This one mistake is costing you thousands in your speaking business

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Maryalice: Hey everyone! I’m Mary Goldsmith, Director of Student Success here at the Speaker Lab, and today I’m joined by one of our fabulous coaches, Jeremy Rockford. For this episode of the Coach’s Corner series, we are going to deep dive into this one mistake, and there’s probably little sub mistakes in there as well, that is costing you thousands in your speaking business. Jeremy, how are you?

Jeremy: I am fantastic. I’ve got some tea. I’ve got some good content. I’ve got a fantastic person I’m going to speak with today. I’m just, I’m great.

Maryalice: So today we are going to talk about the health of your speaking business and the one mistake you might be making. And we’re going to get right into it at the beginning because everything that we talk about after this really correlates to alleviating this issue. So what is the one mistake you see as a coach when it comes to speakers being a standout in their industry? What’s the one thing that they keep tripping?

What’s the Big Problem?

Jeremy: They’re not clear on the problem they solve and how it helps their audience. And I will give you a great example of how this manifested in my life and how I corrected it and how it has been super helpful ever since then. So for those who don’t know, a lot of my past is weight loss. I lost 200 pounds, wrote a book about it, and did a TedTalk about it.

And early on in my career, people would say, “Come talk, share your story.” And I would, and it was, okay, but literally anyone who was willing to pay me or give me a sandwich I was willing to come and talk to in the early days. Give me a gift card to Sheetz, and it’s on. What they meant by come share your story, but they weren’t able to communicate, was come share your story as it relates to helping my audience. I would get up there and be like, “This is me, this is losing weight, and these are my traumas.” And people would sympathize and empathize. But I never gave them the next steps of flipping it and saying, “Now that we know this is possible, here’s how to make it happen.” And that’s when I learned that I was able to integrate some of the life changing principles.

But there’s a pendulum here. If you go too far to story, then you leave them wanting more, but not in a good way. But if you go too far too tactical, you get very confusing because people don’t want the tactics until they understand what the tactics can do for them. And so the great balance that I call this is vehicle vs. destination.

Far too often as speakers, and I’m not throwing shade – I am the chief of these individuals. We get really nerdy on the things we love and we go straight to alpha level nine with this nerd. But a lot of our audience, they’re not there yet. And so something that I had to overcome in learning how to do this well was the concept of time management.

For me, time management is the biggest secret to weight, because if you can manage your time well, you take care of the first typical excuse for most people and you also remove the cost excuse because those tend to be the two main excuses for weight loss. It’s too much time. It’s too expensive.

Well, if you don’t manage your time, you’re forcing yourself to eat what I call hipster healthy. Now you are paying $21 for a salad, whereas if you just made your time do what you wanted it to do. That same salad would cost you $3, which is cheaper than McDonald’s. So how is it more expensive to lose weight?

But no one cares about that just yet because no one has ever come to me and said, “Jeremy, I want to look so sexy in my time management this summer.” But I went straight to alpha level. I’m like, “This is how you do it.” But that’s the problem, I kept trying to sell the vehicle. What the audience wants and what they need is the destination.

So what they want to hear is how they can lose weight. What they want to hear are the three seekers of sustainable weight loss. What they want to hear is that one thing missing from your fitness regimen that will actually make it stick because that’s what they want. That’s the destination.

Think about your own travel habits when you’re flying, if you happen to. Do you go to Southwest and say, “You know what? I really want a 737. Is this going to be a 737? Because I don’t want a  787.” No, instead you ask, “Can I get to Austin? Can I get to Seattle? Can I get to Tacoma?” You buy the destination, right? Not the vehicle.

And I think that there is one of the biggest mistakes that costs us. If you’re selling the destination, you don’t have to explain. Your audience would look at you and go, “Oh, you have an opportunity to increase workplace productivity? That’s what I want.” Great. That’s what I sell.

But we make that mistake – we get so excited about our things, as we should, but we’re getting so excited about the vehicle that we’re not getting them excited about the destination.

Maryalice: Yeah. It’s such a great point and there’s so much to unpack there. I think that the other thing too, and we hear this a lot with our students, is “I’m so afraid to sell.” Well, when you’re so clear on the problem that you solve and how you solve it, that mindset just completely shifts, right? You’re not afraid to sell, but rather ready to get yourself out there.

