How to be a Memorable, "Sticky" Speaker
If you are going to relate to your audience, you’ve really got to sit beside them, you can’t stand in front of them.
On generating momentum for your business:
I think in the early days, it is hard to generate momentum. You’ve just got to start. When I sold my last business, my wife forbid me from starting another business for ten years and I said okay, maybe I’ll write and I’ll speak and you just speak any time you can get three people together in the same room.
At first, you speak for nothing. Then you speak for expenses. Then you speak for $100 and $500, and then $1,000 but you need practice speaking in front of people because it accomplishes two things. Not only do you hear how your message sounds, you get reaction from other people but it also spreads the word, because the best way to grow your speaking business is after whenever you speak people say, “That would be great. Would you come and speak at our event?” and for most speakers, 80 percent of it is referrals.
How to be sticky:
One of the things I do is I always put in my contracts if someone is satisfied they have to give me two referrals and I think that is really important because if they are satisfied, they are going to want to give you referrals and if you send an email that says, “Referred by Jenny,” that is going to get opened up versus just, “Hey, I am looking to speak at your conference.”
The other thing is you want to have something in your presentation where you can get the contact information of the people you are speaking with so you can create a direct relationship with them. So I do one of two things. Either I say, don’t take notes. If you like a copy of this presentation, send me your email or give me your card, or whatever it is.
I like to say give me your card, because it is also very psychological. After you get done speaking, people actually line up to give you their card and they want to talk to you and to the organizer, he goes, “I guess people really liked it because they are lining up to give him their card,” so I really like that part of it and you stay connected to folks.
What I do, I arrive early and I walk among the audience. I get to know them and what are you going to talk about? Sometimes they have your book, so you might sign it, I talk to them, I give them stickers and I joke with them. I have a sticker that says, “The unstuck guy stuck you with this,” and I talk with them.
Then when you are up there, you can connect with certain people and since you’ve already connected with them, they are more likely to connect with you while you are on stage and give maybe that other 15 seconds that another speaker wouldn’t get.
On monikers and brands:
I think our attention spans are three seconds long and I think we want to label people, it’s just really natural and someone said, “Barry, you can’t really do the small business guy because there is a lot of small business guys and I wouldn’t want to try it with small biz lady but you want to say, he is the unstuck guy. He helps small businesses get unstuck. Jenny is this person.”
One of the problems a speaker has is what do you speak about? I speak about blah, blah. You lost me at blah, blah. It’s every brand has an expectation and if you think of Apple, you are thinking of technology. If you are thinking of UPS, you are thinking of reliability. You can take one word and associate it to any really well-known brand. Coca-Cola, you are thinking of fun.
It may not even have to do with what you do but it’s all some kind of pain that they have.
If you keep saying the brand over and over again, it will stick inside of people. It will get past their bullshit meter and it will go into long term memory, which is really where you want to be.
On building relationships and getting hired:
I think what you have to do is many times, you have to speak at a local level. There are a lot of chapters that are going on right around you. If you can do well there and get a good referral, then you can speak at other chapters. Then you can speak at national.
It is very interesting because remember, all of these associations are always looking for great content and regardless of what they say, they actually do have money for great people on their podium but it also takes a CRM or a customer relations management system to keep following up with people to form a relationship with them because many times these large events, it takes six months or a year before to get booked for a main event.
Sales is a priority:
The biggest mistake that people make because they want to shy away from the sales because it’s always the last one on the list, they are kind of afraid and so they don’t do it.
Remember, desperation smells and you really can’t push people faster than they really want to go. I don’t care how great your skills are, you can’t sell to anybody. You’ ve just got to be there when they are ready to buy and I think that knowing that, offering your services and moving on from that person when they are not ready to buy, and coming back with them is very important.
I think that people are always afraid to talk about money. What you have to understand is there is this study that was done by the National Speakers Association when they looked at all the speakers’ fees over a long period of time. What you have to understand is that 90 percent of all the speakers out there get paid less than $3,000 for a gig.
If you get paid for than $3,000 a gig and there is some people that are doing $25,000, $50,000 or a million dollars for a gig, if you are a celebrity, but the vast majority is making $3,000 or less. People pay for value and you have to think about what value you offer.
Now, you can ramp up your speeches or your fees over time if you have a lot of good video tape on you showing great value, if you’ve got really good references and you really can make a difference for that different organization.
You would be surprised how much money people have and the biggest mistake that speakers make is not asking for enough. Remember, you can always go down, you can’t always go up. That’s what you’ve really got to do. You can say, “My fee is $3,000” and they go, “Great,” but you can’t say, “What about $4,000?”
First of all, you have to practice out loud and you have to either record yourself or you have to watch yourself on video. Now I know a lot of people are horrified of watching themselves on video but the only way that you will learn if you are not using a professional coach is to watch yourself.
I used to do a lot of this, I say a lot of this, I used to touch my face and do all sorts of things and I don’t do that anymore because I am going, “Oh my God, that was horrible.” How to actually appear? What does your energy really look like? That’s really key.
The other thing is you have to understand that when you are on the radio or you are on TV, your appearance is much flat, so you have to be a lot more animated, a lot more expressive for it to come off because if you are just sitting like this and you are droning on, it’s not really very much fun and people go to sleep.
If you watch people who are really good, they are very expressive either with their body or their eyes, or their face.
Always. I am always following up with the person that hired me. I am always following up with the people that I’ve met within 24 hours giving them the presentation or it’s nice to have met them and then I am also sending whatever positive emails that I got from the attendees because I was in touch with them back to the organizer, so they can use it for their event all the time, no fail.
What does it mean to speak like a pro?
For me, to speak like a pro is really to realize again that just like any pro, it takes a lot of hard work and practice. People come to me after a presentation and go, “Barry, you are just a naturally good speaker,” and I am like there isn’t anything natural about that. I have probably practiced that speech you just saw a thousand times, and they go, “Wow, it just seems so off the cuff,” and I go, exactly. That’s what it is, be a pro. Just like every other profession who goes through the practice and don’t think you can wing it.
The first thing is I think you have to research who in your area can provide you platforms for speaking for free or for a small amount of money, that is the first thing.
The second thing I think you can do is you need to find mentors who you can work with that can really give you guidance and we’ve both been to an event that Michael Port called Speak Easy, which I think is an excellent way to get started.
Check out either the National or the Local National Speakers Association. They have some incredible either local or national resources that you can use. There is a lot of wonderful people out there and I will tell you Jenny, what inspires me is when I see excellent speakers on stage and I talk to them afterwards, and they say, “Yeah, the thing you say that was so great, I have practiced it out loud for a year so I could get it right.” It gives you a total respect for what the profession is all about.