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Professional Speaking

Getting in the Media 5 Times in One Week – Whew.

felicia slattery media appearancesCall it a dress rehearsal for my upcoming nationwide launch of my next book, Kill the Elevator Speech: Stop Selling, Start Connecting later this year. Except that will be carefully planned and orchestrated. You see dress rehearsals are on my mind because last weekend was also my script-writing, stage production, and directorial debut for my daughters’ elementary school production of the show I cobbled together called, “An Evening at Vaudeville.” So mixed in with the wild speaking and media appearances, were daily after school rehearsals, with late nights of getting the program finished, pulling together costumes, and getting the volunteers organized. It was definitely a busy week.

However, my appearances in the media last week were more of a confluence of getting out there spreading my message through speaking and decent marketing, mixed in with a little bit of luck, I’ll freely admit. However, there are a few factors that led to me being featured in 5 different forms of media over the course of just one week, that I think could help your business as well.

  • Local TV – I spoke at the Batavia, Illinois Chamber of Commerce Women in Business event for a paid presentation about Credibility and Cash Flow in Social Media. The day before the event, I received an email from one of the event organizers asking if it would be okay with me to have the a local film crew to videotape my presentation for replay on their local cable access TV. So some time this week my speech will appear on cable TV. I agreed on the condition that I receive a copy of the recording to use in my marketing.
  • The lesson: Whenever anyone wants to record you, ALWAYS ask for the recording. As a speaker, you need that footage to put on your website, make a demo reel from, or at the very least share on social media as continued social proof you’re out there speaking and doing it well.
  •  Local Newspapers and Magazine – In conjunction with that same speaking gig in Batavia, the Chamber group had their PR pro send press releases to all the local papers and magazines. All I had to do was approve the copy and she sent it out. I did next to nothing to get my name in the media (not to mention the Chamber’s own websites and social media).
    The lesson: Speaking for Chambers of Commerce groups, whether paid or free, you always get the benefit of the Chamber marketing on your behalf. That often means placement in local media, which gets your name out there and allows you to become the “go-to” person in your niche.
  • Blog Talk Radio – One of my clients, Brian Basilico, has his own BTR program, BLT Radio, short for Business Life Transitions. He invited me to be a guest to discuss my upcoming book, Kill the Elevator Speech, Stop Selling, Start Connecting.
    The lesson: Write a book. That’s first. When you have a book, people want to talk to you about it. Next, Blog Talk Radio is a platform that allows the hosts to store the content, so you can go back any time and use it over and over again. If you’re not sure what to say, have a look at Signature Speech(TM) for Authors for a free gift that will get you started.
  •  Podcast on iTunes – About a month or so ago, internationally-known author, trainer, and podcaster, Alicia Dunams held a contest to see who should be her next podcast guest. Alicia and I had met years ago on social media and then in person at a live event where I was one of the speakers. I was one of the finalists and because my message about speaking would resonate well with her authors, she decided to interview me about leadership and being “all in” – the name of her podcast.
    The lesson: Know the people who are influencers in your community and in your niche. Use the internet to reach out a build relationships and meet them in person at live events so they will remember you.
  •  BBC – International TV – I recently began using a new app called “Jelly” for social questions and answers, which was released earlier this year by one of the founders and creators of Twitter, Biz Stone. I tend to jump on the newest social platforms as quickly as possible to secure my username and to check it out because many of my clients often look to me to talk about the newest communication tools. Then I was emailed by a producer for a TV programme (you have to spell it that way, because, you know, it’s British!), called “Click.” They have 330 millions viewers and were conducting a story on Jelly and would I be available to answer a few questions? Um, let me think…. YES!!!! So we scheduled it and I spent more than an hour getting the camera right, hurrying up and waiting, and doing the 10-minute interview that had to be boiled down to my 20 seconds of fame. You can see it below. They found me by being on the app. They invited me through my website, I’m convinced, because I had video of me on air to show I can do okay in a televised interview situation. UPDATE – The BBC has added the video to it’s own website right here.
    The lesson: Be in the forefront in your area of expertise. Know what the newest innovations are and the newest and hottest trends. Plus do what you can to get any kind of local TV publicity. I learned from Shannon Cherry. The national and international media are far more likely to ask you to be a guest when they know you’ll be a decent guest.

