THE ART AND BUSINESS OF SPEAKING

Two Heads (or More) are Better Than One

Two Heads (or More) are Better Than One

Speaking may be a solitary business, but that doesn’t mean that it happens in a vacuum. NSA is a family, like the Kardashians. Okay, bad example. Still, I’ve found time and time again how valuable my fellow speakers have been, and continue to be, whenever I develop new material. A few examples:

  • A couple of weeks before my first paid gig with my new keynote, I gathered about a half-dozen members of my NSA Chapter (NSA Northwest) and ran the speech for them. It cost me nothing but beer and pizza. And it didn’t even cost me that, because now that I think about it I never actually bought the beer or pizza. But this run-through gave me a fresh perspective that I was sorely lacking.
  • Two weeks before my TEDx Talk, I did a complete dress rehearsal at my Chapter meeting. At this point, the script was pretty much locked and loaded; I wasn’t looking for major changes. But I did get one invaluable piece of feedback. There was a moment in the talk where I had to make what had been a somewhat awkward stage move from right to left. But during this test, the Chapter members had such a big, vocal, and prolonged reaction to the line immediately preceding the move, that I was able to use their reaction as the motivation for the move. This not only eliminated the awkwardness, but turned the move into an additional laugh line. I never would have known this had I not tested the talk in front of a real audience.
  •  Like many of you, I belong to a mastermind group of advanced NSA speakers. This group has been instrumental in my continued development as a speaker and a businessperson. They also make for wonderfully ruthless accountability partners! And here’s another idea: In addition to a mastermind group of fellow speakers, consider joining (or forming) a mastermind group with professionals who are not in the speaking business. We can learn volumes from people who see the world differently than we do!

Words of Wisdom from Our Peers
To get other perspectives on developing a new keynote, I reached out to my fellow NSA members. Here’s what some of them told me:

  • Barry Banther, CSP: A few years ago, I started a “keynote writing” notebook. When I’d think of a concept or even a sentence, I’d jot it down. After a while, those notes became a sort of creative ground for new presentations. As a result, I started developing a new keynote with no schedule in mind.
  • Jess Pettitt, CSP: I started including tiny parts of a new message until the new message was a third, then half, and now 100 percent of the time, unless I need to pull out an old story for some reason.
  • Mark Black, CSP: I got tired of telling the same stories. As time passed, they seemed less timely and thus less powerful, at least to me. But as much as I wanted a change, it’s hard to let go of things that you know work to try something untested. The biggest hurdle was fear.
  • Scott Lesnick: I wanted to put together a keynote at a professional level that was above my pay grade. In order to do that, I had to understand more than ever the nuances that go into writing a fantastic speech.
  • Meredith Miller Oliver, CSP: I saw others booking bigger stages and bigger fees and the competitive part of me got fired up! About the same time, I grew into some personal maturity that I was ready to share more of me and be more vulnerable.
  • Beth Ziesenis: I get a lot of repeat business from groups that have the same people every year. I have to step it up all the time. It freaks me out every time, but if I want the repeat biz, I gotta give ’em something new.
  • Bob Roitblat: How do you know when it’s time for a new keynote? When the passion is waning. When you think you no longer need to rehearse. When you’ve lost that lovin’ feeling!

 

Bill Stainton

Bill Stainton

Motivational Keynote Speaker and Business Speaker at Producing Results
Bill Stainton is a 29-time Emmy Award-winner for comedy works with organizations that want their people to play a bigger game and produce unreasonable results.
Bill Stainton
Bill Stainton
Bill Stainton
Bill Stainton

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