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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!

 

Public Speaking – Signature Speech Secrets: Heide’s Notes

Heide MetzgerAfter more than 10 years in business, I’ve been blessed to receive more kind words, emails, and testimonials than I can count. Yet, every once in a while, a client surprises me. After she sent me this email, I asked her permission to share it with you. Obviously, she said yes (yay us!).

I got to know Heide Metzger for the first time when she joined my 30-Day Storytelling on Video Challenge (that I partner with Lou Bortone on) in the fall of 2015. She has a heart of gold and a HUGE vision to serve the world through fundraising massage parties. For example, let’s say you want to do the Avon Beast Cancer Walk and you have to raise your money to do that. Well, Heide has licensed massage therapists across the country who will come to your house while you host a party. Half of the money goes to you for your charity and half goes to the massage therapist for their time and energy. It’s a win-win-win!

I am honored she has chosen to work with me to help her expand her message and grow her mission. And yesterday she emailed me after being in the free webinar I taught and then joining the Signature Speech Mastery Program.

The following is her email written in it’s entirety, because even her signature and quotation at the bottom are wonderful indications of her huge heart and giving spirit.

Dear Felicia,

I wanted to get back to my office to write this since their where my notes (and thoughts) on the webinar were and wanted to share some with you if they can help you in any way to promote.

(Also the reason that I am on 2 of your lists is because this one is my general email to filter things through and the new one which will match the upcoming website, book, and marketing Fundraising Massage Parties, is what I use when it is something or someone I am working with currently or to follow up on. It is to cut out all other “noise”)

I wanted to specifically share with you the things that I put stars by and that made my eyes widen!
(HEIDEA = means I had an idea while you were teaching – these should come with a warning label)

1) “If you want to write a book, SPEAK about it first……….” WOW! Everyone else talks about having a book first to get your foot in the door! What great advice to get traction for a book launch!! I get that most people want a book out but don’t look at the marketing side of it though!

2) I loved the “chance to network with an entire room of people at once” I remember when I spoke in front of 180 Kinder Care teachers and when they came up to me afterwards, I felt like a rock star! Boy! Did I do EVERYTHING NOT to do for that event!! (That will be my testimonial for you after I finish your course and really ROCK!)

3) HEIDEA = When you mentioned the Naperville Chamber of Commerce, I thought about the mini-talk I am giving in Naperville tomorrow for the Alzheimer’s Walk Team in Naperville. They are committed to raising $500,000 at their event in September. Do you see an opportunity to speak to a local Chamber when events like that are going on in their town?

4) Your tip on simply adding “speaker” when you introduce yourself at events was great!

5) I AM IN LOVE with your simple 3-5 questions that people ask you the most! And what question should they be asking! For anyone that has an FAQ page on their website, brochures, or any marketing, THIS was a no brainer!!

THANK YOU!!! I got the other email about the 3 webinars tomorrow. It looks like one is at noon, another at !:00 and I am not sure of the 3rd, but I will rearrange a couple of things.

Feel free to let me know if you would like me to post anything anywhere.

With Much Love, Peace and Laughter,
Heide Metzger

“BE The Change You Wish To See In The World” Gandhi

With Much Love, Peace and Laughter,

Heide Metzger
 
“BE The Change You Wish To See In The World”   Gandhi
You can see the replay of the training that Heide took notes on at http://SignatureSpeech.com and join the program there, too. I’d love to have you!

Here is Heide’s fundraising vision explained using one of the video tools she learned about while taking part in the 30-Day Storytelling on Video Challenge with me and Lou Bortone. As you can see, she has a huge heart and I think a fabulous idea:

I Was Literally a Punch Line

live streaming imageYears ago when DVD players came on the market and started to become commonplace in many homes, my husband and I debated whether we should get a DVD player. My argument, admittedly weak as it was looking back now, was that VHS was the industry standard and had been for years. I thought FOR SURE the DVD player and the DVDs to go with them were going to be like the Betamax machines and tapes, which were popular with enthusiasts and early-adopter technologists, but never really caught on in the mainstream.

You see, I had watched my Dad years earlier buy into the Betamax, thinking it was going to be the next big thing, but it turned out to be a big dud. With that, my young opinions on early-adoption of technology were formed.

So when DVDs came along, in my mind it seemed a lot like the Betamax. I was completely against getting a DVD player.

Turns out I was also completely wrong.

