My speaking career first started when I was asked to come speak at a college’s Entrepreneurship Program right after my second book came out. First of all, I had no idea you could get PAID for speaking (at least not on the scale I was being offered), and second, I had no idea how to navigate anything past that conversation. Contracts? My materials for marketing? THE SPEECH ITSELF? I shudder just looking back and remembering the utter confusion. I was totally lost.
But, I had a feeling that maybe, that phone call and speaking invitation was no accident – in the midst of all the uncomfy panic of, “How am I going to figure this out?!”, I was also really excited. I saw that it could potentially be a new “side hustle” that I did every now and then. Little did I know what lay ahead.
Flash forward to now: that one phone conversation spiraled into a full blown speaking tour that spanned nine months, dozens of schools, tens of thousands of dollars, and a designation by Forbes naming me one of today’s most influential female speakers. I was on that Forbes list alongside someone who made ALL of this possible: the one and only Jess Ekstrom, professional speaker and founder of the Mic Drop Workshop.
I want to make sure you know it wasn’t just a lucky strike of lightning that I received that phone call and all of a sudden, my speaking career exploded. The crucial bridge between the idea spark and the success that followed was the Mic Drop Workshop – which means that literally anyone who is reading this can become a speaker by this time next week because of the resources it includes. I figured, considering my strong feelings on the subject, that it was high time I wrote an official Mic Drop Workshop review.
What’s the workshop?
Shortly after that initial invitation phone call, I was on a call with a good friend of mine, Rachael Bozsik, who is also a speaker. She mentioned that her friend Jess Ekstrom had just launched a workshop for speakers and speaker hopefuls. “It will be an immediate return on your investment,” Rachael noted, and I had a feeling she was right.
I met Jess once before – I heard her speak at Next Gen Summit (and if you’ve heard her speak, you know what I’m talking about when I say I STILL have chills), and in a strange turn of events, part of the story of how she started her company, Headbands of Hope, was actually in my book from a brief phone conversation we shared. I barely knew Jess – but I didn’t need to know her well to know she was something special.
So, I invested in myself and got the workshop I loved that the workshop was specifically for women to launch or grow their speaking career. I proceeded to go through the majority of the content in one sitting. Fate aligned and I happened to be sitting at the La Guardia Airport, waiting on a delayed flight, plugged in my headphones and pulled out my notebook, and let Jess guide me through what it takes to become a professional speaker.
Just a few of the tidbits I learned in Mic Drop Workshop:
How to write with my talk! To get started with a major obvious, here: I had no idea how to collect my miscellaneous life experiences, pieces of wisdom, research, and stories and compile them into a cohesive talk that would make sense to an audience member. Jess walked me through exactly how to do this, down to little strategies you wouldn’t think of – fine, I’ll give one away: having “tweetable” quotes spoken and written onscreen that are easy for audience members to, well, tweet.
How to pitch myself. Oof, cold emails. I didn’t even know how to get started on potentially pitching to OTHER schools that I was now, dare I say, a speaker. The workshop helped me hone my message and figure out how best to pitch myself – from the emails down to the sales calls, which sound cringey, but Jess gave some epic tips on how to frame the calls. And, Mic Drop Workshop not only taught me how to pitch myself as a speaker, but it taught me how to negotiate a higher rate for my talks.
How to Create Visually Appealing Marketing Materials. The workshop was also chock full of resources that you can’t even put a price tag on (but if you were to, it’d be expensive): such as Jess’s own press kit and a copy of the speaking contract she uses with each of her clients. She shared her own slides, pointing out the exact way she created them to capture the audience’s attention. She even has audio recordings of calls with meeting planners who book speakers and they talk about what they look for. So much of the advice we found nowadays tells us how to do things without really showing how they’re done – as a visual learner, Jess’s abundant sharing of her own materials and information really helped me in the construction of my own.
Frankly, I was blown away by how much she shared so candidly: you always hear advice that you can sell value from your experience when creating online courses, but to not “tell too much.” What’s different about Jess is how she approaches this workshop from a heart mission standpoint: we know from Headbands of Hope that she puts her heart in all she does, but specifically with the Mic Drop Workshop, she truly cares about ensuring that every woman who feels the urge finds her place onstage. That translates far beyond the workshop alone.
An added bonus: the Mic Drop Workshop community! Access to the workshop also granted access to the online Facebook group, which is full of women just like me with speaking ambitions and experiences. We post in the group for advice, answers, or just for a hype-up — and sometimes, being solo-prenuer like myself, this is all I need to get back on track on the days when I feel like I’m the only person in the world working towards this dream.
And so, here’s where I end this Mic Drop Workshop review with a very cheesy, “mic drop” ending for Jess Ekstrom – with my heartiest thanks for all she’s given and taught me.
Thinking of becoming a speaker? A non-negotiable is the Mic Drop Workshop. Learn more here!