences way more than just the typical PowerPoint program or U-shaped meeting. His audiences learn, engage, and collaborate in a whole new way.

He specializes in working with professionals, particularly technical professionals, who have been promoted to leadership positions where they now lead their former peers. He has a proven track record within the healthcare sector for transforming outstanding physicians to extraordinary physician executives.

Kevin has authored and co-authored eight books. His most recent books are the most practical and enduring and have been co-authored with Cyndi Maxey, CSP, including Present Like a Pro: The Field Guide to Mastering the Art of Business, Professional, and Public Speaking; Speak Up! A Women's Guide to Presenting Like a Pro; and Fearless Facilitation: The Ultimate Field Guide to Engaging (and Involving!) Your Audience.

Conor and Kevin will be joined each week by additional speakers with expertise in that week's subject matter. In addition, we've invited an array of national speakers from across the U.S. to share their insights and best advice with you at each session.

Let's Take a Closer Look at What You'll Learn


We’ll have an overview of the course, highlight the importance of the speaking profession, and all help you 1) identify your area of expertise and 2) how to define and refine your topic for your target audience. 

Guest Faculty:  Christopher Carter and Elaine Pasqua, CSP, CVP

Christopher Carter is considered one of the world's greatest mentalists. He's appeared at over 3000 college campuses and 1000 corporate and association events. He's received dozens of awards for his program, and American Entertainment Magazine called him "One of America's premier corporate entertainers."

As an entertainer, Christopher reads minds. In reality, Christopher is an expert on body language and nonverbal communication. As a speaker, he shows sales and customer service professionals how harness the power of body language to "read between the lines" of human behavior and achieve astonishing results.

As a Certified Speaking Professional, Elaine Pasqua, CSP, CVP, provides thought-provoking, high energy, interactive programs that have transformed the lives of more than half a million people nationwide.

Thirty-one pro sport teams, countless organizations and businesses, 650 campuses nationwide and the military have benefited from her 25 years of expertise addressing effective communication, sexual harassment/assault, positive choices, effective communication/social media, and resilience.


Developing your skills as a speaker includes your commitment to the profession, the art of presentations skills, and the logistics of speaking from the stage be it on-site or virtual. You’ll learn how to connect and engage with your audience whether they are 10 yards or 1,000 miles away from you! 

Guest Faculty: Allie Pleiter and Shanita Baraka Akintonde, MBA, M.Ed.

Award-winning bestselling author Allie Pleiter has written more than 40 books and sold 1.4 million (and counting!) copies. 

Her engaging seminars focus creative people to be consistently productive while teaching high-performing professionals how to create the vital content today's marketing requires. Nationally known in the writing world for her Chunky Method system of time and task management, Allie shares her unique momentum-based approach to help entrepreneurs, speakers, academics, consultants, and other professionals bolster their productivity and creativity.

Shanita Baraka Akintonde, MBA, M.Ed., is an award-winning professor, TEDx speaker, Diversity and Inclusion expert, and Marketing maven that energizes groups, particularly women and young adults, to LEAD better, LISTEN better, and LOVE better--from products to their personal selves, along with people who may look different from them.

She draws on more than 20 years of experience in business, media and diversity when engaging audiences around the globe. Whether in her faculty position at Columbia College Chicago or traveling the speaker circuit, Shanita has transitioned thousands of students from the classroom to the boardroom and has helped scores of professionals achieve success in their work and personal lives, as well.


Success in the speaking business depends on your ability to sell and market your services.  This class discusses successful strategies for positioning yourself to the people who hire speakers, the importance of the sales cycle, and the marketing techniques to get booked. 

Guest Faculty: Bill Guertin and Ray Leone

Bill Guertin is the leader of the "7 Voices" Movement, the purpose of which is to hear, recognize, and minimize the effects of the negative Voices inside people's heads and to implement simple strategies to make positivity a life choice every day. 

Bill has over 30 years' experience in sales and leadership, including 20 years in broadcast media as a sales rep, sales manager and General Manager of radio properties in the Midwest. His programs are in use in the ticket sales departments of over 100 professional sports teams throughout the US, Canada and Mexico, and he serves as Chief Learning Officer of ISBI 360, a virtual training network specifically for executives in sports and entertainment.

Ray Leone is a sales/management consultant and creator of the highly acclaimed Sales Funnel System.

Host of the talk radio show "Winning The Game Of Life," Ray is the author of the best-selling book Success Secrets of the Sales Funnel. Ray's powerful style and content-rich programs that deliver results are the reasons that 97% of his business is referral and repeat engagements. 

2021 was Ray's second-best ever year as a professional speaker. He added more than $1 million in new business. He's a member of the Million Dollar Speakers Group and has neither employees nor a sales brochure. He'll reveal how he achieves such stellar sales success during Speakers Academy.  


Giving a speech isn't the only way professional speakers build their businesses.  Learn how to expand your platform and profits through books, workbooks, CDs, webinars and other products and services. 

Guest Faculty: Jeannie Walters and Amber Hurdle

2021-22 NSA-IL President Jeannie Walters, CCXP, is the CEO/Founder of Experience Investigators™ by 360Connext, a global Customer Experience consulting firm. She has 20 years of experience helping companies improve loyalty and retention, employee engagement, and overall customer experience.

