They say that the only thing we fear more than public speaking is death. That’s some pretty deep seeded fear! On top of the fear, many agencies want to leverage speaking as part of their biz dev strategy but there are so many questions. How do you get in front of the right audience? How do you capture email addresses from the stage? How do you convince event organizers that you have something of value to offer? The good news is – it’s not as scary or as hard as it might appear.
We are itching to get in front of our sweet spot clients so we can demonstrate value, step into a position of authority, and walk away with opportunities to make a sale. But results driven public speaking does not happen without a plan. You can get in front of an audience but are they the right ones?
When it comes to public speaking as a biz dev tool, Grant is an expert. He is the founder and CEO of TheSpeakerLab.com, a training company for public speakers. He is also the best-selling author of “The Successful Speaker.”
Grant coaches professionals of all skill levels with the biz dev techniques he uses in his own speaking engagements. He also teaches how to market yourself as a speaker and find the right event and audience for your goals.
Listen to the episode, and learn how to get on the right stage, in front of the right people, so you can demonstrate your expertise and walk away with opportunities to land some business.
A big thank you to our podcast’s presenting sponsor, White Label IQ. They’re an amazing resource for agencies who want to outsource their design, dev or PPC work at wholesale prices. Check out their special offer (10 free hours!) for podcast listeners here.
What You Will Learn in This Episode:
- Grant’s background in public speaking and how he developed his expertise
- How to use public speaking as a biz dev tool
- Why public speaking is a great way to step into a position of authority
- How a business development mindset can change your approach to public speaking
- How to identify natural speaking opportunities in your niche
- How to differentiate yourself and stand out from the other speakers in your vertical
- The common mistakes speakers make with booking and how to avoid them
- How to engage promoters and event planners
The Golden Nuggets:“Before you start public speaking, you have to be really clear on what the biz dev win looks like for you. How does speaking fit into what you’re doing?” @grantbaldwin Click To Tweet “If you want to be taken seriously as a speaker, you have to take yourself seriously as a speaker.” @grantbaldwin Click To Tweet “In biz dev, part of what you’re being hired to do as a speaker is deliver the talk about products or services you’re offering as an agency. The other part you’re being hired to convey is the experience of working with you.” @grantbaldwin Click To Tweet “People won’t think of you as a speaker if you don’t tell them that you’re a speaker.” @grantbaldwin Click To Tweet “Just because you’re passionate about speaking does not mean there is an audience around that particular topic.” @grantbaldwin Click To Tweet
Ways to contact Grant Baldwin:
- Book: The Successful Speaker
- Website: https://thespeakerlab.com/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/grantbaldwinfans
- Twitter: @grantbaldwin
If you’re going to take the risk of running an agency, shouldn’t you get the benefits too? Welcome to Agency Management Institute’s Build a Better Agency podcast. Presented by White Label IQ. Tun in every week for insights on how small to mid-size agencies are surviving and thriving in today’s market. We’ll show you how to make more money and keep more of what you make. We want to help you build an agency that is sustainable, scalable, and if you want, down the road, sellable. With 25 plus years of experience as both an agency owner and agency consultant, please welcome your host Drew McLellan.
Hey everybody, Drew McLellan here from Agency Management Institute. Thanks as always for joining us. It’s always nice to know that you are out there, that you’re listening and that the content that we’re producing here on the podcast is helpful to you. Thanks for being here. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it. Want to give you a couple quick housekeeping updates before I tell you a little bit about our guest. Very quickly, just want to remind all of you that we are as always giving away a free seat to either one of our live workshops, and yes we will have live workshops again someday, someday soon hopefully. Or one of our on demand course. And the way you are in the drawing for that giveaway is to leave us a rating or review. Take a screenshot of that rating or review and shot it to me at [email protected] and we will put you in the drawing. Happy to do that. Happy to give one of those away on every solo cast.
