What has turned into a successful career as an author and keynote speaker started with a birthday party magic performance as a young boy. When Shep Hyken was just 12 years old, he gave his first presentation of sorts by performing tricks in front of an audience of other kids. Years later, he would begin a full-time speaking career that tapped into much of what he did as a young magician.
Shep’s professional speaking career has lasted more than 30 years and provides many opportunities for teaching others who want to follow his career path. However, he warns that although professional speaking may seem like a “sexy” career, it actually isn’t that glamorous most of the time. The real job isn’t simply giving the speech, it’s getting the speech. The real work comes from finding speaking gigs and preparing remarks to make every speech and presentation the best it has ever been.
Professional speaking can be a lucrative and interesting path, but it is also extremely competitive. In order to stand out from the crowd, Shep provides the following tips:
• Work hard. Make it your mantra that no one will outwork you. Having a goal to make every presentation the best one creates confidence in the client and helps you prepare.
• Stay in one lane. Shep focuses only on customer service and doesn’t cross over into other related topics. By staying on one topic, he has created a niche for himself and a strong personal brand clients know they can trust.
• Write books. Although this isn’t as powerful as it once was, Shep says that a speaker who has written a book, especially one that has gotten good feedback, can tip the scales in his or her favor.
Once a speech has been booked, preparation is key. Shep starts getting ready for a presentation six weeks or a month before the big day by deciding what to speak on and how it will flow. He then asks the client the three most important points for the audience to remember and makes sure he addresses them in the speech. From there, it’s preparing his speech, putting the bullet points on a single index card, and practicing and reviewing until he doesn’t even really need to use the card. He makes arrangements so that he is at the venue on time both physically and mentally so he can give his best effort to every speech.
The world of professional speaking can be exciting and open doors to new opportunities, but it often requires energy, preparation, and determination to be successful. However, by following in Shep’s footsteps, you can also build a strong speaking career.
Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist, author of More Is More, and keynote speaker. Sign up for her weekly newsletter here. Go farther and create knock your socks-off customer experiences in your organization by enrolling in her new Customer Experience School.