Jessica Pettitt: Be Yourself, Everyone Else Is Taken

Jessica PettittThe afternoon speaker at Saturday’s Northern California NSA Chapter meeting was our own chapter member from Eureka in the far north of California (and National NSA Board member) Jessica Pettitt, CSP.

Jessica’s program challenged us to consider what differentiates us from other speakers or trainers in our niche. After speaking for fifteen years and stirring up tough conversations for audiences on college campuses, Jessica has learned a lot about who she isn’t willing to be and who she accidentally is.

She delivered a highly interactive, high energy, humorous afternoon session where no question was off limits.

This culminated in an exercise to help us know what makes us unique as speakers by embracing our points of distinction.

Embrace Your Points of Distinction

Jessica distributed index cards and asked us to write down points that differentiate us as professional speakers. She then read out these statements (anonymously) asking if the audience could guess, based on the text, who it described. There were precious few of us who could be easily identified. Many in the room claimed their uniqueness lay in such commonplace features as:

  • “I’m entertaining” (isn’t everyone?)
  • “I don’t tell a story, I make it come alive” (not a marked point of distinction if you are presenting at a storytellers conference, maybe in the corporate world)
  • “High energy speaker!” (table stakes)
  • “Background in journalism” (all too common, given the job market in that profession)
  • “Combines speaking with hands on professional services” (much laughter)
  • “Free and easy smile” (you don’t say)
  • “Integrate humor with my speeches” (even those who are not trying to be funny can be hysterical to some)
  • “Compassionate” (too low a bar)

It was only a few who were instantly recognizable to fellow chapter members. The lesson is obvious. As Karen Jacobsen directed in her morning session, we need to be able to describe the outcomes to our clients in one sentence. Jessica highlighted the importance of making sure that sentence contained something unique that would cause a meeting planner to want to book us.

To hear a brief extract from Jessica’s presentation, where she talks about the importance of working on what makes us truly unique, click on the podcast icon below.

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