That was my big week in media and speaking. I was so wiped out it took me three days to complete this post!!!
So here it is, my big moment in the international press. The story begins at 12:07 and I come in, literally for 20 seconds, at 14:26. Don’t blink!



Today I’m Throwing It Down: Passive Income Challenge

I love *real* roller coasters like the Tennessee Tornado at Dollywood, but not the entrepreneurial kind. Yuck.

I love *real* roller coasters like the Tennessee Tornado at Dollywood, but not the entrepreneurial kind. Yuck.

I’m tired of it!

You know that crazy roller coaster of entrepreneurial income? The one where you feel like a millionaire rock star one month and a pauper the next? The one when you work like a wild person and make a ton of cash (hopefully) but then when you don’t (or can’t) work you have to start scraping for coins in the couch cushions, at the bottom of your purse, and in the seats of the car? Roller coasters I LOVE, but THAT one, well it’s long time to get off.

The thing is it doesn’t matter how long or short of a time you’ve been in business. It doesn’t matter at what point of income you feel like a prince(ss) or a pauper. We all know the feeling. And if we’re being honest, it happens far too often.

So OK, for a minute, let’s say you’re a smarty pants and you’re thinking, “I make more than enough money speaking/coaching/consulting/serving clients. I have no idea what you’re talking about Felicia.” Good for you. And here’s the thing — ask yourself:

What happens in your business on the days you don’t work?

Or if you’re in a day job, and you take off? Maybe the kids are sick, or you’re feeling under the weather yourself (you knew you shouldn’t have gone to that hole-in-the-wall restaurant!), or maybe you get diagnosed with something serious and have to take off for more than just a couple days. What happens with your business then?

You likely don’t make money, that’s what.

If you’ve ever struggled through that, you’ll certainly agree that feeling like you *have* to work with clients, be on stage, or show up “or else” is not a fun way to live.

I learned that hard lesson last year when I had to take almost 6 months off work throughout the year because of serious health challenges. And I found out the hard way I still had  some work to do.

Well, I’ve found the answer.

Actually, I’ve found 21 powerful yet simple ways to create passive income streams so on those days when you can’t (or don’t want to!) show up to work, you can still bring in cash! AND the great thing is because of my relationship I’ve built with David Perdew, the founder of NAMS where he’s had me keynote speak twice and teach on his faculty time and again, he’s given me a “super secret I’m the only one doing this right now” coupon code so you can get access to it all – valued at almost $200 – for FREE!  Just use coupon code: FSPassive.

I’ve worked hard this year to develop more passive income streams, but after diving deep into the content David Perdew and my friend Nicole Dean, another faculty member at NAMS, have created and that you can get for FREE but only through tomorrow, is that I still have a long way to go and much more passive income to gain!

**Challenge Alert**

Today, right now: I’m throwing it down. Let’s build our passive income streams together!

Yes I know it’s the holidays. Yes I know it’s a busy time. And that’s exactly WHY you should seriously consider joining me in this challenge. When you’re busy and want to be doing fun things away from your business or want to put your head down and write your next book or create your next speech, you still want (and need) money coming in. That’s what passive income will do for you.

So together – let’s get it going. I’ll be posting my progress here on my blog and I’ve even made a dedicated Facebook group to support anyone who wants to join in the challenge with me.

Be sure to pick up the Found Money passive income workshop to get some ideas and get started. The original price of $197 is a great investment into your business but as I said, I managed to clinch a great deal for you as my valued customer.

For a limited time, you can have it at zero cost but hurry.

Go to this link then download and devour everything!

This offer goes away for good on December 8th.

If you miss this one, you are likely to find yourself in exactly the same position as you are now. Let’s change that and make money while we don’t work!

Add your comment below to let me know you’re in and join me on the Passive Income Challenge for Speakers, Authors, Consultants & Entrepreneurs Facebook group to keep accountable and bring in more passive income!

