4 Strategies to Become a Successful Speaker

5 Steps to Become a Public Speaker

I just finished writing my first book and have been working on building a social media presence. I’m excited about these things, but I’d also really like to have the opportunity to speak at events. However, I’m not sure how to get started or how you go about building a speaking business. If you have any suggestions on where to begin, I value any input you can give me. -Jenny

Such a great question, Jenny! Congratulations on finishing your first book — how exciting!

I never set out to become a public speaker. In fact, as I shared in this post, it was truly one of the last things I would have ever seen myself doing. However, as the opportunities began coming my way and I realized this was something that God was calling me to do, I’ve sought to be intentional and strategic in developing myself as a public speaker.

Here are some suggestions I’d have for you:

1. Define Your Market

Before you even start down the journey of becoming a public speaker, I think it’s important to define your market. What audiences do you see yourself speaking to? Are you a comedian, a corporate speaker, a Christian women’s speaker, etc?

Do you see yourself giving workshops and training seminars? Or do you picture yourself being up on a keynote stage giving inspirational messages? Or are you something entirely different or somewhere in between?

Take a long hard look at what audiences you want to reach. It could be multiple types of audiences, but from the get-go, don’t just say, “I’ll be happy to speak to anyone, anywhere.” Otherwise, you’re probably setting yourself up for frustration, exhaustion, or failure.

For instance, I have three topics that I speak on: intentional finance, intentional family, and intentional business. All of my presentations fall under one of these headings. If an audience of car mechanics asked me to come in and talk on how to fix your car, I’m not their girl.

Defining what I’m about has helped me to be selective on what speaking opportunities I’ll accept. And it also helps me and my team to be able to clearly communicate what I’m about when events are interested in having me come speak.

2. Practice Your Presentations

If there is one huge mistake you can make when preparing for an event, it’s to not prepare enough. I cannot stress enough how import it is to practice your talks over and over again when you are first starting out.

In fact, I’d encourage you to practice them standing up exactly as you plan to deliver them, including using your slide presentation and any props, at least 3 full times before you ever deliver a talk on stage. If possible, ask a few family members or friends to watch these practices and give their feedback.

Yes, this takes a LOT of time upfront, but it’s SO worth it. Why? Because not only does practice allow you to familiarize yourself with the material, but you’ll also likely find places you want to rework and refine. Each practice session will make the talk just a little bit better, helping you to then deliver it with confidence and ease once you’re up on stage.

In addition, when you practice your talk multiple times, you become really comfortable with it. When the inevitable mishap occurs — such as the mic not working right or the slides not working or some other tech issue (it seems there’s always something!) — you aren’t thrown off track because you know your material well.

One final note on practicing: I’ve become a big fan of giving the same presentations over and over again to different groups. Right now, I only have 10 talks that I give. If an event asks me to come speak, those are the talks I offer.

I always tweak my talks for the specific audience and always update them so that they are relevant and fresh, but for the most part, the bones of the talk stay the same once I get them to a place where I feel like they are really strong. I’ve found that by giving the same talks again and again, they just get better with time as I learn what works best with multiple audiences.

5 Steps to Becoming a Public Speaker

My favorite part of traveling & speaking is getting to meet readers face-to-face!

3. Offer Your Services

Once you’ve defined who your ideal audience is and you’ve created and practiced some talks, it’s time to get out there and start speaking! For many people, this can be the hardest part.

But here’s the thing: it doesn’t have to be really difficult to find audiences to speak to if you’re not too picky about who your audience is. There are many community centers, libraries, and even nursing homes that will allow you to come in and speak. All you have to do is call and offer!

Sure, there might only be a handful of people who show up, but speaking to just a small room of people can be great practice in the beginning. Plus, if you mess up or struggle through sections, you’ve only embarrassed yourself in front of a small group!

These small audiences might not be your long-term ideal audiences, but don’t be discouraged by that. Realize that every small opportunity is practice and preparation for the bigger opportunities. You usually have to do a lot of small things well before you are ready for the bigger opportunities. So give your very best to each audience, no matter the size!

As you become more comfortable with speaking, seek out other opportunities. Maybe offer to give a workshop at a local conference or church, offer to speak at schools or other community groups. You probably won’t get paid for these opportunities, but take them anyway. When you’re starting out, just be grateful for any opportunity to practice your presentations in front of a live audience!

