S. 3 Ep. 4 – What A Successful Speaking Business Looks Like To A Bureau

Cece Payne

Cece Payne

Content & Graphic Design Manager - Follow us on social media to stay in the flow!
Cece Payne

Cece Payne

Content & Graphic Design Manager - Follow us on social media to stay in the flow!
Technically Speaking S 3 Ep 4 - What A Successful Speaking Business Looks Like To A Bureau with SpeakerFlow and Nick Gold

Among thought leaders – but especially among professional speakers – one of the most common questions is, “How do I get represented by a speakers bureau?”

We’ve danced around this question on this show and covered many of the surrounding questions, such as “How do bureaus work?” and “What is it like to run a bureau?”

But the one we’re focusing on in this episode – and the one that leads to that core, first question – is simple: What do bureaus look for when they’re adding a speaker to their roster?

Here to answer that is the Managing Director of Speakers Corner and the former President of the International Association of Speakers Bureaus (IASB) Nick Gold.

With 20+ years of consulting experience, Nick has worked with over 7,500 speakers and services 1,000+ events per year. He’s also been published extensively across UK media outlets, including The Telegraph, City AM, Huffington Post UK, GQ.com, and Raconteur.

Needless to say, Nick knows the speaking bureau business like the back of his hand AND what can make you stand out as a speaker looking for bureau representation.

This episode is jam-packed with industry insights, recommendations, and forecasting – Hope you learn as much from it as we did!

Watch the Podcast 👀

Listen to the Podcast 🎤

Show Notes 📓

✅ Check out Nick’s book “Speaking with Confidence”: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Speaking-Confidence-Penguin-Business-Experts-ebook/dp/B085RR6C9Y/

✅ Learn more about Speakers’ Corner: https://www.speakerscorner.co.uk/

📷 Watch the video version of this episode and subscribe for updates on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLYAr3nGy6lbXrhbezMxoHTSCS40liusyU

🎤 Thank you to our sponsor, Libsyn Studio (formerly Auxbus)! Want the best podcasting solution out there? Learn more here: https://www.libsynstudio.com/

🚀 And as always, don’t forget about all the mind-blowing free resources at https://speakerflow.com/resources/

Read the Transcription 🤓

Intro: You know those moments when you’re doing what you love in your business, maybe it’s standing on stage or creating content, whatever it is, you’re totally immersed, and time just seems to slip by? This is called the flow state. At SpeakerFlow, we’re obsessed with how to get you there more often. Each week we’re joined by a new expert where we share stories, strategies, and systems to help craft a business you love. Welcome to Technically Speaking.

Austin: We are live.

Taylorr: We are here. Look at us go.

Austin: So good to be here. Nick, welcome to the show. We’re so happy to have you.

Nick: Honestly, best fanfare ever. Lovely to be here.

Taylorr: Best fanfare [makes fanfare noise]. We have to bust out some trumpets one day.

Nick: Definitely do.

Austin: That may be a thing that we do. Although, I don’t know if our listeners will get it.

Nick: You do, I expect to come back on it and I know that one.

Austin: Okay. You’ll be the maiden voyage of our new format, where we just play the trumpet. Fun fact, I, actually, played the trumpet in third grade or something like that, so I might be able to bust that little [makes fanfare noise] out. We’ll see, I feel like it’s a challenge now.

Nick: Third grade, I’m looking forward. Maybe have some practice first, though.

Taylorr: Just a little bit of practice.

Austin: My third grade skillset is plenty.

Taylorr: Austin is a bit overconfident, so.

Austin: Oh, man. Well, yeah, we’re super excited for the show, thanks for coming on again. So, we were looking at, kind of, you and what you’re all about and the various places you’ve been before the show, and we found a super cool interview that you gave at some point. I forget the actual publication that it came out in, but one of the questions that you got asked was what companies or brands or something do you respect or something along those lines. And you referenced Patagonia, which I love Patagonia.

Nick: Yeah.

Austin: And I’m curious from your angle, A, why that’s the choice that you gave. But also, B, are you an outdoorsy person? Do you like Patagonia because you go spend zero degree nights out in the Tundra or do you just like the Purple Mountain scape on your jacket?

