They are the Holy Grail for Speakers (present and future).
Speaking gigs – engagements, and opportunities to speak on stages – and the number of them speakers can book have become EVERYTHING.
They’ve become the driver and the measure by which speakers assess themselves and each other, and it’s a shame and wholly misguided.
Here’s the big, bold statement that I am unequivocally UNAPOLOGETIC about:
in most cases getting MORE speaking gigs is NOT where you should be focusing your attention… doing so is actually HURTING your speaking career and your bottom line – forever.
Let me be clear. I am a proponent of taking perfectly imperfect action. Perfection is not the goal. What’s become the norm in the speaking world is FAR from perfection. In fact, the bar has been all but obliterated.
Look at your talk as your product. YOU, as the messenger of the product, are also a critical factor. Presenting it (you and your talk) to hundreds, thousands, or even more people is a ONE-TIME opportunity to make an impression.
And still, speakers (that’s you) go out and get themselves booked before they create a product that is stage worthy. You invest in speaker coaches who promise you more speaking gigs and big stages who aren’t world-class speakers – and the coaches and programs out there with strong marketing messages that convince you of their credentials (which are always, “I’ve spoken on (A LOT) of world stages”, and “I’ve made (A WHOLE LOT) of money speaking so you, in turn, should pay me to teach you how”) are they themselves, in many cases, far from being great on stage.
The reality is this:
‘Good enough’ doesn’t get you booked again.
‘Done not perfect’ doesn’t get you asked you back.
‘I’ve spoken on 20 (or 200) stages’ doesn’t automatically get you more speaking gigs.
‘I’ve worked with [fill-in-the-blank guru speaking coach with slick marketing] who’s made millions speaking, invested in their highest level program, and had lunch with them – at their house’ doesn’t significantly help your speaking career over the long term. (note: ‘program’ is a key here.)
I participated in a high-level mastermind, recently. In the room, there were speakers, entrepreneurs, and very successful human beings. Upon finding out what I do, one of those successful humans commented, “I would be more interested in what you offer if you focussed on getting me more speaking opportunities”.
I explained that getting more opportunities to speak is directly correlated to the quality of the product – the talk. And then it happened – the biggest offense speakers make… they said,
“I know what I offer as a speaker!”
And in that instant, it was revealed that they:
* Do not understand what speaking is about
* Are not willing to recognize that they may actually not know what they offer if they aren’t already celebrating a filled booking calendar (and their calendar was NOT full – or even close)
* Are not (at least for the moment) coachable
After the event, I looked them up online. I wasn’t surprised to discover that nowhere on their website was there any mention of them being a speaker. Two weeks later, there was… Interesting – maybe they are coachable after all.
Speakers (that’s you) are often under the impression that bookings and requests for speaking will come rolling in based on your content or idea, your expertise or notoriety…
Before you default to defending yourself (“But Davide, I go out and am always looking for speaking gigs…I have an assistant or VA that books calls with meeting planners…I took a course to book gigs…My coach is a specialist in getting gigs…I have a system”). Let me ask you this question:
How many people actually know you’re a speaker?
How many people say, on your Facebook or LinkedIn, specifically know that you are a speaker – FIRST! Before they think about you as being a coach, consultant, guide, or whatever your chosen vocation is.
Let me put it this way. What’s the first thing in your LinkedIn headline or on your business card? The vast majority of people have something like, ‘Author’, ‘Coach’, ’Entrepreneur’, and maybe speaker appears last in the list, or somewhere on the page (if at all).
I can’t hire an ‘author’.
‘[Fill in the blank] coach’ is a tough market these days.
I certainly can’t hire an ‘entrepreneur’.
It’s really hard to hire any variation of the exceedingly overused ‘I help’ catchy statements you think are attention getters…
So, why do you insist on using these as your headline, yet you walk around telling people about your dreams of becoming a speaker, or telling everyone about the speaking opportunities you pay for instead of the ones you earned, or going so far as the people I meet regularly who tell me how great they are at speaking.
When you say, “I know what I offer” – you expose your greatest weakness; your ego, which makes speaking about YOU – in a negative way.
When you say, “I just want to get on more stages” – once again, it’s all about YOU. Your message and your mission have no space.
When you say, “I’ve spoken a lot, received awards from Toastmasters” – you identify that YOU’ve had some success in specific arenas and that you believe these accolades actually mean something. Again, your message has no space to breathe and come to life here.
Let’s talk about the solution!
While you may not recognize it, like the shocking number of speakers I meet regularly, YOU and your talk – the product and vehicle that you use to share your message to the world – are your commodity, your currency, and your catalyst to community. If you can agree that your talk and your delivery of it are critical components in the mix, read on.
In every high-performance vocation or expertise – bet it sports, the arts, and even business – there are ALWAYS people ‘behind the curtain’, so to speak.
In film, they can be directors.
In the music industry, they can be producers.
In sports – coaches.
And even in business, the most successful people have coaches for a variety of different reasons – all to accelerate and amplify growth and success.
In the speaking world, while there are speaker coaches out there, most speakers do not use them on an ongoing basis. Most speaker coaches promise ‘getting booked’ because it’s become the obsession – it’s what you want! Perhaps speaker coaches are largely unfit to actually get you concrete results that translate into conversion of any kind… I’ll reserve my opinion on the ‘speaker coaching’ industry for another blog post (and believe me, it will be another loaded – and controversial – blog post)!
Reality check: Speaking is a performance art.
The best speakers use coaches to develop and deliver talks that set audiences on fire. They understand that they cannot possibly do it on their own.
The best speakers recognize the value of having someone help them to bring their frontline product, brand, and personae to life in a way that causes audiences to TAKE ACTION.
Behind every speaker star there is a great visionary, coach, and alchemist, if you will – someone like me who works with you to discover, develop, and deliver a world-class product that far exceeds what you can produce on your own – EVEN if you are extremely talented.
To put it in perspective, did Michael Jackson do it all on his own – or did he rely on great producers like Quincy Jones to hone his vision and message?
How about your favorite ultra-talented actor? What do greats like Scorsese or Spielberg bring to the table for them?
Imagine what your talk and delivery would be like if you worked one-on-one with someone who is solely focused on your growth and success.
When I create and produce in the music and theater world the measure is simple and clear…. If the product (which includes ideas, performance, and performers) is EXCELLENT – dates get added. You know exactly what happens when the product is not excellent.
The fact remains, most ‘speaker coaches’ out there promise ‘more gigs’ as the path to success and that their blueprint, system, or model are THE KEY to cracking the ‘getting booked’ code.
I’m here to tell you – there is ABSOLUTELY no blueprint, system, or model.
YOU are the KEY!
If you want to get booked – get great!
If you want to get on more stages – work on your product (YOU and THE TALK) so that it warrants you getting noticed and loved by event and meeting planners and audiences far and wide!
If you want to get rebooked – give them a compelling reason to rebook you by being absolutely SENSATIONAL (in every way)!
It’s my mission, passion, and obsession to work with world-changers like you.
YOU who’ve read through this article because you believe there might be more in you as a speaker and sincerely want to speak on more stages because you are CALLED to do so.
YOU who have a BIG message to deliver to the world.
YOU who understands that there truly is only ONE shot to make that first impression – a LONG-LASTING impression.
Whether that impression leads to you getting more opportunities to speak or not is entirely up to you!