Maryalice: Hey everyone, Maryalice Goldsmith here, Director of Student Success at The Speaker Lab, and today I am joined by our very own Elite Concierge and Coach, Katie Campbell. Really excited to be with you today for this Coach’s Corner episode because today we’re going to be deep diving into key assets every successful speaker should have. How are you doing Katie?
Katie: I’m good. I’m good. Thanks for having me. I’m excited to be here.
Maryalice: Yeah. I’m super excited for you to be here. I mean, our students are so lucky to have you be the first point of contact after purchasing their program to become a speaker. And I know that you add so much value into their journey and their process and so, what we’re going to be talking about today is really critical to stepping into that professional speaker role. They don’t have to have any of these, but if they really want to step into that professional speaker role, this is critical.
So let’s just dive in — we all know that speakers solve a problem, they make an impact. They have a talk, obviously, but what else do speakers really need? Not only just to build the business, but build the business with that kind of confidence?
Why You Need Marketable Assets
Katie: Yeah. I think the thing that we’re going to talk about takes them from a hobby to an actual professional business. And that’s marketable assets, right? They need to have an online presence and promotional assets. And in today’s world, if you don’t have that online, you don’t exist, right?
The expectation is if I’m going to hire you and I search your name, more than your Facebook profile or your Instagram feed need to come up. And so that’s why it’s really critical that we set our students up with a website and a demo so that they can, like you said, have that confidence behind them.
Maryalice: I just want to be clear, we are not telling you to go and get an Instagram and a LinkedIn and a Facebook and a Twitter, but rather have something that really does funnel people to your main website.
Katie: Yeah. Having that solid website takes away all of the fluff, right? There’s so many distractions on social media and it doesn’t summarize who you are as a brand concisely. And that’s really the goal of the website, is to put it all into one place and a really highlighted professional setting. It’s a digital business card that really lays it all out there.
The Abstract and Website
Maryalice: The other thing too — and this is so valuable, Eric, who does our virtual program, talks about this a ton, but the power of the abstract. It’s not digital, it’s not online, although I guess it could be, but it is such a valuable tool in terms of marketing yourself. What have you seen in terms of students who came into the program without an abstract to then go through the program and build out an abstract.
Katie: Yeah, it’s clarity, right? Because an abstract not only forces the speaker to get really specific on what they’re bringing to the stage, but it gives clarity to the event booker on exactly what they’re going to get from them too. And if you don’t have all of your foundational elements in place, like what you work on in module one and two, it’s really hard to create your abstract. So bringing those pieces together into one sheet makes it really easy for every single person to know exactly who you are and what you’re about.
Maryalice: Yeah, for sure. I know, a lot of our students come into the program and they build out their abstract and there’s something that happens, like something clicks and they have this level of clarity, as you mentioned, but also this confidence to be like, “You know what, I’m not going to wait. I’m just putting myself out there.” Some of them don’t even build out their talk and they literally reach out, get booked and paid to speak, and then they’re like, Okay, now I have to get serious about my talk. So they’re powerful and it allows you to pivot if you need to.
So we see students from all different levels — students who have been on stage for 20, 30 years, students who have spoken because of work functions and things like that. And then other students who are just like, “I don’t know, this is just a passion and I feel called to it.” So we see all different levels, but one thing that we could say, even from the real seasoned speakers, these assets — what are some of the profound benefits that this does for our students and professional speakers?
Katie: It gives them a place to exist online and in return, it gives them that confidence to back them up, right? We kind of mentioned that in the first one, but having a place where you just own essentially online, there’s a lot of confidence building for you. It puts a lot of power in your back pocket to lean on. It’s your exclusive space that nobody else is a part of, right? That really tells your story and your brand. And along with that, it highlights your brand and your voice, right? There’s probably going to be other speakers in your niche and on your topic, and that website really helps highlight why you are the best fit for your particular message. Just putting it all into that one place in their specific voice creates that consistency and gives people something that they know to expect if they hire you.