3 Ways to Refresh Your Speaking

StartIf you’ve ever done any speaking or taken a course on using speaking to market your business, do you remember how excited you were? Many of my clients have taken classes in creating and using a Signature Speech(TM) to share their messages with the world.
Many of us, myself included, often learn a skill and jump in with both feet at the beginning. But then life and work momentum kicks back in and pulls you in the usual other directions and suddenly, you have less time than you’d hoped for that thing you were so excited about.
It’s ok. It happens. And here’s what you can do about it.
If you need to refresh on your Signature Speech(TM) or any speaking, here are 3 tips to get you moving again:
  1. Recommit.  You know speaking is powerful and you’re ready to make that happen and get on more stages. Recommitting to speaking means taking specific actions like setting some time aside to reach out to meeting planners, update your materials, start telling people you’re a speaker, and plan your marketing after your speech.
  2. Practice. If it’s been a while since you’ve done your speech, pull it out and practice it a few times beginning to end. Make any necessary changes based on new services you offer or current events in your industry.
  3. Start Fresh. You may be in a different situation than you were when you originally took my Signature Speech(TM) training or discovered speaking. Or you might have something totally new or unique you’ve come up with in your business that people LOVE that has nothing to do with your old speech. Maybe it’s time to write a new one. If it is, pull out your Signature Speech(TM) course content and put together a new speech.
If you’re thinking of refreshing your speech, this week I’m doing something I’ve never done: holding an intimate event where I’ll be writing speeches live, on the spot, for the attendees. You may not be able to get there or by the time you read this post, that event could be long over, but whatever you do, if you know for a fact that speaking is a powerful way to spread your mission and your message, find a way to get it rolling for you. Of course I’d love to help you. But in the meantime, I’d love to hear in the comments below about your powerful message and how you help people.

Public Speaking – You Could Be Boring If…

Photo Courtesy of Kurt Scholle.

Photo Courtesy of Kurt Scholle.

Do you ever wonder if your audience is as excited about your speech as you are? Or maybe, are you secretly worried that you might be boring your audience to tears?

The first step to get past being boring is to admit you are a bore on stage. But how can you know for sure? Here are a few obvious, and maybe even less-than-obvious signs:
  • Sleepers: Some people have incorporated so much movement and activity into their lives that when they are forced to sit still, like during your speech, no matter how fantastic you are, they literally collapse and fall asleep. That’s more about them than it is about you. But if you have more than one person looking groggy as you speak, you could be boring.
  • Otherwise Engaged: If your audience members are sneaking glances at their phones, zoned out, arms crossed, looking around the room, and not listening to you or your message, you could be boring.
  • You Don’t Ask for, And Don’t Get Any Response: If your entire speech is one-sided and could be delivered the same exact way by video, you’re missing the point of having people there in person. With a live audience, you have the opportunity to ask questions, elicit feedback, even – gasp- ask them to stand up and move a little. If you deliver a monologue and never even ask for so much as an occasional head nod, you could be boring.
Lately I’ve been thinking about this as event season is gearing up again and we’re all bound to be stuck listening to boring speakers. Let’s make sure we’re not part of THAT group!!!
Making sure you’re not boring is just one benefit of having a proven Signature Speech(TM) working for you in your business. I invite you to come to my 1-day only live event, I’m calling Signature Speech(TM) Shazam! That’s on Friday the 13th of September, and I’ll be writing 13 speeches for only 13 participants – and I’m guaranteeing all 13 people will walk away with their speeches DONE that day. Jump on board right away so you secure your spot before it sells out (and it will).
And I promise you one thing: it will be anything BUT boring! In fact, I can promise you’ll laugh, you’ll have fun, and you’ll be productive. Now THAT’S a good day!
So back to being boring… have you ever had to admit you were being boring? What did you do about it? I’d love to know your experience in the comments below.

Public Speaking – Always Have an Offer When You Speak on Stage for Business

Always have a product or service to sell when speaking.

Always have a product or service to sell when speaking.

Last week I had the opportunity to speak at a women’s symposium event in beautiful Galena, Illinois. My client, Brian Basilico, author of It’s Not About You, It’s About Bacon, introduced me to the meeting planner because he was going to be speaking at the same event and was booked before I was. In a typical turn of events where another speaker had cancelled (sadly this happens all the time), the meeting planner called me in a panic; would I be willing to fill in at the last minute with less than 2 weeks’ notice? Sure. Of COURSE I would; I was planning to be there anyway!

One of the sponsors of the event, the beautiful and serene Aldrich Guest House Bed & Breakfast, was host to the speakers the night before the event. So there I was, sitting around the dining room table with Brian, an expert in social media, and Traci D. Ellis, an attorney who works with professional women handling their business and personal needs. Smart people.