So every five weeks we give away one of our seats which retails for anywhere depending on the course from $1500 to about $2000 so it is worth your time, I hope, for you to leave the rating and review. And I promise, I do read every single one of them. I’m grateful for them. I appreciate your feedback. And so that would be awesome if you would do that. And hopefully we’ll get to reward you with a free workshop. All right?
Let me tell you a little bit about our guest. One of the things that I know from many of you is part of your business development strategy is many of you have said to me, “Man, if I can get on a stage, if I can get in front of an audience of people who are our sweet spot clients, I can rock the room. I can really demonstrate value. I can step into my position of authority. And I can walk away with an opportunity to make a sale.” This is something that Stephen and I covered pretty extensively in our book Sell With Authority as well. That speaking at conferences and other events can certainly be cornerstone content that you can then leverage, you can slice and dice it into lots of little pieces. But it is a great biz step tool.
But for many of you, this is not your full-time job. You don’t want to be a public speaker. You don’t want to be a paid speaker all day every day. You don’t want to be on a plane three or four times a week. That’s not your desired outcome from this. Your desired outcome is to be on the right stages in front of the right people so that you can demonstrate your expertise and earn the opportunity to land some business. And so I was actually chatting with a friend of mine, Pam Slim who many of you are familiar with. She was telling me about a guy that she knew named Grant Baldwin. And Grant is a public speaker, this is what he does for a living is he gets on stage and speaks. But he’s done it for so long and he’s done it so well that he also now works with other people who want to be public speakers, that’s what they want to do for their job. He’s written this amazing book called The Successful Speaker, five steps for booking gigs, getting paid and building your platform. It’s available on Amazon and all kinds of other places.
I ordered the book and I read it. What I love about the book is that it has a lot of practical tips for those who only want to speak once a year or twice a year or four times a year. It’s not just about being a road warrior and speaking every week in a different city, in a different state. But lots of his books tips are for people like us who don’t want to do that but we certainly want to leverage speaking as part of our biz step strategy. And so I invited him on the show and I’m happy to say that he said yes. I’m anxious to pick his brain on your behalf so let’s get to it.
Grant, welcome to the podcast. Thanks for joining us.
Drew, thanks for letting me be here man. I appreciate it.
Give everybody a little bit of background on you. How did you come to have this expertise on how folks can get on the right stages and maximize that experience?
Yeah, so if we go back in time, in high school, I was really involved in my local church. And my youth pastor had a big impact on my life. It really resonated with me and I was like, “I want to do that. That seems like a cool gig.” And so that’s kind of the path and track I was on. So I worked at church for a little while as a youth pastor. It gave me a lot of opportunities to speak. And speaking was one of the things that I really, really enjoyed. I felt like I was decent at it, wanted to do more of it. But found myself going, all right, well now what? How do you find gigs and who hire speakers and how much do you charge? How does this mysterious black box work?
And so started stalking a couple other speakers and just trying to ask questions and just trying to figure out anything I could about the speaking industry. Eventually I started booking some gigs here and there and got to the point where over the next couple years was doing it full-time. I was doing 60, 70 speaking gigs a year. I loved it. It was great. But also had a lot of people asking me, “Hey, I want to be a speaker. How do I do that? I want to do what you’ve done.” I have found that there are people who want to speak full time, they want to do 50, 60, 70 gigs.
Then there’s a lot of people, probably like your listeners who are like, “Yeah, I don’t want to do that. But I see the value the speaking and I enjoy speaking and I see how it moved the needle in my business. I wouldn’t mind doing, I don’t know, five gigs or 10 gigs here or there. The right type of gigs, some biz dev stuff. But again, I’m running into the same challenges of how do you find those gigs and how much do you charge? And what do you speak about and how do you turn those gigs into lead gen for other parts of the business? What does that look like?” And so that’s the core of what we teach now is teach people how to find and book gigs through our company, The Speaker Lab.
