How to be a successful speaker

Written by Megan MacNeill

How to be a Successful Speaker with Grant Baldwin
June 10, 2020

I chatted to Grant Baldwin about how to be a successful speaker in order to build your personal brand and get known in your industry.

Grant doesn’t just talk about getting on stage, he talks about getting on stage and being paid for it.

Get in touch with Grant here.

And don’t forget to come and say hello to me too.

Keep in touch and send me your questions.

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personal branding podcast

You were listening to personal branding, exposed with my favorite human Megan MacNeill. Each episode, we’ll explore a different area of personal branding and how you can build, maintain, and leverage off your own personal brand. And let’s put it together. Here’s Megan. Hey, thank you so much for joining me for the latest edition of the personal branding exposed podcast.

And I am super excited for today’s. We’re going to be talking about public speaking, which, um, if you know me, you know, I didn’t use to love this. I’m still a bit kind of iffy about it, but I’ll at least do it now. Okay. Because I definitely understand the value of it. So I’m going to be speaking to Grant Baldwin, who is the author of the “Successful Speaker” and he also has the speaker lab. So go and check him out online if you are, if you’re basically me a couple of years ago, going hail, no public speaking. Um, it’s so super important for building your personal brand, but I’m speaking to Grant today because he’s actually built his personal brand around being a public speaker and training up other public speakers, not just to be confident on stage and to get yourself out there, but to do it for money, to actually be able to ask people for money for this. So this is going to be extremely interesting if, for anyone who is wanting to number one, build up their personal brand, but actually wants to make money from doing it. Now I’ll just tell you a funny story. I, um, I never really loved public speaking in school.

And then when I moved over to Australia and we’re talking back in 2012 now, so gosh, eight years ago, I had, um, my first, uh, farmers Federation conference that I was running and my president at the time deal park gets you. I’m blaming you for this. He went AWOL. He was meant to be my MC and he was meant to be, um, present. Well, it was meant to basically introduce the next speaker and he weren’t able, we went and took a phone call. That man was always on the phone. He was very much in demand. So he’s probably doing an interview or something. No idea what it was doing, but it still has fault. Anyway. I had to get up there and I had to introduce the next speaker and I got heckled. Can you believe it? They actually heckled me. So there’s me fresh off the boat. My Scottish accent, much stronger than it probably is now. And the hair called me. They wanted subtitles. Can you believe it? But anyway, that’s my story. Um, so yes, let’s get down to it. Let’s hear from grant.

Hey Grant. Thanks so much for joining me on the podcast. How are you? Doing quite well, Megan, thanks for letting me hang out with you. No worries. It looks nice and sunny where you are just there. Yeah. Well, let’s see here. You were on different sides of the world, so, uh, I’m starting my day. You’re finishing your day. So sun sun’s coming up over here. Oh, I sure I’m about to get a cup of tea and finished reading your book as well. Good. Very cool. All right. For those of my audience that don’t actually know who you are grant, can you tell them what problem you solve? What is it you do? Yeah, so I work with, I run a training company for speakers called the speaker lab, or we teach speakers how to find a book speaking gig. So, uh, I, myself as a, a, a full time speaker for many, many years, did hundreds and hundreds of gigs and had a lot of people who were asking me like, Hey, I want to be speaker, how would I go about doing that? I would find that there’s, there’s certainly people who want to maybe listening right now or watching who they want to be full time speakers. And they want to, they want to do 40, 50, 60, 70, a hundred gigs a year. And others are like, I don’t know that I want to do that many, but I enjoy speaking, speaking is a lot of fun. And I wouldn’t mind doing, you know, two, three, four, five gigs here or there as a supplement or as an addition to my business. But I just don’t know. How do you find those gigs and how do you book them and who’s in charge and how much do you charge and that sort of thing. And so that’s a, that’s what we do now. That’s what we, we teach speakers how to do.

Awesome that I’ve started reading your book. So I know a little bit about your story, but can you tell the audience how you got into this in the first place? Yeah. So if we go way back in time, um, in high school, I was really involved in my local church and my youth pastor had a really big impact in my life. And, uh, so that really resonated with me. I was like, I want to do that. That seems cool. And so. That was kind of the path I was on. So I eventually, I worked at a different church as a youth pastor. I had a lot of opportunities to speak. Um, and I just kinda felt like this is, this is really fun. I really enjoy this. I felt like I was decent at it and wanted to do more of it. But like I was kind of saying earlier, uh, I just had no idea where to get started. You know, how do you find gigs and how does this world work? And so I started basically like stocking a bunch of other speakers and emailing them and just peppering them with questions. Uh, and just trying to figure out like, how, how does this thing work? How do you actually book gigs and eventually booked a couple of gigs and, and rolled that into more gigs and more gigs more gigs, cause to the point where eventually I was doing about 70 speaking gigs a year. And so, uh, and then, like I said, I had a lot of people who are asking me like, Hey, I want to be a speaker. How would I go about doing that? And so, um, and so now we’ve started we’re on the more, the teaching and training side of, of the speaking industry.

