Tuesday, December 24, 2013

How to Fill Your Speaking Pipeline

Professional speakers are always speaking.  That’s advice coming from professional speaker Mike Jaffe who says that what he does provides a Human Wakeup Call.  As a business and personal coach, Mike provides an important jumpstart for his clients to help them reach their goals.  That’s because Mike himself experienced a huge wakeup call quite a few years ago that put him on the path he’s on now.  You can read his story of what happened to him by visiting his site http://www.HumanWakeupCall.com.

Have you seen the white board you can take anywhere: Whiteyboard

I interviewed Mike Jaffe recently on my television show FROM THE SOAPBOX TO THE STAGE (http://StartaSpeakingBusiness.com) and asked him for a few tips for aspiring speakers or for those who need a jump start for their speaking business.  During the interview Mike made it clear that professional speakers are always speaking, even during downtime and in between the higher paying gigs.  He reminds us that there are many organizations seeking speakers for their meetings, such as Rotary.  Here’s the clip of that interview:

I love it when someone contacting me about my availability tells me that they heard about me from another source.  This proves the point that the more you get out there and speak, the more you get seen and heard AND recommended.  You certainly have to have good speaking skills to showcase, but if you’re not putting yourself out there, what’s the point.  We all want to get paid for our work, but speaking for free should always be an option to help clients and to showcase your skills.

Join and download PPT templates for winning presentations.

Speaking for free doesn’t mean you can’t gain something from doing it.  Your first gain is that you’re giving something to someone and helping them.  At the same time, new people are meeting you and experiencing your skills.  It’s been my policy that I think first about how I can help someone, and look for a benefit for me second.  At free events I’ve sold books, had the organization video tape my presentation for me, publicize the event to get more people in seats, and the best result… having people come up to me afterward and ask for my business card.

My friend Mike Jaffe says speak, speak and speak some more.  During your slow seasons it’s great to be creating content, working the phones to generate more work, and networking.  But it’s equally important that you’re speaking where ever you can find an audience interested in hearing what you have to say.  

ASSIGNMENT:  Leave a reply to tell me about a free (or low-paid) gig that turned into something big for you.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Day I Discovered I Wanted to Speak for a Living

It happened one day in my early career as a young professional; I was awakened to the call to become a speaker.  The department head of the large company I was working for called all employees into the auditorium-like conference room to listen to a speaker who would motivate us to be ready for the changes that were coming down from the new regime.  Our department head got up to the lectern and introduced the guest speaker.  

At just the right moment, a short, bald-headed man in a suit strode confidently and quickly across the stage carrying a plastic milk crate.  Through the applause, it captured my attention immediately that he was carrying such an odd thing until I saw what he did next; he dropped it on the floor behind the lectern and stood up on it, giving him the height he needed to stand well clear of the lectern.  The entire audience immediately broke into laughter.  The speaker had quickly completed his first objective; to capture our attention.

Something happened in my mind during that man’s 90-minute presentation, something that would alter the course of my life from that point forward.  You see… up until that moment, I had little clarity regarding my career and personal goals.  But by the time I left that corporate conference room, a seed had been planted that would start me on a journey toward a more fulfilling professional life and a chance to inspire adults I would meet along the way.  I didn’t know how I would begin that journey, all I knew was that I wanted to do what he was doing; using knowledge, wit, enthusiasm, and humor to inspire and motivate nearly 150 adults, all at one time.

Although his message of embracing change was an inspiring one and a well planned presentation that the company’s leadership wanted us to hear, I was paying closer attention to the mechanics of the talk.  I took notice at what the speaker said and did that invoked laughter from my fellow professionals sitting around me.  I also took note of the components of his speech, such as the pitch and tone of his voice, the body language and how well it matched each individual message in his talk, and how well his eye contact seemed to make me feel like he was talking to me personally.

Of all the speaking techniques the man on the stage used, one particular one really made an impression on me and is one I've recreated in my own presentations many times.  As a means of reinforcing a point he was making, he produced a newspaper and read the headline of a particular article.  The newspaper was a copy of that day’s local city newspaper and the article he was quoting was regarding a large scale event that had some affect on all of us in that room.  You might be thinking that I’m making too big a deal out of something so common; a speaker referencing a newspaper article.   While speakers do this all the time, what made it remarkable for me is that the speaker was from Utah and he had just flown in to our area just hours before taking the stage!

