Melanie Deziel Grant Baldwin The Speaker Lab Questions to ask before signing speaking contract public speaking public speaking contract questions

Melanie Deziel

New York, NY

Tell us about yourself; who are you and what do you do for fun?

I’m a writer and a storyteller at heart, having gone to school for journalism. I grew up in Connecticut but settled down in NYC after grad school and it didn’t take me long to realize I wanted the freedom of work for myself. I’m a big coffee fan and I love cafe culture, so getting to “cafe surf” around the city is great. A lot of my hobbies are focused around learning and seeing new perspectives; I love to read, write, watch documentaries, travel and walk around parts of the city I haven’t seen before.

What got you into speaking? Is it what you expected?

I had been sharing my experience in my corporate role for several years, and felt like I wanted to help more people, more quickly. Starting my own consultancy gave me a way to choose which clients I worked with, but it also opened me up to more speaking opportunities which gave me an even bigger platform to teach and share. Speaking gave me a way to reach many more marketers and storytellers than I could doing 1:1 work, and tapped into my own love of storytelling, too.

I love knowing that when I step off stage, so many members of my audience have learned something that will make them better at their jobs and more powerful storytellers. I think I honestly enjoyed it even more than I expected; I’m honestly an introvert in my day-to-day life, so I like that I’m able to turn on the personality and really enjoy being on stage now.

Tell us about your hardest moment as a speaker so far.

In one of my events last year, I showed up early and was able to sit in on the presentations preceding mine. It became obvious quickly that my topic was fairly disconnected from the others, and I worried it would fall flat. I decided to use the lunch break to update and revise my presentation just before I went on stage. It was a big risk, and I was nervous that I would still miss the mark or—worse—that the last minute changes would throw me off on stage. Luckily everything went off without a problem and the presentation (in its updated form) was well-received, but I’ve never been more nervous or riddled with self-doubt leading up to a presentation.

What has been your biggest success as a speaker so far?

I went from working a corporate job to turning down inbound invitations to speak inside of a year, and that’s a tremendous accomplishment. While I still certainly have to hustle to ensure I’m on the stages I want to be on and in front of the folks I want to be reaching, I’ve also managed to build enough of a brand and a reputation that I’m being invited to speak on more stages than I can, or should, step onto. I feel honored and proud.

What was your biggest struggle before finding The Speaker Lab?

I truthfully had no idea how to build a speaking business. I didn’t know who to contact, what to expect, what speaking contracts should look like, how to weigh opportunities, or anything related. I didn’t have the strategies in place to be able to build a sustainable speaking practice.

How has The Speaker Lab helped you and your business?

The most important thing that The Speaker’s Lab gave me is the knowledge and resulting confidence that I know how to make strategic decisions that will drive business growth. I know how to negotiate rates and set up a contract, how to weigh opportunities that come up, and how to ensure that all of my speaking gigs are contributing to the growth of a business I can be proud of.

What is your number one goal over the next 6 months to a year?

Now that I hit my “first-year” milestone, I’m looking to shift my focus to more strategic speaking opportunities, perhaps pulling back on the number of gigs and focusing my attention on the ones that make the biggest impact or offer the biggest opportunity in other business areas.

Melanie Deziel Grant Baldwin The Speaker Lab Questions to ask before signing speaking contract public speaking public speaking contract questions

About Melanie Deziel

I am branded content consultant and speaker, meaning I combine my journalism education and my experience in marketing and advertising to help brands and publishers tell better stories together. Before starting my own company a year ago, I worked at Time Inc., The New York Times and Huffington Post creating content strategies for advertising partners. I also work as a professor for Syracuse University’s online MA program, a columnist for Inc, and serve on the board of the Native Advertising Institute.

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