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Professional Speaking

Busy Season(s) for Speakers

In case you’ve ever wondered if there’s a pattern to how meeting planners contact experts and speakers for their events, there is!

Predictably, there are several times of the year when over the past 10 years of speaking professionally I can expect my proverbial phone to ring, which usually means my email or social media private message inbox blow up with invitations to speak and be interviewed.

This week is one of them. (I’ll explain why below.)

After you’ve built up some momentum in your business, meaning you’ve met some people, you’ve spoken a few times, you’ve been blogging or posting videos regularly, you’re communicating with people on social media, and so on, event planners and also podcast hosts start thinking of you when it comes time to plan for their speakers and guests. THAT’S how you know your marketing efforts are TRULY paying off.

But what if you’re just getting started and you’re not sure what to do to make the phone ring?

Well, when you know the predictable times many event planners are actually contacting speakers to get them booked, you can be in front of that curve and have something on their desks in advance of that moment!

So, without any further ado here are the times of the year meeting planners and podcast hosts make their calls to book speakers like you:

happy new yearNew Year’s Day: I know that sounds weird, but many people take this day-after-the-main-holiday as a day to catch up on work missed from the holidays, and get ahead on, well, the New Year. If you’re an established speaker with a network of connections, you already know, the first few days of the New Year represent a flurry of activity. It stays busy through the first couple of days after kids go back to school, which means, whether you have kids or not, it’s good to be aware of things like that for your marketing.

After New Year’s Day, most late winter and spring events are already well-planned. So the next BIG push comes:

The week after July 4th: People are busy throughout the spring, when many annual events tend to take place. After 7-4-2004 independence day girls in golf cartthose events, meeting planners take a little time off, and then right after Independence day in the US, they get back to work and start planning their events for the last quarter of the year through the middle of the following year.

Then comes the dog days of summer. People have their minds on baseball and barbecue, family reunions and fun. Until…

Back to School Time: This can actually cover a few weeks, because in the southern part of the US, where it’s insanely HOT in August, kids go back to school early. Then of course traditional college classes start.  And then many schools wait until the week after Labor Day in the US to begin. So the back-to-school period can last from the second week of August through the week or so after Labor Day.

speaking with propsBetween Thanksgiving and Christmas: Now you’re thinking, “NO WAY!” But the truth is, some of the super-organized event planners, which tend to be a lot because a person needs to be organized to plan all the moving parts that go with an event, like to get as much off their plates as possible before the New Year comes along. Admittedly, of the four busiest times of the year to get invited to speak, this is the least busy of the four, but every year, like clockwork, usually around the week after Thanksgiving, I get invitations to speak. They could be procrastinators looking for someone for the spring events, or super-organized folks planning past April and into the third and fourth quarters of the upcoming year. It doesn’t matter. What you need to know is THIS is the time event planners are looking for speakers!

Now you can plan ahead. Use the time in between to build up your marketing. Write your blog posts and books. Shoot your videos. Develop your speaker one sheet, your website, and your lumpy mail campaigns. And continue to build your credibility and confidently communicate to the world that YOU are a speaker and YOU are prepared to rock their audience’s world with your awesome self!

The Path to Speaking and Coaching Success

Recently I talked to a new high performance coach who wants to do some speaking. Wendy (not her real name) had a 20+ year corporate career and a couple months ago quit her full-time job to pursue her passion. Now THAT’S exciting!

As the conversation continued, I learned quite a bit more about where she’s starting from and I recognized familiar challenges I have seen countless others face. Like many before her, Wendy wanted to know the secret to speaking and coaching success.

See if any of this sounds familiar…

So far she has invested in a bunch of training, certification, and group programs, but as of now she has only one client to show for the time, effort, and money she has already put into her business. Also, she is being influenced by two drastically different crowds: one who regularly charges $6000 for a 12-week session and another crowd who says there’s no way she can get even half that with any kind of regularity, even though her first client is happily regularly paying the fee she asked for.

She has learned PART of the path to profiting from her passion along the way, but not all of it.

What I will share with you in this post are the very same 7 Steps to Speaking and Coaching Success that I shared with Wendy.

  • Dump the dead weight
  • Greatness is not a prerequisite to success
  • What to do with them after the speech
  • Keep communication open and flowing
  • Continue the experience
  • Grow your fan base exponentially
  • The secret is there is no secret

I don’t necessarily share this info with everyone because not everyone is ready to hear it and/or take action on it. Wendy was. Maybe you are, too. Maybe you’re not.

Either way, I laid out the full path for speaking and coaching success and thought I’d share it here with you.

The 7 Step Path to Speaking and Coaching Success




Let me start by saying your family, friends and business associates probably want what is best for you.

But, have you heard the saying that “you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with”?

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” 

– Jim Rohn

Right away, there was a business success lesson I could share in our conversation: I told her to dump the second crowd FAST.