I think for the listeners, I think you’re right. I think very few of them aspire to be on the road four or five times a month speaking. For them, it’s a biz dev. It’s to position themselves as a thought leader. I think for an agency owner, it’s really some of them will do it for free, some of them are willing to do it for expenses. Some of them want to get paid to do it. But ultimately, for all of them, the pay date comes when somebody in the audience hires them, right?
If you have that mindset, how does that mindset change kind of how you approach public speaking and all of that?
Yeah. Well, what’s great here is that you’re clear on what they why is for you at the beginning, right? Because again, one of the great things about speaking is there’s no right or wrong way to do it. Whether you want to speak 100 times a year to big audiences and just do big keynotes or you want to speak 10 times a year for free and do it as lead gen for small groups of 20 or less locally. Both work. Both are effective. It’s not that one is better or worse than the other. But to begin with, you have to be really, really clear on what’s the win for you in speaking. And how does speaking fit into what you’re doing?
For a long time for me, speaking was basically 100% of my business, 100% of my revenue, right? And so knowing that, that was a goal, it was like, “I don’t care about doing a book. I don’t care about consulting or coaching or a course or anything, I just want to speak.” Well that informs then what I’m looking for and how to go about finding it and finding the right gigs. Versus if you said, “All right, I run an ad agency and my ideal customers are small retail shops in the Midwest. I kind of like speaking and I wouldn’t mind doing a little bit of speaking here or there just do some lead gen.” Well good. You know why you’re speaking and you know how speaking fits into it.
But then you also, what makes it simpler, is one of the things we teach is you have to be really clear on a couple of key questions. One, you got to be clear on why you’re speaking. But two is who are speaking too? Who’s the ideal audience there? And then three is what’s the problem that you’re solving for that audience? And then kind of another part of the question would be where do those people gather? Just because you’re passionate about speaking, just because you’re interested in speaking, doesn’t mean that there’s any natural gathers or groups around that topic or for that audience. So there has to be that overlap between here’s what I’m passionate about, here’s what I’m interested, here’s what I care about. And here’s what people actually hire speakers to talk about. And here’s what some of the natural opportunities are for speakers around that topic or for that audience.
And so for someone whose running an agency, whose clear on, all right, I just want to speak a few times a year. And I want to do it as lead generation. Then one of the key questions is, where do my ideal customers gather? What are the events? What are the trade shows, what are the associations? What are the things they are a part of that I would be naturally a good fit for? And then you can kind of reverse the genre and start to think through where are those people gathered and how do I fit into that equation?
Yeah. I think for a lot of agencies, if they have a natural niche, if they serve a certain vertical, a certain audience, things like that, then the shows are probably easier to find. The venues are easier to find because you’re going to look for trade associations and things like that. I think on the other side, if they’re more of a generalist, then they’re probably looking for gathering of business leaders and owners. But a lot of agency owners are trying to do this. So how does somebody stand out from all… Let’s say I own an agency that specializes in ag. And I want to be in front of business owners and leaders that serve the agricultural market. So I’m going to go to places like NAMA and things like that like every other agency who wants to do the same thing. How do I look different to the people setting up the speaker schedule than all the other agencies out there?
Those are good questions. So a couple things I think you can do. One is, I think it really comes down to how speaking fits into the mix of what you’re doing, right? I’ll give you an example of this. A few years ago, my wife and I were interested in doing some real estate investing. I’d always been interested and intrigued by, I hadn’t really had a lot of experience with it. And so there’s a buddy of mine who had done a ton of real estate investing. I remember sitting down with him one time and saying, “Okay, you’ve got all this experience man. There’s so many different options and opportunities.” You have single family homes, you have multi family, you have apartments, you have short term rentals, you have commercial properties, you have parking lots and storage units. And on and on and on the list goes, right?
And so I remember asking him, I was like, “All right, you have all these options. Which one is best?” And I remember him saying, “Yes.” I was like, “What does that mean?”
Right. That is not helping me.
