“Your ability to communicate with others will account for fully 85% of your success in your business and in your life.”

Brian Tracy

Imagine being paid well to travel the world and share your message with people that want to hear you speak?

If something in that question resonates, this post might be helpful.

Today, over 50% of my income comes from delivering keynote speeches and workshops to industry conferences and corporate leadership teams. It has taken over 16 years from my earliest free speeches towards a career where I can live from speaking. I have delivered over 2,500 hours of keynotes and workshops to over 50,000 participants.

In terms of quality, my recent 100 hours of speaking are astronomically better than those first 100 hours… but everyone has to begin. How do you begin?

How to get paid to speak…

Step 1:

1. Become an Expert.

Your fees depend more on you being (and perceived) as an expert than on how well you actually speak.

Maybe you can be paid well even if you don’t master anything, but if you are not on the path to mastery… I personally would rather you stayed home. If you are planning on being paid to speak, make a deep and lasting commitment towards true mastery.

There are 3 types of Expert speaker.

The 3 Paths of Expert Mastery:

  1. The Result Expert – Proven ability to get specific results for others eg Toni Nadal, Marshall Goldsmith, Tony Robbins
  2. The Research Expert – Has interviewed performers and has a deep knowledge of tools, strategies and tactics in an area eg Michael Porter, Jim Collins
  3. The Role Model – Has been successful eg Jack Welsh, Barrack Obama, Casey Neistat

A well paid speaker needs to be seen as a thought leader. The classic path is to write and publish a book, but in today’s world there are new paths: build a large youtube, instagram, or blog following. Pick one and start producing thought. I suggest that you use your blog not for sharing expert articles, but sharing your learning journey. When you write expert articles, it is much more valuable to submit them to highly credible sites (depends on your segment, but for me this would be HBR, Forbes, Inc, FT, Big Think).

3 Actions that The Best experts regularly do

  1. Interview other experts looking for patterns and best practice; building your connections and reputation in this important community.
  2. Create arguments based on 4 parts:
    1. What we should Pay attention to
    2. What things Mean
    3. How things work
    4. What might happen
  3. Simplify complex ideas with frameworks

Are you on a path towards being a true expert? Have you chosen whether you are a results expert, a research expert or a role model? Good… now we move to step 2.

Step 2.

Speak Lots and lots…

and lots…

“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”

Albert Einstein

This blog is full of material about speaking well so I will not repeat. Some good articles on speaking well:

  1. Blog post: 12 tips for Public Speaking,
  2. Video: Improve your Speaking,
  3. YouTube playlist Develop your Speaking Skills and
  4. Free course Speaking as a Leader.

Learn directly from expert speakers. Rather than paying for a course on public speaking, pay to go and see well paid expert speakers deliver their keynotes. I learn more watching how a great speaker plans, prepares, delivers, follows up than by reading books or courses on speaking. In february I asked Luis Soares Costa to run a retreat for Vistage. I watched how he interviewed me, how he clarified what we needed and what we could do… I travelled with him the day before and watched how he prepared the room and himself for the 2 day retreat. I learnt more watching what he did and how he did it than by asking him for tips.

Here are 5 ideas for those who wish to make speaking a profession:

5 Advanced Tips for turning Pro as a Speaker

  1. Model the Greats. Bill Clinton modeled himself as a speaker on President Kennedy, even down to the gestures and word choice. YouTube and TED have great examples. Personally, I spent years modelling my approach to speaking on the style of Jim Rohn and the delivery of Alan Watts. The idea is not to copy, but to clarify what works and how to make it work for you.
  2. Practice Every Day. Make selfie videos. Every single day. (Here’s my 10 week email course Speaking As a Leader). Join Toastmasters, give speeches to the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary, Lions… Teaching at a university (IESE Business School) and delivering workshops at entrepreneur accelerator programs (for free) were how I got my first 500 hours of speaking experience.
  3. Practice what is hard, not what you find easy. If you are naturally charismatic and go with the flow… practice deep structure; if you are analytical and structured, practice improv. In Aikido they believe that your early strength will become a weakness if you are not disciplined. I personally still work hard on structure and ensuring a consistent delivery of my content to all audiences.
  4. Deliver Emotion. Emotions are power. Nobody will ask you back because you were the most analytical and correct speaker, they will ask you back because you made everybody feel strong emotions (and they can see it is predictable… nobody will recommend you if they don’t know 100% that you will deliver the same emotional impact every time). If you struggle to deliver emotional content and create deep connection with an audience, start to work on yourself. If you can deeply connect to emotion and to your own inner struggle, you can then begin to connect to others. It may take psychotherapy, it make take mastermind groups with personal development angles… but you must get deeply connected with your own internal emotional life.
  5. Focus your Speaking Topics. If you speak about anything to any audience, you will destroy your value. It is hard to say no, especially when you haven’t been paid for a few months – but each time you dilute, you die a little. A powerful brand is best defined what what it will not do, than what it will. Apple will never make toothbrushes… and if they do, sell the stock immediately.

