In this week’s episode, we’re talking with Grant Baldwin about the secrets to success as a professional speaker.
Grant got his start as a speaker in 2008 with a looming recession. Not a great time to start a speaking career, right?
Come to find out, starting out as a speaker during the 2008 financial crisis was the best thing to happen to his speaking business.
His secret? Love the process.
Listen to find out how it all unfolds!
Listen to the Podcast 🎤
Watch the Podcast 👀
Show Notes 📓
✅ Check out Grant’s podcast, The Speaker Lab: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-speaker-lab/id1072835737
✅ Check out the Successful Speaker, Grant’s new book: https://www.amazon.com/Successful-Speaker-Booking-Building-Platform/dp/0801094089
🎤 Thank you to our sponsor, Auxbus! Want the best podcasting solution out there? Get your free offer here: https://auxbus.com/speakerflow
🚀 And as always, don’t forget about all the mind-blowing free resources at https://speakerflow.com/resources/
Read the Transcription 🤓
Taylorr: Welcome to another episode of technically speaking. Wow. I am super excited about today’s guest Mr. Grant Baldwin himself. Grant, welcome to the show, man.
Grant: Fellas, it’s an honor, and a delight to hang out with such beautiful bearded men.
Taylorr: Oh wow.
Austin: Don’t make me blush.
Taylorr: Quite the contrast, we’re going to have to get a beautiful beard on you Grant.
Grant: I got a couple of days of growth here, so I don’t know that that would ever be quite the exquisiteness that you guys have, [cross-talk 04:47] but maybe someday dreams do come true.
Taylorr: They come true, they come true.
Austin: I think it’s looking good and I think there’s that zoom filter now, where we can put a virtual beard on you. [Cross-talk 00:55]. So, worst case scenario, we’ll just [cross-talk 00:58].
Grant: We’re learning all kinds of zoom features that we didn’t know were ever existed.
Taylorr: … or needed (laughter)
Max: Yeah, it’s amazing.
Taylorr: Oh man. Well, for those of you listening, who are unfamiliar with Grant, Grant Baldwin is the author of The Successful Speaker and founder of thespeakerlab.com, a training company for public speakers. He’s also the creator and host of The Speaker Lab podcast and has coached thousands, you heard that right, thousands of speakers. He has been regularly featured in the national media, including Forbes Inc, and Entrepreneur and the Huffington post and the list just goes on. He lives near Nashville, Tennessee, slightly jealous, with his wife and three daughters. So, Grant, least to say you are a highly decorated into this space, a renown trainer for public speakers. Curious on how you landed in this very curious industry of professional speaking, what’s your background and your backstory?
Grant: Yeah, so if we go back in time in high school, I was really involved in my local church and my youth pastor had a big impact in my life and it really resonated with me. I was like, I want to do that, that seems like a cool gig. And he had a, again, a big impact on my life, but he was also a great speaker, still one of my favorite speakers. And so, that was kind of the path I was on and in fact, in college, I worked for a guy who was a full-time speaker and he was doing a lot in the church space and a lot of like youth camps and weekend services and that sort of thing. And so, I kind of got to see a little bit behind the scenes of what that was like and speaking was one of those things that always I enjoyed doing. I felt like I was decent at it, I wanted to do more of, and so, I continued kind of on that path and was a youth pastor at a church for a little while, and that gave me a lot of opportunities to speak, and as you guys well know, one of the best ways to get better as a speaker is to speak.
And so, it gave me opportunities every single week, multiple times a week, occasionally, I would get to speak on the weekend in big church and I just felt like this is fun. Like, I really would love to do more of this, but I found myself in the spot that so many listeners are in, so many of the speakers that we all work with. It just like, I want to do more of this, but I don’t know what I don’t know. And so, I felt like I had the potential, but I needed the plan. I had the potential, but I needed the plan. Meaning I felt like I was a decent speaker, I knew I wasn’t the world’s greatest speaker, I wasn’t the worst speaker, but like there was something there, I could be decent at this but it was just, I just didn’t know what to do. Like how do you book gigs? And how much do you charge and…?
What do you speak about?
