Sunday, January 1, 2017

ABCs of Speaking Your Building Blocks to Speaking Success



Next week I’m jumping back into Toastmasters after a lull. I’ve always admired people who are strong and powerful speakers. People who can inspire people to act on their dreams, jump start them into action, and fill a room with hope and excitement leave me in awe. I’m striving to grow my presentation skills and as I embark on being an entrepreneur, becoming one of the enchanting speakers that I have been in a room with.

When I was in Toastmasters I looked for resources and books to take my speaking to the next level but never really found what I was looking for. I recently found a book to assist me in learning more about professionally speaking and taking it to the next level to support my goals this year.  ABCs of Speaking – Your Building Blocks to Speaking Success by Adryenn Ashley, Bret Ridgway, and Caterina Rando is an effective guidebook on learning more about the behind the scenes of public speaking and what it takes to be successful with people. This book is a starting point in crafting your own plan for public speaking while sharing the wins and pitfalls that await you.

The book jumps right into why becoming a speaker can jump start your career, business, and personal growth goals. The authors stress that speaking is a business, not just a hobby, and you really need dig your heels in and work diligently to find your sweet spot in order to impact your audience. Speaking takes planning, practice, and you need to develop strong marketing and sales skills. For example, you can’t just jump into speaking via social media and mailing out flyers to try to get booked at events. Here are some of the factors that you need to plan for as you embark on a speaking career.

  • Pinpoint your audience and sweet spot where you can have an impact and draw people to you
  • Learn your audience demographics in general and for each presentation ahead of time
  • Decide on which speaking model you will pursue – free or fee?
  • How will you set your rates? What are your revenue goals?
  • What are your metrics to determine success and will you need to outsource backroom tasks?
  • Will you be self hosting events or partnering with other professionals?
  • Will you have live shows or recorded webinars?
  • Prepare a “speaker sheet” to share with prospects rather than offer a flyer
  • The value of up selling, offering coaching, selling books and finding more value in your business 

 ABCs of Speaking answered numerous questions that I have had about venturing into speaking over the years. It provided me with insight into what decisions speakers need to make about choosing the right model (fee or free). Pricing variables, the complexity of partnering with event managers, fellow speakers, and the need to be an effective salesperson are points that I hadn’t given deep consideration. Effective speakers make presenting look so flawless and easy and now I better understand the behind the scenes life of a speaker that is full of details, selling, relationships, and networking.

As a “speaker want to be” I want to share two of my key learnings from ABCs of Speaking.

Speaker sheet: This sheet is a key marketing tool that is generally 1-2 pages long depending on your experience. It is a critical brand building and sales tool to introduce you to prospects and event organizers. This sheet isn’t meant to be a long detailed biography of you, but a quick reference guide of some of these key attributes:

  • List of past clients and topics
  • Testimonials
  • Pre-design of a specific presentation
  • Catchy title outlining you but not mentioning your name upfront
  • Short biography about you – simple and short

 Fee or Free speaking format: I’ve been to countless workshops and presentations of all sizes over the years and while many of them end with the speaker offering books, webinars, or coaching opportunities, I never thought much about what decisions need to be made behind the scenes by a speaker. A fee speaking event is just as it sounds. You speak for a set fee. Speakers need to know some key metrics in order to book an event which includes # of attendees, # of buying units (explained in the book), and closing percentage. These metrics should also be applied to free speaking events.

Free speaking events require more sales and marketing on behalf of a speaker after a presentation. In fact, 80% of an engagement should be spent on content and 20% on sales. You see, “free” speakers may or may not receive a speaking fee but are normally  compensated on the up sells that they achieve after they speak in the form of books, webinars, or coaching. You need to be effective at sales because your event promoter generally asks for 50% of your sales as compensation.

If you present at work, community events, or just want to develop your craft, I suggest that you read ABCs of Speaking. It’s an enlightening read stocked full of helpful information, examples, and the views of 3 strong speakers. I came away from reading this gem with not only new information on the speaking world, but ideas that I need to weave into my growth as I develop my skills and speak more frequently. The book is very easy reading and engaging. It captured my attention and urged me on to learn more and experience more. Grow some new ways to develop yourself as a speaker but most importantly, find out how better grow those around you!