Nick: Yeah. Yeah. So, the answer to the second part of the question is, no, I’m an aspirational. I think in my head I’m that outdoorsy person.

Austin: Nice, excellent.

Nick: I just can’t do it. My wife, kind of, concentrated to making it out of me of, in fact, that what I think I am as opposed to what I really am are two completely different things. But in terms of the brand itself and to be honest, obviously, certainly in the UK it’s been in the news for the announcement of everything they’re doing, kind of, over the last few months led to that I did write a quote for the band of the world before that. And, fundamentally, it was a time when companies were talking about purpose and how they live their purpose and [Inaudible – 2:40]

And from the outset, they had their purpose and they never deviated from it, they never stopped anything, this was what they were going to do and they were going to do it and, actually, that’s how they grew as they did. And, to me, it’s just the baseline turning around and saying, if you believe in something, this is who you want to be, whether it’s an individual or if it’s a company. And if you follow that dream, if you follow that drive, you will succeed. And I just love that innate belief and the fact it’s an amazing company in what it does and its purpose. 

It almost, kind of, is the icing, cherry and everything else by that on the cake. But the core of it is the fact that this is what we want do and we’re going to stick to that, and it’s not just a, what’s the word? A mission statement on a piece of paper or something like that. It’s everything about every single person who’s part of that company. And I think that’s joyful.

Austin: Yeah.

Taylorr: Yeah.

Austin: Man.

Taylorr: It adds a different dimension to companies and it’s striking how many brands still, to this day, don’t follow suit as a purpose-driven type of organization. It allows for a more human connection with a brand, I feel like, than just associating to the product, because now you can get behind something that’s more intangible, more emotional and I think that creates a lot of impact in people.

Nick: I think people, companies struggle to understand that, actually, good and bad is still a representation of you, so it, kind of, you don’t have to be perfect and you don’t have to be just good. What you have to do is you have to be able to live who you really are and, therefore, companies, they layer on stuff on top of, kind of, who they really are, in order to create this purpose and they get found out.

Austin: Oh, true.

Taylorr: That’s right.

Austin: Yeah. Authenticity is really, I think, a new currency in today’s world, especially because we live in the age of the internet. And the internet is, it’s so interesting because, at its core, it’s a way to connect people together but the byproduct of it maturing the way that it has, is that it’s a very transactional environment in a lot of cases. And so, I think the brands that are standing out, that are making waves, that people are excited about and evangelizing about and everything, those are the ones that have tied in that authentic, genuine, sort of, feeling alongside the ability to be transactional and it’s a beautiful thing.

Nick: They tell a story about themselves. I think that’s my thing. The internet is a very, kind of, and we’re seeing this most today, it’s a very polarizing thing, where you have to have an opinion and you presume that opinion has to make yourself stand out, so you make it a big bold statement, whether you believe that’s good, bad, right, left up, down, whatever it is. But actually, what we believe in, and this is, kind of, if I bring it back to world resisting, which speaking, is the stories you tell, and you know about Posidonia, they told the story. And, actually, the reason I believe, or they tell a story, the reason I believe in it as brand, is I want to be part of that story. And, as we started, I’m not an outdoorsy-type of person, but because of them, I believe I am. And other brands need to do that, rather than tell you what I’m saying our purpose is this and that’s our headline and there’s nothing below the surface. It’s, whether you call it authenticity, but I just love the fact that we’re all storytellers. Not only meaning we’re storytellers, actually, we’re all story listeners, we grew up listening to our parents tell stories; that’s what we want to be doing in our lives and that’s, actually, what brings us happiness and joy.

Austin: Hey, man.

Taylorr: For sure.

Austin: Five minutes in, drop the truth.

Taylorr: That’s right, yeah. Would you say, Nick, that that’s where you get your purpose from with Speakers Corner? Or how would you define that for yourself?

Nick: Yeah, you know something, I wish I was one of our amazing speakers who gets up on stage and, kind of, can change people’s minds and thoughts and opinions and stuff like that, I wish I was that person. Maybe go, kind of, maybe, says that I’m not and everything like that, but what I am and what we have at Speakers Corner is we have the chance to influence people by putting the right person on stage for them. And we live in a, certainly the world of speaking, we live in a world where it’s very easy to say, I am a speaker.

