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NSA Core Competencies

NSA’s Professional Competencies are the basic categories of skill, knowledge, and mastery needed for optimum professional performance. These competencies allow for endless variation in specific content and focus based upon the choices of the individual and the needs of the moment. NSA reformatted the competencies into four areas:



This competency refers to knowledge or skills in a particular area, with a particular emphasis on the application of this knowledge or these skills. It entails knowing the best topics for you, as well as researching and developing the content of your speaking presentations/performances. This competency area also includes techniques for staying on the cutting-edge of topic selection and development skills.

The set of competencies for this area include:

Selecting and developing topics
Building topic expertise
Staying on the cutting-edge of topic development
Tailoring/customizing topics and presentation/performance content
Developing products
Developing writing skills
Protecting intellectual property
This competency refers to the speaking skill or power of using persuasive and powerful expression. It embodies the knowledge and skills of presenting and performing in order to communicate with audiences. It also encompasses theatrical and stage techniques. Embodied in this competency are the elements involved in creating the setting for the presentation/performance.

The set of competencies for this area include:

Identifying and developing unique communication styles
Mastering the craft of presenting/performing
Creating the setting (e.g., introductions, room setup, proper staging, appropriate knowledge of and use of audio or visual equipment)
Learning techniques to engage audiences
Understanding and connecting with diverse audiences
Acquiring the skills for different speaking roles (e.g., keynote speaker, workshop presenter, seminar leader, emcee, after-dinner speaker, panelist)


This competency refers to the skills needed in the purposeful or industrious undertaking of a speaking business venture. It involves running a business, sales and marketing knowledge, as well as skills and techniques to generate speaking engagements and income. The set of competencies for this area include:

Organizing and operating a profitable speaking business (e.g., purchasing supplies, managing inventory, use and knowledge of office equipment and technology, cost control, maintaining financial records)
Selecting and working with staff
Developing a brand/image
Managing financial aspects of the business
Negotiating contracts, fees, and royalties
Scheduling/tracking speaking engagements
Planning business travel
Developing effective sales strategies
Developing productive marketing strategies
Developing and successfully marketing products
Designing brochures/promotional materials
Developing profitable market penetration
Developing relationships with bureaus, agents, and other distributor options/channels
Developing productive sales and marketing contacts
Learning about other associations in the meeting and convention industry
Expanding one’s speaking market (e.g., speaking internationally)
Earning client loyalty and providing customer service


This competency refers to the rules or standards governing the conduct of a person or the members of the speaking profession. This competency provides an overview of the National Speakers Association, the speaking industry, and related professional associations. It relates to the knowledge and skills needed to behave ethically with individuals and groups with whom speakers often interact. It helps speakers and their staffs deal professionally and ethically with several types of industry associates, other speakers, those who hire speakers, and those who support speakers with products and services. The set of competencies for this area include:

Becoming knowledgeable about the National Speakers Association
Adhering to the NSA Code of Professional Ethics
Staying current on what is state-of-the-art in professional speaking
Working with other speakers
Working with agents, bureaus, and other distributor options/channels
Working with program/meeting planners
Working with professionals serving speakers
Interacting with the media

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