Stand upandstickoutforspeakers


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Stand upandstickoutforspeakers

  1. 1. 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
  2. 2. Copyright © 2010 Author Name All rights reserved. ISBN: ISBN-13:
  3. 3. 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.
  5. 5. 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
  6. 6. 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
  7. 7. 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
  8. 8. 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
  9. 9. 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: (my website) (my website for my church stuff) (my blog) (my youtube channel) – I have a group here called: Online Comedy Club (join us!) – Funny Motivational Speaker (fan page) – Kelly Cochran Swanson (my friend page) – look up my name and you’ll find tons of articles – I am a regular contributor here – 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
  10. 10. 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
  11. 11. 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
  12. 12. 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
  13. 13. 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
  14. 14. 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
  15. 15. 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
  16. 16. 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
  17. 17. 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
  18. 18. 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
  19. 19. 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
  20. 20. 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
  22. 22. 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
  23. 23. 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
  24. 24. 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
  25. 25. STAND UP AND STICK OUT…FOR SPEAKERS Dream Doodle Page…. 19
  26. 26. Dream Doodle Page…. 20
  27. 27. 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
  28. 28. 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
  29. 29. 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
  30. 30. 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 24
  31. 31. 25
  32. 32. 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
  33. 33. 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
  34. 34. 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
  35. 35. 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
  36. 36. 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
  37. 37. 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
  38. 38. 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
  39. 39. 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
  40. 40. 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
  41. 41. 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
  42. 42. 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
  43. 43. 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
  44. 44. 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
  45. 45. 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
  46. 46. 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
  47. 47. 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
  48. 48. 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
  49. 49. 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
  50. 50. 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
  51. 51. 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
  52. 52. 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
  53. 53. 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
  54. 54. 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
  55. 55. 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