Maryalice: Yeah. I think too for the professional speaker, it does help them step into this role, right? It’s like there’s something that happens when your website’s done where you’re like, “Oh my gosh, I’m really doing this.” I know you have experienced this, but I know for myself when coaching students and they get their website, they’re so excited. It’s like they’ve built this website that’s really going to be the home of their business.
So tell me some stories around that. I’m sure you’ve had so many students have so much excitement because it becomes real at that moment, right? It’s more than thoughts. It’s more than writing your talk over and over again and trying to memorize that. It’s this beautiful physical representation of all the hard work and effort that you put in. And there’s also a sense of, “Okay, I have this, it’s real. Now what — do I send it to people? What should I do?”
Katie: That’s such a great point because I’m always amazed by people who go through this process and they’re out there trying to get booked and paid to speak and we’ll troubleshoot some things and I’ll say, “Well, have you told all your family and friends? Have you shared your website?” And they haven’t! Why haven’t you shouted this from the mountaintops? You’ve done all the work, you’ve done all the things, you’ve put so much effort into it. This is something I think as humans, we forget that others are actually for us. They’re not against us.
And they do want to support us and they do want to celebrate us, especially family and friends. But that’s a missing ingredient. When you are done with your website and you’re so excited, share it. Shout it from the mountain tops. It helps put that identity on yourself too, right? Like you’re forced to name yourself as a speaker, and maybe not for the experienced ones that come in, but for someone who has never been on stage before, having and owning that identity — there’s some fear around that. So now that you’ve got something proud to show off, it’s a great time to bring that identity out to everybody that you know too.
Maryalice: Yeah, it’s such a great point. I’ll also make this point as we’re talking about this. Sometimes when students are done with their website, they love it, but they’re always like, I don’t know, there’s something else. And I always say to speakers, your website is never done. I remember one student, super diligent, did all the things, all the colors, really was intentional about his website and he was sure something was still missing. And I told him it would come to him as his business evolved, as he evolved as a speaker — you’re going to be changing that website quarterly, yearly, monthly for some people.
It’s one of those things where perfect is the enemy of good, and when it comes to your website, it’s never going to be perfect. So if you love it, just bask in that moment for today and know that as your business grows and evolves, so will your website.
Katie: Oh, I love that point. And there’s two angles to take that. The first angle is that we are so critical of ourselves. So sometimes seeing our pictures on there and the things that we’ve written can be hard to take in and we just want to keep on making these little tiny adjustments.
And so sometimes you have to step back and ask yourself are these adjustments based on my fear? Are these adjustments based on what actually really needs to happen to continue to make the website great? So don’t be too hard on yourself too, you know, to the students that are getting their new websites, like you said, you’re always going to make adjustments. Just be careful where the place of that wanting to make adjustments is coming from.
Maryalice: Yeah, it’s so true. Which is the power of coaching, right? I mean I’m sure you can do the same and so could all the coaches, there’s that imposter syndrome that steps up and sets in because you’re about to step up into this next level place that you’ve never been before.
And so when the website’s done sometimes there is this internal battle between, “Oh my gosh, this is so exciting and oh my gosh, what have I done?” This is so scary. Right? And so one of the things as coaches that we do is we’re able to hold your hand through that process and we’re able to call you out and say — listen, it is fabulous. You’ve done the work, it looks great. What’s really getting in your way? And a lot of times it is imposter syndrome. It’s powerful to have somebody in your corner to be able to call you out on that lovingly and with empathy.
Definitely not something you want to try to do on your own — it could be very challenging. So to have that support is powerful. Totally. Yeah. Okay. So how does having these assets help you?
Katie: So your website removes all of the fluff, right? So if I’m an event booker and I’m getting 50 emails with different speaker websites, I don’t want to go on and sort through Instagram and Facebook pages and blogs just to figure out what you’re about. So your speaker website, and especially in the format that we design at The Speaker Lab, it really works the event booker through all of the main points that they need to know, all the way down to the contact form, which is the ultimate goal, right?
