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Great advice for budding speakers

Great advice for budding speakers

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Stand upandstickoutforspeakers Stand upandstickoutforspeakers Document Transcript

  • STAND UP AND STICK OUT …for Public Speakers A Workbook to Guide You Along the Path of Public Speaking – from the Art to the Business by Kelly Swanson
  • Copyright © 2010 Author Name All rights reserved. ISBN: ISBN-13:
  • DEDICATION This book is dedicated to all of those brave souls who feel the call to speak in public – or the scared souls who are forced - or the inspired souls who have a burning message – or the lucky souls who have a powerful story to share - or the clueless souls who just want a chance to be heard. This book is for anyone who wants to speak to a group of people – whether it’s ten or ten thousand. Speaking in public is challenging, but it is also rewarding. There is great power to be held in the platform. Please use the privilege with wisdom and care.
  • CONTENTS 1 WHO IS KELLY SWANSON? 1 2 WHAT THIS WORKBOOK IS AND WHO IT IS FOR 4 3 THE LIFE OF A PROFESSIONAL SPEAKER 6 4 WHY STAND UP AND STICK OUT 11 5 SEE, BELIEVE, DO 16 6 SO WHAT DO YOU SPEAK ABOUT? FINDING YOUR MESSAGE 22 7 HOW IS YOUR MESSAGE DELIVERED 27 8 CRAFTING YOUR MESSAGE 30 9 STORIES 34 10 - HUMOR CPR: 60 11 SIX SECRETS TO BEING UNFORGETTABLE 96 12 SELLING YOUR MESSAGE 116
  • ACKNOWLEDGMENTS This book is dedicated to all of those speakers out there – known and unknown – who have whispered encouragement, shared their hearts and souls, and made the world a better place – even if just for an hour. The path of a speaker is not easy. But neither is life. i
  • In school, if you stuck out, you were dead. In business, if you don’t stick out, you’re dead. kswanson Growing up I was the outcast - the kid they threw things at on the bus. I spent most of my life trying not to be noticed trying to blend in. I carried the belief into adulthood that to be successful meant to look like everyone else. But I wasn't like everyone else. And it got really exhausting trying to be. And really boring. So one day I cast aside the expected life, dusted off the gifts I had been hiding, stepped out of my comfort zone and on to a stage as a motivational speaker and comedian. And I didn't look back. And guess what. It turns out that being different isn't such a bad thing. In fact, it's a great thing. In fact, it's everything. I have learned that it's not blending in that makes you a success, but standing out among the crowd. So now I'm sharing my journey with you - to take you from blending in to flying high above your comfort zone. I want to share the mindsets and behaviors that I had to break, and the new attitudes I had to adopt. I want to share the many ways I've learned to stand out in a crowded market. Want in? I sure hope so. Now get ready - to STAND UP AND STICK OUT! Kelly Swanson
  • 1 WHO IS KELLY SWANSON? TEACHING YOU TO STAND UP AND STICK OUT IN A CROWDED MARKET…Because nobody notices normal KELLY SWANSON is a Nationally Known Award-Winning Storyteller, Comedian, Motivational Speaker, Emcee, and Author of "Who Hijacked My Fairy Tale? How to hang on to humor when life doesn't go the way you planned" and "It's All Fun and Games 'Til The Hair Gets Messed Up" – along with several other books, CD’s, DVD’s, and hundreds of online articles. She has been described by Our State Magazine as one of North Carolina's funniest women. She uses hilarious comedy, powerful stories, and a wacky cast of southern characters to make people laugh, remind them of their value, and show them how to stand up and stick out in their lives, businesses, and communities. Her shows have delighted audiences from coast to coast, from board rooms to cruise ships. KELLY'S JOURNEY has taken her... ...from the shy kid who turned red if you looked at her, to the opening act for Loretta Lynn and the laughing roar of a sold-out audience ...from the kid who wrote stories under the covers by flashlight, to the author of three books, numerous recordings, and extensive online publications 1
  • Kelly Swanson ...from writing and telling stories to sleeping relatives at family reunions, to a career as a professional storyteller landing on the stage at the National Storytelling Festival ...from the kid voted most likely to set her eyebrows on fire, to the recipient of awards from the National Parenting Publications and the Film Advisory Board of Hollywood for quality family entertainment ...from the one who was told that it was a nice dream but don't think you can actually make a living doing that, to being the featured performer for Holland America Cruise Lines ...from being the last one chosen in dodge ball, to being a highly sought after creative coach helping people take their creativity to a higher level ...from the kid who was humiliated and laughed out of cheerleading tryouts, to a successful career as a motivational speaker and comedian - in her eyes: the ultimate cheerleading job ...from feeling like an outcast and trying to blend in, to embracing what makes her different and teaching others to embrace what makes them different ...from learning to use laughter to deal with the obstacles life threw at her, to using her laughter to heal hearts all over the world. ...and now she is here – in your office – in your living room – sharing with you what she has learned along the journey. Why? Because she believes we are stronger together. Okay, enough talking about myself in the third person. I’m here now. And let’s get started. So how did I become a professional speaker? Quite by accident really, and a long twisted combination of mistakes coupled with a couple of right moves that I didn’t realize were right at the time. I won’t go in to the whole story, but I started as a writer wanting to write children’s books – turned into a writer who wanted to write adults books – which turned into being a professional storyteller – which turned into a career as a motivational speaker and author. It has taken me years to figure out what I’m doing – and I’m still not sure I have. But this much I know to be true: I love writing stories and getting people to pay me to come tell them. And, so far, I’ve figured out a way to make that work. So whether you are here because you want to become a motivational speaker like me, or just because you have a speech to give for high school graduation – I’m sure there is something in here you can use. Hopefully, I can help you avoid some of the mistakes I made. Then again, it’s the mistakes that really teach us. 2
  • STAND UP AND STICK OUT…FOR SPEAKERS I’m ready to get to work – so I’m hoping you don’t need to know more about me – and that we are friends now. But if you need a little more time to get to know me, then I recommend that you go here: www.kellyswanson.net (my website) www.christian-comedy.com (my website for my church stuff) www.swansonspeaks.com (my blog) www.youtube.com/swansonspeaks (my youtube channel) www.linkedin.com – I have a group here called: Online Comedy Club (join us!) www.facebook.com – Funny Motivational Speaker (fan page) www.facebook.com – Kelly Cochran Swanson (my friend page) www.ezinearticles.com – look up my name and you’ll find tons of articles www.bizymoms.com – I am a regular contributor here www.corporate-comedy-chicks.com – New Project I’m Doing (find us on Facebook too) And if you don’t know me a little better by now, I’m afraid there’s nothing left. At least nothing I’m willing to post online. ☺ So let’s get to work. Sometimes I wake up grouchy… …and sometimes I just let him sleep 3
  • 2 WHAT THIS WORKBOOK IS AND WHO IT IS FOR Okay, for starters, it’s a WORKbook. That means you don’t get sit back and let me do all the talking. That means that you will have to actually pick up your pen and work. I’m going to ask you a lot of questions – questions that you won’t be able to answer in a day, or even a year. But you need to ask them. They are not rules; they are guides. There are no hard and fast rules to the art and business of speaking – as much as people will try to tell you there are. You will find your own unique way, your own unique style. I’m just here to help you find out what that is. How you can stand up and stick out. You don’t have to read this whole workbook start to finish – you can just find the parts that involve you and jump in. You might not care about the business of professional speaking, and that’s fine. But I have found that many of the facets of my business – many of the “tricks” we know as motivational speakers – can help people in other professions. Because when you think about it, we are all speakers in the sense that we are trying to influence someone else – whether it’s a client, our boss, our husband, our children. In some way, all of us can benefit by having skills to help us communicate effectively – whether on a platform or not. I am a professional speaker. I stand in front of groups of people – often strangers – and try to entertain them, engage them, make them laugh, encourage them, motivate them to take action, teach them truths I have learned, and get them to remember me and what I have told them long after I am gone. And if you really think about it – isn’t that what all of us are trying to do? We just don’t all stand on a platform. 4
  • STAND UP AND STICK OUT…FOR SPEAKERS Who is this workbook for? I’m going to say this workbook is for the beginning speaker – or anybody who is responsible for giving a speech – or anybody who is out there saying, “You know, I’ve always wanted to be a motivational speaker.” This workbook is for every person who has emailed me or called me or Facebook’d me, wanting to know how to do what I do. This is a culmination of the advice I have shared with others over the years. You might not know any of this. But there are some things in here that even the seasoned speaker may not know. And there are some things you know, but aren’t doing – and consider this your reminder. There are people far more qualified than me to speak on the subject of marketing, branding, social media, and the business of speaking. But you found me. Bless your heart. I will try not to waste your time. Just remember, it only takes a small change to make a big difference. I will be happy if this book gives you even one small change. 5
  • Kelly Swanson 3 THE LIFE OF A PROFESSIONAL SPEAKER This workbook is filled with blog posts and articles I’ve written on the subject of speaking. So let’s start with a blog post I wrote about the life of a motivational speaker. Just a little humor to get us off to a fun start. Staying on the Funny Side...of Motivational Speakers By Kelly Swanson So I was getting my business cards printed and I had a little extra room left on my business card beside “comedian” so I added “motivational speaker.” I'm a motivational speaker now! Not the kind of motivational speaker like my Aunt Ethel who is motivating all right - so irritating, that after five minutes, you're motivated to take a stick to the eye just to get out of the conversation. I'm a professional motivational speaker. I'm not exactly sure what I motivate people to do, but, hey, it doesn't matter - most of them don't have a clue either! Seriously, it's really easy - you can be one too! I'm trying to talk my cousin Charlie into being one 'cause he can't hear out of his left ear and has been caught on fire twice, and everybody knows the worse off you are, the more successful a motivational speaker you'll be. He says if he can lose another toe at his landscaping job it would look better on is resumé. My cousin, Pearl, was just crowned Queen of Dinkins Bottom (it's a place, not a person's body part) and winning a pageant will shoot you straight to the top of the motivational speaker chain. Have you noticed that nobody ever wants to be a motivational speaker as a kid? You don't dress up as one for Halloween - there's no degree in motivating others where you go to class and cheer each other up. It's the career you take on when you fail at everything else, which just makes me perfect for the job. It's all those failures that make for good touching stories. Or, if you're like me, you just have some room left on that business card. 6
  • STAND UP AND STICK OUT…FOR SPEAKERS So, of course, I had to start hanging around motivational speakers - to learn how to talk shop - speak their lingo - use words like “realize your potential”- “remove emotional barriers” - learn things like how to break a board with your hand and tell stories about lighthouses and starfish. But let me tell you, hanging around them isn't easy. They're so dog gone positive all the time. Try to complain and they start cheering at you and giving you an acronym that will improve your life and can be repeated in the shower. I can only hang out with them for so long before I've had enough and need a little balance, so I hang out with the support groups the rest of the time. There's something about hearing Jane Doe tell me she's addicted to sex with short bald men from Topeka and has a basement full of liquid eyeliner - and I just feel better. Motivational speakers are like therapists - they just do it on stage in front of hundreds of other people. I could never be a therapist - sitting there, listening to some poor woman sobbing about her husband leaving her for the girl who makes shakes at the Dairy Queen, her dog getting run over by the street cleaner, and how her mother never loved her during puberty, and I can't be supportive. I'm like, “Oh, man, it sucks to be you. Here's some pills. Take 'em all!” That's the hard thing. You've got to go into groups filled with people whose lives have been a whole lot harder than yours and tell them everything's great! Seriously, I got a call from this lady said she was with the Society for Homeless and Wounded Veterans Who'd Lost Families and were Battling Diseases. Said she wanted me to come in and make 'em feel good. And I've got to come in and give them a heart-wrenching story about the time we had to fire our gardener and didn't have a clear view of the pool for a week until we got a new gardener. And if you're having a bad day - forget it - the show must go on. Trust me, they do not like it when you break down on stage and tell them your boyfriend just left you to become a cross-dressing clown in the circus and who's gonna pay for the new above-ground pool with the underwater Strobe lights? And the competition is fierce! I lost my last job to a deaf lady with no limbs who paints pictures of dogs with her tongue. It's just not fair. Yeah, it's too hard. I don't think I want to be a motivational speaker anymore. It's too depressing. I'm taking it off my card. I think I'll be a life coach instead. I heard anybody can do it. So, what is it like being a professional speaker? It’s easier for me to tell you what it’s NOT like. It’s time to take some of those misconceptions people have about the speaking business and set them straight. Professional Speakers do not get rich quick. Many don’t even get rich slow. The general public thinks speakers make a lot of money – and some do - but just a some. Most speakers out there are making a decent living, if that, and are working their fannies off to do it. This is not a profession where you can come in and start rolling in the cash. You do not start making money right away. And you don’t start by charging what the celebrities charge. Professional Speakers don’t just work one hour a week. You see me one hour on stage. You don’t see the years I have spent perfecting my craft, developing product, writing and practicing, making mistakes, taking jobs I shouldn’t have, doing free jobs, handing out my business card at networking events, wondering how to pay my bills. You didn’t see the hundreds of jobs I had to do before I learned to make this look easy. You didn’t see the sweat and tears and years I put into this 7
  • Kelly Swanson paying my dues. I have earned the right to charge what I do. That one hour opportunity came at high price. Professional Speakers aren’t all best selling authors. Of course a book gives you credibility and something else to help you generate income. But you can still be a speaker if you don’t have one. And here’s a hint: If I can get a book in print – anybody can. Professional Speakers aren’t all mountain climbers, disease survivors, and Olympians. For years I wouldn’t write because I felt I didn’t have a story that people wanted to hear. Don’t be envious of the speakers who have amazing life stories. Your story is just as important and there are people who want and need to hear it. I see a speaker talk about training monkeys in the jungle, and while fascinating, I can’t relate. I don’t work in a jungle. I can relate to the woman in scuffed pumps with baby food in her hair, who wants to tell me how to balance motherhood and business. Some of us like to watch Amazing Race, and others were hooked on Seinfeld, about normal people doing normal things. My point, in case you didn’t get it, is that people connect to different speakers and their stories – there is a place for yours – no matter how dull you may think it is. (PS But you still have to make it sound interesting.) Professional Speakers don’t just wing it. At least not the good ones. Some of you are sitting out there in that audience thinking “I can do that.” Well, you probably can’t - not without putting work into it. I have met many many speakers and storytellers and comedians in my life, and I can count on ONE hand the number who can actually get up there and wing it and sound great. Maybe you have the gift. But even if you have the gift – crafting and practicing will make you even better. And in this economy, with the number of competitors out there in the speaking business, you’d better be constantly thinking of ways to get better. Especially if you want to be a keynote speaker. Professional Speakers don’t live a glamorous life. Okay, so maybe a few do – and maybe we all have different definitions of glamour. But many people think professional speakers fly first class, wear designer suits, drive fast race cars, marry beautiful spouses, and hang out with really cool people. Most of us don’t. Most of us are schlubbing (yes, I made that word up) around airports in comfortable shoes, dragging a battered suitcase, trying to save money on expenses, and running a one-person business out of our home hoping that when the phone rings the client won’t hear the washing machine in the background. A lot of what you think about the professional speaking business is smoke and mirrors. So don’t be fooled going in. You want a fancy life? Work for it. Professional Speakers don’t all have agents. I came into the business thinking it was like entertainment – that as soon as the right person “noticed” me the bookings would come rolling in. There are no right people. And don’t hold your breath waiting for someone to notice you. It doesn’t work that way. Very few speakers (though there some – and a lot celebrities of course) have an agent who is bringing them business. Even if they are listed with a bureau (we’ll talk about bureaus later) that doesn’t mean they are getting business. Trust me on that one. There is not someone waiting just out of your reach who will think you are great and make you a star. There will be many who are placed in your path to help propel you to the next step – but you don’t go looking for them. They are gifts given to you when the time is right. Nothing in this business replaces hard work. You have to get the business yourself. Don’t try to hire people to get it for you (until your business makes enough to warrant it). And don’t be fooled by people who say they will get you lots of bookings if you just write them a check. 8
  • STAND UP AND STICK OUT…FOR SPEAKERS So how long does it take to get this career off the ground? You’re not going to like this answer, but it depends. It depends on how hard you work, how good your marketing materials are, how much you charge, what kind of market you are in, what topic you speak about, what background you come from, and whether you land in the right places at the right times. You may get a job tomorrow, it may take a year. Every speaker’s path is completely different. The best advice I can give you is not to quit your day job. Then again, that’s what I did, and there’s no greater incentive than wondering how you are going to pay your bills. CHOOSE THE LIFE YOU WANT… Before you even get into this business, you need to know what your priorities are and what kind of life you want, and what sacrifices you are willing to make. Are you willing to travel, or do you want to spend every night at home. Do you need your weekends free? Do you want to make fifty thousand or two-hundred-fifty thousand? Will this be your sole income? Who is going to watch the kids while you’re gone? Take a minute to envision the life you want. This will help you decide how to get there. The Life I Want… _____________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________ 9
  • Kelly Swanson _____________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________ Look at the big picture of your life. It isn’t just about the speaking dream, it’s about the family dream, the retirement dream, the pet dream….Don’t reach your dream only to find there were other things you wanted too – and now it’s too late to get them. 10
  • 4 WHY STAND UP AND STICK OUT OUT. STAND UP AND STICK OUT Because nobody notices normal. If you’ve been to my website, you’ve probably already seen my tagline: STAND UP AND STICK OUT in a crowded market. Because nobody notices normal. If you remember nothing else from this book, remember that. In case you haven’t done the research, there are hundreds of thousands of speakers out there. Don’t believe me? Start looking at all the speakers listed on bureau sites – and these are just a select group! The competition is fierce fierce fierce. There are thousands of other speakers who speak on the same thing that you do, and many of them are cheaper, younger, have more credibility and better signature stories, are more talented, have been on Oprah, and can juggle on skates while swallowing fire. Speakers have become a commodity, and the clients know that if you are not available there are twenty more like you that they can call. And thanks to the internet, clients have way more choices than they did ten years ago. People are inundated with technology, busier than ever, and have the attention span of gnats. So you’ve got about ten seconds to get their attention – whether they are on your website or in your audience. And, sad to say, there are a LOT of mediocre speakers out there and even more crappy ones. Many clients have been burned, and even if you do stand up and stick out, they’re not sure that you will deliver. It is crucial as a speaker that you consistently look for ways to stand out from the others. It will be the difference in whether you fly or fall. So that’s the bad news. The good news is that it is not that hard to stand out in this business because few people are doing it. Speakers are still out there (often me included) copying each other’s headshots, web layout, 11
  • Kelly Swanson book covers, signature stories, and even outfits. I guess it’s human nature – to look around and see what is working for others and copy it. But it doesn’t work on American Idol and it doesn’t work in the speaking business. The world doesn’t need another Whitney Houston or Celine Dion – the world is waiting for new and different – someone with a unique voice and style that they haven’t heard before. Same with speaking. We don’t need another Jeff Foxworthy or Gittomer or Fripp. We already have one of those. We want YOU. Your own style. Your own voice. Your own unique perspective. Your own combination of experiences. Don’t be discouraged, if musicians can do it (in a market way more crowded than ours!) then so can speakers. And have fun! This is about uncovering the gifts you have already been given! Always look for ways to stand out in the crowd – in every place that you have contact with a customer. Find what sets you apart. Then own it. Don’t be different just for the sake of being different. Let it be authentic and have value. Just because you wear a propeller on your head doesn’t mean jack, unless it serves a purpose. What makes you different? And if you say you’re good, I’m going to shoot you. Being better is not what sets you apart. Take a look at the things you do, or could do, or would want to do, that would set you apart. To make it a little easier, I’m going to give you categories. What makes you different in each of these categories? The Way You Dress ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ Your Website, Book, Promo Materials ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ 12
  • STAND UP AND STICK OUT…FOR SPEAKERS Your Speech/Programs ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ Your Emails ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ Your Marketing ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ Your Elevator Pitch ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ Your Sales Calls ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ The Entire Audience Experience ____________________________________________________________________________ 13
  • Kelly Swanson ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ Okay, so maybe you have some work to do to STAND UP AND STICK OUT. That’s okay, so do I. We always do. Because as much as things change, so does our need to change with them. But I’m not a keynote speaker, I’m a trainer. Does all of this really apply to me? STANDING UP AND STICKING OUT does not just apply to keynote speakers. It may be more crucial for a keynote speaker who is being considered in a lineup of ten other speakers to stand out among the rest. As a trainer, you may be the only one pitching to that client and therefore don’t need to stick out. You are in front of a group all day for three days – you can’t possibly make every moment Oscar worthy. But I will still say that your side of the speaking business is crowded too. And standing up and sticking out among other trainers, and delivering an experience that is unforgettable, will serve you well. 14
  • STAND UP AND STICK OUT…FOR SPEAKERS 15
  • 5 SEE, BELIEVE, DO See, Believe, Do. See where you want to go. Believe that you can get there. And DO it. Yep, that’s my process in a nutshell: See, Believe, Do. See where you want to go. Believe that you can get there. And DO it. I know, you wanted something fancier. And, trust me, I tried to give it more bling – but it is what it is. Three elements that help keep me focused – not stepping stones – but things that must always be working in tandem. You can’t do until you’ve seen where you want to go – even though I spent years doing that. You can’t get there if you don’t believe you can - took me six years of doing it before I really believed I could! And all the seeing and believing means nothing if you don’t take action – I’ve spent many years planning my business without ever picking up the phone to call a client. We will spend just a few moments on these. If you want to spend more time on this kind of thing, check out my workbook When Fairy Tale Meets Reality: Finding The Balance Between The Ideal Life and the REAL Life. It goes into a lot more detail on the subject. 16