And it’s very easy to, kind of, position yourself and get a nice website and get out there and speak; and, maybe, because you’ve done some events and things like that, but, actually, people don’t know what you’re really like. They don’t know what the true person is, what they’re going to get on stage, and so we, actually, have that privilege of, basically, being, can rate the speaker, can rate the content and stick that person up on stage. Making sure everyone in the audience has a good time, but most importantly, for a few people in that audience who are sitting there and, actually, are looking for more, that’s speaking with intention. 

And the fact that that’s our privilege and our pleasure, honestly, not many people get to do that; yes, we all sell and we all do this, that and the other and we all, but, actually, what we are doing, and we firmly believe this at Speakers Corner, I firmly believe this in the speaking world, is we can influence and help people in this crazy, crazy world we live in.

Taylorr: Oh, I love that.

Austin: You’re like a broker of life-changing experiences.

Nick: It’s genuine. And it gives us. I love the, I fell into this industry, kind of, when we set up Speakers Corner, I fell into it. It was not my dream ever to be a speaker bureau or anything like that, Speakers Corner. But I think, when you go back to authenticity, and then the fact that we love what we do and we love the fact that we are helping people get the opportunity to listen, literally, to amazing people who can change your mind and change your life and change your direction and give you ideas and give you focus, what a privilege. How many people could say that about their jobs? 

Yeah, kind of, you might produce an amazing piece of software or you might produce an amazing, kind of, shoe or amazing this that and the other and it’s going to make people feel good. But these people who stand up on stage and, actually, make you change the way you think and change the way you act.

Taylorr: It’s a big deal.

Nick: It’s a big deal. It’s an immense, kind of, responsibility as well. I do.

Taylorr: Yeah, it’s a huge responsibility. I think that’s, Austin and I, we could talk about this all of the time and I think our listeners have, probably, heard us about this, but that’s why when we stumbled into this space, we were so excited about it. This group of people that we get to work with are changing the world, it’s so intrinsically motivated, which is, it’s very hard to find in any industry; it’s a lot of extrinsically motivated, money grabbing type of scenarios. 

And every one of the speakers you’re putting on stage truly wants to make a difference for that audience, and you being, let’s say the broker for that to happen, want to make sure that’s the case too. And it’s hard to find, it is such a uniquely positioned industry for that reason and it’s just such a beautiful thing.

Nick: And I think what fascinates me most and one of the things is that when we talk about what makes a great speaker and we’re discussing how could someone become a better speaker and, actually, someone wants to become a professional speaker, so they can earn money and turn it into a career and stuff like that. It comes down to, I wrote in my book, it’s called, Speaking with Confidence, I wrote, kind of, at the beginning of the pandemic, which is, obviously, the worst time to have a talk about public speaking life, but there we go. But the point about it was it was all about, actually, we all have our stories to tell. 

So, you have to start from a place of I’m telling my story, you have to start from a place of I am there to share with people still. It’s not you’re doing it in order so you can make money, it’s not so you can become famous so you can, kind of, gain the attention. It’s because I have something which I feel other people need to listen to and I’m privileged that I can do that, so I’m going to yell it out into thin air. Because by standing or saying I’m telling my story, people are going to relate to me, are they going to get involved. 

When I say I’m not a speaker, which means I believe everyone’s a speaker, I believe all three of us here could stand up on stage if we’re talking about ourselves or talking about something we’re passionate about or talking something that we’re really keen. Because, actually, it doesn’t mean everyone will come on the ride with you. It’s when you go up on stage having got a designed speech which, actually, has been written for you by someone else, which, actually, talks about this, which you don’t really believe in. 

Or even if you’re in that board meeting or in that meeting at the office where you’re just talking about the latest, kind of, plan for your business, but you don’t really believe in that, you’re going to get found out. Well, actually, if you talk about what you really believe in, we’re all on that journey with you.

Taylorr: That’s where the conviction comes from.

Austin: Man, I love the way that you think. Good people here with us today, folks.

Taylorr: Right?

