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Professional Speaking

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 http://SpeakerChecklistBundle.com.

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 www.SpeakerOneSheetTemplates.com 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 Brownielocks.com, 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 www.SpeakerOneSheetTemplates.com.

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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.

Why?

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!

More Ways to Use Your Speaker One-Sheet Templates for Businesses A-Z

Wow!

Benecia Ponder One Sheet - updatedThe response to the new Speaker One-Sheet Templates has been amazing and exciting around here. People from all over the world and speakers with all sorts of topics have been snapping up and designing their Speaker One-Sheets since I launched them just 7 days ago. You can see one of them right here —>

When folks who aren’t yet speakers see them, they wonder if they might be able to use the Speaker One-Sheet Templates for another promotional product they have been wanting to market. The answer is a resounding YES!

You see, although I originally designed these to be specifically for speakers who want to get their speech details and bio in front of meeting planners to help them get more bookings, there is no reason you couldn’t use them as just about any marketing flyer. How about these ideas:

  • Artist: Showcase your art and highlight details about a current or upcoming exhibition and/or classes you teach.
  • Bookkeeper: Share your best tips for keeping receipts organized and highlight your services.
  • Coach: Describe your private or group coaching programs.
  • Decorator: Showcase your “after” designs and talk about your services.
  • Esthetician: Share photos of your before and after work or photos of your location, along with a list of your services or to market a new service offering to your existing clients.
  • Financial Adviser: Spotlight the best investments now or host a lunch and learn for potential clients and use the flyer as an invitation about what they will learn.
  • Group Exercise Instructor: Use any of the templates to share your upcoming class schedule, testimonials, and info about you and your studio.
  • Herbalist: Create a new flyer seasonally to highlight what herbs your clients should be using to protect themselves against various ailments (winter colds, flu, allergies, etc.)
  • Insurance Agent: Mail a flyer to your customers quarterly explaining new products, new regulations, and sharing success stories of clients who benefited from working with you and having your insurance.
  • Jazz Musician: Print copies promoting your upcoming shows, your website, and your current CDs or mp3s and provide them to all audience members.
  • Kinesiologist: Send a flyer to all current and past patients with a featured “move of the month” or spotlight various ailments that you can help improve.
  • Landscape Architect: Canvas the neighborhoods where you are currently doing work promoting your services and offering a free consult while you’re still in the area.
  • Marriage Counselor: Create a series of flyers that share various conflict resolution techniques and mail to past and current clients, or as a marketing tool to send to the homes in your area.
  • Nutritionist: Send out monthly recipes with photos, promote various programs or services to current and past clients.
  • Orthodontist: Create quick list for patients to post on the fridge of which foods are allowed and which aren’t with their new braces and answering some of the most frequently asked questions.
  • Proofreader: Share your personal info, outline your proofreading services, and share a testimonial. Put on your website and send in the mail to potential clients.
  • Quilter: Provide information at quilt shows on your work, accolades, and showcase photos of past quilts.
  • Realtor: Quickly add a featured home for sale or announce the sale of a home in the area. Send to all homes in a neighborhood.
  • Social Media Manager: Most of the templates have built-in social media icons; use yours to highlight your services or upcoming classes teaching people to use various aspects of Facebook or LinkedIn or Google+.
  • Travel Agent: Feature a cruise or vacation package of the month; provide new cruisers with a checklist of essentials to bring.
  • Upholsterer: Feature before and after photos of your work, mail to past customers with a special offer; give a checklist of how to care for newly upholstered furniture to all new customers.
  • Virtual Assistant: Create a top 10 list of the ways a VA can save a business owner time and money, explain how to choose and VA, and share information about your services.
  • Writer: Feature your latest book along with a description of it, where readers can read a free chapter, and info about you.
  • X-Ray Center: Welcome new patients with a comforting note about x-rays and answer a few commonly asked questions.
  • Youth Minister: Invite new members by including a flyer in your weekly bulletin that explains what youth group is about, sharing photos from past events, and inviting first-timers and their parents to an informational meeting.
  • Zoologist: Create series of informational pieces for field trips of children visiting the zoo.

