NSA Convention – Day 3

This is the third in a series of chronological reports on the NSA 2006 Conference in Orlando, Florida, July 22-25. Previous chronological posts are here and here.

I intend that these posts will give you an accurate a picture of an NSA Convention as possible. But there’s simply no way one single person can cover a convention the size of NSA’s. Check out postings from other attendees who blogged — Bert Decker and Michael Benidt and Sheryl Kay.

Anyone (NSA member or not) can review the whole of the Conference Agenda where handout materials will soon be available for download. In addition, anyone (NSA member or not) can purchase audio or video of every single presentation. These are high quality recordings and well worth investing in if there’s a topic that interests you. It’s also a pretty good guarantee that my blog is an honest summary of the event – I can’t very well fictionalize content that’s available for public review, can I?

Monday General Session

Shep Hyken


Shep kicked off the morning General Session with his speech Moments of Magic™: Strategies to Get and Keep Clients.

What’s with it with guys who shave their heads? They seem to fall into two groups. On the on hand there’s the Bulldogs who work construction jobs, drive pick-up trucks, and whose drug of choice is probably nicotine or meth. On the other hand there’s these scary-smart professional speakers with charisma to burn. People like Shep, Randy Gage, Willie Jolley and Lewis Harrison. They are either aggressively drug free or have a fondness for iced Stoli. They’re intelligent, but you can’t call them Eggheads, they’ve more chutzpa than that. I see them in pool-halls hustling up a million or two with a soft smile for the unsuspecting marks. So let’s call them Eight Balls: testosterone-filled, smooth as silk and hard as nails.

8 Ball

Willie Jolley
Randy Gage
Lewis Harrison

Shep reminded us that a hustler’s job is not just giving the speech, it’s getting the speech. We have to spend all day every day marketing. We have to multiply the bottom-line – think of ways to increase your income not by a factor of one or two but 10-fold. Leverage what you do best and outsource the best: hire an administrator if you need one, hire sales assistants if that’s your weak spot. Join NSA, attend workshops, look to organizations like The Young Entrepreneurs for great ideas. Take speech content such as your Signature Story and turn it into articles and a book. If you have a website or blog, repurpose the content into a subscription newsletter.

Don’t be ordinary, be extraordinary. What differentiates you? Amp this up. Be so customer-centric that the persons relatives don’t treat them as well. Shep told of an unforgettable taxi-driver who supplied everything this side of intimate massages to his passengers, followed-up with a Holiday card every year, and showed how to turn a commodity product (be it a cab ride or a 45-minutes motivational keynote) into something special.

Ask clients this important question to juxtapose your current program with perceived future benefits and position yourself for repeat bookings :

If we got together one year after the program, what would have to happen for this to be the best speaker engagement you’ve ever had?

Analyze your important clients and try and duplicate what you do with them across more people. Strive to make each speech so great that you cheat the audience you spoke to the day before.

PS. There’s much more to Shep. Shep is a blogger so you can deepen your understanding of his message anytime, anywhere.

Jeff Tobe

Jeff is the antithesis of the man-in-the-grey-flannel-suit-corporate-presenter. He relishes the rebel in us all. His talk, Coloring Outside the Lines—How to Look at You from Their Perspective, exploded the stereotype of the speaker as the reinforcer of an audience’s prejudices (Baptists only preaching in Christian Churches; Sun Microsystems executives only speaking to Java Programmers and Unix administers; the late George Wallace only speaking to residents of Southern trailer parks).

Jeff encouraged us to see the world with fresh eyes, to look at things differently. Get the messages by renting Harvey on Netflix where Jimmy Stewart sees the invisible as an opportunity, not a limitation. Read Blue Ocean Strategy and break out of the red ocean of bloody competition by creating uncontested market space that makes the competition irrelevant.

At 9:30am we filed out of the General Session to the first of a dozen different concurrent Break-Out sessions. My blog will only report on the Break-outs I attended. Other blogs might cover the rest. Again, you can review the Agenda online to see what I missed and order the tapes of any that interest you.

Warren Evans

There was an unexpected bonus to the first break-out I attended. Warren had assembled a Panel to discuss
Building a Genuine International Speaking Business. Panelists were:

David Price from Australia
Paul Bridle from the UK
W. Mitchell from the USA
Paul Du Toit from South Africa
Randy Gage from the USA

Recommendations from these trans-national express road warriors were:

  • Cultivate a live-on-the-road mindset
  • Don’t neglect your domestic business – you’ll need a back-up person to cover the home front when you are abroad
  • Realize this is not a glamorous lifestyle – expect jet-lag (I find these tablets work wonders in minimizing the effects)
  • Investigate visa and legal restrictions
  • Use your NSA international contacts and members in the International Federation for Professional Speakers
  • Avoid hot spots like Nigeria and certain Eastern European countries where corruption and worse is a very real threat to travelers
  • Use the internet to familiarize yourself with local news and pepper your speech with local references
  • Plan to double your domestic fees to cover extra travel time and costs
  • Work with the global operations side of American multinationals
  • Use this Mormon Church Missionary website to research other cultures, find supplies for overseas travelers and even lists of recipes from around the world
  • Read Terri Morrison’s excellent book: Kiss, Bow or Shake Hands
  • When your overseas income takes off look into the tax benefits of incorporating overseas, opening branch offices (such as nice studio in Paris or London) with necessities such as a company car garaged for local transportation
  • Order a second American passport as a back-up in case one is impounded by over-zealous officials
  • Better: If you qualify for dual citizenship, be sure to keep both passports with you when traveling
  • The panel was divided on the all-important question of cultural sensitivity. American’s should certainly avoid introducing themselves to attractive ladies in London pubs with the phrase “Hi, I’m Randy” or suggesting people look for their “roots” in Australia. However, when people hire an American speaker they want someone with clearly identifiable characteristics. Don’t try for uchi (insider) status in Japan when your soto (outsider) status will get you much further (i.e. people usually think foreigners are cute and should be honored).

