By Judith Briles
Welcome to my world. One that I have lived in for 40 years. One that has taken me to 50 states and 20 countries. One that has created unique experiences; built global relationships; supported my family through thick and thin; put two kids through college with no left-over debt; led the rebound when a business partner embezzled over a million dollars from a business deal that I personally “ate”; created book sales that exceed $2,000,000; and generated over $3,000,000 in speaking fees.
With that reveal, why speak?
The public and a specific sector needs and wants your message, your smarts, your expertise.
You can solve problems and provide answers that a group or an individual needs.
You can meet amazing people.
You can go places you never imagined.
It can be enormously fun and exciting.
You can sell a lot of books.
Yes, you can make money with your ideas, with the words that spill out of your mouth.
My reveal: I never desired to be an author; nor did I envision that I would be a speaker. The seeds were emerged in elementary school where I always in trouble for talking too much and passing notes. Who knew where that would lead as a seven-year-old?
I was a speaker first. A presentation to twenty women about investing when I was a stockbroker at the age of 28. That presentation evolved to a full day program called Women and Money; then to Personal Finance for Couples. At the same time, I worked full time for EF Hutton & Company. The book bubbled up after I had dinner with a well-known New York Times best-selling author. He took many of my ideas that were shared and published them in his nationally syndicated column as his. My epiphany: If you don’t start taking your own ideas and publish them, others well.
Being clueless about writing a book, I hired a local sports columnist and novelist referred to me by a client to show me how to create my book based on the classes I taught and the clients I worked with. There weren’t writing coaches and book coaches back in the 70s. I was 33 years old and invested $7,500 for “my lessons” – in today’s dollars, that’s over $27,000!
As a speaker, you make a difference.
Whether as a problem solver or an entertainer, being a speaker is something that was never on my dance card growing up. For me, it was an evolution. I had information. I had something to say. And I discovered that there were many who wanted, in fact needed, to hear what I had to say … and what I wrote in my first book … and the books that followed.
Welcome to the Minority!
Approximately 10 percent of any given population loves speaking to a group—just about any group. They have little to no fear and get a huge buzz speaking in front of a large crowds. The size of the gathering doesn’t matter. You may be one of those. If you aren’t, you can become one, but you need a plan, one that will pave the road to your speaking success and selling mega cases of books.
The Costs of Speaking …
Starting down the speaking path takes planning and it’s not a freebie journey. You will be “investing” money in a variety of support items. Depending on what you already have, your “setup” could be a few hundred or many thousands of dollars. Some are obvious:
- Website makeover
- Speaker photos
- Video reel
- Media kit
- Customer management software
- Marketing materials
Then there’s time. And you will be investing your energy. Building a speaking career doesn’t happen overnight.
For a visual map of essentials you need, I created the Speaking GamePlan Model™.
Creating Your Speaking GamePlan
I’m visual and like to have “it” all in front of me when I’m working on a project, which includes anything with my books—whatever “it” is. In creating GamePlans for Book Marketing, Writing the Book, CrowdFunding, and now Speaking, I’ve found that it helps me get focused and stay focused. When I’m focused, I finish; when I’m not … I don’t. I bet you are the same way.
The Speaking GamePlan Model™ for a speaker kick starts the organization needed for the team; it reminds me what is needed to seed and roll out a career in speaking; and I go back to it when I create a new one.
In my two-day spring and fall event, Judith Briles Speaking Unplugged, participants actually get giant wall copies to work on during the workshop that are taped on the walls of the hotel meeting so when an idea hits, participants can move to the walls and post on it. When the event is over, they roll them up and take them home—ready to post on their chosen space to visually remind them “DO THIS” versus the typical notes getting buried in a notebook or file … never to be seen again.
I use a variety of colored sticky notes; different color pens and markers … I even draw or glue images to goose me toward the end. Sometimes I add a favorite quote, even a reminder to not do something. I might add a visual “reward” just for me when I reach my goal.
The Speaking GamePlan model components include:
You are the star here …
- What’s so hot about you?
- Is it:
- your expertise
- your passions
- your commitment
- your vision
- your solutions
- your insights
- your what?
People want to know.
Who is your Audience?
- It could be broad or narrow.
- It could be a dominate gender.
- It could be old or young or a combo.
- It could be industry specific.
- It could be groups within an industry.
Take time and determine where your best fit is and who really needs your message.
What is your Theme and what are your Key Points?
Essential areas to grasp and work on. Both are elementary to the structure of any presentation. And as you evolve in speaking, these can change.
Do you have a Video and Photos?