Who you listen to and hang out with matters IMMENSELY! If you are in a group of people, whether in person or virtual, such as in a Facebook or LinkedIn group, and the overwhelming message is “You can’t do that,” when others absolutely HAVE done it and ARE doing it, then you’re in the wrong group.

In the words of a horror movie haunted house ghost: “GET OUT!” Run! Don’t walk; RUN away from the naysayers. The longer you spend with them, the more you will begin thinking like them. The more you think like them, the more you get the same results as they get.


Teachable Moment: Success Is Contagious – So Is Lack of Success: Which Will You Catch? (Tweet that!)

Think about it like this:

Doesn’t it seem MUCH better to hang out with the millionaire’s club than with Guttersnipes R Us?

You could learn a technique or two (or twenty!) from what the millionaires are doing. But the main reason to spend time with a group of successful people is their MINDSET. They believe they can succeed and because of that they make things happen.

Simply by being with them, listening to what they discuss, and absorbing their success vibes makes all the difference.

Success, you see, is contagious.


To be successful you need to offer a small variety of presentations and YOU HAVE TO BE GOOD. (Don’t worry if you don’t think you’re good right now,we can fix that.)

Important Note: If you have different kinds of audiences for your same topic (like I talk about communication, branding, and speaking to business owners, but also to corporate folks), you need two different, yet possibly similar speeches that address the needs of the different audiences.

I tell my clients you want to craft one speech you deliver for free as a marketing tool to get clients from the audience – I call that your Signature Speech, and at least one different speech unique to you, that you do for a fee.

Let’s break your Signature Speech down into it’s main 4 parts.

Marketing: This is the part of your business where you get the phone to start ringing, so to speak. You’re driving traffic to your website, you’re meeting people networking, you’re using videos and articles, you’re using outbound direct marketing techniques, you’re buying targeted ads… all so people know who you are and what you do.

Sales: After people know you, then they need a chance to buy from you and/or hire you to speak or coach or consult or train or whatever you offer. This can be online through your own sales page, through a forum that manages the process of selling your products related to your speeches or your speaking services for you like Amazon, Fiverr, Upwork, Udemy, or others, or directly through a personal conversation.

Content: Obviously, you’ve got to have SOMETHING to say to an audience.

Your content is what meeting planners and clients pay you money for. One of the oddest questions I get from people who believe they are good speakers is, “What would I talk about?”

If you don’t know about something and have expertise in that something, you *could* make money speaking, but you’re not going to build an entire business of your own from it.

Spend some time learning something so in-depth that others will pay you for it. And by “some time” I mean years.

You don’t need an advanced degree, but it’s certainly helpful to prove you’ve focused your time on a particular area, yet still not required. You don’t need any education at all – but you DO need lots and lots of experience.

Again, I’m talking YEARS here. Don’t read a Kindle book, take someone else’s digital training and suddenly decide you’re an expert in that. You’re not and it will show.

Get REALLY good at something, do something, and then people will ask you about how you did it. That’s your content.

Delivery: If you have excellent content but you’re boring or irritating on stage – you’ll never make a living as a speaker.

Unlike college professors who can be brilliant but boring, you’ve got to be brilliant and engaging. That means no reading word for word from PowerPoint slides, no endless monologues without audience interaction, no staying glued to the lectern with a death grip on it, and no 60-minute sales pitches devoid of actionable or useful information.

You don’t have to be as funny as a stand-up comic, but it helps to have a good sense of humor and keep your presentation light.

You also don’t have to be choreographed like a 90s boy band, but it helps to know your blocking, gestures, and have your movements be planned and purposeful.

Finally, you don’t have to have the panache of Steve Jobs or the inspirational oratorical presence of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,  but you’ve got to be able to hold people’s attention.

Too many speakers *think* they know it all when it comes to delivery. It’s the ones who fall into that trap that often need the most help. Your content alone is not good enough to carry a speaking business.

Delivery counts.

And it’s often the case that the smallest tweaks make the biggest differences.


The money is in the back-end.

Don’t bother building a speaking business without a back-end, and some version of coaching or consulting is the easiest way to have something that comes after your speech.

If you’re any good on stage, and if you clearly know your stuff, people will ask you about consulting anyway and you’d better have an idea what that looks like. You also need to know and be able to explain the results of your consulting and what you’re different than others.

For example, I tell people, when they hire me it’s like getting multiple consultants in one: you get marketing and branding consulting and coaching for your business AND you get content and delivery help for your speaking AND you get training development help for your products.

It’s rare to find someone as qualified and effective as I am in all those areas.

What about with you?

First, know the difference in what you’re offering.

Coaching and consulting represent different forms of helping professionals. I do both with my clients. Here’s the difference:

Coaching – is a process of the coach asking questions and eliciting answers from the client. Coaching is great for goal-setting and creating action steps.

Coaching works well when someone is having a challenge with something in her life or business and there is no one right way or several proven formulas or whatever.

Coaching is about allowing your clients space to grow and develop and make mistakes along their journey that they own, understand, and learn from, while at the same time, guiding them away from as many of those mistakes as possible.

