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Want to Succeed Speaking? Listen First!

This will be a quick and seemingly ultra-basic message… but it may also be the most powerful sales lesson I can offer:

If you want to be a successful speaker, if you want to get more business, if you want speakers bureaus to notice you… close your mouth every now and thenYes, you are paid to speak, but listen first.

Too harsh? Just remember that I write this blog to help you, and after yet another phone call with a speaker where I was barely able to fit a word in edge-wise, I want to make sure this point comes through loud and clear.

Whether it’s the speaker who just won’t let me start talking — why didn’t you just send me a recording? — or the speaker who lets me start, but then finishes my sentence — like buzzing in after the first word of a Jeopardy answer — and quickly turns the conversation back to him- or herself, it happens far too often. And while it’s a nuisance for me, what I can’t help but think is, Do you do this when you’re speaking to prospective clients, too?

I understand that you feel pressure to get your “pitch” out there.

I understand that you’re afraid this call could end at any moment, so you better talk while you can.

I understand that you need the business.

But just relax.

The only reason you should call me — or any speakers bureau agent, or any prospective client — is if you can make my business better. The only way you can make my business better is if you listen to what I have to say. Learn what my mission is. Learn what my concerns are. Learn what my needs are. You’ll find out all of those things and more if you just ask the right questions and listen. Then, speak… to me, not at me.

Then, instead of being inspired to write this blog post, I’ll be thinking about how much I want to find a way for us to work together. And isn’t that your goal in the first place?

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