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A speaking peer recommend me for a job and I got it. Because she had done it the year before, it was only natural that she give me advice on what they are looking for, what the audience is like, and what she did that worked. “They really want heavy content and they really care about customer service since that’s what they all do,” she told me. So I adjusted my content (drastically) to fit what she said they wanted.

Months before the event, we are on a conference call with the client committee to discuss last minute details. I jumped in and assured them that I had met with their speaker from last year and I have a really good idea of what they want – heavy content around customer service – and that I had been editing my material to fit. There was a moment of silence and one of them said in an angry tone, “No. That is NOT what we want at all. That is what we hired that speaker to do. We are hiring you for a different reason. We want you to do your thing the way you’ve always done it. We want humor and motivation. Make them feel good. Make us look good. We want the show.”

Can you imagine if we had not had this conversation and I showed up with what I thought they wanted?

Recently I was booked for a series of jobs with one client. When the client booked me, he mentioned the speaker they had last year. “I know him,” I said. “Great! I can get some advice from him since he’s done the job before.”

“I would rather you didn’t,” the client said. “I don’t want him to influence you, or cause you to change what we saw you do.”

Lesson: Speakers aren’t your market and don’t have the perspective of your buyer.

Learning from other speakers is crucial to our success. Learn how they grew their business. Learn how they market. Learn how they position themselves. But be very careful to filter their advice and have clarity on what you do and who you serve, and how your business model is structure.

Things to Thing About When Getting to Advice:

I think of the speaking world like the music world. So many musicians out there, each with his own sound, his own style, his own audience, and his own way of putting notes together to whisper into the ears of his fans. To say there is one way to play music is folly. So let’s not do that with speaking. Telling speakers there is only one way to play, robs the world of a lot of beautiful music.


Which reminds me of a story……

Four Motivational Speakers and a Waitress Named Star

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