So they can reach out to you and they can discuss further what you can bring to them. It gives them that really clear, concise space to really get a short in depth summary of who you are and what they can expect.
Maryalice: We have to understand that we have seconds to grab people’s attention. And if you are not doing that, most event planners are going to exit out and go to the next person. So it’s really critical to do that, and like you said, the way we do it here at The Speaker Lab — we’re so precise. We get right to the point so that an event planner knows what they’re getting.
Katie: Event planners — they have an assumption about who you are. So like that first page that they arrive on has got to be really clear, really attractive, and just like want to pull them down. Another beautiful thing is we put the speaker’s positioning statement right at the top of the website, and it does two things. One, it affirms for the correct audience that, Okay, I’m gonna keep reading, this is who I need to speak at my event. And it kind of dismisses some of the people who aren’t a great fit for that speaker. So it sorts out all of the events that you should or maybe don’t want to speak at automatically on its own.
Maryalice: What are some of the mistakes that you see when it comes to website design or just even the way that students think about the website? What are some of the mistakes that our listeners could pay attention to?
Katie: Absolutely. So, designing the website for your benefit, it’s really easy because it’s your content, it’s your passion, right? We want to talk and talk about it, but the website isn’t for you. It represents you. It’s really for your audience. It’s for those event bookers.
So if it doesn’t work in that manner that they’re going to need it to work in, it’s not going to be as effective. So really trying to take a step out of your shoes, which is where a coach really helps and comes into play. Putting yourself in the event booker’s shoes is critical to having a converting website that will get you people contacting you.
Another common mistake is just too much fluff, right? And I keep calling it fluff, but that’s really what it is. It’s just unnecessary filler information that the event booker doesn’t need. You don’t need to have a one thousand word bio — summarize your credentials and throw a little personal fun stuff in there, but they’re not going to read pages and pages about 10 different talks that you could potentially give. You probably don’t need to list all of those. You can talk about it in depth more with the event booker on the phone. So just be really careful on the amount of content that’s on your website. If you want to write and write, then have a blog section on your website. But don’t make it the business part of your site. Less is more when it comes to this.
Maryalice: I love the first point, and this is such a critical point, and it’s really hard for people to get that it correlates with people who have a hard time selling or say, I don’t like to sell. But when they get this, they realize, they’re not selling themselves, but rather when someone buys into something it’s because I want something out of it.
It really needs to start with what’s in it for them. So if I’m the event planner or if I’m the person who’s going to potentially hire you for a conference or what have you, if it’s not answering my biggest pain points and my biggest desires, goals, dreams, then there’s an immediate disconnect because, and I say this with so much respect, no one really cares what you do. They just want to know that you’re going to solve my problem. And I think this is something we do phenomenally in The Speaker Lab as coaches with our students. We really help them understand that yes, you’re a great speaker. Yes, you are talented and you have so much to offer, an impact to make. That’s all great. But what you have to sell is the transformation to the people that you’re speaking to. Because again, no one’s going to buy you. They want to buy a solution. And I think that also helps when it comes to selling, because then you start realizing you do really make an impact.
Katie: So this is also such a big one, and people don’t realize it, I think over 88% of the people who will come to your website come through their phone. And how many websites are not mobile friendly? If I go to a website and it doesn’t look good on my phone or I can’t navigate easily on my phone, I’m off in five seconds or less. And it’s no different with a speaking site, right? It is the expectation. It is not a luxury anymore. It is the expectation that your site is going to be functioning on a mobile device. It has got to be user friendly on everything.
And I would encourage you, anytime you make a change to your website, check it on your desktop and check it on your phone. It’s really important because you’d be shocked, if you were to put a picture on the right side and then a picture on the left side, sometimes it looks really funky on mobile. And even if it’s mobile friendly, it still might look funky. So you really always make sure that when you make changes you check on mobile and you check on your desktop.
