It’s not always the act of speaking that influencers struggle with. It’s everything that goes on behind the scenes that you need to think about when building a business.
You love the rush of getting up on stage and speaking to people.
Your influence grows each time you showcase your story and deliver an amazing speech. The techniques you’ve learned leave you feeling completely comfortable on stage.
It’s all the stuff that you have to deal with outside of speaking that stresses you out.
A successful speaking business requires much more than the ability to speak. You’ve got an actual company to run and you’ve got to put the work in if you’re going to succeed.
It’s enough to strike fear into the hearts of would-be influencers. Just figuring out what you need to do is as scary as doing it.
That’s where this article aims to help you. Here are six behind the scenes issues you have to think about when building a speaking business.
Issue #1 – Branding and Marketing
You face an interesting branding challenge as a speaker. Your personal brand and your business brand are almost one and the same. After all, your followers listen to you because of the insight you provide.
And it’s that very insight on which you build the foundations of your business.
You need to confront that issue in your marketing efforts. Decorated speaker Gordon Tredgold offers a great example of how to do that.
As a leadership coach, he specialises in helping clients get results fast. It’s the basis of all of his speeches. But when it comes to his branding, he’s merged the personal and business side of things completely. In fact, his website is simply his own name.
Check out the content on that site and you’ll see his pictures plastered all over it. The same goes for his social media pages.
Gordon sends a clear message – when you engage with his business you engage with him.
The end result is that his audience connects with him at all levels of the business. He uses his authority to lend credence to the business brand, which leads to more speaking engagements and a larger client list.
Issue #2 – Responding to Queries
When you’re on stage, nothing can shake your confidence.
But when you’re on the phone and responding to potential clients, you feel completely different. The nerves may start to show and you end up flubbing your lines.
That is, you would if you had them. The issue with responding to queries is that you’re not working from a script. You can’t hone a conversation like you hone your speeches. Each one’s reactive and requires you to answer different questions.
This highlights the importance of knowing your message inside and out. The best way to build your confidence is to know your intended audience so you can predict the types of questions they’ll ask.
Issue #3 – Negotiating
You may start your career speaking for free so you can build your reputation. However, you’ll eventually want to start charging for your services.
That creates a bunch of questions. How much should you charge for speaking? How much do event organisers expect you to ask for?
How do you negotiate for the fee you really deserve?
Think about your overhead. Consider the amount of time it’s going to take to prepare the speech. Plus, you need to factor in travel and accommodation if the event doesn’t handle that on your behalf.
The fee you come up with should cover all of those costs while leaving you with a tidy profit.
You can also look at the event’s potential attendance to get an idea of how much an organiser will pay. Find out how much they’re charging per ticket and multiply that number by how many attendees they’re expecting.
Halve that number to account for their heads and you’ll have an idea of how much they have left over. Ideally, your fee will be in line with what they can realistically offer.
Issue #4 – Creating the Visuals for Your Speech
You’re a wordsmith at heart. You can weave an amazing story that’s packed with emotion and offers a new perspective to your audience.
But you’re not quite so adept when it comes to creating images.
It’s a common problem for speakers. You want to use great imagery to support your speech. After all, you need to grab the attention of visual learners too. Unfortunately, you’ve never taken a design class in your life and you have no idea where to start.
The Art of Explanation author Lee LeFever uses a variant of storyboarding to get his imagery right. As he puts it:
“To get the visuals down, my first step is to open PowerPoint and create a bunch of blank slides. Then, I go through the script and add sections of the script to each slide, either as slide titles or notes. Eventually, the entire talk exists on dozens of slides in a single presentation with no visuals (yet).”
From there, he prints this blank canvas out and draws some basic sketches onto each empty slide. These don’t have to be high-concept art. Just do enough to give you an idea of the visual you want to represent at each stage of the speech.
After that, you can have someone create visuals based on your sketches. Or, you can use a royalty-free image site, such as Pixabay, to locate suitable images.
Issue #5 – Creating a Speaker’s Agreement
LeFever also discusses one of the key practicalities involved in speaking – the speaker’s agreement.
This is basically a contract in which you outline the roles you and the event organiser play and putting a speech together. It covers everything from the speech duration and fees through to your travel arrangements.
The goal is to achieve complete clarity before you make your way to the event.
You’ll often find that organisers have their own agreements that they’ll send across to you. Don’t be afraid to raise any issues that you have with that agreement. Ideally, you’ll be able to negotiate an agreement that serves both parties.
The most important thing is that you have one in place from the beginning. If you don’t, you’re creating the potential for disputes to arise. With nothing on paper, you can’t make a cogent argument for your case.
Issue #6 – Knowing How to Travel
There’s a big difference between travelling for pleasure and travelling to speak. Remember that you’re going to a business engagement so you have to plan accordingly.
As mentioned, you’ll likely start arranging your travel through your conversations with the organiser. In an ideal world, they’ll handle the travel for you so you just have to worry about what to pack. But if you’re left to your own devices, you’ll need to book flights and figure out how you’ll get around on the ground.
Furthermore, you’ve got to account for potential delays. There’s nothing more heartbreaking than getting an amazing booking only to miss it. Book everything in advance and aim to arrive as early as possible. If you can, try to get to the destination the day before the event. This gives you time to get your bearings and visit the venue. Plus, it gives you some leeway if there’s a delay.
Then there’s the packing. You’ll obviously take the standards, such as clothes and toiletries. But it’s all of the stuff related to the engagement that you need to think about here.
Your computer and any cables you’ll need to hook it up to a projector are the essentials here. So too is a clicker that allows you to switch slides on the fly.
However, it’s also important that you plan for things going wrong. For example, you may want to take several dongles, including one packed in your carry-on luggage. Each of these should contain a copy of your presentation so you have backups if one goes missing.
You may also consider packing a credit card reader. This will allow you to take instant payments if you’re selling a package or course as part of the engagement.
The point is that careful planning ensures you don’t run into any issues. Maintain a calendar with all of your bookings listed on it and create a checklist of things you need. Run through it before every engagement.
Take Care of Everything
As you can see, the business side of speaking is about so much more than what you do on stage.
You could be an amazing influencer. However, that means little if you don’t handle the behind the scenes stuff. The business blunders along and you struggle to maximise its potential.
Use these tips to help you build a solid foundation. As your business grows, you may be able to hire people who can help with some of these issues. For example, an assistant could handle your travel arrangements.
The key is that you know what you need to do away from the stage.
Speakers Institute can help with that just like we can help you become a better speaker.
Would you like to learn more?
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- Head to GREENROOM. The #1OnlineHub connecting you to the world’s leading Influencers, Training and Curriculum.
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