Grant: Yeah, how does this whole world work? And so, I started doing what a lot of new speakers do, just like you’re stalking other speakers, you’re emailing them, you’re just peppering them with questions and this was back in like 2005, 2006 or so. At the time, thankfully, we’ve all collectively put out a bunch of more resources today that are available for speakers, but at the time there wasn’t a lot out there so you’re just literally hammering other speakers, just like, tell me what to do. I’ll do it, just tell me what to do. And so, learned a few things and started booking gigs here and there and eventually got to a point over the next several years where I was doing about 60 or 70 gigs a year and really enjoyed it.
Speaking is a lot of fun, there’s nothing like being on stage in front of an audience and taking them on a journey and figuring out something like good systems on how you book gigs and how do you work with the clients? And a lot of what happens off stage with the client, figured out some good systems and structure for that. And so, I had a lot of people who asked me hey, I want to be a speaker, how would I go about doing that? And so, started doing some of the teaching and coaching and training around that and then that really led to what we do today, where we teach people how to find and book gigs and do a lot of one-on-one and group coaching programs to help speakers build and grow their business. So yeah, that’s the long story long, I guess,
Austin: Wow, this is…This has really been like a lifetime of interest in this space, then this wasn’t like hey, I stumbled into it a few years ago and like it, I mean, you’ve enjoyed this since you were young. That’s awesome.
Grant: Yeah. So, in fact, I think one of the things that’s helpful right now in working with speakers is I got started in 2006 or so and that’s really when the economy started to fall apart and kind of that first recession. So, I remember thinking at the time, like this feels like a bad time to get started as a speaker, which is the same thing that we’re hearing from a lot of speakers right now. Right now, they’re going, this just doesn’t feel like the timing is best and that the reality is, as you guys well know, the timing is never perfect to start a new endeavor or to build a business, or maybe I should just go find a job? Or should I move? Or should I start a family, or should I get married or should I fill in the blank thing?
There’s never a perfect time for any of those things. And so, I kind of felt like if I can figure this out now, while the economy is falling apart, I can make this work in any type of economy. And so, I remember, I think it was 2000… may have been 2007, maybe 2008, I went to, I’ve been to one NSA national convention, and it was 2007 or eight or so, and I remember the whole vibe was just like doom and gloom, like the world is falling apart and it was very like a mopey type of feel and I haven’t been back since, but I remember again, just kind of thinking like I think I can make this work. I think we can, we can get through this. And again, one thing before we start recording here, we were all kind of talking about was the speaking industry, it’s been around for a long time, it’s been through recessions, it’s been through 9/11, it’s been through wars so the idea of a human standing on stage talking to a collection of other humans has been around like long before any of us were alive and will be around long after us.
So, the good news is there’s a long track record here that… it’s not like we’re talking about here’s what’s working today with Pinterest marketing. Pinterest may not be around in a couple of years and fill in the blank thing may or may not be around, but what’s working right now is that speakers are still having an opportunity to share a message with an audience, whether that’s in person or virtually. So, there’s still like no shortage of opportunities that exist in the marketplace today.
Taylorr: Yeah, it boils down to thought leadership in general, speaking aside, a lot of our speakers they’re experts first. They have an expertise to deliver to people and whether that’s virtual or live in front of a crowd or that’s through consulting or training or facilitating, everyone’s always going to need that help. So, it’s fascinating that you started right in ’06 and you’re like I’m just going take this and run with that. And especially after kind of seeing a community of other speakers where like you said, it was kind of doom and gloom, what do you think made you want to tackle this after going there? Because I feel like a lot of people, my natural instinct, I see 1300 other people at a conference who are paranoid, let’s say, about their business collapsing, rightfully so, I might be not so encouraged to continue speaking at that point or even pursuing it. So, what in your head was like no, I got this, let’s go and do this. How did you try to make that happen?
Grant: I think there were a couple of factors. One was the industry that I was speaking in. So, at the time I was doing a lot in the education space. So, I did a lot with high schools, a lot with colleges and those were affected by the economy, but not nearly to the degree that a lot of corporations were. And so, a lot of the speakers and like in NSA setting, a lot of them are corporate speakers, association speakers, where budgets have been cut significantly so it wasn’t that I would say the education space was insulated by any means because they were having budget cuts as well, or some of their funding was reduced but… because I remember like talking with other speakers who’ve been around even longer than I had at the time and they were just like, ah, a couple of years ago it was a gravy train, everybody had money. I was like, ah, what was that like? Tell me more about that.