4. Refine Your Speaking

After you’ve had 5-10 speaking opportunities, go back to the drawing board. Consider what’s working and what’s not.

When I first started speaking, I was just so grateful for any opportunity that I would speak on pretty much whatever I was asked to, within reason. I quickly learned what kinds of talks and subjects worked for me and what didn’t. I wouldn’t have known, though, had I not gone out there and tried.

Go back to step number one and see if you need to re-define your market at all. Start deciding which 3-5 talks are your favorites and really working on refining and tweaking those.

If possible, I wholeheartedly encourage you to hire a speaking coach. If you’re interested in hearing more about this, read this post on how my speaking coach, Michele, has completely changed my entire approach to speech preparation.

I also highly, highly, highly recommend attending the SCORRE conference. I went last year — mostly dragging my feet — and the whole process and training transformed me from the inside out.

Not only have I become a much more dynamic speaker as a result of SCORRE, but I’m all-around more confident in who I am, what I am about, and the message I’m called to share. If you want to improve as a communicator in any field — speaking, writing, blogging, and more — do yourself a huge favor and attend SCORRE.

For more tips on improving as a speaker, read my post on how I got over my lifelong fear of public speaking.

What advice and suggestions do the rest of you have for Jenny?

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How an 18-Year-Old is Earning $40K Per Month on YouTube

Bethany Mota-- 18-Year-old Making $40K Per Month on YouTube

I was intrigued and inspired by reading this story on Yahoo! yesterday:

Though you may not know her name (yet), Bethany Mota is a superstar. Millions of young girls are familiar with this “Mota-vator,” an 18-year-old YouTube personality who has built herself a media and fashion empire — all from the comfort of her Northern California bedroom.

Now with her own clothing line at retailer Aeropostale, Bethany’s rising stardom goes far beyond her “MACBARBIE07” — a YouTube channel that’s generating an estimated $40,000 per month and has garnered over 300 million views since she launched it. She is an inspiration to pre-teens everywhere who’ve ever struggled with boredom, shyness and bullying.

Home-schooled as a child, Bethany entered public school in junior high but decided it wasn’t for her after a devastating bout of cyber-bullying in 2009. Bored, lonely and looking for an outlet, she redirected her energy into an unexpected hobby: creating YouTube videos for girls just like her that offered make-up tips and fashion advice, among other things.

Read the full story.

While I’m not a huge fan of the whole teen celebrity culture, I thought Bethany’s story was quite inspiring — especially for those who are feeling “stuck” where they are in life or discouraged by hurtful comments others have made.

Bethany has built a massive platform, all by herself without any funding or experience. Not only is she impacting many lives, but she’s also making pretty downright incredible income, too.

She could have chosen to let the bullying demoralize her. She could have decided there was no hope or future for herself since she was shy, introverted, and lived in a really small town.

But she didn’t. And I think her story can serve as a motivation to anyone who is feeling frustrated or overwhelmed by the circumstances you find yourselves in.

No matter your situation, you have a choice: you can become a victim or you can become a victor. Which will you choose today?

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Eating From the Pantry: Day 1

Eat From the Pantry

We kind of cheated a little today on the Eat From the Pantry Challenge… we’d already scheduled to go out to dinner with my parents tonight and my parents offered to bring dinner over for my kids and my siblings who are babysitting them.

So I didn’t have to make anything for dinner, but we are using a gift card for dinner that we’ve had sitting at our house for a long time and wanted to use up before we moved. I guess that counts for something, right? :)

Eat From the Pantry Challenge

Anyway, here’s what we ate today:

Breakfast: Oatmeal

Lunch: Turkey sandwiches, apples, and chips (I had a salad!)

Snack: Finished off some ice cream some friends had brought by last week.

Dinner: Out to eat with my parents using a gift card

Eat From the Pantry Challenge

Today was a pretty simple and rather uneventful Eating from the Pantry day, but I have a feeling it will get more interesting as this week progresses and our cupboards become more bare. Stay tuned. :)

Are you eating from the pantry this week? If you are, leave a comment telling us what you ate today. Or, if you’re blogging about this challenge, leave a link to your direct blog post below that details what you ate for the Pantry Challenge today. I can’t wait to see your creative ideas!


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Join Us for an Impromptu Eat from the Pantry Challenge!

Eat From the Pantry Challenge

Since we’re moving to TN next week, I’m on a mission to use up everything in my freezer and refrigerator this week. So we’re doing an impromptu Eat from the Pantry Challenge.

