So What header image

So What? How to become a public speaker

So What? Marketing Analytics and Insights Live

airs every Thursday at 1 pm EST.

You can watch on YouTube Live. Be sure to subscribe and follow so you never miss an episode!


In this week’s episode of So What? we focus on how to become a public speaker. We walk through tactics to build your public speaker reputation, how to position yourself as a public speaker and what not to do as a public speaker. Catch the replay here:

So What? How to become a public speaker


In this episode you’ll learn: 

  • Tactics to build your public speaker reputation
  • How to position yourself as a public speaker
  • What not to do as a public speaker

Upcoming Episodes:

  • TBD


Have a question or topic you’d like to see us cover? Reach out here:

AI-Generated Transcript:

Katie Robbert 0:28
Well, hey, how are you, everyone? Welcome to so what the marketing analytics and insights live show. I’m Katie joined by Chris and John. Hello, guys. Hello. I think that’s the first time the three of us have been on a show in a few weeks. But that’ll change again, coming in November. But let’s embrace the time that we have together. And in doing so, we’re going to talk about how to become a public speaker. So the past couple of weeks, the three of us have been on the road to various conferences. And the question comes up a lot of well, how do I get into being a public speaker, which, quite honestly, I don’t know why anyone would want to do it. But my opinions don’t matter. Today, we’re going to talk about you and how you become a public speaker. So in this episode, we’re going to talk about tactics to build your public speaker reputation, how to position yourself as a public speaker, and what not to do as a public speaker, which is equally as important as what to do. So Chris, as the most experienced public speaker amongst the three of us, where would you like to start?

Christopher Penn 1:33
Let’s start with user stories. So let’s specifically start with user stories, from the perspective of an event organizer, because this is really important, we know why we want to speak, it’s typically you know, money, business opportunities, maybe some fame, sell books, blah, blah, blah, there’s that there are reasons our motivations are pretty clear. And maybe if you’re lucky, you’ll get a speaker who also genuinely wants to educate the audience, in addition to selling things, but from the perspective of an event organizer, we have to figure out what do they want? So, John, I’m going to have you play the role of the event organizer.

John Wall 2:24
This is always my complaint. So for background, I actually worked at a company that ran over 80 events a year, you know, from Microsoft, and AUROC, and all these people. So yes, I am well versed. And if I can find my coffee and be angry, I’m ready to start.

Christopher Penn 2:38
Okay, so as a, an event organizer, what do you care about? What like, what are the kinds of things that when you’re like, trying to figure out how to make your event successful? Obviously, you’re gonna have the Holy Trinity, right? You have speakers, sponsors, and attendees. Tell me where, tell me how you think about speakers? How do you what are you looking for?

John Wall 3:02
Right? That’s a great question, because so the first thing is, the event organizers do not care at all about the speakers. The only exception would be if you’re some kind of celebrity, then they’re psyched, because they can bring in and meet a celebrity. But after that the speaker is really the product, you know, they’re the ones that are getting used in leverage. And so the big question, the first thing to ask yourself, is, is this a show where the event manager wants to get the most attendees? You know, do they care about? And is it like a Tony Robbins thing where they’re paying 901,000 $10,000 to show up? And so do you need to keep them happy? Or is it actually like a lot of the shows in the industry that we deal with, where you have an exhibitor floor of anywhere from five to 500 sponsors, and that’s actually where the cash comes from. So they actually, you know, as a speaker, if you challenge a big vendor, it doesn’t matter. If you’re Tony Robbins, you’re not gonna get on the floor, you know, or if you’re Beyonce, and again, it’s contrary to what the vendors want to see. It doesn’t matter. Even if you got the money, you know, you’re gonna get pushback and not get them on there. So that that’s the start, you know, figure out is the event manager into making a great event for the attendees, or is it really for the sponsors? What’s the focus?

Christopher Penn 4:16
So you’d say, as an event manager for this conference, I want to find good speakers to put butts in seats, which could be one or as an event manager, I want to find a highly audience of highly qualified buyers so that my exhibitors pay us lots of money.

John Wall 4:34
Yeah, and you can even cut out the middle chunk. It’s just as an event manager, I want to get the right speaker so that my exhibitors pay me a lot of money.

Katie Robbert 4:43
So you’re not allowed to cut out the middle chunk. So let’s just start there. You know, it’s interesting, because when I see event planners and I work with the women and analytics community who put on the data connect conference every year, a lot of what they’re So part of their goal for bringing on speakers and choosing speakers is to highlight women and people identifying as women, and give them the stage. And so that’s sort of goal. One is to, you know, give a platform to people who would otherwise not necessarily have won in the data science and AI space. But then also, I see a lot of events, choosing speakers. So you know, to your point, John, about getting butts in seats, choosing speakers who are well known and can help promote the event. So that if someone you know, like Chris, who has, you know, probably like a million followers on Twitter or something like that, if he says he’s going to be somewhere, his followers can be like, Great, I’m going to show up, or he’s going to be, and that helps the event planners, sell the tickets and put the butts in seats. And then as that side effect, they’re like, Oh, and by the way, we also have all of these other things happening at the event that you get to spend your money on.