So, the industry certainly helped. The other thing, I think was there are speakers who come into the speaking industry who are just kind of like yeah, I think it’d be fun to be a speaker, that’d be kind of cool. And it’s just kind of like ah, we’ll just kind of like dabble our way through it and it’s just kind of like a hobby to them…
Taylorr: Hobby, yeah.
Grant: You know if I get to speak, that’d be kind of cool and then they’re shocked when they don’t experience like bigger, different, or better results than what they were hoping for. This is true with anything. If you put in a hobby effort, you’re to get hobby results…
Taylorr: Hobby results.
Grant: Don’t be shocked about that.
Max: For sure.
Grant: Versus if you’re just like no, no, no, I’m going to make this work regardless of the economy, regardless of COVID, regardless of the pandemic, regardless of what’s happening in the world, I’m going to figure this out. And so, you can help me or you cannot, but I’m going to figure this out. And I kind of felt like that’s where I was just like I know I can do this and I know I can make this work, and I know that there are speakers who are making it work right now, there’s no excuse. You can do this or you’re not. So, that’s kind of where I was at, just kind of the mentality. And again, and you guys probably see it as well, there are speakers that we work with that you can tell their mentality and their attitude going into it, that they’re just like nah, like I’m going to make this work and some that are just like I don’t know we’ll see, we’ll give it a shot. It’s like, all right, good luck.
Because the truth of the matter is, I think most people can do this, but it does require a significant amount of work, which is true with any business [cross-talk 09:52]. I tell people it’s similar to if you wanted to lose weight, what do you have to do? You have to do two things. It’s very simple, I’m not a fitness or nutrition guru by any means, but I know you got to like pay attention to what you eat and you got to exercise. That’s really it. So, really when it comes to booking gigs, it’s not as hard as people think it is, but it does require a significant amount of work. Well, just pay attention to what you eat and exercise, it sounds conceptually really simple, but it’s really freaking difficult to execute on, and it does require effort and it does require a mental commitment. And that’s the case, it’s true with nutrition and health, but it’s also true with building a business. People can do this, but it does require a significant amount of work and it’s not easy.
Austin: Yeah, the thing that I find fascinating about this too is, making that commitment isn’t just one big decision. Really making anything work, that takes this amount of effort and losing weight as a perfect example. Losing weight isn’t about making the decision to eat healthier and go and exercise more, it’s about making 10,000 super tiny decisions where hey, I’m not going to eat this one thing or, hey, I’m going to go out and go on this five-minute walk today. And those tiny decisions add up to the end result. And so, when all of those little decisions have to be made to me, it seems like you really just have to have the correct motivation in place. And I think it’s a good time to look at your motivations if you’re struggling with this. If you’re every day waking up wondering like, okay, am I going to be able to make this work? That’s the wrong question.
Is am I going to make the tough decisions in order to make this work? And why am I making those decisions? And I think the people that have that mentality that you were talking about to Grant, of just knowing I’m going to do this, I’m going to make this happen. It comes from a conviction about why you want to do it that drives that forward. if you don’t believe in what you’re up there speaking about, if you don’t believe in your thought leadership, if you don’t really care about spreading that message far and wide, no matter what obstacles you run into, like money enough, probably isn’t going to be a good enough motivation and maybe it is, but I guess what I’m saying is you got to dig deep and figure out really what it is that makes you want to make this happen, because that’s the only thing that will help you make those little decisions that add up to whatever end result is successful business, weight loss, anything else.
Grant: So, here’s one of the things I’ve noticed is, there are speakers again who are just kind of like kicking the tires of this and just like oh, I think it’d be kind of fun, and the part that perspective speakers or interested speakers or amateur speakers are interested in is the speaking part. Getting on stage, taking pictures with people, signing, autographs, traveling first class and like all that kind of thing and the reality is that’s a very small percentage of what it means to be a speaker. So, much of it is non-glamorous, non-sexy like I remember a speaker telling me early on, I was like what’s it like to be a speaker? And he’s like, it’s a lot of waiting. You’re waiting backstage, you’re waiting on a plane, you’re waiting in a hotel room, you’re waiting in an airport, you’re waiting in a rental car, you’re waiting to get up and speak for maybe an hour.