Yet, as we chatted about our presentations (and they both put finishing touches on their slides), I quickly learned that neither had planned to offer anything for sale to the audience, except for Brian’s book.

Big mistake.

As I explained to them, there will be people in any audience who are ready to buy something from you RIGHT AT THE MOMENT YOU ARE ON STAGE. Unless it was in the speaker’s agreement with the event that you would not be permitted to sell any products or services, then by all means you should. And here’s why:

If you firmly believe in your heart of hearts that what you do for people with your services or the results that using your product can truly enhance the lives of those who invest, then it is wrong to withhold that from people you know you can help and who need it. All that’s left to do is to make sure they know what it is you offer. Plain and simple.

Beyond that, you deserve to make a living. Yes, I know you love speaking. And yes, I know it’s a joy just to be able to share your information with an audience. And yes, of course you get plenty of benefits from speaking even if you don’t make a dime. But as one of my mentors, Jeff Herring has always said, if you go out of business because you’re not making enough money to support yourself, then you’re doing the world a disservice, robbing them of your unique gifts.  So get paid when the opportunity presents itself.

There are too many complex steps to “closing” on stage with audiences so you get the maximum results to discuss in a blog post. Even so, with some audiences, you don’t need a bunch of tricks and techniques; and they may not be appropriate for that audience anyway. Even if you never try a single “closing technique,” all you simply have to do is tell your audience members, “You might be wondering about how the details of what we’ve been talking about today can help you. I also do consulting in my business where I talk to my clients on the phone for an hour and we work out the details to [fill in the blank]. Normally I charge $250 for this hour. Today I’m offering a [discount/bonus/wh

Brian Basilico, Author of It's Not About You, It's About Bacon

Brian Basilico, Author of It’s Not About You, It’s About Bacon

atever] so you’ll get that hour for just $197. If [what you do] is something you’ve been struggling with, let me know today and I can help you.” You’re not hard selling. It might take you all of 30 seconds to say. You’re just sharing in a friendly, helpful way.

Using that simple strategy, Brian was excited when he was approached by a couple people who wanted his offer and one ready to give him a

check on the spot. Had he not offered it, the opportunity could easily have been lost, the moment past, and the cash left on the table. Instead, by simply offering a service, someone in the audience gets to benefit from Brian’s substantial brilliance. And I couldn’t be happier for him or his new client!

Do you always offer something for sale when you speak? How has that worked for you? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

Make Money Speaking THIS WEEKEND – Follow These Simple Steps

kachingbuttonWouldn’t it be great to move into June with some more cash in your pocket? Well, before this weekend is over, you can and here’s how.
In my best-selling book, 21 Ways to Make Money Speaking, Ways 10 and 11 both offer ways for you to make money this weekend and in this email I’ll show you exactly how.
If you want more than just a brief overview of 2 of the 21 Ways, you can also join my upcoming 21 Ways to Make Money Speaking Fast Action Group.

Way 10 is Present a Webinar and Way 11 is Virtual Workshop. You can offer either one this weekend and end up with more money in your account before your head hits the pillow Sunday night. Just follow these simple steps and tips:

  1. Choose your content. Base your choice on what your customers or clients tell you they are interested in, want more of, or have questions about. For a last-minute webinar or workshop like this, make your life easier by selecting content, slides,or worksheets you already have prepared. Or simply make it a live free Q/A session. No prep for you!Way 11: If you already have a workshop fully prepared with a sales page ready to roll, simply tweak the sales page to reflect the date (see #2 below), and offer a reason for people to pay you to join the class at the last minute such as a discount or special added bonus. You make money to speak on the front end with this by people paying to take your workshop.

    Way 10: If you don’t yet have a workshop and/or a sales page in place, then offer a free webinar or teleseminar where you provide the phone number and/or link to join your presentation. Then during the call sell something. It can be a physical or digital product, a book, a past set of recordings you’ve done, or even your coaching service. Give listeners a reason to buy on the spot and an easy way to pay – set up a buy button on your website and you’ll make money then and there!