John Wall 6:03
Yeah, that’s, that’s huge. Having you know, there’s kind of three levels like as every speaker, you have to entertain, like, you have to be good that the attendees like you, but then at the next level, are you talking about a topic that will actually bring in people, there are certain topics that will drag people, but then at the very top of the pyramid is if you’re actually a person that can bring in people just because of who you are, that’s, that opens a bunch of doors and opens up money because you can change the face of the event by yourself?

Christopher Penn 6:29
Exactly. So if you’re just getting started, as a public speaker, you want to become a public speaker, you’re probably not going to start with an audience. I mean, you might have an audience already. And if you do, awesome, but let’s assume you don’t, that means that you’ve got attack one of the other two things, you’ve either got to be able to have a topic that people care about that will bring them in, or you have to be such a skilled presenter yourself, that whatever the topic is, it’s compelling to watch, right? So, for example, we did a session at last year’s mark and Crosby before, which is a fireside chat about managing people. The topic has been done a gazillion times, but because we had a good rapport on stage, we were able to entertain the audience, and educate them as well. And so we satisfied the thing. So as a speaker, right, we got one things you have to figure out is, what is you are the product, like John said, You are the product, what is your unique selling proposition.

Katie Robbert 7:34
And that’s, you know, it’s hard for people who are just getting started, because, you know, it’s not a new market. It’s not a new adventure, like, there’s no shortage of speakers. And this is actually something that my peers, and I talk about as women in tech and against why women and analytics was started, is that a lot of the events feel whether to not feel like they’re harder to break into as a new speaker, and also as a woman, because they tend to be they go back to the well of the same speakers over and over and over again. And so, you know, I’m, I’ll put myself in like a privileged category, where I had the benefit of basically tagging along with big names like Chris Penn and John Wall, and having that validation of like, hey, so we also have this other person, Katie robear, who should be on your stage. We’re vouching for her. And so it’s it’s a little bit backhanded, but one like, it’s a lot, a lot of it is who you know, which really sucks. But it’s, you know, that’s the reality of it. And I’m very fortunate and lucky to have been in a position where I knew people who were very comfortable being on stage and who could vouch for me to also be on stage.

Christopher Penn 9:02
Exactly. It’s the Star Trek problem on paramount. Right. So Paramount plus, the streaming service just has a bunch of Star Trek shows. They have other shows too. But they all they’re known for the Star Trek shows because Paramount keeps going back to the well, hey, we know this is going to be the thing that people will show up for right. So to your point, when you’re looking at the speaking circuit, if an event organizers like okay, I have to fill this stage, who am I going to go to I know if I put John Wall on this stage, no one’s going to complain, it’s not going to bomb. He’ll, you know, on a five point scale, Jolly got a 4.7 every time right. And so that checks that box and so you understand it as an event organizer, again, putting ourselves in the shoes of the event organizer. It’s a safe bet. Even if it’s not new content or new faces. It’s a safe bet. And when you have numbers to hit, like hey, we need this many butts and seats, and every year. You’re gonna play it safe unless you’re specifically told otherwise. So one The things that you can do, particularly as a new speaker, is provide heuristics provide heuristics that indicate that you probably are a safe bet. And those heuristics are things like having a demo reel, right? So you can and this is something that people encourage, you can rent like, Knights of Columbus Hall, or the local high school, gym, whatever, for after hours for like 100 bucks, with your smartphone with some good lighting and stuff. And you can record a full talk and then properly lit stuff in that space and create yourself a demo reel that allows you to say, Okay, here’s, here’s how I present on stage like, I can stand up on the stage, and, and put in your words come out there in the right order. That’s, that’s a heuristic. Another heuristic is, you have presence of some kind, you have a blog, you have a YouTube channel, you have an Instagram, you have something that demonstrates hey, here’s, here’s who I am. I have thoughts. You know, we always joke the challenge of being a thought leaders like don’t think, well, this is this is actually true, you need to be able to demonstrate that you can think and you can, you have stuff. And the third thing that’s a heuristic that at least tells people you know, what’s going on, is to have some kind of speaking kit that explains like, Hey, here’s who I am, here’s my bio and stuff like that, if you’ve done shows, it’s fine. You don’t have to have done shows. But here’s at least what I talk about. And then again, some of those heuristics, if you have any kind of audience, even if it’s not big, you can demo it and say, here’s the kinds of things that I can bring to the table. Again, you don’t have to have this part. But you definitely want to have your topics clear, nailed down. And you definitely want to again, show that you’ve done sports or some kind of demo reel. Now, there’s two solutions there that, again, if you want to invest in your career as a speaker, and it will be an investment, there are two at least books and or people that I would recommend if you are trying to figure out what you want to speak about. Our friend and colleague, Tamsin Webster, who has a book called Find the red thread, and does these red thread workshops will help you zero in on what your what your topic is about what this is your angle as a speaker, unique selling proposition. And then if you want to work on the delivery and the showmanship portion, and your your capabilities, Michael Port, he has a book called steal the show, and has a organization called heroic public speaking based in Lambertville, New Jersey, and you actually if again, if you’re willing to invest, you fly down there, drive over there, whatever you do, like a weekend course or two day course. And at the end, they film you in front of a planned audience, and you get your hero speaking reality, you’re delivering your speech. And there’s a standing ovation at the end that everyone has to stand whether or not they mean it. And so we were talking about that, that hierarchy of the things that have been organized look like those two resources can help you get to those parts faster.