Austin: You’re such a humble guy, I’m such a big fan. Speakers Corner is a very successful organization, one of the reasons I’m so excited to talk to you is because you’re really out there doing the thing. I think I saw what, over 8,000 speakers you’ve represented or do represent?

Nick: We’re up to about 10,000.

Taylorr: 10,000.

Austin: Oh my God.

Taylorr: Oh my goodness.

Austin: That’s a huge number; that is a thousand events a year or something like that, right?

Nick: It’s, well, about 1500, 1700 something like that.

Austin: Wow.

Taylorr: Right.

Nick: Well, listen, the marketplace is an amazing place, at the moment, in the context of the demand for, we could virtual, we could talk about in-person, but there’s an understanding that, actually, we all want experience connection. And I think right now with the world being so topsy-turvy, I think the joy of this connection we have with speakers is they’re asking you questions with opposing thoughts and, therefore, actually, no one’s come up with answers, so there’s greater freedom more than ever to have those discussions. 

So, we’re seeing, as a market, we’re seeing more and more speakers coming in. Again, I said it before but, kind of, it’s easy to become a speaker but, actually, how do you differentiate yourself, how do you market yourself, how do you position yourself, how’d you get the opportunity to speak on stage, that’s really the game. And so, yes, we say, kind of, we have 10,000 speakers on their Facebook, or we work with, but the truth of the matter is for all of these speakers is, there are many more who are trying to get in there. 

How do you elevate yourself above your competition, because the speaking marketplace, the competitive marketplace, don’t just think that you’ve written a book, or you’ve been on telly or you, kind of, matter and like that. You have a right to speak, you have to engage and you have to make us want to hear you.

Taylorr: Yeah, that’s right. Speaking the truth.

Austin: Yeah.

Taylorr: So, what do you think is attributed to the success of Speakers Corner, 1500 events in a year? Is it only due to the marketplace, you think, and the world being so topsy-turvy, is that what you equate that to?

Nick: Listen, from my perspective, Speakers Corner was, my brother and I, Tim too, my brother, we built the company; we’re talking about brothers building a company, stuff like that. But from the outset our backgrounds are completely different, we fell into this and we came into it with two distinct things. One of the things was on our website, where we’re going to have a really small fraction of the speakers that, actually, we work with. Because we aren’t a listing site, we’re not a, kind of, directory of speakers, so the clients pick which one they want. 

Because the truth is, anyone can stick a bow through themselves up on stage [Inaudible 13:06], what you don’t have is what they really have behind sets, and what we want them to do is to call us. And the other thing we said is we’re a non-exclusive speaker bureau, meaning that our clients are the ones who are booking the speaker. And what we have to do is give them the best advice as to who the speaker is, which means if we were to manage any of these people exclusively, then we’re, kind of, bastardizing the whole thing by the fact that theoretical, we’re playing both sides. And I never liked that or we never liked that, I should say. 

So, we’re very, very clear about those two things and then, and, hopefully, you’ve already got this impression from me, I’m the dobby so and so who’s always good to have a chat and has opinions. So, we were quite proud and we were like, we’re going to talk about this, and this was a time when the marketplace was there, but it wasn’t really spoken about. So, we were out there talking about what we want to do and how we want to do it and how we want to build the industry, kind of, rather than Speakers Corner and because of that, hopefully, the business group. 

We always used to say that our aim of life is to convince clients firstly, why do you book a speaker? Why do you have an external speaker? More of why you pay for them? But why do you book that external speaker? We then turn and say, okay, if we answer that for them, we then turn around and we say, why do you use a speaker bureau, rather than just Googling motivational speaker on the internet and just finding the first person?

And if we answer that one and explain to them, the reason you use a speaker bureau is because everyone can say they’re a speaker and we, actually, understand this speaker, so we can give it to him, therefore. Then the third question, which is, why use Speakers Corner? Is almost answered, because we’ve answered those first two for them and, therefore, we’ve gained their trust and we’ve brought them onboard with us. 

And I think because we took that route of not, necessarily, selling ourselves, but selling the marketplace and educating our clients, it meant that people wanted to take time to speak to us. And that’s what I feel, and still at Speakers Corner, as we’ve grown, we still believe in that. We believe in the fact that I’d rather hear one of my team have a half hour conversation with our client, talking about their event and what they hope to achieve, rather than having five, one minute conversation with a client. And the phone talk says, Hey, we want to book so and so. Can we book so and so? That’s not fun, that’s transactional. We don’t want that. We want to get deeper and form relationships with our clients.