You feel like you have to save these people! Right? Because you’re so clear and you’ve worked the program or the strategy or the method or the concept with a couple of clients, seen the impact that it’s made with them. So you’re not selling any longer, you’re offering an opportunity. And I also want to touch on something that you said, which I think is so critical of speakers.

We have students that come to us and they have so much content. You have to be really cautious about that because you’re there to speak for 30 to 45 minutes. You’re not going to solve all their problems. You almost have to just kind of rip off the bandaid and expose the pain and give them hope that there’s a solution, but you’re not going to solve everything.

And it’s almost a disservice to think that you will solve everything in one talk, especially something like weight loss that really is a mind-body connection or even sales where you really have to look. Where the gaps are and how you actually fill those gaps in a quarter, the next quarter, the following quarter, and so on.

And so it’s really important to just focus on what’s the problem that you solve and then exposing them — sometimes people don’t know their own gaps, so it’s our role as a speaker to expose those blind spots and then give them hope that there’s a solution. But understanding what your problem is, that the problem that you solve and how you solve it is game changing for your business. Game changing.

Why You Have to Niche

Jeremy: Well, and to piggyback on what you said, and it may just be the timing, but over the past few weeks have really helped a lot of students with their speech format. And so we can frame this any way we want, whether it’s a truth you accept, whether it’s a reality you didn’t know. It can be as simple as giving yourself permission. But when I speak with individuals about constructing their talk, If it doesn’t make the first talk — that’s great. You just have a second talk. And it totally seems so simple though, right? But even as recent as yesterday, I was speaking with someone who was like, literally, this has changed my life because I was wondering how I was going to fit all this into an hour? And then the student watched one of our coaching sessions where I talked about this, and she was like, “No one ever told me I could just write three speeches, I just thought I had to have this one keynote where everything is addressed.” And it just brought her so much freedom because she was stuck. She was trying to jam everything in. And you don’t have to — and maybe they’ll bring you back for a follow up. Or hire you to consult or coach or do a workshop where you can dive really deep.

Maryalice: I think the big point here, because we could drive home this point forever, is that understanding the problem that you solve is crucial and some of our students come in and there is resistance to really narrowing this down. And I have empathy for them because some people have had multiple lives in one life. So they can talk about a lot of things.

So what do you do as a coach to help our speakers that are having a hard time with this, like really narrow this in and get really specific because you and I both know, you have some students who say, “Yes, please help me narrow down.” And then you have other students who are like, “Wait a minute, don’t put me in that box.” So what do you do personally to help them through that?

Jeremy: There’s two approaches I take. One of them is cute, one of them isn’t. We’ll start with the cute one. In terms of the air, the idea of niching down, a lot of people feel it’s restrictive and I’m going to share a great philosophy here from the first Cars movie. So Lightning McQueen — young, up and coming, trying to be the best race car driver he can be, meets Doc. And Doc keeps saying, “Look man, you’ve gotta slow down in the corners because you’re killing your launch speed because you’re going too fast into the corner.” And Lightning McQueen’s is like this is literally the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. Slow down to go fast — and it then cuts to your classic montage where he’s in the desert and he’s taking all these cactuses in the tail. And he finally understands that if he slows down the corner speed, he gets a better launch off of the corner exit, which gives him a better all time. Meaning, slowing down actually makes him go faster. It’s 100%. The same way with picking an audience. We think we’re limiting ourselves by trying to be everything to everyone, but when we narrow our audience, we realize how big that audience actually is. And how underserved they are because so many other people are thinking, I’ll just be everything to everyone.

And the people who genuinely need the help aren’t getting the attention from the people they could be getting, if not for us saying, “No, I see you, I hear you, and I want to help you.” So the first is to remember the Cars analogy that sometimes you have got to slow down to go faster.

The other is, who does your heart break for? I mean honestly, for me, my heart breaks for those who are struggling with being overweight. Because I know there’s an overwhelming majority of those individuals who are so desperate for change. They’re willing to take bad and incomplete advice, and I feel because of my personal successes and my professional successes with weight loss that I have the ability to be a voice of research because I’ve accomplished everything they want to accomplish. I have the most clear, succinct, and dare I say, fun way for them to lose weight. And I feel like if I don’t tell those people, they’re going to get bad advice. It’s just going to frustrate them more.

