We have heard guest after guest, talk about the importance of getting outside your comfort zone and taking immediate action. This August, I forced myself to get comfortable with being uncomfortable, so that I could put a check mark next to some big goals I had for 2017, including delivering my first public talk at Podcast Movement 2017.
In today’s conversation, I share three practical steps that helped me [and can help you too if you apply them] to organize my thoughts, deliver a confident and fun talk, that impacted my audience and has been generating tons of positive engagement almost 3 weeks after.
Connect with Stephen:
So I've talked with so many listeners this year and I feel that we're on this journey together and I often share that this podcast has been another degree for me. All the wisdom and knowledge I've gained from some 80+ amazing folk has been just incredible.
So as most of you know, Trailblazers is a side hustle for me. I work full time for a small software firm doing Marketing & Communications. Day to day, I'm doing the roes that 4 or 5 people would do in a larger company. I pretty much manage all events management and logistics for several worldwide exhibitions each year, plus other live events. I manage all digital marketing, from web to email and marketing automation and the part I enjoy most, branding. Over the past couple years, I've helped re-brand this company bit by bit and I've learned a ton. I re did their corporate brand identity and I'm now helping to rebrand their products and marketing message, and striving to make the messaging clear and direct and valuable. It's a lot, but I've learned that the money and the return is in the analysis of our data, but my passion is still in the brand. And I still firmly believe, the brand is the first thing that brings in your ideal audience.
In fact, when I decided to start Trailblazers, I wanted to really have a brand that would pop, and have people loving what they saw whenever they'd encounter Trailblazers. As that's exactly what's happened. So barely a week goes by now, without someone sending me a message or telling me that they love the look and feel of our website or my business card or some element of the brand.
But as the months would go by and I'd meet individuals out and about, or I'd receive pitches via email for guest appearances on the show, I noticed that a number of folks would be missing the mark with their own personal brand and digital footprint. I can't tell you how many people reach out, telling me they're the go to for X, but then I google them, and nothing would come up that's meaningful or memorable. Listen, if your aim is to be the go to expert for your industry, the first step you MUST absolutely take today, is ensuring that google backs up what you're saying about yourself. It's 2017, almost 2018 and you've got to tell your story online, starting right now.
So you hear my passion even right now about the importance of your personal brand and so many people lacking a good brand presence, so it didn't take me long to connect the dots, realizing my purpose beyond just interviewing folks for the podcast, but to help you and them to become the Trailblazers you really are. Again, branding and marketing isn't new to me. I've built so many brands and websites for others over the years and helped develop marketing strategies for businesses and individuals large and small.
But over the past several months I've been hard at work, in the very slim margins of time after work, after my responsibilities to Kristin and the kids, after I do all I got to do for the podcast, to build something around helping individuals specifically, to build their personal brand.
Truth is I'm seeking more out of my own life's meaning in doing this. I'm dying to grow, to stretch myself, to help others and specifically, to improve your life's outcome, each and every one of you that plug in your ear buds and hit play and listen to my content. It's my goal, my mission, to change your life.
I really think that whether you're a corporate professional, a creative, a coach, consultant, an author, an entrepreneur or whatever else, you MUST absolutely present yourself and ensure you've put your best foot forward online. You must have a website, and be on at least one social media platform, if not 2 or 3, and in at least one place online, you need to begin engaging and establishing a respected following for what it is you've said you're good at. The digital optics are everything in 2018 and beyond. Whether it's for a new employer looking at your profile and searching you online to see what they can learn about you, or Oprah's team checking you out for a story. Listen, if that stuff is noticed by an itty bitty podcaster like me, just imagine the impact of that stuff on large corporations, and traditional media, with book publishers and others who would like to somehow partner with and work with you.
Last December, we aired an episode with Lucinda Cross [a really dope conversation that you should go back and check out if you missed it ... ep 47]
But Lucinda introduced me to getting my goals up visually on a vision board. And so, I did my first vision board for 2017. I have to tell you it's been pretty amazing. I've still got work to do to hit all my goals for 2017, but at the beginning of the year, I knew that to hit one of my 10 year goals of becoming an international speaker and best selling author by the year 2026, I needed to get up on stage and begin talking and giving value to others. I wrote down that I'd secure and deliver 3 speaking engagements in 2017. And it's really interesting the way our minds work. When you've set goals, and esp when you do this on a vision board where it's staring back at you all the time, your brain goes to work trying to remind you of the checklist of things that need to happen to achieve those goals. So as we got into 2017, I was on this mission. I had to get 3 speaking engagements.