Step 3.

Build your Reputation

…with the people that matter.

Be very careful who you take feedback and praise from. Only other speakers and people who pay for speakers count. Do not rely on friends, toastmaster club mates, family. They will tell you what you want to hear, not what you need to hear.

The best speaker referrals are other great expert speakers. When a conference has success with a speaker, they will ask that speaker to come back. They will also ask that speaker for recommendations. When another speaker gives your name as a referral, this is the most powerful marketing. I get more opportunities from other professional speakers than from any other source. Build a good reputation with this group.

Testimonials and Articles on high Credibility sites

A blog is interesting, but it is not a path to expert credibility. Articles on Forbes, HBR, Inc are more valuable than articles posted on your own blog.

Testimonials from conference organisers, other professional speakers and people who have paid you are the most valuable resource for credibility.

Put some of your speaking on YouTube. It is such a powerful tool to share your message, and in a format that people can see your quality.

Long Term: Become “The” Expert

It is not enough to be an expert, you must become known as the expert. Some people become “The” expert – their name is so closely linked to a category that an event is not “The” event if they are not speaking. Jim Collins has built that level of personal brand in the business leadership category. Marshall Goldsmith in the business coaching category, Tony Robbins in the personal development category. They can multiply their fees by 100 because their name alone sells half the tickets.

My good friend Raul Aguirre’s TEDx talk (The Hidden Secret of Success) is about how to create a unique category for yourself. It is hard to be the best business school professor in the world, but I can combine 3 categories: Great business school professor (IESE) who also has a massive following on YouTube and also is the expert on the role and challenges facing CEOs (Vistage). When I put IESE + YouTube + Vistage together, nobody else can compete.

3. Become a Wealthy Expert

There are many experts sitting in bars sharing their wisdom for free with people who don’t want to hear. It is not enough to be an expert, and it is not enough to be known as an expert – you must become a professional. Professionals know the value of their time.

It took me several years to be comfortable with the following actions, but you must if you are to have the resources to be able to really make an impact with your message.

Four Actions of Wealthy Experts

There are 4 things that can differentiate the wealthy expert speaker from the non-wealthy expert speaker:

  1. Package your knowledge: Write, speak, record – put knowledge into a form that people are willing to purchase
  2. Campaign vs Promote your knowledge – each interaction leads to a further interaction. Build a community around your expertise.
  3. Charge expert fees – charge more than you are comfortable with. Run your speaking practice as a business. You have value and are the expert. You are not selling 60 minutes, you are selling your lifetime of experience. Your service improves people’s lives. Price yourself accordingly. Most expert speakers build a structure to their offering around multiple price points:
    1. free – blogging, writing, webinars
    2. €100 – public speech or open event
    3. €1000 – 1 day workshop
    4. €3000 – 3-7 day workshop
    5. €10,000 – 1-1 coaching or mastermind group
    6. €100,000 – something high end to make the rest seem more reasonable…
  4. Focus on:
    1. Distinction – Keep studying the competition and keep innovating, get real feedback from the important people (the person who pays and from other speakers… not from your friends or people who didn’t pay you)
    2. Excellence – Be better every day
    3. Service – Be helpful and responsive

These 4 actions were inspired by a video from Brandon Burchard.  Brandon advises others on how to become well-paid experts.

Are you a Speaker

Are you a paid speaker? What other tips would you give to someone thinking about this path? I plan to update this resource a few times with more materials and tips over the coming months.

“What if a writer is trying to tell a story and nothing much happens, nothing is resolved…”

How to Tell A Boring Story

Use: “and then this happened”.

The essential ingredient of a boring (it is going nowhere) story is the “and then this happened”…  “and then this happened”…  “and then this happened” structure.

