How Being Good-Looking Will Grow Your Speaking Business – Get an Unfair Advantage
A few weeks ago, an editor at a prestigious publishing house called me. She said, “I want to publish a book on [a specific topic]. Who have you got?”
I’m a literary agent and an NSA lover, so of course I went to our NSA website to browse the speakers on that topic. I planned to introduce one to her, close the deal and make my commission. It should have been easy to find one of you who is perfect for her.
But when I browsed the directory, I was horrified! Each speaker’s website was worse than the next. They looked like they had been scraped together by someone’s brother-in-law who does websites when he gets off work at Jiffy Lube! The colors and images were hideous, cutesy, too dark, childish or worse. Most lacked a demo reel, or offered a pathetic, poorly-lit, unedited video shot on a distant stage. The headshots were from the 90s, or cropped from family photos. Speech descriptions provided no clear benefits to an audience!
My entire career would be compromised if I showed any of them to a publisher.
Thinking there must be some error — because I know no one is booking any of those speakers — I began looking up the speakers’ names on Google. What I found was even worse: messy, incomplete LinkedIn profiles; allegedly professional Facebook pages that show a mangle of personal photos and 124 total followers; no followers on Twitter. In summary: no momentum in the real world.
In the publishing industry, everyone from the agent to the senior publicist at Harper Collins is going to look at you online and judge whether you are credible, professional and worth publishing.
I’ve trained and booked enough speakers to know this: meeting planners are no different. They will spend an average of nine seconds on your website, looking to see how good you are — or aren’t.
Those of you who are waiting until you’re getting enough bookings to pay for a big image upgrade out of cash flow, I’ve got a surprise for you: That will never happen. You’ll find yourself unable to pay your NSA dues long before you ever get there. Perhaps you’ll blame the system, or the fact that speakers with better websites and intelligent online presences are getting all the bookings. Sorry. Your failure will be entirely your fault.
There’s no “Which comes first?” in the business world. Nobody goes to a crummy website, reads badly written copy and thinks, “Maybe this is a diamond in the rough. Let me invest my time, energy, money and thought into this unknown, unprofessional person.”
Nobody has time for that.
Google the sites for just two of my speaker clients: Jeffrey Hayzlett and Jim Cathcart. Go look at MarkSanborn.com or RandyGage.com. These people are getting booked. Everyone who sees their sites knows they’re serious about what they do — in less than nine seconds. What about your site? Do we see “serious” or a site built by someone who has no clue about marketing, site design or copy writing? What about your social media presence? Your demo reel quality? You either look and live A-list or you don’t.
Ford Saeks of Prime Concepts, a speaker whose company builds most of the top speaker websites, has advice for those who whine that they can’t afford to look professional yet. “Sell your big screen TV. Sell your car. Take a second mortgage. Do what you have to do.”
You only get one shot to make a first impression. Those 20+ speakers I looked at missed out. The amount of money they’d have gotten on just the advance for this one book deal — other things being equal — was worth double or triple what they’d have spent on a decent site. Instead, I had to go outside the NSA to find the author for that publisher.
Remember the junior high dance? Will you stand around like a wallflower in your homemade, crumpled clothes, hoping that the popular kid notices you? How did that work out back then? Right. Speaking and publishing are professional endeavors. In the real world, professionals present themselves properly and get the benefits that come with the image they project.
Your success is in your hands. It always is.