Katie Robbert 13:09
Now, what’s interesting is, so we’re talking about, you know, two really good solid resources, and I also endorsed those, but not everyone has budget. And so you need to be able to find other ways, especially if you know, you’re not the owner of your company, or you’re not the thought leader finding other ways. And so we actually have one of our community members in our analytics for marketers community often talks about his experience participating in Toastmasters. And Toastmasters is something that was funded through his company that he was able to participate in. And it helps with public speaking. But again, this is a resource that you may not have access to. And so some of the things that I would recommend, as someone who up until recently, didn’t have access to these kinds of resources and didn’t have budget for them. You know, volunteer to lead a company meeting, get some public speaking, practice that way in front of your colleagues, and have someone record it, you know, record yourself doing a webinar. Even if you don’t have a webinar plan, you can boot up a zoom or a stream yard or some other video conferencing service and just, you know, go through your slides, make sure that you are, you know, blogging regularly, if you don’t have a blog, use platforms like LinkedIn to start a newsletter, where you’re then putting your thoughts and ideas there. A lot of event coordinators will go to platforms like LinkedIn to see who’s talking about what and who they should be paying attention to. And so you might be able to organically put all of these pieces together without having, you know, access to putting together a demo reel. You know, if you can record yourself on On a video chat, having a conversation or talking through, you know, your ideas and concepts, that’s the start of your speaker reel, you don’t have I mean, I think, Chris, I think your idea of like, you know, renting or borrowing a community space, you know, very inexpensively to do it is a great idea. But if you don’t have access to that, a virtual, we’ll also do because as long as you show your face, because that is a big part of it, you need to be okay with people looking at you, and not all of us are. But that’s step number one. And then record yourself. You don’t have to put together a presentation, but talk through a concept that you’re passionate about, so that it shows your emotion. Some of the more compelling speakers are very animated, and they’re passionate about what they’re doing, and what they’re talking about. And the speakers who just memorize the talk, deliver it and it’s flat, and there’s no emotion. And here’s the facts, and this is the data. And aren’t you really impressed with what I just said, like, people are going to fall asleep. And a big part of it is entertainment. It’s education and entertainment. And Chris, what is the third II in the educate,

Christopher Penn 16:09
entertain and engage? Engage? It has to be a topic that people care about. Now, I will say to your point, yeah, those things talk about the bigger end of those resources definitely do cost money. But I would say at the very least the books that that people like Tamsin and Michael share, publish, they’re well worth your time. Oh, third person, if we’re going to talk about that, because what you were just saying, Katie is really important. Mark Bowden is a friend and a colleague, who has done an enormous amount of work on body language and how to communicate the kinds of reassuring nonverbals that you that especially in a demo reel, you absolutely want to nail. So he’s got a number of books as well, checking in, and we’ll put some links in the show notes for this episode, so that you can find these resources really easily full disclosure, they will have Amazon affiliate codes on them. So those things actually help another set of things that really helps if you can, guest on a podcast, if you can’t start your own podcast. And if you want to be really ambitious, our friend booksellers did this. A number of years ago, when she wanted to start speaking at events and events were like, well, we don’t know about you. She started her own conference, she started the Hello conference. And you’ll start booking speakers and stuff like that. We you and I have both spoken at that event, Katie, and it turned out to be a really great event. But, you know, great visuals, you know, she had a little country club, like a little golf course, a place nearby. It was terrific. And it got her great footage for her own speaking reel. And it also drove a fair amount of business for her to,