We are going to buy milk, eggs, and bread. But other than that, I’m going to try to just use up what we already have here.

I’ll be posting an update every evening this week (through Friday evening), sharing what meals we came up with based upon what we already have on hand. I already have our basement pantry packed up, so this is going to make it even more of a fun challenge. :)

Eat From the Pantry Challenge

Want to join us? If you plan to join us for this Impromptu Eat from the Pantry Challenge, leave a link to your blog below. And then come back every evening and I’ll have a link-up for you to share what you ate from the Pantry that day. This should be interesting — and I can’t wait to see what you come up with to make!

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The #1 Reason Most People Fail

1-Reason-Most-People-Fail

In 2004, I started an online business. My long-term goal was to build something that would earn a part-time side income and allow me to stay home while my husband was in law school.

I never would have dreamed that ten years later, I would be running a large blog, writing books, speaking to audiences around the country, and have an amazing team working for me.

Many times, people look at me and only see the accomplishments and success. What people don’t see is the hours, days, weeks, months, and years I worked very, very hard and saw little return on all my investment. They don’t see the many, many times I’ve come this close to shutting it all down from frustration and discouragement.

There have been some gloriously rewarding moments in the process, but there have been many more mundane and difficult seasons along the way.

But I believe one of the greatest reasons this blog has been so successful is not because I’m really smart (I’m not — I struggled in many subjects in school), or because I’m naturally techie, (oh goodness, it’s scary how pathetically non-techie I am!), or because I had a background in marketing (In reality, I didn’t go to college and I was a waitress and a violin teacher in my teen years).

The reason this blog has been so successful is because I refuse to give up.

When my first few online business attempts didn’t work, I didn’t give up. When I only sold a few copies of my first ebooks in the first few months, I didn’t give up. When I about pulled my hair out over technical issues while trying to set up my first few blogs, I didn’t give up. When the articles I submitted for publication were rejected, I didn’t give up. When other people told me I was crazy to pursue many of my ideas, I didn’t give up.

For the first few years, it really felt like I was spinning my wheels and making very little progress. But I kept researching, kept experimenting, kept networking, kept reading books, kept watching what other people were doing, kept asking questions of anyone who had any experience at all with running a business, and kept getting back up when I failed yet again.

And little bit by little bit, the hard work, the long hours, and the effort began to pay off. It didn’t feel like much return at all at first, but those little trickles of traffic eventually turned into a small stream that morphed into a river.

Don't Give Up!

I don’t say all of this to hold myself up as someone who has arrived or has it altogether. Honestly, there are still many days when I feel like I’m so inadequate, I still fail regularly, and I still often have moments when I want to pull my hair out. Instead, I share this to encourage those of you who are struggling to start something right now.

Maybe you’re a few months (or a few years!) into a project or idea and it just feels like it’s not working or getting anywhere. Perhaps you set a goal or dreamed a big dream, went for it, and now it seems like it’s all crumbling right in front of you.

Whatever it is, wherever you’re at in life right now, I want to encourage you: don’t give up. You may need to change your plans, tweak your dreams, or alter your course. You might need to shelve the idea and start a new one. You may need to extend the deadline or revise your game plan. That’s all part of learning and growing.

But no matter what, don’t give up. Winners aren’t quitters. Keep going, keep pressing forward, keep learning, keep experimenting… and someday soon, you will start to see fruit from your effort.

Don't Give Up!

Note: This post was inspired by Jon Acuff’s post: We want greenhouses but don’t get them.

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Sign Up for the FREE Online Author Platform Summit!

Free Author Platform Summit

Want to write a book or take your writing career to the next level? Sign up for the Author Platform Summit that will be held online from May 15-18, 2014.

During this special free online summit experience you will learn from best-selling authors, publishing industry experts and leading authorities who will share strategies to help authors and anyone with something to say or sell build a platform of success. On May 15-18 you will have free, on-demand access to watch video teachings from each of our speakers. You can watch online whenever you want. Each teaching will share a few specific tips from our experts with a focus on actions that you can take immediately.

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I’ll be sharing at the summit along with a number of other best-selling authors and experienced book marketers. I’m excited about this and can’t wait to soak up all the great information and practical advice that will be shared.

And did I mention this is FREE? Yes, it is. What a great value!

Sign up for the FREE Author Platform Summit here.

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