Taylorr: Man, those are awesome values.

Austin: You’re really living out something with substance.

Taylorr: Yeah. It’s such a unique take on the bureau industry too. As you said, they, usually, are playing two sides of the coin, exclusive speaker as well as trying to manage the client. It’s like you’re reinventing the way the relationship should be and that’s super awesome.

Nick: Again, and I think we said this, kind of, when we were saying hello to each other earlier on, but my belief is that the marketplace is only going to grow. I can only talk personally for myself and I’m confused as well on, actually, why I need external viewpoints. Every company, every individual needs to, we need to learn from each other, therefore, the role of speakers become ever more important to pose those questions. 

So, if we can educate our clients about that and grow both of those clients about the number of events they’re doing, but also with new clients, then suddenly the marketplace just gets bigger and bigger. So, why not do that, rather than, actually, scrapping, kind of, in a marketplace that, actually, hasn’t reached its potential yet. We’re not mature. We’re going to get there, but we’re not there yet.

Austin: Well, the opportunities continue to grow more and more every day, which should be a call to action for everyone. There’s opportunity abounds and it only is increasing every day.

Nick: We listen to our speakers all of time and a lot of them talk about collaboration, talk about, kind of, the whole concept about how we’re working together. And as an industry, speaking industry, we should understand that whether you’re speakers working with other speakers, whether you’re bureaus working with other bureaus, whether you’re speakers working with speaker bureau, or we could all work together. 

Yes, we compete, but let’s compete fairly. Let’s make sure the client, however you perceive the client, whether you perceive the client to be the company that are booking your speaker or you perceive your client to be the artist, the speaker who wants to develop a career, let’s treat them with the respect and let’s treat them with the dignity and let’s make sure that they get the whole picture, rather than just thinking it’s about a race to the bottom of how much does this person charge or anything like that.

Austin: Man.

Taylorr: That’s right.

Austin: That’s so true. It’s such a valuable perspective. So, I’m curious for you, there are people listening to this show that are feeling inspired by everything that we’ve discussed so far, they feel the call to go and do the work that we’re talking about here. I’m wondering, from your perspective, from somebody that’s seen the progression that a professional speaker, quote-unquote, as such would go through as they’re building this into a career. Can you, really high level, help us understand, what does a typical path look like for somebody that feels inspired and called to get on stage, from that to it being a predictable career, something that you can do?

Nick: I find it really disingenuous when you say and what’s the predictable path. Do you want me to tell you what I think the typical path is? Or would you like to know my opinion about what I think the path should be? I think they are two very distinct things.

Austin: Ooh. Can you, maybe, give us both angles.

Taylorr: I’m down with that, a little bit of both. Yeah.

Austin: Do some compare and contrast here with us.

Nick: Okay. So, kind of, the typical path, to me, is someone, kind of, has a trigger point in their life. Now, that might be a big trigger point, like they’re suddenly appearing on television, a big television or they climb a mountain or they run a race or they do something, kind of, which is a life-changing moment. And they’re revised or they have thoughts about that means they have something so amazing that they should be standing up stage and be able to talk about it or, kind of, discuss how they felt and everything like that. 

And don’t get me wrong, that’s absolutely true. But, and this is why I’m saying that that’s the typical path, but my opinion is, that means they’re always going to be dependent on a specific thing. They’re always talking about basing around the thing and, actually, the truly great speakers are not talking about a thing, they’re talking about an idea; they’re thought leaders. And, therefore, the best path for a speaker is to understand, what is my message? What, actually, am I trying to get the audience, who are the stars, the speaker’s not the star, the audience is the star? 

What are they going to think, feel, do, when they leave that room with you there? Because if you start from that place, then you can weave in your stories which demonstrate the whole point. But you start thinking from there and, at that point, you turn around and you say, okay, I have a message, I want to deliver it. I have the fact I sailed across the ocean, I have an amazing story which, actually, can demonstrate my point. I have all of the components. The next step is to turn around and say this industry is, actually, a proper industry. And I use the word proper to turn around and say it’s a career.

