Last updated on January 23rd, 2019 at 10:36 am
Why Professional Speaking Is Like Selling
We are all in the business of selling something if you look at selling as the desire to influence someone else to do something. We’re influencing people to book us to speak, buy our product, read our blog, listen to our truth, race for a cure, give to a cause, or teach our kid personal responsibility.
Impact and influence come in many sizes.
When you look at speaking from the eyes of an educated sales person, then you already know that your ability to sell whatever message or tangible you are trying to sell from that stage, hinges on your ability to connect with your buyer. Selling is emotional. Buying is emotional.
So you already know the fundamental truth of influence:
Problem: Many professional speakers are focusing on the transfer of content and information, and skipping right over the art of connection.
“Let me give them as much information as I can to be valuable” becomes their mantra.
I believe that every speaker out there has valuable information to give to their audience. But until they connect, the information is just data, and data isn’t compelling. The audience walks away with the data, using it or not using it, but doesn’t walk away with the speaker. And as a professional speaker, you need them to walk away with you too. And that’s where the connection is vital. Yes, we want them to remember what we have taught. But, even more, we want them to walk away remembering the teacher, because we want them to book us again in the future. We aren’t just selling data, we are selling ourselves.
How to Go From Selling to Compelling
When it comes to mastering the art of connection as a professional speaker, we have got to pay attention to how our data is wrapped. And that is where story comes in. Most of us know the value of story, but most of us see its value as a nice little add-on to entertain and add flavor to our presentation.
The crucial shift in perspective that allows you to connect with your audience, is to see story as the tool that actually does the work.
I laugh when I hear speakers ask their clients how much entertainment they want, and how much content they want. While I understand that some entertainment has no message at all, and exists for one purpose, to entertain – I also know that entertainment and content can happen at the same time.
Yes, you can tell a story, deliver a joke, do an act out, and have it actually make the point for you.
As professional speakers, we often think that the data does all the work – that the data is proof of the truth we teach. But the data does not convince. It’s the illustration of that data as it applies to life that teaches. The story. This is the golden moment. Your data is just the power point driven home after they have already stepped into the truth and seen it play out live. Your impact factor will increase ten fold, when you stop seeing your speech as a series of your points illustrated by stories, and see it as a series of stories illustrated by your points.
Problem: Many speakers think stories are fluff and figure that they shouldn’t waste too much time telling stories or they aren’t delivering value. And then comes along a speaker who can deliver the message and the data wrapped in story and comedy, and they get the business.
Okay, I get it! But where do I go from here?
Even when speakers experience the shift in perspective and truly see the value that the story has, they are faced with a new problem. They don’t know what stories to tell or how to write them or how to put them in their presentation. Okay, so that’s really many problems.
But for today, I’ll just focus on three critical stories you should be telling.
3 Winning Stories for Professional Speakers
1. The About Me Story
This is the story I see most often left out of presentations. Many speakers jump right into “value” and content, not wanting to waste a moment.
I get that.
BUT . . . if the key to selling is about connecting with people and making them like us, trust us, believe us, and feel like they know us, then by jumping right into data, we skip over that. In essence, in our race to jump to the value, we are skipping right over the most valuable part.
Are you taking the time to let your audience get to know you?
“But I don’t have time for that” you might be saying. Make time. It’s vital. You have to go from bobble head to human. And the only way you can do that is to let us into your personal life.
Not the things you’ve done, but who you are.
Note: About Me stories don’t have to happen in one opening moment. About Me stories can (and should) be woven all the way throughout your presentation. It will be more interesting, more engaging, more emotional, and more valuable if we get this data wrapped in your personal experience.
That’s why you were hired, after all, to bring us this data FROM YOUR PERSPECTIVE. Otherwise, we would have just Googled the information.
2. The Why Am I Here Story
Once we know you and have developed this link of trust, we want to know why you are here. What is so important to you that brings you to that stage?
What are you selling and why do you care so much about it? What does this message (product, truth) mean to YOU? Not to me, but to YOU. Many speakers jump right into giving advice on how to fix a problem – the data. Many sales people are, shall we say, less than passionate about what they’re selling.
Granted, thanks to the “about me” story, you are now someone we like and trust. You have now opened the door for us to receive your message. But it’s not enough. We now need to know how you connect to that brand.
Many professional speakers sell the information without attaching it to themselves. We don’t care that you have the perfect diet until we find out how that diet helped YOU. Tell us WHY this means so much to you, and it will mean more to us.
As professional speakers, I know you care about your message. It means a lot to you. It’s why you chose to do this. But your language doesn’t always reflect that. Just because you know it, doesn’t mean you SHOW it. So show me. And use story to do it.
Tell me a story of how this message changed your life.
3. The Audience Story
My gym just got bought out by another high profile gym, so they are in the process of switching out the signs and the colors to be congruent with this new owner’s brand.
As I was leaving the other day, I noticed a new sign (floor to ceiling) flanking the front door, stating this gym’s mission. It was a great mission statement in that it was well written and used powerful words like determination, strength, history, and power.
It was obvious they spent a lot of money and time coming up with the perfect mission statement.
There was just one problem. It had nothing to do with me. Not one single word was about me – the buyer – the reason they exist. I’m not a marketing expert, but I am a shopping expert. And as a shopping expert, I know that I don’t care about what you believe in.
I care about what I want.
Now I know you’re thinking, “But wait! You just told me that you care about me and why I’m here.” Yes, I do. As a seller and person of influence and impact, I do want to know who you are and why you believe in what you’re selling. But your work is not done.
Yet many professional speakers stop there.
I have just shared with you the three most important stories a professional speaker should have in their tool kit. These aren’t all the stories you should be telling–just the three most important. In the future we’ll talk about the other stories that you should have to help you accomplish what you want to accomplish as a person of influence and impact.
I realize that we are just scratching the surface.
Knowing the stories you need is easier than finding them, writing them, and telling them in a powerful compelling way that fits your audience.
Some of you already have pen to paper and are off. For the rest of you, who are still dazed and confused – find me, Your Story Tutor, and I’ll help you craft those winning stories so you can watch your business soar!
With much love and encouragement, and hopes that you’ll own your rightful place in the spotlight,
You. Your Story. Make an Impact
Kelly Swanson is an award-winning storyteller, comedian, motivational speaker, Huffington Post Contributor, and cast member of The Fashion Hero television show airing on Amazon Prime. She is also the author of Who Hijacked My Fairy Tale, The Land of If Only, The Story Formula, and The Affirmation Journal for Positive Thinking. She was a featured entertainer for Holland America Cruise Lines, keynote speaker for the International Toastmasters Convention, and has keynoted major conferences and corporate events from coast to coast. She just launched her one-woman show Who Hijacked My Fairy Tale in theaters, and it is being booked all over the country. In July of 2022, she was inducted into the National Speakers Association Speaker Hall of Fame.
Note: Articles by Kelly may contain affiliate links and may be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on an affiliate link.