10 Tips to Build Your Speaking Success in 2014

top 10 tips to build speaker successFrom my marketing and analytics experience, historical data tells me that only 23% of you scanned my post (or email), and 25% of that 23% actually did something, such as clicked like or opened a document, or clicked a link.  That’s basically 5% of my total list, who will ‘do’ something (aka conversion).  All of those numbers are higher than ‘industry standard’ of 20% for an initial ‘open rate’ and 2% for a ‘conversion’ (action) rate, because my lists are ‘concentrated’ (more on that in an upcoming post).  There actually is an important point coming up.

NOW – before I lose you, let’s put this in perspective for you as a speaker (using my %s above) through the following example:


  1. You want do to a special seminar this March, and you want 55 people in the audience.
  2. To get those 55 people there (clicking to buy a ticket), that means roughly 230 people had to open an email or read a post.
  3. To get those 230 to open and read an email, that means you must have a list of roughly 1000 people.

1,000 people must be on your list today,  if you want 55 people in your seminar audience in March of 2014.  Are you ready for that? Right now?

Think about that book of yours – the same principal applies.

As an Emerging Speaker, or perhaps an Emerging Speaker with a growing business (and for the record, all serious Emerging Speakers need to be in a business mindset), 2014 should be all about list building and your Marketing,  positioning yourself for future success.

Here are the top 10  tips to build your speaking success, and would be a wise  investment of time during these last 10 days of the year, to help get those gears spinning and propelling for all the great goals we’ve declared at all the December meetings

#10. Take Stock.

What has worked well this year? What hasn’t? Where have you dropped the ball? Where have you excelled? You’ve put your goals out there at our meetings, now work with the end in mind. What do you need to start doing, or not doing, to get you there? What systems / support / processes do you need to put in place now, to be ready when that success hits? Start by creating or implementing your own personal performance review system, so when this time next year rolls around, you can look and say to yourself, “Nailed it! I’m a Genius!’.  Then you can go to the Bureau’s success party celebrating all the great things we’ve all accomplished in 2014.

#9. Get Crystal Clear.

Get crystal clear on what you want to achieve, why, and on your core message. Too many times we say ‘subjective’ goals, like ‘I want to be a professional speaker’, or ‘I want to speak to drive leads to my business’. But – what does that really look like to you? How will you know you’re a success?  If you have a goal, like achieve your Accredited Speaker status by Aug., that’s good because you now have the end goal, and when. For ‘the speak for business’ example, change it to something like: ‘I want to speak once a quarter to drive 10 new qualified leads into my pipeline’.

Don’t forget to get crystal clear on you – why you want to achieve something, and what message you want to promote. People want to buy from you, they want to hear your unique viewpoint.

Here’s the one thing you won’t hear from almost all the branding experts….. ‘be yourself’.  If you want your work and message to be sustainable and congruous and list buildable…. then know thyself. Play up the quirks or differences and use to your advantage. Start becoming smarter about your brand, so you know how to position yourself for maximizing everything. You can have an impact on other people’s perceptions when you learn how to play smarter.

#8 Work With the End in Mind.

Knowing #10 and #9 above, you can now work backwards, especially if you have dates. Write down key milestones that are part of your end goal, and attached dates to those as well.

Too often we have that ‘idea’ of what we want, but don’t color it in and then bring it to life so it’s in front of our mind as a target we are headed for every day. To move a wish and idea from the ‘wish category’ to real life ‘I’ve got to achieve this’ category it must become 3 dimensional with dates and details; it must be brought to life. It’s those fine details that separate a work of art from scribble.

#7. Do a Brand Assessment: id and target your message.

Now that you know where you want to go, what you want to achieve and why, and hopefully what you stand for or what differentiates you, go through all of your key profile pages: linkedin, facebook, twitter, youtube, association directory profiles, elevator pitches, etc and look at what you need to do to start bringing them current, or making them consistent / complimentary to your brand, or more relevant. For more info on doing your own Brand Assessment, read more in the 2nd half of this related post.