  2. Determine your schedule. Virtual weekend events are most well-attended on either Saturday mornings or Sunday evenings. Choose one of those times for highest attendance, keeping in mind when you are at your best: early bird or night owl!
  3. Invite people. If you have an email list of subscribers, invite them for sure. Acknowledge that this is the last minute and make it an exciting opportunity; some ideas: “stop the presses!” or “this just in!” or “I’ve never done this before!” or something else fun. Regardless of if you have subscribers or not, also invite people via social media. Announce your presentation on every account you have and all the groups you’re in (that allow you to post invites): LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube… Make sure people know the topic and give them a reason to attend. 21 Ways to Make Money Speaking by Felicia Slattery
  4. Speak at your event and make money! Cha-ching!!
Simple as that!
I hope these tips have inspired you to make money this weekend. If you do it, let me know in the comments below so I can feature you in an upcoming blog post during my Effective Communications Month celebration.
If you thought these tips were helpful, grab you seat now in my 21 Ways to Make Money Speaking Fast Action summer evening program because we’re going to dive deep and I’ll show you all kinds of ways you can be making money using any type of speaking you love.

Iced Tea and Hot Marketing Tips from Bob The Teacher and Felicia Slattery

Earlier this week I mentioned that my friend, Bob The Teacher Jenkins was in town staying at my home for what turned out to be a 3-day VIP mutual intensive work session with some fun and family games thrown in the middle. Bob even taught my 5th grader, Gracie, all about binary and hexidecimal numbers. Yep, it’s what we do for fun :-)

In my previous post, I asked for questions for Bob & I and today I’m sharing with you the answers to those questions. We made a video that turned out to be almost an hour long with some in-depth tips that answered questions like:

  • What are the dos and don’ts of using props in a speech?
  • What are some effective ways to use humor in a speech?
  • How do I promote my book when I’m just starting out and don’t have any following yet?
  • How can I get my first joint venture partner?
  • What was the turning point when your business began to soar?

Have a look and I’d love to see your answers to some of the questions or your thoughts on our answers in the comments below! Oh- and be sure to watch the outtakes at the end – we had A LOT of fun and laughs doing this!!


While we were making this video, more questions came streaming in, so Bob and I talked about it and we’ve decided we have to figure out a way to do this again. Stay tuned for more details as they become available. Got a question of your own? Go ahead and share it in the comments below.

[Creating Connections] Are You An Author, A Speaker, or An Expert?


Creating Connections Ezine, ©Felicia J. Slattery // ISSN 1939-8646 // Volume 10 – Issue 4

Inside this Edition:

  • Note from Felicia
  • Feature Article
  • Upcoming Events
  • Marketplace

Top O’ St Paddy's GirlsThe Mornin’ To You!

Last weekend we celebrated St. Patrick’s Day with a fantastic feast at my sister’s house. We all dressed up in our green and had a little extra fun, too! I posted another photo on Facebook too, where you can see my Dad and me with the girls. Although everyone’s Irish on St. Paddy’s Day, you see, the Slattery family are descendants of Irish kings in the Heremon line of the Clan O’Slatraigh. The name comes from the Gaelic “slatra” meaning strong. That means, when you put my first name with my last name, it means the Happy Strong one. I’ll take it! LOL

Busy Speaking Week for Me – All About Testimonials

Today is the third day in a row I’m speaking to my coach’s members-only audience on a topic he saw me casually mention on Facebook a few weeks ago. He got so excited about it, he contacted me, asked me to put together a speech and a product … and what a whirlwind couple of weeks came after that! Thanks to Steve Sipress for the idea and the opportunity and to for getting the manufacturing and production end of things done, I now have a brand new product called Cash in on Testimonials. Look for more info on that product coming soon. I think you’ll like it; I’ve been averaging 80% close rate in the room, which means the other  For now… I have to hurry and get ready for my speaking gig this morning and masterminding after that! Life is good and I am truly blessed!

Looking for Sponsors


Kill The Elevator Speech: Stop Selling, Start Connecting Book
In case you missed it, my next book, which I have been having a fabulous time researching and writing, is one of my hot projects now. I’m using this section of my ezine to keep myself accountable and finally get the manuscript done and to my publisher. My goal is to get to 40,000 words (good ones, not just a bunch of baloney to up the word count). So each edition, in this spot, I’ll tell you where I am with my current word count. You may not even pay attention to it, but I’ll know. This week’s word count: 22,547.