And the truth is, for most people, when they turn around and say I would like a career in an industry, they actually plan in their heads how they’re going to get ahead in that industry and actually put in place, kind of, a strategic thought and maybe some ideas and stuff like that, rather than just launching themselves in there. Kind of, you go to a student and say, for example, a doctor will train for eight years to become a doctor and then go through various stuff like that. And my whole thing is, too many speakers announce themselves as speakers but they don’t have the assets, the brand and everything behind them, which actually turns them into a professional speaker. 

From my perspective, it’s like when you’re starting out and you made that decision, I want to be a speaker, understand the game isn’t your ability on stage, that’s a small part of the game. Because most people see maybe one or two or few more speakers every year, therefore, as long as you’re a good speaker, you’re going to be good enough. I see 300-odd speakers a year or whatever it is, so, therefore, if you want to spend an hour discussing the nuances of how you improve as a speaker and I can talk about my experience in the world of public speaking and my experience and the whole thing. 

I can talk about the nuance stuff, but most audiences aren’t steeped in that world, so they want to hear a good [No Audio – 20:53]. So, don’t presume you’re going to be a great speaker and have a great career because you’re a good speaker on stage. A high percentage of the game is how do I get that opportunity to stand up on stage? Not a high percentage, which is the game. Because if you don’t get the opportunity, it doesn’t matter how good of a speak you are. So, why if I’m a booker, if I’m an event organizer, if I’m any, kind of, whatever you want to call me, why would I book you?

Because the truth is you might climb that mountain but I bet someone else has climbed that mountain. So, if I heard your name, what’s the first thing I’m going to do? I’m going to Google you. Is the stuff on the internet supporting your position, not just in terms of your story as the adventurer and mounting climber, but also your position as a keynote speaker? Does, kind of, the messages that you’re telling me you’re giving, which I read on your one-page biography, is that featured in Management Today or whatever business publication we’re talking about, stuff like that, which underpins what you’re, actually, going to be delivering on stage. 

Have you got that whole brand together? Because if you have that whole brand together, then when you go onto yourself and suddenly I hear your name, I Google you or I speak to a speaker bureau like Speakers Corner, they recommend you. I’m being, kind of, it’s justifying the fact I’m going to spend money here. And suddenly it moves away from that moment in time, it moves away from that, kind of, idea and it becomes a new complete package, you are building a brand, going back to Patagonia, going back to any other brand. Understand that, you as a speaker, you are a brand, you’re not a speech. 

Make sure everything about that brand and everything you’re doing fits in with the cycle so that whatever happens, that’s what’s being lived. Long answer to a simple question.

Austin: Oh, it’s so great.

Taylorr: We could just wrap it up here.

Austin: I know right? You said one line there, you said you’re, I’m paraphrasing, but you’re not a speech, you’re a brand. I think that is so important for people to hear and it’s so weird because I feel like there’s a little bit of, I don’t know if it’s the right word for it, but cognitive dissonance. Because we’re valuable because of the thing that we do to get on stage, but that’s not the thing that gets you on stage, it’s such an important thing to understand and so many people’s expectations are not met because of that. I really hope that sinks in for people.

Nick: I think it’s really interesting, kind of, the earlier question about why did Speakers Corner grow and, actually, our position, kind of, intentionally being non-exclusive, it gave me the freedom to sit down and speak to them and say. And, at times, I can’t believe, I’ve said this in the past, but it’s like, yeah, you’ve climbed Everest, but so what? What really have you got to talk about and how does that back up. And I’ve had people in the room when I’ve been talking about it and almost the fact that I’m not managing them and helping them with their careers and all I’m doing is I’m guiding them and giving them some ideas. 

They appreciate the freshness but it’s, actually, hard to hear, because, usually, they have people around them who are, kind of, yes, you’re definitely going to have an amazing speaking career if you’ve done this, that, and the other. It does work for some people, but you have to put yourself in the best possible way to have the biggest chance in order to get where you need to get to.