And the hour is amazing, there’s nothing that compares to that but the rest of it’s pretty boring. And the other side of it is there’s so much to being a speaker that has nothing to do with speaking, which you guys do a great job teaching so much of the sales and marketing. You’re like a sales and marketer who happens to do a little bit of speaking on the side. You’re a moonlight speaker, but your primary job has nothing to do with actually speaking. And I think that part of what helped me early on in my own career was I almost enjoyed booking the gig more than actually doing the gig, if that makes sense. Because I just loved like the hunt of it.
And I remember a speaker friend telling me early on, you have to fall in love with the process. Because again, everybody wants to be like, if We go back to the nutrition, the health example for a second, people want the results, we want to, any of us, like as middle-aged man, want to be able to step out of the shower, look at ourselves in the mirror and not cry a little bit. We just want to feel good about ourselves and we want the end result but so much of getting to the end result, like for a speaker of standing on stage, getting a standing ovation, of having a bunch of social media followers or whatever the thing is that you’re going after, so much of getting there requires so much boring monotonous, tedious work that nobody sees. And so, you have to fall in love with the work, fall in love with the process of what it takes in order to get that outcome of that result that you’re going for.
Max: What’s so beautiful, you’re preaching to the choir, but [cross-talk 14:26] oh my God, it’s so good to hear you say that though, because we’re the ones that deliver the bad news. Exactly what you’re saying, I love the analogy. You’re a salesperson, you’re a marketer, you moonlight as a speaker. Because it gets inverted so much and people are like man, I can’t wait to get this gig, I can’t wait to get on stage, I got a thousand people it’s going to be amazing. And it’s like, yeah, but you have to have a repeatable process to build something because you’re coming from the standpoint of sustainability, longevity, you’ve got the been there, done that t-shirt, you’re training people and the emphasis that you’re putting right now on it’s all the tedious, monotonous, non-sexy stuff that creates those hours of sexy, creativity on the stage.
And we talk about this constantly. So, it’s incredibly good to hear you say that. And also, for everybody that’s listening, that’s thinking in any way about, they really are… they have conviction, they have a message, they really want to do this. I’m really hoping that this sinks in for them and they’re getting that idea of like okay, so these guys are bringing the truth of there’s more to this picture than just all of the stuff I’m really excited about because there’s going to be actual business and work that takes place too.
Austin: Yeah, I’ll give you these…
Grant: One other quick example. I live in the Nashville area and so there’s no shortage of musicians here. And so, I’m neighbors with a couple of people in the music industry and a couple of country music singers and I remember talking with one and we were kind of talking about speaking and then what it’s like to be an artist, because again, the same type of thing. I’m not a musician at all, so [inaudible 15:58] hey you’re a rock star that how cool is this? He’s like it’s so boring, the time you’re on stage is amazing… I remember him saying the time you’re on stage is amazing, everything else sucks. Just like oh, you can deliver in a tour bus. He’s like there’s nothing fun about living in a tour bus, there’s nothing fun about having to practice over and over and over, there’s nothing fun about having like to show up and go through these technical run-throughs, there’s nothing fun about all this stuff. Being away from your home and family all the time. There’s nothing fun about that stuff but that’s just the grind part of it that you have to fall in love with and do the work so that you get to enjoy and experience the hour or two or whatever it is that your onstage.
Taylorr: Yeah, I have this soap box around just outcomes in general. It’s like we talk about in our life, everything has to do with outcomes. I can’t wait to graduate high school, college, whatever, oh, I can’t wait until I get this new job, oh, I can’t wait until X, Y or Z, I just can’t wait to get up on stage. And the only true outcome we have in life is death and we don’t talk about death that way. Like oh, I can’t wait to pick out my casket and choose my burial site and plan everything and write my will. I’m so pumped about that. That the most definitive outcome we have in life, we don’t plan for it whatsoever, we don’t want to plan for it.
