Our best advice for growing 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.

Maryalice: Hey everyone. I’m Mary Goldsmith, Director of Student Success at the Speaker Lab, and today I am joined by our very own Elite Concierge and Coach, Katie Campbell, for this episode of the Coach’s Corner series. We are going to deep dive into the best advice for aspiring speakers — so excited to be with you today, Katie. I love to talk and shop with you, especially this topic. You know, we have our students who we inspire and motivate on a daily basis, but we also have people who are listening to our podcast and are aspiring to be speakers, and maybe they are doing it on their own.

So this advice is for both students and future students. So what we’re going to be sharing today is really important stuff on how you go about building a speaking business. And we’re going to be pulling back the curtain and sharing a lot of the stuff that we share with our students — especially those on the front lines.

One of the things we drive home to our students is to go through our SPEAK framework. So for those of you who don’t know, our Speak framework is an acronym and it stands for Solve a Problem, Prepare Your Talk, Establish Your Expertise, Acquiring Paid Gigs, and Know When to Scale. And this is our signature program that we walk students through and there is a very specific order — it was designed that way. It’s something that we really drive home to our students and remind them not to skip around — do not shuffle and make it work. Follow it.

So, Katie, what are some of the mistakes? We’re going to start with a negative, even though we love all our students, but what are some of the mistakes students make when they first jump into the course?

Katie: Yeah, so first — trying to look at everything all at once, right? So when you sign up, you’re going to get an orientation and we’re going to take a look at the dashboard and all the awesome things you get and free resources.

And I don’t know about you guys, but my mind is drawn to all of those exciting, shiny objects and I just want to do it all right away. And I think a lot of students are like that when they come in. They want to see all of the bonuses and all of the modules and what they’re about. And that overview can be helpful — but if we start diving into everything all at once, it’s going to be really overwhelming and none of it’s going to work as well. So, like Maryalice said from the start, that speak framework is so critical. So just trust the process and be excited for everything that’s coming your way and what you have to dive into. Opening everything all at once is probably not going to be a good idea for a brand new student jumping into this, regardless of the experience.

Maryalice: Yeah, I mean, it’s really hard, but it’s such a great piece of advice because it’s like a kid in a candy shop. They want to touch everything, try everything. And not that our students are kids, but the point being — you’re so excited, you just leveled up, you made this commitment to yourself, to your dreams, and to your speaking business. Of course you want to get your hands on everything, but we know from experience that is actually going to halt your progress more than catapult you forward.

And here’s the other thing. Because our program comes with one-on-one coaching, you will build relationships with one coach or all the coaches. We have students who go through all the coaches at different times and they will know what additional content you need. So there are times that I say to somebody when they’re in Module Four, “I want you to go to this bonus content because you’re ready for it and this is going to help you build out your pipeline.”

So just trust the process, like Katie said, and know that we know what’s in the Dashboard and we know what’s going to be useful for where you’re at. We also know what’s just going to be more noise when you really should be focusing on this framework. So we got you, we got your back for sure.

There’s a lot of amazing content and information back there and there is a time for it, but our most successful students legitimately follow that SPEAK framework. It’s there for a reason in the order of SPEAK,  so definitely trust that. I think another thing that happens when you try to consume all the information is you miss valuable, important information. We’ve had students who are really excited and some even overly anxious about all the things. And you know we’ll get emails and Voxers and posts in our community about Where’s this? and Where’s that? And it’s right there. But they’re trying to take so much in that they’re missing critical information. So that’s the other thing — really walking through the SPEAK framework as it’s designed.

We also do have a roadmap that actually helps you benchmark where you should be in the framework. So that’s also super useful. But when they’re following the framework, it’s amazing how they absorb all the information, the most important information, and they don’t miss critical components and get that squirrel syndrome.

Katie: Yeah. And that squirrel syndrome leads to that mindset of speed. I’ve gotta get through it. And that’s going to do you a huge disservice. There are so many students I talk to and they just want to get it all “done.” They just want to get out there and get booked to paid. Let’s reframe that question — how intentional can you get through the program? Because if speed is your overall goal, you’re going to run into issues and you’re going to feel all disjointed and chaotic as you’re working through everything. Again, regardless of your experience as a speaker, this program it’s quality. It’s intentional time spent working and being really consistent with it. And if we have the mindset of “let’s get through it” — well that doesn’t work really in any phase of life. So it’s not just the course, but this quality and intentional consistency theme that is really going to serve you a lot.

