Supercharging Your Speaking Business: Tips and Techniques from the Best and the Brightest

NSA/NC Meeting Report: Saturday January 12, 2014

Last Saturday the Northern California Chapter of the National Speakers Association hosted NSA National President Ron Karr, CSP, and the best and brightest of NSA/NC, including Chapter founder Patricia Fripp, and a brains-trust of experienced, successful speakers.

Ron Karr: Sales Leader

Ron KarrRon talked about “How to Turn a Speech into a Six-Figure Relationship”. He shared how speakers can create a powerful value proposition and how the approach he uses routinely turns speaking engagements into mid to high six figure deals. Ron is the author of Lead, Sell, or Get Out of the Way: The 7 Traits of Great Sellers.

Lead, Sell or Get out of the Way cover His approach starts with understanding the mindset we have and the client’s frame of reference. Many NSA members think of themselves as a “speaker”, which positions them too narrowly. They can generate additional revenue as a consultant, coach and trusted adviser to clients. Many of us have mindsets that set boundaries. We position ourselves too small, commoditizing ourselves.

Man of Influence

Rather than “sales” Ron prefers to think in terms of “influence”.

In order to exert maximum influence, it’s not the words (elevator pitch or one-sheet script) that we use, it’s the context within which we use them. Our attempts to influence others often land on deaf ears. The way we use words is based on our unique biases and experiences and we need to continually clarify the point of view of the client to make sure we are on the same page.

This means creating a context to find out what is important to the person on the other side of the table. According to Ron, effective sales professionals spend 60% of their time making a good first impression and qualifying a prospect before they start demonstrating features and closing. It’s safe to assume most clients have already done a quick search online to compare product features and benefits, and are bored if we jump into this aspect when selling our programs.

The high-point of the presentation, for me, was when Ron worked with volunteers from the audience who shared their pitch to potential clients.

2014 Speakers Academy member Sandra Patino was impressed by the lessons of this “hot seat” exercise:

What I loved about Ron’s presentation was that, while he delivered great content, the way he ended it with those exercises was the real benefit. The thing I noticed about the woman volunteer he brought up on stage is that she started selling right away. She went into the details of her program. Yet this is a woman who has a great cause: teaching parents to connect with the children on a deeper level so they can open up. Ron encouraged her to converse about the beautiful purpose that drives her business, rather than doing what everybody else is doing—simply going into what it’s about and when and where and why. He showed all of us how to connect—why it’s about connecting at the heart. He showed that we have to genuinely care about the other person. Don’t just see that person as a dollar sign. We’re not dollar signs. And he proved it.

Ron listed questions that speakers (or consultants) can use to increase their value to an organization:

  1. What are the goals of your organization?
  2. What are the three biggest challenges facing your organization?
  3. What’s at risk if these challenges are not properly addressed?
  4. If my program is considered a success by you, what would that success look like? (This is a question Alan Weiss asks.)
  5. What do you want to see from your people as a result of my program?
  6. What do you want to see as a result of my program?
  7. What is your biggest fear once the meeting is over?
  8. What worked for you in the past and what hasn’t?

Each of these questions can take your relationship with the client to a whole new level. The answer to #7, for example, allows you to offer consulting services to expose the audience to the solutions you spoke about, so they can keep the conversation going after the event is over.

Susan RoAne: The Mingling Maven

How to work a room book coverDespite a bad case of laryngitis, Susan spent 20 minutes suggesting ways we can all benefit from the break and lunch-time to network with each other. She touched on suggestions that are listed in her perennial best-seller How to Work a Room: The Ultimate Guide to Making Lasting Connections–In Person and Online.
These included:

  • RSVP to invitations: Say “Yes” and GO!
  • Arrive 15 minutes early
  • Plan a 7-9 second self-introduction
  • The best icebreaker: Hi! or Hello! and a smile.
  • Approach anyone standing alone.
  • Act like a host: greet and welcome others.
  • Introduce people with enthusiasm.
  • Start with small talk.
  • Be in the moment. No glancing over shoulders.
  • Listen actively with your face – pay attention.
  • Follow up. Do what you said you’d do when you said you’d do it!

Presidents Panel: Secrets of Successful Speakers

Following lunch, a panel discussion with (RK) Ron Karr, CSP; (PF) Patricia Fripp, CSP, CPAE; (MSL) Michael Soon Lee, CSP, and (CH) Craig Harrison examined the ways each has built a successful speaking business and how their experiences translate into success.

NSA Panel

Among the many tips they shared:

What was the one thing you wished you’d adopted earlier in your career?

  • Start collecting your list of contact names as early as possible. (PF)
  • Stop chasing speaking gigs and start building a speaking business. (MSL)
  • Avoid trying to do too many things yourself, outsource website design etc. (CH)
  • Consider your hourly rate. Would you cut a check for this amount to someone to collect your mail, stuff envelopes, etc? Of course not! Hire someone else to do the routine chores since your time is worth far more. (RK)

What is the best use of your time?

  • Read as much as you can to ignite creativity. (RK)
  • Join the NSA and volunteer in your chapter to accelerate your career. (CH)
  • Research your client’s needs. Arrive early at the events you are speaking at and ask what their biggest challenge is. (MSL)
  • Look for people to model yourself on and learn best practices. Try being a mystery shopper in your clients industry. Include what you have learned in your presentation. (PF)
  • Call up two weeks after an event and ask for a meeting to “review my findings and recommendations, to give you an idea on how you can move forward to overcome the challenges I heard at the event.” Every gig becomes to stepping stone to the next event. Don’t look at a speaking engagement as a one off.” (RK)

The day ended with two presentations on practical ways to make money and stay productive.

Michael Soon Lee: Creating product out of your IP right now

Michael gave a rapid-fire 30 minute verison of the presentation he has delivered to each Academy (Pro-Track) class. In the past, he’s called this How Professional Speakers Make Big Bucks While They Are Sleeping.

Lisa Montanaro: the productive entrepreneur

Wrapping things up, Lisa took us through elements of her system to become more productive. She addressed the challenges of time, paper, email and information management. Her “DECIDE to be Productive” system suggests we

  • Discover what you have and want in your business/work and life.
  • Eliminate what is unnecessary and does not further your goals.
  • Categorize what remains.
  • Implement a system designed to match your needs, habits, work and lifestyle.
  • Dedicate yourself to maintaining your effective new system and integrating it into your work and life.
  • Enjoy the freedom and positive benefits that being productive brings.

If you are interested in staying current with meetings organized by the Northern California Chapter of the National Speakers Association, be sure to join our new Meetup Group. Next up: “Corporate Dominatrix Training: How to Use Sex and Power to Your Advantage”– really!

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