KellyforblogWarning: This post might sting a little. But hearing the truth doesn’t have to be bad. In fact, hearing what you need to hear just might be the greatest gift you have ever received.

The Disconnect in The Speaking Business

I attend a lot of conferences and I’ve seen LOTS of speeches. And very few blew me away. Very few  do I remember years later, or even hours later. Most of them fall in the range of bad to good enough.

What about you? Have you heard your share of speakers? How many really stood out? I would guess it’s a few among many.

The truth as I know it, is that most speakers aren’t great, yet most speakers are more concerned with their selling skills than their speaking skills. I hear most speakers quickly agree that speaking comes easy to them, that getting business is their problem area. I’ll give you one reason why you’re having such a hard time getting business –  because your speech sucks! (Told you this wasn’t going to be pretty.  But sometimes you just can’t sugar coat the truth any longer. )

Okay, so there are many reasons you may not be getting business. I’ll give you that. But no amount of marketing, PR, selling, fancy one sheets, compelling taglines, or great book covers will make up for an average speaker or a mediocre speech. The speech is your product!  (I’m talking about keynote motivational speakers especially, but I think there is an element of truth in all of this for other types of speakers to glean wisdom from.)

If you get up on a stage and hit it out of the park, business will follow. I promise. And if you do that over and over and over again, you will build a reputation, gain fans, and get spinoff business EVERY TIME. And marketing will become secondary. Your product will speak for itself.

So while it may not be true for you, there is a chance that you probably aren’t as good as you think you are. And even if it’s not true, it doesn’t hurt to believe it about yourself. It will push you to work harder, and to make that speech flippin’ brilliant. I can’t ever remember a time when I wrote a speech and said, Now THAT’S as good as it gets! Except for the one I just finished, and it is pretty amazing – but give me a couple of days and I’m sure the luster will have worn off. I am in a constant state of working to get better, pushing to try something new, stretching my wings, finding new ways to deliver what I do. And, yes, I’m not as good as I think I am, and I”m not as bad as I think I am. But I will never stop working.

What about you? Time to pick up that speech and get back to work?

(PS  I can hear some of you right now curling your lip and saying, “I don’t givespeeches. I facilitate conversations. I am a thought leader. I am an expert who speaks.”  Well, I don’t care what you decide to call yourself, or what you call that experience you give to an audience – it had better be good, worth their money, unforgettable, and holding great value, or you won’t be doing it for long.  I’m just saying.)

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KELLY SWANSON is an award-winning storyteller, comedian, author, motivational speaker. She has been described by Our State Magazine as one of North Carolina’s funniest women. She uses hilarious comedy, powerful stories, and a wacky cast of southern characters to make people laugh, remind them of their value, and show them how to stand up and stick out in their lives, businesses, and communities. Her shows have delighted audiences from coast to coast, from board rooms to cruise ships. To invite Kelly to your 2014 event, contact Sue Falcone at or call 1-888-766-3155. 

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