The Demo Reel
Maryalice: Absolutely. Really important. Okay, so another asset that we deliver to our students is demo reels or sizzle reels. So talk about the importance of having a demo reel as a professional speaker. It is a visual highlight of you in a different way than your website, right? Your website provides a lot of necessary information that they’re going to need to know to contact you, but your demo reel gives them this visual and audio sense of who you are on stage. And we always pair this next to your brand statement on your website of who you are as a speaker. And I think your demo reel does a really good job of matching with that because they get to see how you carry yourself. They get to see how your facial expressions, how your voice carries in a room, or how you present yourself on Zoom if you’re going to do a virtual version of it.
And so it goes right along with that first impression we were talking about. It’s just a different kind of first impression, right? It gives them that security of when they watch you, they’re going to know what they’re getting.
And so why do we really drive this home as an important asset for professional speakers?
Katie: Yeah, it sets you apart in a different way than your website, right? Your website provides all of the necessary information that an event booker needs to have to contact you. The demo reel highlights you as a whole and what they can expect on stage.
So not only does it provide the beautiful visual that your website does, but they get this audio sense of you as well. And together they feel much more secure knowing how you present yourself with your hand motions and your facial expressions and how your voice carries, or how you present yourself in a virtual manner.
If you feature that on your demo reel, there’s a lot of different methods and strategies you can use for your demo, which we help you with at The Speaker Lab. You have coaching around that. That brand statement is a written version of who you are as a speaker, that overall vision you have, and the demo pairs beautifully with that, to have that visual, that highlights the movie piece with it so they know exactly who you are going to be on stage when they hire you. And some speakers don’t have this. Event bookers want to know the essence of who you are as a speaker. How do you command that stage and how do you move around on the stage? And here’s the other thing, there are some event planners who don’t want somebody moving and shaking all over the place on stage. So they’re looking for that too. So it’s really important in the demo reel that you honor your style and you let that shine through whatever that style is there.
Maryalice: Totally. And it’s so important. The demo reel is something that students used to really freak out about. And I think now we’ve really gotten into a good place with our students about this because, You don’t need this massive production and you don’t need to drop thousands of dollars.
Grant, the owner of our company, his first demo reel was completely mocked up and he walks you through that entire mockup. I think it’s incredible how creative our students get — the things that they add and just the creative genius that they pull out of themselves to create a demo reel that is completely mocked up. So talk a little bit about how advanced it needs to be or not?
Katie: Yeah, we certainly see two different boats. Right? I would say probably 85% of our students come in with either unusable content because the topic doesn’t relate or no content at all because they’re brand new. If you come in with content, awesome. We’ll use it, we’ll eat it right up, we’ll make a great reel. But if you don’t have content, there’s a lot of tips and tricks that we can recommend to you. I was in that boat myself. I rented out a conference room for $25. I set up a camera, I had a nice mic, and there was one person in the room and it was my friend and I faked that there was an audience in front of me and it turned out fine.
So there are spaces you can rent, there are techniques that you can use including mixing, virtual setting — and adding some of those things can help ease the pressure of having a really expensive filmed setting that you have to pay $5,000 for.
Maryalice: Yeah. I mean, I even love the videos where the students add still photos with themselves and they’re talking over it. I think it spotlights their personality and it captures their essence just as much as them talking live in front of an audience. So there’s so many ways and it’s amazing what we can do in production, right?
Katie: Yeah. If you provide us quality content, whether it’s professionally filmed or not, if it’s quality, there’s a lot we can do with really cool transitions and music and pictures and maybe some stock video, you know, in balance to make it a really effective demo reel regardless of what you’re coming into the program with.
Maryalice: Yeah. Love that. What are some of the biggest mistakes when it comes to quality material? What are some mistakes or non-quality material?
