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An invitation for aspiring, new and experienced professional speakers...



In Just 6 Sessions, Our Faculty of Established, Experienced Speakers Will Help You Chart Your Course to Speaking Success

Want to do better presentations or programs? Set up a speaking business? Make more money as a speaker?

Get the answers at the NSA Illinois Speakers Academy.

The renowned Illinois Chapter of National Speakers Association 
announces Speaker Academy Spring 2023 

Professional speaking is a lucrative—but challenging—profession. NSA Illinois’ Speakers Academy provides the resources you need to understand the business of speaking.

The faculty features dedicated, accomplished professionals who make all or part of their living as professional speakers. You’ll learn the speaking business from the inside out from professionals from USA & Europe who have spoken to audiences all around the globe.

Of course, we’ll show you how to enhance your presentation skills. But NSA Illinois’ Speakers Academy focuses on how to develop and market yourself to people at corporations, associations, and organizations who hire—and pay—speakers.

Speakers Academy will help you address core business issues as a professional speaker and answer your pressing questions, like:

  • How do I position / differentiate myself?
  • What topics will I speak on?
  • How do I market myself to be a successful speaker?
  • What sales techniques are most appropriate?
  • Who are my core customers? Corporations, Non-Profit, Associations, Individuals, All of them?
  • What streams of revenue can I generate? Keynotes / Workshops/ Online / Seminars / Social Media?
  • How do I not run foul of IRS and not go to jail? (Sorry, that should read, How do I manage my business in a professional manner?)
  • How do I become a more impactful speaker?

Speakers Academy is not just a great educational experience, it is also a fun program where you likely will meet many new friends.

If you’re an emerging or experienced speaker who’s ready to invest in taking your speaking business to a higher level, join NSA Illinois’ Speakers Academy today!


January 21 and 28, February 11 and 18, and March 18 and 25, 2023

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.

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. 


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! 


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. 


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. 


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


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. 

Meet Your Academy co-deans

Speaker Academy is delighted to once again have two of the most respected voices in the industry as Co-Deans – Kevin O’Connor, CSP and IrishmanSpeaks – Conor Cunneen. They will present the core syllabus of Speakers Academy each week. 

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 IrishmanSpeaks-Conor Cunneen

Conor is an Irishman, happily exiled in Chicago 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.  As a keynote speaker and consultant for clients from Harley-Davidson to Helsinki, Conor’s Mission is to Improve People, Performance and Productivity – with a Smile!  He is author of FIVE books including two on Mark Twain.  Conor is a Chicago Humorous Speaker of the Year, a Fellow of the Marketing Institute of Ireland.  As an Irish immigrant, he is proud to have received the President’s Gold Medal for Volunteer Service from President Obama for the work he does with the unemployed.  He is a Metallica fan.

About Kevin O'Connor, CSP

Kevin is a physician educator and healthcare consultant, author and presenter specializing in professionals leading teams of their fellow professionals, often their former peers. He is faculty for the American Association for Physician Leadership and the American College of Healthcare Executives. He teaches graduate and undergraduate students at Chicago’s Loyola University. He has three masters’ degrees, has authored eight books, and holds the CSP, Certified Speaking Professional, designation from the National Speakers Association, awarded to fewer than 600 persons in the world who hold this honor for speaking and teaching excellence.

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.


Meg Bucaro is a communications expert, professional speaker, and college instructor who is passionate about empowering clients to perform at their highest level by communicating with more comfort and confidence. Whether Meg is working with clients on how to organize a formal presentation, prepare for an interview, improve body language in courtroom presentations or speaking to women’s groups about how the Superwoman ideal is costing them their health and happiness (and what to do about it), Meg brings her expertise, sense of humor and passion to each class, session and event!

John Blumberg is a national speaker inspiring a movement to build value with core values.  Through a laser focus on the intersection of personal values and core values, John speaks with organizations to drive real alignment, genuine engagement and authentic service.

John is the author of Silent Alarm. It is a parable of hope for busy professionals.  John is also the author of GOOD to the CORE: Building Value with Values.  John is currently back in the writing process with his newest book due for publication in early 2014.  It is simply called ROI: Return On Integrity!

Valda Boyd Ford is the CEO of the Center for Human Diversity, a non-profit agency dedicated to improving communication between and across diverse groups. Over the past thirty years, she has worked in more than 50 countries with CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, tribal chiefs, Afghani teachers and Buddhist monks, health care professionals and law enforcers to improve health, decrease negative outcomes, enhance leadership skills, and decrease vulnerability.

Bill Guertin, “The 800-Pound Gorilla of Sales Performance,” is a 30+ year sales expert and presenter whose sales strategies are in use in the ticket sales departments of over 100 professional sports teams throughout the US, Canada and Mexico. He is the author of two books on sales and marketing, and serves as Chief Learning Officer of ISBI 360, a virtual training, sales and recruiting network specifically for executives in sports and entertainment.