Coaches ask many questions and allow clients to come to their own conclusions and answers. Coaching is a process.

Consulting – In your role as a consultant, you tell your clients what you know based on YOUR specialized background, knowledge and expertise and provide them with tools and techniques to use along with the instruction to go with it.

There often *IS* a right way or a proven formula. When you are a consultant, you are hired to use your expertise for your clients so they don’t have to learn the proven formula themselves. They simply turn to YOU to tell them what it is and either explain how to implement it or implement it for or with them.

A great consultant knows when to consult and when to coach.

When these two roles are combined, you get a customized plan developed by your clients with guidance and support from you —along with the skills to achieve your clients’ goals and follow through on their plans.  The best consultants blend coaching and consulting together as we work on your needs; that’s what I do so you’ll end up with extraordinary one-of-a-kind plans and results.

It’s fun for you as the consultant AND fun for your clients!


Listen, if you’re going to have a speaking business, no matter if you run it mainly online, mainly offline or do a combo of the two, the fact is you have to do some kind of writing to support your speaking work.

Think of writing Speaking writing yin yangas the yin to the yang of speaking. They go together and one cannot exist without the other.

Your writing supports your speaking. Your speaking supports your writing. It’s a fine balance that must always exist in harmony.

What you can touch on during a presentation, you can expand on in-depth in a blog post or a even more so in a book. People read your books and blog posts and hire you for more speaking or consulting.




It’s a beautiful circle of how business is run.

Leave one out – the writing or the speaking – and it’s like having a peanut butter sandwich without the jelly, or without the honey and banana (the way my kids love it!).

Plain peanut butter on bread is dry and while it gets the job done (a quick breakfast, snack or lunch) it’s not inspiring or comforting or even fulfilling. You’ll leave your biggest fans – and potential clients and customers – starving for what they are missing from you.

That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be an awesome writer.

There are many tools available to help you create written content from your spoken content.

There are people you can hire to help edit what you’ve roughly written, edit a transcript of a speech, or write from scratch as a ghostwriter.

There’s no shame in hiring someone to do the heavy lifting of your writing for you. In fact, it’s smart business and highly productive. Give your ideas to someone to put into complete sentences with proper grammar while you work on something else.

Then you’re getting two things done at once!


So let’s say you’ve got a blog, a book (Kindle book or physical), and a speech.

That’s a great start, but you’re still not FULLY developed in your speaking and coaching or consulting business yet.

You’re missing out on one of my favorite parts of the business: making money while you sleep, or doing anything else you prefer to do.

There is some debate as to if you should even create training and products to sell online. Some think if you do that, clients won’t have to hire you. They can buy your training and be good to go. That kind of thinking is a mistake and I’ll explain why in a moment.

Another mistake is thinking if you offer lower-price tools and solutions online, people will see you as a bargain basement-type person and not a high-ticket consultant or coach. Seems to make sense, in a way. The theory is if someone pays you a small amount, they won’t see your value, thus you have devalued your knowledge and expertise.

Nothing could be farther from the truth!!!

You’ve used your valuable knowledge and expertise to provide a tool or solution that you know people need and are very happy with. You take your time to create the product and the sales process ONCE and then you’ll get paid over and over again, potentially making in the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars.




Someone who needs a Speaker One Sheet Templateis in the mode of getting booked to speak. In that moment, the likelihood is extremely high that person is the exact ideal candidate for me to work with and help move forward.



Because if someone wants to get booked to speak, they need marketing help. AND they need help with content and delivery for when they do get on stage. AND they should be developing a full business  around their speaking so they don’t leave money on the table.

With customers for the Speaker One Sheet Templates, I’m essentially having people pay me to tell me they could be ready to work with me. Most will not, and never will become a high-ticket consulting client. (That’s fine because I only work with 5 at a time and I’m usually fully booked.)

Consider developing a tool that will solve a problem your ideal client has RIGHT AT THE MOMENT when it would be good for them to hire you. The tool should be complete in and of itself.

Don’t skimp. Make it really good.

Consider it to be an audition that you may get a call-back for if it’s good enough.


We are nearing completion of your business success puzzle. Are you excited! Because I AM!

Let’s talk about list-building for a moment.

When you have a list of subscribers, meaning a group of people who are interested in your work, like your style, and are in your market who have signed up to hear from you via email, you have a hidden gold mine not many outside our industry (or frankly even IN it) fully comprehend.

Consider the many things you can do with a list of engaged subscribers:

felicia slattery; how to be a successful speaker

Sell your own products, training, and services:

This one is a no-brainer, easy way to make more money. When people opt in to join your community of subscribers, you can let them know what you personally have created that will help them solve a problem they experience or reach a goal they want. As your business grows, your subscribers will tell you what they want and it becomes easier to create lucrative offers.