Maryalice: Yeah. I love that you brought that up because it’s not only great advice, it’s sound advice. I just had a testimonial interview with one of our students and he brought that point up naturally — that if you’re looking to speed through this course, you’re missing the education.

If your goal is speed you’re missing the sustainability part of what you can rinse and repeat continuously, which then you actually have a business and you’re not just a speaker. Big difference.

So big theme there guys. You have to go with intentionality. It’s quality over quantity. Speed isn’t going to get you the dream. Consistency is going to get you there. That’s the goal. And I think any testimonial you read on our website, any video that you see, they all say to follow the framework and be intentional.

Okay – so I love this next one because I love when our students get through the SPEAK framework and they’re like — it’s like so much more than I even thought. So what are our students most surprised about when they get back into the dashboard and see what we’re actually putting down here at the speaker?

What You Might Be Surprised to Know

Katie: Yeah, it’s more than booking gigs, right? Yeah. When you want to speak, that’s immediately where your brain goes. But you are going to get to the lead phase in our program, through the SPEAK framework, in its due time. But what you’re going to get out of the entire program is a sustainable business system. So you have a blueprint when you come out the other end and you have the tools and knowledge to back that up that will create success and scalability more than just learning how to book leads and get leads. There’s so much more to it to actually hold onto the opportunities that are going to be presented to you.

Maryalice: Yeah — it’s really profound because most people come here because they want to level up their speaking. We do have people who are great speakers, but maybe they want more of the marketing assets or more of the rinse and repeat system. But when they get back there and they see there are systems operations and procedures all built into this that I could just take and plug into my business — I know how hard that is to create that — a lot of failures, a lot of mishaps. And then finally you come up with some kind of a system, right? So to just have that handed down to you, you’re saving years of a lot of failures and successes.

But, it’s a big surprise because we’re going to get your marketing situated. We’re going to help you with a killer talk. But to know that when you have all of those assets and you’re a confident speaker, then you also get the path to making sure that it’s successful. That’s a huge relief.

And we have templates for you to help back that up as well. So not only are you getting the created systems that work, but you’re getting the templates like for emails and contracts and all of that stuff to help you hone that in more and personalize it further for what works with your business.

I want anybody who’s listening right now that is on this journey on your own, and I totally respect you. Trying to build any business on your own is very challenging. So shout out to all of you.

But I want you to think about why you should invest in The Speaker Lab. Every question that you have around your speaking business could be answered in The Speaker Lab. Well, it would be answered. I’m confident about that. You might wonder, what should I put in this contract? We have an answer for you. How should I formulate this? Well, we know that and we know exactly what to tell you, you know? What should be on my website? And trust me, I’ve looked at a lot of websites and there are a lot of things that shouldn’t be on there and a lot of things that should be on there that are not on there. And I think that’s what I love about the SPEAK framework — it’s like all encompassing.

How do you hire? We teach you how to do that. When do you know? We teach you. If you want to be a business owner, you have to at least know what it takes so that when you delegate, you know what you’re managing. You can’t delegate and manage if you don’t even know what you’re managing.

So Katie, what do you find yourself saying over and over again to our students — because there’s that fine balance of like bursting their bubble and allowing them to be excited. So tell us what are some things that you find yourself saying over and over?

Katie: Yeah, a lot of clarity happens with a deep breath, right? And sometimes we all just need to take a breath past the excitement and the fear. One of the main things as you’re going through this is you’ve got to celebrate your small wins, right? Because that’s what keeps that fire lit underneath you.

Maryalice: Also, don’t lose sight of your why and your impact, right? You’re creative. You have this message that you’re getting out to people. We just talked about all of the business aspects of this program, and sometimes we can get wrapped up in either end.

So when it feels stressful, like you don’t know if you can do it or you’re taking too long with one part — you’re forgetting the impact and the why behind why you signed up in the first place. That will, that will pull you through fear and frustration, you know?

