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Public Speaking: We Promise You Won't Die

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Erik Deckers and Kyle Lacy cover everything you need to know about public speaking, from learning how not to burst into flames from nervousness to identifying speaking opportunities to actually giving your talk.

Case Study: Hazel Walker, The Queen of Networking

Hazel is a good friend of ours, and she's the Queen of Networking. She owns the Indiana franchise of Business Network International, and she's a highly sought after speaker. We won't say how much she earns speaking each year, but she has a winter Lexus and a summer Lexus. We both look up to her for inspiration on how to grow our own speaking careers, so we're glad to give her a little space here to tell us how she got started.

  • I was forced to learn to be a public speaker. I believe that you must learn more to earn more, and speaking was one of those things I had to learn.
  • It became clear to me after I bought my BNI franchise that I was going to do more and more speaking. Even if it was only in front of my BNI chapters, it was important that I present my very best self. So the first thing I did was join a local Toastmasters group. Toastmasters is all about learning how to speak well—the technical aspects of speaking, and helping you overcome bad habits—which is what I needed. Toastmasters is where I honed my skills.
  • To learn and practice, I began taking free speaking engagements around town; then I started landing small paid speaking engagements. Once that started happening, I decided it was time to join the National Speakers Association since I knew that I wanted to be in the business of professional speaking.
  • ALL of my business comes to me by referral. I turn to my international network and ask for referrals, I go to my local network and ask for referrals, and I ask my clients for referrals. I have also landed several clients from my Linkedin account and one or two from my Twitter account.
  • Today I do not speak for free. I ask everyone I speak for to at least make a donation to my favorite charity. This allows me to help my charity of choice, allows me to help those who want me to speak, and shows respect for my profession.
  • The most important thing about being a good speaker is being GOOD at it. Learn what you need to learn to be speak effectively.
  • Connect with your audience. I rarely ever use presentation software since it does not really connect to the people there to hear you. Get connected to the people who organize and attend; ask for referrals.
  • If you speak for free, ask the organizers to write you a testimonial and put it on your LinkedIn account.
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