Sell affiliated products and services:

When you build a list of people all interested in the same general kinds of things, telling them about other products and services created by someone else can make you money. For example, if you tell everyone you meet in a certain niche to read a particular book, you’d benefit financially by simply signing up for an Amazon Associates account here, which is free and couldn’t be easier. When someone uses your special tracking link to buy the book or whatever else you recommend, you’ll make money. Individual business also have affiliate programs, so you can make money the same way; get an affiliate tracking link and when someone you refer with that link buys something, you’ll get paid. To get an idea of what this looks like, you can see my affiliate program here.

Speaking of affiliate programs, you could create your own affiliate program:

Your happiest clients and customers will want to shout your name from the rooftops.

When you have an affiliate program, they have an extra incentive to remember to tell others about you. There are a number of ways to track affiliates, but choosing an automated system that ties into the rest of your sales cycle is by far the easiest and best choice.

Get Sponsors:

When you have a group of people that a particular marketer wants to reach, that enables you to sell sponsorships to that organization. You can be paid for an individual event like a live event or a webinar, or on a monthly basis for posting the company’s logo on your blog or showing photos on social media of you engaging with that company in one way or another.

What to do to build your list? Simple.

  • Give people in your audiences where you speak a reason to sign up for something for free.
  • Or do a Facebook ad campaign.
  • Or spend some time (or hire someone) to make sure your website is optimized for the search engines (called SEO).
  • Or put your free offer on the back side of your business cards for when you go to networking or speaking events.
  • Or offer a colleague that you’ll do a webinar for her community of subscribers for free and have them sign up for the free webinar.
  • Or make a video and put it on YouTube with your keywords and a link to your free offer online.

So. Many. Things!

And here’s the final piece of the puzzle I shared with Wendy, and I’ll now share with you…


Please understand that using the word “secret” is simply a time-proven marketing tactic.

The word evokes mystery top secret stamp redand suspense and our minds need to know the answers and what the “secrets” are. So when a marketer uses the word “secret” – it’s to drive more traffic, get more clicks, and generate engagement.

Employing the word “secret” as a marketing tactic is fine – many of my contemporaries and I, myself, use it.

However, make no mistake. What to do to become successful in a speaking, coaching, and consulting business is not a secret at all, in any way.

It’s out there. It’s also right here in this post.

Look at what successful people in the speaking and coaching world are up to – you’ll see them doing the same kinds of work, in their own ways.

“There is no club or group or association or grand pooh-bah of the speaking world,
holding closely guarded trade secrets and allowing only members to
receive their golden tickets to success.”
– Felicia Slattery

golden ticket

Now, there are plenty of reasons to join clubs, groups, and associations for speaking, coaching, consulting and business success (like maybe learning a super secret handshake to go with the usually awesome networking?) but the path to business success is about as public as possible.

Yet not everyone knows it – or takes action on what they know.

What it comes down to, and what I help my clients with, are the individual PARTS of making a successful speaking business happen. KNOWING what to do and being ABLE to implement each section of each step along the way is the difference between reading a recipe for chocolate chip cookies and enjoying the unmistakable aroma of those luscious chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven and finally savoring the flavor of those still-melty chips in a freshly home-baked cookie.

Sure, you can know what to do, but if you don’t do it – and don’t do it all the way – you won’t reach the level of success you want. Just like if you read the recipe for chocolate chip cookies and don’t make them – no cookies. Or you do make them and decide not to add the chocolate chips. You’ll get cookies, but you’ll miss out on the best part!

The smartest speakers get that to be successful, you can KNOW the plan in your head, you can be in groups for support, but without specific actionable help along the way, you’re going to make the mistakes and it’s going to take A LOT longer.

I help people fast-track their success. If you’re interested in that recipe for a successful speaking business, what you need to know – the recipe –  is on this page.

There it is. All laid out for you.

Your exact 7-step path to running a successful (meaning profitable) business doing public speaking, coaching, consulting, and writing books. Put these pieces together and you’re on your way to living an extraordinary life where you get to serve the kind of people you can help best.

And, if you need any help putting the pieces together, contact me.


PS: If you’re a speaker, author, coach, or consultant, please share in the comments below what has worked for you, what you struggle with, and if you found anything particularly interesting, useful, or valuable from this post! I look forward to reading your thoughts!


Professional Speakers – The Marketing Tools You Need to Succeed

Felicia Slattery on stageNo matter where you are in your professional speaking career, there are certain tools you need that meeting planners are looking for as they decide to hire you.