His point was they all work, right? But if you’re just like, “I’m just going to kind of dabble in this and I’m just going to kind of dabble in that. I’m just kind of dabble on this.” The point being for a lot of agency owners, speaking is something that they dabble in. It’s kind of cool. I enjoy doing it. I put up a website. I sit and wait for the phone to ring. And then I’m shocked when I don’t get good results. Facebook ads work. Pinterest stuff works. Email marketing works. It all works. But I can’t be disappointed as a business owner if I’m not getting the results that I want out of it if I’m not putting in the equivalent effort.
First part of it would be, if you want to be taken seriously as speaker, you have to take yourself seriously as a speaker and say this is a key part of my business. In fact, just at the time of this recording yesterday, I talked with a lady who runs kind of a jewelry lifestyle brand online that’s been very successful and she does a lot of speaking. And speaking is one of the biggest lead gen sources, kind of brand building sources that she uses. But it’s because they as a company and her as the CEO has been very, very intentional to say, “I’m all in on this speaking thing. This is not just kind of secondary thing, if I get a gig, I get a gig. No, no. I’m going to treat this as such.” And her results speak for themselves. They really show because of that.
Again, for an agency owner whose just like, “Speakings kind of cool. If I get a gig, I get a gig.” Cool, that’s fine. But you can’t expect, why am I not getting the results of that person whose-
Let’s say I’m saying, “You know what? I don’t to be a dabbler. I want to speak at the six biggest shows a year.” What do I need to do to be taken seriously at that level?
Yeah, a couple things. One is to make sure that you’re taking the craft seriously. This isn’t exclusive to just speaking but any type of product or service. What are the things that you love and you recommend? A lot of times the marketing may get you in the door but it’s the product, it’s the thing. We live here in Nashville and my wife and I, our family, one of our favorite places to go is a place called Mojo’s Tacos that’s really, really good tacos. I couldn’t tell you anything about what their menu looks like or the decor’s fine and the location’s whatever. But the food, the tacos are really, really, really good. And so making sure as a speaker that you are really, really good at what it is that you do. And some of this is also just kind of being self-aware enough to recognize that.
When you’re going to some of these conferences and events, do you feel like I’ve done enough speaking where I feel like, I’m not the world… I felt like for me early on, I knew I wasn’t the worlds greatest speaker but knew, all right, there’s something here. And there’s something I can work on and something I get better on. And I have the desire to get better on that. Versus just kind of like, I don’t know, I’ll just speak a couple times and hopefully it all magically works out. No, no. If you’re going to whatever the deliverable is that you currently are offering in your agency, the time and effort that you would spend in that, then treat it the same as your speaking. That I’m really going to view this is as I’m going to get better. I’m really going to work on my stories. Maybe I’m going to work with a coach. I’m really going to work on crafting the talk and making sure that the deliverable, that the product is really, really, really good so that’d be one thing.
The other thing that I would say is part of what, and this isn’t true for just speakers, this is true for agency owners in general. Part of what you ar being hired to do is to deliver the talk or to deliver whatever the service is that you’re offering as an agency. The other part of what you’re being hired to do is the experience of working with you, right? Here’s what I mean by that. For example, we just hired an agency a couple months ago to help us redo a website, right? It was a several thousand dollar project. It was a several month project. It was an intensive project. The finished product was really, really, really good which we anticipated based on all the conversations we had with them. But working with them was a really, really good experience. They just had their act together. It’s kind of like if we go back to the taco place, if the tacos are amazing but the service sucks, the environment dirt. It’s just like, man, I will only put up with that so long no matter how good the tacos are, right?
And so the same thing is true for a speaker. It has to be a not a secondary thing for you on stage but it also has to not be a secondary thing for you off stage. That you’re really, really good to work with and that you have your process, that you have your systems. The part of which you’re being hired to do is deliver a great talk. But you’re also being hired to make the event planners life easy. You think about some of these big conferences, these big events. As a speaker, you are one of hundreds if not thousands of moving pieces. And so the easier you can make their job, the easier you can make their life, the more likely they’re going to be to want to work with you. The more likely they’re going to want to refer you. Even if your talk is good enough but it’s not the worlds greatest, but you’re amazing to work with, people want to work with those, and again, that’s not exclusive to just speakers. That’s what any type of industry, being really, really good to work with in addition to whatever the product or service is that you’re offering.