  • STAND UP AND STICK OUT…FOR SPEAKERS SEE What does this dream look like? Where do you want to go? What would your ideal speaking business look like? Paint the picture… ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ BELIEVE Do you have the courage it takes to make this happen? Are you carrying around negative attitudes about your ability? Are you making excuses for why you aren’t where you want to be? Are you jealous of the success of others? Do you make statements like, “I would be successful if only…”? Take a moment to write down what you believe about yourself…….if it’s good, keep it. If it’s bad, replace it with the truth or change it. ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ 17
  • Kelly Swanson ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ DO Do you have a plan to take you from where you are to what you envision? Have you taken the big ideas circling above your head, and put them into bite-sized pieces? Have you picked up the phone this week? This month? This year? What should you be doing that you are not? Are you doing too much? Are you focusing on the right things? Have you ASKED for it? Are you still saying you need to do the same things you said you needed to do this time last year? If you could do one thing to grow your business, just one, what would you choose? Now start! ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ Hopefully you will spend a lot more time on these if you need it. Magical things happen when you write down your plans. They help keep you focused – help you know what opportunities to take and what to pass – they help you organize your thoughts and sell yourself better. And there are plenty of NSA (National Speakers Association) speakers out there who can train you in all of these categories. Go get help if you need it. 18
  • STAND UP AND STICK OUT…FOR SPEAKERS Dream Doodle Page…. 19
  • Dream Doodle Page…. 20
  • STAND UP AND STICK OUT…FOR SPEAKERS In order to fly, you have to defy gravity. Kswanson What would you do… …if money were no object …if nobody stopped you …if time didn’t matter …if you were good enough …if you knew nobody would laugh …if it were okay to ask for it …if just given one chance What would you do… 21
  • Kelly Swanson 6 SO WHAT DO YOU SPEAK ABOUT? FINDING YOUR MESSAGE I was a professional speaker for years before I figured out what my message was. And that made my road a really hard one, and prolonged my success. But you can’t rush your message either – and mine just had to evolve. I was still being taught about my message. I wasn’t ready to deliver it yet. And I wasn’t in this to make as much money as I could in the shortest amount of time. I was in this because I wanted to write stories and get paid to tell them. How did I become a speaker with no message? Because I was a performer. I was a professional storyteller, which some equate to professional speaking or being an author – not true. There is an art form out there known as storytelling, where the artist breathes life into the story on stage. No book, no notes, no simply memorizing a story and repeating it. Storytelling is an art. That is my gift – always has been – always will be. I marketed myself as an entertainer. But every story I told had a message. So really I was a speaker with thousands of messages – which is really really hard to sell. Storytelling was my vessel to deliver the message – and clients buy the vessel – but they also buy the message. So finding your message is really really important. And for some of us it takes years to come up with our message. If not longer. Some of you are getting into the business because of the message – that burning desire in your heart to tell your story, share your truths with a certain group of people who have been where you have been. Some of you are getting into the business because you like to speak and you are choosing a message that will allow you an easy path to get there – for example, maybe you have been working in the field of education and you will use that background of knowledge and life experiences to go back to that group and deliver a message. Everybody’s call is different. And I can’t tell you what your message is. I could tell you if I think clients will buy it – but I don’t think that’s always an indication of whether your message is valid. I say if you want to go talk to children in the projects about who their real heroes should be – then go do it – the world desperately needs your voice – don’t do it for the money. Your message may not be what most clients will buy. And that’s a risk you take. You can pick a new message and go out there and make money. Or you can stick with the message in your heart and change your motives for delivering it. And sometimes you’ll find that the money comes anyway. You just don’t really care. 22
  • STAND UP AND STICK OUT…FOR SPEAKERS So what is your message? Do you know? Do you have several? Write them down… And by message, I simply mean what it is that you want to help people do. Please note that we aren’t looking for catchy phrases with acronyms and spin talk. Just give me the basics without spin. If it helps, answer this question: I help _________________people (or people in____________) to ____________________ so that they can ____________. Example: I help business women to manage their day so that they can be more productive. Another Example: I help people in the food service industry to learn how to connect with people better so that they can get more business. Okay, your turn… ______________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________ 23
  • Kelly Swanson RESEARCH – POSTED ONLINE FROM WWW.MEETINGSCONVENTIONS.COM Planners Say Motivation Is No. 1 Topic for Keynotes How Planners Find Speakers -- and the Prices They Pay Motivational messages are among the most appropriate keynote categories, according to a recent survey by M&C Research. Of the 116 meeting planners who responded, 69 percent say an uplifting speech is highly appropriate for their groups. Also popular are industry-related topics, cited by 62 percent, future trends (47 percent) and humor (41 percent). By Loren G. EdelsteinJuly 1, 2010 While 15 percent of respondents do not pay their keynote speakers, 28 percent budget less than $5,000, and at the high end of the spectrum, 3 percent can pay more than $50,000 for a top name. Word of mouth is the prevailing method of finding speakers, cited by 64 percent of respondents. Other common sources are events planners have attended and speakers bureaus. Since planners value one another's advice so highly, we asked respondents to name their favorite speakers. For results, go to mcmag.com/webexclusives.aspx. 24
  • 25
  • Kelly Swanson Sometimes your message is fine, you’re just not speaking the clients’ language. It may be that they simply do not understand what you are selling or how it will benefit them. To see what topics clients are asking speakers to speak about – hop on bureau sites and look at the categories. That will give you an indication of the language these clients are using. Try to find one umbrella that holds all your messages. Instead of being the speaker who talks about how to close a sale, and also gives keynotes on having a happy marriage – be the speaker who talks about cultivating relationships in life and in business. That way you don’t have to create separate websites for your message because you have found a way to encompass them under one umbrella. 26
  • 7 HOW IS YOUR MESSAGE DELIVERED …A One-Hour Keynote …A Three-Hour Seminar …A Three-Day Retreat The speech is not the only way to deliver your message. Far from it. Your message can be delivered to the world in many ways. And just as there are many vessels to deliver your message, there are many places to take it: …A Printed Book • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • …A Digital Book …A Workbook …A CD …A DVD …Articles Online …Website …Social Media …A Painting, Song, Video …Radio, TV …Webinars, Podcasts • • • • ...Newsletter, Ezine, Magazine …Postcards, Give Aways 27 End User – Companies Corporate Conferences Association Conferences Community Events Non-Profit Groups Staff Retreats and Education Days Chamber Events Specific/Related Industries Churches and Religious Institutions Arts Councils Educational Institutions Healthcare Facilities Community Centers Your Sunday School Class Networking Groups Online Events You Host Industry Publications and Newsletters – print and online Parties and Special Occasion Events Bureau Showcases Toastmasters National Speakers Association
  • Kelly Swanson So you see, the speech is just one avenue of income – and I recommend having several. Take a moment to think about the many ways that your message can be delivered, and where you can deliver it. Delivering My Message: How Where _______________________________________ _______________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________ 28
  • STAND UP AND STICK OUT…FOR SPEAKERS Crap. That looks like a lot of work. I don’t want to do all that. I just want to speak. I didn’t say you had to do it all on Monday. You can’t do all of this right away – or even the first year. That’s why you have a plan (we’ll talk about that more in a couple of chapters) and you pick the most important things to get accomplished this year. And as far as hard work goes, well, if you want to be a professional speaker, then you have to put in the hours. No way around it. 29
  • Kelly Swanson 8 CRAFTING YOUR MESSAGE I could speak for days on this subject, but I won’t. If you’re a speaker, you will never stop working on your craft – hopefully. I am always looking for ways to do new things, up my game, enhance the experience. Some of you have never written a speech and some of you have written hundreds. I don’t know your message or your audience, so it’s hard for me to talk to all of you at once, but I will try. Let’s start with a crash course in writing a speech. (If you need more, head to your local Toastmasters.) The first goal is to entertain and engage your audience. If you don’t do that, they won’t listen to a thing you have to say. And you have about thirty seconds to get their attention or it’s gone. You want to start with a bang, end with a bang, and have the middle be almost as strong. Don’t overload them with content. If they wanted content they would have bought the book. They are paying you to come in and deliver an experience. 30
  • STAND UP AND STICK OUT…FOR SPEAKERS Basic Elements of a Speech : OPEN This is the problem This is why I’m here What You Want To Accomplish: o Get their attention quick with an interesting opening. o Keep your content light, short sentences, not too much without a break for comedy, story, etc. ANSWER Here’s the answer o THREE POINTS Your Content Here are three ways to fix it Have to entertain the whole way through. And, yes, it is possible to entertain and teach at the same time. Teachers have been doing it for years. o Make them laugh if you can – or at least smile. o Change your energy, tone, etc., every ten minutes or so to keep it from going along at the same pitch and intensity o Make them feel good, encourage them, appreciate CLOSE Now go do it them, make it about them, not you, as much as you can See….told you it was basic. The basics aren’t what matters as much as how you wrap it. The stories, the comedy, etc., - the experience. o Move around. But don’t move around too much. o Give them something they can understand and use on Monday o Use anything that will enhance the experience – powerpoint, music, pictures, candy o Close with a bang – they’ll remember this most 31
  • Kelly Swanson Keynotes versus BreakOut Session versus Training There is a difference in a keynote and a breakout session – though many people use those terms interchangeably. Here is how I define it: Keynote (sometimes called “General Session” speakers) A presentation usually 30-90 minutes, often given at the beginning or end of a conference to kick off or close an event – the “key note” of the conference. Sometimes an event will only have one speaker who is referred to as the keynote speaker. Keynote audiences are generally bigger, involve the entire group, and the client and audience has a different expectation. They expect to see something on a grander scale – more entertainment – less mechanical – less of a lecture and more motivational in nature. Often keynote slots are filled by celebrities or big names. Keynotes usually skirt over the content, representing a broader theme painted with broader strokes. Keynote slots can be the only paid slots in a conference. Keynote slots are harder to get and more carefully chosen by the client. (There are exceptions to all of this.) Breakout Session (sometimes called Concurrent Session Speaker) A breakout session is often conducted as part of a conference – in between keynotes or general sessions. It is expected that this will be more of a lecture – more interaction and participation – less scripted. I’ve seen breakout sessions last anywhere from 30 minutes to four hours. Depends on the client and how they set up their conference. In many cases the breakout session speakers are not paid, and are using this opportunity to pitch their services (many vendors will teach breakout sessions) or get exposure at the conference that may hopefully spin off into more business or a keynote opportunity. It all comes down to what your client expects. No matter what they call it – what do they want? That’s what is important. Don’t get caught up in terminology. Just have a good clear grasp of what the client wants. How you brand and market yourself plays a big factor in whether the client considers you for keynotes or breakout sessions. Often your breakout session can lead to a keynote opportunity and vice versa. I brand myself as a keynote speaker – so when they come to my site, I want it to scream “big audience” “high entertainment” “lots of laughs”. If I wanted to brand myself as a breakout session presenter, I would probably focus more on the content that I am selling. This is all hard to explain to a new speaker – but you’ll figure it out as you go. I was a professional speaker for three years before I realized I was a keynoter, not a trainer. kswanson 32
  • STAND UP AND STICK OUT…FOR SPEAKERS A Note About Scripting: Ah, to think of all the spirited conversations I have had with storytellers and speakers on this subject. I am a firm believer in writing your speech out, instead of writing an outline and improvising the rest. I don’t care who you are or how good you say you are – you are not as good when you improvise as you are when you have thought through what you are going to say. This will offend some of you, and I’m sorry. And I will say that there are an elite few who can “wing it” and sound good. I will let you assume you are in that category. Wait…it gets worse… I’m also a firm believer in MEMORIZING that speech. And then delivering IT like you didn’t memorize every word. Some of you are sputtering in disbelief. Disagree with me if you will, but I firmly believe that even if you are a great speaker, paying attention to every word will make you an even greater speaker. The speaker who has crafted every single word and pause of that piece will be better than the one who didn’t. AS LONG AS THE SPEECH IS NOT DELIVERED LIKE A BOOK REPORT. That’s why so many speakers fight scripting and memorizing (aside from laziness) – they’ve seen speakers who have micro-managed every moment of that speech to where it looks ridiculous. And I hate that too. I hate it when I can see a speaker’s technique showing. You can not memorize that speech and practice reciting. You have to memorize it and then practice telling it in a comfortable, engaging way. I will practice three-paragraph story hundreds of times – putting inflection on different words – trying it in a different order – alternating between this word and that. To me, the speech is like a piece of music. I take care with every note. kswanson This is far more important if you are a keynote speaker than if you are a trainer. I don’t script out every word when I’m coming to deliver a three-hour program. But we’re talking about delivering a speech. A speech is different from a three-hour program. A speech requires that kind of attention to detail. 33
  • Kelly Swanson 9 STORIES I wrote a workbook about writing stories, so I am inserting it into this portion of this workbook. I apologize if some of the same questions will be asked again – but maybe you need to hear them again. Are you standing at that place in the journey where you feel this burning passion to share your story with the rest of the world, and you have absolutely no idea what to do next? Have you made it to the other side of a tremendous obstacle and want to tell the world about it? Have you learned an important life lesson and now you want to help others to avoid the mistakes you made? Have you struggled through a sickness and feel called to encourage others who are going through the same thing? Have you been given a talent for speaking, but have no idea what to speak about? Have you fallen into a position where you are required to speak to an audience, and you feel completely unprepared? Do you have a cause that you want to share with the world, but you don't know how to get people passionate about your cause? Do you want to capture the stories of your relatives for generations to come? 34
  • STAND UP AND STICK OUT…FOR SPEAKERS At this point you have a dream – or maybe the beginnings of a dream. What an exciting place to be, where the world of possibilities is wide open! You have a story, and you have worked up enough courage to tell it to the world. And you have no idea what to do next. Don't worry. It will come. But before we start to explore where your story will take you, let's talk about three things: Working, Planning, and Thinking outside the box. Dreams Take Work As much as Hollywood would have you believe it, dreams don't just happen overnight to people standing in the right place at the right time. It's not about getting noticed, it's about getting yourself out there – over and over and over again. Dreams take work. Nothing good comes easy. Are you willing to put the work into it to make your dream come true? Don't expect shortcuts or easy ways to get there. The good payoffs still come to those who earn it. Here's an article I wrote on this subject. What The Karate Kid Taught Me About Perfecting Your Craft I love showing my young son all the movies that inspired me as a kid - Pretty in Pink, Breakfast Club, St. Elmo's Fire. I'm sad to say he's not as excited about them as I once was. He did not appreciate sitting through Gone With The Wind and then having to watch me act out the scene where Scarlett digs up a carrot and cries to the heavens, "As Gawd is my witness, I will never go hungry again!" He did not like singing "She's a Maniac" for me while I put on my leg warmers and danced on a kitchen chair waiting for him to pour a bucket of water over me. And he most certainly did not like it when I slicked back his hair and dressed him up for Halloween in a letter sweater and rolled up jeans and taught him all the words to "You're the One that I Want" so he could sing it to me while I walked down the street beside him wearing a skin tight unitard with high-heels and a cigarette dangling out of my mouth. Do you know how hard it is to find a plus-sized unitard? But I hit a home run last night when I forced him to watch Karate Kid. From the moment that movie started none of us took our eyes off the screen, except for when we had to hit "pause" and see if we could stand on the coffee table with our arms out and one leg up like a bird- which is how I got this bruise on my wrist from where I underestimated the distance from the top of my hand to the ceiling fan. And the other time we had to pause it and explain to my son that he would not get jumped by a group of mean boys if rode his bike to school - unless he wore the sweater Nana knitted him for Christmas. And when we had to pause it to explain to him what that boy was "rolling" in the bathroom stall - that those are drugs (you whisper the word "drugs" for effect) and if he ever saw anybody with one of those he should run as fast as he could because just looking at it will make you go blind. And, no, that's not why Grandpaw can't see so good. But I digress - on to my point. Remember the scene where Mr. Miagi makes Danielson wash every car on the lot? And then sand the deck that ran the length of his backyard? And then paint the fence? And then paint the house? Who doesn't remember the infamous words whispered by Mr. 35
  • Kelly Swanson Miagi, "wax on - wax off"? That kid worked for days, from sun up to sun down, without ever even throwing that first punch he was so anxiously awaiting - only to find that his hard work had actually been teaching him the most crucial elements of Karate - and without that tedious work he would never have won the tournament. (Sorry to spoil the ending if you haven't seen it, but you know the kid always wins in those kinds of movies.) We watched in amazement that a kid would have to wash a whole parking lot full of cars, or paint that fence that was like three miles long - front AND back! It occurred to me that I had never in my entire life had to do a project that tedious, nor had my son. Not only that, but I'm not sure I would ever even consider doing that myself, or asking my son to do that either. In fact, there weren't too many things in my life that I was willing to work that hard to accomplish - and up until this point, my son has been rewarded for tasks that could be accomplished in thirty minutes. And it occurred to me that the world we live in is so focused on getting things fast, that most of us aren't willing to achieve our goals if it requires more effort than we are comfortable with. Sports being the exception - because it still remains true that those who succeed will be those who work the hardest. But what about the other areas of our life? Are we willing to put in the time necessary to achieve our dreams and perfect our craft? I'm a speaker and I see this play out in my business. Everybody wants the dream, but they want a quick and easy path to get there. They want to make one phone call (usually not even that) to get a good client to pay them good money to come speak. They don't want to hear that they have to give a hundred speeches before they can start charging. They don't want to hear that they have to do it for free before they can start making thousands. They don't want to hear that they have to write, and write, and write, and then write some more. They don't want to hear that this could take years, lessons, coaches, studying. They don't want to hear that they have to practice, and then practice again, and then practice again - and then make it better, and better, and better. And just when it's good enough, it's no longer good enough. They don't want to be the one still standing in the basketball court after everybody else has gone home, still practicing their jump shot. They want it now. And yet they don't understand, or even notice, why others are blowing them away on the platform. The better speakers aren't just genetically better (okay, maybe a little) but are better because they PRACTICE their craft - and not just a little bit, but a lot - over and over, day after day, wax on, wax off. The Karate Kid reminded me that if I want to reach my goals and dreams, I'd better be prepared to wash some cars. Just like Mr. Miagi said, "You either stand to the left, or you stand to the right, but there is no standing in the middle in Karate." You either go for it, or you don't. Going at it just a little is waste of time and energy, and will put you in middle the last place you want to be as a keynote speaker. I'm taking this advice to heart because I have been guilty of expecting award-winning results without putting in the time necessary to get them. I'm expecting to win the tournament without painting the fence. Next time I find myself doing that, I will remember Danielson standing up there alone on that post on the beach, practicing his pose for hours. And I will remember that nothing good comes easy. 36
  • STAND UP AND STICK OUT…FOR SPEAKERS So get up a little earlier. Stay up a little later. Push yourself a little further. Remember that you will always get out of it what you put into it. I have made a new goal for myself: From now on I will always try to be better than the last speech I gave. And I won't be afraid to work to get there. What will you do to reach your dream? Homework. Yes, I said homework. And if you're already groaning, then you'd better read the Karate Kid article over again. Before you move ahead in this workbook, I want you to look at these questions and answer them. Take your time. I'm not going anywhere. Get on the internet and start looking up some famous people that you admire – or any famous people for that matter – or people who accomplished great things or whose dreams came true. Read about their life, the path it took to get there, the mistakes they made, the wrong choices, the ups and downs. Find three that really speak to you – keep their stories in a folder near you so that when you are feeling sorry for yourself you can read their stories one more time. Watch any of the following movies, or find some of your own to keep in your collection to watch anytime you feel like it's just too hard. Rocky Rudy Karate Kid Pursuit of Happyness Any movie about an athlete, sports team, or someone with a disability Any movie about a famous singer or musician who came from nothing and became legendary Somebody once told Zig Ziglar that motivation is nice but it never lasts. He said, “That's why you have to do it every day.” Find ways to motivate yourself every day. That's hard, I know. And you'll have to find what works for you. Here's what works for me: Save the compliments. When you get emails or cards that tell you how much you changed someone's life – save them – tack them on the wall – look at them when you need to remind yourself why you're doing what you're doing. Really stay in touch with why you're doing this. If you're doing this for the money, then you will always be measuring yourself by the money. I guess money is a good motivation – but I've never seen it work out well in the end. Focus on the dream – money often 37
  • Kelly Swanson follows. Why do you want to tell your story? What do you hope to accomplish? Remember that when the phone's not ringing. Exercise to Music. Sounds basic, I know. But I am never more inspired and rejuvenated than in my gym every morning. Get some good music – and I mean the kind of music that makes you want to dance in a crowd, or roll your windows down and sing at the top of your lungs. And start moving. Get on a treadmill, bike, whatever – put on the headphones and just start rocking. I find this to be a time where the music inspires me and where I get a lot of thinking done. I also try to listen to a gospel song or two to keep my head focused on the most important thing in my life. You need a strong support network. Do you have one? People who will encourage you, remind you of the dream, hold you accountable when you need it? You need to start building a team – mentors, friends, spiritual partners – who can share this journey with you. Find some groups that do what you want to do, or have dreams like yours, on the internet and join them – start chatting. There's something about speaking that dream that will make it real. Are you willing to work hard at this dream? Because that's what it will take. It will mean late hours, rejection, mistakes, lessons learned. It will mean practice, practice, and more practice. Constantly challenging yourself. Are you up for the challenge? You will have to get everything else in your life taken care of too. You can't shirk all your other responsibilities. Remember your priorities and stick to them. You can make it work. Just figure out how you plan to do it. Sometimes it's as simple as setting aside one hour each day that is completely devoted to your dream. Those hours add up! Dreams Take Studying and Then Studying Some More Start reading everything you can get your hands on (I recommend reading Alan Weiss's book about Making a Million as a Speaker). Start watching everybody who speaks, sings, entertains, preaches, engages an audience – see what you like about what they do, and what you don't like. Study their technique, study their movements, study their facial expressions, study their words, study the way you feel afterwards, study how one style differs from another. I ALWAYS learn from a speaker, no matter what they are speaking about, because I am always watching everything they do – from the minute they walk on stage until they minute they leave. I watch how a song writer keeps his words tight and meaningful. I watch how a preacher delivers a message from the heart versus one that doesn't. I watch comedians to study their timing, the way they construct jokes, the way they connect it all together. Be a student of your craft. You are not watching to steal someone's brand and identity – you are studying to figure out what makes a good speaker versus what makes a bad speaker. Same goes if you just want to write your story. Read everything. The more you read, the better a writer you will be. 38