And there you have it. A listing of how businesses from A-Z can use the Speaker One-Sheet Templates for FAR more than promoting speaking. Yes, some of these were a stretch (if you know of any careers that start with X or Z, let me know!), but many of these I know from experience of working with the to develop their Signature Speeches™ and businesses.  What other businesses can use these? I’d love to hear about yours in the comments!

Public Speaking Scam Alert – Warning to Professional Speakers

pirates of the internetProfessional speakers, beware. I hate that I have to write another post like this about scammers, but the pirates of the Internet are wreaking havoc in speaking world again.

The latest scam is a familiar take on a long-existing scam or con against professional speakers I’ve explained before. It seems as though too many good people heard about the previous scam, prompting the bad guys to make a few tweaks. Yet while the con artists have changed the names of the fake parties involved, it is essentially the same ruse. I hope you’ll read this post carefully, and share it far and wide so no speakers get caught up in the scam, losing precious time or money.

Last week a client of mine, who I will call Denise, posted inside my private client Facebook group how excited she was that she had been booked to speak for a church in England. Amid the congratulatory responses, I cautiously asked a couple of questions because there is a common con I still see speakers asking about in which a bishop at in a real church located in Jarrow, England invites unsuspecting speakers to present at a fake conference coming up soon.

Just as in the original scam, the scammers chose an actual church in England and even went as far as finding the name of the one-time lead pastor at that church. My client, “Denise,” has given me permission to share everything with you. including all correspondence, so you can protect yourself against the same or a similar scam.

The 6 warning signs you may be caught up in a speaking scam I addressed in an earlier post were present here to a certain extent; plus there are a few new ones I’ll share.

So here’s what happened. Each message is copied word for word, changing only “Denise’s” name and removing line breaks for space.

Message 1: We’re Interested in Hiring You.

The first thing that happened was my client received an email from her web contact form.

“Sent via website Contact Form
Revd Mark Duggan
revdmarkduggan@gmail.com

BOOKING YOU TO SPEAK!!!

God’s blessing Denise, We hope this message meets you in good health.I am Revd Dr Mark Duggan, presiding
Minister of Bramley Baptist Church, Bramley Leeds, United Kingdom. We are pleased to inform you that we would
like to engage you for a speaking event here in Bramley Leeds at the Church conference coming up on the 25th, 26th
& 27th of October 2014. The conference is tagged: ‘Big things: How to start small’.
Please we would like you to convey to us your availability for one of the dates as it can fit in your schedule.
Also, please we would as well appreciate if you get back in-touch with us in ample time so we can start corresponding
the details.

Thank you and expecting to hear from you soon.

Remain Blessed.

Revd Dr Mark Duggan
+44 7024031690
http://www.bramleybaptist.org.uk/
Bramley Baptist Church,
Hough Lane,
Bramley Leeds,
West Yorkshire,
LS13 3RD
United Kingdom.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim
the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
1 Peter 2:9”

Now Denise is smart. She’s actually an attorney. The first thing she did was to Google the church and the pastor’s name. Both of which are REAL. She was curious as to why the pastor was listed only in one place online she could find as a past leader, but being excited for the opportunity and seeing that the place was a real church, her ideal market, she proceeded.

Yet even from this initial contact there are some curious warning signs such as:

  • The email the reverend used was a gmail address not associated with the church. However, when I visited the church’s contact form, I saw the contact address for email was using the church’s domain, contact@churchname.org,uk.
  • There was no Mark Duggan listed in the leadership or staff of the church.
  • Upon closer inspection of the church’s website, I was able to find their upcoming calendar of events. I went to the October schedule and lo and behold no event was listed for those dates, even though it’s clear this church keeps that calendar very current with ALL meetings listed.
  • At most churches, the pastor is busy with more minister duties such as baptisms, weddings, funerals, marriage counseling, addictions counseling, visiting the sick in the hospital, etc. They very rarely will be the first to reach out when planning any kind of event. That is an administrative duty, and even the smallest of churches has at the very least a lovely church lady volunteering at the desk to answer phones and help plan events. In larger churches, there are people whose full-time occupation is to plan events.
  • There are some English grammar peculiarities such as the use of “in-touch,” which has no hyphen.
  • NO ONE ENGAGES YOU TO SPEAK WITHOUT AT THE VERY LEAST A PHONE CALL FIRST! Even if the meeting planner was referred to you or you know the person, unless you’ve spoken at several of their events in the past, and even then – you usually have at least one phone call to discuss the details.