In order to get paid to show up for your expertise, you’ve got to first prove you know what you’re doing, and that means looking like a pro with everything you communicate. Here are the various tools you need to succeed when marketing yourself as a professional speaker:

  • Speaker Website/Webpage: You need a website that has all the info and details meeting planners are looking for, that’s in line with your brand and the message you want to convey.
  • Speaker One Sheet: This is a crucial one-page marketing tool and should include exactly what meeting planners want to see to book you as a speaker. They look like this.
  • Speaker Video: Meeting planners want to know what you look like and sound like, so you need to produce a video that does this job for you like this one.
  • Speech Description & Title: When you describe your speech and create a title, it should sound so exciting anyone interested in your topic won’t be able to stay away.
  • Speaker Photos: For most of us online, it’s our head shot that is our first impression. But as a speaker, did you know you need more than one photo? That’s because photos are a BIG part of the proof you’ve been on and you’re good on stage. They represent branding at its finest.
  • Speaker Business Card: Sometimes all you have is that tiny bit of real estate to make a lasting impression. Use it well and it can lead to future business!
  • Speaker Intro: Before you get on stage someone will be introducing you to the audience. You’ll be asked to provide a written intro for an emcee or someone else to read. This tool should get the audience fired up and excited to hear you and your speech.
  • Speaker Bio: There are multiple occasions where you’ll need a biography, including on your website and on your speaker one-sheet. Your job is to create a bio that will get you noticed and make you be memorable.

If you need help knowing what to put on each of these tools, I have created a set of checklists that will help you create every one of the pieces above, so you won’t leave off something important. You can see the checklists at

When you have these tools in place, working for you, you’ll look like the professional you are and give meeting planners plenty of reasons to say yes to hiring you to be on their stages!


A Better Way to Take a Compliment about Your Speaking

be grateful after a speechYou just delivered your Signature Speech, got off stage and now there’s a line of people waiting to talk to you about what you just shared.

Inevitably, someone will compliment you on some aspect of your speech and you might be tempted to say “thanks but…”

“Thanks, but I really could have delivered the close better.”

“Thanks, but some people seemed pretty zoned out.”

“Thanks, but I felt really off today and to the people who know me, it showed.”

I am personally guilty of all these, which would be how I know what might come to mind. 😉

Now, if you grew up like me, with someone in your life who asked you, “Who do you think you are…,” you may have a difficult time accepting praise. Or if you’re a church-going person, you undoubtedly heard many times in your life that humility and modesty are important traits. You might even feel guilty when someone gives you a compliment that you don’t think you deserve.

So it may feel only natural to deflect a compliment because it feels like the humble thing to do. In some speakers’ minds, the alternative is to imply boastfully, “Yep, you’re right. I rocked it and I know it.”

Yet, here’s why that’s a mistake. When you deflect someone’s compliment, it’s not about YOU. It’s about THEM. It’s like saying to that person, “Thanks, but you don’t know what you’re talking about.” It’s actually hurtful to the person. Now instead of feeling like they did something nice by telling you what they enjoyed about your presentation, your response could lead to them feeling badly.

You didn’t create a connection. You broke it. (ouch)

All that warmth and rapport you spent your Signature Speech building up? It can be gone in an instant.

Here’s what to do instead:

Whether you agree with someone giving you a compliment, remember it’s not about you at all. It’s about THEM. So acknowledge the compliment and then say something about THEM. Here’s what I say,

“Thank you! You are so kind. I appreciate it.”

And end it there. You don’t need to go any further. You get to maintain the connection you worked to create (after all, you never know where your next speech referral is going to come from!), and you didn’t act boastful in any way. In fact, you appear gracious, and that will continue to build the connection you started by being on the stage that day. YAY YOU!

The ONE Job of Your Speaker One Sheet

One of the biggest mistakes people make when preparing any marketing materials, including a Speaker One Sheet, is expecting it to do more than the job it is intended for.

The job of a Speaker One-Sheet (also known as a one-pager), which is a printed or digital marketing tool designed to showcase you as a speaker, is NOT to get you or make you money. Find out what it’s supposed to do for you in this mercifully short, under three minutes video. Then go to to make the job of creating your one-sheet super simple and easy!

Real Fast Holiday Promotions – ANY Time of Year for ANY Business, Part 1

national ice cream day

National Ice Cream Day is July 16, 2016. Why not send your best clients a gift card for a scoop?

One of the biggest myths is that “the holidays” only come once a year.

Maybe that’s true for “The Holidays” – capitalized because if you’re thinking of the big 3 of Thanksgiving – Christmas – New Years (or Thanksgiving – Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Your Holiday of Choice – New Years), you’re right. But when you want to communicate with your people, market your business, serve more people, and make more money, you’ve got an opportunity to use a holiday promotion 365 days a year – and I’m not just talking about Christmas in July sales.

Certainly there are the obvious traditional holidays that people celebrate – Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day and such. Plus there are the “mattress company and car dealership” holidays that apparently only mattress retail outlets and car dealerships seem to market around like Veteran’s Day or Columbus Day.

As you peel away the next layer of the holiday promotional onion, you see some organizations marketing around a cause like Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October – heck just about the whole NFL wears pink socks and if that organization isn’t about making money, nothing is!