Katie Robbert 17:46
ya know, and I think that that’s really it is there’s no shortage of ways to demonstrate your capabilities as a speaker, if you are really interested in speaking. You know, I think podcast interviews it, that’s actually how I’ve landed a couple of my speaking engagements for next year is by people listening to my podcast interviews, and then coming back and saying, Wow, I really think that this topic would be great on a stage. I also tend to hear that I’m very articulate. And so it’s interesting, you know, because in my brain, I’m not articulate. But when I’m speaking, it comes out. And that’s one of those things that, you know, it definitely takes practice, especially if you’re someone like me, who naturally has, you know, a thick Boston accent that is incomprehensible, and you sound like mumbles menino. Too soon, you know, you need to practice that, because people also need to understand you on stage. Regardless of what language you’re speaking in, you need to be able to speak clearly, you need to project and those are things that you absolutely need to practice. Very few people can just wake up one day and say, I want to be a public speaker with no practice. It’s like someone who can wake up in the morning, run a 5k, who hasn’t run for six months. Those people are not the rule, they are the exception.

Christopher Penn 19:15
And, you know, even the whole thing about starting any event, that is something that is, again, doesn’t have to be a big dollar thing. I was just going back for fun. In 2006, we rented Bunker Hill Community College on a weekend for this event called PodCamp. And the total cost of facility granted is 2006. But the total cost of facility for the day was like $3,500, because it was a community college. So you can if you wanted to start your own event you could. But going back to the podcasting, John, this is a question that will probably build a clip out of this episode entirely. Because this is something everyone wants to know. How do you become a guest on a podcast? And specifically, how do you become a guest on marketing over coffee?

John Wall 19:55
Oh, yeah, that’s a good question. It’s for marketing of a car. I feel you really have to tell me a great story. That’s ultimately what it comes down to. And it has to be something that our audience is going to be interested in. You know, I mean, I get daily pitches for whatever the vendor is of the day, you know, here’s our product, here’s what we sell. And, you know, if what you’re, if it’s what you’re doing, then I have no interest in it. If it’s what you can teach our listeners to do, then you mate, you’ve got a shot, I’ll at least read further and see what’s in there. But yeah, for us, so marketing of our coffee is a great model. And that, you know, it is all about the paid sponsors. But the sponsors love us because of the quality of the audience. And so it’s anything that, you know, martec people are going to want to hear about specifically in that niche, and, yes, somebody that’s doing great stuff. So you know, if you can always buy ads on marketing over coffee, if you don’t have any great customer stories, like if you’ve built something cool, and you’re trying to get the world to find out about it, then, you know, definitely give us a call because we can put you in front of an audience at least get you some at bats, if you’ve already got proven customers that people love, and want to hear about, then. That’s the kind of stuff that makes the story. But yeah, for most podcasts, it is, you know, either pitch the host or ask the host who does the production, you know, who do screens, guests, and who, who’s the one that lines up the content. And definitely give yourself a one sentence pitch of, hey, if your audience wants to find out about XY and Z, I can talk about these three things. And you know, that’s giving them something. Yeah, cuz this morning, I got a mystery pitch, right? It’s like, Hey, John, I’m not going to try and fool you that I’ve listened to your podcast with a form field pitch. But if you want some interesting stuff, drop me a line. And I’m just like, No, I’m not, I’m not playing the mystery game, like, show up with a pitch and we can talk but I’m not here to get involved in a 12 email chain to find out that you’re, you know, selling the latest franchise opportunity for roofing or whatever, like, I’m gonna pass on that one.

Christopher Penn 21:52
That’s a really good point. Because when we submit, or speaking applications, again, it’s it is very similar to submitting as a guest on a podcast. So pretend you didn’t know Katie, pretend you had no business relationship with Kay. How would Katie pitch you to be a guest? Like, what would she have to say to say like, okay, like, when you had pitches that were successful, what separated them from the flexible, scalable vendor integration of the day?

John Wall 22:19
Yeah, all right. Stuff that because, you know, obviously, big name customers, you know, if Katie’s, like, Hey, I’ve worked with a large what the largest auto insurer travel organization in the country, and we’ve done some amazing campaigns for them that have solved these problems. Like, yeah, that’s it. I’m gonna listen to like, that’s good enough. That’s good enough to do it. One.

Christopher Penn 22:40
Suppose though, she’s just getting started out in her speaking career, right? So she may not guess she is a very successful CEO. But wind the clock back pretend to 10 years prior and stuff where she’s not yet CEO of this amazingly successful consulting firm. How would How would Katie of 2013 pitch you today to get just get a chance? You know, what, what would that look like?

