How to find what’s missing in your speaking business

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Looking for practical advice and training from the world’s most successful speakers? The Speaker Lab Podcast features business tactics, tips, and strategies from the world’s most successful speakers. We post transcripts of every episode as resources to help you build your speaking business.

Grant: Hey, what’s up friends? Grant Baldwin here. Welcome back to the Speaker Lab Podcast. Good to have you here with us today. We are chatting with my friend Julie Solomon, talking about her speaking journey and some lessons that we can learn from her story. Julie, thanks for hanging out with us today!

Julie: Thank you for having me. It’s good to be here.

Grant: All right. First of all, why don’t you give us some context of who you speak to and how speaking fits into your overall business. And maybe paint the picture of what the Julie Solomon enterprise looks like.

Julie: Yes. So I have been speaking as long as I can remember, just babbling away at 18 months old and I haven’t stopped since.The way that speaking really melds into my business and overarching view is that I have an online coaching business for high level female entrepreneurs, creatives, and coaches. I’ve been doing this for almost 10 years. Before that, I was a publicist. I worked in corporate and agency America, working with a lot of our high level stars in the world.

I worked with people like Lenny Kravitz and Pink and Maroon Five on the music side. And then I went to book PR and worked with a lot of our big thought leaders that we know today like Dave Ramsey and Mike Height and all those amazing people. So that is where my background in marketing and PR evolved and the online coaching business that I have now. What I really help people do is I help them catapult their visibility. Women will come to me, they’ve had a lot of success, they feel really good in their life and have created a lot of impact. I have great clients, and yet something for them just feels a little unfinished.

Sometimes people come to me and they just feel stuck. And I remind them — you’re not stuck. Stuck is when you’re trying to figure out how to make 6K a year — that’s stuck. You’re trying to learn new processes and systems and strategies to get you unstuck when you get to that certain level. So that’s when people come to me, they’re wanting to know what’s next?

Who wants more visibility? Who wants to speak more? Really sharing your message and using that as a conduit to impact the world in ways in which a lot of us don’t even realize is possible. I think that what makes me unique and my perspective unique is my background. Ever since I can remember I have had these stars that just get very attracted to me because I can take a star and crack it open and make it an even bigger star.

And I did this with clients. It does not make logical sense, Grant, why at 20 years old I was working with Lenny Kravitz. That does not make logical sense, and yet it was happening. I even married a star. I’m married to an actor. And so it’s just part of this thing that I have — I’m really, really good at seeing something that maybe somebody else can’t see in themselves, and how do we crack that open, and how do we really connect that to their deeper purpose and meaning in life? And then how do we get to use these amazing things like speaking to bring that out into the world?

Grant: Do you find for yourself still having some of those doubts and insecurities and fears? Like — why should I be working with these various musicians and artists and authors and thought leaders and what do I bring to the table? So how did you navigate that early on for yourself?

Julie: Yeah — I feel like as a publicist, you really are speaking on behalf of our client. You are creating the messaging and the marketing and really helping them take that voice and crafting it out into the world. I would have moments of doubt all the time. I still do. You have those moments of doubt like, Who am I to do this? What if I’m found out? What if I do it? And then it gets taken away from me? What if I’m abandoned? What if I do it and then no one buys? What does that mean about me?

When the outcome of why I wanted to speak was always contingent on these external things, it would always be an energetic mismatch. It wasn’t until I started to get really clear on why I really wanted to speak and why I had this thing within me that got louder and louder and louder until it just took over my entire being.

So the deeper purpose here for myself is that I come from a certain place of being a communicator at heart in which, of course I’m going to speak because that’s just who I am. It’s part of my DNA and I don’t know how else to explain it. Whether I’m doing it on a live or I’m doing it through teaching a course, or I’m doing it on a stage in front of 10,000 people, or I’m doing it on a podcast right here. It is literally how I share my soul with the world. And once I got clear on that, and it became so much bigger than the fear, that’s when I was able to really step into it in a much deeper way. It’s when I started to trust myself and what it is that I felt I wanted to say in a deeper way — that’s when I started letting myself off the hook.

The message that’s coming out isn’t about me. It’s about something so much greater. And so that’s how I get over those moments of doubt or fear. It’s that my purpose has to be greater than any fear that I’ll have.

How to Face the Climb

Grant: How did you make that mental transition of — again, you’re working with a lot of these big names and you’re more of a support role and kind of behind the scenes — so how do you, kind of overcome that and feel like you even have anything to bring to the table?