  • STAND UP AND STICK OUT…FOR SPEAKERS Dreams Take Planning Yes, you have to have a plan. Sure it will change and you don't have to make your plan in permanent ink. But you need a plan. You need to know what this dream looks like – where you see it in the future – the steps you might want to take to get there. This book will be devoted to helping you come up with that plan and show you how you can tell your story. But spend a little time now thinking about what the dream looks like. Where do you see yourself telling this story? Who do you envision telling it to? What does your life look like – travel, audiences, music, theater, websites, commercials, a book? Think big or think small. And most of all, think outside the box. Dreams Take Thinking Outside the Box I always thought that because I wanted to write that meant I would be a children's book writer like Dr. Seuss. Don't ask me why, that's just what I thought it was supposed to look like. Wasn't that what writers did? They wrote books. So I started trying to figure out how to get a book on a bookstore shelf. That was my dream, to be a writer. But I really had no idea what that looked like. I just thought it would look like it was supposed to look, the way it looked for others – write a book, get it published, it ends up on a shelf, you say you're a writer. This is a fine dream, but my dream turned out to be so much different than I originally envisioned it. I got rejected so many times by publishers that I decided to give up. I was just a writer now with no dream. I just wrote because I loved it. Forget book on a shelf. It had now become a hobby. A weird series of events led me to a writing class after college where we read our stories to the rest of the class. The class was filled with teachers who were taking it for continuing education credit. I was taking it for fun. I read my story and they liked the story, but they really liked the way I told it, and would I come to their class and tell my stories to their kids. They'd pay me for it. So I did. And that school told another school, who told another school, and suddenly I was getting paid to come tell my stories to kids. And this was WAY more fun that just letting somebody read my story. Who knew? At one of these schools I met a professional storyteller (didn't even know there was such a thing) who introduced me to the world of storytelling and the NC Storytelling Guild which still thrives today. I met all sorts of wonderful people who told stories for a living or a hobby. The dream started to change its shape. Suddenly I could care less if my stories ended up in a book on a shelf. Go figure. Over time I began to realize that I was performing the story, not just telling it, and I began to see myself as a performer. And I saw my stories getting a better reaction from the 39
  • Kelly Swanson adults than the children, and my audience began to change. I didn't want to tell stories to kids; I wanted to tell them to adults. The dream changed shape again. Performing for adults opened up a host of new challenges because traditional storytelling jobs are found in schools and libraries and I didn't want to perform in schools and libraries. So I began to carve my own path. I began to market myself to places that hired entertainers. Yes, that required a lot of courage, and a lot of mistakes. And the dream changed again. Fast forward through many more changes and lessons learned, and I became a motivational performer and comedian, traveling all over the world to tell my stories to business audiences. I wrote three books, two manuals, did a DVD, and several CD's which won awards. My gigs got bigger and better, as did my audiences. Instead of performing for ten, I now perform for thousands. I'm having the time of my life. I still don't have a book on a shelf at the bookstore. Don't think your dream has to look a certain way. Just because you like horses doesn't mean you're supposed to be a jockey. You might train horses, paint pictures of horses, sing about horses, breed them, heal them, race them, or bet on them. You never know. Find out what you love to do and then be open to the many ways to do it. There is more than one way to tell your story. There are thousands. You might sing it, turn it into a play, make it into a movie, write it in a book, write it in several children's books. You might make it funny and be a comedian (and NO not just in comedy clubs). You might tell your story through photographs or a documentary. You might tell your story in a website, or in commercials. Or you might just decide that your story is perfect for your Sunday school class or your AA meeting. You were given your story for a particular reason and a particular path. Your story is different, and your path will be different. Pay close attention to where you story sends you. Be open to change. Be open to your dream not looking exactly as you thought it would. It's usually even better! So why do you think you have a story to tell? Why Your Story? Of course, stories are entertaining, but I think they serve a deeper purpose. Movies, novels, songs, plays – they don't just entertain us, they do more than that. Your story will do more than just entertain someone – it will serve a purpose. You need to know, or at least think about, what that purpose is. And who needs to hear it – your audience. No, I'm not saying that you have to become a stage performer – but every story has an audience, 40
  • STAND UP AND STICK OUT…FOR SPEAKERS whether it's on a computer, on the page of a book, in front of millions, or three little kids in feet pajamas. Of course, there's no way I know everybody in my audience, or even anybody. But when I write a story, I have a general idea of its purpose and who may need to hear it. I might have an idea of the hurt someone is holding in their heart, and my story will speak to that hurt. Or maybe not a hurt, but a human emotion I want to connect with – a shared experience – a need for encouragement, etc. It helps you write your story if you can picture who you are talking to, and why this story is important to them. Because a story is never just about you – it's about them too. Deep, I know. And don't worry if it doesn't make sense. A lot of what I say doesn't make sense. Just flatter me and then keep reading. Let me give you an example of what I'm talking about. I know a woman who made a lot of bad choices – bad choices that landed her in a lot of unfortunate places. She hit rock bottom and was able to find her way out and even go on to become wildly successful. She definitely has a story to share. Sure, we all love to hear about other peoples' mistakes, if just to remind us that we aren't the only ones out there who mess up. But her story means more than that. Her story isn't just a chance to say, “Look what I did. Wasn't I an idiot!” Her story is a chance to say, “I was once sitting in that place where you are right now. I know what it feels like. You're not alone. You made some bad choices and you're human. Let it go. Forgive yourself. Nobody's perfect. Here is what I did to get out of the pit where you are right now.” She has an idea of who she is talking to (even though they've never met) and what she wants to teach them based on what she has learned through experience. But my story is just fiction you might say. Doesn't matter. Stories are still meant for an audience, and there is still a message you are sending out to your reader. There is still an audience for your story. It's okay if you don't understand who they are yet. There is plenty of time – and often they will let you know who they are before you know who they are. There are many times that I think my story is meant for one group, and it really hits another – or I think my story is supposed to teach them one thing, and they get something entirely different out of it. I guess the main thing to remember at this point is that your story is not just a series of entertaining events. There's more to it than that. It has a purpose. For some of you, this is just a job, and calling it a dream is a BIG stretch…..But at least try to pretend that you are interested in the story you are telling. 41
  • Kelly Swanson Homework: So What IS Your Story? Try to write your story in just three or four paragraphs. Nothing fancy. Don't worry about using big words or even good words. Just get the story down on paper so you clearly understand it. Your story probably starts with who you used to be, followed by the event that changed your direction, followed by who you are now. ____________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________ 42
  • STAND UP AND STICK OUT…FOR SPEAKERS The Secret to Motivational Speaking I hate it when people claim they have the secret to all of your problems – like the secret to weight loss, or the secret to hair renewal, or the secret to making a million dollars without lifting a finger, spending a dime, or leaving your house. These secrets are secrets all right, in that nobody's ever heard of them before. What they don't tell you is that the reason nobody's ever heard of them is because they don't work. And here I come along claiming to have the secret to being an effective motivational speaker. But I don't know what else to call it, because while it isn't anything new, most speakers out there haven't grasped the key to writing and delivering a motivational speech that actually does what it promises – motivates people. It's tough to motivate people, always has been. Even Jesus wasn't able to convince everybody, and he could walk on water. So who are we, as motivational speakers, to seriously think that our words will affect the course of someone else's future? Then again, I have met many successful people in the course of my life, whose futures took a drastic turn as the result of one person's words. So here we stand – motivational speakers with a story to tell and a passion for telling it. Unfortunately, many of us get stuck at having a story to tell, and don't take it any further than that. If all you care about is telling your story for the sake of telling your story, then you have some ego issues to work out. If your story is so fascinating that everybody needs to hear this because they're just not going to believe it, then take it to Lifetime or Oprah. I believe that stories are meant to be shared with others for more than simply giving us the opportunity to show what happened to us and how we dealt with it. While the story may be all about us – the story isn't really all about us. It's about them – the one hearing the story – the one affected by your story – the one you so desperately want to help with your story. Someone told me recently, “I have a story, but who cares?” “Make them care,” I answered. So give them a reason to care. Show them how your story helps them achieve something. As a motivational speaker you may be paid to come tell your story. But you are also paid to come affect your audience – to give them something to take back. You can probably still be a good speaker if you just come and tell your story well. But you can be a PHENOMENAL motivational speaker if you can come tell your story well, and make it about them at the same time. I started out as an entertainer and spent years putting on a show and entertaining people. Then I became a speaker and I started studying other speakers – looking for techniques that I could incorporate – techniques that got them standing ovations. I quickly learned that giving a good performance was not enough. This was a different world. This wasn't the audience looking in on my performance like they would in a theater; this was the 43
  • Kelly Swanson audience participating in my performance. And therein lies a world of difference. I began looking for the answer to that difference. It finally hit me when I attended the National Speakers Association's Annual Convention – the perfect place to study the best speakers in my industry. I quickly saw that there are a LOT of talented motivational speakers out there. But there are some who rise above – some who bring the audience to its feet, or even to the point of standing on chairs and yelling. I began to see the difference when I watched from the eyes of the audience. I remember walking out of Simon Bailey's speech. I had never heard of him, but after he spoke I knew I would never forget his name. His words had impacted me more than anyone else that day. Was he more talented than the others? No. Did he have a more exciting story? No. In fact, I don't even remember what his story was. Did he do neat stuff with the music and lights? No. In fact, I think he just sat in a wingback chair. So why was he different? Because when I walked out of there, I felt like I could conquer the world. I felt like he had seen straight through to my soul. I felt like he was up on that stage speaking to me and me alone, telling me what I was destined to hear at that moment. That was it. It wasn't about him at all. It was about me. My impression of his speech was a direct result of how I felt leaving that room – not what I had learned – but how I felt. Not how I felt about him, but HOW I FELT ABOUT MYSELF. To this day, I still believe that is the true secret to being a powerful motivational speaker - your ability to go beyond what you make them think, to how you make them feel. There is no question that my speeches changed from that moment on. Once I realized that it wasn't just about my performance, but how I made them feel about themselves in our time together, I saw a drastic difference in my audiences' reactions. The number of standing ovations increased tremendously. (Standing ovations should not be the manner in which you evaluate yourself but they sure do help.) Too many speakers are still stuck in that place where they are telling you all about themselves – their story – their achievements. They don't take it to that crucial place where they bring the audience into it – where they show the audience what that story means to them. Where they make you care. So how do you do it? I'm sorry, but there aren't ten quick and easy tips. This isn't even about tips. This is about your motivation when writing and speaking. This is about what is going through your mind when you sit down to craft that speech. I know, I know, you need a list – we live in a world addicted to lists – articles are supposed to be about three things you can start doing on Monday. But being a successful motivational speaker isn't as much about technique, as it is about having a heart and a motivation to help others. If you keep focused on that motivation, it will affect what you say in your speech. I'm not trying to change the way you talk – I'm trying to change the way you think. 44
  • STAND UP AND STICK OUT…FOR SPEAKERS How about starting by asking yourself this question: How do I want my audience to feel? And then make a list of all the things you want them to feel. Do you want them to feel encouraged? Excited? Eager to take action? Proud of what they've done so far? Do you want them to feel like their mistakes don't define them? Do you want them to laugh? Cry? Feel empowered? Make a list of all the emotions you want them to have. Then write your speech, trying to craft your words to evoke these emotions. Not sure it worked? Share your speech with a friend and then ask them how it made them feel. This is going to take work. A lot of work. But being excellent at what you do always takes work. So remember that motivation is not about education. Motivation is about emotion. It's not what you make them think; it's how you make them feel. Homework: You've already told your story. But who cares? How can this story help them? Write down what your story taught you – how it can help other people. A list is fine. List as many lessons as you want. __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ 45
  • Kelly Swanson Why People Make Fun Of Motivational Speakers I was sitting with a group of people having lunch at a convention when we all got to talking about losing weight – one of those topics everybody has an opinion about. I was explaining that I was having a hard time losing weight, while I spread butter on my second roll and asked the guy beside me if he was going to finish his cheesecake. We all agreed that exercise was the only true answer to weight loss, and did anybody have a solution for an exercise that was quick, easy, and didn't involve moving around too much? One guy tried to sell me herbal supplements that cost more than my car and had a warning label that said “May cause explosive diarrhea, bouts of gambling, and the intense urge to throw yourself off a bridge.” Another lady swore that I could bind myself skinny if I didn't mind bruised ribs and shortness of breath. The best answer I got was from the guy who ate undercooked chicken, got salmonella and lost twenty pounds. Sign me up. “I have a gym membership,” I announced proudly, failing to mention that the closest I had come to that gym was when I turned around in their parking lot to follow the smell of donuts. “I just can't seem to motivate myself to work out,” I whined to the guy beside me, somehow feeling better that at least I had admitted I had a problem. “What do you do for a living?” he asked me. I sat up a little straighter. “I'm a motivational speaker,” I answered proudly, at which point we both burst into laughter. I think I actually saw tea shoot out of his nose. And the irony hit me – I am a motivational speaker – someone who gets paid to go motivate people to take action and conquer their obstacles – and I can't even motivate myself to go to the gym down the street. Pathetic. It was one of those moments when I took a cold hard look at myself in the mirror to see if I matched the person I claimed to be on stage. I realized that I motivate people to let go of the small stuff, to release their bitterness – and I'm the first one who complains when the old lady with the walker brings fifteen items into the ten-items-or-less lane, even going so far as to accuse her of faking her limp just to get attention. I'm the one who tells you not to worry about what you can't control, and then stays awake all night convinced that if a meteor hits our planet it will hit my house first. I'm the one who tells you to be happy with yourself, warts and all, and then has a nervous breakdown because I've just realized that my left arm is longer than my right and I'm a certifiable freak. At one point my motives were good, and I like to think they still are – but if my actions don't match my motives, that makes me a fake. And I don't want to be a fake. I may not have a wide circle of influence, but I want those that I do influence to be influenced by someone genuine, not someone who is happy to give you advice, but not willing to take it herself. And it's not just me. I know sales speakers who can't get anyone to buy their services. Customer service speakers who never bother to return your call. People who want you to stay on the funny side of life, while they sit in a dark room thinking nobody loves them. Speakers who want to empower you to be confident, then feel guilty taking money for 46
  • STAND UP AND STICK OUT…FOR SPEAKERS what they do. People who want to teach you how to be successful at marketing your brand, yet nobody knows their brand. Speakers who tell you that you can overcome anything – and they're living out of their car eating dog food on crackers. There are many of us out there who are preaching something we don't practice. That's why people make fun of motivational speakers. They think we're full of you-know-what. It's always easier to look at somebody else and tell them what they need to do. And just because we're motivational speakers doesn't mean we are perfect. Humans don't have the ability to be perfect – it's not in our DNA. And just because I stand on a stage and give out advice for a living, doesn't mean I will always make the right choices. But I can try. I can try to measure my actions against my words. To take my own advice and see if it even works. To walk my own talk. And who knows, it will probably make me a better speaker, since now I can actually speak from experience. I've got to go now – there's a treadmill at the gym with my name on it. I think that the lessons you have learned in your story, will be the teaching points you make in your speech. These are the audience take-aways. These are the things that you have learned that help you through it – and will hopefully help someone else walking down that same path. Just because we didn't live your story, doesn't mean we can't learn from your story. Sometimes The Speech Isn't About The Speaker In addition to being a motivational speaker in the business community, I'm also a motivational speaker in the church community. I learn many lessons about the art of motivational speaking from my church audiences –lessons that can apply to anyone in the business of motivational speaking. I was speaking to a group of three hundred women at a church. I always feel more pressure when speaking in a church because, well duh, it's His house and I can't help but feel like He's got a front row seat. So I spend a LOT of time thinking (i.e. stressing) about the message I deliver in a church setting. I was telling a new story (my Starfish story for those who've heard it – I know, I love it too) that focuses on themes like forgiveness, redemption, and small acts of kindness bringing big kingdom returns. The message doesn't really matter for the sake of this learning lesson. What matters is that I worked really hard crafting just the right message for this group, hoping that they would be blessed and hear what they really needed to hear. In fact, that is often foremost on my heart when planning a speech – that the audience hears what they need to hear. So I'd made it through the story in one piece (it's tough because it's a twenty-minute poem) and I'm at the powerful ending of the story where the woman finds love and 47
  • Kelly Swanson forgiveness and remembers the words of the song her mamma used to sing to her as a child from the old hymn “It Is Well With My Soul.” For some reason, this time I decided to sing it, which is so unlike me because I can't sing. But I felt like singing, so I did. (Sometimes it's those things we do spontaneously that make our speeches unforgettable.) “When peace like a river, attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll,” I sang. It was a very powerful moment already, but even more so when at that very moment three hundred women joined in and finished the song with me. I still get goose bumps remembering that sweet moment and no amount of planning could ever recreate the magic of it. The audience had given me an unexpected gift in a moment that wasn't planned to begin with. The show ended and I'm standing in the back hugging necks and letting them tell me their favorite parts. I noticed one woman standing back waiting patiently for the others to leave – a familiar sight which usually indicates that someone needs a personal moment with me. And I believe that as a motivational speaker, you owe it to your audience to be there after the show to give them those personal moments they need. The room clears and I am standing there facing this woman who has patiently waited for over thirty minutes to tell me something. Her eyes are red and swollen and she is having a hard time staying composed. For a moment we just stand there in silence, staring at each other - two strangers oddly comforted without the presence or need for words. It was the type of moment that women understand. She takes a deep breath and says, “My husband just passed away. And I am having a hard time dealing with it.” My eyes fill with tears and I nod as we simply hug. Sometimes there are no words, even for a speaker. “I just miss him so much,” she whispered. “And I've been asking God for a sign – just a small sign. And tonight, you gave it to me.” I start to nod, for I am used to hearing people tell me that my words were what they needed to hear. I'm wondering which part, which story, which words. And, I must admit, a little pleased (maybe better to say thankful) that my choices had proved to be the right ones. “It was the song,” she said. I was surprised to hear this. The song was really an afterthought, just an added piece of flavor in my opinion that had certainly taken no skill on my part. And certainly not something of my own planning. “Those were the last words that my husband sang to me before he died. That was my sign,” she smiled with tears in her eyes. She told me how that hymn had been her husband's favorite and that he sang it to her right before he passed away. The same words that were sung to her that night by three hundred women, prompted by nothing but their hearts. That was one of many moments that humbled me as a speaker. It reminded me why I do what I do. It showed me that what we send out often comes back tenfold. And that even though we're the ones up front, it's really not about us at all. I hope that my story today will show you something about yourself as a motivational speaker. Maybe you got the sign you've been looking for. And my choice of words had nothing to do with it. 48