John Wall 23:04
Yeah, because you know, one thing is 15 second video clip, you know, whether it’s a Tiktok, or something on YouTube clips out of a bigger thing, that Simon Sinek that was how he got on my radar. He had his first book was not out yet. But he had a TEDx talk that he did, and had two minutes cut out of it, and it had like, 10,000 views, which back then, you know, 10,000 views, I was like, what, what is this man doing? This is unbelievable. So you know, that’s the kind of stuff that cuts through. So a clip of yourself is good. It’s funny, though, it’s a double edged sword, because I get a lot of pitches that come in and say, Hey, so and so CMO, he’s done these five other marketing podcasts who are all hosts that I hate, like, dude, I’m not You’re not coming on my show. Like, we’ve already heard your garbage on those second rate shows. So you’re not getting the marketing over coffee pass. That happens. But yeah, great, and it doesn’t hurt to engage me via LinkedIn and send me gifts. You know, if you’re gonna try noted, yeah, it’s, you know, it’s like any other sales thing, like, you just have to get my attention and ask me about something I care about. And yeah, and the other one is, hey, you know, I think that your sponsors would like X, Y, and Z are you know, I can if you can, somehow Lupo sponsor into it. For me, obviously, that’s going to be huge.

Katie Robbert 24:19
Interesting is the way that you’re talking about how to pitch yourself is not at all if Chris had asked me the question, how would you pitch yourself? That’s not at all how I would have answered. And I think that I, you know, I don’t know that I would call myself a novice speaker, but I’m definitely not the most experience that I’m not the most confident in terms of promoting myself and I think a lot of us, you know, especially women, we fall into this, we fall into this trap of, well, you know, I don’t want to be overly boastful and I don’t want to be too aggressive, but unfortunately, in the speaking world, like you have to be and so you know, if you were asking me, you know, How would I be pitching myself remarketing over coffee? You know, I’d probably say, hey, you know, here’s a couple of samples of blog posts that I’ve written, I tend to talk about change management, I know a lot about organizational behavior. I know a lot about people management, and I feel like I have a really good point of view that your audience would benefit from. So I would be approaching it from the education angle. And I feel like a lot of us who are newer try to do that, because you know, I don’t have a huge social media following, nor do I want one for that matter. But it’s just one of those things. Like I know, when speakers are looking for Speaker coordinators, or looking, they’re looking at social media followers, and that’s just not me. But I do have a lot of content with my name on it that I can speak to. And so I think putting together, think of it like your portfolio, it’s not just your speaker reel, but it’s also you just your portfolio of work. It’s like a job interview, you have to put your best foot forward, but also tailor it to the person that you’re speaking to. So if I’m trying to get the attention of John Wall of marketing over coffee, I’d better be doing my homework to figure out what kinds of topics does John cover on his podcast? What kinds of things does John himself as the host talk about? Publicly online on his website and his company? And how can I meet him where he is so that I get his attention? You know, but in a genuine way. And so if I happen to see like, one random social post about, you know, his farm or his dogs, that’s not enough for me to be like, Hey, John, I saw you post this one random thing one time about dogs. I like dogs, too, that starts to get into sort of that creepy, stalker territory that like, I’m not really paying attention. So you need to look for those themes, those common things that are appropriate to the person you’re pitching to. So I guess my advice there is don’t just like pull out of left field, one random little thing to be like, oh, yeah, I, I also breathe air. So let’s breathe air together. Or I also, you know, wash my feet every day. So let’s also like wash our feet every day, can I be on your podcast?

Christopher Penn 27:16
So one other thing that speakers have to do is submit for sessions, right? As an Oregon event, we’ll put out call for speakers and to exactly to your point, Katie, that can be very difficult for new speakers to do,

Katie Robbert 27:31
though I still struggle with it.

Christopher Penn 27:34
The format that I like that has gotten good feedback from event organizers is actually again, like John was saying it comes from sales. So this format is adapted from a Dan Kennedy sales pitch, we call it pigs problem impact general solution specific solution. So in your pitch to an event, your first paragraph is you know, so what is the problem of the situation? The second paragraph is what is the impact, the general solution is kind of implied because you’re speaking so this you move on to a specific solution, here is what you will get, here’s what you will learn. And, Katie, this is where it really helps to have that educational focus to say, This is what the audience is going to get. You’re going to learn what language models can do, how they’re built, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, right? You’ll notice in here, there’s not a whole lot, there’s there’s no speaker bio provided here for the speaking submission, because either that’s in a separate field in honor of speaker submission, or it’s not necessary yet, because they’re going to look at the topic, they go into submission go, we don’t want this content, we do want this content, we don’t care what your bio is. And the last thing if you can is you include a demo reel, ideally of the talk that you’re, you know, the theme you’re doing so that they can they can see it. But this format is easier for people to write. Because again, they’re not saying, Oh, how am I going to boast about myself? No, no, this is here’s the problem. Here’s the impact. Here’s the solution, asked me to speak.

