Last updated on October 16th, 2018 at 10:26 am
Motivational speaker, Marilyn Sherman is dedicated to training people to let go of obstacles and live and work with courage, commitment, and confidence.
Is your big dream to be a top motivational speaker just like Marilyn?
This article is professional speaker interview number ten of my series “11 Top Women Motivational Speakers Share Their Best Advice” featuring motivational speaker, Marilyn Sherman.
For my “what it takes to be a motivational speaker” series, I cornered eleven of the most powerful women speakers, and I got them to share their best secrets on what catapulted them into public speaking stardom.
Each speechmaker in this series shares their best speaker business success advice. It’s important to learn the new rules of speaker success–if this is your big dream! Today’s interview is about becoming a highly sought-after motivational keynote speaker who has spoken before audiences in all 50 U.S. states.
I asked my speaker interviewees to each answer ten questions. Since their answers are so informative, I’ve broken each speaker and their responses down into individual pages because once I put their answers together here, it was too large of an article (10,000 words) to load on a device like a smartphone. My 10th interview is with keynote speaker, Marilyn Sherman.
Marilyn Sherman is a National Speaker Association CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame keynote who motivates audiences to get out of their comfort zone and get a front-row seat in life. Marilyn is the author of four motivational books. You can read Marilyn’s full bio on her website, here.
The Top Motivational Speaker Interviews – Interview #10 of 11:
Q-1: What made you want to be a motivational speaker?
A-1: I saw a speaker, Roger Crawford when I was in high school and his message was so impactful, I decided at age 17 I wanted to be a professional motivational speaker. Then, of course, I had to graduate from high school.
But seriously, I started attending seminars and workshops and I approached every speaker and asked them for advice. All of the advice centered around “Speak as much as you can.” So I started volunteering to speak at meetings, events, and eventually created my own events.
Then I had to graduate from college and get a “real job.”
Q-2: From the time you decided to become a motivational speaker, how long did it take for you to start making a living at it?
A-2: I went the route of ‘speaking for a seminar company’. When I left my corporate job as a trainer in human resources, I immediately made more money working as a contract trainer for this seminar company. They dictated my calendar, and how many dates I was on the road, but it was a good living.
Then I discovered that I could cut out the middleman, get hired directly and raise my fee and speak less and make more money.
Once I went on my own, it took another 6 months to get a booking. I did not navigate that transition very well!
Q-3: Name 3 things you are really great at as a motivational speaker.
A-3: 1. I am really good at connecting with my audience: greeting people when they come in and showing sincere gratitude that they are there.
2. I am good at being myself on stage. I never have an exact presentation that I deliver because I am very much in the moment. I know what stories I will tell, but I am known for adding something that was a part of the conference earlier in the day or week for example.
3. Finally, I’m really good at inspiring people with my stories. I love emotional stories that make people laugh, cry, and contemplate. The response I get from my audiences is why I do what I do. I love this business!
Q-4: What was your biggest mistake in the business of being a paid public speaker?
A-4: Not taking the money side of the business seriously. I spent a ridiculous amount of money on people who promised me they could help me build my business and then paid more when that didn’t work out.
I wish I developed my tribe earlier whereby I could call my girls (my speaker buddies) and get feedback.
I would have saved probably $100,000 if I just picked up the phone before I engaged certain people in ‘coaching’.
Q-5: What was the one thing you did right when you started as a motivational speaker?
A-5: I let go of jealousy and resentment of other speakers doing better than me and re-focused on my craft of speaking. When I focus on what I do best and not compare to others, I’m free to fly.
Q-6: What do you think is the hardest thing about having a motivational speaking career?
A-6: Actually, the thing I struggle most is identifying what I do that ‘s different from other motivational keynote speakers. It’s funny too, because I’m a professional speaker and can speak for 60-90 minutes on stage and rock it out. But ask me to articulate in 2 sentences what I do? I turn into a bumbling idiot.
So differentiating from others is hard, unless they see me live or watch my demo video. Then they can see the difference.
The other thing is having a consistent flow of work. I have not mastered that yet.
Q-7: What is your favorite type of audience?
A-7: I love an audience that is open to learning and laughing. I recently spoke at a school district foodservice group and they laughed hysterically and cried too. I felt everyone on the edge of their seat. They were lunch ladies ready to learn and laugh.
Then I spoke to a group of municipal clerks–overworked, underpaid, and they showed so much love with their reactions, it was great.
So it’s not just women, not just business owners, not just corporate. It’s any group that is open to learn and laughs–they tend to be my favorite!
Q-8: The motivational speaker business can be stressful. What do you do to stay sane?
A-8: I really really love what I do. With all the stress of negotiating the deal, negotiating travel, negotiating to get to my hotel room, negotiating a healthy meal verse all the junk available while on the road, with all the negotiating that is stressful–once I get on stage, I am on fire.
That’s what keeps me sane, getting on stage and connecting with people knowing that somewhere in the crowd, I’m about to change that person’s life.
Q-9: Motivational speaking takes a tremendous amount of work; how do you balance your personal life with your speaking career?
A-9: I’m lucky in that sense. I have no kids so I don’t have the added challenge of balancing childcare while on the road. All I do is speak, travel and have fun!
Q-10: What advice would you give to women who have decided their big dream is to be a motivational speaker?
A-10: Focus on your craft!
Find your tribe of like-minded people so you can develop trusting relationships. You’re going to need them!
Join the National Speakers Association and hang out with the best in the business.
And if anyone reading this whose dream is to be a motivational speaker and want to contact me with questions or advice–feel free to reach out!
I believe that women motivational speakers are worthy of recognition and celebration. I much appreciate Marilyn’s time and assistance in getting her answers to me about her public speaking business and her work-life balance advice.
Thanks again, Marilyn!
Kelly Swanson is an award-winning storyteller, motivational speaker, published author and TV personality who is passionate about helping women harness the power of their stories to connect, influence, and get the results they dream of accomplishing. Laughing the whole way, Kelly teaches women how to master the art of connection through the power of strategic storytelling. You can find her on The Fashion Hero show airing Fall of 2017 on Amazon Prime or on her website MotivationalSpeakerKellySwanson.com.
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