She was named one of the Huffington Post's "Top 100 Most Social Customer Service Pros on Twitter," Tenfold's "Top 40 Customer Success Influencers," one of "The Top 5 Women Customer Experience Influencers" by CloudCherry, and her TEDx talk about micro-interactions, those small and often overlooked moments in the customer journey that matter, is one of Customer Thermometer's "Best TED Talks on Customer Retention Ideas."

Amber Hurdle helps leaders confidently define and position their value so they can maximize their influence, focus and results. As a dynamic professional speaker, CEO of Amber Hurdle Consulting, a multi-award-winning firm, and founder of the The Bombshell Business Bootcamp group coaching experience and the Velvet Machete Leadership Academy certification course, she pioneers using both science and marketing principles to strengthen brands and leaders from the inside out.

Amber personally understands what it takes to accelerate success as a former teen mom who evolved into a powerhouse businesswoman, having worked with international celebrities, executives and Fortune 100 companies alike, and who is currently listed as the #8 branding professional in the world, according to Global Gurus. She is the author of The Bombshell Business Woman: How to Become a Bold, Brave, Female Entrepreneur and as the host of The Bombshell Business Podcast.


You can be great on the stage, but a lot of your success will depend on what happens behind the scenes. This session focuses on how to set up and maintain the business side of speaking, so you can move this from a hobby into a profit center

Guest Faculty:  Carl Seidman, CSP and Tom Oser, Ph.D., MBA

One of the most in-demand strategic finance and professional development speakers in North America, Carl Seidman, CSP, delivers presentations focused on IMPLEMENTATION and RESULTS for the leading financial planning & analysis groups -- saving time and money + eliminating mistakes and frustration.

Carl has been a contributor to TIME, Entrepreneur, Inc., Enterprise Marketer, NPR, CBS, Association for Financial Professionals, Recruiter.com, US News & World Report, Business News Daily, The Street, and the Illinois CPAs Society.

Tom Oser, Ph.D., MBA is a consultant and speaker on Strategy, Execution and Leadership. He specializes in bridging the divide that exists between business functions, (but especially the one that exists between technology and almost all other business functions) focusing on solving business problems and executive development challenges across those divides.

Tom leads a national sales team responsible for over $300 million in sales for a U.S. based manufacturer, and is an adjunct faculty teaching technology management strategy at the graduate level.


Time to take a bow! You've gone through the 10-module workbook, heard from top-notch speakers, and now it's time to give your own speech.  Everyone gets a little stage time.  Then we end the class by celebrating with the representatives of the NSA Illinois Board and our very own chapter CSPs. 

Guest Faculty: Catherine Johns

As a catalyst for compelling communication, Catherine Johns has helped hundreds of women, and men too, step into their strength, make the most of their natural gifts, and play full out professionally.

In workshops and individual coaching, Catherine's clients increase their confidence, charisma, and connection with an audience. She's been connecting with audiences herself from the boys' club of broadcasting (her 25-year career in Chicago radio included stints as a news anchor and reporter, talk show host, and morning show "sidechick") to seminars and speaking on stage, where she reveals proven strategies to get seen, get heard, and get results.


    • This investment in your future success is a modest $795, which includes all six 4-hour classes -- an amount that you could easily recoup with your next paid speaking engagement!
    • Payment plans are available. (For details, please contact Christy Moore at Christy.Moore@nsa-il.org or 847-991-0772.)
    • NSA Illinois’ Speakers Academy alumni (graduates from the last five years only) may attend for a $195 reviewer fee. Reviewers also must complete the application.
    • Please note: Once accepted and registered for NSA Illinois’ Speakers Academy, your program tuition will not be refunded. However, make-up sessions are available for one year following the current session.
Enroll Today

Don’t miss this unique opportunity!

Enroll Today

Questions? Contact Christy Moore at 847-991-0772 and Christy.Moore@nsa-il.org



Session 1:  Saturday, March 26

Session 2:  Saturday, April 2

Session 3:  Saturday, April 23

Session 4:  Saturday, April 30

Session 5: Saturday, May 14

Session 6:  Saturday, May 21


9 a.m. to 1 p.m.


All sessions will take place on Zoom.

Can't Make a Session?

No problem! You'll receive a recording so you can stay caught up. And if needed, Kevin O'Connor will meet with you before the next session to answer any questions you have.

You'll also have the option of attending a make-up session anytime within the next year.

We host Speakers Academy only twice a year. Don't put off your participation until "later." Apply now for the Spring 2022 Session.

Get a Taste of the Valuable Education You'll Receive at Speakers Academy

Request your free copy of NSA-IL's educational guide, How to Determine the "Right" Professional Speaking Fee

    • You'll discover:
    • 7 questions to help you set competitive speaking fees that reward you for the value you deliver as a speaker
    • Why it's vital to set the right fees -- especially when you're new to the industry
    • The real reason there is no "standard" fee for professional speakers
    • 3 time-tested truths to help you verify whether you've picked the right fee
    • 6 proven negotiation tips to help you secure win-win agreements when clients try to whittle down your fee
    • The shortcut that can help you establish a solid business foundation in record time
    • And much more...

Discover What Recent Graduates Have to Say About the NSA-IL Speakers Academy

Find Out More:

Christy Moore, CMP
National Speakers Association Illinois Chapter
P.O. Box 957484, Hoffman Estates, IL  60195-7484
Fax: 847-423-6123

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Position Statement - NSA-Illinois

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