I know before I even begin typing that this blog is going to be a lot like a jar of marmite! You’re either going to love me for saying this or hate me! But I can’t simply bite my tongue ANY longer!…..
Something has gone terribly wrong!
You see, before I even contemplated becoming a public speaker, I had frequently paid to attend various conference and events to listen and be inspired by a whole myriad of other speakers.
People, who having achieved a certain level of success, be that through a level of research, education, and knowledge or through trial and error, perseverance and determination. Be that in sport, music, the arts, or business; I was inspired by their ability to command an audience as they took them transfixed on a journey or discovery and delivered them safely to a point of heightened inspiration, motivation, drive, determination to do something, start something, change something. To be a better person as a result of that single interaction.
I ‘entered’ the world of public speaking quite by accident! However, having done so, was almost immediately took under the wing of a far more seasoned professional speaker and a speaker ‘agent’ with whom collectively enabled me to become the speaker I am today.
But something has changed!
There appears to be a new ‘breed’ of ‘speaker’ taking over the speaking scene, and whilst I’m all for innovation, I’m not sure it’s for the best!
You see, just like a Judge or Barrister, a Surgeon or GP, a Politician or Police Officer, I earn my living from speaking. Being a professional speaker is FAR more than ‘turning up and speaking’. In order to remain current, relevant, and of value to any audience, I spend a significant amount of my time conducting research, watching, reading, listening, learning. I attend a number of other conferences not to speak but as a delegate, learning, asking, challenging.
Then when an enquiry comes through, its straight to work researching as much as I can about that enquirer. Their business, their event, what the background is, what the desired outcomes for the event are. Who’s going to be there, what influencers might be of consideration, whats the order of events and so on.
Then it’s about putting a bespoke presentation together, relevant to the desired outcomes of the event manager. Determining what needs to be included, what ought to be missed, what questions need to be asked, what questions need to be answered in order for the desired outcomes to become the actual outcomes.
What resources may be required, how will they be used, by whom and when? What media would best be used to convey this message, and how can this be incorporated into the event structure to the greatest effect.
When I first qualified in Adult Education, we soon learnt that for every minute in front of an audience requires at least 30mins in preparation, so a 45min keynote would invariable take at least 23hours of preparation time once the research has been completed!
Speaking as a RIGHT!
I’m also seeing a growing trend within business networking, membership organisations and the likes, the opportunity to ‘speak’ and ‘seminar slots’ are a privilege of membership. And whilst this may be a key draw for many to become members, it is also a hidden detractor for people to become members also! AND it’s a two pronged barrier!
- Glossophobia (The fear of public speaking) tops the list as one of the most common phobias in the world. It’s estimated that 75% of people suffer from speech anxiety, making it one of the most common phobias that exist. And BECAUSE it is so common, when people see membership where it suggests a privilege to membership is being able to be a speaker and host a workshop it can often fill people with a fear they may at some stage be EXPECTED to do so!
Now, by YOU determining this is a privilege, a right, a benefit of membership, has for potentially 75% of your potential future members become a curse!
- Slightly more personally though, is the growing assumption / presumption “I can speak, therefore I’m a speaker” or “I know my product really well, therefore I can facilitate an interactive workshop for others”.
Throughout my 20+ years of attending conferences, exhibitions, networking events, seminars, workshops, masterclasses and so on. I’ve witnessed first hand literally hundreds (if not a few thousand) of people that have suddenly added the term SPEAKER to their resume! And whilst I’ve seen some EXCEPTIONAL presentations and workshops from people that really OUGHT to add the word speaker to their description, I’m also seeing a growing amount of those WITH the words SPEAKER that truly are not!
Personally, I think more than a decade of ongoing training, maintaining my CPD, and investing in myself as a speaker coupled with 3 years full time training and qualification as an Adult Education Facilitator alongside more than 15 years Global experience both speaking and facilitating workshops and earning in excess of £100per minute for doing so qualifies me to make this personal but honest observation!
You say you’re a ‘speaker’?
But there appears to be a newer breed of ‘speaker’ (or so they call themselves) because they also share the stage and present to an audience.
However, rather than earning a living delivering value, these ‘speakers’ present for FREE. Some even BUY their slot on stage! You see, they don’t sell VALUE, they sell products.
Sid the Salesman
You see ‘Sid’ is more Salesman than speaker but has mastered the art of selling one too many as opposed to knocking on everyone’s door one by one!
(S)He will provide a few gimmicky giveaways to entice you that their are ‘nice’ and promise you they are there to ‘help’ however the huge difference between the two is the ulterior motive!
You see ‘Sid’ has bought his/her slot on stage, and NEEDS to recoup their investment, so rather than GIVING value, they SELL value. ‘Sid’ has mastered the art of NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) and uses voice patterns, transient hypnotherapy and powerful suggestive motivators to sway the audience into a state of belief that the real VALUE is at the end of handing over an email address, their social media or mobile phone details and eventually their credit card!
‘Amazing, once in a lifetime, never to be repeated’ OFFERS are made, to a selective number of audience members, but only if they react NOW and enter their credit card details onto a pre-dispatched order form.
Audience members who ‘comply’ are brought onto the stage and paraded in front of their previous colleagues and friends, as a share of the fame of being on stage as an elite member of the “I’m in” club, only to learn that their colleagues are offered a second chance to join them but either for a higher price, or for less promise of extra goodies and freebies!
The vast amount of NLP trickery that is being conducted here, in terms of words, tone, sentence structure, environment, ambiance, language, volume, rhythm are all practiced out by Sid for days, weeks, months previously to taking to THIS stage. In order to master the art of conversational hypnosis sufficient to convince an unsuspecting audience that what they have to offer is the ‘next big thing’ and the ‘ideal solution’ to their existing problems (sometimes that they didn’t even previously know they had!)
You may find my blog most disturbing, or significantly bias, but I’m hoping you may find it most heartening. There are a new breed of ‘Sid the Salesman Speaker’ out there; happy to buy their place (I’ve witnessed ‘Sid’ pay TENS of THOUSANDS of pounds) to ‘Speak’ to your audience and (if necessary) share a percentage of the sale of their automated, Video, CD, Download, email series ‘Done the work once and sell it forever’ products with the event booker!
Perhaps the taint of my perception of both of these ‘speakers’ has helped you to understand both where I sit on this issue, and the level of investment I request to speak at events? I may not cross your palm with silver to present, but I will provide your audience with a well considered, bespoke presentation full of GOLDEN Nuggets of information, motivation and inspiration, with a clear set of ‘take-aways’ they can implement to make a marked difference to both them and their futures!
Feel free to drop me a comment below with your thoughts?…..
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