And you got to learn to love that process of just life in itself, because if you’re always chasing the outcomes and I think this isn’t anything new that we haven’t heard before, but if you don’t learn to love the journey, you’re never really reaching the destination. You’re not going to have fulfillment along the way because you’re going to get there and you’ll be like well, this isn’t as much as I thought it was going to be, this is not as much fun or whatever adjective you want to insert there. It just becomes so much less about that outcome because once you have it, what are you doing? You’re chasing another outcome again. So, so much more about just enjoying that process, at least trying to enjoy the process.
Grant: Yeah, when I was speaking full time, I was fortunate enough to be able to speak on some awesome stages and some awesome venues and some awesome audiences and some big type setups, but there’s also you think back to times where you’re speaking to a couple of people, I remember at times doing a school assembly and the sound system isn’t working or nobody’s paying attention. And just like those, you leave and you’re like, what the heck am I doing? And then you’ve got a couple hours… you’re in the middle of nowhere and you’ve got to drive to some sketchy hotel and then try to catch a red eye flight back or whatever. And it’s those times where you’re just like, what am I doing? And at the same time, you’re feeling like this is awesome, this is everything I dreamed it to be.
I hear about… I love following comedians, I think there’s a lot of parallels with comedians and speakers and you hear about comedians and you look up to them and you think that they just whip up a Netflix special and record at once and they’re good to go, but there’s so much grind that goes into it behind the scenes. And you hear about comedians who are talking about some of their early open mic nights and I’m just getting started my first time and I did a couple of minutes and one joke worked and that was just enough light at the end of the tunnel to be like this is awesome. It was like people probably hated it and didn’t laugh and I got zero response that I was hoping for, but there was enough there that, like that was such a cool experience. And I think that’s what it is for speakers. Whether you’re in front of thousands of people in a big venue, in a big setting, or you’re in front of three people who aren’t really paying attention and don’t want to be there, there’s still the feeling of like, I’m getting to speak, I’m getting to make an impact, I’m getting to share a message with an audience. And it’s an incredibly, incredibly humbling and rewarding experience.
Austin: I think that makes sense from the big picture where you’re on the stage and even on a small stage, if you’re speaking to a huge crowd or small crowd, it shouldn’t matter. You’re still getting to work it just like you said, but I think that even the skills and the craft that you’re using when you’re doing a big or small event, is very similar to the things that you have to incorporate into the rest of the grindy stuff you have to do as well. Something that constantly amazes me is a lot of speakers that we work with have an apprehension around sales, getting on the phone and having a conversation with somebody and I get it. There’s a skill set needed there, and it can be a little bit intimidating and you have to negotiate and that’s not always a fun conversation to be had, but the root of sales is developing a relationship. And one of the best ways you can develop a relationship with somebody is through telling stories. So, you’re getting to work your craft, which is telling stories to people and getting response and having people buy into whatever it is that you’re saying. It’s the exact same thing that you’re doing on stage, You’re just doing it at the most micro scale, which is one-on-one with somebody and I think that if you can focus on that aspect of it, which is that in everything that I do, I can perfect my craft if I put my mindset into the right place to make that happen, it can make the stuff that is seemingly fun more fun.
Grant: Yeah, absolutely.
Taylorr: I’m curious Grant, you’ve got started like ’06, ’07 when the economy was going down and like you said earlier, we’re kind of in that same kind of moment where [inaudible 20:58] are in the air and live isn’t necessarily always going to be live, and we’ve heard from larger companies that they’re going to be running their events virtually for the foreseeable future because there’s one event that they run it’s better to have virtual. So, we know that virtual is going to be more incorporated and so on. But what do you think?… so, I kind of want to draw some ties into some of the success that you had early on in your career like that ’06 through that ’08 region. What do you think it was that allowed you to find success in that timeframe and how does that translate to the speakers of today who need to find success navigating this world that we’re in right now?
Grant: I think one big advantage for new speakers who are starting right now, or just people who are earlier in their career is they don’t know any different. And what I mean by that is there are speakers who have been doing it for 20 years or 30 years or whatever and my job is to show up, I deliver my keynote, I collect my check, I get on the plane, I go home. And that’s the business model that they’ve known and now all of a sudden they’re going like but I don’t want to do virtual, or it’s not the same, or they think that they can just, well, I’ll do the exact same talk that I would do in person and I’ll do that virtually and it doesn’t translate. And so, they feel stuck of going, I have to pivot, I have to do something different, I have to come outside of my comfort zone here of what I’m used to, and they don’t want to do that.