What do audiences say about Catherine Johns? • “THANK YOU for a terrific presentation! I love your message and style.”• “Your energy is contagious!” • “What a thought-provoking discussion. I found your delivery captivating!” Along with speaking to business organizations, professional associations and women’s groups, Catherine coaches entrepreneurs and executives to craft a clear, compelling message and deliver it with confidence and charisma.

Wendy Keller is an award-winning former journalist, literary agent, author, speaker and acclaimed book marketing consultant. She got her first job as a newspaper reporter as a 16 year old college freshman. Since then, Wendy worked for PR Newswire; the Knight-Ridder newspaper chain; as managing editor of Dateline magazine; and as associate publisher of Los Angeles’ then-second-largest Spanish language weekly, La Gaceta. She founded what is now Keller Media, Inc. as “ForthWrite Literary Agency” in 1989. She has sold an astonishing ~1,780 rights deals worldwide, including 18 New York Times best sellers and 9 international best sellers.

Lance Miller earned the World Champion of Public Speaking title in 2005. Lance’s speeches and seminars have inspired countless individuals and changed their world view. He shares his life experiences, useful tips, and simplifies what it means to become an effective communicator. Becoming a more effective communicator is more than just mechanics or formulas. It’s about building a meaningful narrative and delivering that narrative passionately and sincerely. When you become a better communicator, you can find that other areas of your life can improve – your professional life, your personal relationships, and your sense of self.

Ed Rigsbee, CSP helps speakers understand how to get business with associations. Ed is the President of Rigsbee Enterprises, Inc., established in 1981. He is obsessed with helping individuals and organizations to both receive and give more return on investment (ROI) in everything that they do. He primarily helps associations to elevate business relationships from ordinary to extraordinary; in service, results and profitability. Ed is the originator of the “Member ROI Valuation Process” and term, “Member ROI-Centric Organization.”

Mike Staver, CSP is Chair - National Speakers Association. Mike is the author of “Leadership Isn’t for Cowards” and an internationally respected speaker and coach. Companies from Federal Express and Miracle Ear to Leading Real Estate Companies of the World and the Mayo Clinic have repeatedly invited him to contribute to the development of their leaders. Most recently, some of Mike’s work was ranked #1 by Training Magazine on their Training Top 125 list, which recognizes organizations with the most successful learning and development programs in the world.

Carolyn Strauss has spent her life on stage and on camera. She has studied and worked with some of the foremost experts in the world on business strategy, gender communication, transacting in the marketplace and voice dialogue. Through years of continuous practice, study and learning, Carolyn brings unmatched expertise to serve her clients. Her passion to create workplaces that support team members, the executive suite and the goals of the business is evident, and she communicates her hard earned knowledge to each of her clients with a keen sense of humor and an engaging delivery.

Additional faculty members are being confirmed. Check this page for updates!


Your signature talk is the presentation you want to be known for as soon as someone hears your name. It's a way to position yourself as an expert - and sell your products, services, and yes, additional speaking engagements.

Creating a powerful signature talk is so much more than speaking about a subject you've mastered. To do its job -- winning the hearts and minds of your audience, as well as influencing the meeting professionals who will hire you -- your signature talk must be carefully structured.

During this half-day virtual workshop, taught by Speakers Academy Co-Deans IrishmanSpeaks-Conor Cunneen and Kevin O'Connor, CSP, you'll discover:

  • Critical elements that your signature talk must include to be effective 
  • How to use your signature talk to stand apart from other speakers in your space
  • Secrets to structuring your signature talk so you can repurpose the content, while keeping the material fresh and customized to each audience
  • Tips for incorporating humor into your signature talk (even if you don't think you're funny)
  • Best practices for grabbing - and holding - your audience's attention
  • And much more!

A successful signature talk is never fully finished. Successful professional speakers are always looking for ways to update and strengthen their signature talks to make them more memorable, meaningful, and mesmerizing.

But the hardest step is getting the first draft of your signature talk written. During this hands-on workshop, Kevin and Conor will guide you step-by-step through the process of drafting your signature talk. You'll walk away with a solid start -- and clear plan to finish your draft and continue developing your presentation.

Details about this workshop, including the date, are being finalized. As a member of the Spring 2023 Speakers Academy, you'll be able to attend for free and receive access to the recording.


    • This investment in your future success is a modest $895, 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 or 847-991-0772.)
    • NSA Illinois’ Speakers Academy alumni (graduates who first attended Speakers Academy within the past five years only) may attend for a $250 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.

Get a Sneak Peek!

Watch the videos below to get a taste of what our expert faculty will share during this powerful program...

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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...



Session 1:  Saturday, January 21

Session 2:  Saturday, January 28

Session 3:  Saturday, February 11

Session 4:  Saturday, February 18

Session 5: Saturday, March 18

Session 6:  Saturday, March 25


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.

Questions? Contact Christy Moore at 847-991-0772 and

Discover Why Graduates Rave About the NSA Illinois Speakers Academy

Find Out More:

Christy Moore, CMP
National Speakers Association Illinois Chapter
45 Delaware Court, Schaumburg IL 60193 

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Position Statement - NSA-Illinois

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