  • STAND UP AND STICK OUT…FOR SPEAKERS IF YOU'RE GOING TO BE A MOTIVATIONAL SPEAKER, MAKE SURE THAT YOU CAN MOTIVATE YOURSELF. TAKE YOUR OWN ADVICE. MAKE SURE YOUR ACTIONS IN REAL LIFE MATCH WHAT YOU PREACH FROM THE PLATFORM. Plan Your Speech Before You Write Your Speech (Also called: Plan Your Story Before You Write Your Story) I can still hear Mrs. Peterson say, “Now class, get out a piece of paper and write me five hundred words on what you did over your summer vacation. Ready, set, go.” And I would stare at that blank piece of paper with no idea of what to write, and I would start to sweat. And I would pick up my pencil and start to write, hoping that the pencil would just come up with the words for me – using every word I could think of to take up more space on that paper. I had one goal: To finish. That's when my handwriting got really large and I started describing the dog as “very, very, very” big. It's no wonder so many people hate to write. They were never taught how. They were never shown that something as simple as planning your story out first, would make the task so much easier, and even (gasp) fun. And let me say right now, that writing a story is not much different than writing a speech. I consider a speech to be one long beautiful story – where you just take the story one step further (or come out of the story if you will) by explaining to the audience how this can help them – giving them a message and some points on how they can take your message and apply it to their lives. I see a speech as a series of stories woven together to form one longer story – where each piece has a purpose for the audience. Never Write A Story Until You Know Where It's Going to Go Sounds like an easy rule, but I was an adult (having written for years) and was still writing stories by having a tiny idea and then pulling out a piece of paper and hoping the pen would do the rest. I would start stories with no idea of where they were going to end up – which explains why so many never really ended up anywhere except the trash, and why it always took me ten pages to say what I could and should have said in one. Once I started planning my story, the process became a lot easier, and my stories became more powerful. Planning your story/speech has the following benefits: You are more focused on the message and purpose. You know what's necessary to the story, and what's not. It's easier to start because you know where it's going. You can write the best parts of your story first and then link them together Your story isn't clouded with unnecessary information. 49
  • Kelly Swanson You can make your story funnier by writing the jokes first. It's easier to memorize because you've mapped it out in pieces. It's easier to edit because you see it in pieces rather than one fluid piece. You don't have to think about what you're going to say, you just write. You can see if your points are clear and explained well. Writing your story/speech in blocks helps you cut when necessary. So let's talk about how to plan your story. This book is not designed to help you write your novel. It's designed to help you write a short tight story that you can tell from the platform, or on paper. However, you can write a novel by breaking it down into short stories and piecing them together. But for now, we'll just focus on the short story. But there is no way I can make my story short – there's just too much there. Then take a moment – a snapshot – a scene. And tell that story. I used to make all my stories too big and it was harder for me to write them and tell them. Then I decided I would just write about one snapshot – make it short and sweet. And if I wanted to piece them together I could. For example, maybe you want to write the story of your grandmother's life and how she helped make you who you are today. You knew your grandmother your whole life and there is a lot you want to say about her and her life and where she grew up, etc. I would recommend that you find one moment (go for the most powerful moment that sticks out in your mind) that really stands out in your mind when you think of your grandmother. Maybe it was something she said – or something she did at a time when you really needed her – or the sight of her making biscuits on Sunday mornings. Pretend that you have an imaginary scrapbook highlighting the story of your grandmother – almost like a movie trailer. Pick one of those moments. Write that story. So you've got the story nugget, as I like to call it - that beginning idea that you know would make a good story. What makes this story interesting? What is the overall message of this story? Who are you talking to? What can somebody learn from this story? What is absolutely necessary to tell this story? (If this reader doesn't need to know it, don't include it.) If you are writing a speech, then you start by writing the points you want to make – why are you here, what do you want to tell them, how do you want them to feel, what is your 50
  • STAND UP AND STICK OUT…FOR SPEAKERS overall lesson and the three(or however many points you will make) ways they can do this too. A simple outline of your story will help you tremendously. You can even walk around for a few days thinking about the story and that outline. Then when you sit down to write, you know how to start, and hopefully how to finish. Then just write the thing. Worry about making it better later. The first step is for writing the bare bones of what you want to say. Good luck and happy writing! I have lots more articles on story openings, closings, details, humor, etc. But for now – just plan it. How To Write A Motivational Speech By Kelly Swanson Okay, so you're ready to write a motivational speech – and hopefully you've read the other articles that I've written about the things you need to do before you write the speech. If you have done nothing more than pull out a blank piece of paper and a new pen, then you are not prepared. If you're lazy like me and don't want to find the other articles I wrote, here is a recap of what you need to do before you write that speech. Know who you're talking to (even if you really won't know who you're talking to – have a general idea of the kind of person – for example, your speech might be aimed at somebody stuck in a bad relationship) Know the point in talking to them (to help them get out of that bad relationship, or recognize the signs that they are in one) Know your story (or stories) and why it helps others (you made it out of your bad relationships – you can relate to them – encourage them – and show them how to get past it – you know what they need to hear) Know what people can learn from your story (same as above) Know the overall lesson you want to teach, and what points you want to give them to help them do it on their own (how to recognize they are in an unhealthy relationship, three signs – three ways to end a bad relationship) Know how you want them to feel about themselves (mistakes are human, they can do this, they deserve better, you understand what they're going through, etc.) Know what is necessary to tell them and what is not (they don't need to hear every sordid detail of your relationship – just the highlights) Have an outline of the progression of that speech from opening to closing (maybe have an idea of a powerful way to open and close, what stories you want to use to illustrate each point, etc.) Okay, so now you're ready to put pen to paper. And, yes, I realize that some of you don't use pens anymore. Believe it or not, the same rules still apply to those who type on a computer. I can't walk you through every step of writing your speech (though I've come pretty darn close) – because a 51
  • Kelly Swanson speech is a creative body of work, unique to you, that talks like you talk, and allows your own personality to shine through. If everybody followed the same template for writing a speech, then we'd have some really boring speeches out there. Wait. We do have some really boring speeches out there. See? I've proved my own point. So while we don't want to have our speech read like a textbook, there are still some basic elements that motivational speeches should include. These are the basics. Write your speech out first without worrying about how well written it is. Just get it down on paper. Focus on what needs to be said, not how you want to say it. Later you can go back and add flavor, swap out words for better ones, etc. For now, just write it. And make sure your motivational speech includes these elements. A Strong Opening This means a powerful, interesting, different way of starting a speech. Don't start by thanking people, and don't start with the moment you were born. As soon as we hear you talk about your birth, we are checking out because we know it's going to be a LONG story and we hate LONG stories. A Set Up - What's the problem that you have come to address? State it. Why You Are Here – State the reason you have come today. Why You – Why are you the one to help them fix this problem? Have you been there? Is this your area of expertise? Overall Lesson – This is what you are here to help them do. Points – Here is how they can take what you are telling them and apply it to their own lives. Make your points brief, clear, to the point, easy to understand, and don't need a lot of explaining. Stories to Illustrate the Points – People don't like to be told, they like to be shown. Have stories/jokes/illustrations that prove your point – that show how your point applies to life. Switch It Up Often – People have short attention spans. So do audiences. Try to shake it up as often as you can. I see a speech or a story as a melody – with ups and downs – never one flat line of information. There are many things that will help you change the pace, the mood, the tempo – whether it be your voice, your gestures, your words, the plot, dialogue to action, serious to funny, etc. Always be aware that your audience gets bored and needs for you to keep up the energy. Have Some Humor – People love to laugh. You don't have to have comedy club material, but put a little fun into it. People don't want all serious all the time. They don't want depressing. If you can make them laugh, you entertain them, get their attention, revive them a little bit, and just make them feel good. Don't stress about it – just be light and silly sometimes or make an occasional joke – or just come out of your comfort zone. Take some comedy classes and improve to help you do this. Make sure whatever you do, it fits your personality. Ask others what is funny about yourself. 52
  • STAND UP AND STICK OUT…FOR SPEAKERS Write With Personality – Please don't talk to us like you're Shakespeare, or a highly sought after professor. Just talk to us – like you would anybody else. We connect with you when you are real. If you turn into somebody wooden and intellectual, your audience will check out. Just tell your story in your own words. And allow your own personality to flavor the story. When people read my funny stories they often say, “That is so you.” That tells me that my words fit my personality – and that makes me more believable. Serve Them / Think About What They Need To Hear - Remember, this isn't about you – this is about them. Sure, it's your story – but you're telling it to them so that it will help them. Always think about your motives when you write that speech. Be Humble / Not About Your Perfection - So many speakers think that they have to get up on the platform and be perfect, look perfect, have all the answers – but that is not what connects you to your audience. If you're too perfect they won't relate. They want to see how you messed up, where you've been, how far you've come, that you made mistakes too, and still do, that you were once in their shoes. Keep it real. When people see that you are humble and human, they start to think “if she can do it, so can I”. We want leaders who are humble – and we want speakers who are humble too. Be Authentic – Understand what makes you different – and embrace it. Don't try to be somebody else – copy somebody else – write like somebody else. Be YOU. Use your gifts and talents, your stories, your life experiences. Trust me – it is enough. Authenticity is EVERYTHING in this business. Clone yourself like the others and you will never give them a reason to pick you over the others. The key is to be different – in a way that is true to who you are. Be Passionate - For gosh sakes, say it like you mean it. So many speakers get up there and forget to tell their face to join the party. You better sell is when you're up on stage. Sell you story – make them care – make them hear you. Get excited – have fun. You are not up there to be some wooden puppet who looks like you are scared to death. Relax, enjoy it. If you're not passionate about what you're saying, I would question your right to be up there saying it. If you don't buy what you're selling, neither will they. Get back in touch with why this story is so important to you, and to them. Passion is contagious. A Strong Closing - Aside from a strong opening, a strong closing is the second most important part of your story or speech. Close with power. AND LEAVE. Don't stand up there and then ask if they have any questions. Don't end with power and then say “oh, and one more thing” ten more times. Every word you say and every gesture you do that follows your powerful ending lessens that powerful ending. End it and leave. And they will remember you. Okay, those are the basics of a good motivational speech or story. I've left some things out – like details, character, how to use humor, saying more with less, etc. But those things can come later – after you have written the bare bones of your story or speech. Do this part and then we'll meet back 53
  • Kelly Swanson again and talk about how to add the flavor to your story. Good luck, and have fun. I'm here if you need me. The Top Ten Mistakes Motivational Speakers Make By Kelly Swanson So, you want to be a motivational speaker. Join the club. In case you haven't noticed, it's a REALLY BIG club. So start working now to make sure you find ways to stand out from the crowd. We'll start with looking at what you should NOT do. You know you've got a powerful message. You know you've got a killer story. You've got the brochures printed and the website up and running. You can hear the applause. You can envision the standing ovation. You know exactly where the cameras should be to get your best angle. You've even found the perfect outfit. You've got the cover of your book designed, and you've already told everybody in the neighborhood that you're a speaker, including the pizza guy who has already hired you as his life coach. There's just one thing you don't have – a speech. Yeah, that's a problem. If you haven't crafted a spectacular speech, or even a pretty good speech, then you have just created a brand around no product. You did say you're a speaker, right? That means you get paid for speaking. Don't feel bad, there are many speakers out there who spend all their time packaging their product and never really get around to writing that darn speech. The speech is what you are selling. The speech is what the client is going to buy. The speech is what you will deliver. The speech is your product. Without a speech you have just branded air – and if you can sell a speech that you haven't even written, well, I commend you on your selling skills, and if this doesn't pan out, you can try selling snake oil from a covered wagon. Anyway, not having a speech is your bad news. The good news is that I would rather help a speaker who has no speech, than a speaker who has spent years delivering a crappy one. You have a clean slate to work with and nothing excites me more than a clean slate. Okay, so maybe chocolate excites me more. And campy sitcoms. And the words “buy one get one free.” But, still, a clean slate is pretty high up there on my list. So you're pumped up and ready to go. You have an idea of what you want do and how you want to do it. In fact, you have spent an obscene amount of time telling anybody who will listen what you want to do and how you want to do it, and asking everybody and their mother what you should do and how you should do it. For months it has been all about you. STOP. (Sorry to yell.) It's not about you – it's about them. This is always about them – your listener, your reader, your audience. This is not about what you want to do, it's about what they want to see and hear - that you are qualified to speak about, of course. Did you hear that? That you are QUALIFIED to speak about. So let's spend this time together talking about what it is that audiences want in a motivational speech. Because if you give them what they want, you will leave them cheering, wanting more, and remembering your name. Which is the point. Sorry for all the sentence fragments. Let's just say I won't be a speaker who talks about grammar! 54
  • STAND UP AND STICK OUT…FOR SPEAKERS I think that sometimes the best way to learn is from our mistakes. So let's talk about the ten mistakes that most motivational speakers make in their speeches. And, yes, I have made every mistake myself, more than once. I repeat, these are mistakes. Don't try them at home. Unless you want to lose an audience in thirty minutes or less. Or maybe that's your goal. If that's the case, then you're in luck, because it's easy to lose an audience. There are thousands of speakers out there doing it every day. So here are the top ten mistakes motivational speakers make in their motivational speeches: Just “Wing It” – As long as you have a general idea of where you want to go, that's good enough. Every word that comes out of your mouth is worth listening to. You're convinced your words are music to their ears. Just stand up there, smile, and start talking. WRONG. You're a professional. You are paid to be up there. Earn your money. Write a speech. Learn it. Practice it. Practice it again and again. Find as many audiences as you can that will let you test it on them. And food for thought: Audiences shouldn't pay you to test your speech. Sometimes you should pay them, if you know what I mean. Fine tune that thing until it is worth the money you are charging. The speaker who scripts his speech will win EVERY TIME over the speaker who decides to just “wing it.” There is too much competition in the speaking business for you to just get up there and talk. Do that, and you won't last long. Give Them Just The Facts Ma'am Just The Facts – You are not here to entertain. They are not here to have a good time. You are a professional. Your knowledge is to be respected. They should sit down, be quiet, and shut up so you can tell them everything you know in sixty minutes accompanied by a slide show that is more painful than water boarding. WRONG. There is one thing that every client who has ever called me has been looking for in their speaker: FUN. Yes, you heard me right. Audiences want a fun experience. Yes, they want to learn. Yes, they want to be challenged. Yes, they want to be taught. But they want to be entertained. Highly entertained. There will be thousands of other speakers who will be speaking on your same topic. It's the speaker who looks fun that will be chosen. This is a Performance, Pretend That They Aren't Here. You are a performer. You are the star. The stage is yours. This is your time to shine. The audience is secondary. Pretend they aren't even there. This is about you baby. WRONG. This is the difference between an entertainer/performer and a speaker. The entertainer is performing for the audience – the speaker is talking with the audience. And in some cases, the audience even gets to answer, which is not something you will find on Broadway. But here's the thing, they still want to be entertained. So your job is to perform, entertain, and make it about them – bring them into the action – take them into the story. Gone are the days of one speech fits all. Audiences can smell a canned speech from miles away. Do everything you can to make this about them and not about you. This takes knowing your audience and having the humility to stop bragging so much. You would think this is basic advice, but I see a lot of seasoned speakers whose speech is nothing more than an autobiography. Start Slow And Ease Into The Speech. Spend a good ten minutes at the beginning greeting everyone and telling them how happy you are to be there. Then thank them a couple of times and 55
  • Kelly Swanson spend five more minutes talking about why you wrote this speech, and then another five minutes explaining the story you are about to tell. Remember, you're the star. Every word you say is golden. Your voice sounds like melted butter. WRONG. Okay, so maybe it does sound like melted butter – but even the best voice can not trump a weak opening. The opening of your speech is CRUCIAL. Here is where you get their attention or lose it. And if you lose them, you're going to have a heck of a time getting them back unless you bring nudity into it. And, take it from me, that doesn't always work. Start with a bang. Find a powerful moment in your speech and start there. Jump right into the action. Go right into an act out. Your audience will get it. And if they don't, they sure will appreciate that you have done something different even if they don't understand what it was. Spend Hours Working On Your Content And Ten Minutes On The Stories. They are paying you for your wisdom. You need to give them as much information as they can possibly take in a short amount of time. Forget three points, go for fifteen. And add twenty-seven more points to the handout, along with a PowerPoint presentation that gives them some more things to think about. Oh, yeah, and throw in a story when you can. They love those. WRONG. WRONG. WRONG. Being a professional storyteller before I was a professional speaker (and, no, they AREN'T the same thing – look up the art form) taught me the value in stories. The stories will do all the work for you. They will entertain, make it personal, teach, and be remembered for YEARS. The audience will forget you, they won't forget your stories. If you tell them well. You don't have to be Shakespeare. In fact, we would rather you didn't. Just be you. Tell stories that are interesting, mean something, and are short. Tighten them up – power up the words you use – and give them some humor and you're all set. It's not the information that sets you apart – it's how you wrap it – the story. Just Write The Speech, Don't Bother With An Outline. Who needs order? Just start talking and the points will come, and if you're lucky you'll make ten other points that you never thought of before. If you don't get to everything you needed to cover, that's okay, they have the handout. Keep them on their toes by confusing them with your message. Tell them you're going to talk about one thing, and then talk about another. Just to shake things up. WRONG. Audiences are big on you delivering what you say you're going to deliver. If your title says you'll give them ten marketing tips, they won't think it's funny that you spend fifty minutes of the hour talking about your kid's soccer game. Even if it did make them laugh and you even included pictures in the PowerPoint. It baffles me how many speakers out there come to me for help on their keynote and they can't tell me the purpose of the thing and what points they want to make. This should be the easiest part of the process. What is the problem and why are you the one here to fix it? What is the message you want to give to this group – the overall message? And what are three points you want to make to tell them how to do it? How will you encourage them and call them to action? These are basic structural issues that should begin any speech writing process. Know where you want to go before you start. Unless You're A Comedian, Don't Try For Laughs. Leave jokes to the big guns. You aren't funny – maybe funny looking, but not funny. You're not qualified to punch up your keynote. Besides, it's too hard. Takes too much work and time. Let the others be funny. You have a job to 56
  • STAND UP AND STICK OUT…FOR SPEAKERS do. WRONG. Yes, I'll admit that not everyone is funny. I'll admit that some people couldn't tell a joke if their life depended on it. But I still say that you can find ways to get people to laugh and to make your presentation fun. You just have to be creative – find what's already working for you – study comedy – get help from people who are funny and can help you find the style that works for you. Why? Because FUNNY SELLS. Nine times out of ten, the client will choose the funny speaker, or the one who looks like he is having the most fun. Make your headshots fun. Make your website fun. Make your titles fun. Fun is as good as funny. Whatever You Do, Don't Try Anything New. If it's working for you, don't change it. Better yet, see what everybody else is doing and make sure you're doing it too. Copy, copy, copy. Get on the bureaus' websites and check out the thousands of speakers listed. Make sure your headshot looks just like theirs. Pick the same topics. Tell their stories. Pick a brand you like and copy it. You don't want anybody to think you're weird. If in doubt, play it safe. WRONG. The kiss of death in this business is looking like the others. Embrace what already makes you different – your own talents and perspectives and stories – the unique way in which you see the world. Most audiences have seen A LOT of speakers, and they're getting tired of the same-old-same-old. They want something fresh. They want something different. You don't have to light yourself on fire or come down from the ceiling on a swing wearing a thong. Sometimes something as little as an act out can make all the difference. Keep trying new things. Keep raising the bar on yourself. Come out of your comfort zone. So what if your audience didn't like it? You tried. And, like I said, many times your audience will appreciate your effort even if they think you looked stupid doing it. Dare to look stupid. It could make all the difference. Come Up With A Stage Voice and Stage Gestures. Maybe James Earl Jones or a Roseanne Barr would be nice. Make sure that when you start speaking you sound like somebody else completely. Plan all the pauses at the end of your sentences – timed with an arm raise or a slight head turn. You're on a stage, this is the place to do things big and dramatic. Use language you would never use in ordinary conversation. Bigger words make you sound smarter. Quote thirty-seven other motivational speakers and dead presidents. Conjure up tears if you can and nothing gets an audience like having a nervous breakdown when you tell the story of the time your dog ran away, that you always end with, “I don't usually cry like that.” WRONG. Again, here is the difference in a performance and a speech. When you're a speaker, it's all about connecting with the audience – being real – who you are. It's all about talking like you normally talk (minus the “uh's” and “um's” of course). Pretend they're sitting across from you at the kitchen table when you tell them that you've been where they are. The more dramatic you make it, the more they will distance themselves because that's not really you up there since chances are good you don't kneel down on one knee at home. Of course you want to be in control of your movements and the inflection of your voice – and there are things to take into consideration. But the point is to look natural – not plastic – human – not wooden – like a person – not Macbeth. End With A Fizzle. Nothing like an ending that trails off. End your speech by thanking everybody again and going over the points you just made. Say, “Oh, and one more thing,” about four times. This is the part where you need to talk about your book and your coaching services. And it's always a big hit to end with a question and answer session – especially if there are no 57
  • Kelly Swanson questions. Nothing like a little good awkward silence. WRONG. The ending of your speech is the MOST important part. This is the part they will most likely remember most. End with a bang!!! Don't end with a bang, and then talk some more. Don't end with a bang, and then ask if they have any questions. End with a bang and stop talking. Okay, there you have it – top ten mistakes motivational speakers make in their speeches. And I will admit, I stepped on my own toes in writing this article. But these are easy things to fix. They just take time and your attention. Being good takes work. Being better takes even more work. You have to practice. When everyone has gone home from the game, and the lights are off, and the bleachers are empty – be the one still standing there practicing your shots. I promise that every moment you spend on your speech adds one more unforgettable moment to your audience's experience. You have the talent, now go do the work. A Message About Showing Not Telling: NEVER TELL YOUR AUDIENCE IF YOU CAN SHOW THEM. DON'T TELL THEM WHAT YOU CAN DO FOR THEM – SHOW THEM. DON'T LET YOUR PROMO STUFF TELL THEM – LET IT SHOW THEM. DON'T HAVE A STORY TELL THEM – HAVE YOUR STORY SHOW THEM. THERE IS A DIFFERENCE. AND YOU HAVE TO FIGURE IT OUT. 58