And they have to drop their fees to do something virtual versus no, it’s easy for speakers to have a lot of ego tied into their fees. They are going, no, my fee is this, and the IP is still the same, the content still the same and whether it’s virtual or in person, and here’s my fee and take it or leave it. And so, it can be difficult for speakers who have been at it for a long time to make some of these big pivots right now, versus new speakers it’s like I don’t know any different and so, I’m happy to juke and jive and to work with what you’ve got and to do some virtual stuff and to do some in-person stuff and to be willing to make some mistakes and, and try to figure some stuff out so I think there’s a lot of advantages right now for newer speakers. The other thing that’s nice right now for newer speakers is, if we go back to the beginning of the year, and again, you guys have been in the industry for long enough, virtual has always been around.
It’s always kind of been like this very, very, very, very secondary type of medium that nobody’s really taken seriously, [cross-talk 23:16], seriously. Yeah, event planners aren’t taking seriously, nobody’s actively trying to put on or book virtual gigs and then all of a sudden come March, there’s no other option. And so, events are having to take it seriously, speakers are having to take it seriously but what that means is long-term is virtual isn’t going anywhere. Live is always going to have a place, but now also we have this whole other medium where there’s plenty of opportunities that are now existing, that didn’t exist several months ago because wasn’t feasible to hire a speaker to bring in to speak to our audience, or we didn’t want to… we weren’t looking for a whole scale of [inaudible 23:52], they couldn’t justify that. But the idea of hey, let’s hire a speaker and let’s have them come speak to our audience and the only prep that really more or less required is to get a link together to send out to everyone, the feasibility makes it much simpler and the barrier to entry for events doing something virtually is much, much smaller and lower and so, just creates more opportunities.
So, we’re seeing a lot of in-person events that are happening, virtual events that are happening hybrid events that are happening and I think that will continue to be the case going forward. I don’t think we’re going to… even whenever there’s a vaccine or even going into 2021, I don’t feel like it’s going be like okay, live is back so we’re done with virtual. People have had a taste of it, and this is going to stick around in a lot of different ways, and especially in the speaking industry. So, if anything I think it’s created more opportunities for speakers than there were previously and it creates more business model opportunities. Before we started recording, one thing we were talking a little bit about was there are speakers who are going like… I only had two speakers specifically who started doing some virtual stuff and they’re like this is awesome.
Max: Why would I do anything else?
Grant: Yeah, and they’ve completely doubled down. I know one of them raised their in-person rates, just astronomically. They’re like I don’t want to get on a plane. I can do more gigs here; I can never leave my house. I can be with my family more. I can sleep in my own bed, I can see my kids every day, why would I want it? And they love that. And other speakers who are going like I’m just kind of buying my time until live and in-person stuff really comes back and I’m going to go more of that direct action. You get to choose; you get to design the rules to the game and you also have the freedom to pivot and change it up as you go. So, I know one speaker who I met earlier in my career who he was like I don’t want to speak on the weekends and he would never do a weekend gig because he’s like I want to be home with my kids.
Well, fast forward, several years, his kids have moved on and he and his wife are empty nesters, so he does way more gigs now than he used to do. So again, you get to design the rules of the game of what makes sense for you based on stage of life and what it is that you want to do. But that’s one of the fun things about speaking, is there speakers who do a hundred gigs a year, and speakers who do five gigs a year and both work, both are effective. It’s not like you have to do X number of gigs in order to be seen as a real speaker, a legit speaker, anything like that. You get to decide what makes sense for you and your business.
Austin: Yeah, something that I think is really cool too, is this is not only expanded the opportunity as a speaker in its technical form, but as thought leaders. If you want, if you really have a message that you want to get out there, you can get it to way more people way faster if you’re able to, let’s say productize your thought leadership. The book was the classic way, but now we have this increased emphasis on digital means and you can create a course and people will buy that course if you market it and sell it properly. And so now, not only do we have the ability to go stand on stages, which even if it isn’t happening as much right now, it will very soon, we’re seeing people get booked for even quarter four of 2020, and certainly 2021, so you can still do the live stuff, you can do virtual stuff, you can create courses, you can create communities online, you can do group coaching depending on what you speak on, there’s all these different ways that we can get out there. And this has sort of forced us to look at those ways and explore the possibilities, so not only is there more opportunity, but there’s a reason to explore that opportunity that hasn’t really existed in the same way.