    It’s been my experience that many American’s love to listen to a person with a pronounced British accent – and find even their use of expletives quite charming.

    Lunch-time General Session

    Back in the main ballroom, 1,700 hungry delegates gave the traditional twirling napkin welcome to the events professional summarizer:

    Dale Irvin

    Dale is one of the funniest guys in NSA. He makes his living summarizing meetings. Really. His ad-hoc comedy is wicked-funny. Many of his jokes have that “but you had to be there” quality and so I won’t try and list them. However, if you want someone to use humor to drive home the message at a business convention, Dale is your man.

    I skipped the awards ceremony hosted by Al Walker.

    Robert L. Cox, MD

    Kicking off the afternoon was a sobering reality check from this expert in infectious diseases who gave a talk titled Don’t be an Ostrich: Vaccinate your business against Avian Flu. This was one of nine concurrent sessions on offer to 1,700 delegates and 15 people deemed it important enough to attend. The others had their heads firmly planted in the sand. Maybe it was the filet of chicken served at lunch that made people avoid the topic.

    As with seismic threats on the West Coast or the planetary-wide denial of the inevitability of Climate Change, Avian Flu in one topic that sends many people on a mental trip up that Egyptian river. They are in denial and prefer not to think about the consequences. So stop a minute. Think. What’s the chance that a professional speaker will have the income potential they have today when (not if) a pandemic hits. Instead of this:

    Cheering crowd


    Empty Seats

    Instead of the departure lounges you experience today, this:

    Empty Airport

    An avian flu pandemic will positively, absolutely shut down any gathering of people in crowds. The audiences will stay home. Period.

    So, 15 people out of 1,700 thought this worth finding out about. Bob Cox patiently explained the relentless spread of the disease in birds worldwide (migrating flocks will arrive in North America soon). The 231 human cases reported to date resulted from the transfer of the disease to domestic fowl and pets. When (remember, not if) the virus is “blended” with seasonal flu then the resulting virus will have the characteristics of both “parent” virus: the easy transmissibility via coughs and sneezes from Seasonal flu and the mortality rate of Avian Flu. Quite what the potency of each aspect of these will be in TBD. Meanwhile, we have a window of opportunity to prepare families and businesses for impact.

    It’s worth downloading Bob’s handout and presentation and buying the audio of his talk. Read about the 1918 pandemic as reported by survivors here and here.

    Investigate ways to safeguard your income from sources that don’t require an audience:

  • Teleseminars
  • Webinars
  • eBooks
  • Remote consulting
  • Think about opportunities outside the speaking industry:

  • Online sales of survival gear
  • Home delivery businesses for essentials like groceries to the sick and dying
  • Think about financial opportunities and challenges:

  • Evaluate investment risks
  • Review your spouses income
  • On the audio listen out for the comments from audience member Maurice Ramirez, MD. His realm of specialization includes knowledge of classified CDC documents on the contingency plans to deal with the disposal of the millions of dead. If your family members are among them, don’t expect Forest Lawn style services and a dignified end.

    Expect this:

    Mass Graves

    Other resources:

    Checklists at www.pandemicflu.gov and Emergency Supplies.

    Of course, I realize not everyone shares the opinion that Avian Flu is a threat. Heck, there are even those who doubt Global Warming is a threat either (although the entire population of Northern California was getting an object lesson in climate change while we sported in Orlando). So, the next break out session I attended was tailor made for communicating to Doubting Thomas’s.

    Shelle Rose Charvet

    The author of the excellent Words that Change Minds shared her insights on Presenting Ideas to Skeptical People.

    She impressed on us the ways to present ideas to audiences who don’t share the same priorities. The golden rule is to start by meeting them at the place they are and take them on a journey to where you want them to be. Identify and honor their objections. Identify common experiences. Do NOT answer their objections or attempt to argue them out of their point of view. Make a credible case and use the language of suggestion.

    And so, despite the best of intentions, I ended my day at the Cigar PEG where the party animals listened to the uncensored Dale Irvin and mixed it up on the dance floor until the small hours. I won’t blog on that. As the man says: What happens in Orlando, stays in Orlando.

    3 Comments so far
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    Wow Ian! Great summary of the entire convention. And, thank you for the kind words about my presentation on Monday morning of the confernece. The NSA convention is always a great experience. Thank you again!

    Shep Hyken

    […] There’s a secret to the speaking business. It’s not just speaking fees that count. It’s how you create multiple streams of income that allow you to earn while you’re “off the airplane?. These nice little earners come from selling product from the back of the room after your speech or, better yet, from your website which will top up your bank account 7×24 – making money while you sleep! Guess what? You’ll also inoculate your business against the coming Avian Flu pandemic. […]

    […] a nice-to-have experimental way of leveraging your time and expertise. But when Avian Flu hits and the conference halls empty, they might be […]

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