Leaving the Disbelief Behind

Maryalice: When I’m coaching students around this, what I ask them is  if I was to put you on stage rightnow, what would you talk about for 30 minutes without a single note card? Without a single slide? And you’d rock that audience, what would it be? And in that is your passion and purpose because we’re emotionally connected to it. So like you’re saying, you’re emotionally connected to people who are struggling with their weight. And so if you could find out what you’re emotionally connected to, and it could be leadership, right? It doesn’t have to be personal development, but it could be leadership, it could be sales, it could be HR, but what is that thing that when you’re talking about it, you could do it in your sleep and you’re on fire and people are drawn to you for it.

If you can discover that, it really does help you niche down and get very specific in the problem that you solved. The other important aspect of this, which we don’t want to go too far down this rabbit hole because we’ve covered it in other episodes — but it allows you to get really sharp in what I call “sexy perk up effect” marketing because when you know your audience and you know the problem that you solve, you start speaking language very differently.

You get so specific it’s almost like when you’re at a restaurant and you’re ordering food, you’re very specific in what you want because you want it to come out right. If you just were like, “Yeah, I’ll have that thing, whatever you want.” Who knows what’s going to come out?

And it’s the same thing when you’re speaking about your speaking business. You can’t just be a thing that talks about a thing to those things. You have to be the person who talks about X to solve Y to all the people who are Z. That’s when the right people pay attention. And when you’re marketing yourself and putting yourself out there as an opportunity for people, the right people show up.

But why do you think students really resist this so much? There’s somebody listening to this going, “Yeah, I don’t wanna niche down.” So why do you think that is?

Jeremy: That’s one of those flowchart type questions because I feel like it all comes from disbelief, right? If we were visually painting a flow chart, disbelief would be at the top. But then there’s disbelief of what?  So if we have disbelief at the top, It then like an octopus out into different tentacles. So it’s disbelief of, “Will my audience actually be enough to sustain a speaking career, or it’s the disbelief of, is my topic strong?” Is it disbelief that they will actually be the expert on stage that they feel they are? So it’s multiple levels of disbelief and you can kind of choose your adventure, which one you don’t believe.

And to some degree, they may all be true, right? Like to some degree it may be disbelief in the strength of their message or in the worthiness of their story. Yeah. Or in the fact that because in today’s society, especially with online commerce, results are just as, if not more important than accreditations. And there are people who will say, you know, they’ll come home from three tours of duty. They’ve cured themselves from PTSD, and they want to speak to the military, but then they’ll say, “But I don’t have a degree in this, right?” And it’s like, yea, but you lived it. And I understand this because I don’t have any therapeutic initials after my name, but every time I go and I speak to a psychologist about weight loss, their mind’s blown at the depth of which I know — because I didn’t study it. I lived it. And so I think that disbelief plays a part sometimes. So I think to wrap it all up, it’s disbelief honestly, that keeps people from niching down.

Maryalice: So don’t get caught up in the fact that you might say something similar to the person who’s also in your same industry. There’s no new words. You’re just going to say it a little differently, and the right people are going to be drawn to you because of the way that you show up and deliver the message.

Jeremy: So to kind of piggyback on that, I feel that we forget the world is massive. The fact of the matter is there is more than enough room at this table for anyone and everyone, even if we don’t feel it. But that’s something that people really do have to work on.

You Need a Coach

Maryalice: You know there’s probably somebody listening to this right now who really wants to be a Speaker Lab Elite, Booked and Paid to speak student or another type of student here with us in our cohorts. But there’s this resistance because of this disbelief. Can I do it? Can I do it as well as the next person?

No hint, hint. You’ll probably do it better than the next person for your right audience. There is this disbelief, and then there’s the financial investments. So then you go through the whole emotional rollercoaster again, am I worthy, should I be dropping this kind of money on myself? So there is such a process to getting to the realization that you are here to make an impact and what you want to speak on and how you’re going to deliver that message. There is more than enough room at the table, as you just said, but there’s a process that people have to go through.

