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Tips to Customize a Great Speech: Part 1

Customizing a speech ensures your content is relevant for each audience you’re speaking.

If your speech isn’t relevant to their unique needs and issues, then it is not providing value for those listening.

However, when the audience feels your content is valuable, it makes their time with you valuable. It makes them appreciate you, like you, and pay attention to you.

Moreover, by providing value, meeting planners and event organizers will love you because the feedback about you was positive … and that’s what it’s all about!

As a result of positive feedback because you took the time to customize and maximize value, referrals and future business should surely result.

Customization = Repeat Business

If your speaking business isn’t growing, it’s slowly dying … and it’s going to be painful.

When I first started speaking, I was told by a fellow speaker that my speaking would eventually get to a point where I would NOT need to customize each speech. Once the speech (and me) got “good enough,” then I could just “cookie cut” the same speech.

That advice was HORRIBLE! Although this person talked a great game about speaking, and I thought they were successful at the time, they did a better job talking to me than they did with their audiences. To date they are no longer speaking. They became complacent about their speaking business, they stopped growing, and they lost the hunger that fueled them when they were starting out. Now that person sells cars for a living.

For those of you who have read my book and other blog posts, you know how frustrated I get when I hear speakers take advice about the business of speaking from others not running a speaking business.

It’s no different than taking advice about how to fly a plane from someone who isn’t a pilot. Please, please … only take advice about the business of speaking from those who are speaking full-time and running a successful business of speaking. Make sense?

As a speaker en route to launching your speaking business, I know you don’t have time to waste. You must follow a path of success that others have blazed before you.

The good news is that regardless of where you are in your speaking business, one of the best ways to impact your speaking referrals and spin-off business is by customizing a great speech.

Yes, every single speech you present should be customized. Customization doesn’t need to take hours upon hours of time though. What customization requires is an efficient “system” for how you do it.

So how do you customize? How long should it take?

There are several ingredients to baking this “cake of customization,” and I’ll share one of them with you here in Part 1 of "Tips to Customize a Great Speech."

Tip #1: Have a Pre-event Questionnaire

This document is what I send to my clients and/or meeting planner before we even sign a speaking contract. I ask them to review the questions in advance and have answers ready for our preliminary discussion. After we speak, I then customize the contract. I want them to feel the customization upfront in the contract!

You need to know exactly what the meeting planner and/or event organizer wants. Specifically, what are their objectives for your speech? What do they want the audience/group to leave with? Who will be present in the audience and why? Etc., etc.

The information gathered through my document will help you customize your speech.

Consistently, I am told by organizers starting off that I’m one of the most detailed speakers they have appreciated working with … folks, all I do is give them this form in advance!

BUT, I also know how to facilitate the conversation that goes into this process. I actually follow a phone script (available in my book, “PAID to SPEAK”) that weaves these questions all together.

Once the planner/organizer reviews the contract, it’s no surprise that I often hear, “Your presentation is exactly what we’re looking for!”

After we sign the contract, I have at least 2 more rounds of follow up discussion – I call these “touchpoint calls” and I offer them to anyone in their organization that would be valuable for me to speak with. The more people I can speak with the better. I've been surprised to learn from meeting planners and organizers that the far majority of other speakers they have previously worked with do NOT ask for what I do.

It's unfortunate ... for them and the speaking profession because as speakers we represent each other!

These touchpoint opportunities provide me the chance to follow up and ask additional questions as well as dig deeper into their answers. So having a simple Pre-event Questionnaire is tip #1 for customizing a great speech.

Again, click here to review mine … but if you copy it, all I ask is that you please make it your own. Change it up a bit.

Let me know how I can help.


Desire to become a professional speaker?

Not getting the speaking business you had hoped for?

In addition to my own speaking business, I have a passion for helping and coaching speakers develop their own. Whether it's in crafting a speech, identifying target groups who can pay, and/or how to get the speaking gig itself, I can help. I've keynoted over 1,150 presentations in practically every industry you can imagine. My book, PAID to SPEAK, outlines a proven model for speakers. If you are serious about becoming a professional speaker, contact me for a free consultation. I don't want you to flounder like I did and be frustrated. If you're not a subscriber to these speaker articles, submit your email today!


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