Lessons "earned" from my first IN-PERSON speeches in over a year
My first, fully IN-PERSON speeches were just last week since March ... 2020!
And WOW, some interesting things happened that I felt you would find value in me sharing. I hope they help you prepare and deliver as in-person events continually return.
I was a few states away in Oklahoma presenting one presentation for a small real estate firm to help motivate and equip their sales agents with differentiation strategies.
The next day I spoke for a school who was hosting a Career Day. So it was actually two in-person speaking engagements back-to-back.
Both were fully in-person; meaning, no virtual component.
PRO: This meant both audiences were forced to look at me. They couldn't turn their video off!
CON: Both audiences were forced to look at me. They couldn't turn their video off!
My last fully in-person speech was over a year ago for a regional banking conference on March 2, 2020. I knew flying home that in-person events were going to be gone for a few months. Covid-19 was kicking in quite horribly. None of us knew it would be an entire year!
Think I felt a bit rusty last week presenting in-person for the first time in a while? Yup.
Think I had some doubt about whether I’d do well? Yup x 3.
It had been such a long time since I presented in-person.
In fact, my internal critic also questioned whether I still had it in me. I've presented over 75 virtual programs the past year ... but virtual is so different.
Speaker tip #1:
Know that every speaker has doubt from time to time. Every speaker has the internal critic … the good ones learn how to use it to their advantage.
So how you push through it ... the doubt and the internal critic?
Like sky diving, you feel the fear and do it anyway. The audience doesn’t know you’re nervous or uncomfortable unless you show it.
You focus on the problem(s) you are helping them solve, you craft a “heartbeat” presentation that appeals to various learning styles (Module 2 in PAID to $PEAK) and you practice, practice, practice! You do your best and focus on what you can control.
My first speaking engagement for the real estate firm was full speaking fee. That felt good. I was back!
The second was pro bono and I planned to monetize the h*ck out of it -- click here to read my blog on "How to Monetize Free Speeches"
… in addition to updated 2021 video, pictures, testimonials, and re-sharpening the in-person delivery, they also purchased books.
My second speech was what I call a "block booking." Meaning, once I got the first engagement (real estate firm) in Tulsa, I reached out to other contacts I had in Oklahoma and also through LinkedIn and Facebook. (note: it's free and simple to do this on LinkedIn and Facebook.)
See Module 3 in PAID to $PEAK where I talk about how to block-book speaking engagements in more detail. It's a great strategy for speakers. Most speakers don't think about doing it. Others don't do it often enough.
In short, you let people know you're already in their area and you offer them an upfront discount that’s time sensitive for specific days.
One of my contacts worked at a local school and just so happened to have an event while I was in town. Turns out they didn't have budget for me, so I offered the idea for them to partner with another department who might have funds. Turns out, they found one who was able to use a separate budget line for "leadership supplies" to purchase 500 of my leadership books. This way all attendees for their event could leave with a tangible takeaway. They loved the idea!
If you don't think about block-booking your speaking engagements, start doing it now. Every in-person speech has this opportunity. You can't really block-book with virtual events. You can only do this in-person. So that's speaker tip #2.
Speaker tip #3:
If you don’t have a book, you should. Read the BONUS chapter in PAID to $PEAK where I walk you through steps to book writing and publishing.
Speaker tip #4:
If you have a book, know how to leverage it in your speaking agreements. You’ll find your book helps sell your speaking and your speaking helps sell books.
The first engagement went really well. They were just as happy to be in -person (safely) as I was. I even made a joke that my presentation was the first speech I had given … since March … of 2020! Then I gave myself permission to be transparent, vulnerable and foreseeably make mistakes. I literally joked about probably messing up and asked them to raise their hand if that was OK. Everyone raised their hand and smiled.
Speaker tip #5:
Always Be Authentic.
Speaker tip #6:
You Ain’t Perfect. So Don’t Expect to Be.
I’ve never had a perfect speech … only lessons “earned” for the next one.