Julie: You know, I had to start really getting clean and clear about why I was underestimating the power of my own purpose. Why am I sitting behind the scenes? And look, there’s nothing wrong with people. Love being behind the scenes. You know, you have your operations people and your integration people, and the people that are really meant to help you drive the ship.

But if you have a calling to speak and to be out there, then you’re not one of those people. And so that was the thing for me. I didn’t believe in myself. I didn’t think I was worthy enough, and it wasn’t until — I’ll give you a good metaphor that I like to use — it’s rock climbing. So I don’t know if there’s any rock climbers out there listening, but we all kind of understand the basis of rock climbing, right?

So you go up and you start to climb the rock and you’ve got one hand here, one hand here. You’re kind of doing the frog. You know the frog leap, right?  And what I noticed was happening in my life — and I believe that we are the best coaches and teachers for former versions of ourselves — we start climbing the wall because we say that this is the thing that we want and then we get to this point and the next move that we have to take is that we have to take this one hand and we have to lift it up to this other thing.

Your arms start to shake. Your feet are starting to go out. You have to keep moving. You have to keep climbing the rock. And I think for me, I got to that place that I had just been hanging onto the same spot for so long that my arms were shaking, my legs were giving out. I was getting so sick and tired of being sick and tired.

And so it was that moment or maybe a series of moments of being so sick and tired of being sick and tired and being so tired of feeling like I’m betraying what I know to be true, and really allowing myself to listen to that. To listen to that desire of what it is that I want to do and not let anything else get in the way. And so for me it was a choice. Are we going to just keep letting those fears and those doubts get in the way of us really stepping into our shine? Or are we going to finally get off the freaking rock, dust it off, and get up there and finally climb to the top. And then guess what happens? You get to the top and then there’s a whole other mountain, a new one, you know? And then you’ve got to climb that one.

There’s always going to be a next level. And so when I started to really embrace that, and I think the word that comes up for me is acceptance, when I really started to accept reality on reality’s terms and to accept me as I am. That’s when I was able to say, okay, “I’m going to do this. I’m going to give it a go. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t have to be whatever labels I’m trying to attach to it, I’m just going to do it.” And it was in that choice of doing that, that I actually started to become a better speaker. I started to learn my voice, my cadence — when am I on, when am I off? Where do I articulate? What are those moments of resonance that I really want  to captivate and pull someone in? What really compels me to want to keep coming back and speaking, it was in the action of that inspired action of the doing, but I had to believe first.

Grant: So for you, when you made that mental shift of knowing you wanted to speak and that you needed to be out there — what are the next steps that you take because there is kind of a balance of the confidence with the reality of “nobody knows who I am. I’ve never done speaking before. I’m not entirely sure what I’d say. I’m not sure who books me. I’m not sure how this works.” So where do you go from there and what were some of those early steps for you?

Creating an Experience

Julie: Yeah, so for me, and this is really the basis of what I helped people with, it was pitching. I was a publicist for years. I knew how to pitch. And so when I got into coaching before I was speaking, my first course ever was called “Pitch It Perfect.” I helped people pitch and land paid opportunities for themselves, whether it was partnerships, collaborations, sponsorships, media — whatever it was.

And so I said, “Well, if I want to do this, why don’t I start pitching myself for things?” The other thing too that helped me, and I want everyone listening to this to hear me, whether it’s a stage of 10,000 people or in a room with 10 people, I want you to be so ready for people to say yes to you. I want you to lead with that type of confidence and excitement. You have to be so ready for people to say yes to you, and you have to also embrace where you are. So when I was starting out, I wasn’t trying to get a speaking agent. I wasn’t there yet. It doesn’t mean that I’m wrong or bad. I just wasn’t there yet.

I wasn’t trying to pitch myself for 30, $40,000 speaking gigs. I wasn’t there yet. I wasn’t trying to compete with people who did it full-time, all year. I wasn’t there yet. So I had to start with where I was. And for me it was, it was small conferences, workshops, or even masterminds.

I would pitch myself for a lot of those opportunities to start building the confidence, the clarity, the frameworks of how I wanted to be as a speaker. And then from that more was revealed. The best question I ask myself whenever I’m watching myself speak is, Where did I feel pulled in? Where did I feel emotional? Where did I feel excited? Where did I feel that tug? And then,  Where did I feel like I’m drifting off? Where was I on, where was I off? People connect based on how they feel. So what is the feeling that I’m wanting to get across here? And then from that more would be revealed about the things that really light me up when I speak.

