Over the last several decades, professional speaking has expanded to include speakers from all over the world. In doing so, this has also sparked a number of organizations specifically dedicated to the speaking industry. This includes, in North America, the National Speakers Association (NSA) and the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers (CAPS). In Europe, this includes the Professional Speaking Association (PSA), among others across the continent. And, around the world, speakers of all nationalities can connect through the Global Speakers Federation, or GSF.
In this guide, we’re going to highlight the Professional Speaking Association, specifically. In addition to its history, we’ll break down a few of the benefits of joining the PSA. We’ll also discuss the role of the PSA in the wider context of international speaking. That way, whether you’re pursuing local or international events, as a UK or Ireland-based speaker, you can make an informed decision.
So, without further ado, let’s get into the details, starting with the history of the Professional Speaking Association! 👇
History of the Professional Speaking Association
Founded in 1999, the Professional Speaking Association was created to, in their words, “raise the standards of professional speaking” and “promote speaking as a professional industry.”
Through regular large-scale events, local meetings and seminars, and speaking resources, their goal was, in short, to help speakers “Speak More and Speak Better.”
In meeting this goal, the Professional Speaking Association focused primarily on speakers in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Today, their members can attend chapter meetings throughout these countries including around London, Staffordshire, Yorkshire, and the Thames Valley.
The Professional Speaking Association is also supported by their sister organization, the PSA Foundation, which provides monetary support for members or aspiring members in financial difficulties. This allows members to participate in whichever level is most comfortable for the time being, then scale up as their speaking business grows. It also means that, even if you’re brand new to the speaking industry in the UK, you can rest assured that established speakers are willing and able to help you hit the ground running.
Reasons to Join the Professional Speaking Association
We’ll talk more about the costs of joining the Professional Speaking Association shortly. But first, let’s break down a few of the biggest reasons that UK and Irish speakers maintain their PSA memberships.
Members have access to region-specific speaking industry tips, resources, and events.
First and foremost, as you’d expect, joining the Professional Speaking Association gives members access to UK-specific information. For speaking, this may not seem crucial, since a speaker’s focus can vary from event-to-event. But, as we learned in 2020, depending on where you are in the world, you may be facing challenges that other international speakers aren’t.
In the U.S., for example, we didn’t experience the first wave of COVID-19 infections until March 2020. Nevertheless, on the other side of the world, speakers were losing gigs due to COVID as early as January. Sure, many of the industry trends worldwide were the same, such as the rise of virtual speaking. But depending on location, the onset of those trends was dramatically different.
Because of this, having access to region-specific information is incredibly important. For speakers in the UK and Ireland, the Professional Speaking Association meets that need.
They maintain a library of resources for their members.
Speaking of information, the second reason to join the Professional Speaking Association is their library of speaking resources. Developed independently from the PSA, this instructional database is known as the “Speaker Hub” and includes dozens of eBooks, videos, and audio recordings. In their words, this content falls into three categories: Speak More or Speak Better (for new or growing speaking business owners) and Speak Stronger (for established speaking business owners).
Ultimately, the Professional Speaking Association describes the Speaker Hub as the “one-stop library to find guidance, resources and tips you need to know to develop your speaking skills, grow your business and polish up on your existing skills” including everything from “the thrilling experience of stagecraft, magic and presentation skills to the not-so-thrilling world of contracts and finance.”
Again, all of these resources are available to PSA members, regardless of their membership level. They also combine region-specific tips with worldwide speaking insights, so members can gain a global perspective of the industry.
They provide support for speakers struggling with membership fees.
Third, as mentioned previously, one major pro of the Professional Speaking Association is their support for speakers that can’t yet afford their membership fees. In addition to the PSA Foundation, which awards PSA fellows, members and associates with financial assistance, the PSA itself is also managed almost exclusively by volunteers. This allows them to devote as much of their membership dues and other fees right back into events, resources, and financial support for the speakers that use them. It’s a win, win!
It connects UK speakers with other professionals from around the world.
Lastly, although it focuses on UK and Irish speakers, the PSA is also connected to similar associations around the world. This includes regular communication with NSA members in the United States, for instance. However, more importantly, it also includes membership in the Global Speakers Federation.
Originally called the International Federation For Professional Speakers, the GSF was founded in 1998 by speakers from the associations in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States to “provide a conduit through which associations and their members can share and benefit from the knowledge, experience and the wisdom of each other.”
Today, a total of 16 speaking organizations – including the PSA – continue that mission, giving their members access to a worldwide network of speakers sharing their knowledge and resources. It’s hard to think of a bigger “pro” than that!
Learn More About the Professional Speaking Association
Ultimately, joining a speakers association – whether you’re in the UK or not – comes down to many factors. What is your speaking business’s budget, for example? In which areas of your speaking business are you most looking for help or guidance? Are you hoping to expand your speaking efforts to an international scale? Or are you just looking for local gigs to supplement your primary source of income?
These are just a few of the questions to consider before joining the Professional Speaking Association. It’s also important to balance your costs with the benefits of access to a speaker network. After all, it’s like the old saying goes: “No man is an island”. Whatever your business goals are, a little help from others can go a long way.