Feature Article: Are You An Author, A Speaker, or An Expert
I train a lot of speakers, authors, and experts. And when I hear these typically brilliant folks introduce themselves to a room full of people at a networking meeting, for example, I hear many of them make a big mistake that could be costing them business and speaking gigs even. Read this edition’s fresh article for exactly what that is and to see if you’re making that error too. Then you’ll see how to introduce yourself more effectively so you don’t miss out on any opportunities!

Enjoy and until next time, happy speaking!


Feature Article: Are You An Author, A Speaker, Or An Expert?

felicia“What do you do?”

Oh the dreaded question! The result of that question tends to lead to a few answers, some of which would include an “elevator speech.” As I’m working on a book called “Kill the Elevator Speech,” you can imagine how I feel about THAT! However what should you say if you are a speaker, an author, and have expertise in a particular area?

As a speaking coach and trainer of fellow professional speakers, a lot of folks I work with identify themselves as professional speakers, as well they should. In fact, one of the biggest mistakes I see is too many smart people who are speakers, keep it to themselves. They don’t broadcast it enough and they don’t share that they are, in fact speakers.

That’s such a shame, because if YOU don’t tell people what you do, they will never guess. And then you will never be invited to speak. So you HAVE to tell people you are a speaker, which is why this article is about to take an interesting turn…

Too often I see brilliant people who have extensive expertise in a particular area introduce themselves at meetings or in groups as a “speaker and author.” If that’s your only chance to share who you are and what you do, using those exact words is a mistake.

You’re not saying enough!

Of course you should say that you are a speaker and author. But if you stop there, the main question of those listening to you in that moment is, “What do you speak and write about?” But if you’re in a room where people aren’t able to stop you to ask and you just continue on, you’re missing a major opportunity to share your main area of expertise.

How to solve this is very simple: after you say, “I’m a speaker and an author,” add, “…author of [your book title] and I teach [or train or consult or coach or whatever you do] people about [your area of expertise.]” After you add that small bit, which by the way is not an elevator speech, but simply a more complete introduction to a group, now you’ve finally added in the information that people need to know about you. You’re giving them the words to remember about you.

Yes speaker and author is good, but you have to be known for your expertise first and then people can know you are also a speaker and author, which only amps up your expertise.

Today’s article is short & sweet. Take action on this and remember — to be successful don’t think in terms of “or” think in terms of AND. So you are an author, a speaker AND an expert and people deserve to know it so you can serve them in the ways only you best can.


Upcoming Events:

March 7 & 8, 2013: Signature Speech for Authors. Intensive Virtual All-Day Workshop.

March 18, 19 & 20, 2013: Chicagoland’s Sharpest Entrepreneurs, Featured Speaker: Testimonial Gold: How to Give an Excellent, Impressive, and Useful Testimonials.

April 9 & 11, 2013: Sponsorship for Speakers with Shannon Cherry. Mini Course. More details coming soon.

Macrh-May, 2013:  The Get Healthy Summit. Featured Speaker. Virtual training open to the public.

September 11, 2013: Chicagoland Holistic Chamber of Commerce, Featured Speaker: Credibility and Cash Flow.



If you’re ready to use speaking to market your business, you can be up and speaking in 6 short weeks. Discover how at

Build a Beautiful Online Presence – with a Point & Click WordPress Plugin!
I just picked up a very cool plug-in called Instabuilder that works with WordPress and is point-and-click simple. Instabuilder has everything you could need and I was excited at just how affordable it really is (less than $50!). You can quickly build:

  • Squeeze pages
  • Sales pages
  • Facebook and social media-ready pages
  • Split testing
  • Countdown timer (gets people motivated to take action!)
  • Simple WYSIWYG visual editor
  • And tons more…

Go see this easy-to-use plug-in and make your life easier so you can focus on getting your message out there instead of trying to figure out all the confusing tech stuff. Instanbuilder can be your secret to a beautiful online presence!


The Basics Still Matter

Bradley Hall, the iconic building of my alma mater, Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois

Bradley Hall, the iconic building of my alma mater, Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois

It was a last minute decision.

