Becoming a paid public speaker. How hard could it be?
That was my exact thought after I’d been in Toastmasters for a year or two. I recall a Toastmaster telling me his wife took a shot at paid speaking, but she couldn’t make it pay. My thought: how hard could it be? It’s simple: just get better at speaking !!! Ha, ha! I wasn’t even considering the business/marketing part.
Speaking has progressed a lot. From the 1950’s: “what do I need to tell them”, to “what’s the best order for the information”, to better delivery options: humor, audience interaction, passion, etc, to currently: how does the brain work to accept new information, and, what is the audience member thinking about, or what questions do they have, as you speak.
Let’s go with the last point: what is the audience thinking about as you speak and what questions come up in their mind. For example, before you even start, the audience is asking themselves: “Did I make the right decision to be here?” You answer that with a tantalizing introduction and strong opening with a teaser to encourage further listening.
Their next question: “Does this speaker know me?” You have to do homework that shows you have looked into them as a company, group or individual. You explain a problem or other situation they have and mention that you have a solution. Their question: “Oh yeah? How do we do that?”
You get the idea. Your goal is to actively think of what questions (or concerns) the audience may come up with. It takes actual work to figure out, not just the first thing that comes to your mind.
I started noticing that the first, easy thing that came to my mind when presented with various situations was not necessarily accurate. For example: I hadn’t seen an elder acquaintance of mine for some time. He shows up with a brand new, shiny red walker, the kind with wheels and brakes. I say, “Wow, how cool looking! When did you get that?” In other words, I fussed over it. Later in the evening, in a stressful situation, he pointed out my mentioning his walker. To him I was saying, “You’re getting old and frail enough to need a walker.” Ouch.
My point is, we’re entering next generation speaking. That is:
- What is the audience thinking?
- What questions are coming to their mind?
- How does our mind process new information?
You have been warned.
It’s time to buy a current book on public speaking, how the brain works, NLP, neuromarketing, or, …