Whatever that is for you — financially, emotionally, service based — it really does help you refocus. You’ll find a way to overcome it, regardless of what you have to do. You’ll find a way. Yeah. You’ll find a way to overcome it. And here’s the other thing, and this happened to me in my own business. The avenue I was taking was no longer the right road. So you get to pivot and change whenever you want. That’s the beauty of being an entrepreneur. Right? Just because you started with something doesn’t mean that’s where you’re meant to finish, but at least make sure you’re giving it all it deserves.

Defining that why is really, really important and it should move you emotionally. When it’s really not your passion, when it’s really not your why, pivoting is okay as long as you come out happier on the other end and more fulfilled. Let it happen. That’s what we’re going to support you through.

Lean on other people, right? You’re not in this alone. It does take a village between the coaches and your peers. You’ve got to ask questions and ask for advice. Don’t be afraid to do that. There’s so many people willing to help you and who maybe can see from that different perspective. And of course the coaching — you’re never alone in this process.

Katie: We can’t make you reach out to other people and create those networking connections. You’ve got to take ownership of that. And that’s one of the things that I drive home. When we talk about this on orientations with new students — you’re the driving force behind it so you can make what you want to make out of it.

If you passively take the course, that’s the result you’re gonna get. If you go all in and you create those connections, you won’t believe how much it will elevate what you’re already doing.

Why You Have to Have Grit

Maryalice: It’s really great advice. All right, so let’s talk about grit. As much as I love talking about the why, I love talking about grit, because it takes a ton of grit and this is why it’s not for everyone.

There’s a million people who want to be speakers, but there’s only a few people who will actually invest in it, get the help, get the systems and launch it and go full throttle into it because it does take grit. So one thing you and I know is building a speaking business is not for the faint of heart, but how do we help our students here at The Speaker Lab understand that this does take work.

Katie: Yeah. The grit is that it’s more than just showing up and doing the gig, right? When you envision yourself as a speaker, you picture yourself booking that gig and going on stage, but you learn it right from the welcome module. I think it’s lesson number two, right in there.

We go through the reason behind every stage of the framework, and you soon realize the grit is more than just showing up for that gig. The grit is all of the little in between pieces that it takes to work to get that gig. It’s like building those relationships with someone you’ve never talked to before and creating that trust.

Maryalice: We want to have an impact, and so part of that grit is really studying your audience and making sure that you’re making the connection and the impact in a way that gets them to think and feel and be different after they hear from you.

This is not a get rich quick scheme. Yes — we have had students who have gotten booked and paid in 90 days, and I actually coached one of them. It’s not that speed is not an option. You can do it fast, but this is not a get rich quick scheme.

Katie: Your effort has to back that up. And that’s the big point, right? If you want a get rich quick scheme you’re going to want to sit on your couch and eat bon bons and let the opportunities roll in. And that is not this. The effort has to match in order to receive the outcomes that you’re looking for.

Maryalice: What else in terms of grit, especially when it comes to working the pipeline — a lot of students get there and there’s something that happens where they’re like — wait a minute — this should be easier. It’s almost like an expectation hangover, and they get caught up with the fact that it’s not moving faster. Let’s talk about that.

Katie: Yeah. Leads are hard. If you don’t have a sales background, you probably haven’t had to sell yourself or reach out to people that you don’t know very often. There’s this barrier that you have to break through and nudge yourself through a little bit. Sometimes it’s going to be a splash of cold water, but you’re supported behind it. It’s more than sending one email and getting a response back. Sometimes you can get a response after five emails. Sometimes you send a hundred plus emails and you don’t hear back from people. And so when you’re working that pipeline it’s helpful to see the entire journey, right from the other person’s point of view.

For example: If I get this email from a speaker, I don’t know them, so either I’m probably going to ignore it the first time. Maybe the second time I’ll look them up. Maybe the third email from them, I’m like, okay, I’ll really check out their website this time. Maybe the fourth email. Then I’ll respond to them, right?

Putting yourself in their shoes and seeing their perspective on your emails and your process that you’re following up on with them can be really helpful as you’re getting frustrated. These are humans you’re talking to, not robots. So humans take time.