Then, in the early 2000s, right as digital photography was becoming part of the mainstream, I was adamant I didn’t need a digital camera. After all, I reasoned, I’d taken photography classes. Those cameras could never reach the same quality as “real” cameras. Plus, it didn’t really matter; all I was doing was taking snapshots, anyway, so I was fine with the way I’d always done things.

Turns out I was wrong about that, too.

Now, in my marriage (perhaps like yours?), my husband and I enjoy some good-natured ribbing, especially when one of us is wildly wrong about something totally inconsequential in our world. That means, after it became abundantly clear DVDs weren’t going the way of the Betamax, I became the punch line of more of my husband’s jokes than I care to recall. Harrumph.

As a result, I now make sure I give a good look at anything technological coming down the line. I’ve got a good sense of humor, but I want to avoid giving my hubby any more jokes. 🙂

That includes in my business as well.

In 2006, when I started my business I didn’t even know what a blog was. But by the end of the FIRST DAY I heard of a blog, I had one up. That turned out to be a good move.

In mid-2007 when I heard about this new thing called Twitter, I didn’t understand what it was all about, but I signed up for an account, anyway. Months later after I “got it,” I was tweeting like I owned the Twitterverse, loving it, and made a lot of money from marketing on social media.

In 2009 when it was clear Twitter was going to be at least matched by the former college-party-annoucement site, Facebook, for business, I started spending more time there. That’s also paid off in a big way for me.

I’ve come a long way and now can spot a tech giant in the making based on a number of factors, and the most recent technological advancement I’ve chosen NOT to ignore is live-streaming video.

When Google+ Hangouts on Air started to be a thing, I did a few hangouts, but the technology wasn’t quite there yet to support live-streaming video on a large-scale basis because it relied on Internet speed and bandwidth. Too many people couldn’t participate live properly – heck I’ve even been kicked off my own webinars!

Fast forward to today and what has changed is simply: the iPhone (and all smartphone technology). Don’t ask me about why technologically speaking apps work so much better than the older versions of live-streaming, they just do. If you really want to see some of the whys you can try here or here.

As far as evidence that live streaming is *THE* now big thing that isn’t going anywhere but up, all you have to do is look at what two behemoths jumped on board. At first it was the slick new fancy apps like Periscope and Blab (and formerly Meerkat, which is no longer a player), but now… Facebook Live has become a major player and in the past few days YouTube has announced it will soon be rolling out a new live streaming feature.

Luckily I have smart friends, Jeff Herring and Mike Stewart, who not only get this stuff and use it themselves, but are excellent teachers. If you want to know how to use the new live streaming video, or just want to see a cool demo of it yourself, you can watch it here.

Speaking on video is something I know a bit about – and teach that myself. If you’re stuck on what to SAY on your live streaming videos, here are a few ideas for you:

  • Take a section of your Signature Speech™ and share it.
  • Answer your most frequently asked questions – one at a time, one per video
  • Address a comment, question, or rant you see on social media
  • Do a public service announcement about something that will protect your clients or the people in your market from an unsavory character or undesired result
  • Offer a glimpse into your daily life
  • Make your own rant – to the benefit of your viewers
  • Share a tip
  • Unveil a myth and explain why it is a myth and what the truth is
  • Explain one of the mistakes you see people making and what they can do instead
  • Tell a personal story and relate it with a moral related to your business

Whatever you do, don’t ignore this new tool available to you. You wouldn’t want your loved ones making YOU the butt of their jokes, now would you? It’s your turn to laugh – all the way to the bank.

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!

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 😉

The Expert, Speaker, Author’s Business Building Resource List

"You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want." Zig Ziglar This week I had the pleasure of holding a live Community Appreciation Q/A session for members of my community. We talked for two hours and I answered questions submitted in advance as well as questions that people who were live on the call asked for.

As we were talking, I provided a number of free and low-cost resources to help experts, speakers, authors, coaches and consultants build their businesses. Many people asked if they could have that list, so I figured the easiest way was to post it here for everyone.

Some of the categories of questions I answered included:

  • Speaking: Making money, Getting over fear, How to get booked to speak
  • Elevator speech: what to say to be concise
  • Using a VA to grow your business
  • Working with JV partners
  • Social media: For list-building, Facebook personal vs. business
  • Podcasting resources
  • Identifying your ideal customer

Based on the comments and messages I received afterwards, people were very happy with everything we discussed and what they learned. So, in order of how they were presented on the Q/A webinar, here is that resource list now:

Public Speaking Comics: www.PublicSpeakingComics.com

what's the worst that could happen when public speaking

One of the questions was about how to get over the fear of speaking. Of course, as a former college instructor of public speaking, I have

trained many (many!) people both before I started my business and since, how to get past the fear associated with public speaking. A few years ago, I sat down with a comedian friend of mine and we came up with 15 comics that answered the question, “What’s the worst that could happen when you’re speaking?” This was one of my favorite projects and always makes me laugh. I hope it helps you have a little chuckle, too!

