Breaking in to the keynote speaker industry

Learning to be a Keynote Speaker


The 1st step if you desire to be a motivational speaker is to initially make up your mind. Sounds simple right? Your choice will be the easiest part of your journey as you embark on a career as an entertainer, trainer or speaker. 


Keynote speakers are not born, they are made. A decision to become a speaker or trainer is very straightforward. In a number of ways it is liking saying you are contemplating doing the most important cliff jump in to the local lake. However until your feet have left the cliff, you are not committed.


The commitment to learning to be a keynote speaker is imperative. Canadian speakers work typically in a much smaller market than their cousins to the south and it is a competitive market. You must consider why would people pay you to communicate with their organization? That answer will become the actual key to your success.


Making the last step count


Surely, if the starting point is the decision, the last step comes after the decision not to quit the speaking industry. It is not uncommon for speakers to be working away at the sidelines awaiting the career to take off and it takes many years to reach that point. If you knew it would take several years to build your career, can you stick it out? 


Frankly, if we knew the runway to success we will plan for it and stick it out. More commonly we expect everything to happen quicker than it does and we quit in year five not understanding that we might have a very successful year if we had hung around for one more year. 


There are so many stories from keynote speakers of people who even had agency representation yet did not create a “career” in speaking for seven or eight years. You can also find many stories of speakers making several hundred thousand dollars a years. Are you prepared to wait that long?


The steps to success


One of the first steps is to join your national speaking association which will have regional chapters that can provide a lot of help and support on your way to success. 


The networking you can do at these meetings with other successful keynote speakers is extremely important for your future direction. You will have the opportunity to hear what is working as well as, what is not. 


The speaking industry is often challenged with organizations who are looking for free speakers. While it may be tempting to drop your fee to court a potential client who really has no budget, you need to know there is a big difference between a free speaker and a professional speaker. 


Once you have created industry ties and learned the ins and outs of a speaking career, it is time to promote yourself. While the digital side of things is very important and cost effective, nothing beats getting on the road and talking to clients directly. 


At the point where you have a few clients under your belt and have delivered some compelling talks, you can start talking to agents who may be willing to add you to their roster. 


The important point to remember with regard to agency representation is they will typically account for only a small percentage of your overall bookings. Be careful not to rely too much on agency representation and focus on carving out your own success.


In the end, the important take away is that there is no shortcut to success. Stick it out, learn and grow and don’t quit. That will become your story.

entertainer

Top Five list of Keynote Speaking mistakes

Avoid These Costly Speaking Mistakes

If you’re an motivational speaker, then you certainly would like to avoid costly mistakes in the phase where you are seeking to secure a booking, but most importantly during the presentation.

The good news for aspiring speakers is that you have stories to share. The bad news is that many of us need coaching in order to share those stories.

Once you have found your inspirational speaking coach and invested time and money into learning to do a good presentation, you want to steer clear of the major pitfalls of being a speaker.

So in no particular order, listed here are the 5 key mistakes you should avoid if you are getting in to a speaking career.

1.    Not researching your audience.
Either gearing up your talk for a well educated audience in your area of expertise or dumbing it down means the real difference between success and failure. Be sure you know what is at stake before you enter in the room. 

2.    An early connection is critical.
Frankly if you have not put the audience on the edge of their seat in the first minute they already responding to texts. Even more important the organizer just left the room! 

3.    Lead them to water…. I understand we can’t make them drink. So you had a great point, and it may have worked in your life, but how does it help your audience – let them know what and how it will make a difference in their lives. 

4.    Don’t use a lot of slides and don’t read slides. Lets face it, people came to hear you not look at you reciting lives of drivel on a slide. Most speakers could have only a photo on a slide. Their point is to engage the audience with their talk not kill all of them with a slick power point presentation 

5.    Go out with a bang. You might have just delivered the best keynote an audience has had the pleasure of seeing, but if you do not close leaving them gasping for more, you killed the proverbial goose.  

Positive Motivational Speaking Tips

Many canadian speakers that I know have the process of developing a keynote down to a fine art in order that they easily coverthe above points. 

The important take away is the an ounce or prevention is worth a pound of cure if you don’t get it right…

For  me, I like to at least have a conference call with the even organizers to get a read on their expectations for the speaker. 

Secondly I will arrive early and meet the delegates and again take the opportunity to interview them and find out what makes the difference between a good speaker and a bad one from their perspective.

Finally, it is an art to read the audience from the stage. It is advisable to learn to think on your feet, understand how to wake an audience up and be dynamic.

Don’t structure your keynote in such a way that you can’t pivot when needed.
One of my events was a booking for an automobile club. The drivers had been out all day racing their cars and by the end of the day they simply wanted to socialize and drink. 

