“The ability to speak is a short cut to distinction. It puts a man in the limelight, raises him head and shoulders above the crowd.” – Lowell Thomas, Born Apr. 6, 1892.
Getting on stage to teach copy at marketing events was easily the biggest factor in my rapid rise to recognition and success – that is, making money BEYOND just doing client work as my sole source of income.
I had literally never done it before. My first talk at Shoemoney's Elite Retreat (2010, I think?) was literally my first time speaking anywhere about anything.
I made way too many slides. I prepared way too much material. I was almost sick from anxiety.
Two things made it okay.
First, I admitted to the audience that it was my first talk and that I was nervous, so if I mumbled or went to fast or spoke too softly, just throw a shoe at me. (Slide of a shoe).
Second, anxiety takes brainpower to maintain. Once you're up there going over material you KNOW and BELIEVE IN, it takes all your free brainpower. None left to be scared.
But Old Lowell's advice isn't just applicable to the stage (or the radio, as he was famous for).
The ability to get up in front of people, even virtually, will position you as an expert, and an authority on your topic. Virtually meaning on VIDEO. Preferably streaming live.
It has the same effect. Why does it give people this magical halo?
A few reasons. For one, there is that fear we mentioned. The fear of public speaking is actually MORE common than the fear of death. So if YOU can dare to do what they fear to do, you MUST know something they don't…
Another reason for that halo effect is that it demonstrates a mastery of your topic, because you can speak on it without needing notes or research or anything to help you. It flows right from the brain to the mouth with a buttery smoothness that ONLY an expert could manage.
A few things to keep in mind when you talk on your topic to reinforce this subconscious perception.
1. Speak with certainty, and even when there is uncertainty about a single outcome, be certain about the possible outcomes. Don't waffle or be vague. You're the expert, remember?
2. Be casual. Become familiar with the audience. Do something to put yourself at ease. Like the apology I mentioned earlier. Could be as simple as taking off a coat or rolling up sleeves. On video, it can be conveyed in the setting and position of the camera.
3. Don't over-prepare. Three core topics can fill an hour, if you break them down properly. Take into account an intro, and ending with Q&A, you've only got 30 or so minutes of meat in the middle. Break each core topic into 5 sub points and spend two minutes on each. That's it.
4. Leave them wanting more and tell them how to get it. Portray your topic as being too vast to compress fully. Always leave an opportunity to continue the discussion with you off stage/off camera.
5. Silence is your friend. Give yourself time to breathe. Make sure you think what you will say next before you say it. Pauses are fine. They help express that casual and comfortable relationship – with the audience AND with your material.
6. Energy level is important. Do some jumping jacks and then a tequila shot. Or whatever gets your energy up – everyone is different. Your attitude is contagious when you're the focus of someone else's attention, so make sure you are in a giving and receiving mode – think gift exchanges for your best buddy or something similar.
7. Frame your points as anecdotes from your own experience or your work with clients. Express not only your knowledge, but the fact that you actually have worked in this field, hands on, with real people and businesses. It's a simple trick – that works in writing, too – but it's extra elegant when speaking.
That's enough, I don't want to overwhelm. Just take my advice.
If you want a shortcut to preeminence and recognition in your field, it's a short walk to the podium, and it's even easier to start a live stream from your smartphone right now. The more you do it, the better you get, and the more it works for you.
Try it. I dare you.