I have been a professional speaker since 1994, I have done more than 2000 paid speeches, and I can not remember the last time I canceled because I was sick. (Actually I might never have done it, but I certainly can not remember doing it.)
So does that mean I have never been sick?
Of course not. I am sick right now, as I am writing this. A bad case of colds, fever and generally non-working brain. I have done nothing of value today and if this text makes no sense I will blame it on my malfunctioning brain.
But here is an interesting observation I have done over my 20 year speaking career: It seems like speakers get sick when they do not have an assignment.
It seems that speakers seem to be able to “put off” being sick, until there is a whole in the calendar. In the last month I have spoken in the USA, Spain, Thailand, Malaysia, Lithuania, the UK – and a series of speeches in Singapore of course. But now I have a few days without speeches before I go to Barcelona next week, and just like that I got really, really sick.
Could I have given a speech today if I had a booking? Yes – I have been delivering speeches while not being in perfect physical condition before – but let’s just say I am very happy I do not have to.
I think the body feels that it’s “ok” to be sick, and then it relaxes and then the sickness strikes.
I also think that the body pumps itself up with adrenalin before a speech and “lives” on that energy long enough to get the speaker through the scheduled event. (Think how Hillary Clinton collapsed into a waiting car after attending the 9/11 memorial service.)
So why am I sharing this on a blog on being a professional speaker?
Because I think it is crucial that speakers plan in “non-booked-periods” also during the “busy season” of September to November (when speakers tend to have crazy schedules).
And more importantly, it’s important to block off longer periods of “down time” after a busy period as to re-charge the batteries and get back to “full charge” again.
They say people who never take time off to exercise sooner or later have to take time off to be sick.
I think it is equally true that speakers who do not take time off to get some down-time, sooner or later will find themselves down one way or another.