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A Snapshot of Radical Truths and Choices for the Presenter
by Chris King

This is the time of year when I start to re-evaluate my direction, catch up on important reading, listen to inspirational / motivational tapes and set my goals for the rest of the year. For this article, I will share ideas that bombarded me - even shook me up - from two sources. First, was an article that appeared in the 2002 September issue of Creativity called "Radical Careering" written by Sally Hogshead, Creative Director, Crispin Porter + Bogusky/Los Angeles. "This article is about refusing mediocrity." Second, is the tape program The Luck Factor: How to Take the Chance Out of Becoming a Success by one of my favorite gurus, Brian Tracy.

Warning: if you are completely satisfied with the status quo - you are thrilled with your speaking, your career, your goals and direction - then skip this article. I'm writing for the rest of us. It's about doing everything possible to get better and reinvent ourselves.

Radical Truth/Choice #1: We are where we are today because of the actions we have taken in the past. If our speaking is improving because we are continually preparing, giving presentations and seeking feedback and ways to get better, then we will grow as a presenter. I know that if you are reading this article, you are someone who is serious about your speaking. But, you know that reading is not enough. It is joining that Toastmasters group and attending regularly. It's letting people in your organization know that you would be delighted to speak for them at an upcoming meeting - and then giving that "Knock Your Socks Off" presentation that elicits a "Wow!" As Brian Tracy ( points out, we are the originators of our own luck.

Radical Truth/Choice #2: Push yourself to upgrade your portfolio of programs. If we have created a group of winning keynotes and/or workshops and seminars, it is easy to become lazy about changing and/or creating new presentations - especially in a new area. In the early days of speaking, there was the cliché, "I don't need to create a new speech. I just find a new audience." That worked when there weren't thousands of excellent speakers and we weren't driving on the "Information Highway." It doesn't work today, however, when audience members are savvy and business practices are changing daily. It takes time and effort to create a brand new program on a brand new topic, or even make major changes to your existing presentations. Take the time - the payoff will be worth it. And, it will add excitement and pizzazz to your speaking.

Radical Truth/Choice #3: Being a terrific presenter is not enough. It used to be - when excellent speakers were not plentiful - that once the "word was out" that you were a great speaker, meeting planners and companies would call you. That old mousetrap saying about "beating a path to your door" hasn't worked since the Dark Ages. Nowadays, we must let the world know what we do and especially how we can solve their problems. What is in it for them? Yes, if you speak for free for anyone, and do it well, you probably can get free speaking assignments. These are fine for experience sake, but don't do them just for exposure, except when it is to sell what you are speaking about. We need to examine what our goals are. Are we speaking to become hired as a paid presenter? Or are we speaking to introduce our business to the audience and/or show them how or why to use our business services?

Radical Truth/Choice #4: Visibility is the top marketing tool. This is the tool that has worked consistently for me. How does one become visible? By this, I don't mean just being seen, I also mean becoming known. Visibility can be achieved in a variety of ways, but it takes lots of action:

  • By attending meetings and events that draw people in your industry or those in your target market, you will have the opportunity to meet people from whom you can learn, but also people who might lead you to clients/customers. As Brian Tracy suggests, be sure to make a good first impression by the way you present yourself (have STYLE).
  • When networking, ask the person you meet many questions. Most love talking about themselves and their businesses, so this will make you memorable.
  • Write informative articles that you offer to trade magazines, e-zines and websites; have a professional website of your own where you post articles of interest; and when you do exchange business cards, ask if the other person would like to receive a copy of an article related to what you have been talking about.
  • Join organizations, and volunteer. Every group to which I have belonged has been thrilled to have a volunteer who works hard and is dependable. You will be amazed by the contacts and friendships you make, and also the amount of business that will flow your way.

So, now you are probably wondering what this has to do with your presentation future and skills. I will guarantee that if you take action and work on the above visibility suggestions, you will not only become known and trusted, you will become a much more interesting and exciting presenter along with getting those phone calls to speak and do business.

Radical Truth/Choice #5: Jump, and a net will appear. As Sally Hogshead said so well, "You can't be successful when you cling to obsolete situations out of fear. Only when you put yourself out there wholeheartedly can the best opportunities present themselves." Changing direction, trying something completely new and offering or volunteering a whole new program can be scary. Every time I've jumped and taken a risk hasn't been pretty or successful, but it has always led me to something better. The net does finally appear if you just take action and persevere.

Radical Truth/Choice #6: It's never too late to reinvent yourself and your direction. You have the ability to become the best presenter in your field. Remember the choices and actions we take today will not only add enjoyment and purpose to today, they will shape where we are tomorrow. No mediocrity for us! When others who come in contact with you or work with you start saying, "You are just so lucky!" you will be able to smile to yourself, knowing you are there!

If you have any comments about this article, I always love getting your FEEDBACK!


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