I will never forget the first time I spoke on stage. I was so nervous.
My biggest source of worry was "what will everyone think of me?" After all I was in my early 30's and most of the folks in the audience had been in business far longer than I.
This trend continued for many years. Me speaking to folks who had more business experience and me wondering what people would think.
Well that all changed about 10 years ago when I was scheduled to speak at a big event for my friend Rich Schefren in Orlando, Florida.
At this point I had spoken hundreds of times. I had received many standing ovations and hundreds of emails and comments thanking me for my presentations. Yet I still secretly feared what the audience would think of me.
Well during this event and before my presentation, I was introduced to a wonderful man named Tom McCarthy. For 21 years Tom was a corporate consultant, speaker, author, trainer and coach. He had presented more than 1,500 seminars, workshops, and training programs to corporations and associations in 21 different countries around the world. Tony Robbins personally selected Tom to lead his prestigious Mastery University seminars.
All this was unknown to me at the time. All I knew was that I was instantly comfortable Tom. And while chatting before my presentation, I confessed my fear to him. Well Tom said one little sentence that changed the course of my speaking career forever.
He said, "This has nothing to do with you. This is all about the audience."
He went on to explain, it was my success and accomplishments in business that got me to the stage, but it will be my thoughtfulness for the audience that will win them over.
I recall this conversation every time I walk onto a stage. And because of this my speaking business has soared plus my fear has turned to exuberance! Hence speaking is now one of my favorite business activities.
If you would like to incorporate speaking into your business revenue steam or improve the revenue you are already making, here are my ten rules for doing so.
The Ten Rules Every GREAT Speaker Must Follow
1) Remember your presentation is not about you. It is ALL about the audience. (Yes, I know I just said it above, but it is certainly worth repeating.)
2) Prepare relentlessly. This means do not wing it. Folks are spending a lot of time and money to attend events and conferences. Remember relevant does not mean last minute.
3) Give them your best advice. Many speakers fear that by giving away their "good stuff", the audience will not pay for their programs. This works against them. Very often I will not even sell at an event. Because I give the audience my best, I attracted folks who ask for high-end private consulting and coaching.
4) Don't chastise the audience. For example if someone asks a question during the presentation. Don't tell them you are not covering that in your presentation or you will get to that. Rather adjust and answer their question.
5) Make your slides readable. The common rule is to make the font size on your slides twice the size of the average age of the audience. That means if you expect the audience to be 40 then on average you are should use a font size of 80 points.
6) Use your slides as talking points. Do not read from your slides. The audience is there to listen and learn from you. They will be able to comprehend so much more if you are speaking to them, not reading to them.
7) Don't run out of time. This goes back to point #2. If you prepare properly you will be able to get to all your slides. If you have more slides and stop because of time, the audience will feel cheated.
8) Don't say "You don't need to write anything down or take photos; the presentation will be online later." For many people the act of writing is an easy way to memorize something they've heard. In short, allow people to do whatever they want during your presentations. Personally I love when folks take photos. I often see them on many different social media sites.
9) Repeat questions. Before you answer a question from an audience member, make sure you repeat the question so everyone is clear on what you are talking about.
10) Tell the audience little bit about your personal life, but don't brag. Let them know you are human and that if you have accomplished this, so can they.
Come prepared, be yourself and be professional. The audience will embrace you for being clear, for being serious, adding value and for not wasting their time. And when the audience loves you, you tend to get invited to speak more!
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