I usually wondered just what it will be like to be a keynote speaker or entertainer.
I’ve heard it stated that the two biggest fears to have are talking when in front of a sizable 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 one of the most scary.
We all have memories of a childhood where at some point in time we had been put on the spot to deliver a message or speech in front of the class. I am sure we all understand that sudden dryness in the mouth, cold beads of sweat on our foreheads and a sudden rapid memory loss.
How does one overcome these negative attributes of speaking. If you’re a trainer, or a motivational speaker, then you’ve probably learned to overcome these situations already. then how do you go about recovering from a point where everything seems to have gone south.
The very first thing I advise people to do is to talk to lots of successful speakers and enquire them what their biggest fear is or was and how did they overcome it.
Keeps notes of what you learn and after that study the ideas 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 energy from a good audience. A number of people are very calm and collected while others appear a little less comfortable in the spotlight.
Like many careers there is an portion 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 not 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 a group can be incredible for 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. For this reason, 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 in turn become. Canada Speakers like Hugh Culver and Linda Edgecombe have been at the top of their game for a long period. 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.
I usually wondered just what it will be like to be a keynote speaker or entertainer.
- So you choose to be a keynote speaker or trainer because speaking will be your passion? But you’re not certain ways to do it…. follow this advice.
The first step is to know what is your topic? What is your brand? Where could you add value to your audience? Of course, and really importantly, who’s going to be your audience?
One of the best places to start as a speaker is in your local area. There are lots of service clubs and organizations who are always interested in a speaker to fill in some time on their agenda.
In this way, regardless if you are an entertainer, keynote speaker or motivational speaker, you will be able to get some feedback in a friendly environment.
Every speaker occasionally experiences the people that really does not desire to be there. Typically you are likely to “break the ice with the audience very early in the talk but occasionally, it doesn’t happen and you know the next 45 minutes will likely be torture.
What you need to understand and take from that lesson is it isn’t only you as a speaker or trainer that has a painful 45 minute experience. It’s also the meeting planner who is struggling to confirm your validity for next years meeting!
Who is the buyer?
It is very important remember that the audience you are talking with is not your client. It is the meeting or event planner that’s your client. They, typically are most tense in the first two to three minutes of a presentation to determine if you can get the listeners to “lean in”. If you fail to break the ice early with the audience the meeting planner knows they will be hearing negative comments.
Because of this, the structure of a keynote is critical.
There’s a lot of “recipes” that are created and a few 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 guide them
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 provide them with solution. Wrap up that phase of the discussion with some ideas as to what benefits they’re 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 following each session.
Sell yourself – books, other meetings etc
Close with a summary of all they’ve learned and then give them one amazing take away story that they may never forget you for. An unforgettable joke is also a good way to close a keynote.
There you have it. A standard tactic 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 needs to hear your story. If we really take a moment 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 conclusion 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.
It is very often the case many individuals believe keynote speaking is a lavish and prestigious profession.
There isn’t any doubt as an entertainer or keynote speaker you can earn a great deal of income and become very much popular. However, most successful speakers or entertainers spend a lot of time in airports around the world or hotels in several cities.
In order to have a career in speaking or to become a motivational speaker, you must 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 anyone who has achieved a very high standing in their profession or sport. It is not however the only way to be 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 power to get your audience to lean in.
So What has Changed?
Perhaps the revolution in the speaking industry has been the evolution of TED talks. While 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 within 18 minutes.
The lesson for any speaker relates to the capacity for the audience to focus over a longer period of time.
It must be noted that while each TED talk is of a shorter duration, the audience is able to maintain focus over several sessions in the same evening.
The lesson therefore to anybody desiring to be a trainer or speaker is that you must learn to keep the audience engaged over larger spans of time using various tools like humour, audience participation or emotion. Essentially you might want to learn to be many different personalities in the same talk.
Many organizations which include toastmasters target training people to become speakers, however in many examples the training is somewhat old school. While it is valuable to find out the tools of the trade, as with many professions, times have changed and we have never necessarily responded to the change.
A prime example is within the writing industry. Where books were once a minimum of 80,000 words, the evolution of the eBook industry has produced a demand for 8000 word ebooks.
The same holds true in speaking where today we worry less with regard to the “umm’s, err’s or “like’s” in a sentence and much more regarding the ability for the speaker to entertain us and hold us captive to their narrative.
Canada is one country that generates many premium quality entertainers and speakers. To become canadian speaker you can get not only the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers (which has membership requirements in terms of your experience) but in addition several prime quality speaker agencies.
While the need to become a speaker may focus you on a path of writing a keynote and getting yourself ready 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. In addition, they deliver workshops for the same audience to provide 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 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.