So from a meeting planners point of view, what does that look like? If they say, “Oh my gosh, Drew McLellan was awesome to work with.” What do they mean by that? How does that show up for them?
Yup. I think a few different things. One is, it’s so simple but you have to do what you say you’re going to do, right? I’ll give an example, okay? This has been driving me nuts lately. We have a pool in our backyard. There’s a company that comes in and takes care of the pool. They come twice a month. They go in the backyard, they do their thing and then they leave. We don’t have to be here. It’s not effecting our workflow of life when they come or when they don’t come. What annoys me though is when, as this recording, this week they say, “Hey, we’re going to be there on Tuesday.” And then I text message from their automated system saying, “Hey, we’re going to be there on Wednesday.” And then the guy actually shows up on Thursday. Again, it affects me zero but I’m just like-
It’s just an irritant, right?
Yeah. If you tell me you’re going to show up on Tuesday, then show up on Tuesday, right? So for a speaker, if you say you’re going to get back with them on a certain day, or you’re going to followup with them, then followup with them. And so for example, one of the things, one of the mistakes that a lot of speakers make in the book process is let’s say you’re reaching out, you’re talking to an event planner and they are, hey, we’re just kind of gathering some information, we’ll put out a call for speakers, the committees meeting eventually. And a lot of speakers area like, “All right, whenever you decide I hope you think of me,” type thing. We just kind of leave the ball in their court verus saying, “When is your committee meeting?” “Oh, it’s in two months?” “Do you mind if I followup?” “Sure.” Because the event planner thinks you’re not actually going to do it. When you do that, when you say, “Hey, can I touch base with you in a couple months,” and then you do, you’re giving them a precursor of this is what it’s like to work with me. I have my act together. I’m going to be really, really good.
Whenever they send you an email with a question, that they’re not having to wait several days for following up with you. That you’re getting back to them, ideally the day of or within the hour. That you’re giving the representation that I’m going to make your life simple. Whenever they send you a contract, that you’re giving that back to them immediately. That whenever they say, “Hey, we need to be here at this certain time for a sound check.” That you’re there on time for the sound check. When they say, “Hey, can you send us your slides ahead of time. We want to take a look or something. If you need any worksheets made or any copies made, can you send that to us.” That they’re not having to babysit you and followup with you.
Again, this is basic human stuff that so many entrepreneurs, so many business owners, so many speakers don’t do this. And so if you do the minimum, the bare minimum, it absolutely will set you apart from other people who are just dropping the ball.
Yeah, that’s sad.
It is but it’s so true.
Yeah, right, right. If I’m an agency owner and I want to do this speaking. And again, I want to speak let’s say six times a year. Do I need a separate speaker website? Do I need a section on the agency website? What do I have to do to look like I take this seriously?
Yeah. So there’s two ways to position yourself. One is am I a personal brand that is going out to speak? Or am I a representative of the company and I’m speaking on behalf of the company, right? And so one of those is first of all just kind of position yourself. I tend to lean toward more recording the personal brand. I’ll give you an example. For me and my own business, if someone comes to me and says, “Hey, I want to hire Grant to speak. I want to hire you to speak.” Then I’m going to sent them to grantbaldwin.com. That is my personal brand site. Because of the nature of what we do, a lot of people come to us saying, “Hey, I want to learn how to find and book gigs.” I’m going to send them to our company site thespeakerlab.com.
Depending on what they’re looking for, I’m going to send them to two different places. Are you coming to our agency because you’re looking to hire our agency to do work with us, then go here. If you’re coming to say, “Hey, I want to hire you to come speak.” Then go there. And they’