In my first post this week, I talked about the aspects of resilience that speakers will need to have to succeed in 2019. The top one on the list was focus. Going into a little more depth on the idea, let’s dive into the three areas of focus that are essential for great results: authority with a great message, a kick-ass speech, and a supportive community.
First, you have to focus on developing your authority. Because professional speakers have the opportunity to earn large sums of money, there’s a huge amount of competition. Lots of people have noticed that keynote speakers can earn fabulous amounts for what seems like an hour’s worth of work.
But to get that hour on the stage, you have to develop authority, through a message that’s unique on a subject that probably thousands of people have spoken on before. Innovation, leadership, resilience – whatever your topic, the chances are good that many, many people have expertise on the same subject.
So that means that you have to do the research better than anyone else. And you have to be ready to pursue all the angles on your subject in order to be a genuine expert. But most important, you have to pour yourself and your story into the topic in a way that brings your unique voice and history to bear in a relevant way. Leadership is a topic that concerns us all, for example, but only you can bring your unique voice to that well-studied subject. What can you say that no one else can? After that, you need to constantly keep up with all the nuances and developments of the topic, exploring its boundaries, revising the rules, finding new avenues. That’s what it takes to create speaking opportunities – and that’s why it takes a whole lot more work than just that hour on the stage.
Second, you have to focus on developing a kick-ass speech. Once you find your voice, then you need to develop your craft. Self-awareness is key here as you begin to understand your strengths and weaknesses. Don’t try to fit some preconceived notion of a great speaker, or to follow too slavishly some speaker that you admire. She makes it work because she’s speaking with her unique voice. You need to do the same. Not the same as that speaker, but the same process of finding what makes you great. Some speakers use lots of visual aids, some few, and some none. There’s no right answer for all; there is a right answer for you, your story, and your style. Find that, then rehearse every chance you get.
Third, you have to focus on your community. The path to a steady stream of speaking invitations is through a community of people who care about you and your topic of interest. You need to care for and nurture that community. You need to talk to them. You need to interact with them. You need to listen to them. They are your people, your potential for speaking, and your path to career success.
I wish great success for you as a speaker in 2019. You’ll get there by focusing on what matters. That’s my top recommendation for cracking the upper levels of the public speaking business next year.