Tag: Motivational Speaker

Somethings gone terribly wrong!…….

marmiteI 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 p[rofesisonal 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 audiance, 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!

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.

salesmanYou 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 give aways 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!

You may find my blog most disturbing, you may find it most heartening.  There are a new breed of ‘Sid the Salesman Speaker’ out there; happy to buy their place to sell 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 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 presentation full of GOLDEN Nuggets of information, motivation and inspiration.

I thought you just turned up and spoke!

I’d like to briefly share with you 2 quick examples as to why not everyone who speaks is a speaker, and why not everyone who listens is your audience!

Not all those who speak are speakers

Whenever I’m not speaking at events or preparing material, I like to attend conferences and listen to other speakers.  I’m not some crazy kind of stalker, or recluse; simply someone who enjoys being inspired by others and likes to see whats popular and ‘working’ in the industry right now.

I was recently invited to an evening event, where 3 speakers were billed (none of whom I’d heard speak before), all of whom had a well presented Speaker Bio, and 2 of whom were speaking on issues very close to me.  The event was less than 30mins drive from my home, and on an evening I had little else on.

I attended with much interest, looking forward to being inspired by others and their stories.  However, what unfolded was anything but inspirational. The first speaker appeared to use her book as a permanent clip board, fixed within her hand, cover showing as if a mini sandwich board strapped to her hand!  It took me a while to determine WHY (other than the continued promotion of) would she so prominently hold this book in front of her.  It took me 10mins or so, to realise behind the book were a series of prompt cards for her, being cleverly hidden by the book.  I could begin to excuse this slightly if it wasn’t that she was using the prompt cards to remind her of her story!

If this was the first time I’d seen this, and by someone first entering the speaking arena I might have overlooked and forgiven her for nerves infront of their first audience, however by far it is not.

I’m ASTOUNDED at the amount of people who ‘profess’ to be motivational speakers, professional speakers, inspirational speakers and yet can’t remember 30,40,60mins OF THEIR OWN material!

I’m NOT saying speakers are actors, or actors are speakers, however IF we were to make a comparison, an actor may be required to recite 2-3 hours (4-5 if your doing the classics like shakespeare) of someone elses material (often using words or phases perhaps NOT common to your own every day speach) and deliver it full of emotion and perfectly.

Therefore, the FIRST LESSON in becoming a speaker – KNOW your material!

Another speaker opted to use slides to support his presentation. I’m a big fan of slides after all “A picture paints a thousand words” and images can instantly invoke powerful emotion.  However, I’d prefer each slide not to be surrounded by a thousand words, which the speaker felt compelled to turn their back to the audience and read from each slide!

Perhaps they missed the vital lesson which advises LESS IS MORE.  In order for the image to be invocative, it needs to stand alone and consume the entire screen.  Ensure the image is CLEAR, RELEVANT, APPLICABLE. Give the audience to see it, consider it, engage with it, rather than flicking through endless slides simly because you know whats coming next!

SECOND LESSON in becoming a speaker – Use props appropriately.

The other speaker bounded onto the stage and immediately engaged with the audience. His voice was clear, the volume was just right and his tone pleasant to listen to.  I sat back in my chair and began to get inspired. However, began to get a creek neck, as I found myself continually following his frantic pacing up and down the stage! Up and down, speaking faster and faster, as he himself became more excited by his content. Faster and faster, louder and louder, left, right, left…..

He had NO understanding of owning the stage, about anchoring or time lines, how to utilise the space effectively instead of thinking it was a 5-a-side pitch and he needed to deliver his presentation whilst re-enacting all 5 players moves!  I quickly became distracted by is tireless movement, and found myself reaching for the anadin before he came up for air!

THIRD LESSON in becoming a speaker –  Pace, Position, Posture

and finally, the CARDINAL SIN of speaking.