So I’m going to say something, but with a caveat —-  where I’m at now, I don’t really have to pitch myself. People come to me, companies come to me, brands come to me to say, “Hey, will you come and speak at this thing? And I’m sure someone listening is eye rolling and thinking “that’s easy for her to say.”

However I was intentional. I wanted to one day get to a place where, who I am and what I say, and my message was so squeaky clean that it would attract. It’s about attraction over promotion for me. So the way that I laid that groundwork is that I had to make a decision years ago about what I was speaking on. And of course there will be evolutions of growth, but this is my lane. This is who I am, this is what I embody. I am going to give myself permission to pivot as I grow. But this is my thing. This is my voice. And I am going to be so consistent about that. And every time that I have the opportunity to get on a Facebook Live, an Instagram Live, a podcast, anything — I’m going to be driving home that intention.

You have to find your niche. There has to be some kind of thing. Something that just you could speak about literally until the day that you die, that lights you up and gets you so excited, and that you’re creating an entire experience around that.

Everything that you’re touching with your social media, with your customers, with your clients, with the way that you present yourself to the public, as a visionary, as a speaker, as a leader —  how are you creating that entire experience instead of just being the half-time show or the National Anthem? No — you’re everything. And so for me it’s about how I am creating an experience that relates to that bigger mission and that bigger purpose of why I want to speak, because that’s what gets people attracted. And so for me, it’s not just the speaking gig, it’s the podcast, it’s the programs, it’s the courses, it’s the books, it’s all of those things.

And even when I first started and I didn’t have any of that, I was thinking of branding in that way. And again, just my background in pr, and this is why I speak on branding and why I talk a lot about this, is because I knew that I wanted to create the entire experience because when you look at anything — Super Bowl, Olympics, World Series, and big famous entertainers do this — they’re not just one thing and they’re not focused on one thing. They create an entire experience that captivates and draws people in. Sports do it really well. Entertainment does it really well, and so how could I bring that idea to my brand as a whole, and then how was I going to make it really clean and clear for people to understand this is who she is, this is what she does, this is what she brings to the table, this is how she serves.

The other thing that really helped me was starting a podcast. I started a podcast back in 2017 and in so many ways it allowed me to become a better speaker. It allowed me to understand my voice more. It allowed me to get really comfortable with the flow of things so I could be off script and I could trust myself more with what I was speaking on.

And so that’s the other thing that I would love to implore people to think about is how are you creating an entire experience? It’s not just about the speaking, it’s not just about the call, it’s not just about the social media, but it’s an entire experience that lends to a more connective experience for the people that are in your community. And for me, it’s those people that are listening to the podcast that then email me and say, “Hey, can you speak at my keynote conference next year?”

How to Pitch

Grant: One thing we talk a lot about on the show is that speaking is very much a momentum business. The more you speak, the more you speak. And so initially you’re just doing anything you can to get that momentum going. But over time, like you said, you start to build some more word of mouth and name recognition and referrals and repeat business, and it starts to create a bit of a flywheel. But initially you mentioned that in order to get that momentum going and start to push that boulder, it takes a lot of pitching. And pitching was your background. So because that’s your expertise and your world amongst other things, what are two or three best practices or things that we need to be thinking of when pitching? Because it is so much more than just, “I have my website, I have my demo video, and now I just sit and wait for people to show up.” So who are we reaching out to? What are we saying? What should we say? What should we not say? Talk us through how to best make a pitch.

Julie: So the first thing is that you have to know who you’re talking to. A lot of times people don’t think about it, and so they’re just blindly pitching and then wondering why they aren’t getting any responses.

So asking yourself, Who am I speaking to? Who is that right and perfect person that if they heard the message that I have to share, it will impact and change their life for the better. Who is that? And so getting clear on that is the first step. And then who is it? Where is he or she? That would be the next question — where is this person?

And then asking yourself, What would be of greatest service to them? Once you have those three questions mapped out, that will let you know who you’re talking to, where they are and then what you’re talking about. Once you have that, then you can start reaching out.

So it’s about getting clear on that first and then getting clear on what. What are you bringing to the table and what makes it fun and exciting and what is that thing? And that’s the pitch. It’s not about what you want, it’s about what they want and about meeting them where they are. So how can you be of service to what it is that they need? And this is where you’ve got to do your research.