21 Ways to Make Money Speaking by Felicia SlatteryHow Many Speeches Do You Need?: Free Infographic

As the author of the #1 Amazon best-seller 21 Ways to Make Money Speaking, another common question I receive is about how many speeches a business professional who wants to market their business with speaking or have a speaking business really needs. The answer, as it is with so many questions like this, is “it depends.” For example, I have been delivering my original Signature Speech™ about “Credibility and Cash Flow” since 2007. Just that one speech alone has helped me build thousands of relationships, get me some of my BEST clients, and of course made me more than a pretty penny for all these years. The best tip I have is start with the ONE speech. Make it EXCELLENT. Deliver it A LOT. Then decide if you’re going to make money with that one speech or if you want to make money speaking other ways, too. I shared the resource to pick up my free infographic, so folks could see all 21 ways and decide for themselves. If you’re interested in reading the book, you can find it here at Amazon.com.

Podcasting for Everyone? Nope: Free webinar rebroadcast about how to podcast.

We had several questions about podcasting. One astute community member asked if podcasting was coming back (YES! – it actually never left and continues to grow) and of it’s right for everyone. The truth is, there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to your marketing. Even if you’re a speaker, podcasting may NOT be the best strategy for you. It depends on your strongest skills, your ability and desire to continue delivering quality audio content on an on-going regular basis, and the ROI you see from your podcast. Also, like all marketing, podcasting works if you do it the right way and follow a proven path to success. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. You can use your iPhone or iPad to create, edit and post a podcast easily. The webinar rebroadcast will show you all about it.

Be a Podcasting Guest: Join a Facebook Community for Podcasters

One alternative to hosting your own podcast is to be a guest on someone else’s podcast. You get exposure and marketing to a group of people who likely wouldn’t have heard of you any other way, and if the interviewer is a good one, you’ll get a really great recording you can use in Shelley Hitzother areas of your business. To get booked on someone else’s podcast, you’ve got to connect with podcasters, check out their shows, see if it’s a good fit and ask them if they’d be open to talking about having you be a guest.

Get Booked As a Podcast Guest or Speaker: Create a One-Sheet with These Templates

When you contact the podcast host, it helps to give them an idea of what you’d talk about. The more professional your pitch is, the more likely you are to get booked on a show. The same is true of being on stage. Put together a segment or podcast show guest proposal, provide the topic you’d cover in your interview, a few potential questions, an image of your book or you speaking on stage or just your head shot, your credibility-building bio and you’re on your way to getting booked!

No, You Don’t Need An Elevator Speech: Free Chapter and Resources to Help Say Goodbye to the Elevator Speech

keep calm and kill the elevator speechMy most recent #1 Amazon best-seller is Kill the Elevator Speech: Stop Selling, Start Connecting. People have LOADS of questions about this topic because everyone in business has heard we need one of these suckers if we’re going to a networking meeting, conference, trade show, or other event where we will meet people and be asked the dreaded question, “what do you do?”

The truth is, people are only going to remember 2-4 words about you anyway, the purpose of networking is to connect with other people and begin a relationship, and if you go in looking for a sale you’ll come across as the desperate salesy person no one wants to talk to.

If you don’t get out to meetings much and work primarily from home, you don’t need an elevator speech. If you’re saying more than “I’m a XYZ,” and have more than 2-4 words after that, you need to change what you say. Instead talk about what you love about your work, what lights you up, what you’re passionate about, what project you’re working on now, what your clients are up to, or what your favorite part about doing what you do is. Tell a story about your work; don’t verbally vomit marketing gibberish on someone who simply wanted to open a conversation with you but didn’t know what else to say. Get the book on Amazon or wherever fine books are sold.

My Personal 30-Day Story-Telling on Video Challenge Begins

Oh boy.

What have I gotten myself into THIS time?!

You can keep up with my progress on Facebook, YouTube and here on my blog (as soon as I’m home from my vacation and get all the videos uploaded everywhere).

I’ll tell you one thing, if it wasn’t for the accountability with my friend, video marketing expert Lou Bortone, and the public promises I made to keep this thing going, I’d have quit by now, less than a week after posting my first video.

But I’m all in. Keep coming back for a new story and lesson each day.

 

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.

 

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