Recently I attended Caterina Rando‘s Sought After Speaker Summit speakers’ training. This is part 9 of my Sought After Speaker Summit blog series. You can read part 1 here, part 2 here, part 3 here, part 4 here, part 5 here, part 6 here, part 7 here, and part 8 here.
Some of the things I learned from Caterina’s training were what NOT to do as a public speaker. These included:
- Connect with the audience before, during, and after your speaking time. Be available and approachable! Don’t be a “grab and go” speaker – speaking, grabbing your stuff and going home right after you speak. Look into their eyes as you speak; walk out into the audience to be physically close to them. Don’t let the podium be your little safety net! Be with your peeps! Talk with the attendees before and after you speak.. This builds the know, like and trust factor and is smart speaker etiquette. I love praying with women after I speak; it’s a wonderful opportunity to minister to the heart of the women personally.
- Network at events where you’re speaking. If there are multiple speakers, don’t sit with only the speakers at breaks, lunch or dinner. Sit with the attendees so there is not a barrier between you and the audience of “us and them.”
- Don’t be a high maintenance, diva speaker. You don’t want to be kind of speaker who demands a Starbucks latte’ or 3 bottles of Fiji water. If you try to act like a celebrity, you are less likely to be booked! Don’t have a long list of “must have” demands before your speaking time.
Work with the AV equipment they have; if necessary, bring your own that you and your staff can operate. Be friendly and open to the planner, staff and attendees, not rude. Leave a thank you note for the event planner/staff, expressing your gratitude. Practice great follow up techniques after events; they may ask you to come back next year or another time!
- No verbal agreements! You need a contract, Letter of Agreement or Letter of Understanding. This needs to be your own agreement, stating what is important to you; don’t wait for the planner to send you one. You need to have a speaker agreement even for marketing talks. This is a super tip that Caterina has learned. It doesn’t matter how well you know this person; get it in writing! Be sure that you and the event planner or contact person has signed and dated it before the day of event. This includes your speaker fee and the date you will receive it, such as on the day you speak. Clarify that you want a private hotel room if the planner is booking your room. One time when I flew out of state to speak somewhere, I discovered that I had a “surprise” room mate (another speaker) at the hotel. Neither of us knew about this before we arrived! If you’ve asked for a deposit prior to the event (I do this, to make sure they are committed), be sure you have received this first.
- At the same time, honor yourself. Caterina has found that a lot of events don’t hold their numbers. When an event planner contacts you, let her know that you’re happy to put it on your calendar now if what was promised is delivered, if the date is available, and if the pay is right – but give yourself an out if you revisit it in 2 months and only 5 people have signed up for the event. This is a way to honor yourself. Put it all in writing. However, by the 6 weeks mark, be firm about whether you are committed to speaking there. (My disclaimer: if God tells you to speak there anyway, obey Him!)
- Don’t shout. Use the mic! Even if there’s only 20 people in the room, you want a mic. Using a mic will preserve your voice. I found by creating my own local event that having 2 mics was wisdom!You want everyone to be able to HEAR you, and to have a backup if necessary. AV equipment costs a ton of money, up to $175 for 2 days. Power point projector can cost $500. Be sure to ask about and then check the equipment before you speak somewhere.
- Practice takes away the anxiety and fear. The more platform time you have, the less anxious you will be. When you go to a new level (such as speaking to 1000 people after only speaking to crowds of 50, 100, or a couple of hundred people), you will experience anxiety again.
But the more you do it, the less fear you will have. In sales on calls, you can visualize the person on the other end waiting for your call. For speaking, you can imagine people sitting on the edge of their seats, waiting to hear your important message.
- Get your speaker sheet done. This is a simple tool that gets you booked or you DON’T get booked if you don’t send it out.
- Don’t have a pic with your dog or cat or family in it. Women love furry babies (and regular babies), but this is your professional photo to help you book speaking gigs. Make sure that people can really see your eyes in your picture, because the eyes are the window to the soul. You want a dynamic picture with a big smile, that is positive, uplifting, and makes you seem trustworthy (hopefully you are!). You can use a body shot if the brochure is two pages, but generally a good, quality headshot is best. A corporate photo looks dated. Be brand consistent.
- Don’t use a bio like a resume’. Remember personal branding words in your speaker sheet. “Dynamic and inspirational.” Make sure it describes you as an incredible speaker.
- List 3 titles of talks, not 10 or 20,. You want your 3 talks that get the most pickup. If you have 15 or 20 talks listed, this will make decisions difficult for the event planner. Put your best stuff on there. What else do you do–coaching? She will look at it and think, ‘This speaker is a perfect match for us!” You can have different speaker sheets, or tweak your bio/speaker sheet just for that conference.
- Don’t accept no. The answer is yes until they say no! The event planner and the attendees tell you they loved your presentation and they are leaving inspired. If you offer to speak again next year, and they say they have a different speaker every year, offer to be a breakout session or workshop speaker.
You want to be not just a memorable speaker they enjoyed, but a sought after speaker who is booked solid throughout the year. Remember these do’s and don’t’s and you will be!
*******Do you need a speaker for your late fall of Christmas event this year, spring 2014 or spring 2015? I’m now booking speaking engagements. If you’d like me to be a speaker at your event, or to talk with me more, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact me here.