  • STAND UP AND STICK OUT…FOR SPEAKERS As a storyteller, it only makes sense that I am in love with words - not just words in and of themselves, but how they are put together to create a desired effect. Words have great power – to heal, to inspire, to encourage - and, my favorite, to make people laugh. Artists of the spoken word are taught to use the five senses. I'm here today to talk about the sixth sense – the most important one – the sense of humor. Kelly Swanson 59
  • Kelly Swanson 10 - HUMOR CPR: TIPS TO RESUSCITATE A FAILING SENSE OF HUMOR Ten Quick Steps to a Funnier You A humor quickie for beginners If you are just beginning to look at the whole business of being funny, you may want to begin by focusing on this beginner “quickie” before you proceed through the rest of the manual. Following these ten simple steps is enough work in itself. And by incorporating them, I promise you a funnier presentation. Then when you have mastered these techniques, I recommend that you proceed. If you are a seasoned comedian seeking a deeper look at the business of comedy, I recommend that you not skip this part., but consider it a refresher. Who knows, there may be something here you have not tried. A note about humor: Humor is one of the most valuable tools you can have in business. Not just in business, but in life. Not only does it entertain your listener, it makes you human. It makes you likeable. And if people like you they will listen to what you have to say. People love to laugh, and no matter what your topic, you will be at an advantage if you have a reputation for being funny. Not everybody can be a comedian. That's the bad news. And for some, there is no hope of ever being a comedian. That's worse news. But there is a place for you somewhere in the middle. That's the good news. There are ways to put humor into presentations no matter who you are. And that's why I'm here today. To give you ten steps to a funnier you. Funny isn't always in the form of a joke. In fact, I don't use many jokes in my act at all. It's not my thing. And that's what is important - to find what works for you. Find a funny story to tell that someone else wrote. Just make sure you have their permission. You can pay people for their material too. Many comedians that you see on television are telling jokes that have been written by someone else. Humor can come in the form of gestures - the way you carry yourself - your on-stage personality. You may be silly, act out wacky characters, use accents and voices. Find jokes on the internet and slip then into your routine. You can use silly props like puppets or dead rubber chickens. Just the image of a dead chicken is already funny. Use your banter with the audience to incorporate humor. Have some funny comments you can make to people in the audience and use them over and over. People will think that you are using them for the first time and that will make it even funnier. When something happens in a presentation where you come back with something witty, go home and write it down. Work it into your act the next time. What matters is that your humor fits your personality. 60
  • STAND UP AND STICK OUT…FOR SPEAKERS Find ways to incorporate humor into your story. It doesn't have to be a funny story filled with jokes, or a story that ends in a punch line. Disney movies are a great example of how humor can be woven into a story. Here are some ways to add humor: Give your characters unusual names - a silly name goes a long way Give your places unusual names Give your characters real personalities - flaws and all (we love characters that can't seem to get it right.) It is okay if the character doesn't always make the right choice. It's okay if they mess up - and sometimes even funny. Take an actual joke and turn it into a story. But I caution you to KEEP IT SHORT. The weaker the punch line, the shorter the story leading up to it. And if you're not sure how strong the joke is, make it short. If the joke is strong, make it short. Get my drift? Surprise your audience. Go against what they think you are going to say. Build up suspense and lead them in a certain direction, only to surprise them and turn a different way Example: Tater had the most enviable gift in Cedar Grove. A gift every kid wanted for miles around, clear over to Buncam where his legendary name was whispered in awe. And, oh, what a gift it was. Not the gift of being able to sing like a bird, run like a gazelle, or paint like DaVinci. No, Tater had the one and only gift of its kind. (Pause) Tater could barf at a moment's notice. Notice in the example above that I gave the character a funny name. I named a funny place (Buncam) and I built suspense. I made you think he was going to have a serious gift. And then I paused and hit you with the surprise. Use the comedy rule of threes. Funny things happen in threes – two serious, third exaggerated. I can't explain it, but it works. Here is an example: I'm a performer, which means I love the lights, I love the stage, and I'm one bounced check away from living out of my car. Practice your timing. So much of comedy is timing - or the proper use of your pauses. Here are some timing tips: Talk slow. They are hearing your words for the first time. Let the words sink in. Pause before you make a joke. But not too much. This will take practice. Pause after you make a joke as if you are merely taking a breath. Some comedians will actually take a sip of water, adjust their shirt, or freeze their face in a silly position. Never start talking again until they are finished laughing. If you do, it's called “stepping on your laugh.” You don't have to wait until the very last person stops laughing (that's too long) - just long enough for your audience to enjoy the moment. Watch other comedians, study them, and take note of what makes them funny to you. You will probably find that it is a combination of: Material 61
  • Kelly Swanson Timing Facial expressions Persona (their personality on stage) Props Fake it. If it doesn't get a laugh, act like it wasn't supposed to be funny in the first place. This is very easy for storytellers to do since we don't have the pressure of creating a joke every minute. Punch lines go at the end of the joke. The funniest part of what you are saying needs to be at the end. Reason? People are laughing. Whatever comes next will not be heard. You need to end that line on the joke. For example, I have a line in one of my stories where I have plucked my eyebrows completely off and I say, “It was freaky. I looked like a mannequin head, I did.” After telling the joke several times, I realized that nobody every heard the little emphatic “I did” at the end of the joke because they were still laughing. Finally I followed my own advice and cut it. Use your face and body gestures to enhance the laugh. Come out of your comfort zone. Don't assume that if someone doesn't laugh it isn't funny. People react in different ways. Some people clutch their sides and laugh out loud. Others chuckle. Others look at you like you dropped off the moon. That's the thing about humor; it's a matter of opinion. What's funny to one will not be funny to another. But if NOBODY laughs, then it's definitely not funny. Big deal, pretend it wasn't supposed to be. Was it Mark Twain who said brevity is the soul of wit? Whoever it was, it's true, true, true. The best advice for any storyteller, writer, comedian, speaker - anyone telling a story - is to SAY MORE WITH LESS. Spend some time cutting your piece. Then cut it again. Then walk away, come back, and cut it again. Swap out a phrase for a couple of words. Swap out three words for one better one. I can't say it enough, and if you remember only one thing today, remember that. Learn to say more with less. 62
  • STAND UP AND STICK OUT…FOR SPEAKERS Why Humor Humor is a tool I have been using all of my life. Let me take you back to my childhood – to Mrs. Peterson's two o'clock biology class. Can you see the pretty girl on the front row with the silky blonde hair and large lash-lined eyes the color of a robin's egg? The one who looks pretty in everything, even a sweat suit? Well look behind her and you'll see me - the overweight one with the frizzy hair and the acne problem, who wheezes when she breathes, and has yet to find a sweat suit that doesn't make her look like a sack of potatoes with feet. But I probably exaggerate. I'm sure I was much worse than that. Time has a way of fading the memory. My point being – I was the funny one. You know the type. Every school had them. Back then I would have given anything to be popular – even if just for a moment. But looking back, had it not been for those horrible teenage years, I might never have fallen upon one of my greatest gifts – the ability to make people laugh – starting with myself. For some reason, when I laughed at myself, I didn't feel so miserable because, quite simply, it is hard to be miserable when you are laughing. Humor became my way to deal with pain. And I still use it today. Quite often comedians get accused of laughing at the pain of others. But I don't see it that way. When you laugh at something that is painful, you are not laughing at the pain, you are laughing in spite of the pain. You are finding a way to stay on the funny side of life. Life has mountains. We can't change that. But we can change how we see the mountain. If I had to pick a word to replace humor, I would pick joy. Funny people are really good at finding the joy in life and sharing it with others. There's a world out there desperately needing a laugh. I hope to help you find a way to deliver that. Let there be no question in your mind about the value of humor. There is plenty of written material to back me up, so do some research if you don't believe me. Humor provides relief from stress and stress can kill us. So that makes humor a lifesaving device. It eases tension and conflict. It is almost impossible to stay mad when you are laughing. Using humor makes you popular. People want to be around funny people. Using humor makes people trust you and listen to what you have to say. People want to buy from funny people. Humor makes you a better boss and a better parent. And quite often, humor gets the girl. In business, humor sells. They want the speaker who's funny. They want the commercials that make them laugh. People want to be entertained – and there's no better tool than humor. Enough said. When I first began my career as a storyteller, I considered myself to be fairly humorous. I considered humor to be just one facet of my material. I quickly would come to learn that my sense of humor would grow my career and reputation faster than anything. Humor 63
  • Kelly Swanson became my most popular and most requested product. People hired me because they heard I was funny. People didn't want me to change their minds. They didn't want me to find some new way of looking at the world. They wanted me to make them laugh. They might not have remembered the jokes, but they remembered how much they laughed. People liked my stories because they were funny. They liked the website because it made them laugh. With each passing day I'm more convinced that every soul and every profession can benefit from a little Humor CPR. I not only learned that a strong sense of humor would get me booked, I learned that there are a lot of other people who want to learn how to be funny. Preachers, storytellers, speakers, writers, aspiring comedians – all use humor in their material. I began to study how I write and deliver humor – to find a way to explain some of the things that have always come naturally to me. And now I'm here to help you uncover your own sense of humor – so important, I now refer to it as the sixth sense. I'm passionate about making people laugh. You must have a little of that too, or else you wouldn't be here at this moment. But you're not here to understand why; you're here to understand how. So let's get to work. The Bad News First Let's get the bad news over with first. Not everybody is cut out to be a standup comic. In fact, not everybody is funny – or even close – though there are plenty who are convinced that they are. And not everybody has a sense of humor. And if you are one of the hopelessly humorless there is no magic formula that will fix you. No amount of practice will turn you into Larry the Cable Guy or Bill Cosby. Start by finding out if you are funny. How do you know? If sober people laugh at your jokes, that's a good sign. If you grew up being told over and over again (not just by that cute girl you dated) that you were funny or if people keep asking you to tell that story of the time…then chances are pretty good you're a natural. Seek an unbiased opinion (hint: not your spouse or mother) who will honestly assess your ability to make people laugh. Perhaps someone you don't even know who has nothing to gain by what they tell you. 64
  • STAND UP AND STICK OUT…FOR SPEAKERS It is much better to know you're not a standup comic than to think you are when you're not. If you get this far with the sinking feeling that you don't have what it takes, keep reading. There's good news. The Good News So not everyone is a standup comedian. Big deal. But it's not an all-or-nothing kind of thing. I hear funny people say all the time that it can't be taught – it's a gift. I'm going to agree and disagree at the same time. The answer depends. Let me relate it to singing and see if you get my drift. Your throw a stranger in front of me and ask if she can sing and I will have no idea. That depends. It depends on if she has a good voice. Is she willing to be coached? Does she want to work at it? Does she want to sing? What's her style? We can always teach her to sing - the techniques. If she doesn't do anything with it, she won't get better. If she does, there's still always going to be a limit to how good she will be. Can we turn her into Celine Dion? Who knows? But we can teach her to sing better. And that's what I mean. We may not be able to turn you into a comedian. But we can make you funnier. And that's enough. Trust me. I will promise to do my part, but you must promise me one thing – that you won't try to be someone else. Be yourself. Find the funny in YOU. Authenticity is everything. We'll come back to this later. Comedy is always a Work in Progress Understand that you never get to the point where you are perfect and you know everything. You should always work on your craft, write new material, and practice your timing and delivery, find new ways to make people laugh. Even when you get to that wonderful comfort zone where you have some good time tested material, you shouldn't 65
  • Kelly Swanson stay there long. To be good and stay good you must always be pushing past that comfort zone. That's how you grow and how you get better. That's how you get new jokes and how you are prepared when you go to the same place twice. That's how you keep up with thousands of your peers who are constantly growing and evolving in their craft. You must always strive to stay fresh and relevant. Knowing that this is a work in progress should make you feel good. It should make you feel like it is okay if you don't get this the first time around. It's okay to write fifty crappy jokes to get one good one. It's okay to have an off day. It's okay to have days when you know you just aren't funny. The most successful people in this business are not the most talented, believe it or not, but the most persistent. The people who win the race stay in the race. Period. Get yourself back up. Dust yourself off. And keep going. Find what Works for you Most funny people assume that the natural path for their humor is the standup comedy club. This is just one road – a road you don't even have to explore if you don't want to. There are people who write funny articles for magazines. There are funny storytellers and funny speakers and funny preachers. There are teachers who use humor in their classroom. There are people who take their humor into churches, the theaters, and the television industry. There are people who just do humor for women's conferences. There are people who do comedy to warm up live audiences for television shows. There are those who write funny fiction and non-fiction. There are those who write comedy for comedians, or who write sitcoms. The opportunities are endless. So find what works for you. And not only are there many places to be funny, there are many ways to be funny. We'll address those later in this workbook. But I bring it up now to stress the importance in finding what works for you – what feels natural, and is authentic to your personality. If you are really strong at writing and delivering humor for teenagers, then go find the places where you can be funny for teenagers. If you are funnier on paper than you are in person, embrace that and start finding the different places where you can market your written work. If you just want to incorporate humor into what you already do, then again I say to pick the things that work for you. There is not a set list of rules to what you need to do to be funny. You can be very very funny without ever telling a joke. 66
  • STAND UP AND STICK OUT…FOR SPEAKERS It starts with thinking funny The first step to being funny is thinking funny. Talk to comedians and you will find that they see the world differently than everyone else. They are consciously and subconsciously looking for the funny side to every situation. They are looking for the truth in life - the pain, the absurd, the ironic, the exaggerated, and the obvious. They are looking. Not always finding, but always looking. Comedians are constantly thinking wouldn't it be funny in every situation. We are sitting in church thinking it would be funny if someone fell asleep and fell out of the pew. We are looking at people that don't match their stereotype – the big football player afraid of bugs. We are listening to conversations around us, watching the news and the papers for the absurd things that people do. We are paying attention when people are laughing and thinking about what made them laugh. When we make someone laugh, we are rushing to the car to write it down so we won't forget that spontaneous funny comment we made. We let our imaginations wander. We think about the unexpected. Renting a U-haul. To live in. Having an imaginary friend. Who hates you. We are always finding things to say that go against the expected. Much of the humor I use in social settings, is simply a factor of saying what people don't expect me to say – things like admitting I'm a lazy mom in a group of women all trying to one-up each other on the I'm-a-better-mommy scale. The process of writing funny should never begin with you staring at an empty page wondering what to write. It should be an ongoing process. Once you start conditioning yourself to think funny, you will start finding humor everywhere – so much that it's hard to contain it, which brings me to the next point. 67
  • Kelly Swanson Look around you, material is everywhere, WRITE IT DOWN, NOW I can't say this enough. Material is around you everywhere you look. The world has so much rich humor in it that you should never have to rely on your own imagination. The key is to look for it and write it down. You will not remember it later. I promise. Get a spiral notebook and keep it near you. I have one in my car, by my bed, in the kitchen, in my gym bag, and still sometimes I'm scrambling to find paper. I have enough scraps of funny material to last the rest of my life. It will be hard at first and you will have to remind yourself to do it. But keep at it and after a while it will become second nature to you. Later you will read the notes you've taken and think some of it is good and some will go right into the trash. You may wonder how you'll ever find the time to go through it. You will. And the beauty of it is, that some of this will work its way into your material naturally, just because you went through the process of writing it down. So please take my word and start collecting the funny you see around you – as long as you don't collect it from other comedians. Let me take a moment to address that. Stealing material Stealing material is stealing material is stealing material. I don't care if three hundred people got that email or if you saw it printed in the paper or if your great-grandfather told you he made it up. If you didn't write it, it's not yours. Are there exceptions to what I just said? Yes. But train yourself to write all of your own material. The very worst thing you can do is to take someone else's stuff. And if you take jokes that belong to famous people, well, you're just an idiot. Don't do it. I have heard of people who used stories they didn't write, only to find the writer sitting in their audience. I don't know about you, but that's just the kind of thing that would happen to me so I'm not going to risk it. When you first start to use humor, you might use one or two of those old jokes that have been passed around the water cooler. You probably won't get caught. But your audience will know it. They will recognize it as a standard joke. And often you won't get more than a pity laugh. 68
  • STAND UP AND STICK OUT…FOR SPEAKERS There is always overlap in material. There are hundreds of comedians who all say the same things about drugs. When we look for topics everyone can relate to, we're bound to come up with some of the same jokes. But each person will say it in their own different way. So try to get really specific with your material – stuff that is so unique to you that it would be hard for anyone else to pull off. There is always danger in trying to be someone else. I have found myself at many points in my career trying to be like someone else. But, much as I try, I can't pull off Ron White. Plus, if they want Ron White, they will hire Ron White! I want to be Kelly Swanson. And I want to be as authentic as I can. Being authentic is what will make you unique. And unique is what will make you succeed. Just look at the kids on American Idol. The judges keep telling them over and over not to try and sound like someone else. The world doesn't want somebody else who sings like Celine Dion. The world is looking for unique. I have found this to be true not only in the music world, but in the comedy world, and writing world, and the speaking world. Hey, I'm starting to notice a pattern. Writing what you know Being authentic is writing about what you know. You hear this advice given to writers over and over because it is true. Writing about what you know doesn't mean you can't write crime novels if you aren't familiar with the law. It doesn't mean that you can only write about the things that you've done in your life. It means don't write a story about a football player when you've never even watched the game. Don't write a story set in New York if you haven't traveled outside your small southern town. It's about writing what you know. What do you know? Start by making a list. I know it sounds weird, and I will tell you to do this in just about every manual I've written because that's how important it is to the creative process. Make a list of the things you have learned in your life. What have you learned about love, about hard work, about making it through the tough times, about marriage, about death? The list is endless and will remain endless. It can be funny, sad, serious, spiritual, whatever comes out of you. These will be the lessons you have learned in your life. These are the things you know. These are the things that will provide a connection with your audience. A musician may write a song about losing her first love that moved away. We may not relate to a love moving away, but most of us can relate to the loss of first love. 69
  • Kelly Swanson I read Janet Evanovich's book “How I Write” where she talks about this very issue. Her main character is a bounty hunter. Was she a bounty hunter herself? No. But she writes about a bounty hunter who gets it wrong more than she gets it right – and that, Janet knows about. See the connection? She does have to do some homework and find out what is involved in being a bounty hunter, but she is writing about a woman she really knows because she can relate to the character's inner and outer conflicts. Maybe now would be a good time to write about some of the things you know. Make a list. My list would have things like, I know about being an overweight teenager. I know about the pain of losing an unborn child. I know that a life without chocolate isn't worth living. Let's spend a moment working on our list. Even if you have already made a list before, do another one with different things you've learned or experienced. Okay, you're off. Come get me when you're through. Things I have learned in my life: (yes, I'm giving you this whole page to write yours) Your Voice It's important to write about what you know. It's also important to find YOUR voice. And I don't mean your accent. Your voice is something deeper than that. This is hard and sometimes takes years to evolve. It's also something hard to explain. Start with looking at other comedians and their voices. Again, when I say voice I don't necessarily mean their accent or how they say their words. When I say voice I really mean their “character” that is consistent the entire time they are speaking or writing. Think of your favorite writer. They have a voice that is unique to them. Singers have their own voice. Voice can also refer to the way you see your world – your perspective. Rodney Dangerfield sees the world as someone who gets no respect. Jeff Foxworthy sees the world from the eyes of a redneck. I still haven't fully evolved into my own voice yet, but so far I am the southern woman trying to age with grace, who can't seem to get it right, but sure has a fun time trying. Do you feel like you have a voice yet? Or a start? What's yours? 70
  • STAND UP AND STICK OUT…FOR SPEAKERS If you didn't write anything, that's okay. I worked for a while before I even started thinking about my voice. And I'm still not there yet. You may write and perform humor without finding your voice. But when you do, or start to develop some consistent perspectives, then writing material gets a lot easier. Suddenly you can run everything through the filter of the way you see the world and it is consistent and it fits you. Kathy Griffin (the red-headed comedian) works all of her comedy through her perspective of being on the D-list. Every joke is from the perspective of a star that never gets her due. Great stuff. What is funny? Okay already. Let's talk about what it means to be funny. Duh, it's when people laugh. That's not exactly the answer. The laugh is the response you want. What makes people laugh? What is the definition of funny? Depends on which book you buy. I have read about fifteen books on comedy and all of them explain how to be funny in a different way, which is good because when I didn't understand the way one author explained it, I'd just move on to another until I found the one who explained it in a language that I understood. So understand that this isn't really an exact science and I've heard comedians disagree. Do your own reading. There are lots of good materials that will help you, from the internet to the bookstore. But this is my manual, so I will attempt to define comedy in my own way. But first, let's talk about the things we find funny. I'm a list person. So here we go again with another list. Start thinking about your favorite sitcoms, movies, comedians, comedy writers, things you see around you in real life, etc. What is funny? I'll give you two to start: It's funny when birds attack people in the head. It's funny when you drop a letter in the mailbox and it talks back to you. 71