But then, digging even deeper, you’ll find a different reason to celebrate – and promote your business – every single day of the year! They can be a day, a week, or a whole month. Holidays like these related to my business of speaking, writing, coaching and consulting:

  • National Motivation and Inspiration Day: January 2
  • Just Say No to PowerPoint Week: February 7-12
  • National Be Heard Day: March 7 (instituted by my friend, PR Pro Shannon Cherry)
  • National Bookmobile Day: April 13
  • National Small Business Week: May 1-7
  • Effective Communications Month: June (I’ve celebrated this for many years annually)
  • National Talk in an Elevator Day: July 29, last Friday in July, (I may have to do a promo around my Kill the Elevator Speech book!)
  • Weird Contest Week: August 8-12
  • International People Skills Month: September (I’ve got a weekly show called “Creating Connections” – it’s all about people skills for business and marketing!)
  • National Face Your Fears Day, October 11, 2nd Tuesday in October (public speaking anyone?)
  • National Entrepreneurship Month: November
  • National Thank You Note day: December 26 (in case you don’t have enough other options in December!)

Are your wheels turning yet?

You can visit a site like, which looks VERY “homemade in the basement,” but has accurate info plus links to any and all holidays that have websites and organizations attached to them. Find a holiday that’s fun or interesting, or related to what you do and make your plans now.

My friend and colleague, Daniel Hall, and I are teaching a course called Real Fast Holiday Promotions on all the ins and outs of how you can use holiday marketing. Check that out here now to help you bring your ideas to life!

In Part 2, I’ll give you some ideas for how various kinds of businesses can use wild and wacky holiday marketing creatively to create connections with potential customers and clients, nurture those who you already have relationships with, and stand out in the crowd of others who do what you do to make more money and have more fun!

How I Won The Smoky Mountain Chapter of the Association for Talent Development’s Thrown Down Contest

ATD Smoky Mountain Chapter Throw Down Winner Felicia Slattery Receives $100 Visa Gift Card from President Cindy Light

ATD Smoky Mountain Chapter Throw Down Winner Felicia Slattery Receives $100 Visa Gift Card from President Cindy Light.

Moving to a new town can be a challenge.

Moving to a new town after living in the same area for almost all your life can be daunting.

Moving to a new town, and trying to break into the business scene where literally NO ONE knows you could lead to professional suicide.

Sounds like fun! So we gave it a whirl!

In July 2015, my husband and I moved our family of four, plus Sadie the Speaker Dog, away from the frigid, icy, snowy, long winters and terrible taxes in the state of Illinois, to a warmer climate all around in beautiful Knoxville, east Tennessee. I spent most of the summer getting myself and the kids settled and much of the fall getting to know the school, school moms, volunteering for this and that, and focusing on my family. Admittedly, my business was rolling along well on autopilot.

But I knew it was time to get out there and meet some people. Plus, given that for me, 2016 will bring an increased focus on building the corporate training and speaking / communication consulting side of my business, I knew it was time to do what I’d been coaching my clients, webinar students, and readers to do for years: join an association where your people are hanging out.

As a trainer, for me that meant checking out the local chapter Association for Talent Development (ATD – formerly  ASTD, the American Society for Training and Development).

Happily, there is a Knoxville chapter called the Smoky Mountain Chapter, and they have a website with info about upcoming meetings. While looking over the site, I noticed an announcement for their second annual December Trainer Throw Down speech contest. The application deadline was soon approaching.

They had me at “speech contest.” I was in.

So… A Contest for The New Kid in Town

The topic was engagement. I speak regularly about audience and reader engagement, so the topic was right up my alley. Having grown up in high school as a competitive speaker and then being recruited for Bradley University’s Speech Team, THE most winning collegiate team in ANYTHING  in the country, I am no stranger to competing on stage. Well, at least I wasn’t 25 years ago… gulp. However, given the time limit for the Throw Down was 10 minutes, I took that as a sign I should go for it because that was our time limit when competing in college.

Plus, even if I lost – remember, I’d never been to even one of their meetings to know what these people were all about – they could well have been national champ team speakers, too – but I figured after getting up there everyone would at least know who I was and get a taste of what I can do on stage, and that was my whole goal. The BEST way to meet a room full of people is always to be the speaker.

Right away I knew I wanted to talk about engaging an audience using all five senses. Beyond that, I wasn’t sure what I’d do, so I let the holidays, family life, and regular business stuff occupy the front of my mind while the topic of engagement percolated in the back of my brain and I waited for inspiration.

Inspiration Hits!

Suddenly I found myself at the day before the event and knew I had to get my thoughts, well-percolated now, into some

Handout Used for the Winning Presentation - Using a Speaker One Sheet Design

Handout Used for the Winning Presentation – Using a Speaker One Sheet Design

form for a presentation.

At first I was stuck staring at the cursor. Then after praying for what to do, it hit me: ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas!

It was perfect because I could write a stanza about each of the 5 senses. Then I created a handout, pictured here. I used one of my speaker one-sheet templates to make that job go super fast and in a couple hours I had my original poem written, my handout done and ordered from Staples, and was in bed sleeping soundly.

Here is that winning poem. One thing to keep in mind – I wrote it SPECIFICALLY for this ONE occasion and for the people in that room. If I were to deliver this again, I’d make a few alterations, but it did the job. I won!