TIP: Copy and paste the body of any message you receive. This speaker wrote about being contacted in the same way back in 2012 with different names. If you go there, you will notice the same exact wording Denise received in her initial contact. Lazy scammers.

Message 2: We Can Pay Your Fee.

“Thank you very much for your profound interest in this upcoming conference, I have a few
more details to share with you so you can have more insight on the conference and what
the church stands for as a whole.

(Inaugurated in the 19th Century, the annual Bramley Lecture is given in Bramley Baptist
Church on some aspect of the life and work of Bede or of Anglo-Saxon history or culture.
The lecture is published in the year following delivery and copies can be obtained in
Bramley Baptist Church or from the lecture secretary) This is an age-long history of our
church.

It is due to this age-long ritual of giving lectures that we have decided to keep lectures
going though the type of lectures has evolved over the years we are proud to say we are
keeping the hope alive! It is due to this that we are hosting the conference come 25th, 26th
& 27th of October 2014 with about 600 people in attendance and we are pleased to notify
you that you have been chosen by our Event Organizing Committee to speak at this event
on recommendation of a staff of one of our sponsors, the YMF outreach and after checking
your credentials and after reading blogs about you, we received the Lords direction to invite
you to speak in this event and we also believe you are as well more than capable to deliver
in this occasion, We have decided among the Event Organizing Committee to invite you to
this program.

Since I was inaugurated as the Presiding Minister of this esteemed church, God has being
helping us to keep hope and monuments alive and we have also being able to change the
face of Christianity, and the church having a whole lot of history attached to it, for one, the
site of the oldest stained glass and home to the then Venerable Bede (the scientist) and one
of the oldest churches in this part, we also have about the oldest organ in England as well
as the Saxon crypt and we also have an history with the river Don. You can check out more
about the church and its history at:

http://www.bramleybaptist.org.uk/

Apart from the conference coming up by October,The church is as well involved in a few
other projects. For one, the church has dedicated the new school building to the Most
reverend Benjamin Heagreaves,(The second-ever Minister of the esteemed church) in view
of his many achievements, the website is under-construction.

Sending out the invitation to you is by virtue of Gods bearing plus human
recommendation, We need you to use your wealth of experience to sensitize the
congregation, We organized this conference and workshop also in the hope of trying to re-
organize the Church and further extend our impacts, So we can have people listen and be
inspired by speakers like yourself on topics ranging from business growth , surviving in a
bad economy, Futuristic speakers , family matters, to healthy living, which is why we chose
you to speak at this event as a keynote speaker. Also this conference will as well mark my
four year anniversary as the Presiding Minister of this blessed Church.

The conference theme has been carefully chosen by the Lords’ inspiration due to the
backdrop of the present situation in the United Kingdom and this year’s conference has
been tagged. ‘Big things: How to Start small’
You can email us the keynote you would like to speak on as we would want you to be
convenient with the keynote topic so we decided it would be better you choose it yourself as
long as its motivational and inspiring! We will as well need your bio to put up on our
website and start to design posters as well as hand bills,
We are inviting you so you can inspire this people, teach them how to triumph over the
deflating effects of set-backs & self-doubt, how to break free from whatever is keeping
them “small”, and become empowered by their challenges, rather than victimized. And
most importantly, how to start great things with small efforts and steadfastness
We would like to know your standard speaking fee for this engagement as we do indeed
have a sponsor, So we can negotiate this I believe, Our fees are based on budget and we
are not based with our speakers fee, We budget for every speaker according to what the
Event Organizing committee deem fit, But we will also be glad to negotiate.

All travel arrangements such as Flight fare, Speaking fee deposit as well as Hotel
accommodation will be taken care of by us as soon as you honor this invitation. The events
committee will send you all binding documents including a Letter of Invitation and Contract
Agreement as well.

Email us in ample time any questions you may have so we can move ahead.

You are blessed.

Revd Dr Mark Duggan”

Now that she was hooked, they wanted to reel her in. The provided her with a website link to an actual church. Then included some unintelligible detail about a website being under construction. If yellow flags were not raised before, they most certainly should be now. A man who speaks as a pastor in English would have a much stronger command of the language, whether in speech or writing. “God has being helping” is not a typo. It’s awkward phrasing, as is most of the message.