However, if there was ONE thing that angers EVERY audience more than anything else. If there was ONE THING that was guaranteed to make you memorable for ALL the WRONG reasons, and confirm your unlikely to EVER be invited to speak again…

Practice delivering content to a live audience, both small and large.  Know it front to back, back to front and inside out. There’s an ART I teach all budding speakers about their material, and sadly this speaker had deemed that wasn’t applicable to them! Because they were booked to deliver a 30min keynote, and at 22mins in, they announced,

“Now I’ve given you the background, I can begin!…”

TIMING is CRUCIAL, beyond ANYTHING else when speaking to others.  Respect for people and their time HAS to be the NUMBER 1 proirity with any speaker, and acknowledging that any audience, EVERY audience is only granting you access to them and their time, whilst you are worthy and respectful of it!

It’s scary the amount of ‘speakers’ that arrive with what clearly is going to take them 2+ hours to get through for their 45min slot!

FORTH and FINAL LESSON in becoming a speaker – Know when to get off!

I know there are many styles of presenting, there are numerous theories surrounding engagement and audience participation. I understand everyone has to have their own individual take on how they present their story.  But a fundamental issue remains here: It’s not about you!  It’s always about THEM.

The difference between someone who speaks and a professional speaker, starts and ends with the audience, and the emtion you invoke within them to empower them to do or say or think differently from that moment onwards.  It’s not about the words you say or the sotries you share, but the emotions you invoke within them which creates a lasting (sometimes life changeing) impression.

Learning how to craft a speech that you know prior to even entering stage is an art, a craft so many profess to, yet so fewer ever take the time and consideration to master.

Listen to me…

My second quick story is the other side of speaking.  Not the motivational stage stuff, but the event and management of it!  The BUSINESS of speaking.I was recently approached by the organiser of an event (Not an event organiser) to enquire if I was available to speak at an event they were hosting this Autumn.  She had seen a previous post I had placed on LinkedIn and begun following me, then more recently watched a video I uploaded on Youtube.

I was recently approached by the organiser of an event (Not an event organiser) to enquire if I was available to speak at an event they were hosting this Autumn.  She had seen a previous post I had placed on LinkedIn and begun following me, then more recently watched a video I uploaded on Youtube.

She initially emailed asking if I might be available on the date for the event, and comments on how she had been inspired to call by my post and video.  She advised me more about the event, and in return I spoke about my experience and area of expertise as a speaker, and we agreed I would be a ‘good fit’ for their audience and required outcomes.
I asked if she’d like to go through my booking inquiry sheet over the phone or have it emailed to her. She advised she was happy to progress over the phone, so I began running through the list of questions I ask every enquirer in order to ensure we are both in agreement as to who, what, where, when and how this event is going to be the success it deserves to be.

Halfway through the form, she interrupted to advise me

“Oh my god, how do you know to ask all of this stuff?
I just thought you’d turn up and speak!”

It appears she had taken very little of the questions I was asking into any consideration and was mildly panicking that the event was nowhere near as far through being planned as she had first thought, based on my questions!

I offered her our complimentary guide to planning a Successful Event which she very gratefully accepted and requested I also include the booking enquiry form to complete once she has taken everything else on the list into consideration!

I privately offered feedback to each of the three speakers in my first example, and am pleased to advise all took the observations and feedback well, and we are now engaged in working to review and amend the concerns I raised, to improve and propel them and their speaking careers forward.

The event organiser has returned both enquiry sheet and payment, and I look forward to presenting on their stage.


Most of the business owners I know, were looking forward to the 25th December, not for the turkey and all the trimmings, the odd glass or port and the odd mince pie, but for the opportunity to simply ‘close shop’ turn off the emails and the phone and have some down time!

However, for me it gave the perfect opportunity to catch up with a whole pile of books I’d been meaning to get through, and to come up with some BRAND NEW CONTENT!

As a speaker I’m also looking to improve, and whilst the testimonials and feedback are always positive, there always the opportunity to further improve content or delivery.

This year, I’m particularly excited because my brand new keynote is something like I’ve never delivered before!  All the material is my own, its all been tested and I’ve got some amazing evidence through case studies (from my work as a success strategy coach within My TrueNORTH) to validate my findings.

Along with the keynote, I’m busy writing a book, recording a whole series of downloadable video’s and audio files and working with the IT team on a new microsite and all the SEO / Analytics data required to make this my best work yet!

In January 2017 I launched the ADD A ZERO Business Challenge, and this keynote supports this by challenging business owners to determine what it will take to ADD A ZERO!

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