Lights, camera, action … a critical component to every speaker is a short video (ranging from two to ten minutes)—the shorter the better. Known as a reel by many, it is usually composed of multiple clippings of you in action.
I’m also a strong component of having a full presentation, unedited of you in action. Ideally, you can show a serious side and fun side in a video. Your goal is to have a compelling clip. One of the ahas is that videos are used to eliminate speakers. You are judged on delivery, content, even what you wear.
Tip: meeting planners are looking for reasons to eliminate you in their consideration. Reels should have snap, crackle and pop.
Current photos are needed. Both black and white and color. This is the time to invest a few hundred dollars for a photographer who “gets” speaking and the types of photos you will need. Do you need photos or special images created—who will do it?
What about Fees?
Have you thought about:
- What you will charge?
- Will there be a range for keynotes (60-90 min.) and half-day/full-day workshops?
- How will you negotiate with limited budgets of groups?
- Will you speak for free? When will you start charging?
How and when will you Communicate?
- Do you have a newsletter or e-zine?
- How often do you blog?
- What about using reminders such as post cards?
- Do you know where your customers hang out on social media (meeting planners, conference coordinators, program directors, individuals in your target speaking market who fill your audiences)?
All are part of your potential team—granted, some may not know it yet.
Stories are crucial for speaking success.
What are yours? Do not, do not, DO NOT use other’s stories. How can you use them as a tool to relate your message?
Openings and Closings are the bookends to your talk.
- What is compelling?
- What pulls in the audience?
- What leaves them with a take action frame of mind?
- Which will make them feel they are in the right place?
Tip: In closings, you can leave your audience laughing; you can leave them crying; you can leave them thinking; but you can’t just leave them.
Where are you on Social Media and the Internet?
Social media and SEO are essential to your success. Use keywords and phrases as you blast out to the cyber world in posts and images of your expertise and speaking power. You want to be found, pronto. You need a following—lots and lots of followers, friends, and fans. Start building.
Who are your Resources?
Who do you need on your team to pull this off? Virtual assistants; friends with plenty of social media contacts; a speaking coach to make sure your presentation content is crisp and has a strong call to action, is compelling with timing woven in. Who?
What will your Marketing efforts consist of?
If you think your phone will ring off the hook automatically or that your emails will load up, think again. Marketing takes time; it needs a plan. Who and where you want to speak begins in knowing.
What will you create to support it with material about you?
- Is it a brochure?
- A media kit?
- Is it a postcard campaign?
- Is it doing freebies to start building buzz?
What to Charge?
It’s always a question I’m asked–and an important one. Most times, newbie speakers are clueless on where to begin. Often, they feel that their worth is basically worthless because of their lack of experience. It’s this lack of confidence in what they can do on the stage that creates the quandary.
- Didn’t you write a book on this topic?
- Or, didn’t you just complete your doctorate?
- Or, didn’t you power through and overcome a traumatic experience/adversity?
All of that has a value to it—a huge one.
Where you speak will be a factor. Let Google help out. Search competitive speakers—other experts in your field: speaking fees for _______. What comes up? Don’t expect to get top dollar … but set a minimum fee. Some groups don’t pay (your local Rotary as an example … but state and national Rotary functions often do). If you have a book, you can “make a special offer” to get around it: In celebration of my new book, I’m waiving my speaking fee for the first 10 groups who invite me to present.
What you are doing is getting your foot in the door. You want to start moving your fees up—$1,000 usually means you are a beginner; $2,500 more experienced, etc. Many meeting planners don’t think you are worth much unless there is at least a $3,500 to $5,000 price tag on your services. It doesn’t mean that you can’t negotiate to work within their budgets. But please, put a value on what you bring.
My goal is to get speakers moving from free to fee as soon as possible. The best of the best of speakers do freebies. For me, I do about 10 a year. When I decide who I do them for, I look at it in two ways:
- I feel passionate about the group. I want to give to them.
- I believe that there are members in the audience who can hire me at my full fee.
As a newbie speaker, gladly accept unpaid speaking gigs that desire a speaker in your topic area. Why? It is an opportunity to tweak content and fine tune your presentation style. Remember: practice makes perfect.
That first book was The Woman’s Guide to Financial Savvy published by St. Martin’s Press in 1981—three printings in three weeks. Little did I know that it would become a breeding ground—all fertilized by speaking. The more I spoke, new ideas were germinated from my experiences and the needs of my audiences. New books were created. Thousands, then over a million books were sold. And, I’m tickled to share, I’ve put all of my how-tos, tips and road-warrior secrets together in book number 36: How to Create a $1,000,000 Speech now available on Amazon.
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