Far too many speakers are not doing what it takes to continually evolve their speech to a level of true excellence, to a level of consistently over-delivering. It’s easy to become complacent when you feel satisfied with where you already are, but I’m here to tell you that if you want to become an exceptional speaker, being comfortable with what you’ve already created and achieved, and not pushing the envelope on developing your offerings, is the kiss of death.
Here’s what happens: you write and develop your speech. You practice and refine it, and eventually memorize it. Finally you get hired and you deliver your speech to a live audience. The client says it was great, the audience responded well enough, and you got paid. Done deal, right?
But if you want to increase your fees over time (and you do), you must constantly work on your program from top to bottom in order to merit it. Trust me when I say that clients and meeting planners know what a speaker is worth based on his speech and presentation. That means the only way you’ll be able to increase your earning power as a paid speaker is if your speech is worth it – period.
Let me restate that another way: the quality of your speech is directly proportional to how much you can charge per engagement.
Now of course there are other influencing factors involved in the fee determining formula, and we’ve looked at those over the course of this training program. These include more intangible aspects of your speaker offerings, like your perceived expert status prestige and credibility, your online and offline branding initiatives, and your overall ability to distinguish yourself and become known in your niche speaking market.
But as we concluded early on, your most valuable asset, the one thing that will clearly distinguish and set you apart from your competitors, is how well you can deliver your speech.
That means you have to keep an ever-vigilant eye on how well your speech is hitting its mark, and the best way to do that is to continually scrutinize your speech mechanics. Only then can you be assured that your most valuable ‘hard good’ is doing what it is supposed to – building your reputation for excellence, helping you generate repeat and referral business, and allowing you to increase your fees and your bottom line earning potential.
I know it’s easier not to do any of this. I know it’s easier to just be happy with being ‘good enough’, and to leave your audiences and your clients merely satisfied. But just being average won’t get you to where you want to go. It won’t allow you to become an elite, truly significant speaker. Mediocrity is the enemy of exceptional speaking, and you should never allow yourself to feel comfortable with being ‘good enough’.
You want to be superb – and a phenomenal speech will be what gets you there.
If you submit yourself to the process of working with your speech on an ongoing basis, you’ll eventually find that you can predict your overall success before an engagement date. Though no two audiences are alike, and differing demographics and backgrounds will ultimately play into how well received your speech is, there is universality in exceptionally good speeches. In other words, if your speech is great (and barring unforeseen problems), event day will go smoothly.
Again, you want your speech to have universal appeal. You want it to be engaging, entertaining, and filled with meaningful, high impact substance. As such, today’s lesson is less about the basics of what you want to achieve on event day (we already accomplished that with the Presentation Excellence series), and more about the mechanics behind how you will achieve it. Though every topic requires a different speech, there are fundamental strategies that you can apply to make sure your speech is doing its job to get you hired, re-hired and referred.
To an extent, developing the (almost) perfect speech will be a trial and error process. You have to whittle away what isn’t working, and continually improve upon what is. Specifically, never forget what your highest goal is: to impart a message that has lasting value and is somehow actionable in each audience member’s life. If you can elevate your speech to a level where you affect people’s lives and help them improve, grow and change in a positive way, your speech will be seen as worth much more than what you charge. At that point, when bureaus, planners and clients can see the powerful, life-altering impact of your message, you’ll be able to charge what you want – and get it.
If you develop your speech based on the core principles outlined in this lesson, you’ll be secure in the knowledge that you’re worth every cent you charge. When you eventually see the results that a rigorously practiced, constantly evolving speech truly possesses, you’ll be able to generate business from your very best form of self-promotional marketing: your speech itself.
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