I always ask myself (a) “What went well?” and (b) “What do I need to improve for the next one?” … guess which question I can fill up an entire note pad answering? (yup, B!)
The second engagement went well, but we had tech problems galore. They were switching from the host laptop to my laptop just before I was introduced. I cautioned them not to do this and to simply provide me with their rotating slides and I would place in front of mine. This way there would be no HDMI switch that might create an issue.
Well, guess what happened? Once I noticed my laptop slides were not on the screen, I had to run outside the auditorium and through the rear entry to do it myself. I literally was hearing the first sentence of my introduction as I fixed it.
Speaker tip #7:
NEVER, EVER allow them to control your slides. You stand firm on this. Add their slides to your slide deck.
I experience this all the time when I'm keynoting at conferences. Often I'm the Opening Keynote so there's usually some opening, welcome remarks by the President or someone who needs to share a few words and updates. Meaning, they have a few slide of their own!
I forgot how important this was to add their slides to mine … it had been over a year!
Then I heard the rest of my introduction which I tailored just for them ... he read everything ... horribly ... and with the most monotone, fast paced tempo you could possibly imagine. It was as if introducing me was torture!
I tailor every introduction. I have slides that go with my introduction to lighten the mood. I integrate humor in my introduction where the audience is literally laughing … twice! I even ask to speak with the person who is introducing me so I can emphasize how important it is to (a) read my introduction, (b) know there are slides that I control and go along with it, (c) have fun with the introduction, and (d) pause for laughter in these two specific areas which I directly highlight with my finger.
Speaker tip #8:
Sometimes it just it what it is. You can’t let that distract you. Onward.
The key to a great introduction is having the “heartbeat” from the person introducing you already raising the energy in the room. This is one of my secret sauce ingredients.
Speaker tip #9:
Know that your introduction is NOT your bio. An intro is what the audience hears. The bio is what they read in advance.
Speaker tip #10:
Craft your introduction so it’s tailored, has humor, and has slides that go along with it.
Speaker tip #11:
Always meet with the person introducing you beforehand. Make sure they know how pivotal it is for them to set you up properly … even if it’s the President of that organization (which mine was!).
After the first minute, I was good. I had shaken off some cobwebs and felt the energy in the room increase more and more … until my microphone went out.
“Son of a ^@$!%$!” … as I’m trying to present and keep it all together, my microphone is going in and out.
Not my fault … but I’m the one who has to deal with it.
Speaker tip #12:
Always have a back-up microphone.
There was a lectern a few feet away from me which had a corded microphone. Although I hate being confined by cord length, I had no choice. I grabbed the microphone and started presenting in front of the lectern. Finally after 10 minutes, the tech person brought me a new microphone.
They might be looking for a new job now.
Speaker tip #13:
Never present behind a lectern. In fact, in your AV requirements, state that the lectern is to be moved to the side.
If you want to review what my AV tech requirements look like, visit my website here where you can view/download it for free!
There were a few other issues during that second speech, but I got through it.
Overall, the meeting planner was extremely happy with me and actually apologized for the issues.
How I handled the negative issues actually reflected positively on me. When you get spooked, don’t show it. The more you practice and the more experience you have, the less you’ll get spooked.
As I was flying back home, I finally felt exhaustion. The adrenalin had worn off.
It was only two 60-minute speeches within 2 days … but it was 2 days of constant travel and moving and preparing and prepping and delivering and dealing with issues. Plus the hours upon hours of prep work for both keynotes days and weeks beforehand.
Click here to download my "Speech Preparation Checklist!"
It was also two days away from my family.
If these were virtual speeches, I would just have needed to walk upstairs to my virtual studio.
Speaker tip #14:
Have a virtual studio so you can offer this option to clients.
Speaker tip #15:
Whether in-person or virtual, your speaking fee stays the same.
If in-person, they pay for travel. If in-person, they pay for your studio.
And if it’s a virtual engagement, you likely got the engagement because of your virtual studio.
Have questions about what I’ve posted? Write in the comments below and/or reach out to me … Kevin@KevinCSnyder.com
To Your Speaking Success!
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