Tag: Life of a professional speaker

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I get that question sometimes: “So, you are a professional speaker? Your profession is just to go up and speak?”

For simplicity I often just reply: “Yes”.

But as a professional speaker who do between 50-100 speeches per year, who speak in 20-35 countries per year, who have written and published 10 books and delivered 2000+ speeches in 65+ countries over 20 years I sat down and did a quick little list of what I actually do.

Work scope of a Global Keynote Speaker:

Done by me:

SELL:

Sell speeches
Identify potential leads
Follow up on hot leads
Keep in contact with important clients
Organise CRM system and enter all contacts
Connect with clients and leads on social media

BOOKINGS:
Research clients
Do briefing calls
Write speech
Create powerpoint

BOOKS:
Do book research
Organise interviews
Write book
Edit book
Contact book designers
Contact printers, negotiate and order books
Identify and contact publishers
Find distribution for books

Sell books
Order shipments of books
Invoice books

SPEAKING:
Book travel (research and buy tickets, hotels etc)
Organise travel
Do the travel…

Do sound checks
Meet with clients
Attend conferences before and after speech

Deliver the speech

Collect contact info of people who come up before or after speech and connect with them after speech

SCR:

SCR Projects (Like Ideasisland.com)
Pro-bono work (organise and deliver)
Help and mentor other speakers

MARKETING:

Write blog posts
Post blog posts
Build community for blogs
Respond to social media posts from fans

Create videos, (shot and edit and post)
Social media post writing and posting

Facebook advertising campaigns
Facebook advertising evaluation

Do media interviews

Put together marketing collateral
Collect quotes, evaluations from clients etc

Collect mailing list and send out newsletter (and write them)

DEVELOPMENT:
Watch and learn from other speakers
Evaluate delivered speeches
Research and write new speeches
Read and Interview people for speech content
Write down good stories for speeches

FINANCE & ADMIN
Invoice
Follow up on payments
File receipts and other admin
Rely to emails
Manage calendar/book meetings etc
OUTSORCED
(Which means project managed by me:)

Visual Identity
Web hosting
Accounting
Financial reporting
Web development

OTHER
Business Development
IT support (install apss, do back ups, cloud services, domain buying etc etc)
Other projects (www.Innertheme.com, speaker coaching etc)

 

Some of these things of course take many, many hours per week. Some of the things take very little time. I am sure I forgot a whole lot of things.

So yes, as a speaker you “just go up on stage and speak”. But on the other hand you do quite a fair bit more.

I hope this quick summary can be of value for someone thinking of getting building a global speaking career.

ps. Oh, and I should add that for the last 4 years I have been on paternity leave for 4+ months per year while still speaking in 20-25 countries per year. And for most of my 20+ year speaking career I have had 0 staff working for me.

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Since Thursday I have travelled:

Singapore-Doha-Manchester-Nottingham (by train) -SPEECH – Manchester (by train) – Doha – Singapore – Kuching (Malaysia) – SPEECH (and meet the Orangutans) – Kuala Lumpur – Hong Kong – Chicago – Peoria. (I am in Peoria to speak at a charity event.)

That means speaking after a 8 hour+ timezone travel on 3 separate (!) occasions in one week. (I traveled through 24 times zones in the last week.)

And let’s be clear: to have jetlag when speaking is a BAD thing. It’s called “PRESENTations” for a reason – you have to be PRESENT, and jetlag tends to make you think you are mentally somewhere else.

So, how to avoid jetlag when speaking?

1) Sleep as much as you can on flights. (I have spent 55 hours on airplanes in last 168 hours and I would say I have slept or rested most of those hours). Do not watch movies!

2) Move your body. I had 12,354 steps per day in the last 7 days. (Walk in the airport terminal, on train platform – any time you have free.)

3) Make sure you are tired when you board the flight. (I had a 12 hour lay-over in HK so I decided to stay up all night and just walk through out Hong Kong to change my body clock to USA time.)

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As I write this I can not speak.

I have lost my voice.

That is NOT good if you are a professional speaker …

I woke up on Thursday morning with a bit of a rough voice and by Thursday night the voice was totally gone. Not a sound came out when I tried to say something.

At 11 AM I had had a speech to give for a global audience so I was VERY lucky the voice did not decide to give up a few hours earlier …

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Over the weekend I have been temporarily mute as I have been avoiding to speak to rest my vocal cords.

Not speaking at all has given me time to reflect on my work as a speaker.

If I really did loose my voice and never could speak again what would I do?

My insight was that I would continue to spread my message just like I do today.

I am passionate about creativity, change and global/human mindset, my “Inner Theme” is “Humanity to the Power of Ideas”. I believe in the potential of humanity and the power of ideas.

If I never could speak again I would spread the same messages via videos, books, blog posts and perhaps a podcast where I would write down questions that the people I interviewed would reply to.

For the last 18 year I have replied with the same answer when someone asks me: “What do you do?”

My answer has always been: “I am a speaker”.

Sitting quietly in my home writing this I realise that that is perhaps not the best answer.

According to Eyomonline.com (An etymology site) the word “speak” apparently can be traced back to the “notion of speech as a “scattering” of words.”

And “speak” was not the primary word for “to speak” in Old English.

Instead the word “maþelian” was used:

Now while “speak” comes from “scattering of words” the word “maþelian” comes from mæþel meaning “assembly, council,”.

“It has its root from metan “to meet;” compare Greek agoreuo “to speak, explain,” originally “speak in the assembly,” from agora “assembly”)”

Now THAT I like.

“To explain in an assembly.”

A very cool etymology trace back in time through the history of the English language.

Because is that not what “Speakers” do?

We explain some aspect of the world to a group of people gathered together in one place for a common purpose.

Sitting here, not being able to speak any words, I realise that I am not a “speaker”.

Instead when I get the question: “What do you do?”

I should really reply “maþelie” – as in “I speak”.

And no, I will not really do that. I will stick to “I am a speaker”, but this text has not just been a play on words.

“To explain in an assembly.” is, if you think about it profoundly, what it really means to be a speaker.

We have a job where we have the privilege to stand in front of groups of other people gathered to listen to us explain something to them.

That is a huge honor and responsibility.

Let’s look at it as such.

Let’s be thankful for getting to do so.

And – from a person who can not speak right now – let us also be thankful for something most of us, most of the time, take for granted: Our ability to just open our mouth and express what is on our mind.

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