For every yes you’re going to get, you’re probably going to get 20 no’s. Yeah. I tell my clients now — I want you to be pitching 50 opportunities a day. Once you have that signature pitch, just go ahead and pull some things from that keynote. This is who I am, this is what I’m excited about. This is how I would love to come in and serve your community doing this. This is how I know it is going to help them transform. It’s about that journey that we’re taking people on. Always go into pitch with a question mark because when you think about pitching, you’re literally throwing the ball back to that person to now throw it back to you.

When you’re emailing, you need to make them feel something in that email. Do not write a novel. No one has time to read a novel. Write it and then read it. And then ask yourself, if I read this, would I be interested in responding to it? And if it’s not a “heck yes,” you’ve got to refine it some.

Grant: Is there anything else you would recommend as far as standing out from the crowd because the people that are being pitched for PR opportunities or speaking engagements or whatever are probably seeing a lot of those pitches hold on. So when you’re sending an email, you are one of perhaps dozens and it might feel very templated, like they’re all copy and paste. So anything that you can do to kind of stand out, especially if you’re pitching a speaking opportunity —  instead of just sending a written form, send a video. If you’re literally speaking, they’re going to want to know what you sound like.

Julie: I also personally love direct messaging through a social platform. That is consistent. So for me, that’s Instagram. Because if I’m direct messaging somebody they’re going to be able to immediately go to my Instagram and like see what I’m about. So maybe you have a Facebook platform — whatever is your strongest platform, pitch from that, because then people are going to be able to see what your bio says and what content you’re consistently creating.

This way, when they do research you, it’s all there. They can see it, they can feel it, they can touch it, they can taste it, and then they’re going to want to move forward. So that is a huge thing that I think people don’t really think about very much.

Grant: Do you find that because your background is PR, that speakers leaning into PR moves the needle in any way for booking gigs?

Julie: I think so because there has to be a level of confidence to do that and confidence is going to outshine a lack of confidence any day of the week.

Grant: Especially with public speaking, you’re going to be speaking on a stage. There has to be a gravitas, a confidence, just a knowingness that you have what it takes to come to that table and people want to feel that. And so if you’re not even confident enough to send a pitch, do you think that someone is going to feel confident putting you on their stage? Probably not. So one of the things that we touched a little bit on is you had a book that came out recently. So let’s wrap up with this. Tell us about the book and then for speakers who are just getting started, what’s a final piece of advice that you have?

Julie: So, you know, I love this idea of “unseen and unstoppable” because I feel like for so many of us it’s probably a huge reason why so many of us get into speaking because we felt so unseen and unheard. But the beauty of that, and really the main idea is getting to that piece of confidence resolution. So I talk a lot about the origin stories in the book of things that are holding us back, that are keeping us unseen, and those belief systems that we have which suggest that we’re not enough. If it’s not perfect, I don’t need to try. My voice doesn’t matter anyways. The quieter I am, the more I’m loved.

So we first have to get clear on why they are here? So I lead with that so we can notice it, accept it for what it is, and then move it out of the way so we can start really taking the inspired action. And for me, a lot of that is about branding, and I talk a lot about branding in the book. How are you creating that world class experience, not only for yourself, but for your customers, your clients, the people that you want to speak for? I believe that it really is about that world-class experience. And I go into a lot about pitching — how are you advocating for yourself? How are you showing up and really being of service and sharing that with the world. And then we go into negotiating which is a big part with speaking as well, you know? And then we end on that empowerment piece of — are you really ready to get what you want? A lot of times people say, “I can’t get what I want because I don’t know what I want.”

So how can we remove those things? Can we really start stepping into what it is that we say that we want? Because we can talk about it all day long. But saying something vs. really moving forward and making sure that your life is in reflection of that is a completely different thing. And I think that’s a big question that people have to answer. So we uncover that in the book.

Grant: Awesome. Julie, this has been great. If people want to find out more about you or check out the book, where can we go?

Julie: I spend most of my time on Instagram. I also have a podcast where we release a new episode every week and have been since 2017. That’s called the Influencer Podcast. I talk a lot about branding, PR, marketing, and building a business. And then I have a slew of masterminds and coaching programs for people who are wanting to dive deeper into really creating a brand that is lasting so they can do things like speak on stages and write books, and really build a platform that leaves a legacy. You can find all of that at juliesolomon.net.

Grant: Awesome. Julie, thanks for the time. We appreciate it.

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