Now despite my being a thespian at an early age, and performing as a lead in a stage play before 1,000s when I was maybe 12, I had grown out of my comfort with crowds, having run a home based business for almost 7 years. Today, if I get up to talk in front of even a dozen people at work, my voice can sometimes crack, though I usually get it together pretty quickly and allow my heart and knowledge to take over.
So I gave Podcast Movement a go. I sent my pitch in and guess what? I got accepted. As the months passed, I got excited and nervous and all the feelings in between. Yes, I'm a podcaster and I speak to nearly a thousand people every week, but I don't see you guys. As my kids like to say, Daddy's just talking to himself in the basement. which is sorta true. Right now, I'm recording this episode at 11:30pm on a rainy Wednesday night. There's no eyes looking at me, my heart is still, my palms are dry.
But together, we have both heard guest after guest, talk about the importance of getting outside of your comfort zone and taking immediate action. My comfort zone in my basement chair, talking into a mic, would have to get stretched if I was going to begin checking off some goals.
And so I began working on this very first public talk. So I wanted to share with you, the 3 things or steps that I believe helped me most. If you're planning to deliver a talk, it's my hope that some or all of these tips would help you in some way.
Step One is being very deliberate in your Planning & Layout -
I must say that I was really challenged and felt stuck for several weeks getting all my thoughts out. When I first found out that I'd have 45 minutes to deliver my talk, I was a little nervous because I thought that was too much time, but then I began playing with topics and realized 45 wasn't nearly enough. And so all these thoughts would flood into my mind nonstop.
And one evening, I'm stuck in rush hour traffic on the way home, and it hit me, and I'm so happy I made a uturn and went straight to staples.
I purchased a big poster board, and a pack of different color sticky notes. I got home, threw the poster board on a wall, and began creating columns that would group topics and sub-topics I wanted to talk about. And so an example of that was my desire to want to share the impact of doing your website, but within that discussion, I wanted to be sure I spoke to SEO, and being mobile responsive, and having high quality images, clean urls, on so on. I was able to again, like I did with my vision board, create a tangible visual of my intended talk.
Step Two involves Writing Out Your Talk
I'm a big believer in writing out what you want to say, exactly how you would want to say it. Some people say that's a waste of time and to just make bullet points, which is cool when you know what you're going to say.
But you often times aren't ready for talking confidently the first few times around from bullets. So write it out and speak it out, which will allow you to optimize your delivery and feel out great places to engage in dialogue with your audience. Only after you've had a chance to flesh out the talk and you know the message you're hoping to get out, then you can begin to prepare your deck, using very easy to understand copy and images.
As you review your copy, images and deck, ask yourself over and over: am I bringing value to my audience in this slide or image or statement? If not, keep working and reworking the content you're delivering.
Step Three is to Practice
Practice - Perfect practice prevents poor performance.
I delivered a 45 minute talk, which initially seemed like too much time, but by time I began writing this thing out and practicing, I realized I had way way too many slides and took too much time. Lucky for me, I had good friends like @aimeejoshua , @donaldckelly and my wfe @kcamhart who helped me polished my content and get it just right.
There's also a lot to be said about learning some effective breathing techniques, knowing a little about your gestures and movement on stage, etc. but for me, the goal was not about me. It was never about me. My mission over the next 10 years, is to help at least 100,000 people to brand, market and grow their amazing personal brand. And if I didn't plan, write and practice this talk over and over and over, I would probably have given in to the cracks in my voice, because I'd have lacked the confidence to get up there.
Truth be told, I was still very nervous up to 5 minutes before getting on stage, in a good way. The breakout session I spoke in, maybe had a capacity of 130 people and I prolly had near to 150 in the room. No seat was empty, folks sat all up and down the aisle and
What are you hesitating about? Are you fearful to share your value with the world?
I know there are a ton of Trailblazers who listen to this episode. You're working your day job, but I know from talking to many of you, that you have a desire to do more. You're driven to do your 9-5, but it's not your passion, it's not what adds joy to your life's bottom line. And my argument is this ... when we get 20-25 years out from now, will you be living in peace or regret?
I challenge you today, to begin building your personal brand and sharing your story. If you need help, I'm here to help you.
Thanks for Listening!
I appreciate you visiting our site today and for listening to this episode.
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