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The Competitive Landscape of Speaking

A few years ago, my very wise friend Brian Palmer of the National Speakers Bureau in Chicago said, “Clients seem to be steering away from hiring someone who describes themselves as a speaker… preferring, instead, to engage a smart person who happens to speak.”

Every day more and more people are getting into the speaking game. Bloggers, authors or coaches may add speaking to their business model. Every day, executives are departing corporate life to move into speaking. Industry speakers are often willing to speak for free. Ugh!

Here is some insight from leadership expert, Mark Sanborn:

mark sanbornAfter 29 years as a professional speaker, here are three changes I’ve seen:

1. A shift away from the talking head onstage delivering a speech to an engaging presentation that in some way involves the audience and is enhanced by presentation technology (an extreme example being Mike Rayburn’s use of a hologram at the 2014 NSA Convention). 

2. Online technology like websites, social media and blogs have made it easier than ever for speakers to reach audiences but also noisier and more cluttered than ever for audiences being bombarded by messaging. 

3. Increasingly audiences want to hear from expertise practitioners (those who have worked in the areas they talk about) rather than expertise reporters (those who have read and studied their topics without much direct involvement).

So what does that mean for us? Here are three ideas to help us thrive during highly competitive times:

Sharpen the Saw

The best way to compete is to be constantly improving. Making our content richer and more exclusive to us is one key. There is not much time to rest on your laurels even if you are at the top of your game because there is always someone else whom our clients can hire. The best we can do is continue to improve.

I put $10 – $20K into my continuous improvement fund each year (this may be low compared to some of you). This pays for my coach, courses, and conventions. By investing in ourselves, we open up to new ideas that will help us leverage our knowledge and content and sharpen the saw.

Build a Bigger Pie 

There are certainly times in my career when I have fought with fear. More and more frequently, I am training my future competition. What do I mean? Speakers who get really good often become coaches. I have to constantly remind myself that “decisions based in fear are wrong” and to simply put my head down and do good work.

Imagine being Cavett Robert, the founder of NSA. In 1966, Cavett had been speaking for 25 years and decided speaking was a profession that needed more members. Instead of worrying that he would create competition for himself, he contacted the few working speakers that he knew and said, “Don’t worry about how we divide up the pie, there is enough for everybody. Let’s just build a bigger pie!”

That is where our focus needs to go – continuing to do great work so that people want to hire speakers and hence, build a bigger pie!

Live in Gratitude

Our industry is one that is unique. Can you believe that people pay us to get up on a platform and speak? Sometimes I have to pinch myself that I earn a healthy living talking to people on the phone all day (in my jammies if I choose). Moreover, when a client hires me to speak, and flies me first class with a limo waiting at the airport, I am amazed that this is my life.

When we focus on the good stuff (thank you Mike Robbin’s for writing the book of the same name) more good things happen. It is the well-documented law of attraction. Anthony Robbins says, “when you are grateful, fear disappears, and abundance appears.”

[Tweet “When you are grateful, fear disappears and abundance appears! @TonyRobbins  #Business”]

When we live in gratitude for what has happened in our life, it does not leave us room to yearn for what we do not have.

Would you like to comment on competition, gratitude or fear? Share your thoughts in the comments below!!





P.S. This is a great opportunity for me to say thank you. I’ve had clients who have been following my tips or have worked with me in some capacity for over a decade. I appreciate you sticking with me. I appreciate your comments. I appreciate your critiques that have allowed me to grow. Thank you for taking this journey with me!


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