This technique was just one of many that I would begin learning over the next few years.  I had become aware of the magic of engaging your audience and mastering the skill of professional presenting and I wanted to build a business that would allow me to do the same for my future audiences.  Having sat through many managers’ presentations at the companies I worked for (most of them as engaging as watching paint dry), I had begun to realize that it was techniques like the milk crate and the local newspaper that helped to set apart the great speakers from all the rest.  I wanted to be one of those who left their audience inspired, informed or moved to action.

The 90-minute presentation delivered by the professional speaker from Utah went by so quickly.  I had filled several pages in my notes binder and my mind was exploding with ideas and craving more information about speaking.  After the final applause, my coworkers all headed to the back doors to return to their respective cubicles.  I however, made my way against the flow of people traffic to the stage.  I wanted to have just a few minutes with the speaker to let him know how much I enjoyed it and how much I learned.  

Monday, August 12, 2013

How to Write a Book as a Speaker Without Typing a Word

eBook, speaker, writer, author, kindle
Writing a book can increase your credibility and your status as a professional speaker, I can understand how the thought of writing a whole book and then taking it through the whole publishing process might be a bit overwhelming right now. But, what if you could write a book without typing one word? Well, thanks to the wonders of technology you can. It’s called an eBook.

An ebook is your book in a digital form that can be purchased online and downloaded to a computer, a laptop, and a variety of other internet capable devices. There are a lot of advantages to ebooks. For one thing, ebooks don’t have to be as expansive as books in print. In fact, there are people who prefer getting their information in smaller quantities; it’s easier to absorb.  
Let me ask you again, would you consider writing a book if you didn’t have to type one word? Think about it, no typing at all and you can still have an ebook to sell. Let me tell you how it can be done.

Your Content

Let’s say you’re an expert with selling mattresses. You started your career working at one of the major mattress retailers; maybe you like it so much you still work there. Through the years, you’ve built up an impressive body of knowledge about healthy sleep habits and how much of an impact the type of mattress you sleep on can have on your ability to enjoy a good night’s sleep.
You’ve launched your new speaking business and have been giving lectures to the public on how to get a better night’s sleep. Customers tell the sales people in all those other mattress stores that they heard you speak and realized they needed a new mattress. The managers in those stores now want to hire you to come in and do some sales training with their staff because you clearly know how to sell a mattress.
Up until this point, every time someone says, “You should write a book!” you’ve dismissed the idea because you don’t think of yourself as a writer. But today someone explained how to write an ebook without typing one word. Your response now? “Let’s write an ebook!”
In chapter 8, we talked about all the ways a digital recorder can be used to help you create content. Now, we’re going to add writing an ebook to the list of ways you can use your digital recordings.
When it comes to the talks about mattresses, there are two potential audiences: an audience of mattress customers and an audience of mattress sales people. Both of these audiences would be interested in an ebook. Make a recording of each of one your talks. You can wait until you’re scheduled to speak again and tape your presentation while you’re giving it, or you can choose not to wait until your next scheduled presentation and instead, record the presentation while sitting comfortably at home. Once you have your recordings, you’ll want to download them to your computer using the cable that came with the digital recorder.
The next step is to have someone transcribe one of the recordings into text. There are a number of ways to get this done and by the time you’re reading this book, there may be several more! Here are two of the ways you can get a recording transcribed today:
1.    Do it Yourself:  There are programs you can download to your computer that will slow a recording down to a rate where you can easily type your lecture into a text document. One software package I have used personally is called TRANSCRIBE! and you can find it at SeventhString.com. It sells for about $40 and is very easy to use.
2.    Hire a Transcriber:  Once again, this is a great time to head over to Fiverr.com where you will find hundreds of people willing to transcribe up to 10 minutes of an audio file for just $5. If your lecture is 30 minutes long, it will cost you $15. If your lecture is an hour, you’ll pay just $30 for the whole recording to be transcribed. That’s one heck of deal; and, as promised, you didn’t need to type one word!
Once your lecture is in a text format, you’re going to need someone with editing skills to edit your text. Even if it looks good to you as it is right now, this is a step you don’t want to skip. A good editor will enhance your prose and improve your product; they will fix all those pesky punctuation problems and in the end, those edits can translate into dollars, referrals and more speaking opportunities. And, your ebook will look and read like the work of a professional writer.