There is no conflict.  

It is a laundry list of stuff happening… there is no sense of tension building and the listener getting curious and wondering about what is going to happen.

All good stories are a variation of: “Once there was a problem, but then it was resolved”

How to Make Story Engaging

Use lots of “but…” and “therefore…”  Check out the video below – it claims to have stolen the idea from Orson Wells, but I think ideas are meant to be stolen and shared.

PS I came across this gem from Nick Morgan’s blog the secrets of good storytelling.

Resources:  Check it out on vimeo: F for Fake (1973) – How to Structure a Video Essay from Tony Zhou

At the very simplest, a story is:

  1. A character
  2. Who wants something
  3. Overcomes obstacles to get it

An epic story is

  1. A character
  2. Who wants something massive
  3. And is willing to risk everything to get it

The real depth of any story is not whether the character achieves the goal but who they become as they face the obstacles along the path.

Photo Credit: umjanedoan via Compfight cc
Photo credit: umjanedoan

How to Develop a Story

From a writer’s perspective, a story has to first develop a character that we care about, and we wonder what will happen to them.  Donald Miller, in his book A Million Miles in a Hundred Steps says that the character must “save the cat”.  The character must do something charitable that shows there is a decent human inside.  Rocky always does 3-4 charitable things in the first 20 minutes of each film that follows the boxer.

Step 1: “Save the Cat” – our main character does something that gets us to love him

Once we care, then something has to happen to force the character to show their hand.  In real life, we don’t change unless we are changed by events.  In the words of Soren Kierkegaard “the only precursor to change is crisis”.

So story step number 2: a crisis.  Something that forces the character to commit to the goal. In Star Wars, Luke returns from the desert trip to find his aunt and uncle have been murdered by Imperial Stormtroopers.  He commits to travel with Obi-wan to space.

Step 2: The Inciting Event – something external kicks our loveable character off of the sofa

We are now on the journey.

Joseph Campbell speaks of this moment as the Portal to Adventure.  Often the character will have approached this portal a few times in the past, only to turn back at the last moment.  Something happens to push them over the edge.  It might be a mentor that says “things will be ok for you”.  It might be a love interest who says “do it for me!”  It might be a coincidence that the hero reads as divine message saying “it is you”.

The adventure begins.  Often a few easy victories give the hero (and the readers) a sense that this is going to work out well.

In an interesting story, there are positive turns and negative turns.  In Homer’s Odysseus, the hero makes amazing progress towards his home using the magic of the wind that the Gods gave to him in a bag.  Joy.  Progress.  Then, the crew open the bag to see if they can get home even quicker.  Opening the bag is a negative turn.  The uncontrolled wind escapes from the bag and blows the ship way, way, way back far, far, far away from home, even further than from where they had begun.

The positive turns allow us to keep the reader engaged and hopeful of the final outcome.

The negative turns allow us to develop the character of the hero.  Kurt Vonnegut says “Be a Sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them—in order that the reader may see what they are made of.”

Step 3: Positive Turns, Negative Turns

The trials and tribulations, hopes and dashed dreams continue for a while.  We are watching the hero gather resources, make friends, identify enemies, trust those that are not worthy of trust, disobey those that should really have been obeyed – make a mess out of easy situations, and just pull it together to make it through the difficult challenges.

Then, the novelty wears off and the hero realises that they don’t feel like they are making progress.  I am reminded of the feeling when I sail between the coast and an island.  When I set out from the shore of Australia to sail to the Whitsunday islands, at first the coast behind me got rapidly smaller – I felt like I was flying out to sea.  Then comes the interminable middle.  The coast is no longer shrinking, but the islands don’t seem to be getting any bigger.  All I know is that wave after wave is hitting my boat.  I stay in this state for hours.  Then, all of a sudden, the islands rapidly grow larger and larger.

In the interminable middle, the hero must find a way to overcome self doubt as well as the many obstacles that block the path to the goal.

We then reach a point of disillusion.  This is the point of abandon.  The hero is tired, has lost sight of the original goal, feels like they are making no progress.

The hero wants to give up.  It feels pointless to go on.

Again, in good story, we need an external cause that pushes the hero to one last push.  It might be a friend that reappears and supports.  It might be an evil enemy doing something that is double the despicable of anything he has done before.  It might be the loss of the hero’s closest ally.  It might be the death of the hero’s mentor (remember Obi-Wan sacrificing himself to Darth?).