Katie Robbert 28:57
What I will say in respectful disagreement is that you are well known speaker and so someone like you, and other speakers who are like you don’t need to put their bio in because just the name recognition alone, whereas I’ve spoken a lot, but I’m not as well known as a speaker. So I have to work harder to demonstrate my expertise. And so I do have to include in the description, you know, in this keynote, from Trust Insights, CEO Katie robear, who has 20 plus years experience talking about this thing. And here’s all the examples of where you can find that you’ll learn. And so, speakers who are less known like myself, we do have to work harder. We do have to be okay with promoting ourselves even more aggressively. And what I would say there is ask one of your closest friends, colleagues, business partners who know you well To write it for you from their perspective of what they see. Because if you’re writing it from your perspective, it’s never going to be as amped up, as it should be, unless you’re a total narcissist, and then it’s going to be completely fine. But again, if you’re someone like me, who’s you know, a woman who struggled to get on stage who is newer to it, not even just women, but just newer speakers in general, find someone you trust or a group of people that you trust, like, I trust Chris, and John to help me with this all the time. John is my chief editor on everything. And he does an amazing job. And Chris is my hype, man. And so find those people in your trusted community in your network to help you write those things. Don’t feel like you have to go it alone. And then use those, you know, trusted community members to say, can I practice with you? Can you give me feedback, constructive feedback to help me improve? You know, I’ve always make Chris and John sit through my, you know, first draft of every talk that I do. And I’m greatly appreciative of it, because they’re able to point out holes, or really good things that I can’t necessarily see, because I’m too close to it. And so that’s a big part of the practicing the speaking process. And getting more comfortable is finding people who you trust to help you hype you up, write your stuff, and then put the presentation together and tell stories. Within your presentation, one of the things that both of you always tell me is that I don’t tell enough stories to drive the point home, and it’s something that I’m continually working on. And it’s not just and so here’s a data point, let me drop a story here. Here’s a data point, let me drop a story here that needs to be more woven in and there’s an art to it. And that’s something that you’re both continually giving me feedback on. The

Christopher Penn 31:59
if you don’t have that resource for some reason, or you maybe don’t want to go to that resource with an unbaked thing, guess what I’m gonna suggest you talk to

Katie Robbert 32:09
the robots. But robots

Christopher Penn 32:11
exactly right. One of the things you could do you to start off, as you can say, using LinkedIn bio, help write a biography appropriate for a public speaker, leveraging their accomplishments, and making a compelling, exciting biography, to be read on stage. So let’s do that. And let’s paste in just the LinkedIn profile data. You’re a bear.

Katie Robbert 32:46
So you did this exercise a while back and you did it and do it in the style of Tony Robbins, and I’ve never felt so hyped up in my whole life. It was amazing. I shared it with everybody. I’m like, Look how amazing I am.

Christopher Penn 33:00
Exactly. So here. Anyway, all right, actually, I’m gonna read this aloud well, okay, ladies and gentlemen, I have the pleasure of introducing a dynamic and forward thinking leader in the digital space Katie robear. Hailing from Greater Boston, Katie is a co founder and CEO of Trust Insights, a cutting edge from the harnesses the power of predictive algorithms, machine learning, and artificial intelligence to guide businesses to informed and timely decisions with a mission to illuminate the obscured corners of data, Katie and her team have proven the future of strategic planning. And business insight lies in the fusion of technology and human intuition. And you can see this is a granted this is quite a long bio. So you might want to cut this down. But notice, all we did was saved would take the data straight from your LinkedIn profile, and hold it to write a speaker bow. So if you’re in that position, where maybe you don’t have that immediate friend resource, ask a robot to do at least the first pass. And that will help you that will help you not get stuck in your own head about like, oh, how much I saved myself. Let the robots do it.

Katie Robbert 33:59
I think that’s a really good point, because we do get stuck in our own heads. And the more that we do that we start to undercut our own achievements. And so the you’re absolutely right, generative AI, it’s not gonna be like, No, you’re right. No, you’re like, Great, I’m gonna do exactly what you’ve asked. And if you want to, you can do it in the style of a Tony Robbins, or, you know, have your bio announced in the style of like, a WWE superstar, whatever it is that you know, I’m, I’m serious, but like, these people are being announced to hype up the crowd, to entertain them and engage them. So why not use those examples, like, you know, write my bio in the style of a Marvel superhero? Write my bio in the style of you know, whoever you know, you admire or look up to, that could be a way for you to be like, Okay, this is what it looks like. This is what it sounds like to actually, you know, toot my own horn to actually Um, you know, recognize that I have achieved a lot. Don’t do what I did at the marketing profs conference, and a break the moderator right before you get on stage, because he was going, he was about to announce me now, to be fair, like, you know, super nice guy, super sweet guy. He just wanted to like, warm up the audience and crack some jokes. And he said, Okay, I’m going to announce you. And then I was going to tell a joke about Chris, to which I said, rightly so advocating for myself as the speakers like, or because I’m the speaker, you could make it about me. And he’s just completely like, his brain shut down, didn’t know what to do, ran up on stage and said, and here’s Katie, and then walked off the stage because he didn’t know what else to say at that point. You know, so I mostly say joking, but like, you know, also advocate for yourself as a speaker, because depending on where you’re coming from, you may get bundled in with other people a lot, and you yourself need to shine on your own.

