HOW TO GET TO AND STAY AT THE TOP OF YOUR GAME FOR OVER 30 YEARS….how to build a strong brand, a great reputation and a successful speaking business
Being one of the “Springsteen of Speakers”, according to my fellow speaker and friend Andrew Klein and thanks to him for this title – I am often asked by aspiring speakers “How do I become one of Australia’s top female or male motivational / inspirational speakers”?
With more than (cough cough) 25 years…..ok maybe 35 years of working on my craft – it didn’t happen overnight.
I began my working life as a physiotherapist and continued my habit of striving to be my best version in every moment – and my rather competitive streak of being the best at everything I did (!) – into my speaking career. I was already an expert on the human body and staying well – but I made it my mission to know everything in that area! Not sure I succeeded but I learned a huge amount and could deliver lots of value – in that people didn’t know much of what I was sharing and knowing it made a huge difference to their lives.
I studied for 30 years with Michael Grinder who is a world authority on group dynamics and for 25 of those 30 years I was the only non-teacher in the group. Speakers didn’t begin to study with Michael until many years later after I repeatedly recommended him. He is like a secret weapon for brilliant speaking! Any course he runs – do it! Everything he teaches helps you be a more effective speaker.
The skills I learned from Michael taught me how to work with a group and engage them, and watch them to see how they were responding to what I was saying, and then change it to meet them where they were, and to lead them to where the client wanted them to be. Over the years I have worked to refine these skills by continuing to study with him.
At the same time I would constantly research and study to make sure that I had the latest content in my areas of expertise, keeping myself relevant and up to date. And I morphed into different arenas as my areas of expertise expanded.
Simultaneously, I was becoming a master practitioner of neurolinguistics to add to my ability to craft and deliver a message. This involved several years of quite intense study. And I did this many times – the study – not the NLP! LOL.
I remember my early mentor, Ron Tacchi, still the best professional speaker I have ever heard, told me that I didn’t have to entertain – unless I wanted to be paid! But more importantly, he told me that the most important thing I could do was to have fun. If I had fun – they had fun. And that works.
One of the core elements of being consistently booked for many years (apart from the above), was my commitment to integrity and ethics. If I am booked through a Bureau for an event, any ongoing work is always put back through the bureau. If for any reason we miss a referral, we go back to the bureau and apologise, send them commission and introduce the client to the Bureau.
Ethics and professionalism run our office and our speaking.
Mel, my VP of everything, is my other secret weapon! She has been with me for years and her wonderful manner with people as well as her efficiency, ethics, emotional intelligence and awesome customer service has been a huge factor in my success. Not to mention she is the goddess who makes sure I am where I am supposed to be – relaxed and calm!
She also organises my Social Media and sends out our follow up material after the jobs. Rather than being a ‘one hit wonder’ we like to go the extra mile for our clients. We send them a truckload of content they can use after I have spoken to embed and keep the messages alive. Mel and I have spent days creating and updating posters in Canva that our clients can use with monthly newsletters or other forms of communication with delegates.
Mel makes sure that we are easy to work with and a meeting planners best friend! They already have a challenging life – so we try to make it easier for them in any way we can – there is nothing worse than a prima donna speaker! Who are we to think we are better than others – just because we are speakers?!!
Any speaker who thinks of themselves as a ‘speaker’ who has a ‘keynote’ like it’s a separate entity is often missing the concept that what people really want – the audience and the meeting planners and the clients – is an experience. In which they feel…they hear a story…a frequency or a word that helps them actually shift a perception in that moment. Changing the perception begins the journey to changing everything else. Deliver profound messages in between moments of experiencing joy and laughter…or deep emotions…and you will be someone who is worthy of the time of the audience members.
But wait – there’s more!
I think, out of the many other facets I have developed to be one of the best speakers, who stays relevant and frequently booked over 35 years, the most significant is my ongoing work on myself.
And the most effective work I have done is with Dr David Martin. His workshops and coaching have changed my life is so many ways. As I have become more authentic, truly authentic, my work has literally transformed. I always truly believed I was authentic – in fact I prided myself on being authentic.
But I wasn’t!
Following the work with David, the impact of my presentations has exponentially increased. I am being booked for more repeat events and the feedback is better than it has even been. As I have changed myself, my essence, who I actually am on stage, is almost more effective at producing change or inspiring than what I am saying. I would encourage anyone who wants to fully live and be all they can be to work with David and his lovely wife Kim.
Add to all this a feeling of reverence and gratitude for my clients and audiences. They are giving up an hour of more of their lives to listen to us as speaker…..make it a valuable experience for them – they deserve it. Honour their humanity..
In other words, learn how to stand out from the rest and sustain your success:
The 7 Deadly Sins of Speaking
- Have a ‘speech’. Worse – read it or use powerpoint to kill them.
- Stand in the one spot. Worse – behind the lectern.
- Use the words ‘let me tell you…’ or ‘I want you to…’
- Use others material or story and call it your own.
- Pace constantly without any link to the content.
- Close your eyes as you speak – or disconnect from the audience in any way.
- FOWOT – fear of what others think and allowing it to affect your clarity.
The 7 best qualities of a great speaker
- Be kind, patient, easy to work with, enthusiastic and acknowledge others way of looking at the world.
- Remember your humanity – and you are here to serve.
- The ability to laugh at yourself and help others laugh as they learn
- Create awesome audience experiences with your stories.
- Be you – the real you – your authentic essence and if you don’t know what that is – work on it until you do.
- Have the best, most up to date and relevant content at all times – constantly study.
- Deliver your content in such a way that people will remember it forever and incorporate changes into their lives through shifted perceptions.
What do you think? Want more tips?
Check out – 12 Secrets of being a great speaker