I was scheduled to be on stage at 7pm. By 9:30pm after many apologies the organizer asked me to take the stage. I looked at my wife and said “There is no way I can do my keynote, they’re way too loud”. 

I took the stage and indicated I was simply going to share some stories of how I had nearly died 5 times on adventures. The audience immediately quietened and listened intently as I regaled some silly stories of mis-adventure. At the end of the night it was among the finest applause I have ever received!

Motivational Speaking The Art of Being A Successful Speaker

I usually wondered what it really might possibly be like to be a keynote speaker or entertainer.

We have heard it revealed that the two biggest fears in life are talking when in front of a large audience and falling from a great height. With that in mind, then standing at the front of a stage talking to a large audience probably makes this career probably the most scary.

Everybody has memories of a childhood where in the course of time we were put on the spot to deliver a message or speech before the class. I am certain we all understand that sudden dryness in the mouth, cold beads of sweat on our foreheads and a sudden rapid forgetfulness.

How does one overcome these negative attributes of speaking. If you are a trainer, or a motivational speaker, then you’ve probably learned to overpower these situations already.   then how do you go about recovering from a point where everything seems to have gone south.

The initial thing I advise people to do is to talk to lots of successful speakers and ask them what their biggest fear is or was and how did they overcome it. 

Keeps notes of what you learn after which you can study the points that scare you and look through your resource of information to figure out how to solve the problem.

Many people actually enjoy that slightly nervous feeling before walking out on stage and others simply delight in the power from a good audience. Many people are very calm and collected whilst some appear a little less comfortable in the spotlight.

Like many careers there is an component of excitement that you can find addictive. Even a chef in a busy kitchen does not always know how the evening is going to turn out and lives on adrenaline at some point during a busy evening. The same can be said to be true about a speaker.

  to understand and assist in reducing your fears is that everybody has come to see you. They did not come to see you attempting to be somebody else, simply you. If you are passionate about your topic then frankly you could probably improvise a speech on the spot and entertain a room full of people.

Often times, we are nervous about how will be received because we put unrealistic expectations on ourselves. In reality, we can all benefit from a dose of positive mental attitude which is probably one of the most common talks from speakers. 

There are many techniques that one can use to overcome fear. The most important is to focus on the goal. Keep that closing statement in your mind and remind yourself of what you need to finish. 

Sometimes the biggest thing we fear is fear itself. Our mind takes a simple and realistic fear and builds a mountain out of a molehill. Breaking down the fear in to component parts is a reasonable way to approach the problem. 

Fear is very much a mental game. The former SAS soldier Andy McNabb talks of his capture in Iran and subsequent torture saying that it was simply like a board game and he was not going to let his opponent win. IN his mind he developed the mental toughness and fortitude to not give in to his opponent. He knew they would not kill him but they might break his bones. Those, in time would heal and so Andy knew he would have to face suffering but never defeat. 

For us as speakers, we will never have to fear that kind of pressure. The worst case scenario is that we deliver a keynote that is not well received. We may have some damage limitation to do or a reduced fee, but we will never have broken bones or be locked in a horrible jail cell.

Another important area to focus on is getting started. Too many people make themselves uncomfortable by thinking about what could go wrong, yet, when you start you are working in your area of strength. You are a speaker, revel in the opportunity and let people see how good you are. The feedback from an audience can be incredible to your conviction so give them the ability to learn from you.

The third area is that you would be greedy to not share your information. Your goal as a speaker is to inspire people or to help them learn. On those grounds, your fears are not justified. They could be perceived to be self centred and greedy. Take your eyes off yourself for a moment and think of the people in the audience who’s lives might change because you overcame your fears and got the job done.

Finally – it is important to remember that the more keynotes you do the better you then become. Canada Speakers like Hugh Culver and Linda Edgecombe have been at the top of their game for a long time. That is because they are well practised. They have done a lot of talks and presentations and have benefitted from the fact that they became very comfortable in the role. 

Whatever your fear, you can take comfort from the fact that you will become more practised, more confident and you will be recognized at some point for your expert delivery.

Why is a Motivational Speaker Successful

  1. So you wish to be a keynote speaker or trainer because speaking is your passion? But you are not certain how you can do it…. here are some ideas.

    The 1st step is to find out what is your topic? What is your brand? Where do you add value to your audience? Of course, and also importantly, who will be your audience?

    One of the best places to begin with as a speaker is in your physical location. There are lots of service clubs and organizations who are always in search of a speaker to fill in some time on their agenda.

    In this manner, whether you’re an entertainer, keynote speaker or motivational speaker, it is also possible to get some feedback in a friendly environment.

    Every speaker occasionally experiences the guests that really does not wish to be there. Typically you will “break the ice with the audience very early in the talk but occasionally, it fails to happen and you know the next Forty-five minutes is going to be torture.