Jeremy: As coaches, we get the opportunity to really squelch a lot of those “whys” that they tell themselves. And we can show them another reality that is just as true because we’ve all lived it. That’s the great thing, especially with The Speaker Lab — it’s not a bunch of people coming up here throwing theory.

Maryalice: I think you touched on something really important there. The value of the coaching could be understated or underestimated if you haven’t experienced coaching before. You know, oftentimes students will come in and they’ll be like, “Well, what’s the coaching thing?” The concept of coaching has really spread out from not just executive coaching, but you know, life coaching and business coaching. Coaches who help you sing, coaches who help you stay on track with time management, you name it, there’s coaches for everything. But if you haven’t had a direct experience with that, you may not understand the concept of it and what it actually does. Something I always love to talk about, and I always share this with you guys, is the beauty and the importance of us as coaches holding the space for our students.

And you know, sometimes people don’t like that note. No talking. People are very uncomfortable with that. So people always try to fill the space with something . But one of the things that’s really beautiful about coaching is you can let that silence give people the opportunity to actually think about something we are not good at as humans is giving ourselves time for silence to actually think.

But coaching can do that. Having that space to really think and process and have somebody asking you critical questions or have somebody say, “Hey, I see your tone really dipped down and you kind of folded into yourself when you were talking about that. What’s coming up for you?” We need to talk about that because you’re not connecting to it. But those are, those are hard things to explain on a sales call when it comes to coaching.

So I’d love to know, like when it comes to you being a coach, and especially with this big mistake, like really helping people get to the crux of what problem they solve, what do you find is really helpful when you’re holding the space for students or or walking them? Do you have a protocol that you walk them through to help them get to the big problem that they solve?

Jeremy: Yeah, I think for me it comes to — if they’re really confused, I simply ask them, “What do you want? Or what do you need your audience to know 15 minutes after they saw you speak that they didn’t know 15 minutes before?”

Because that speech should be transformational. There should be at least one to three nuggets of things that are life. And I don’t use those words, “life,” lightly. Because that’s what we’re here for — to transform businesses, transform people, transform other things. So that’s where we start.

Once people can sort of get it out of their head and I can just sit here and take notes and craft what we call the expert positioning statement, which is how I help these individuals do this thing to get to this outcome.

Maryalice: Yea, and I’ll say quite often after they’re done kind of wrapping it up, normally they’ll say, “I don’t know if that’s what you wanted, but this is what I feel.” And I’m like, this is fantastic. What I’ve heard is blank, blank, blank. And they’re like, That’s exactly what I do. And I’ll say, thank you for telling me.” They already have the answers within them. They’re the experts. They’re the speaker who wants to speak on this thing because they went through this thing and now they’re on the other side and they want to share it with the world.

What kind of advice could you give someone, especially people who have never gone through coaching? What do they need to know in order to be able to trust that process that we will get to the big problem that you solve, but you just have to trust the coaching aspect of it?

Jeremy: When I look at it in this light, it makes me realize that a lot of people are more familiar with coaching than they know. They just don’t see it in the space that they’re looking for. And what I mean by that is —  I’ll just use men for example, because I am one and I played little league baseball.

There are coaches in Little League that helped me hit. So for anyone who’s ever played little league baseball, little league soccer, little league softball, or if you have kids going through that right now, maybe they’re voice teachers helping you sing, or maybe it’s theater. You’ve already experienced the power of coaching.

I think what gets challenging is we’ve accepted that norm in the performance arts and in the sporting realm. Yet when it comes to creativity, speech, life, business for some reason — we think the value and relevance of coaching expires if it’s not on a field. Like, am I worthy to invest in this kind of a coach to make me better, you know?

So to the point, I think a lot of us know coaching makes a difference because we’ve seen it in our kids’ lives, we’ve seen it in our lives as kids. We just have to take away the barrier of thinking that for some reason there are places it doesn’t apply. Because what a coach does is they take the knowledge curve and shorten it for you.

Maryalice: I think we dropped some really great nuggets. Hopefully the audience is picking it up. But if you are interested in becoming a speaker and you’re serious about taking that next step, do not hesitate to reach out and book a strategy call with one of our fabulous SDRs and hopefully we’ll see you guys on the other side.

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