Taylorr: For sure. Yeah. One of the things, I think, we see just a ton is that it’s almost like you’re talking about the delivery of the expertise; I am a speaker, right? It’s always the context of I do this as for delivery, rather than I helped solve this particular problem, right? To share this particular idea. It’s the age old thing of business, right? You’re producing an outcome for people, you’re solving a problem that people have, ideally, and that’s how you need to position it, right? It’s not just, I am a speaker, that doesn’t have any value. Just, okay, well, great, but what does that, actually, mean for the people you serve? And you know what I mean? It just feels like there’s that dissonance.

Nick: In Speaking With Confidence, ultimately, the entire book is about anyone can be a speaker if you’re talking about what you believe. And you’re talking about, kind of, your mission and you might weave stuff around a bit, if what you really believe and your putting your point across, well, that’s much deeper than just a story, which is a moment in time. And I think speakers aren’t helped in the market to understand that. Because they’re given this perspective that, actually, you can stand on stage and, actually, you tell your story and everyone’s going to be wowed, but the truth is, and it’s the part that disappoints me about that, is everyone might feel amazing and I’m sure you guys have experienced it, I’ve certainly experienced it. 

When you’ve listened to someone who’s done something amazing that it takes your breath away. My problem always was, and in my previous life, when I heard speakers and even now when I hear speakers who do this to me, if they haven’t given me something deeper than that, then I’ve had an emoji moment, I’ve applauded and I’ve said this is brilliant. And I wake up the next day and I go back to my desk and nothing’s changed in my life and two weeks later, they’re forgotten. Whereas, actually, that speaker who is delivering something deeper, who is delivering me a message, which actually many of them might not hit home, but that one person who hits home, two weeks later, I might not remember the name of the speaker. 

I might, kind of, remember the story roughly, but what I will do is I’ll be doing this now, as opposed to this. And that, to me is, a massive thing. That, to me, is life changing, literally.

Taylorr: Do you think that’s the biggest differentiator between those who make it in the short-term versus the long haul as a speaker or is there more to it than that? Because it sounds, to me, like, if you can nail that aspect of the business, where you’re solving a true problem for people, rather than just claiming to be a speaker or you’re putting emphasis on the thing, climbing a mountain and so on. That’s the thing that seems, to me, to create longevity, is that true or do you feel like there’s more to it than that?

Nick: No, I think that’s absolutely true. I think then it, kind of, it gets deeper, in terms of that creation of the brand off of the back of it.

Taylorr: Sure.

Nick: And that positioning yourself on the back of it and that’s maintaining the credibility aspect and where you have to be to maintain that credibility. Kind of, it’s understanding that the components around yourself are going to help you, in terms of if you’re looking to raise your fee or get more inquiries, events, whatever you want to call it. It depends on everything around that, but the crux of it is you become known for a message. What you want to do is become the person who, even if they don’t remember your name, if they don’t remember any of the stories, you’re the person who talks about this. 

And you think of some of the great speakers, kind of, who have hit billions of views on Ted or whatever platform it is, and you might not know their name, but you remember, kind of, the question is why, or you remember, I don’t know, kind of, the tipping point or you just remember the catchphrase, which that person is associate with, which actually means that wherever they go, kind of, you want it.

Taylorr: Yeah. So, you’re anchoring yourself into that, that message basically for you to then build the rest of the brand around it and not lose focus. Yes.

Nick: Yes. And not always be chasing.

Taylorr: Yeah.

Nick: It’s a tougher journey, that’s the other thing which I find interesting. The quicker win is to tell the story, because people are going to book you off of the back of it, but then two years down the line, someone else has climbed a higher mountain or in quicker time or done this, that, and the other and suddenly you’re left looking around not sure where to go.

Austin: Yeah, man, we’ve heard that story many times, so we know that’s true. One of the things that we’ve heard from other people in similar positions as you is that one of the things that makes a great speaker great is that they don’t just have the message, but they’re a practitioner. They’re somebody that hasn’t just, at one point, demonstrated it but consistently demonstrates it. And I also find that the person that is not just the speaker, but also the practitioner tends to also have other revenue streams in their business. Consulting, coaching, creating courses, writing books, obviously, content creation, influencing, there are all of these different mediums that are connected to professional speaking. 