This means updating your picture, completing your profile with the right tagline, descriptions, and keywords.  Update your e-media page with press release links & social media profiles. Update your bio and your ‘About Me’ page. Freshen up all the content on your website.  If you need help or a fresh set of eyes – contact me!

Additional ideas:  Get a makeover and update your look, Claim google authorship, get yourself on business and speaking directories, Reach out to your list and start connecting!

#6 Id Your Niche & Target Persona.

As emerging speakers, most of us just want to get in front of as many people to hone our skills. Darren LaCroix says ‘stage time, stage time, stage time’ for good reason. As a recovering perfectionist, I used to think your message had to be all ironed out, with your pitches / presentations perfect. No. Nope. Not at all. Why? Because when starting out you are not really sure of yourself, what preparation tasks work best for you, what other techniques work best for you, etc.

BUT! If you want to make the most of all that speaking and build a momentum that astounds you – understand your ‘niche’ – aka define your audience to a small set of qualifiers.  Who do you most understand? Relate to? Have an ability to reach? Are on the same wavelength with? Start there. It’s not just men, women, kids, but: specific age groups, specific jobs types, hobby interests, etc. ‘Women’ is not niche enough. Single women, aged 35-45, with 2 or more children in grade school, is much more specific.

Getting to this level of granularity helps you with the right language, getting in front of the right groups, and people, and having the people you are most comfortable speaking with, right in front of you so you can speak heart to heart. I have a persona template in the Speakers Toolbox that will help.  If you then target the groups / associations / clubs etc. that have more of your target, then your conversion rates will be higher, you will be more relevant, and will most likely get more positive reviews, followers, and referrals.

Your different keynotes, seminars, workshops, presentations may appeal to different targets, and may be able to be customized for different markets.  Doing so will help you make each delivery more successful, instead of having them as one size fits all.

#5 Update Your Keynote.

You’ve updated your message, and possibly your social media, and identified your targets. Then you shouldn’t neglect your keynotes and other presentations.

All of your topics could be tweaked, but you don’t have to do all of that now. Be on the lookout for updated stats, new humor, more relevant stories, etc. and start collecting things in a folder or useful space.  Work on titles – make them more engaging, add more of a hook to grab your audience before you even speak. Modify the colors and graphics in your presentation to be more consistent with your brand, your website, your other materials. Update your stories and anecdotes.

#4 Productivity Enhancers / Time Savers.

Since your 2014 is going to be a success, it will help now to start getting ready for the success.

  • Start a stories / anecdote file and start listing helpful stories and anecdotes that may come in handy. Capture some the key details and points, and whatever you may need to help you recall.  Mark which topics they would be applicable to, etc. (A template of this stories file is in the Speaker’s Toolbox, but it’s easy enough to make your own).
  •  Set up a keywords, key phrases, and tags list for quick use.  As you use them, mark in the list where, how, when you used them, and / or when you implemented them.
  • Set up income and expense sheet, and at the very least, start tracking all of your expenses and mileage.  (An extensive tracking sheet and invoice template is in the Speaker’s Toolbox, but you can easily create a quick sheets in excel or Quickbooks). Regarding an invoice, even if you do free speaking events, get in the habit of preparing an invoice, and applying a ‘non profit or educational or partnership credit to ‘zero out’ the balance due.  But you can have your fee there, as well as travel expenses so all your ‘clients’ understand the value of what they are getting.
  • Set up and create a list of leads, media contacts, or even set up and use a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tool such as ZohoCRM (free) or Nimble or any other.  It helps with tracking contents, progress, and ‘deals’ among other info.
  • Create a  Content plan / editorial scheduler (in the Toolbox, but can be created) to help you when you hit a writer’s block, but more importantly, helps you stick to a consistent delivery of content. Also, believe it or not, helps you with engaging with your followers.

#3 Build Some Lead Momentum.

There are many tools you can use to start capturing some leads and filling in that leads sheet you created in the above step.

