What is the National Speakers Association? The Ultimate Guide

January 30, 2023

7 min read

National Speakers Association: What's It All About?

Are you a professional speaker or an aspiring one? Would you like to get paid for speaking (or get paid more)?

The National Speakers Association helps professional speakers become better speakers and build successful businesses. It’s a membership organization for anyone who has an audience. That includes trainers, educators, consultants, and authors.

Continue reading to learn about the National Speakers Association’s mission and values, its eight competencies, membership benefits, benefits available to nonmembers, events, and more.

About the National Speakers Association

The National Speakers Association’s mission is to “empower professional speakers to thrive and influence.” They seek to “elevate excellence, share expertise, and challenge one another to improve.” Founded in 1973 by Cavett Robert, NSA now has thousands of members all over the world.

The National Speakers Association is mostly about professional development (resources and education) and community. They seek to advance the skills, integrity, and value of its members and the speaking profession itself.

The NSA Foundation is a philanthropic organization that helps NSA members and the public. It includes a disaster relief program, a benefit fund for professional speakers, scholarships, and grants.

National Speakers Association - What's It All About

The National Speakers Association is a member of the Global Speakers Federation, a worldwide association of organizations that support speakers. Member organizations learn from each other and share resources in a collaborative effort to expand the speaking profession all over the world.

NSA Values

The National Speakers Association highlights five organizational values.

Abundant generosity—NSA members lift each other up, sharing what they know and cheering each other on. They’re competitors who actually help each other succeed. They also encourage philanthropic giving through the NSA Foundation. They call this culture of abundant generosity “The Spirit of Cavett”—a reference to NSA’s founder Cavett Robert.

Elevating excellence—NSA leverages expertise to cultivate expertise, and they dedicate themselves to continual improvement.

Intentional language—NSA recognizes the power of words and encourages people to find their own voice and communicate with deliberateness and respect.

Honorable innovation—While NSA values its heritage, it also looks forward to the future and strives to stay relevant. They foster a spirit of integrity and ethics among its leadership and membership.

Uplifting humanity—NSA wants to see everyone win. That includes audience members and the community at large.

The Eight Competencies

Since 1986, the National Speakers Association has shaped its programs around eight professional competencies, building on their original four competencies and NSA’s Platform Mastery.

These eight competencies provide insight into what it takes to succeed as a professional speaker.

Environmental trends and impact—This competency is about staying relevant to what’s going on in the world and in the professional speaking industry. It involves an understanding of trends and best practices.

Professionalism—A speaker can’t truly be a professional speaker without establishing and maintaining a reputation for integrity and performance.

Content development—This competency is about curating valid content and creating original content based on sound research, critical thinking, and fair-mindedness.

Product development—Successful professional speakers convert content into products they can sell. This might include books, videos, courses, or podcasts.

Platform mechanics—This competency involves the know-how it takes to use a stage effectively. It’s all about setting up the right environment to deliver a message well.

Performance mastery—This is about the message and its delivery. Speakers with performance mastery effectively bring together elements such as word choice, timing, and body language.  They’re able to engage the audience, make them think and feel, teach them something new, and motivate them to act. (The team here at Yoodli values this competency, as well. Yoodli’s AI-powered speech coach can help NSA members and everyone else practice and improve these public speaking elements for free. Here’s a screenshot that shows a bit of what the platform does.)

National Speakers Association - What's It All About - Yoodli

Business development—To build a successful professional speaking business, you must have more than excellent speaking skills. This competency is about business-building skills such as branding, marketing, sales, and contract negotiation.

Strategic and operational business management—Building on the previous competency, this is about business strategy and understanding corporate aspects such as risk mitigation, due diligence, finances, laws, and regulations.

Resources for Nonmembers

Even if you’re not a member of the National Speakers Association, you can benefit from it in several ways.