  • Kelly Swanson We could keep going all day. But look at all the different things we find funny. Let's see if we can find a pattern. The Element of Surprise When I look at what makes me laugh, I see a common thread, and I call it the element of surprise. I think comedy is saying what they don't expect you to say or doing what they don't expect you to do. It is catching them off guard. When people are surprised they laugh. When they don't see it coming they laugh. Think of a joke you've never heard before. The first time you hear it, it's funny. Hopefully. The second time – nothing. Because you've heard it before. The surprise is gone. In one of my shows, the emcee introduced me and used one of the jokes that I planned on using as my opening. Call me an idiot, but I thought it was no big deal and he didn't deliver it like I did so I used it too. Mistake. I didn't get one laugh. Not even a pity laugh. And it's usually a strong opening joke. Doesn't matter. They had already heard it. I rest my case. So comedy is the element of surprise. And though there are other comedians who will disagree or come up with some other definitions, we will stick with my definition to make it simple and so that we can get on to the fun part – actually writing some humor! Let's take a look at all of the different tools we have to be funny. 72
  • STAND UP AND STICK OUT…FOR SPEAKERS Different ways of being funny Silliness There are plenty of ways to get laughs just by being silly – if silly fits you. Again, we're talking authenticity here. There are some people who simply can not pull off silly. Silly is the courage to come out of your comfort zone and look stupid. Silly is when I do my impression of the hammer. Silly is when I show you what it looked like when I got stuck on the treadmill at the gym and my thighs started clapping together. In all comedy there is an element of the silly that we comedians call the act out. The part where you actually act out the joke. Most of us do this naturally. But put us on a stage and it becomes something different entirely. The more comfortable you get on stage, the better you will be at acting silly. I think it's a great tool and an easy way to get another laugh. Sometimes you can get to a point where you don't even have to tell a joke and they just keep laughing. Silly is a big part of what I do. But, again, don't do silly if it doesn't look right on you. People will think you are having a seizure and call 911. Cartoons If you are really comedically-challenged, why not use cartoons in your presentation? Funny pictures you took on the side of the road? There are places where you can purchase cartoons and funny pictures to use in your presentations. Nothing wrong with that. I've seen it used quite effectively. Play on Words This is not my area of expertise but I've seen people who do it really well. This is simply the art of using puns, plays on words, or words that have double meanings. Examples: 1. I recently spent money on detergent to unclog my kitchen sink. It was money down the drain. 2. Our social studies teacher says that her globe means the world to her. 3. A jury is never satisfied with the verdict. The jury always returns it. 4. Sir Lancelot once had a very bad dream about his horse. It was a knight mare. 5. A dog not only has a fur coat but also pants. 6. Today I've got a pressing engagement. I must go to the cleaners. 7. The principal part of a horse is the mane, of course. 8. Having lots of good cookbooks only makes sense. They contain such stirring events. 73
  • Kelly Swanson 9. If you want to make a pun from dunlop. Then lop off the lop and the pun is dun. 10. I used to be twins. My mother has a picture of me when I was two. 11. I work as a baker because I knead dough. 12. What is the difference between a conductor and a teacher? The conductor minds the train and a teacher trains the mind. Think of words or phrases that you know that have more than one meaning. Find a word or words that sound similar to others. Write a funny pun using them. In case you need help getting started, here are some suggestions: in Seine Taiwan (tie one) newly weds (newly webs) Tylenol (tile and all) patients (virtue/doctors' patients) appeal (a peel) Lettuce (let us) seasons (salt and pepper or Holiday) ice day/nice day well sew/so comb (rooster's comb/people's comb) mahogany (wood/ my hog any --more) spell of weather (spell as in incorrect spelling/spell of wethir) Character Names Using funny names for the characters in your stories is so easy that it almost feels like cheating. Open the phone book and you'll never have to come up with your own name again. I always get a laugh from the names that I give my characters. And nicknames are even better, especially if they sound unusual. And don't feel the need to explain odd names or nicknames, just use them. Anytime I hear a story where the character has a funny nickname, it makes me laugh. Start watching out for it in the stories you hear around you and see if you don't notice it too. Catchy Titles This is one of the hardest things I have to do and yet one of the most important things – giving my shows a title. Titles are everything, especially when you sell comedy. Because you want your title to show that you will be funny. Everywhere I get booked, the client's main concern is getting people there and assuring that they'll have a good 74
  • STAND UP AND STICK OUT…FOR SPEAKERS time. That's what a good title can do. It can encourage people to come. Good titles get their attention on post cards. Titles show them who you are and what your show will be like. I used to send postcards that said book Kelly Swanson the storyteller. Now I send a postcard with “It's all fun and games 'til the hair gets messed up.” Here is a list of some program titles I've come up with: Confessions of a Teen Dancing Queen (show on being an unpopular teen) Now Look What You Made Me Do (show on parenting) Cousin Clyde Don't Float (show set at a family funeral) Grab the Duct Tape and Call the Preacher (for churches) The Road to Heaven is Lined with Pink Sponge Rollers (for women) Cliché's Gone Bad This is hard for me as well, but quite effective, most likely due to that element of surprise again. Take a cliché and mess it up. Make it sound like a cliché everybody knows very well and then you twist it. It's funny. I just wish that it came easier to me. I purchased a cliché dictionary (several in fact) to give me the clichés to start with. The best example I ever came up with was “It's all fun and games 'til the hair gets messed up.” Now it's on everything. I'm thinking it will probably evolve into my trademark. And it started because I made that comment once by accident and liked it enough to write it down and remember it. See! Slapstick This is another one I don't do well. See, you find what works for you and forget about the rest. Slapstick is similar to silly. Slapstick is the guy running into the side of the bus. It's Kramer on Seinfeld. It's the comedian who can run into walls. It's Lucille Ball. My only advice is to know what you're doing. Improv classes will help you develop your skill at slapstick. A Unique Point of View (POV) Point of View is the one telling the story. Usually you. This is very similar to your voice that I mentioned earlier. Funny comes when you show things from someone else's point of view – especially when you make that point of view really unique. I have a character named Aunt Bitsy who sees the world like this: My Aunt Bitsy was a rather large woman by anyone's definition. And a walking sponge of information. Useless information for the most part, that she picked up at the drugstore or the beauty parlor. 'Cause everybody knows, information you get when you're having your roots done is sacred and not be questioned. She's always looking for a cause, like the time she became a vegetarian on account of she saw this show on the emotional impact of them cows being led to the slaughter. This lasted about two weeks and then she got sidetracked and joined one of them spirit of the world churches. Started wearing skirts made out of kelp and earrings with moons and stars on 'em. They wanted her to sell all her belongings and move with 'em to some tent over in Buncam County. She was gonna do it too, except she couldn't figure how all her weekly facials and waxin's over at Myrlene, Vyrlene and Shirlene's House of Beauty was gonna fit in that whole equation. So she gave it up. The church I mean, 75
  • Kelly Swanson not the salon. Shoot, she wasn't stupid. And then she got all swept up in trying to adopt one of them Cambodian younguns she saw on an infomercial. She learned a painful lesson in that process - how it ain't always a good idea to try and order you a youngun off the internet. Luckily, nobody pressed any charges. Aunt Bitsy has a very distinct point of view, does she not? And now whenever I use her in a story, I already know how she will react. I knew Aunt Bitsy would be my character who was convinced that artificial sweetener was gonna be the death of us once and for all. It makes it easier to write material and gives depth to the character. Truth Sometimes simply stating the obvious can be funny. It's called sarcasm and Chandler on Friends had it down to a science. It can also be stating the truth that people are thinking, but scared to say out loud. This often gets comedians in trouble, so be careful. You can't always assume you know what they are thinking. The truth can be really funny if it shines a negative light on yourself. But you have to be willing to put yourself in a vulnerable place. This is often referred to as self-deprecating humor and I love it. I use it all the time. It is a great tool to break down the walls between you and your audiences by making them feel superior to you. Here's a clip from one of my shows: I'm married to a smart man. He lies awake at night pondering the mysteries of the universe. I lie awake at night wondering what happens to their tattoos when big people lose weight. Or how it is that veterinarians get their dogs to pee in a cup. To create this joke, I had to be willing to be honest enough to admit that I'm not a smart person. I'm okay with it. It gets a big laugh. One piece of advice when using truth: You're always safer if you are pointing at a truth about yourself rather than a truth about someone else. Your audience will turn on you in a second if they think you've crossed the line. But they will allow you to say almost anything about yourself. And when in doubt, throw it out. It's better not to use a good joke than to offend an entire audience. Gestures This is simply using our entire bodies to tell the joke or the story. We do it all the time. Do it on stage. To do this, you simply exaggerate everything. Use your face to show shock, surprise, fear. Pretend that they are a mile away and you want them to see you. Take your time and really play up the gestures. Hold the pose for an extra second. Once I started really using my face as a tool, I started increasing my laughs by about fifty percent. Again, you have to be willing to look stupid. I'm okay with it, I've looked stupid my whole life. What's the worst that could happen? Audiences like high energy in a performer. If it fits you. Just be sure that you are in control of your motions and don't ever turn your back to the audience, turn your mouth away from the microphone, muffle your voice, or get down on the floor where nobody can see you past the front row. Think of gestures as being a way to help you show the story instead of tell it. 76
  • STAND UP AND STICK OUT…FOR SPEAKERS Advice: Be in control of your gestures. Watch game film. Be aware of every gesture you do. Gestures are okay as long as you've made a conscious decision to put them in. It's those nervous gestures we don't plan that can kill us. Implication Sometimes funny isn't in what you say, but what you don't say. It's using the silence to let the audience make the joke. This is hard to do and comes with experience. It's also hard to explain how to do. You will know it when you're ready to use it. Implying comes in handy when I have something funny that is too edgy to actually put into words. I'll pretend that I didn't get the joke, but pause for them to make it. Sometimes you can just raise your eyebrows and the audience knows what you're not saying. It's a way to pause and say without really saying “You know what I'm talking about.” I wish I had an example ready but nothing is coming to mind. I'll just use this silence to imply it. Funny Stories Like I said, funny isn't always about telling jokes. It can be about telling funny stories about things people did, said to each other, or the ways they reacted to their surroundings. You hear funny stories all around you. Write them down, or at least an element or two that makes them funny so you can write something similar. I love to play the what if game, where I'm sitting somewhere wondering what would happen if…how would the people react….what would happen next….etc. That's how I came up with a story about a bomb going off in the Post Office. It wasn't really a bomb, but a poorly wrapped package where the scotch tape popped off…Anyway, that's not the point. The point is that it all started with me wondering what would happen if we were all standing in line at the Post Office and a bomb went off. Let me give you a warning about personal stories – those stories that really happened in your family. They are never as funny as you think they are. I'm serious. Be very cautious about assuming your personal story is hilarious. Nine times out of ten it is only funny to the people in your family who were there. Find someone objective to tell you whether the story is funny enough to use. Better yet, picture someone else telling the story. Not so funny anymore. Characters I could write an entire article on characters alone. Wait, I did. Did you read it? Okay, I'll recap it for you. Stories aren't about plots, they're about characters. Develop strong characters and the story will write itself. Every character wants something. Every character has a conflict – something that keeps them from getting what they want – something standing in the way. You want your readers to like your characters, relate to them, and have a stake in them. Give them flaws and help them overcome them. Let your characters grow but still stay true to who they are. Make sure dialogue fits character – not just accent but the way they say things and way they see the world. This is just basic Writing 101. 77
  • Kelly Swanson Funny comes in the details you give your characters. The way you describe their appearance, the way that they see the world, their quirks and oddities, the flaws that make them human. Perfect people aren't funny. Flawed people are funny. When someone makes a minor mistake it's not funny. When the mistake gets bigger. It's funny. There are so many ways that you can put humor into your characters. And sometimes just one or two dashes of flavor and that's all you need. Nobody says you have to get a laugh every thirty seconds. Except the comedy club. We've already talked about points of view and perspectives. Keep in mind that you should give your characters a point of view. Give them an odd point of view – or a comic perspective as it is often called. Let's take a moment and practice some comic perspectives. Basically you come up with a standard stereotype and give them a perspective that is counter to what you would assume. Again, the unexpected comes into play. I'll do the first one for you. Comic Perspectives Sunday school Teacher A beer drinking fishing guy Can you think of some? Who hates kids (think of the Sunday school teacher in the movie Simon Birch) Who takes ballet This is a good start to creating comic characters. Keep them in your spiral notebook and the next time you want to spice up a story, just use one of these. Here are some excerpts from my stories as examples of how to make your characters humorous: I remember the day Aunt Bitsy decided to walk through town wearing nothing but a bright yellow stringed bikini and white pumps……..There were parts of that woman exposed only the good Lord Himself knew about. And every one of them was shimmering and shaking wildly back and forth to the beating rhythm of them marching pumps like some kind of country choir where everybody's struggling to be the solo. Excerpt from Aunt Bitsy's Conquerin' Fear Idear My Mamma ran on one speed, and that was high. That woman sandblasted her way through life – eyes closed, changing course sporadically, and wondering at every turn should she have gone in the other direction. One arm cleaning, another arm baking, an ear to the phone, an eye out the window, and looking for miracles every step of the way. Some folks called her a passionate woman. I called her a leech on my soul - determined to hang there 'til she'd drained the very last drop of my existence. Excerpt from Mamma on Black Velvet Tater had the most enviable gift in all of Cedar Grove – a gift every kid wanted, clear over to Buncam where his legendary name is still whispered in awe. And 78
  • STAND UP AND STICK OUT…FOR SPEAKERS what a gift it was. Not the gift of being able to sing like a bird or paint like DaVinci. No, Tater had the one and only gift of its kind. Tater could barf at a moment's notice. Excerpt from Callin' Earl Aunt Vyrnetta was one of them women that was consumed by her personal appearance. There wasn't a body part on that woman that hadn't been tucked, sucked, plucked, tweezed, shifted or lifted at one time or another. Excerpt from Aunt Vyrnetta's One and Only Appearance on the Local News Myrlene got herself a new Christmas sweater this year – handmade by a group of orphans over in Chester. As you know, Myrlene is somewhat of a knick-knack addict which explains her excitement over this sweater that claimed to have no less than sixty-seven hand-painted holiday trinkets attached, which could be switched out depending on the holiday. To us that might be considered overkill, but to Myrlene was just a hair's breath away from perfection. You can imagine her delight when she found that they had sewn in tiny strands of blinking white lights. So even though it was a pain to have to stand near an outlet, it was worth it to have what was unquestionably the most exciting sweater at the Christmas Eve church service – a title usually held by those of the teaching persuasion. Excerpt from Myrlene's Christmas Sweater Jokes There are entire books dedicated to the art of crafting a joke. And each one explains it in a different way. So I encourage you, if you are really serious about the art of joke writing, to check them out. Find the book that works for you – that is spoken in a language that you can understand. It's not easy and you must commit to study and learn and practice. If humor is an important part of what you do, you can't afford not to. At the very least you will be able to create a joke – even if it's just one type of joke. But one joke is better than no joke. And if you learn one formula, then you can write as many jokes as you want using that same formula. That's why in this manual I want to focus on one major formula with a couple of minor ones thrown in. I believe in small steps. I don't want you to get overwhelmed and quit. Let's get to work. The basic formula I will teach you today is this: Create an Assumption - then - Shatter It Let me remind you that comedy is going against the expected. It's saying what people don't think you will say. The assumption is the expected. The joke comes when you say 79
  • Kelly Swanson the opposite of what is expected. And there are always many ways to do this. There isn't always one path to a joke. Sounds easy doesn't it? It's even easier when you learn that people already have thousands of assumptions. You don't have to get them to create a new assumption. You just have to remind them of an assumption they already have. Let me explain. There are things that, as humans, we've come to expect as true. These are assumptions. There are millions. We assume that the sun will stay up in the sky. We assume that mailboxes don't talk. We assume that floors don't move and that mothers love their children. Those are just a few. When you set up a joke, you are setting up your audience to be duped. You are setting them up for a surprise. So you set them up to think a certain way that they are already used to thinking. The set up of the joke is serious and true and is something that most people can connect with to some degree. There is no joke in the set up. I'll say it again because I really want you to get it. The set up is the first part of your joke – the one that gets them thinking along the path that you want them to think. It's the created assumption. The second part of the joke is the punch – the part where you shatter the assumption. Where you surprise them. The part that's funny because it goes against what their lifetime of experience has taught them to expect. Once we start practicing these, you will understand this more clearly. Step One - Create a Set Up Let's start with some random statements and talk about what we assume to be true about those statements. Hang in there, because the light bulb is about to click for you in just a minute. Here is a statement: This morning I got up and ran five miles. Step Two - List Assumptions Here are some things that we assume about this statement: I ran outside I wanted to I could go on, but two is enough for now. I want to keep it simple. And understand that there are no right and wrong assumptions. We have listed two things that this statement leads us to believe. That's what our audience is assuming. This is the set up. There is nothing funny about it. Comedy starts 80
  • STAND UP AND STICK OUT…FOR SPEAKERS by writing the truth, not the funny. So we've set them up by making a statement that leads them to their own conclusions. Step Three - Alternative Explanations Now we want to surprise them. To surprise them, you will want to shatter the assumption. In order to shatter the assumption you need to think of other ways that statement could be interpreted. Take the first assumption I listed – I ran outside. When someone says they got up and ran, you assume they ran outside. You are assuming the place. What place do we NOT assume they will be? How about inside? We don't naturally assume that somebody went running inside. For the second assumption, we listed that we assumed I ran because I wanted to. When someone says they got up and ran five miles, we assume it was intentional. What is an alternative? That we were being chased. Again, there is more than one answer, but to keep it simple, let's just stick with this one. To recap what we've done so far: We created the set up statement: This morning I got up and ran five miles. We listed two assumptions made from this statement: I ran outside I ran because I wanted to. We thought of alternative explanations that went against the natural assumption. I ran inside. I was being chased. Step Four - Alternative Story Now we take those alternative explanations and create different stories that back up our alternative explanations. We aren't trying to be funny yet. We aren't trying to be good writers. We are just creating an alternative story. 81
  • Kelly Swanson I ran inside – I was on a treadmill; I kept running up and down the stairs because I kept forgetting something; I was in my bed dreaming….Okay, I like that last one, I think I will make that my alternative story. I ran five miles in my sleep. I was being chased – I ran because I wasn't in my own house and his wife came home and she chased me down the street (doesn't really fit me and the type of jokes I do, but we're just creating here); I ran because I was being chased by the police for something; I ran because I thought I heard the ice cream truck bell. I'll go with that one. Might turn out to be a little bit corny, but it's the type of thing I would say and do. Note that we're no longer talking about being chased. That's okay; don't let rules get in the way of your creativity. If you were working on a joke alone, I would suggest writing down EVERYTHING that comes into your head. You never know where the joke (or jokes) will be. So now we have two alternative stories for the original setup: This morning I got up and ran five miles……. …….because I was in my bed dreaming …….because I was chasing the ice cream truck bell Step Five - Crafting Set Up and Punch Usually you will end up with a long story that is way too wordy and doesn't sound funny at all. One thing we will discuss later is the importance of cutting down your jokes to the fewest possible words. I promise that the shorter you can make it, the better it will be. So now we want to take our set up and punch and start crafting it to sound like a joke. Now we want to start looking at how we put the words together. We want to picture ourselves saying it – and how the pauses will deliver the joke effectively. This is your creative process. There is nothing that says you can't change the set up if you want to. Now you do whatever you need to in order to make the joke work. Work on each half and how they fit together. By each half I mean the set up and then the punch – the first real story and the second shattered assumption. Even if you don't see anything funny coming in this process, keep going. As a matter of fact, I don't really see anything funny coming out of this example. But that's the way it always goes. I always have to go through this process A LOT to get a couple of good jokes. But it's worth it. And there is no easier way. But once you get the hang of it, it will start to flow. And if you did this on a regular basis, imagine how many good jokes you will have by the end of the year. And not all your jokes have to be hysterical. Lightly 82
  • STAND UP AND STICK OUT…FOR SPEAKERS humorous works too. Sometimes a good delivery can save a so-so joke. But more on that later. Let's start. Try it on your own: Scenario One _______________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________ Scenario Two _______________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________ How did you do? Don't worry if you hate what you came up with. I know the feeling. It happens to me all the time and I get so discouraged. But just keep at it. This process does work. You just have to hit on the right setup and punch. And that just takes kissing a lot of frogs before you hit the prince. Here's how I did the joke: Hey, I work out! This morning I ran five miles……………. before I even woke up. (The dots indicate a pause. You need this pause before you deliver the punch. Try saying it without the pause and you'll see what I mean) This morning I got up and ran five miles. I like to have never caught that ice cream truck. This is an important step so please don't skip it. Put your pen down and walk away. Leave the joke alone and come back to it after a couple of days when your mind is fresh. Chances are good that right now you've been working on it for so long that you hate it and it doesn't sound the slightest bit funny. So leave it and come back when you can be more objective. 83