Christopher Penn 36:01
And I think that’s a great segue to the third and final part of today’s show, which is what not to do. public speaker breaking in the moderator.

The golden rule is the same as the golden rule for clients, which is don’t be another thing on someone’s to do list. Right. So to the extent that you can meet your deadlines, when you can show up on time show up for soundcheck be there when you’re told to be there. What you were saying earlier, Katie, this is 100% true. The event planner world is a small world and people talk. And if you behave in certain ways that make their lives harder. That’s the end of your speaking career. If you behave that way, in ways that make the lives of attendees harder, so we have had no shortage of stories of people, mostly Men Behaving Badly at conferences. That word spreads quickly, and you may suddenly find yourself wondering Hmm, why is no one asking me to speak? Well, gee, it could be because less the events you were at someone lodged a complaint because of your behavior at the bar or at the party, whatever. So those are all the basics, I would hope of things that you shouldn’t do.

Katie Robbert 37:26
Yeah, I think that there’s a difference between advocating for yourself and then just being a pain in the ass. And so no, I mean that and also like advocating because of like, I’m the speaker, it’s okay for you to talk about me and not my co founder in my introduction, is advocating painting in the ass when you go into that route is, you know, how dare you bring up my co founder like this is all about me. Like it’s in the way that you approach the situation. You know, if you know, you’re standing on stage in a conference room, and all you have is fluorescent lights, starting to be a pain in the ass like, well, I demand a direct spotlight because that’s how I looked best. Well, too bad. Nobody’s getting that. Also, you should have brought your own and then set it up yourself, and then brought someone to run it for you. Like, you have to be aware of the limitations of the conference and these event people, the volunteers, the planners are some of the hardest working burnt out people. John can attest to that. As someone who used to work in that world, like, it’s not easy, they make it look easy, because that’s their job. So John, do you have any other stories, anonymized stories of people who have been difficult and what not to do?

John Wall 38:47
Yeah, I mean, there’s a million things we’ve had speakers do all the most ridiculous stuff you can possibly a, you know, Van Halen level absurdity. But the one thing to keep in mind is always take the event planners mindset, which is everything is planned and scripted to the you know, to the ultimate degree, like you want to have a complete backup plan. So have your slides on your laptop, have a mini USB drive, have a mount of Dropbox somewhere that you can share a link to the event planner with, you know, presumed that these things are all going to break, and you’re going to need to go to plan B for everything, because that’s the way these things go. One thing that is just so funny, actually on threads this morning, there was a discussion going on about how, you know, a lot of speakers, they get asked a month ahead of time, or God forbid, ahead of time for their deck, you know, and that’s because they want to have a copy of that deck stored somewhere that if the building burns down, they can still do it. So the thing with that is don’t, you know, fight or push back, send the deck that you have today. And nobody’s going to care if you’re making edits to that deck between now and the you know, in the case of Chris, the deck is going to be 85% change by the time he gets up to stage and that’s fine. The week before the event. You can say hey, I’ve made just a few changes. nobody’s gonna go back and look and see that it’s 98% of the slides. It’s okay. You can run with the deck you have, but and, you know, I would even say, Katie, there’s no way to break a moderator. Like, if you were able to break the moderator, that’s the moderators fault, you got a core moderator. You know, his, if you’re gonna do an intro about somebody and tell a story, you need to tell them that story ahead of time. People always make the mistake that, you know, a great presentation looks like it’s organic and off the cuff. And the reality is it looks that way. Because it’s been rehearsed so many times that people aren’t even thinking about anymore. It slides back into that, but you need to, you know, ahead of time, you should have gotten your intro. And here’s the things we’re going to talk about, is there something we’re missing, is there something else you want to add? As a speaker, don’t be afraid to be proactive with that to say, Here, here’s my introduction. Here’s, here’s my entrance song. When I’m at the jumbotron, and the fireworks go off, you know, you’ve got your WWE entrance, there.

Katie Robbert 40:54
Here’s how you pronounce my name correctly.

