Before I began my journey into the world of public speaking, I started here:
I stood there, slightly paralyzed with nerves, staring out into what seemed like an endless abyss of entrepreneurs and CEOs. I was nervous. I was terrified. I was thinking of myself.
There were around thirty people in the room, mostly volunteers for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Rather than realize the audience really needed to be immersed in what I had to say, to feel things, I let my nerves read off the page rather than walk around the podium and connect. I was so focused on myself, my words.
I messed up.
For years, I kept this vision board above my bed, knowing my dreams were so large they terrified me. I tried to speak at dozens of events, but was never asked to return. It was frustrating. I had my dreams, I wrote great speeches, why weren’t they calling me back?
Little did I know, the answer had absolutely nothing to do with me.
An energetic crowd of entrepreneurs filled the room and chatted away like kids at recess, when he took the stage at EO Alchemy in Arizona in 2016. I knew he was a famous poet and that his song “Love You Like a Love Song” by Selena Gomez went multi-platinum, but I was hopelessly confused why he would be at the event. He’s not in charge of a corporation, he’s a poet and songwriter. What does he know about building a company?
Fast-forward 3 minutes and I sat in the audience, stunned. My mouth quivered and I felt tears welling up in my eyes as he transformed a room full of squirrels into a silenced and captivated audience.
He focused on tapping into our hearts and souls, despite many of us attending and fully expecting, tangible business lessons. He crafted his words for us, to teach us that the life we live outside of the office impacts what we do in the office, more than anything else.
Meet Sean Stephenson.
I remembered coming back from lunch at the event, full of carbs and everything you shouldn’t be eating. I felt fat. My makeup wasn’t on point. I had my notebook prepared for the next speaker and was finally ready to get to hear more from influential leaders.
Then this powerhouse wheeled himself onto the stage, he told the story of how his dream of being President of the United States never happened. When one dream fails, another succeeds.
He shared that to be an effective speaker, you need to do 2 things.
1) You need to make the audience laugh
2) You need to make the audience cry
I remember him sharing his purpose was to “rid the world of it’s insecurities”. Wow! Suddenly, I didn’t care that I felt fat, my makeup was poorly done, and I had my eyes closed during our photo.
I noticed the entire time, although he weaved a beautiful story about his own life, surprisingly, the speech gave more to the audience than it did to him. The real takeaway for me, was to focus on giving.
Two years later, my speaking engagements look like this. There are over 150 chief executive officers, presidents of large organizations, and entrepreneurs in the room. I recently was asked by a board member of The Entrepreneurs’ Organization to share the stage in September 2017 with Tony Hawk, Ryan Holiday, Bill Walton, Shep Gordon and many others at EO Alchemy in San Diego.
If you want to be a speaker, other than working towards your visions, I don’t have much advice for you. I’m still learning. After my latest speech, a member of the audience shared, “You’re the best speaker I’ve never heard of!” Although hilarious, she had a point. There’s a reason that although I’m seeing traction, I’m not known. My learning is just beginning.
If you are growing your brand, start where I did. Start by listening to real messages from In-Q and Sean Stephenson. Give more. Focus on what the audience doesn’t know they need to hear that day, rather than yourself. Don’t mention how nervous you are, but ask yourself “how impactful can I be for them?”