If you’re like all of us on the SpeakerFlow team, you probably started 2020 with optimism. If you’d spoken to us in January, all you would heard was how motivated we were to reach our goals this year and how excited we were for 2020’s upcoming events. Obviously, that changed when the COVID-19 virus exploded into the worldwide health crisis we’re facing now. In fact, because of the virus, many industries have had to adapt their business plans and yearly goals to accommodate the preventative measures necessary to prevent it from spreading further. In light of these changes and the concerns many speakers are facing as clients cancel, let’s tackle this challenge head-on. Instead of panicking, let’s ask ourselves, “How can we make the best of this truly sh*tty situation?”
One of the ways we’ll all make it through the COVID-19 outbreak in one piece is, in all honestly, by working together. It sounds cheesy (and it kind of is 🤷) but it’s true! That’s why, for the duration of the outbreak, we want to share all the resources we can to help you and your team. From free hour-long consulting sessions to speaking business tips, we’re here for you!
So, without further ado, let’s take a look at COVID-19 with a positive lens. Please note that this blog is in no way meant to downplay the severity of this virus or its effect on the global population. It also isn’t intended to offend anyone currently suffering from COVID-19 or anyone who is exceptionally vulnerable to illness. My sole aim – as well as that of the entire SpeakerFlow team – with this guide is to provide some calm in the storm and approach this problem with a constructive attitude in order to make the best of it. 👍
1. It’s bringing awareness to how governments, businesses, and individuals handle problems on this scale.
First and foremost, although there are a fair number of things to be concerned about, when it comes to COVID-19, none is perhaps more concerning than the responses of leaders around the world. In several countries, not only have we seen officials botch governmental responses to the outbreak. We’ve also seen news outlets, companies, and individuals suggest that the outbreak isn’t that serious. To be fair, we’ve seen the opposite of that, too, where total panic about the virus leads people to extreme precautions (for the last time, cool it on the toilet paper).
All of these situations are concerning – no doubt about that. However, they also all present an opportunity for you, as a thought leader, to make a difference. Remember that company you read about in the news that wasn’t prepared? What about that business owner that didn’t know how to transition their employees through this difficult time? As a change management expert, a leadership guru, or a motivational speaker, this is where you can shine more than ever.
From a purely statistical perspective, with the number of people currently alive on earth, outbreaks like this are inevitable. We even see this on a small scale every year with the flu. Because of this, after the COVID-19 epidemic is contained, organizations and individuals will be looking for a way to be better prepared the next time this happens. Luckily for them, this is what you do for a living. This is what all of your past gigs have trained you to deal with. Take this outbreak as an opportunity to raise your hand to people that need your expertise and say, “I can help!”.
2. Working from home means time to work on your speaking business rather than in it.
On the flip side, besides helping other businesses, think of this as an opportunity to build your own business, too. Ask yourself, how can you make your speaking business better prepared when this happens again? For many speakers, as clients cancel upcoming events, it’s easy to panic. Take it from our team! As consultants in the speaking industry, we know how it feels to be a little thin on new leads right now or anxious about the future.
That said, for the time being, there are a ton of things all of us can do to make the best of low leads. The most important of these is, arguably, building a more robust sales process. Although we at SpeakerFlow preach the importance of sales all the time, many speakers don’t often have the spare time needed to take a hard look at their processes. Luckily, with low lead flow (as much as it sucks), you now have that time.
Depending on the size and age of your speaking business, the work you might need to do will vary. Because of that, I can’t really get into specifics in this guide. However, there are a few recommendations that are good to keep in mind for all speaking businesses. Here are our top five ways to work on your speaking business while dealing with low lead flow, due to COVID-19. 💪
The Speaking Business Backend Maintenance Checklist
- Evaluate all the software you’re currently paying for. Are you getting a good return on investment, either monetarily or in terms of time saved?
- Get comfortable with presenting virtually. You might have clients canceling in-person events, but virtual events are still on the table.
- Reach out to podcasts, webinar hosts, or other connections either in the speaking industry or your focus industry(ies). You’re an expert, so take this time to market your expertise.
- Test out free trials for software other speakers recommend. Under normal circumstances, you might not have the time during your free trial to see if it’s a good fit, but right now, you do.
- Start building out other sources of income for your speaking business, besides in-person speaking gigs. I’m talking books, online coursework, any way you can share your message and earn income passively down the line.
3. You’re exceptionally well-equipped, as a speaker, to use your voice to calm people and share the facts.
In addition to the work side of things, the COVID-19 outbreak is also an opportunity for the speaking industry purely from a talent perspective. For many people, myself included, the thought of getting on stage is petrifying. In fact, even the thought of posting a video of myself speaking makes me want to hide. For you, on the other hand, even if you’re not naturally extroverted, the stage isn’t a totally scary place. Not only are you used to working in the limelight or having everyone’s attention. You’re also, more likely than not, incredibly eloquent off-stage, simply because of the practice you get from speaking year-in and year-out.
In light of this comfort with speaking as well as your credibility, as a thought leader and industry expert, don’t underestimate the power of your words. Right now, as people fear for their health and their economic position, more than ever they’re looking to experts for reassurance. It’s also human nature to look on the negative side of things, either to catalog things that hurt you so they don’t repeat, or assume the worst so you don’t get hurt in the first place. Fortunately, with your speaking skills, you have the ability to turn that around and remind people that, while this isn’t easy, it’s not the end of the world.
In short, as a professional speaker, whether you reach out through social media or in-person at events, you have a successful speaking business because you are a damn good speaker. Use that skill for the greater good now, when people need a voice of reason! Share the facts surrounding the outbreak about how people can minimize their chance of contracting COVID-19 and work through its economic challenges as best as they can.
4. As other speakers panic, it’s a chance for you to stand out from the crowd.
Lastly, the fourth and final opportunity professional speakers have in the COVID-19 outbreak is a chance to stand out in the speaking industry. One of my favorite quotes about tough times is “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up,” from Thomas Edison. Likewise, in the speaking industry, times are a little tough right now, but it won’t be like this forever. Ask yourself, do you want people to remember you as a speaker that took this lying down or as a speaker that rose to the challenge and did everything they could to come out on the other side of the outbreak better prepared?
Obviously, working through this global crisis isn’t going to be easy – I definitely don’t want to suggest that. However, by working together and doing our best to adapt to the situation, everyone in the speaking industry has a chance to mitigate the damage, both to their sales numbers and their business’ growth.
For more information about COVID-19 and how to work around the outbreak, as a professional speaker, check out the following webinars from industry experts.
- “Professional Speaking In The Time Of COVID-19 (Coronavirus)” from James Taylor, Fredrik Haren, Saana Azzam, Maria Franzoni, and Jane Atkinson
- “Coronavirus Impact On The Speaking Business” from James Taylor
- “Will Coronavirus Sicken the Speaking Business?” from Lois Creamer
- “How to Stay Focused & Productive in Times of Crisis” from the National Speakers Association
Additionally, feel free to sign up for a free hour of consulting with our leadership team! The speaking industry is all about connections and support, and we want to do everything we can to help speakers through this difficult and uncertain time. 💓