Grant: Yeah, at the end of the day, we are in the problem-solving solution, providing business and the medium that we choose to use is speaking. But speaking is not the only is not the only methodology that you can use there. So, just because like alive events aren’t happening doesn’t mean that all of a sudden, these organizations, these conferences, these events, corporations, groups that we work with, all of a sudden, we don’t have an event so our problem has magically disappeared. No, the problem still exists and so we have to look for other alternative methods to provide some type of solution. I remember I was talking with a friend in the speaking industry and he said if all of our audiences were deaf, all of the sudden speakers would become really, really good at writing because they’re still providing a support, help a solution and the means that we use is speaking. But if we couldn’t use speaking, which again, that’s been shifted, then there’s so many other things. Like Austin, like you said, whether it’s coaching or consulting or doing a book or a course or any number of things, and speaking is just one way to provide that support or that solution to an audience.
Max: Nice, nice. As you’re…
Taylorr: I love that.
Max: As you’re sort of looking at the landscape, and I know we’ve been talking about the history and the longevity of speaking, and even now we’re talking about expertise can show up in different ways and if you really are driven to solve problems, even if your audience couldn’t hear you the same way, you’re going to be driven to find another means to do it. If you’re looking at the opportunity that’s been provided through this disruption, what do you kind of see happening? Based on the people that you’re talking to your students, what do you see as being some of the opportunities or some of the shifts that are happening real time and things that people need to kind of keep an eye out for, as we’re closing out this year, as we’re rolling into the new year?
Grant: Well, one would be definitely around virtual and becoming a really good virtual speaker. Just because you’re a great live speaker, doesn’t mean you’re a great virtual speaker. There’s just two different skill sets and your content of how you’re going to present, of what you’re going to present and how you’re going to present that, it doesn’t always translate and it’s a very different world right now, virtually. So, you think about from a speaker’s perspective, what speakers used to, showing up, doing a sound check, hand me the mic, do the lights thing and I’m going hop on stage and do my dog and pony show. But now, all of a sudden when it comes to virtual, you’re wearing all the hats, you are the lighting person, you are the AV person, you are speaking and you’re doing them all simultaneously so you have to wear a whole bunch of hats there.
One of the other things we’ve noticed is the speakers that are getting some of the highest fees on virtual it’s because that they’ve taken the production very, very seriously. So, it’s more than just kind of like oh, I have my webcam or my laptop camera, I’m just going to use that but they’ve got us set up and they’ve really put some thought and energy and effort into it. And not only that, but they have shown that to clients and potential clients and they’ve demonstrated that I’m not only a good speaker, but I’m a good virtual speaker and here’s what that looks like and here’s a taste of that. So, I think speakers who do well with virtual, who take virtual seriously are some of the ones that are going to succeed long-Term. The thing that we’re noticing is because the nature of the pandemic is that large groups of people can’t happen, can’t get together is that events are going to be smaller before they get bigger again.
And so, we’re seeing a lot of workshop opportunities right now that a lot of like [cross-talk 30:43] training opportunities. So, we can have a small group of 25 people and they can spread out and that works. There’s a lot of opportunities that exist for that, whereas, doing a one-hour keynote to 2000 people in an auditorium, it’s probably going to take a second before that comes back. So, there’s still a lot of smaller opportunities that exist. I saw a speaker who posted the other day, he was going to speak to some… I think it was a construction company of 600, 700 employees, and it was normally be no big deal for him to perhaps speak to the entire company but he said, because the CDC guidelines, he can only speak to 10 at a time. So, he was doing like 30 minute chunks, just cranking people through which also creates again, more opportunities for him and my guess is he could speak to one group or he could speak to the entire group, spread out over a couple of days and 30 minute blocks and he’s probably going to be able to charge significantly more for what they’re having to do.