My former head coach from the time I competed on the Bradley University Speech Team (happily now known as BUST), asked me a simple question on my Facebook wall, “Are you going to AWW?” (So many acronyms…) I soon learned AWW stands for Alumni Work Weekend, where the not-quite ghosts of speech teams and national championships past are invited to converge on Peoria and coach the current team members in their quest to continue the legacy and win two more national championship titles, from AFA – American Forensics Association and NFA- National Forensics Association.

Early Saturday morning I found myself driving south, following first the Fox River and then the Illinois River all the way to Peoria, where I don’t think I’ve been in about 20 years. It was a beautiful morning, sunny and very little traffic. As I arrived on campus, it looked a lot different than it did when I was last there.

I made my way to the speech office – wow- when I competed for the team we were spread all over Bradley hall with no one home base beyond a hallway where three of the coaches and college professors had their offices. Now there is an entire state-of-the-art BUILDING dedicated to communication, which both warms my heart and makes me just a wee bit jealous at the same time.

The buildings and campus aren’t all that’s changed.

A couple rules, which were hard and fast when I competed, are now long gone. And some events look different too (I’m talking about a program duo… like cutting one play into 10 minutes wasn’t enough…sheesh.). But what struck me most is what remains the same.

Of course there are common perennial themes that college students like to explore such as sexuality, connectedness, and gender equality. But even more so, beyond the common themes, was the recurring challenge of executing the basics well.

As I coached these students, most of whom had far more talent than I and would likely have crushed me in competition, I noticed an effort to get better without completing the firm foundation. Here are a few things I found myself repeating over and again that can help anyone speaking, not just those in the tiny world of collegiate forensics:

  1. Slow down and enunciate: I must have written and/or spoken this 15 times on Saturday. The students were excited about their messages and clearly wanted to hurry up and get to the “good parts.” But we all have to remember, every single part of a speech is necessary in order to fully communicate the message of the presentation.  Even if your introduction is perfectly memorized and you can spout it at 60 miles per hour, doesn’t mean you should. Take your time and make sure your audience can follow the meaning to your message.
  2. Move with purpose: This one slays me. Back in my day, walking during an interp piece was taboo. You *might* be able to get away with taking a step to one side or the other, but much like a basketball player has to pivot, there was no leaving your initial spot. So I had to quickly get used to seeing the students move all over the place, books in hand. (If you’re not familiar with the interpretation of literature in competition, competitors choose a piece of literature, poem, or a play, depending on the event; they make a script from a small section of it by cutting the story into an 8-10-minute presentation; they place the story into a small, black, 3-ring binder, and turn the pages as they present the story, bringing the story to life.) Once I got used to the idea of competitors walking around, I could appreciate how it could add to the communication of the message. But then, sometimes, a student would walk or move, just to move. It had no rhyme or reason. When you speak, pacing the stage like a cat on the prowl is distracting, no matter what you’re talking about. Walking is good; it just has to be done with a purpose: advancing the message and continuing to engage your audience.
  3. Gestures matter: These students, the best speakers in the country, know how to control their bodies and faces to communicate a specific emotion. Yet even the best of them needed an occasional reminder that they have to pay attention to the smallest things. One student told a story where the main character made a phone call, but then the pantomime phone suddenly disappeared into thin air, rather than completing the pantomime gesture of returning the phone to a back pocket or a table.  Another student was holding a pantomime gun, but instead of having fingers and hand wrapped around the pistol as if he was really holding it, he pointed his fingers as if they were the gun. These may seem like tiny, picky little things, because they are, but its this attention to detail that will make a difference in getting into a final round at nationals or not.  When you speak, be deliberate about your gestures and think about what the audience is seeing.
  4. One word can make all the difference: In every speech I listened to, there was often one word, one moment that represented a missed opportunity to allow the audience to experience another level of a story’s impact. Just like in real life, those tiny moments and single words can add up and make all the difference between a memorable speech that impacts the audience and one that leaves the audience a little flat. Don’t let the tiniest of moments pass by without giving thought to how you’ll present them and the power of a single word.

Going back to Bradley and working with these student was an honor and a privilege. Just as I feel when I work with my clients today, I can see those students continuing to do great things as they deliver their speeches.





Redeeming Myself After a Year

felicia slattery speaker

Just before taking the stage in my costume. (The hat and raincoat came off after my attention-getter!)