  • Free eCourse—When you sign up on their homepage, you’ll get access to this course that shares three steps to increase your speaking fee:
    • set the right baseline fee
    • ask your clients the right questions about their budget for you
    • respond to clients who ask for a lower fee than what you want to receive
  • NSA Facebook group—Join over 26,000 people who ask and answer questions and share resources.
  • Webinars—NSA makes some of their virtual training sessions available to nonmembers.
  • Events—NSA holds two annual conferences (NSA Influence Conference and NSA Thrive). Member and nonmember pricing is available.
  • NSA Digital Vault—This is NSA’s collection of on-demand educational content, available by paid subscription and grouped by speaker level:
    • Beginner resources help speakers develop their voice, find leads, and start getting paid for their work (at the right price). They also include contract templates.
    • Intermediate resources are for speakers who are making a living by speaking but want to learn how to scale their business. Resources help speakers with marketing, starting a podcast, and more.
    • Advanced resources are for speakers who are ready to join the Million Dollar Club—speakers who are household names. Resources help these speakers develop multiple streams of revenue, get major bookings, and protect their intellectual property.
  • NSA blog—Learn from articles such as “Win More Paid Speaking Opportunities by Speaking for Free” and “How to Unlock Your Own Style of Humor to Make a Speech Memorable.”
  • Speakernomics—This is NSA’s podcast. Listen weekly to hear from speaking industry experts. Learn how to become a better speaker and get paid for speaking.
  • Get featured on NSA’s blog, podcast, webinars, or magazine—NSA has a form on their website where you can let them know that you have something valuable to share with professional speakers.
  • Find a speaker—If you need a speaker for an event, use their member directory to find a speaker for a particular topic and in a particular geographical area (or virtual).


National Speakers Association membership is annual, and you have two options: Essential Membership and Advanced Membership. Both levels include the benefits listed below. Advanced Membership also includes free access to the Digital Vault.

Membership Benefits

  • Community Groups—These are member-led Facebook groups that provide peer connections and advice. They have online communities for NSA Certified Speaking Professionals, authors, emcees, podcasters, etc.
  • Mic Swap—These are monthly live Zoom meetings to connect with other members and share ideas to tackle business challenges.
  • Weekly webinars—Only members have access to all of these, including live and recorded versions of the series “Be a Better Speaker” and “Build a Better Business.”
  • Member pricing for NSA events and the Digital Vault
  • Inclusion in the NSA member directory—Members get listed in their online directory, which provides networking and booking opportunities.
  • Participation in National Speakers Association chapters—These are local communities of NSA members who connect and learn together. Note that membership in National Speakers Association chapters is separate from headquarters membership. For example, you can become a professional member of NSA Wisconsin for $150 per year, which is in addition to headquarters membership dues.
  • Opportunities to win awards through the Referral Program—This is an annual competition. Active members who refer prospective members can win monthly and annual rewards. Rewards include NSA-branded merchandise and a free conference registration.
  • Discounted pricing for Zoom—This saves members over $2,000 a year.
  • NSA Health Trust—Members with at least two W-2 employees in a licensed business get access to group health insurance plans.
  • Discounted pricing for SpeakerFlow—This CRM tool helps people run a speaking business.
  • Access to a digital copy of Speaker Magazine


The NSA holds two large annual events and many virtual events throughout the year. Individual National Speakers Association chapters organize local events.

Annual Events

Attendees enjoy presentations as well as networking opportunities. Member and nonmember pricing is available for these two yearly conferences.

NSA Influence Conference

NSA Influence Conference is the organization’s annual convention and, as they call it, “the leading annual event for the speaking and entrepreneurial industry.” The presentations and experiences are designed to help professional speakers hone their skills and build their businesses.

In 2023, NSA Influence Conference will be held in July in Orlando, Florida. It’s a special 50th anniversary celebration. The schedule includes a Night of Comedy, the Million Dollar Speakers Group, NSA Foundation events, and the CPAE Hall of Fame and Cavett Awards Dinner and Show.

NSA Thrive Winter Workshop

The Thrive 2023 Winter Workshop is planned for March 3 to 5 in San Antonio, Texas. Scheduled presentations include “How to Build a Beloved Brand by Following Your Interest, Not Your Expertise,” “How to Generate $10,000 From Every 100 YouTubeViews,” and “Rocking TikTok in 60 Seconds!”

Virtual Events

Webinars include series such as “Declutter 101 for the Right-Brain Creative” and “Recession-Proof Your Speaking Business.”

Mic Swap is a monthly Zoom meeting in which NSA members connect with each other to share ideas and get support.

Wrapping Up

Whether you’re already a professional speaker or aspiring to be one, the National Speakers Association can help you build a business doing what you love.


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