And certainly we’ve just seen a major shift in the industry as of these last couple of years, I don’t know if anybody’s noticed, but there was this little pandemic or something that happened, I’m not that familiar, but. So, anyway, we just saw this major shift happen and I’m curious if you’re looking forward a little bit into, sort of, the future of this industry, is it going to be feasible to be, quote-unquote, just a speaker, somebody whose job it is to just get on stage and tell a story? Or do you think that there’s going to be a shift toward this more speaker practitioner, the person that’s implementing the things they do in the real world, in addition to speaking?

Nick: I think it’s already happening. I think, kind of, the truth is the fact that when, I think there are two different angles. Firstly, to say from a client perspective, if there’s more and more focus as the company booking, more focus on what return on investment we get from this whole thing. Then it has to be tangible stuff they’re getting out of the whole thing, so actually they put it into their business space and get it all signed off. 

So, I think from a client perspective, they’re going to get more and more pushy about what they’re getting now. And, therefore, what they need is they need currency, they need stuff which is present. Because the world is moving too fast, first, and it’s getting quicker and, kind of, from whatever angle, that’s what we’re seeing, whether that’s the economy, whether that’s technology, whatever it is, the world is moving too quickly. And so, you need a speaker who is living that, who is mostly connected to that and, therefore, can react with their speech to what’s happening, not even the day before, but, literally, the morning when they’re speaking an hour later. 

So, actually, what they’re no longer, you can take it further, you can say, actually, the content of keynote speaking, kind of, the content about 40 minute keynote speech, we’re moving away from that already; all they are, literally, doing is they’re having a conversation with the audience. So, kind of, I have this vision that actually any speaker, when they go on stage and they might have been briefed by the CEO of the company and they might have been briefed by the event organizer. But, actually, they should be standing up on stage, and the first thing, with a flip chart, is people know them, they have a minute and a half to introduce themselves and then they say to the audience, throw out all you’d like me to talk about, throw out some ideas or whatever, whatever.

And because their knowledge is current, because they’re living and breathing, yeah, they’re going to adapt their speech, because it’s not a speech, it’s a set of ideas and stories; they’re going to adapt that on the fly to what everyone wants to hear. So, suddenly it becomes more interactive and suddenly it becomes bigger than the keynote, because it’s just the start of something which can influence the people in order to help them and I keep on coming back in order to help them going forward. 

So, if you’ve just got that story or you worked in business 10 years ago, very successful, the truth is that it’s no longer relevant, and you can try and keep it relevant and you can try and keep it, kind of, in the moment, but the truth is the moment’s gone from yesterday, let alone from 10 years ago. So, the easiest way for a speaker to do that is to stay, kind of, involved in doing something, whatever it is, so they can evolve themselves. And I think that the last thing about it, on a purely commercial level for the speaker. 

If you’ve only got one speech and you’ve only got one idea, then the truth is, actually, that a company, a set of people can only book you once. Whereas, actually, for a speaker, if you want to turn this into a business, what you really want to be doing is effectively being invited back again and again and again, because they understand you’re really not delivering a keynote speech, you’re facilitating a conversation. And they have the confidence when I say David; the client has the confidence that you have the knowledge to be taken off in different directions by your clients. 

As a side note, one of the interesting trends we saw right at the beginning of the pandemic as the world switched to virtually everyone speaking marketplace, kind of, that was the end of everything and stuff like that. A number of our clients and speakers start to form relationships where the client was like, hey, the world’s moving too quickly; we have the pandemic going on, we have this going on, we have that going on. And all of our staff are working from home, we have no idea what they’re feeling and stuff like that; well, what we’d like you to do is effectively, we’d like to book you for an hour or whether it’s a month or say an hour a month for the next four months, whatever. 

And we have no idea what, actually, we’re going to be speaking about because we have no idea what world’s going to be like in four months’ time, but we trust you. So, we’ll have a conversation the day beforehand and we’ll come up with a subject, but also using the tools, virtual tools, whatever it is, we’ll get the chat function and people can put in stuff and we absolutely believe in you and understand what your core is about and what your core messaging is about, that you’ll be able to deal with that and learn. So, that move away from a keynote speech to the conversation is where I think then.

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