National Speakers Association
The National Speakers Association (NSA) is a professional speakers' organization that supports the pursuit of public speaking as a business. NSA is the oldest and largest of 11 international associations comprising the Global Speakers Federation.
NSA was founded in 1973 by Cavett Robert who was born November 14, 1907 in Starkville, Mississippi and died in September 1997. Members still hold to a code of helping one another known as "The Spirit of Cavett" and  in honor of Cavett's birthday, NSA celebrates the "Spirit of NSA" day every November 14. Even though he suffered from stage fright in his younger years, Cavett Robert joined Toastmasters International and went on to receive his first paid speech at the age of 61. Cavett's idea for NSA began with just 35 attendees of the Phoenix Summer Sales Seminar in 1969. After years of work, the National Speakers Association was incorporated on July 12, 1973. Cavett Robert's hope was to build a bigger pie so everyone could have a bigger slice. In July 1979, Cavett Robert was honored with NSA’s first Member of the Year Award, later renamed “The Cavett Award,” which is awarded to the member who best exemplifies the qualities of caring, sharing, loving and making a difference in people’s lives.
NSA membership includes such noted keynote speakers as:
Organizational structure and operations
NSA has national offices in Tempe, Arizona and 37 regional chapters throughout the United States. NSA's first 10 chapters were officially chartered at the 1981 Convention. Even though many of the names have changed, these 10 chapters still exist today. NSA's professional competencies were adopted in June 1985 and continue to drive all facets of NSA today. These competencies are known today as the four E's: Eloquence, Expertise, Enterprise and Ethics. In January 1991, the NSA staff moved into the new headquarters building at 1500 South Priest Drive in Tempe, Arizona, and have been there ever since.
NSA holds an annual national convention each summer featuring some of the most successful speakers in the industry, such as Steve Forbes, Sally Hogshead, Erik Wahl, Nancy Duarte, Walter Bond, and Penn Gillette. NSA's first Convention was held June 1, 1975 with 62 attendees gathered at the Scottsdale Camelback Inn.
NSA holds several intensive labs throughout the year featuring a deep-dive on speaking business, marketing and eloquence topics to help professional speakers grow their business and perfect their speaking craft. Past labs have included: Leverage Lab: Creating Multiple Streams of Income, Stagecraft Secrets Lab: Presentation Power to Ignite Any Audience, Laugh Lab: How To Funnier (Even If You're Not That Funny Now), and Platform Profits Lab: How to Sell Before, During & After Your Speech. NSA's first lab was held April 30, 1994 at the International Center for Professional Speaking. NSA continues to host a lab every year to offer speakers an intimate learning environment with labs capping at around 200 attendees.
Local and regional chapters
Each chapter is led by an elected President and a board of directors. Chapters usually hold monthly meetings featuring a speaker and networking time. Nationally NSA has a Chapter Leadership Council composed of past presidents who serve as resources and volunteer consultants to current chapter leaders.
CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame®
In February 1977, the National Speakers Association (NSA) established the Council of Peers Award for Excellence Speaker Hall of Fame® to honor professional speakers who have reached the top echelon of platform excellence. Admission into the CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame® is a lifetime award for speaking excellence and professionalism. Inductees are evaluated by their peers through a rigorous and demanding process. Each candidate must excel in seven categories: material, style, experience, delivery, image, professionalism and communication. The award is not based on celebrity status, number of speeches, amount of income or volunteer involvement in NSA. To date, 219 men and women have been inducted into the CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame® and include Zig Ziglar, Nido Qubein and Sally Hogshead. Additionally, NSA conferred an honorary CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame® award on General Colin L. Powell, USA (Ret.) in 1999. Up to five new inductees are named each year at a gala celebration held in conjunction with the NSA National Convention. There are currently 168 living members of the CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame®.
Certified Speaking Professional® (CSP)
Conferred by the National Speakers Association, the Certified Speaking Professional® (CSP) designation is the speaking profession’s international measure of professional platform competence. Only a little more than 12 percent of speakers worldwide currently hold this credential. In 2014, recognized 78 professional speakers, the largest class of individuals to receive the designation at the Annual NSA Convention.
In order to be considered for the CSP designation, the candidate must:
- Be a Professional member in good standing of NSA or a member association of the GSF for 12 continuous months (1 year) immediately prior to submitting your application. Salaried employees may be eligible to apply.
- Attend the Professional Competencies session AND Professional Business Ethics session, or purchase and listen to session recordings, within 10 years prior to submitting your application.
- Document 250 presentations and fees paid given in the past ten years. A speech is defined as a live spoken presentation delivered to a live audience. The speech may be delivered in person, or virtually.
- Demonstrate earnings of $50,000 per year* for five of the ten years (years do not have to be consecutive). The fee paid for a presentation and/or revenue generated from same day product sales count as your income.
- Provide names of 20 individual clients willing to complete an online evaluation on the candidate's behalf.
- Submit video recording of a full, in-person, non-edited presentation, 90 minutes or less, or at least a continuous non-edited 60-minute excerpt from an appreciably longer presentation for review by a four member CSP panel.
In order to join the National Speakers Association, professional speakers must document that they are regularly paid to speak professionally. This may be demonstrated in one of three ways:
- Been paid for giving 20 or more presentations in the prior 12 months.
- Given 20 or more presentations to sizable groups in the past 12 months as part of a salaried position.
- Have earned $25,000 or more in the past 12 months from speaking presentations.
Academy for Professional Speaking
Realizing the need for a program that serves those who want to explore a career in professional speaking, NSA launched the Academy for Professional Speaking in January 2004. The Academy for Professional Speaking is exclusive to those aspiring to become a professional speaker. The Academy consists of eLearning and the one-day Cavett Institute, named after NSA founder Cavett Robert, CSP, CPAE. This meeting is held prior to NSA's annual national Convention and features programming for people who want to turn their passion for speaking into a full-time profession.
Speaker Magazine, an award-winning publication is published 10 times annually in print and digital formats and includes the latest marketing strategies, tips, information and innovative ideas from top professionals worldwide. NSA's magazine was rebranded and renamed to Speaker magazine in January 2007. A year later in June of 2008, Speaker magazine went digital. In 2013, NSA launched SpeakerMagazine.com and introduced a mobile application available in the Apple App Store, Android Play Store and Amazon Kindle Store.
With the help of 34 working NSA members, NSA published its first book, Paid to Speak: Best Practices for Building a Successful Speaking Business. One year after publishing Paid to Speak, NSA published its second book, Speak More! Marketing Strategies to Get More Speaking Business. A commemorative 40th anniversary volume, National Speakers Association: Celebrating 40 Years of Conventional Wisdom, capturing the rich history of the National Speakers Association, highlighting the individuals, events, initiatives and programs that were instrumental to the association's growth and continued influence was published in July 2013.
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