John Wall 40:56
This is true. Katie Robbert. Yeah, you gotta get that to have that as part of your packet.

Christopher Penn 41:02
If, if the event allows, and it’s okay, it’s worth asking something we learned from our friend David Meerman. Scott is have a 32nd intro video for yourself, okay, you don’t do any introductions, play this 32nd video, and boom, and you’re ready to go. Right.

Katie Robbert 41:18
I also John, to your point about the how prepared you need to be speakers, especially new speakers who are still working to prove themselves, memorize your talk backwards and forwards be able to do it without your slides. And know your partner children, you know, pets, everyone around you with how much they now also know the talk backwards and forwards. Because a lot of times the tech will just fail. Even if they have a backup of the slides. Even if they have your laptop to work from with the slides on it. The text still fails. This actually happened to me when I was at the MAE con conference back in 2019. For the first 10 minutes of my session, they couldn’t get the slides to work. And so I was standing on stage with no slides. But because I had memorized the talk, I was able to talk through the concepts until they got the slides up and running. So that the attendees of my session, were not just sitting there waiting, and they were still sort of getting an idea. And I was able to once they got the slides back up and running, go back and very quickly run through and this is what I said here. And this is what I said here. So let’s catch up and get us back on time. But because I had obnoxiously practiced my talk, I could do it. In my sleep while I was doing the dishes. I started doing it so much. I was doing it in different accents. But it was the point was no I was I think at that point, I was listening to a lot of Irish narrated murder mysteries. And so I started adopting the accent as I was doing my talk and practicing it. But I never had the slides in front of me in my head, the slideshow was running. And I was just giving the talk so that when I stood on stage, I was able to give the talk in my regular accent. So that the audience was still getting what they paid for they still showed up to get the information and they were still getting it, they would have gotten a copy of the slides later. And that is probably the biggest thing is don’t go in cold. be so prepared that to John’s point, it just looks so organic, because it’s so rehearsed behind the scenes.

Christopher Penn 43:27
Exactly. It gives you the chance to observe the audience more carefully and see what’s landing with them. If you’re not having to think about doing the thing, you can have much greater visibility into in all the things around you. One final thing I will recommend that you do is with the permission of organizers at any event that you go to make sure that you record yourself from the littlest, you know, local Knights of Columbus thing all the way up to, you know the big stage at Wembley Stadium or whatever, you’ve got a smartphone, probably, you’ve got the ability to record yourself, get yourself a halfway decent microphone or sometimes a little lavalier microphone, a little portable recorder cost you 25 bucks on Amazon. And you want to record yourself as much as possible because if you want to do things like speaking, we’ll later on if you have the extra footage, you can then hand that off to someone who does that professionally. And they will be very happy that you did so be sure to also record the audience to it again with permission from the event organizers because that will help so in the last 45 minutes we have covered the tactics for building your public speaker reputation from figuring out what to talk about the hours to speak properly, to building your network the the opportunities to start building reputation how to position yourself with a speaking kit and with networking and all the things not to do any John any final words for folks as they start embarking on their public speaking careers?

John Wall 44:53
Yeah, come see me Thursday, October 25 7pm. Stone Hill College I’ll be talking about marketing and tech, with the VP of my Coming from WB Mason, I’ll be giving away some copies of Seth Godin as autograph book. And that’s the best way to build your speaking career. Come check it out. Anyway.

Katie Robbert 45:11
But the biggest thing is just to be yourself. Don’t try to be a another speaker that you see. So when I first started speaking, a lot of the content that I was speaking on, Chris was your content, because I was still working on building mine, but it was an opportunity for me to practice and it was good, but it wasn’t truly mine. And so you have to just be yourself and it’s okay to not be perfect. Either. Be prepared, you know, be ready for you know, whatever is going to happen, but also just be yourself.

Christopher Penn 45:40
Exactly as Oscar Wilde once said, be yourself. Everyone else is already taken. Thanks for tuning in to this week’s show. We’ll see you next time. Thanks for watching today. Be sure to subscribe to our show wherever you’re watching it. For more resources. And to learn more, check out the Trust Insights podcast at trust AI podcast, and a weekly email newsletter at trust Got questions about what you saw in today’s episode. Join our free analytics for markers slack group at trust for marketers, see you next time.

Transcribed by

Need help with your marketing AI and analytics?

You might also enjoy:

Get unique data, analysis, and perspectives on analytics, insights, machine learning, marketing, and AI in the weekly Trust Insights newsletter, INBOX INSIGHTS. Subscribe now for free; new issues every Wednesday!

Click here to subscribe now »

Want to learn more about data, analytics, and insights? Subscribe to In-Ear Insights, the Trust Insights podcast, with new episodes every Wednesday.

One thought on “So What? How to become a public speaker

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This