  • Kelly Swanson Sometimes at night I will sit in bed drinking coffee and start looking at old jokes I've written, not even remembering having written them. And I will take a pen and start slashing through the ones that don't hit me as funny right away. The ones that make me laugh, or at least smile, I keep. Sometimes I can see immediately how just some word rearrangement of tweaking will fix the joke. So this is the time to rework it with your final edits. And there you have it. A very simple formula for a not so easy process of putting together a joke. Understand that not every set up will turn into a joke. It doesn't work that way. Get used to plowing through lots of set ups and assumptions until you get to the funny. It's there, just keep at it. Picking Topics When you know this formula, you can create jokes about anything, which is good but at the same time incredibly overwhelming. You don't know where to start. You write jokes about random topics and end up with a series of random jokes that don't fit together. So let me recommend a way to organize your thoughts. Start with a topic – like parenting. It will probably be a general one like this if you are just starting. Understand that every comedian who is a parent has written jokes on this topic, so you want to get more specific. Comedy comes when you get into the specifics. Plus, you want this to be authentic to you. So I would probably pick a more specific topic like – being an older parent. Once you think of the topic, think about the feelings you have about that subject that you chose. And I want you to start by using this sentence: What's weird/hard//scary/stupid about my topic. In other words, what's weird about being an older parent? What's hard about being an older parent? 84
  • STAND UP AND STICK OUT…FOR SPEAKERS What's scary about being an older parent? What's stupid about being an older parent? As I mentioned before, comedy starts with writing about the truth. So start by uncovering your true feelings about something. And nobody cares about what you like. That won't be funny. We want to know the things that irritate you, make you crazy, etc. Write these words in your humor journal an every time you start crafting jokes, come back to these same attitudes. Ask yourself the same question: What's weird/hard/scary/stupid about…… Writing comedy doesn't start with finding the funny in life. It starts with finding the truth in life. No joke will work if you jump to the funny without first uncovering the truth. ATTITUDE WORDS It was in Judy Carter’s Book “The Comedy Bible” where I first learned to use attitude words. I HIGHLY recommend this book if you want to learn to write and deliver comedy. It’s the best. WEIRD – HARD –SCARY-STUPID After you have found a topic that feels good to you, then start asking yourself how you feel about your topic, using your four attitude words for joke construction. And write down 85
  • Kelly Swanson your answers – without worrying about where the jokes will come from, or how you will word it. Just write your thoughts. When I write about being an older parent, for instance, I write things like…… What's hard about being an older parent? People think you are the grandparent; all the other mothers are young. You're the only parent who gets a senior citizen discount. You're assured a handicapped spot at graduation. It's been so long since you were a kid, you've forgotten everything. Let's try some of this on your own. Pick a topic, any topic. Write it down ________________________________________________ Can you get more specific? _______________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________ Even more specific? (Just checking – you might find a nugget if you keep getting more and more specific) ___________________________________________________________________ What's Weird about your topic? _______________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________ What's Hard about your topic? _______________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________ What's Scary about your topic? _______________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________ 86
  • STAND UP AND STICK OUT…FOR SPEAKERS _______________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________ What's Stupid about your topic? _______________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________ Once you start writing down your thoughts, you may start to see some funny nuggets appear. You may actually stumble on a punch before you've written a set up. That's okay. Run with it. Here's how to work backwards. Write your punch down so you don't forget Find a way to create a set up statement that makes the audience think you are going to say something else. Remember that the set up is serious. Then work the two together. Let me give you an example of how this works. In my creative musings I stumbled on a funny thought – how there should be rules for parenting. You shouldn't be allowed to be a parent if you plan on breast feeding in public. Hey, to me it had the potential for being funny. But not funny yet. It needed the framework of a joke. I needed to set them up first and get them making standard assumptions about parenting. So I started thinking about rules for parenting and what the obvious ones would be: you shouldn't be a thief, a drunk, etc. I wanted the audience to think of the obvious, and then I would hit them with the surprise. Here is how my joke turned out: You know what I think is strange about being a parent? It's one of the most important jobs you can have, and yet anybody can be one. It's harder to get a library card. And there aren't any rules. There should be rules. You shouldn't be allowed to be a parent if you steal, lie, or plan on breast feeding in public. You shouldn't be a parent if you gamble, have anger issues, or make your kid wear a blue and white seer sucker jumpsuit with tiny trains – to football practice. If you plan on standing at your kid's bus stop wearing a torn bathrobe and smoking a Camel, you shouldn't be a parent. ********** Once you start thinking along the lines of a certain topic, you can come up with a whole series of jokes instead of just one. And you're in a comedian's paradise when you can set up the joke once and get twelve laughs off it rather than setup and punch, set up and 87
  • Kelly Swanson punch, set up and punch. That takes time. Time that could be spent more effectively getting more laughs. At first, you might find that you are creating very short jokes – or the standard one-liners. If you want to make your jokes longer you can start with the one-liner and turn it into a longer story later. As long as you can do it without putting so many words into it that it is no longer funny. Comedy is saying more with less. I'll address that later in the manual. It is very important. Rule of Threes For some reason, funny is better in three's, than in two's or four's. I can't explain it, just trust me. And jokes are easy to write using this formula. You just have two setups and then a punch. It is also defined as three iterations of an idea or theme.1st iteration presents theme, 2nd validates theme, 3rd violates the sequence. The joke comes when the third item in the sequence cuts across line established by first 2 and creates laughter in the explosive defeat of expectation. Ex. I was teased about the typical stuff in high school: my height, size of my nose, oh, and that unfortunate arson conviction. Let's do a little rule of threes exercise to get you thinking in the right direction on this one. Find three things, list them in a row, and have them all be similar in topic, but have the third extravagantly not belong. I know, that was a horrible job of explaining, so let me just show you an example: Beethoven Mozart Bon Jovi's Slippery When Wet Now, let's do some of your own. Remember that the goal is to defeat your audience's expectation. You are setting them up with the first two so that they think the third will be similar to the first two. Remember to greatly exaggerate the third. ____________________ ____________________ ____________________ ____________________ 88 ____________________ ____________________
  • STAND UP AND STICK OUT…FOR SPEAKERS ____________________ ____________________ ____________________ ____________________ ____________________ ____________________ Wasn't that fun? This type of joke is easy. You can always come up with something using this formula. And you will always get a laugh. Here is how this formula can be used in a joke: I'm a performer, which means I love the stage, I love the lights, and I'm about one bounced check away from living out of my car. Comparison Jokes Comparison jokes compare two seemingly different entities – like gangs and kindergartners – men and puppies – newlyweds with old married couples – comparing yourself to your parents – compare yourself young eager and in love to old bitter and discontented. Here is an example of a comparison joke: I heard about this kid who swam the English Channel at age fifteen. When I was fifteen I couldn't even find my way out of a box. 89
  • Kelly Swanson Callbacks Callbacks are extremely effective at getting a laugh and pretty easy to do. You simply call back to an earlier joke. Just referring to the joke you made earlier will get the laugh. Use it as much as you can. In my show I have an opening joke that uses the phrase “Bless her heart.” It's a pretty funny joke. And then there are several places in my act where I will be in the middle of another joke or story and stop, pause, and say, “Bless her heart.” I will use it in different ways so that it won't sound stale. People love it. Just calling back to an earlier joke will get a laugh. Works every time. Tags Tags are easy ways of getting more laughs off of a single joke. It is really the same as creating one setup and delivering a punch, and another one, and another one – as many as you can tag on to the original joke. Phyllis Dyler was the queen of this. Tags don't always have to be jokes either. They can be act outs, or gestures. I like to compare it to the person telling a funny story at a party. He has everybody's attention and he does everything he can to extend the laughs – adds an exaggeration, puts in a couple of gestures, does some dialogue and accent stuff – whatever it takes to keep getting the laughs. Other Formulas There are many other formulas and ways to write jokes but I'm not going to include them. You have enough to work with in the pages of this manual. If you get too much, you might end up doing nothing. The tips in this manual can last you a lifetime of creating funny material. 90
  • STAND UP AND STICK OUT…FOR SPEAKERS Comedy Buddies I recommend that you get a comedy buddy – someone who can listen to your jokes and tell you if they are funny or not. Get someone who will be entirely honest. And then remember that you asked for honesty. You can't take this personally. And you can't argue with them. And also understand that what is funny to some may not be funny to others. In the end you will have the final say. And hang around funny people. They will rub off. If they're not comedians, maybe you can ask for their jokes! Test Your Material I strongly recommend that you have a safe place where you can test your comedy in front of a group to see what gets the laughs and what doesn't. There are always open mic opportunities, or you can start your own. Jump into a writing group that has an open mic and is willing to extend it to comedians. Check with your local comedy clubs. They may know of opportunities for comedians to test material. If you are already in a position where you speak on a regular basis, then you have a perfect opportunity to test some of your material. If humor is new to you, I recommend that you try one or two jokes at a time so that your entire performance isn't affected by the success of your jokes. I usually try out a new joke or two in my shows – tucked in between material which has been time tested. 91
  • Kelly Swanson Writing Tips and Techniques Comedy is writing, so I would like to include some basic writing tips that will make your comedy better. The funny part goes at the end of the line. The punch line goes at the end of the joke. Remember that you don't want to be saying anything else while they are laughing at the funny part. Shorter is better. Say more with less. Cut every word you can. A joke can be ruined if you add too much to it. Think of all the jokes you've heard where it took forever to get to a punch line that wasn't even funny. Use details. And try to find details that nobody else would use. Get specific. The more specific you can get, the funnier it will be. Exaggeration is key. Think absurd. Timing and Delivery Techniques Writing good comedy is important, but equally important is delivering it well. A poor delivery will ruin a joke. Perfecting your delivery takes time, patience, and devotion. Study those who do it well and take good notes. Here are some tips: · Talk slow, enunciate, and pause in between thoughts. The audience is hearing this for the first time. · Always pause before you're about to make the joke · Pause after the joke · Don't be afraid of your silence – use it · Wait for the audience to be almost finished laughing before starting again · Look comfortable and act relaxed · Look at all areas of the room – don't leave any portion out – give them equal time 92
  • STAND UP AND STICK OUT…FOR SPEAKERS · Even if the lights prevent you from seeing anybody, act like you can see them – pretend that you are talking to them – look into their eyes · Don't talk like you are following a script. It's okay to comment here and there. Answer a question, take a drink of water. Just don't do it to the point where people think you are stalling or have forgotten your lines. They are here to be entertained, not chatted with. · Have energy on stage – unless lack of energy is part of your “voice” · Sell your jokes by acting like you know they are funny. Have confidence. Make them like it. What Not To Do Step on laughs Ignore distractions Look uncomfortable or nervous Steal material Ramble…keep it short Say you're new Act like you've forgotten your words Explain your jokes Laugh at your own jokes When All Else Fails Cut it short if you are bombing If they don't laugh, pretend like it wasn't supposed to be funny Smile and move on to something you are more comfortable with 93
  • Kelly Swanson Know that everything is not riding on this one show Demo When people hire you to be funny they are going to want proof that you are funny. So start collecting referrals, clips, whatever you can, to show that you are funny. Closing Comments Well, there you have it, your first step on the road to being funnier. You may be overwhelmed. You may be thinking there is no way you can ever do all of this. Then don't. Just pick one thing. One tiny thing. Practice it and use it. If it gets a laugh, try another. If you love to make people laugh do it. Don't wait for permission. Don't wait for someone to tell you you're good enough. You're good enough. Now get to work. 94
  • STAND UP AND STICK OUT…FOR SPEAKERS GAMES TO GET THE COMEDY JUICES FLOWING UNIVERSAL ANNOYING SITUATIONS Make a list of annoying situations in life that many people can relate to. Things like automated customer service, traffic, etc. GAME: ORDINARY SITUATION / INTRODUCE CONFLICT Take an ordinary situation involving ordinary people. Introduce a conflict that affects the group. Exaggerate the events. Describe the scene. GAME: WHAT IF Find an ordinary situation and ask what if. Then ask what if again on top of that. And keep doing it until you really get to the exaggeration of the thing GAME: ASSUMPTIONS AND SHATTERED ASSUMPTIONS Write some standard statements and make a list of the natural assumptions that we make about them. Then practice shattering the assumption. Example: I have an imaginary friend. (We assume that imaginary friends are nice and sweet. That's the assumption.) To break the assumption, assume that the friend isn't sweet, that the friend doesn't like you. Joke: I have an imaginary friend. Who hates me. GAME: THE MAGAZINE GAME Flip through magazines and start thinking funny. Find the irony in the ads. Think about what is promised to you in the ads. GAME: COMIC REALITIES Make two columns – the left title “Reality” and the right titled “Comic Reality that Conflicts.” Start a list of ordinary things you do on the left. Then on the right, give it a conflicting comic reality. Kind of like taking the ordinary and thinking “What if?” Don't think, just write and keep going. Example: Renting a U-Haul To Live In Having an Imaginary Friend Who Hates You GAMES: CHARACTER PERSPECTIVES Come up with a list of the different perspectives people have. And get specific. Example, someone who thinks that everything is a conspiracy, from internet to artificial sweetener. 95
  • Kelly Swanson 11 SIX SECRETS TO BEING UNFORGETTABLE (This was the poem that was part of the breakout session I did for NSA one year. I think I have it recorded on my website (www.kellyswanson.net) somewhere if you want to hear the whole thing.) Upon good advice, and without question In 2004 I entered the speaking profession And stumbled into the world of NSA Somewhat young, naïve, and ready to play Eager to please, without pretense And (bless my heart) not a lick of common business sense No expertise, no wise advice I wrote about people and the simple life Without a clue on how to sell 'em I wrote stories and got paid to tell 'em And so I had hopped from stage to stage Breathing life into characters from a page Happy as a claim - will work for free Just honored that somebody would want to hear me And I looked around NSA and saw this sea Of people who knew much more than me No clue as to who the top guns are, But ready to hitch my wagon to the nearest star 96
  • STAND UP AND STICK OUT…FOR SPEAKERS I'm a sponge, tell me what to do I'm ready - I'm willing - to be just like you I took my talents and gifts and set them aside For a much bigger and better carpet ride Forget the silly characters who'd come to be Ingrained in my identity And so I set out on a quest To study from the very best And find out what they possessed That made them stand out from the rest And even more what can I do To make myself just like you? And over time I came to be More like you and less like me What is it? What is it? I'd look for clues That makes a speaker great - what do they do Is it something they've had since birth Can it be purchased - what would it be worth Does it come in a book - or a set of CD's A coach, a consultant, downloaded MP's Can you find it in a box? Can you find it under locks? Can you find it on a train? Can you find it in a plane? Can you find it here or there? Can you find it anywhere? What will bring them to their feet Every time we get up to speak? And so I studied and watched and prayed To see just how the greats are made In the hopes that the chosen few Would show me how to become unforgettable too And over time and over years These truths were whispered in my ears Six truths I share with you today 97
  • Kelly Swanson That I'm sure I'm not the first to say But still truths all the same That I've learned from watching and playing the game Six secrets to add to your own skill set To help give them something they won't forget And so a list I started to make Add this and that - a little give and take Great tips, now here's some good advice All helpful and all quite very nice But one answer still kept passing me by The one big answer to my question why The heretofor, the wherewithal That one missing piece - that covers it all And then it happened on a Tuesday in May When I walked into my OBGYN one day And saw this nurse whose name had failed me Who instead of asking what had ailed me Started gushing over me instead Like I'm the greatest thing since pre sliced bread Act Out the Nurse: (puts on reading glasses) (Give her a facial expression) "Ms. Swanson, Ms. Swanson, Hey! Hey! Where have you been? It has been ages since you have been in here. Come and give me a hug. Let me take a good look at you. You eating right? Let me see your teeth!" (Take off glasses) "And I'm convinced she's got me mixed up with someone else. I can't remember this woman from Adam. Surely you think I'm someone else." (glasses back on) "Oh no - I would never forget you!" (glasses off) Now I knew this could go one of two ways. I am quite sure there are people who will never forget the year I danced up on a bar when Coyote Ugly came out and I had lost ten pounds and thought I looked good 98
  • STAND UP AND STICK OUT…FOR SPEAKERS in a tank top. But I couldn't resist. I had to ask her why she remembered me after all these years - after all these patients - after only one visit? (glasses on) That's easy. There are two types of people I remember - the ones who made me mad, and the ones who made me laugh - the rest just fade away) IT'S WHAT YOU MAKE THEM FEEL And just from that short interface The puzzle piece slid into place In that one moment, the answer hit me Lord, if it had been a snake, it would have bit me It's not your words that they will take Nor the many points that you will make They won't go tell others how much you know It's not your PowerPoint that impresses them so What lasts the longest - what is real They remember how you make them feel And I remembered Mr. Cox, my Superman Not for what he knew, but for holding my hand And telling me it was going to be okay That I would do something great someday Now he's branded in my heart - unforgettable and real Not for what he made me think, but for how he made me feel It sounds so simple - yet I would bet Many of us haven't learned that yet We're still focusing on what we want them to know Trying to deliver a better show Forgetting the most important part Don't speak to the mind - speak to the heart For it is in this most treasured place Where things done here are not erased If you reach their mind, you've solved a strife 99
  • Kelly Swanson But if you reach their heart, you've changed their life And so from here, my six secrets flow But first there's something you should know These six ways for you to reach their heart Will not work unless you remember the most important part These truths can't be told for them to know it, For it to last - you must show it You have the content, the truth - what you want to say But to be unforgettable - you must find a way To breathe life into that truth - and make it real So they don't just think - they feel STOP - ASK YOURSELF (TELL VERSES SHOW) Do I tell people what to do in my speeches? Or do I show them? Do I give them a list of things to do - and just use voice inflection to encourage them? Do I tell them there's a problem, or do I show them? Let's proceed to the first secret to reaching people on an emotional level. And it all starts with Crazy Man Harry. As a speaker, I bring humor and hope, a message far from grand My points are few, my message simple and not hard to understand I teach people to adjust their vision to see past the obstacles in life To form a healthy attitude and find the bright side to your strife I help renew their passion for who they are and what they do And teach them to be unforgettable to the people they're selling to I show them how to get along and form a stronger team That can weather stress and change - no matter how diverse they seem But I can't simply stand before them and tell them what to do 100
  • STAND UP AND STICK OUT…FOR SPEAKERS I can't give them another list of all those things that they should do I must find a way to show them - a way to make my message real To reach into their heart - from how they think to how they feel And I have found that Secret Number One - proves valuable beyond measure In speaking to the heart - the STORY - is your biggest treasure. For example, sometimes I need to tell them that to lead as one most wise They must take the time to see life through the other person's eyes But these are words - and only words - that fall on tired and busy ears I have to show them in a way that they'll remember it for years And so I tell them the story of Crazy Man Harry. 1 STORY - CRAZY MAN HARRY Crazy Man Harry lives on the corner of Route 29 and Old Wiley School Road. You don't have to live there to know him - just drive by at just about any hour and you'll see his rusty old lawn chair out front the one with the broken strap that drags the ground. And him sitting there, in his faded boxers and the stained t-shirt - waving around that brown paper bag - with the frizzy gray hair and the wild black eyes yelling at people when they drive past. Obscenties mostly - colorful obscenties I dare not repeat. And when you get close enough to see the yellow in his eyes and the spittle in the corner of his mouth - he will undoubtedly lock eyes on you and hiss, "Get out! Get the hell out!" Complain if you will - you won't be the first. People have been complaining about that man for years - ever since the day he got back. You see when he was just a young man, he and a group of his buddies blew us kisses, hopped on a bus, and took off for Vietnam. Crazy Man Harry was the only one to come back alive. And ever since, he hasn't been the same. Stuck in this one place in his mind destined to repeat it over and over - that moment when he had tried to save his buddies - when he kept screaming over and over even 101
  • Kelly Swanson though they were too far away to hear, "Get out! Get out! Get the hell out!" Crazy Man Harry lives on the corner of Route 29 and Old Wiley School Road. You don't have to live there to know him - just drive by, and you'll see that rusty old lawn chair out front - the one with the broken strap dragging the ground. And chances are good, he'll yell at you too. But you don't mind, we'd appreciate it, if you'd just turn the other cheek. Situations, and people, are rarely what they seem. Take the time to see life from someone else's perspective. It can mean everything. Suddenly I realized every story, very character I'd cast aside Were no longer something outdated - something I must hide But really my greatest treasure - for there is no greater glory Than that which can be found in a well-written, well-told, and well-placed story I know what you're thinking, "Duh, tell us something new, We're all out here using stories - some of us better at it than you!" To which I answer, "Yes, you're using stories, and some of you quite well, But are you using stories as an added extra or do you let them show instead of tell The magic doesn't happen when you're just spouting information But when your truth speaks inside the story - your point hits its destination And they are captivated and encouraged, engaged and entertained Your message has hit their heart - and here it will remain And they will leave that very day, forgetting most of what you said But that story never fades - it plays over and over in their head For years, until they call again, with one thing on their mind "Will you please come back and tell us that story - we need to hear it one more time" But as speakers we must be greater than that story or stories that define us 102