‘Twas the week before Christmas when all through this place
The trainers were training and throwing down with great grace.
There’s a new coach in town, Felicia Slattery by name
With hopes that the prize might be hers to claim.

The theme was engagement,
The stage was all set,
To see who would win and the glory to get.

So curl up by the fire and lend me your ear
And discover how the people can learn what you want them to hear.

Now the first thing to do, to develop the staff
Is to keep their attention and make them to laugh or
To think or to learn or to change or to grow
So they can become even better, and your lessons then know.

But you compete with their email, their bosses, their lives
What’s a trainer to do not to break out in hives?

It all starts with 5 senses
Taste, touch, sound, sight, smell
It may seem quite odd, but heed this tale well

First, when thinking of sight, shake things up just a bit,
Plan to surprise, to delight. It’s not hard, if you commit.
No need to be dressed all in fur from your head to your toe,
But put on a hat, use some props, try out a fun slide, make it a show.
Multimedia’s a way – and yes even today.
Give them something unexpected to look at, creative to see
And they’ll keep watching you and your training with glee.

Next you have sound, no you don’t have to sing,
But how about a toy that makes a sound like [ka ching].
More rapid than eagles, your students will learn
To hear their own names, for that sound they do yearn:
Now Cindy, now AJ, now Allen, now Ron
Go Amanda, go Yvonne, go Beverly, go John

To the top of the mind, to the top of the brain
Let’s move on to taste while you eat this sweet cane.

Taste might seem tricky, but learning has flavor
When you provide your people something to savor
The hippocampus of the brain an experience does produce
That engages the mind which of course is quite good, or so you’d deduce.

New research last month proves there is a connection
The brain registers taste not the tongue on inspection
That means the brain is engaged when it’s eating a food
And enjoying a treat also lightens the mood.

Next onto smell: attention, learning and memory improve with a sniff
Years ago they learned oils of lemon and rosemary took just a whiff
Pre tests and post tests and t tests did show
That details learned with scent in the brain could be stowed

And touch is so easy, let them pick up and feel anything
That you teach. It makes the learning more real.
To create a connection and build some rapport
Shake a hand, pat a back, give hive fives and you’ll score.

But touch can be inside, an emotion it’s true
Engage with a story and watch memory improve.

For trainers and teachers and students galore
Remember: enlist all 5 senses for trainees to learn more

So before this tale ends, I humbly ask for your vote
I stayed up half the night to write what I wrote.

If your mind didn’t wander and your attention I did keep
You can see how anyone here could make learning so deep.

It’s not the gift card, or the glory
No, we all win with engagement and telling a great story.
Its service from the stage, Taking care of the folks
Be sincere, be real, be yourself, tell some jokes.

As I end this, I wish all contestants good luck.
You amaze me, and I feel a certain awestruck.

And now I exclaim, as I head back to the buffet
Happy training to all, and to all a good day!

speaking with props

My Winning Props

With each one of the stanzas related to a different sense, I used a different prop of some kind – all pictured here. I downloaded a video of a crackling fire and put that up on the screen in place of a slideshow to set the scene and incorporate sound and sight. I wore a Santa hat, and dragged my prop table to be next to the Christmas tree in the front of the room, which the restaurant had so graciously placed there not even knowing I’d be able to use it! And then I enlisted help from a college student to pass out candy canes when I talked about the sense of taste. Each of the props I used I pulled from a Christmas stocking. It all went great!

I won by just two points, but a win is a win! What did I win?

  • $100 Visa Gift Card
  • Bragging rights forever that I am the 2015 Throw Down Trainer Champ
  • Ability to promote that at the national ATD meeting in the spring of 2016
  • Ability to send press releases stating that I’d won
  • Invitations from people at the event who saw me present to speak to two groups (so far)
  • Confidence that I can still compete with some of the best, most experienced and well-known folks in any room

What a relief. Want to see the presentation? Video is coming soon!

**UPDATE: Here’s the video. It’s not professional so it’s rough for the first few seconds and a couple spots in the middle, but I think you’ll be able to handle it 😉

Speaker One Sheet Review: Shel Horowitz

Shel Horowitz is an expert in going green. He’s published books on the subject and speaks about what people and organizations can do to clean up our environment and protect our planet. He recently sent me a one-sheet that he had designed for a review and I thought I’d share that with you here. I hope you benefit from it!

And if you’re ready to create your Speaker One Sheet, I invite you to use one of my templates at

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Multi-Billion Dollar World of Motivational Speaking – What You Can Learn

whether you think you can or think you can't you're right Henry fordLast Sunday, CBS Sunday Morning aired a story about my world: the world of the professional speaker. I found the piece interesting and enlightening from several perspectives.