So, there are certainly upsides to this. And so, if anything speakers, can’t be just sticking their head in the sand and like, well, I’ll just buy my time, I’ll wait until this goes away. We’re in it, we’ve been in it for a while and I think hopefully at this point, speakers have realized that, and they’ve made some pivots and adjustments, but getting back to what it was, you know, late 2019, January, February 2020, it’s going be a minute before we’re back there, before large-scale events are happening, before a lot of people feel comfortable traveling or people feel comfortable getting together, it’s going to take a second. So, speakers need to be thinking about some of these pivots and what it looks like for their content, what it looks like for their clients and their business right now rather than just trying to hopefully ride it out.
Taylorr: Yeah, earlier you mentioned, we get to make the rules of the game, which I totally agree with, but some people are making the rules of like you said, I’m just going stick my head in the sand and wait it out. Is that a mistake?
Grant: Oh, absolutely. Because again, his it’s not going anywhere. And I think that was the initial reaction of just kind of like this shock back in March, because everyone’s going like, I don’t know, well maybe by May we should be back to normal [cross-talk 32:45] I don’t know if we’re going to be back to normal by then and like here we are recording this in Q4 and we’re going boy, if we thought like in early March that things would be like this in October, nobody would have believed that. I remember talking with a buddy of mine, who’s an event planner who had a big conference that would have taken place a couple of weeks ago and in March we’re talking about it and this was an event that was happening in September, and I remember asking him and I was like, what are you planning on doing? And he’s like, as of now it’s happening, there’s nothing that would indicate otherwise. And so, at the time, you’re thinking well, it’s, it’s March of course an event would be happening in September, why wouldn’t it? That’s ridiculous, this is going to go in a couple of weeks, this will blow over.
And so, I think initially everyone was just kind of the shock factor and I’m sure there were speakers that were sticking their head in the sand and like oh, it’ll go away. But at this point, obviously we’re pretty deep into this and so most speakers, if they haven’t pivoted or adjusted, they’re either like just late to the game or they’re just completely naive. I think most because I interacted with and talk with have realized, okay, things are different, they’re going to be different for a little while and so, whether you like it or not, if you want to stay in the game, you got to make some adjustments and the game is played like it used to be played.
Taylorr: It goes back to the hobby versus actually doing this because you’re committed to it, it just goes full circle.
Taylorr: Yeah. Well, Grant it has been an awesome episode. Thank you so much for being on the show today, we covered really everything. This has been really fun to have you on and as you know, you’re in the same category here, we’re all about creating value for our audience. So, what are some of the things you’re working on right now that our listeners could benefit from?
Grant: Yeah, if anyone’s listening to this podcast, you probably listened to other podcasts as well. So, definitely check out The Speaker Lab podcast. We’ve got over 300 episodes over there so check that out. You mentioned we got a new book called The Successful Speaker: Five Steps for Booking Gigs, Getting Paid and Building Your Platform. So, speakers at all levels, I would encourage you to check that out. Again, the book is the Successful Speaker, and if there’s anything I can do that to help serve and support you, like you said, we, we work with speakers all the time and I know we work with similar speakers and different speakers, but man, I believe that a rising tide raises all ships and so, anything that we can all collectively do to serve and support speakers, share their message and make a little dent in the world, I’m game for that. So, I appreciate you guys letting me hang out with you.
Taylorr: Yeah, absolutely.
Max: For sure.
Taylorr: We’ll be sure to link all of those things in the show notes for those of you listening so don’t forget to check out those links. And of course, don’t forget to subscribe to the show and if you want more awesome resources like this, go to speaker flow.com/resources. Thank you so much for chiming in. I just wanted to take a second to thank our sponsor Auxbus, Auxbus is the all in one suite of tools you need to run your podcast and it’s actually what run here at Speaker Flow for Technically Speaking. It makes planning podcast simple; it makes recording podcasts simple; it even makes publishing podcasts to the masses. Simple and quite honestly, Technically Speaking wouldn’t be up as soon as it is without Auxbus. Thank you so much Auxbus, and if you are interested in checking Auxbus out, whether you’re starting a podcast or you have one currently get our special offer auxbus.com/speaker flow, or click the link below in our show notes.