Using the  Encyclopedia of Associations, Reference USA database, the Book of Lists or the Phila / South Jersey Business Journal, or writer’s market book in your library, you can identify the leads that most closely relate to your target markets.  The bigger the list you create, the easier it will be to send out pitches, requests, and proposals, not only for speaking opportunities, but to also be featured in the associations’ or groups’ newsletters or publications.   Your goal is to send out 3 query emails by the end of the year or end of January.  I am doing all of this to get more speaking opportunities for Bureau members by meeting with most local groups face to face, but if you want to speed up your opportunities – jump on in!

#2 Work on building your list.

Your list is the start of your funnel – your opportunity list for future sales of your books, information products, and tickets to your seminars. Building this list, and staying in front of them with relevant, periodic emails / newsletters, helps you stay ‘top of mind’.

You can do this even without a website (though website is highly recommended). So how do you do this if you don’t yet have a website? 2 ways:  Linkedin and Mailchimp.  Mailchimp will allow you to create a signup page that you can give out, or use as a link in your signature line in emails.  Linkedin allows you to export your contacts into excel, which can then be uploaded into Mailchimp (or any other email system).   You can create a list collection tool in Facebook thru a Mailchimp app, or you can create just a landing page with a video.

More on this in a future post, but the goal here is to focus on building your connections and your lists.

#1 Identify Partners and Influencers.

It’s been said that the key to your success is within your top 3-5 contacts.   It could be someone in the Bureau, or currently within your network, or someone you follow.  The goal is to start identifying individuals who offer complimentary services, topics, products, or those who you aspire to be like, the possibilities are endless.  Add to your network, starting interacting and engaging, and begin a list of people who might be able to help you reach your goals this year. As a starter, you have everyone in the Emerging Speakers Bureau!

When you start operating from a business mindset, you will find opportunities and possibilities around every corner.

It is all about your Marketing in 2014, Smart Marketing. People cannot hire you if they cannot find you.  If they find you but there’s no ‘social proof’, and you haven’t worked to build your ‘social currency’, then a referral to you might not be followed through by an event planner. The more of an ‘audience’ you build and connect with, the better that is for your results and in demonstrating your credibility and skill.

How can the Emerging Speakers Bureau help you? Which of these top 10 will you start working on? Ask your questions below or email me!  Each of these tips will become a subsequent post with more details, but there’s enough here to keep you busy for awhile!


To your speaking success,



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5 Responses to “10 Tips to Build Your Speaking Success in 2014”

  1. Victor
    December 24, 2013 at 2:07 am #

    That is one HECK of a list of tips! Someone would have to read five top-level books on the business of public speaking to get all that. That was very generous. Thank you

    • Rae-Ann Ruszkowski
      December 24, 2013 at 10:46 am #

      Thanks Victor. For Emerging Speakers, I was trying to identify what’s most important to someone starting out, looking to grow their Speaking opportunities, and tried to identify/list the things that all Speakers have under their control now.

  2. Cynthia A Brown
    December 24, 2013 at 5:51 pm #

    Rae-Ann, this was a very action packed list. You provided specifics for what needs to take place to achieve a particular outcome. I’ve taken the list and made it a to list in my Evernote. Thank you. I’ve been a few things out of order, but I’m glad to basically have a traction with each of the items on your list.

    • Rae-Ann Ruszkowski
      December 25, 2013 at 6:38 pm #

      Thanks Cynthia – I like to make sure everyone has at least one thing they can use from a post.

      Love Evernote!

      So glad to hear you have traction on each of the items, you will definitely be having an incredibly successful 2014 and I cannot wait to hear about it! And as long as you are moving forward with the items, the order of the list is secondary. 10-6 are the most important for the foundation, and the remainder are the consistent actions you take in the order they present themselves and fit into the plan.

  3. Julie
    December 5, 2014 at 7:35 pm #

    1ooo people on my email list?! I’m sure you’re right about that. It takes an enormous amount of promotion to get people to show up at an event.