The hero, this time without hope for themselves, having lost their own ego reason for taking up the original mission takes one last push – and this push is enough to break the deadlock of the interminable middle and open up the return home.

Step 4: Disillusionment and the Point of Abandon, The Final Push

The hero has achieved the original goal.  Prometheus achieves stealing fire from the Gods and returns to the world.  Luke and his allies blow up the Death Star with a last, final, spiritually enhanced missile (“just like shooting swamp rats back home!”).

The hero returns to his village, to those that knew him before his journey.

Sometimes the return is the most challenging.  The hero has become a very different person though the obstacles they have overcome, but their mother and father, their brothers and sisters still see the old version of the person.  It takes tremendous effort to get the old friends and family to see the new person and let go of the old person.

In a movie, we leave the cinema with a sense of closure, that a full cycle has finished.  In a book we finish with a sense that the universe has been restored to a new point of equilibrium.  In real life, we realise that this epic story is just a tiny sub-plot in a bigger and bigger story.  In real life, the meaning is not designed into the events by an author, it is we ourselves who must create the meaning that can fit the events of our lives and give us the feeling that it is worth waking up again and experiencing more tomorrow.

Step 5: The Return

This then, is a story:

Hero + Goal + Obstacles + Resources + Friends + Enemies + Learning and Growing to become the person that can succeed

 

Further Resources on Story

How to Give a Killer Presentation

Chris Anderson, Owner of TED
Presentations rise or fall on the quality of the idea, the narrative, and the passion of the speaker. It’s about substance, not speaking style or multimedia pyrotechnics. It’s fairly easy to “coach out” the problems in a talk, but there’s no way to “coach in” the basic story—the presenter has to have the raw material. If you have something to say, you can build a great talk. But if the central theme isn’t there, you’re better off not speaking. Decline the invitation. Go back to work, and wait until you have a compelling idea that’s really worth sharing.  Read More

 

The Inconvienient Truth about Change Management –

McKinsey & Company
Conventional change management approaches have done little to change the fact that most change  programs fail. The odds can be greatly improved by a number of counterintuitive insights that take into account the irrational but predictable nature of how employees interpret their environment and choose to act.  Read More

 

11 Simple Concepts to Become a Better Leader

Dave Kerpen
All 11 concepts are simple, and yet, perhaps in the name of revenues or the bottom line, we often lose sight of the simple things – things that not only make us human, but can actually help us become more successful. Read More

 

5 Models for Leading Change

Tristan Wember
In this article we introduce five models for leading change. No single model isright. However, they all have something valuable on offer and can help us to navigate our way through complex organisational situations or circumstances.  Read More

These are the top 10 TED talks of all time (by total views on TED.com).

1.- Sir Ken Robinson – Schools kill creativity – 13M views

2.- Jill Bolte Taylor – Stroke of insight – 9.6M views

3.- Steve Jobs – How to live before you die – 9.3M views

4.- Pranav Mistry – The thrilling potential of Sixth Sense technology – 9M views

5.- David Gallo – Underwater astonishments – 7.7M views

6.- Simon Sinek – How great leaders inspire action – 7.4M views

7.- Pattie Maes and Pranav Mistry – SixthSense – 6.7M views

8.- Brené Brown – The power of vulnerability – 6.3M views

9.- Bobby McFerrin – plays the audience – 4.9M views

10.- Hans Rosling – Stats that reshape your worldview – 4.6M views

Which are your favourite TED talks? If you love Stories, have you found The Moth?

The Best told Stories on the Web: The Moth

What is The Moth?  The Moth is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the art and craft of storytelling. It is a celebration of both the raconteur and the storytelling novice, who has lived through something extraordinary and yearns to share it. At the center of each performance is, of course, the story – and The Moth’s directors work with each storyteller to find, shape and present it.  Since its launch in 1997, The Moth has presented thousands of stories, told live and without notes, to standing-room-only crowds worldwide. 

Here are the Top Stories at The Moth on YouTube.  The first one from Anthony Griffith “best of times, worst of times” is 100% intense, only to be watched when you can take a short walk after you finish watching.  I love the second video in the list, by Steve Burns on “Fameishness”.  Perhaps you should start with Steve?

What do you think of Steve?  What other websites have great speeches, stories and examples of powerful public speaking?