Maryalice: You have to think about your prospecting and you are expecting someone to do something that you don’t do yourself. I think the other thing too is that we go into great detail helping our students come up with different ways — we’re creative people, we’re speakers, so get creative. There’s not just one way of working a pipeline, so get creative. We talk to our students about this whole concept of putting different events and buckets of importance and how to work them differently. But that’s something that we need to think about too, outside of the box. And you know, it’s not the most fun thing to do for everybody, but how can you make it more enjoyable in the process? And that’s probably bringing a little of your personality and creativity into it.

I think the common thread through everything we’ve talked about is the intentionality and consistency, and really having the why and the vision and the strategy.

But there is also the mindset piece, right? Of fear and the imposter syndrome. So that’s something we talk about a lot with our students. So let’s just touch on that for a minute.

Katie: Yeah. I mean, anytime you do something new there’s going to be some piece of unknown, and I think that’s where that fear and that imposter syndrome draws up a little bit, but that’s so normal.

Maryalice: Yes – if you’re not feeling that fear and that imposter syndrome, you’re probably way too comfortable and we need to get you out of your comfort zone.

Katie: Totally. Nothing good happens in a comfort zone. That’s a buzz quote that’s been going around Instagram for the last three years, but it’s true.

Maryalice: Yeah. So if you’re uncomfortable and you’re wondering why you did this — but you also have that passion — we’re going to help you push through that. I think I said this on one of the podcasts, but I love when a student comes on a call and admits they’re really struggling. And I tell them it’s great they’re having that because that means you’re playing bigger. It’s like mental aerobics, right? It is really just a red flag that you’re going somewhere that you have never been. And yes, that can be scary. You’re allowed to be afraid. It’s totally fine. I think it’s such a great sign that you’re leveling up, you’re taking yourself and your life and your business, and you’re speaking to the next level.

The only time it’s not okay is if it paralyzes you and you and you go run and hide, that’s a problem. But somehow celebrating that you’re experiencing imposter syndrome is the best advice I can give. Don’t let it debilitate you. Rather, agree that it is going to teach you something about yourself.

Katie: I think once we don’t feed the beast of imposter syndrome, we can really see it for what it is and then move on. Which is a beautiful thing. And comparisons play a big role in that. If you are so absorbed and are looking at what other people are doing and comparing yourself to people who have been in this for 10 or more years, you have to remember they start where you are too.

So also be aware of what you’re looking at every morning when you wake up or before you’re going to bed. What is going through your mind to feed that voice in your head that’s saying, “I can’t do this.” Or “I’m not gonna be good at this.” That has a huge impact on your imposter syndrome.

Maryalice: Yes and really be cautious and there’s going to come a time in your business where my best advice for you would be to shut everything off. Don’t follow a single person. If you want to follow for research purposes, marketing, create a separate email and you could opt into things and only view it certain times. But I did that in my business. I stopped following everyone, and it was the best thing that ever happened for me.

So to wrap up, what advice would you give someone who knows that they have a message, and there’s a lot of people out there that really have a profound message, but they’re not sure how to get it out there.

What to Do Next

Katie: Can I just say sign up for our program? I mean, you’re going to start off with the foundation, right? Event bookers are business people. They’re expecting that you know your message inside and out and that you know your business inside and out and it’s seamless.

Maryalice: Yeah. It’s going to be the difference between you or somebody else at that point.

Katie: So if you start with that foundation, you’re going to have all of the right solid building blocks in place to take it to the next level, every single time you are ready to scale and level-up.

That’s what the program does for you. So if you have a message and you want to get it out there, do yourself a favor and get the business part down too. Do you want to do a one-stop-shop or do you want to DIY it? It might take longer, it might take a lot more energy, and there’s no right or wrong answer to it. That’s for you to decide. But if you do want to learn more, definitely book a strategy call with The Speaker Lab.

Whatever it is, at least do yourself the service of exploring how The Speaker Lab can help you do it. Because every day we watch people achieve their dreams and it’s amazing.

Maryalice: Well, this is awesome. We hope that this advice helps both students and current speakers. And if you’re not a student and you’re an aspiring speaker, this is great advice for you too and the intentionality and the quality of your work, and how you go about building your business really does matter. We’re here to support you. We appreciate you listening. We hope you guys all have a fabulous day. Thanks Katie for being with me!

If you enjoyed this transcript, click below to check out the full podcast episode! 

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