    What you should understand and take from that lesson is it is not just you as a speaker or trainer that has a painful 45 minute experience. Additionally it is the meeting planner who is struggling to confirm your validity for next years meeting!

    Who is your client?

    One must always remember that the audience you are talking with is not your client. It is the meeting or event planner that is your client. They, typically are most tense in the first two to three minutes of a presentation to determine if you can get the crowd to “lean in”. If you fail to break the ice early with the audience the meeting planner knows they’ll be hearing negative comments.

    For this reason, the structure of a keynote is extremely important. 

    There are many “recipes” which were created and many very talented Canadian Speakers who use recipes to create their keynotes but generally, this is a fairly standard pattern to follow:

    Introduce the audience to a funny or emotional story, right off the start line. 
    Summary of what you will help them learn
    Take the first point – relate a story to them of how the first point is so important… some sort of crash and burn story which enables you suggest to them what you learned from the experience (or third party). Then point out the solution. In this manner, you get their attention with a relatable story and you supply them with solution. Wrap up that phase of the discussion with a few ideas as to what benefits they are going to derive from using your unique solution in their lives.
    Rinse and repeat part 3 with your other points, summarizing the points to improve by the end of each session.
    Sell yourself – books, other meetings etc
    Close with a summary of all they have learned and then give them one amazing take away story that they’ll never forget you for. A memorable joke is also a good way to close a keynote.

    There you have it. A standard method to allow you as a keynote speaker to rock the world.

    Now you have read that you may have the question in your head “Can I really do this?” The answer certainly is YES.

    Too many people in the speaker coaching world will try and get you to be someone you are not.

    In truth you simply need to become a better “YOU”. The world ought to hear your story. If we really have a seat and think about it we should all have a few important stories to tell from our lives that can impact others. If we do not, then we can arrange to go out and create some stories, which is the fun part!

    The important take away from the article is that the audience is a tool you can use to impress your meeting planner, your client. If you learn to use that audience correctly, you can make them laugh, make them cry, make them think or get them to react. The bottom line is the audience needs to take something valuable away from the meeting and they need to remember you. 

    If you succeed in that regard you’re going to be an in demand trainer or speaker. You can make a career based on travel, fun and learning. 

What is a successful keynote speaker?

It is quite often the case many of us believe keynote speaking is a luxurious and prestigious profession.

It is obvious as an entertainer or keynote speaker you can generate a lot of income and become very much sought after. However, most successful speakers or entertainers spend lots of time in airports around the world or hotels in different cities.

In order to have a career in speaking or to become a motivational speaker, you need to first be or at least be perceived as being an expert in some subject.

What we most commonly see as a successful keynote speaker is someone who has achieved a very high standing in their profession or sport. It is not however the only way to become a successful motivational speaker.

The art of speaking or indeed being a trainer is centred around your skill to retain the focus of your audience. It is what most speakers refer to as the energy to get your audience to lean in.

Perhaps the revolution in the speaking industry has been the evolution of TED talks. While a good many keynote speakers and entertainers focus on delivering content over a 45 minute to one hour period, TED forces you to deliver an impactful message inside of 18 minutes.

The lesson for any speaker relates to the skills for the audience to focus over a greater duration.

It ought to be noted that while each TED talk is of a shorter duration, the crowd is able to maintain focus over several sessions in the same evening.

The lesson therefore to anybody desiring to be a trainer or speaker essentially must learn to keep your audience engaged over larger spans of time using various tools like humour, audience participation or emotion. Essentially you’ll want to learn to be several different personalities in the same talk.

Many organizations including toastmasters focus on training people to become speakers, however in most examples the training is somewhat old school. While it is valuable to learn the tools of the trade, like with many professions, times have changed and we have never necessarily responded to the change. 

A leading example is in the writing industry. Where books had been a minimum of 80,000 words, the evolution of the eBook industry has led to a demand for 8000 word ebooks. 

The same holds true in speaking where today we worry less about the “umm’s, err’s or “like’s” in a sentence and much more concerning the ability for the speaker to entertain us and hold us captive to their narrative. 

Canada is one country that delivers many top quality entertainers and speakers. To become a Canadian speaker you have access to not only the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers (which has membership requirements in regards to your experience) but additionally several high-quality speaker agencies.

Even though the need to become a speaker may focus you on a path of writing a keynote and planning for for the big day, its also wise to be prepared to be multi-talented.

Most motivational speakers derive a significant portion of their income from selling books at their events. Additionally deliver workshops for the same audience so as to add value to their service.

In this circumstance the skills to create a book or host a workshop need to be acquired or purchased to assist you to in your career progression.

If you are considering a career in speaking in North America, I would strongly suggest you look to either the National Speakers Association in the USA or the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers in Canada. 

Once you have opened enough doors to start to get bookings, it is an extremely rewarding career and one that can be very profitable also.