National Speakers Association

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National Speakers Association
National Speakers Association logo.png
Legal statusActive
HeadquartersTempe, AZ
  • Tempe, AZ
Region served
Mary Lue Peck

The National Speakers Association (NSA) is a professional speakers' organization in the United States that supports the pursuit of public speaking as a business. [1]

NSA is the oldest and largest of 13 international associations comprising the Global Speakers Federation.[2][3]


NSA was founded in 1973 by Cavett Robert who was born 14 November 1907 in Starkville, Mississippi and died in September 1997.[4] The members hold to a code of helping one another known as "The Spirit of Cavett" and [5] in honor of Cavett's birthday, NSA celebrates the "Spirit of NSA" day every 14 November.[4] 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.[4] Cavett's idea for NSA began with just 35 attendees of the Phoenix Summer Sales Seminar in 1969.[4] After years of work, the National Speakers Association was incorporated on 12 July 1973. Cavett Robert's hope was to build a bigger pie so everyone could have a bigger slice.[4] In July 1979, Robert was honored with NSA’s first Member of the Year Award, later renamed “The Cavett Award.”[4]

Organizational structure and operations[edit]

NSA has its national office in Tempe, Arizona, and 34 regional chapters throughout the United States.[6] NSA's first 10 chapters were officially chartered at the 1981 annual conference. Even though many of the names have changed, these 10 chapters still exist today.[4] 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.[4] 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.[4]


In order to join the National Speakers Association, professional speakers must document that they are regularly paid to speak professionally.[7] 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.


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 Jillette.[8] NSA's first Convention was held 1 June 1975 with 62 attendees gathered at the Scottsdale Camelback Inn.[4]


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, and Media Lab: The Deep-Dive Lab on Broadcast, Print & Social Media.[9] NSA's first lab was held 30 April 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.[4]

Local and regional chapters[edit]

The 35 individual chapters are 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.[10][11][12][13][14][15]

CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame[edit]

In February 1977, the Association established the Council of Peers Award for Excellence (CPAE) Speaker Hall of Fame. This lifetime award was created to honor the organization's top professional speakers for their speaking excellence and professionalism. Inductees are evaluated by their peers, and must excel in five categories: message, presentation/delivery, experience, professionalism, and collateral material.[16] The award is not based on celebrity status, number of speeches, amount of income or volunteer involvement in NSA. To date, 232 men and women have been inducted; there are currently 172 living members. Up to five new inductees are named each year at the National Convention.[16] The association conferred an honorary CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame award on General Colin L. Powell, USA (Ret.) in 1999, D. John Hammond in 2007, and Joe Larson in 2012.[16]

Certified Speaking Professional[edit]

Conferred by the 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.[17][18] In 2015, NSA recognized 51 professional speakers, the largest class of individuals to receive the designation at the Annual NSA Convention.[19]

In order to be considered for the CSP designation,[17] 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 either NSA's national conference or member association GSF's national conference once in the past 10 years.
  • Attend the Professional Competencies session and Professional Business Ethics session, or purchase and listen to the 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 of three or more attendees. The speech may be delivered in person, or virtually.
  • Document 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 are considered as income.
  • Provide names of individual clients willing to complete an online evaluation on the candidate's behalf; NSA needs 20 completed evaluations.
  • Submit link to a Public or Unlisted YouTube video recording of a full, in-person, unabridged presentation, 60 minutes in length, but no longer than 90 minutes, or a continuous unabridged 60 minute excerpt from an appreciably longer presentation, such as an all day workshop or training, for review by a four-member CSP panel.

Academy for Professional Speaking[edit]

The association launched the Academy for Professional Speaking in January 2004 to teach those exploring a career in professional speaking.[4] 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.[20]

Speaker Magazine[edit]

Speaker Magazine, 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 2008, Speaker magazine went digital. In 2013, NSA launched and introduced a mobile application [4]


With the help of 34 working NSA members, NSA published its first book, Paid to Speak: Best Practices for Building a Successful Speaking Business.[4] One year after publishing Paid to Speak, NSA published its second book, Speak More! Marketing Strategies to Get More Speaking Business.[4] A commemorative 40th anniversary volume, National Speakers Association: Celebrating 40 Years of Conventional Wisdom, describing the history of the National Speakers Association, highlighting the individuals, events, initiatives and programs involved in the association's growth and influence was published in July 2013.[21]

Notable members[edit]


  1. ^ Mark Lewis (16 February 2010). "Podium Dreams". Retrieved 3 December 2010.
  2. ^ "Mission -". Retrieved 28 December 2015.
  3. ^ "The Art and Business of Motivational Speaking". Inc. 1 December 2010. Retrieved 16 September 2011.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o "NSA Interactive Timeline". NSA. Retrieved 19 September 2014.
  5. ^ Mathis, Jim. "Living With Spirit". Cavett Robert Memorial Website. Jim Mathis. Archived from the original on 5 September 2011. Retrieved 6 September 2011.
  6. ^ "Find NSA Chapters". NSA. Retrieved 19 September 2014.
  7. ^ "Qualification Information". Qualification Information. NSA. Retrieved 19 September 2014.
  8. ^ "INFLUENCE 2019". NSA. Retrieved 16 July 2014.
  9. ^ "NSA Labs". NSA. Retrieved 19 September 2014.
  10. ^ "Chapter Leadership Council". CLC. National Speakers Association. Archived from the original on 26 August 2011. Retrieved 6 September 2011.
  11. ^ Cox, John B.; Radwan, Susan S. (27 January 2015). ASAE Handbook of Professional Practices in Association Management. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 9781118775394.
  12. ^ Incorporated, Facts On File (1 January 2008). Careers in Focus: Coaches & Fitness Professionals. Infobase Publishing. ISBN 9781438117348.
  13. ^ National Directory of Nonprofit Organizations. Taft Group. 1 January 2000.
  14. ^ Harris, Philip M. (1 January 2001). The Guide to National Professional Certification Programs. Human Resource Development. ISBN 9780874256321.
  15. ^ "Hospitality Net - Cancellation fees, Smaller Meetings, and Shorter Lead-Time - By David M. Brudney". Retrieved 25 July 2016.
  16. ^ a b c "Recognition". National Speakers Association (NSA). Archived from the original on 2 October 2015. Retrieved 28 April 2016.
  17. ^ a b "Certifications". NSA. Archived from the original on 23 January 2012. Retrieved 19 September 2014.
  18. ^ Arnone, William J.; Kavouras, Freida; Nissenbaum, Martin (16 November 2001). Ernst & Young's Retirement Planning Guide. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 9780471083382.
  19. ^ "Celebrating Greatness: The National Speakers Association's Highest Honors". NSA. Archived from the original on 2 July 2014. Retrieved 19 September 2014.
  20. ^ "Academy for Professional Speaking". Aspiring Speakers. NSA. Retrieved 19 September 2014.[permanent dead link]
  21. ^ "NSA Books". NSA. Retrieved 19 September 2014.
  22. ^ "NSA Announces 2012 CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame Inductees". Member News. National Speakers Association. Archived from the original on 24 December 2013. Retrieved 20 December 2013.
  23. ^ "Zig Ziglar Bio". Zig Ziglar Bio. Zig Ziglar. Archived from the original on 24 August 2011.