Almost exactly a year ago I wrote a post confessing about how I had a really off day while keynoting at an event. Lots of kind people came to my defense and many audience members who had never seen me speak before did not even notice it. However I can count on my good friends to be honest (painfully so, sometimes!), and they agreed it wasn’t my best performance.

Well, last Saturday on the same Atlanta stage at David Perdew’s Niche Affiliate Marketing System 8 (NAMS) Event, I redeemed myself!

Last year I listed the things I did wrong and what I could do to improve.

I thought this year I’d share what I remembered to do right so my performance could be greatly improved — even with another brand new speech!

  1. Planned Ahead: I knew for at least 6 months I’d be back on the NAMS stage. I also knew the reason I was going was to give myself the deadline to write my new keynote speech, Kill the Elevator Speech. I didn’t wait to work on the speech.
  2. Got Help: Even the best performers need help sometimes, just like the top Olympic athletes need their coaches. I realize that and I reached out to my smart and creative colleagues and friends to help me come up with some ideas about how to present my speech, props I could use, how to start and more. Big thanks especially to my weekly accountability partner, Shannon Cherry who gave me the idea to use the Dragnet Theme — I used it as my attention getter. Also big thanks to my buddy coach, Kamin Bell Samuel, who worked through my entire plan with me and helped me figure out what my “deputy” buttons were going to say (they turned out great, BTW!).
  3. Had Personal Motivation: I told you this was a new speech. I knew I needed a deadline that was set in stone, what Paul Evans called during his speech an “immoveable deadline” to get the speech done. My new book, Kill the Elevator Speech: Stop Selling, Start Connecting is coming out soon – and this speech motivated me to finish the book, too! In addition, I knew I’d need new marketing materials to promote the upcoming book and keynote speech and that my dear friend and gifted photographer, Tony Laidig would be there willing to record my entire presentation. If the speech sucked, so would my marketing materials and I couldn’t have THAT!
  4. Went Against the Grain and Stuck to My Guns: Yet again all the other daily opening and closing keynote speakers used PowerPoint presentations. If you’ll recall, last year I felt the pressure to conform and so slapped a PPT together at the last minute. This year,  even though I had a brand new speech and honestly could have used a PPT to remind me of what I wanted to say next, I chose to skip it altogether in favor of using props to add a visual element to my speech. As a result, I got to be creative and many audience members commented specifically on the props I used and how much they enjoyed them.
  5. Practiced: I’ll admit, I did not practice as much as I would normally recommend to my clients, but I did practice important bits of my speech so I’d know how they would sound and feel when I delivered them for reals.  I also had a captive audience in my publisher, friend and roomie for the event, Kristen Eckstein who graciously listened to me practice at 1 AM after being out dancing and singing karaoke. (Oh, I don’t actually recommend you go out and party all night when you have an 8:30 AM speech, but I knew I was prepared and I couldn’t resist spending that quality fun time with my good friends! Plus I drank only water and only sang one group song so my voice wouldn’t be shot and I wouldn’t wake up with a screaming headache!)
  6. Visualized: I knew the layout of the room and I worked on seeing myself walking in, on the stage and knocking it out of the park.
  7. Prayed: This is how I center myself moments before I go on stage. Whatever you can do to calm down and get grounded, do it: breathe, meditate for a moment, get quiet and get focused.
  8. Worked From a Full Word-for-Word Script: I know this may come as a surprise because when I teach my Signature Speech (TM) students to prepare their speeches, I recommend using only an outline rather than writing the speech out verbatim. However, there are a number of things different about this. First a keynote, which is a product in an of itself, is drastically different than a Signature Speech (TM), which is marketing tool. Also, to start I’ll be charging $15,000 per speech for my keynote, which I will deliver again and again, likely for years to come. Having a script will allow me to tweak it over time. This speech had props, jokes, and stories I wanted to get right. I put all the stage direction into the script so I would remember my plan. Finally, I printed my script and actually used it as a prop during the speech, so it worked well for a first time (and by the time I deliver it again it will be fully memorized :-) ).

So, that’s what all came together to make this year’s speech go very well. I feel like I can hold my head high with pride now with the NAMS community.

Oh- and if you want to hear my speech, you can access it and all the NAMS8 recordings right here.

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