Katie: Yeah, so sound and lighting, just broadly overall — it’s got to be good. Again, in our technological world it’s an expectation that you’re going to have good sound, good lighting, the camera’s going to be good. Does that mean you have to rent a $5,000 piece of equipment to film it? No, your phone does a really good job. But lean on the coaching team to get the proper setup with your phone to make sure it has good lighting, that it’s stable, that you have a good microphone. We provide tips on what you can get and what you can use. But that sound quality, I mean, it’s your demo — people have to be able to hear you. And so if they’re really straining or there’s weird background noises, it’s not going to be a good first impression.
A lot of students will film on their phone, which is completely fine, but a lot of students will film it vertically. That’s an obvious hint that you’ve now just filmed that on your phone. So just those little things you have to think about, which we help you through is that wide camera angle and some of the different setups when you’re actually on video that can be huge.
Maryalice: I just think the sky’s the limit with creativity of really coming up with a great demo reel in three minutes or less. And it doesn’t need to cost an arm or a leg or anything. But to your point, the lighting, the sound, the angle of the camera, those are the small little things that you could do to make it professional.
And again, I can’t drive this home enough. Just start with something because something is better than nothing. Your business is going to grow over the next 18 months to two years. Your business is going to exponentially grow, which then you could make those decisions with all the material that you have from all of the talks that you’ve done. Then you can make a better demo reel, upgrade your website — but again, don’t let perfect be the enemy of good. Start with something.
Katie: One of the first things I said when we started talking about marketable assets is that it takes it from a hobby to a business. And so the more effort that the event booker and your audience can see that you’ve put into promoting yourself and your message, the more impressive it’s going to be.
So that effort is really important because this is a business and it needs to reflect it as one. It just highlights the best parts of you, right? It allows people to see amidst the noise, who your audience and industry is. It lets them see why you are the best person to speak on your message. Maybe it highlights your story a little bit. Maybe it highlights your achievements or all of the above. It highlights you. And that’s really what is going to sell. It’s you and your story and how people connect with you.
Maryalice: As you and I always talk about, it really helps you niche and target the right people to pay attention to your message, which is really important. You know, it’s important for you to understand that. And as we’re coaching our students through the website and the demo reel, they see their business getting more and more niche.
For some it’s a little scary, but it doesn’t mean you can’t do other things as your business grows. But as you’re kicking this off, it’s really important to stay in a lane. And when you go through this process of being coached through the website and the demo reel you really define your lane.
You have to remember, there’s no one in the world like you. There’s no two thumbprints that are the same. It’s the same with speakers. There’s no two people in this world like you. And so the way that you talk about your topic, the stories that you share, the impact that you make is going to be very different from the person next to you.
So I think that’s such an important thing to remember. And I feel like going through the website and the demo real process really helps that come to life. It gives people the confidence to put themselves out there as a professional speaker.
Katie: And just to add to that. You don’t want to take gigs that you don’t want. And so by being very clear in setting your tone and your story, it’s going to attract those who want you and deter those who don’t want you and you don’t want either. So it’s a win-win for everybody,
It takes a village. You have your message, you have your impact, but lean on people, right? We are all here to help. We want you to produce the best product possible. We want to highlight you in the best way. So that’s what we’re here for. Lean on us, get opinions, but not too many opinions, but get opinions.
Maryalice: I was just about to close, but I have got to really highlight what you just said because it’s really important. Opinions — be really careful, right?
If I’m a runner and you hate to run, I’m not going to seek your opinion about running, right? So if you’re a speaker and half your friends are like, “Why are you doing that?” The last thing you want to do is get their opinion on your website, right?
You can share your website, but you don’t need to get their opinion about it. So just be careful with that. Like, we all have our personal confidants in our life. Those are people you definitely want to get opinions on, especially when it comes to the essence or the personality of your website, because the people who love you and know you the best will be able to give you that constructive feedback. And trust your coach — there’s a natural relationship that forms and so that trust is there.
Well, this was awesome, and just to summarize — we talked about the abstract, about a website, we talked about a demo reel and all in all in terms of marketing yourself and really having assets to put yourself out there confidently, those are three critical things. So thanks so much for being here, Katie.
Katie: Thanks for having me. This was a blast!