This week, my first ghostwriting project, The Successful Speaker, comes out. This was a collaboration with Grant Baldwin, the leading expert on what it takes to build a successful speaking business. It was a lot of fun, but what I didn’t expect was how much better it would make me as a speaker.
Listen to this post with additional details here:
I always wanted to speak for a living, but it wasn’t until I actually wrote a book on speaking that I accomplished it. It’s funny, isn’t it? It took writing a book on speaking to become a successful speaker. While writing this book, I began to understand a few key lessons on what success as a speaker actually looks like. I guess what they say is true: teaching is the best way to learn something.
You see, for years I told myself I wanted to be a successful speaker. To me, this meant speaking twice a month, traveling all over the country and the world to share my message with thousands of people, and getting paid to do it. And for years, this was just a dream. An idea, a hope, a wish. I would set a goal of speaking 20 to 30 times a year and never accomplish it… until last year. The year that I finished writing a book with Grant called The Successful Speaker. Last year, I clocked in more than 30 gigs all over the world, including trips to Los Angeles, London, Orlando, Chicago, Atlanta, and many more exciting places.
While I was working on this book, I internalized a few key principles that I want to share with you, because they surprised me. And these simple truths changed the way I approached my message. I hope they inspire and encourage you in your own journey.
- Nobody cares about you. Not really. Unless you emergency-landed a plane full of nuns, orphans, and puppies, your story is not that important. Now, that doesn’t mean you don’t tell your story. It just means people are naturally narcissistic and want to know what your story has to do with theirs. So instead of telling people what you speak about or just sharing a piece of your story, try to get clear on a problem you help people solve. Not a topic, but an actual pain point you can help people resolve.
- The best way to get booked is to ask for gigs. You have not because you ask not. I learned this from Grant when he asked multiple times to speak at my conference. I had never seen him speak and didn’t know if he was any good, but because he kept asking, I eventually said yes. Half the gigs I got this past year, maybe more, were a result of asking the event planner to consider me as a potential speaker for their event.
- Let people see you speak. One key piece of marketing for speaking is that people need to see you speak. A lot. So take whatever gig you can get, and you capture it, with photos and video and whatever else. Talking about the work is the work. Let people see you traveling to your next gig on social media. Let them see the stage on Instagram and read a tweet on how you feel after you step offstage. If you can, get someone to record you telling a story and making the audience laugh. I was surprised at how much my talking about speaking increased awareness that this was something I do, and it led to more invitations to speak all over the world.
So if you’re struggling to get booked and paid to speak, I suggest tackling these practical but helpful tips:
- Get clear on what problem you help your audience solve. Know who you’re talking to, what they need, and how you can help them.
- Ask friends and strangers for opportunities to speak. Don’t let fear dictate your lack of opportunity. Be bold, reach out, and have faith.
- Take whatever gigs you can get (to get started) and talk about all of them. Share what you’re doing when you’re doing it, and talk about it afterward. Capture some video and use that when you pitch event planners on having you speak.
And of course, be sure to pick up a copy of Grant’s book (which I had the honor of helping him write), The Successful Speaker.