  • STAND UP AND STICK OUT…FOR SPEAKERS We must be more than who we are, how we got here, and what came behind us If you really want to reach them - want to really hit their core Don't just tell your story - you have to take it one step more For the magic in a speech - that moment of shining glory Comes when you turn the corner - and you start to tell THEIR story And when you do this, you will find the things you hear them say, Change from "good job" and "great performance" to "you changed my life today." So make your stories short, to the point, and filled with power The simple moments you see in life around you, every minute every hour You don't have to climb Mount Everest, find a starfish, or survive some tragic hell Just find stories that bring your truth to life, and learn how to tell them well And if you take the time, and put the work into it, I will bet, That you will give them something beautiful - they're not soon to forget. STOP - ASK YOURSELF " Are you using stories to do the work? Because you should be. Your speech should not be a series of points accented by stories - but a series of stories accented by your points. " Do you realize that your information is not what sets you apart? That the only thing that makes you you - your speech your speech - what sets you apart - the only thing we HAVE to make it real - the reason they choose US to deliver that information - is the STORY! " Do you spend the time that you should on your stories? Have you cut every unnecessary word? Have you made your stories feel like something different than the rest of your talk? " Do you tell their story? Do you even know their story? How do you tell their story when you've never met them? How can they hear you tell your stories and hear their story at the same time? STORY - PJ PINKERTON 103
  • Kelly Swanson I still remember the year I was almost the first ever real live PJ Pinkerton's Pork Belly and Potted Meat Queen. I had just completed my online beauty school correspondence course when word got out that PJ Pinkerton was looking for a queen of potted meat - and the winner was gonna have her statue done up in wax and placed in the lobby of every potted meat distribution center in Buncam County. Can't too many women claim to be the queen of potted meat. We all saw the potential. Long story short - I'm standing there getting ready for the big night - having absorbed every chapter of my new book "Low Budget Beauty" - and my friend Trina is standing there telling me that my hair looks a little bit mousy. So I decided to put a little color in it - ran over to Walgreens and got myself some Clairol number 4 Ashe Blonde. I followed all the directions….and when I got through, there was nothing ashe about my hair, wasn't even anything blonde about it - it was red - and not New York City cover of Vogue Magazine kind of red - but rusty old tricycle left out in the front yard of trailer park red. Long story short - the pageant didn't exactly go the way I'd planned thanks to Wade and Bo Junior and that tater gun that they shot directly into that line of women starting with Mable Peterson who was a hundred if she was a day. Don't worry - it didn't hurt her - thank the Lord for that metal walker of hers - that the tater ricocheted off the steel leg of that walker and went hurtling off in another direction - poor Mable, damage had already been done - she was convinced she'd been shot and flew backwards that fur stole flying off - the one with the eyes…… - screaming something about the rapture and "Take me now Lord take me now!" And fell out cold on the middle of that stage orthopedic shoes straight up in the air. Long story short - the pageant was a disaster and I stood there among the line of disheveled women - not a real one in the lot of us untucked, unstucked, unshaved, unplucked - thinking to myself "What for?" It was here in this moment that I finally accepted the fact that I wasn't perfect - as a woman, as a mother, as a wife, as a business 104
  • STAND UP AND STICK OUT…FOR SPEAKERS womanand that it was time I stopped trying to be - stopped trying to please this idea of what I thought the world wanted me to be - afraid to show them that I didn't have it all together. And I learned a lesson about HUMILITY. Which brings me to secret number two, Quit trying to be the speaker who Is perfect, and polished, and tweaked to perfection With all of the answers to every question The expert, the one with it all together Who comes out on top no matter the weather Yes, credibility has a place Yes you're to act with knowledge and grace Yes, you are the one who stands out in front Bringing to them what the clients want Yes your presence commands respect And they will be impressed by your intellect But I have found these things only reach their mind Until something more impressive comes behind The true impact - the true emotional connection Does not come when they see your perfection For it is only when you start to peel away That person they see before them today And show them who you were and where you've been Allow them to see the vulnerable person within It is here they see themselves in you And think, if she can do it, I can too It may be those credentials that got you in the door But it's your vulnerable side they'll remember more It may be your perfection that they will toast But it's your imperfection that connects the most TATTERED SUITCASE AND THE $15 SHOES 105
  • Kelly Swanson I speak in a lot of churches and I tell them about the women's conference I spoke at out in California. And how in one moment I'm arguing with my son over why he can't wear his Sponge Bob underwear on the outside of his pants, and praying that my husband's truck will last another year - and the next moment I am in Los Angeles, California. And I am standing there at the airport, wondering what to do next, overwhelmed and exhausted - with the same feeling Maria had in the Sound of music when she left the Abbey and started down that long road - that same feeling when Dorothy said, "Toto, we aren't in Kansas anymore" . And I'm standing there frozen holding my tattered suitcase and wearing my brand new fifteen dollar shoes. And the doors open and there standing in front of me is the shiniest longest limousine - the kind I'd only seen in movies - with this handsome man must have been ordered straight out of a catalog, standing there at full attention with a sign that said "KELLY SWANSON" - you heard me right - that sign had my name on it. That limousine was for me - and for nobody else - could have fit fifteen people in there and I kept half expecting to pick up some others on the way what with all this extra room. And I called my husband and said, "Baby, you ain't gonna believe this! They got yogurt in here!" And I'm rubbing the plush seats and I start talking to God - cause that's what I do sometimes when I get excited - and I said "God" (I call Him God, cause we're on a first name basis) - I said "God? Did you do this?" And He laughed, like He usually does when I speak, and He said, "My dear child, you ain't seen nothing yet! Just you wait….." And the rest of the story isn't important for today - what is important is that I use that story to show my audience that I've been there - and that we're in this together - and that I'm not any better than they are - and that they are worthy too, with their tattered suitcase and their fifteen dollar shoes. In this case, I know my audience. And I know their story. And this works. 106
  • STAND UP AND STICK OUT…FOR SPEAKERS STOP - ASK YOURSELF -2 HUMILITY " Where is the human side of me in this speech? Do I show them who I am and what I know, and forget to show them that once I was in their place too? " America loves the rags to riches story - the poor immigrant kid who becomes a millionaire - the homely cell phone salesman who can sing like an angel - we drool over these kinds of stories - the poor kid from the wrong side of the tracks who wins American Idol - the prostitute who marries Richard Gere - we love these stories. Your audience loves to hear where you were. Give it to them. As a performer, if you looked closely you'd see How over time it became all about me Listen, watch, see this, it's new Let me tell you what I can do It had to be all about me you know Because without me there was no show Until I learned about Secret Number Three The one I call HUMANITY It took me years to learn this part That my performance wasn't what touched their heart It wasn't about flawless execution My skillful art of elocution How hard they laughed or how smooth I talked Whether my butt looked cute whenever I walked No, over time I started to see Changing lives had very little to do with me What brought them to their feet and made them cheer Was when I said the words they so needed to hear I'm not the first to say, and I won't be the last But this advice still holds true and fast How much you know? Does not compare To how they feel when they know you care The times they react the most to me Is when I think more about them and less about me 107
  • Kelly Swanson Now don't get me wrong, it still stands true, That you must be good at what you do You must always strive to raise the bar In what you do and who you are But still in everything you do and say Show them THEY are the reason you're here today Over time even the best performance fades And they'll lose sight of the points you made But what touches the heart still remains A person never forgets when their life is changed So in all you say, and all you do Make this about them - and not about you STOP ASK YOURSELF – 3 HUMANITY " I wrote to the owner of the chain of health clubs that I belong to - to tell him how much I appreciated his employees and the top notch customer service that really went well beyond good customer service - and then I said at the end of my email, "Now I have a favor to ask - do you mind telling me your secret? I speak about having fun in the workplace and your employees are having a ball. I want to know what you do." Long story short, next thing I know, he's having me come speak to several hundred of his employees at one of their quarterly meetings - where I get to tell them in person how much they mean to me. When he introduced me, he read the email that he received from me about how much I loved his employees and what a difference they make in my life - and those people were beaming with pride hearing the compliments of a job well done. And when he should have stopped reading he didn't, and went one step further and read that one line: "Now I have a favor to ask….." And in that one line, all the positive power in the letter I had sent, had just been sapped. Their compliment had been followed by a disclaimer. They didn't know my favor was harmless - but it didn't matter. The damage had been done. I say all of this to make sure that when you look at your speeches - at each word you have crafted (and I hope you are crafting each word) - that you ask yourself, "Have I just cut the power 108
  • STAND UP AND STICK OUT…FOR SPEAKERS of my speech with 'now I have a favor to ask'?" If they think you are here for yourself, you have just lost your connection. " Do you make your speeches about them? What about your website? What about your promo materials? What about your sales calls? Can't it be said with conviction, that we shouldn't be telling people what we can do - but listening to their needs and telling them how we can fix them? " How do the words and stories of your speech SHOW them that you care? Of course just telling them is not enough. You've got to show them that this is about them. CONFESSIONS OF A TEEN DANCING QUEEN - HUMOR I still remember growing up…I know that was along time ago…..the power of Humor I was the kid they picked on and teased With the frizzy hair and the knobby knees I wasn't pretty, smart, or fast In everything I came in last Most of my life the joke's been on me Until over time I began to see That humor would become so much more Than this shy wallflower had bargained for I never dreamed humor would turn out to be Such a vital part of me That being able to make people laugh Would serve so well on my behalf That laughter would turn out to be The greatest joy and blessing in store for me Not only to get me through the day But to connect with people in a positive away When money's tight and times are tough 109
  • Kelly Swanson When the client says humor is just fluff I want to grit my teeth and scream Because they do not know what humor brings To refuel a soul, to ease the pain To remind them that they can smile again To show them there is a way out To show them what healthy thinking is all about To inject fun in the day and alleviate stress To handle conflict under duress Because when you make them laugh with you They're ready to take the journey too And something about making them laugh has a way Of making them trust and listen to what you say When they laugh they enter a very warm and safe place And that experience they connect with your face You may not be the type for gags and jokin' Your funny bone has long since broken You may not stand a chance in hell Of delivering a joke or limerick well And that's okay - but there's no reason why You can't make them laugh - you just have to try Watch where you get a laugh - take note when And then make sure you do it again Use pictures, silly gestures or a funny saying Come out of your shell, and do a little playing It doesn't really matter what you do If they laugh - they've connected with you It doesn't matter how you did it A laugh is a laugh no matter how you get it And when they laugh, they will walk away Loving how they felt that day STOP ASK YOURSELF - 4 HUMOR 110
  • STAND UP AND STICK OUT…FOR SPEAKERS " Am I fun? " Have I injected some humor and fun into my presentation? " Does my website show that I will be fun? Even if the content is serious everybody likes the fun speaker _____________________________________________________________ _________ AUNT BITSY – 5 PASSION I'll never forget the time my Aunt Bitsy decided to conquer her fears when she heard the preachings of this high fallutin' head doctor……..you go girl. And wishing we all had just one ounce of Aunt Bitsy's courage. Courage to walk through town wearing a string bikini and white pumps? No. Courage to live our life with passion. Which brings me to Secret Number 6 _____________________________________________________________ Ah - passion - the secret ingredient - to each of us unique Of radiating energy on the platform - and owning what you speak That of which is hard to measure - hard to quantify Passion can't be learned - it's not something you can buy It's awfully hard to practice - hard to calculate and weigh It's there or it's not - if you don't buy it, neither will they I love the stage, I love the lights, I know it's here where I belong But some days it just feels like work - some days I'm not as strong Sometimes I leave that stage and know I cheated them of my best Because I shifted into autopilot or let something else possess My thoughts and my attention - let anxieties fill my head Thinking about tomorrow rather than being there with them instead And I can not help but think that in these moments I grow weak The audience can sense it - it's apparent when I speak 111
  • Kelly Swanson And the passion that I have - is hidden - out of sight And I have missed my chance to be someone else's light And I owe them more than that - I owe them the very best that I can be I owe it to them to find that passion that once burned so bright in me I owe it to them to practice - and then practice it once more I owe it to them to be present - here and accounted for It's staying in the moment - get their attention and lovingly hold it It's telling that signature story - like the first time you've ever told it It's reminding yourself each day, what it is you do this for Telling yourself this audience is not just the same as the one before It's checking your speech, your words, your gestures - everything you do To make sure the passion you feel inside is always coming through It's checking to see if your message still resonates and rings true Or if there's something more pressing that bubbles up inside of you But more than anything - the most important part Is checking to make sure that fire still burns within your heart If you want to have an impact - if you want to make them feel You must find a way to keep it fresh - authentic - and keep it real Get out of your comfort zone - don't be stale, but be courageous Because no matter how you define it, passion is contagious And when passion ignites passion - when the fire of hope is lit You have created an experience, they won't easily forget __________________________________________________________ STOP ASK YOURSELF - PASSION " Are you still telling the same speech you wrote ten years ago? Five years ago? Two years ago? " Watch yourself on video - do you look excited? " What are the things that you make a point to do to show passion? How does one show passion on the stage? Passion is not necessarily high energy - so what is it? 112
  • STAND UP AND STICK OUT…FOR SPEAKERS " Think of other speakers who have influenced you - how do you know that they are passionate about their subject when you watch them? " Are you still excited about your topic? Or are you just doing that because it pays the bills? Nothing wrong with paying the bills. But is there a way you can inject some new excitement into what you do? _____________________________________________________________ AUNT BITSY TAUGHT ME ABOUT PASSION - BUT SHE ALSO TAUGHT ME ABOUT COURAGE - THE COURAGE TO BE DIFFERENT - TO BE WHO I AM - NOT TO PLEASE THE WORLD AND FIND A WAY TO CONFORM TO WHAT THEY WANT ME TO BE - BUT TO BE ME AND FIND A WORLD THAT WILL ACCEPT THAT. _____________________________________________________________ Growing up, I was the oddball, the puzzle piece that didn't fit You wanted outcast, sign me up - you wanted weird, well, I was it On the grand stage of my childhood, I was the ficas tree stage right The one who would have been pretty if not for the horrible overbite I was the kite stuck in the tree, the dog poop on the beach Normal was a place that always hung outside my reach And for years I just keep looking and searching for a way To be like everybody else - so that nobody could say Who's that girl who is so different - now she's the one that doesn't fit Well I was tired of being different - I wanted none of it And over time and with great determination I tried really hard to be Like everybody else - in this sea of normality And every now and then I'd catch glimpses of the girl I'd cast aside The wacky one with stories who like to talk in rhyme And I'd tell her not to come out - I'd tell her to go away She wouldn't fit inside the world I'd come to know as NSA It's too different - that won't sell - the customers won't buy it Be safe - be like the others - it's too risky, better not try it I'm a sponge - in a sea of greatness - tell me who I need to be 113
  • Kelly Swanson And over time I started to become more like you - and less like me Until I saw this woman standing out among the crowd You couldn't help but see her - her hat was bright purple - and she was loud And she stuck out like a blown up Santa in a Christmas Day Parade And years later it's her that I remember her, and the impression that she made And it occurred to me quite simply, with startling clarity it came How can we be unforgettable - if we are all the same If there are forty seven hundred speakers whose topics all align One sheet against another - set up down a line What will make me different? How will they ever see? Something that convinces them to take a chance on me? Our clients do not want to see - more of the same They don't want you to be a clone of a bigger name They want real, they want unique, out of the box and comfort zone They want you - your talents, gifts and all - you and you alone And now I want to dance - and now I want to shout The chains are coming off - I am finally coming out The box is finally opened - my friends, now I am free From this day on the speaker you will see, is who I want to be This is my schtick - the way I do things - this is my time If I want to dance, I'll dance, if I want to rhyme then I will rhyme And if you say thanks but no thanks, it's not what you had in mind That's okay - I'll just keep moving to the next one standing in the line We can't afford to stand still any longer - it's time to raise the bar It's time to look at yourself as a speaker and see if you like who you are And if you don't, then change it - if you're living in a box It's time to have the courage to break out and unlock all those locks Nobody notices normal - in this world, you must stick out And be true to who you are - that's what keeping it real is all about And don't be worried or discouraged - that what you have just will not do Every single thing you need - has already been gifted to you You just need to find the courage to stand strong against the tide To trust in your message and the messenger who's hiding deep inside 114
  • STAND UP AND STICK OUT…FOR SPEAKERS And the last secret is your 6 UNIQUENESS - your authenticity The way that you were created - the way you were meant to be _____________________________________________________________ Give them what your heart wants to give them Not worrying about whether they want it Even if they hate it Give them what your heart wants to give them And you will probably find It's what they really wanted all along They just didn't know it And if it's not You won't care Live your life in reckless abandon, With arms outstretched, Not caring who sees you, Or whether you fit, Or if it makes sense. Take a deep breath Close your eyes And jump Knowing it doesn't matter Where you land Because you will come to find That the true success The true joy Comes in the moments You spend in midair NOW GO OUT THERE, AND BE UNFORGETTABLE. AND IF YOU NEED ANY HELP, YOU JUST LET ME KNOW. 115
  • Kelly Swanson 12 SELLING YOUR MESSAGE If you think I’ve spoken a lot so far, wait until you get me started on selling your message! But I’m not going to tell you everything I know. And I’m going to remind you that there are people out there who are experts on the subject of selling/marketing/branding for speakers. I’ll just share with you some tips that I know about selling your message. Know What You’re Selling – Know what you are selling and its value to the end user. This isn’t about everything you can do – this about everything they need. Keep it about them – from your web text, to your emails, to your sales calls, to your programs. Come Up With a List of People Who Want What You Are Selling – Now that you know what you sell, who would want that and where are they? Come up with a list. Make some calls, do some research – find out which ones are worth you time. You probably have a lot of directions you can go in – pick a couple and just go. You will still get business in other industries and from other groups – but pick somebody to start with. Build a good list of qualified leads. You can always add to it and take away as necessary. Let Them Know You Are Here Any Way You Know How – Now you have the list, let them know you’re here. Maybe you want to call first, have a conversation – maybe send an email – send them a card or a packet in the mail. Maybe you want to join their networking groups, offer your services for free, contact people you know who may be able to make an introduction for you. Just whatever you do – DON’T SIT THERE AND WAIT FOR THE PHONE TO RING. Deliver a Phenomenal Speech – Too many speakers are out there trying to sell a mediocre product. You give a phenomenal speech and I PROMISE you will get business. Work to become the best speaker you can possibly be. Ask for Referrals and Testimonials Keep In Touch With Clients and Fans 116
  • STAND UP AND STICK OUT…FOR SPEAKERS Write and Post. Write and Post. Get your content out there on the internet daily. Post it, share it. Give away your information. Be a resource for people. Just get your name out there on the internet. Study keyword usage and how it relates to search engine optimization. Learn How To Drive Traffic To Your Site. Use Social Media – Even if you aren’t sure what you are doing, get out there and use it. This is how you get to know your audience and your clients and our market. It’s a wonderful tool. YouTube is a great way to get your content out in videos. Find Out What Your Clients Are Searching For and Get On Front Page of Google for that word(s). Without paying for it. You can buy ads, but you have more credibility if you show up quickly in the organic search. Join NSA. It’s the best way to learn the art and business of speaking, and meet fellow speakers you can link arms with. FEES There is so much to say on this subject, that I’m not going to even bother. There is a lot of thinking that goes into determining your fees. Research the market – see what other speakers are charging – see what your target market will pay – decide what your bottom line is. Speakers fees are all over the place – from free to thirty thousand and more. There is no guide book. Just try not to undervalue yourself, price yourself out of the market, or look around and think that if Suzy Speaker is making this amount, then so should you. BUREAUS I debated about what to sat about bureaus, and I would certainly be happy to have a conversation with you about my experience in working with bureaus – another time. But it really all boils down You don't find bureaus, they find you. Don’t think that your business will take off as soon as a bureau discovers you. Even if they discover you, it won’t be the vessel that makes you rich. Send them stuff if you want – but I would recommend that you just forget about bureaus and start selling your business. They’ll find you when the time is right. to this: 117
  • Kelly Swanson SPENDING MONEY ON THE BUSINESS You decide how you spend the money on your business. I won’t tell you how to run your business. But I will tell you to be very careful before you do. Be careful of “publishing” opportunities that are just ways to get your money without really delivering value. Be careful of people who say if you pay them they will get you bookings. Haven’t seen it happen yet. But I might be wrong. Be careful about hiring people and increasing your overhead. Try to let your business pay for itself. Sure, you have to spend money to make money. Sure, there will be things you do want to invest in. Nothing wrong with that. But I’ve seen people make some big mistakes because they were fooled into deals that were simply too good to be true. CREATING PRODUCT Again…we could talk all day on this subject. I won’t go into the entire world of publishing versus self-publishing versus print on demand. I will just tell you what I do. I create everything on www.createspace.com which is print-on-demand publishing. I don’t pay anything out of pocket except for a copy of the proof (less than $5) and I don’t have to place any minimum order and stock tons of product. My products (CD’s, DVD’s, workbooks, books) cost me less than $5 each – some of them as lost as $2 each. I charge anywhere from $10-$50 – and even have some stuff available digitally. Some say I’m losing money this way. Maybe there’s a cheaper way. I don’t have time right now to check. I like the way CreateSpace works and I like the quality. Works for me. People buy them. That’s all I need to know. SPEAKER RESOURCES These are just some of the things that have made my life easier as a speaker. For the rest, just get on Google and search your need – or join a speakers group on LinkedIn where they discuss the issues relating to speakers. SendOut Cards Toastmasters National Speakers Association National Storytelling Association Comedy Classes/Improv Workshops The Artists Way Judy Carter’s The Comedy Bible Alan Weiss’s Book How To Make a Million as a Speaker Espeakers Createspace Speakermatch, Gigmasters, Gigsalad Ezinearticles.com Wordpress Free Web designing tools (ask bill) 118
  • STAND UP AND STICK OUT…FOR SPEAKERS Free or less than $10 apps that make my life easier Treepad Springpad Dropbox Trip It EverNote Skype Google – calendar, photos, etc. Wordpress Have some others? Add them to the list… ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ That’s all I’ve got for now! See you on the platform! 119
  • Kelly Swanson KELLY SWANSON WWW.KELLYSWANSON.NET WWW.YOUTUBE.COM/SWANSONSPEAKS 120