Message 3: We’re Sending You a Contract

Denise responded with another thank you and asked for an appointment to speak via Skype. She also has an online questionnaire for meeting planners to help provide some details, which she pointed the reverend to. She also asked how he heard about her. He ignored the request to speak and never told her how he found her, instead replying:

“Thanks for the correspond.I received your meeting planner information packet and your
speaking fee i will have the events committee contact you and send you the contract
agreement so you can review them and sign.
The honorarium is something we can handle and we are really to make the commitment.
Thank you and anticipating to have you here in United Kingdom.

Stay Blessed.
Sincerely,

Revd Dr Mark Duggan”

(email signature was the same as above, simply removed for space)

Now at this point, as a professional speaker, any of us might be getting excited. They know our fee and can pay it. No negotiation, just ready to pay. But again, there’s that pesky English grammar thing. Hmmmm….

Message 4: We Can Pay You AFTER You Get Us Travel Documents

The con is starting to reveal itself in this message. They bring in another name and email address – this one an outlook address, also not using the church’s URL. I’m highlighting the wording of the next phase of the scam:

Thank you Denise Smith for indicating your interest to be our Guest Speaker at this year’s conference, May God forever be with you.

I am Roselyn Mark, President of the event organizing committee of the Bramley Baptist Church conference . We believe you have been notified by our Presiding Minister Revd Dr Mark Duggan, as we are in charge of the smooth running of this event and by God’s grace we are bound to succeed.
We are very excited to have you in this conference. The event organizing committee had a meeting earlier today to deliberate on getting you available here in the United Kingdom. We believe we serve the lord of Possibilities.Note you are meant to arrive a day before your performance as to get familiar with the audio/visual gadgets that we have in place, and to get used to the environment as a whole and also get to relax from the jet lag.
We have attached a formal Letter of Invitation and a contract agreement,please reconfirm to us your Mailing Address for our perusal and further action.

Please return a copy of the contract agreement duly signed by you for proper documentation. Print it out, sign and scan back to us(Keep a copy as well). We have agreed to buy your flight ticket and to pay your Hotel accommodation expenses. Also your Speaking fee which amounted to $7,500 USD will not be paid in full as yet, $3,750 USD deposit is to be paid as soon as you procure all relevant travel documents so as to avoid any disappointment and the balance will paid in cash upon your arrival here. You are informed to get across your Work Permit in the UK to us so your deposit can be approved according to our mandated regulation as well as your UK visa for travels. If you do not have the permit please let us know so we can make arrangements for the documents to be processed quickly as the event is at hand. But if you do have the work permit just scan and send to us.

Please check the attached documents, It contains your letter of invitation as well as your letter of agreement. We expect your response in regards the documents asap. Thank you and may God bless us all.

Ah ha! Did you see that? At this point, along with the contract which looked close to a real letter of agreement, but was very unprofessional, my lawyer client Denise realized she was being taken. Just to be certain, she went to the church’s website, and contacted them. As we already knew, there is no such event. She played along, and when she tipped her hand that she was an attorney and had some serious questions, suddenly she heard nothing again.

Had Denise continued along the path of showing interest and not realized she was being taken, the next message would have asked her for money so they could expedite her work visa. But here’s the thing: according to the British government website those coming from the United States DO NOT NEED A VISA AS A SPEAKER in the UK! Copied directly from https://www.gov.uk/check-uk-visa/y/usa/work/six_months_or_less

Business visits

You don’t need a visa if you’re coming to the UK for activities allowed under the following visas:

From the UK Visa page, if you click on the links above, you’ll see if you choose to apply for a visa as a citizen of the US, you can, but it clearly states that if you are simply a visitor doing a paid speaking engagement you do NOT need a visa if staying for less than one month. If you would like to apply for a visa even though you do not need one, the fee is £83 (about $140 USD). Anyone who tells you otherwise is trying to steal your money. Those from other countries of origin, please check the rules for your country of origin.

Please do NOT let that happen to you.

Take a moment now and share this with the speakers you care about. Or even the ones you only like a little bit. We all can do our part to keep our industry as safe as possible from predators.

 
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