4 Tips to Succeed Speaking in 2017

Is it just me, or does it seem like there are more “professional speakers” than ever these days?

I’m not sure if there are really more “professional” speakers, but there are definitely more people who call themselves speakers. And what that does is create a very crowded, noisy marketplace… so while you have more opportunities than ever to promote yourself as a speaker, you also have to be more diligent than ever to position yourself as a true pro so you can cut through the clutter and stand out from the crowd.

Here are some quick and simple–yet critical–tips to help you do just that in 2017:

1. Get clear on who you want to help, and how you can help them.

Let’s say you speak about leadership. So you’re a “leadership speaker.”

Good. That’s one of the most in-demand topics. It’s also one of the most crowded topics. To set yourself apart, you need to identify 1-3 target markets that you’re going to go after–so you can really focus your message and your marketing efforts on them. Then you need to get very clear on how you help them.

So instead of just being a “leadership speaker,” you can say, “I am a leadership speaker who helps [target audience] do [specific thing you help them do better] so they can [ultimate objective they can accomplish by doing that thing better].”

Having that kind of clarity is a sign of mastery. And, how do you think that will sound to a member of your target audience who is looking to achieve that ultimate objective you speak of?

2. Have absolute confidence in the fee you’re asking for.

Lots of speakers come to me because they want to start getting paid more per event (or, they just want to start getting paid, period). The problem is, many of them don’t really believe they’re worth a higher fee.

Let me ask you this: Are people better off after they’ve heard you than they were before? What is the bottom-line outcome they can expect after you speak? More sales? Higher productivity?

You may help them with morale… with customer service… with creativity… or with any number of other things. But what does it ultimately lead to? There must be a bottom line benefit. Look for it. Then you’ll be able to see how valuable your presentation really is to an organization. So then you can “own” that higher fee that you want to start quoting. Because if you don’t own it, good luck finding a client to pay it.

3. Create compelling marketing materials that communicate who you help, how you help them, and why it’s tremendously valuable.

One of the big mistakes I see speakers make with their marketing materials is making them all about “me.”

Look how amazing I am… Check out these credentials… Look who endorsed me… 

There is a place for all that, but before a prospective client wants to know about you, they want to know how you can help them. Here are some key questions they’re asking:

How are you relevant to my audience?

Why are you a credible authority to speak on your topic?

Is your material current?

Can I expect your presentation to provide a spark that generates results (lasting change, not just 45 minutes of “feel good”)?

If you win them over with your answers to those questions, then they want to know:

What makes you one-of-a-kind?

It’s like the Jerry Garcia quote (paraphrased): “Don’t be the best at what you do. Be seen as the only one who does what you do.” (Just make sure the client first understands why what you do matters to them!)

When you’re creating your marketing materials, always be examining them through the lens of, “How are we going to be better off?” (Thinking from the client’s perspective.)

While every client wants an amazing speaker, what they really want is a speaker who will make them (the meeting planner, and the organization) amazing.

4. Connect with the right prospects, consistently.

You can complete steps 1-3 and still come to the end of 2017 no better off than you are right now.

Once you know who can help and how you can help them, once you know what you deserve to be paid, and once you have the marketing materials to back it all up, you’ve still gotta get out there and connect with prospective clients. When you’re just starting out, you can’t sit around waiting for leads to come to you.

Have you ever seen Zig Ziglar do his classic bit, where he’s pumping that old water well on stage? He’s pumping that handle and pumping that handle… faster and faster… and he’s getting more excited and more passionate as he goes. But no water is coming out.

He keeps pumping. Faster and faster. It looks like it’s not going to work. But then, finally, amazingly… WATER!!!

If he would have stopped when he got tired, or when he decided it would have been easier to just go get a bottle of Coke, he would have never created that steady flow of water. It’s not so different prospecting for clients.

Let’s say I could show you the exact keywords to find at least 5 prospects an hour using Google. These are customized keywords to help you find associations that are very likely to have a budget, and looking for a speaker like you. If you spend 5 hours a week going after prospects, and reaching out to those you find (using a simple “conversation starter” email template), you can reach 25 prospects a week. Do that for four weeks and you’ve got 100 prospects. Do that for 12 months and you’ve got 1200 prospects.

How many of those 1200 do you need to say yes, at the fee you want to earn, to hit your goals for 2017?

Sounds pretty easy, doesn’t it? I’m not going to say it’s easy. And like everything in life, nothing is guaranteed. But is it rocket science? No. So why doesn’t everyone do it? Because not everyone has that level of commitment. What about you?

Lots of people want to have a successful speaking business, but only a few take the kind of strategic, consistent action that generates real results. And those who do, those are the ones who succeed. Those are the ones you see today who are earning $10,000-15,000 or more per speech, who are doing 30 or 50 or 75 dates a year. It’s easy to want what they have now, but are you willing to start where they started? Are you willing to take action? CONSISTENTLY? Not just for a few weeks, but for an entire year. If you do that, what might happen?

So here we are, standing on the cliff looking at a new year of opportunity and possibility. Is this the year you finally “do this thing” and start building the speaking business you’ve been thinking about? What are you going to do differently in the new year?

All it takes is a decision. And the only one who can make that decision is you.

I’m rooting for you. Go out there and rock this thing in 2017, okay?!

If you need some help, I’m here for you.