First, I didn’t love the tone the reporter took about the industry that has inspired millions of people for decades. Throughout the report, her tone of voice said she wasn’t convinced that what we do to teach, motivate, encourage, and inspire others was somehow legitimate. Her incredulous, “Your BEST year EVER?” reply to the owner of a Chicago speaker’s bureau and her challenge to Wayne Dyer, “What do you say to people who think this is all just a bunch of baloney?” were telling, and frankly, a bit unsettling. Not that I would have wanted her to be a cheerleader for our industry, but a little journalistic neutrality would have been better for a story that was not presented as an expose of any sort.

And how Dyer answered the reporter’s challenge, was of course classic motivational wisdom. He quoted Henry Ford’s “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right,” and then told her that if she or others see a lot of baloney, they must be attracting a lot of baloney into their lives. BOOM.

Beyond that, the piece had some useful information for professional speakers in it.

One lesson is from the speakers bureau owner’s perspective, who gets 15 new speakers inquiring about having his agency represent them per month, and almost NONE of those speakers fit his criteria of “very good, great, or excellent.” He says he’s not there to be people’s friend and almost proudly admits that he’s crushed a lot of dreams. That means there are a WHOLE lot of speakers out there thinking they are good enough to be paid the big bucks, (this bureau has speakers at the $20K+ level) but in reality, are not even close to having the skill they need to succeed.

That is in line with what I see in the trenches of speaking all the time. Far too may speakers are disproportionately worried about their marketing far more than they are concerned about improving their craft, stage presence, story-telling, and entertainment value of being on stage. There are some well-known speaker marketing people who will tell you to put your speaking skills into a box and put them off to the side while you work on your marketing, in essence telling you to ignore your PRODUCT.

You see, if you get paid to show up and speak, your speech and performance is your product. And if your product stinks, no amount of slick marketing can cover up that fact. Good marketing can get you hired, but if your product isn’t top notch, you’ll never get any referrals, testimonials, repeat business, or “back end” business – things like a juicy consulting contract, or physical book and product sales.

In fact, in the story, you’ll see the second piece of important information about how to succeed as a speaker: you’ve GOT to be entertaining. Now this story focuses on being funny and talks about how you should literally time yourself between big laughs and have no more than two minutes between them. However, if you’re an inspirational speaker, or an instructional speaker, or a faith-based speaker, think in terms of an emotional impact mixed in with the laughs. We are there to create an experience for the audience members.

On the other hand, there is another group of speakers who believe if they only hone their craft better, if only they could deliver that one-liner of a joke with better timing, or pause in just the right spots, they will get more gigs, and so spend far less time than they should on their outdated marketing materials, never writing those books, or not creating any products to serve the audience.

The story’s main point is that the speaking business is healthy and growing and there is room for the best speakers to succeed. Your bottom line: allow time in your business to develop BOTH your marketing AND your stage presence and speech and you will be able to make a very healthy living.

Note: For some reason, this video cannot be embedded. You can view the whole story on Vimeo here.


Sports, Speaking and Sponsorships

Quick… Which sport brings in the most money in the US: the Super Bowl? World Series? NBA Finals? If you guessed any of those you’d be wrong.

If you’re a nightline_screen_capprofessional speaker, or want to be, the answer to this question may just provide the insight you need to get your share of the $31 Billion sponsorship market.

Nightline’s Rebecca Jarvis reported last week on ABC News the US Open is actually the most lucrative sport in the country.

Check out these stats:

  • The prize money for the male and female winners is $3 million dollars each.
  • Last year the Open brought $720 million to the local NY economy.
  • Over 700,000 fans attended; almost 9 times as many fans who attended the Super Bowl
  • While tickets are affordable and can be purchased at just $20-$30 each, compared to the thousands for a ticket to the Super Bowl, the average income of tennis fans is $150,000 per year, while the average football fan’s income is much less at $94,000.
  • One of pro tennis’ stars, Maria Sharipova, is the highest paid female athlete in the world and has been #1 on the Forbes list of women athlete earners for the past 10 years at $24 million per year in winnings and endorsements. Serena Williams, another pro tennis star, isn’t far behind at $22 million per year.
  • Professionally done hair, make-up, nails and even custom-designed tennis dresses for the athletes are all par for the course (to mix sports metaphors) before competing at the Open and other major televised tournaments like Wimbledon and the French Open.
  • Attendees will dine on 3-lb. porterhouse steaks (for $125 a pop) and French champagne served up by top brands like Moët et Chandon and celebrity chefs like Morimoto, who are there because of sponsorship dollars.

If you’re looking for sponsors for your speaking business, you may want to know details like these.


Because knowing stats like these and how to use them to speak to potential sponsors is the reason why sponsors will line up to give you money. They know the intricate details about their customers and target market and will pay big bucks to get access to your audience, of any size, that can deliver their message to those potential customers. The key? Knowing as much as you can about the people you are in front of and being able to effectively communicate that to potential sponsors.

I’m teaming up with Shannon Cherry to show yo all about it in our Corporate Sponsors for Speakers course. Go see all about it and get your share of the billions of dollars in sponsorship!

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