If you don’t have anyone in your personal network with editing skills, once again you can turn to Fiverr.com where there are plenty of eager editors ready to edit your document of up to 500 words for just $5. 
Want to learn more about creating an eBook without typing a word?  Check out http://StartaSpeakingBusiness.com for the who plan!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Why Start a Speaking Business?

Become a speaker from the soapbox to the stage
Image courtesy of Master isolated images
and www.freedigitalphotos.net
I asked myself this very question many times and I came up with two basic answers. The first answer is so I could stop existing as someone else’s employee. There’s nothing wrong with working for someone else. There’s just something very fulfilling about being able to take care of yourself and your family doing something that you love to do. The second answer is because it allows me to live a more fulfilling life by using my passion and gifts to help others live a better life. 

Now, if you already love what you do then perhaps you’re already on the right track and just have to make a slight switch at the next ‘junction.’ Maybe it’s time to change from working in the trenches to helping all those people that are in the trenches with you.

The reality is that too many people feel trapped in a job they hate going to everyday. Just look around you the next time you’re at the grocery store, the coffee shop or at the mall. Sometimes it feels like you’re living in a zombie movie surrounded by the walking dead. 

So many people doing the same thing day after day, existing for the sole purpose of producing for someone or something else, and once those widgets have been produced, they get their reward of returning home to the sofa and their television or computer each night. They sit there, remote control or mouse in hand feeling unfulfilled and empty, ready to give up the idea of searching for a more meaningful way of living. 

In the early 1980’s I began my journey as one of the walking dead. I was just out of the US Air Force and my grandmother told me I should go into the field of data processing because it promised good pay and good benefits. My grandparents were hard-working immigrants who came to this country as children. They did whatever it took to pay the bills and they did it well. But, they also complained about their employers, their jobs, the neighbors, and pretty much everything else. They weren't fulfilled and happy. Still, I had great respect for my grandmother so I took her advice.

Within a few months I found myself working for a bank, mounting magnetic reels on tape drives and loading and unloading giant reams of green and white striped paper called green-bar into humongous printers. I spent my days punching cards and bursting forms until I eventually moved into programming and from there onto management. 
I’m not telling you this to fault my grandmother; she was only doing what she had been programmed to do too. 

Besides, I was making good money and had good benefits. I’m telling you this because back then, I didn't know it was okay to dream of being all that I was meant to be in this life. I didn't have any idea that I had a passion for speaking about families and parenting just waiting to be found. 

Maybe you've been living your parent’s dream, someone else’s dream, or you've become a member of the ‘walking dead’. If this sounds like you, then this is the perfect time to discover new dreams or to reconnect with dreams you've been denying all along. Right now is the perfect time to reach deep inside yourself to discover and remind yourself of all the ideas that light your soul on fire. 

What do you love to talk about so much that when you talk about it, you feel alive? What have you discovered in your life that you’d like to share with others so that they can start living a better life too? What guilty pleasures would you love to bring out into the open? 

Are there things that you know how to do really well? Do you have natural talents that others would love to hear about, or that you could teach? What have you learned ‘the hard way’? What insight or knowledge do you possess that you could talk about right now rather than waiting until it’s time for your last lecture?

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Answering Audience Questions

Someone asked me how I prepare for the questions I get as a speaker, from my audience members so that I can answer them without the help of cue cards or notes.

First of all, I always take questions following a lecture, keynote or presentation.  It is a common site for me as a speaker to have a line of people waiting at the front of the room when I come off of the stage. At conferences, I do my best to return to my book-signing table so that I can greet my audience members and hear their encouraging words of how much they enjoyed my presentation.

Running a speaking business means preparing for questions by knowing my passion, my material, and everything possible about my field of expertise. And with the ability to “stand in my client’s shoes,” I’m also able to anticipate my customers or audience member’s questions as a speaker

Some of the questions I get are about my competition or other authors or parenting experts. So I'm constantly reading other parenting experts materials or website to get to know them. I like to know exactly what makes them similar to or different from me so that I can answer my potential client's question.

If I can't answer the question, I get the person's contact info and promise to get back to them with the answer. If I get a question that has a long answer, I ask the person to see me following the event so that I don't hold up the rest of my audience and can provide an adequate answer. So, to recap, preparing for questions means becoming a true expert in your passion or your field of expertise; READ, LEARN AND READ SOME MORE.

Find more tips for building your speaking business in m book FROM THE SOAPBOX TO THE STAGE: HOW TO USE YOUR PASSION TO START A SPEAKING BUSINESS (http://StartaSpeakingBusiness.com)