Yeah. Awesome. Now I like, I keep saying, I’ve started your book already and you’ve really gone into, you know, picking your sector, picking your industry, picking your topic and stuff like that. Now I’m in personal branding. So that’s something I’m always going on about is having each have a niche, you know, like watch your thing and you can talk to everyone. You can only talk to one person who would that person be? So I love how there’s that crossover. Can you talk a little bit about the importance of being able to public? Well, not just being able to speak publicly, but public speaking on personal brand building hand-in-hand. Yeah. Well, as far as like the problem solving part of it goes you’re exactly right. That a lot of people who just enjoy speaking, try to spread the net as far and wide as possible. The more people I can speak to, the more problems I can solve, the more opportunities I will have. And the reality is the opposite is the case. Like the more narrow, the more specific, the more focused you are, they actually, the easier it is to be able to find a book gigs. And so one of the things that we, we talk a lot about is that you want to make sure that you’re positioning yourself as the steakhouse and not the buffet, the steakhouse, not the buffet, meaning that if, you know, if you’re looking for a good steak, like you could go to a buffet where steak is one of a hundred different things that they offer and they’re all mediocre, or you could go to a steakhouse or they do one thing, but they do that one thing really, really, really well. So. They don’t do lasagna. They don’t do tacos. They don’t do cupcakes. They don’t do pizza. They do steak and that’s it. And so it makes it easier to attract the right type of clients or customers, and also repel the wrong type of customers or clients. Uh, and so sometimes we think, but, but you know, if I do stay, but then that limits me. It’s like, good. That’s what you want to do. Right. So for example, with what we do with the speaker lab, There’s a lot of people who are interested in speaking, who are also interested in numerous other things, you know, like you mentioned related to personal branding, whether that’s writing a book or doing a course or podcasting or course, or, or, uh, um, uh, YouTube videos or social media marketing or whatever, you know, and, and the list goes on and on and on. And so hypothetically, what if we do this well, what if we do this, we can also help with this. And, and like, you start to expand to the point where it’s like, you, you do all of these things, but you’re mediocre at all of them versus saying like, no, we help speakers book gigs. We’re really, really good at that. And that’s all we do versus trying to be all things for all people. So that’s the, and again, this isn’t exclusive to just speakers. This is for any personal brand of not trying to do all the things, but solving one specific problem for one specific person.

Oh, completely. Cause all you start doing is diluting yourself and then you’re no use to anyone and I think that’s really important, but it’s like your, you know, your, um, the buffet that you’re talking about. You can pay a premium for steak. Well, not obviously you do for steak, but you pay a premium for having something specific that you want and a problem that you want solved. Whereas if you get a little bit of everything, you know what I mean? You don’t get anything for that. So I think it goes hand in hand with that as well. So I want to dig into your personal brand a little bit, just with some easy questions. Where are we likely to find you online? Where’d you like hanging out? Where’s your go to place?

I am on line some, uh, not, uh, not a massive amount. Um, I’ll find myself scrolling through Instagram or Facebook. Um, but, uh, I don’t do much with Twitter. Um, so I’d, I’d say probably Instagram or Facebook. Uh, if we’re talking social media stuff, Oh, yeah, I’m the same. I get lost in Instagram. You start scrolling you’re on holiday, then you’re looking at dogs and yeah, you can’t, you can’t go down that, uh, that rabbit hole real quickly, completely. Um, where are you in the real world? Where’d you like to hang out? Uh, and the real world I’d spent a lot of time at home. So at the time of this recording, we’re, uh, the, the world’s somewhat under quarantine. And so this isn’t a bad gig for us. So I work from home. Um, my wife homeschools our daughters, and so, uh, we’re, we’re both fairly introverted. So, uh, this is not a bad gig right now. Just being a big home with the family. Yeah, definitely. No. So you, um, you homeschool anyway, that’s that’s normal life for you guys. It is. It is. Yeah. Yeah. My wife’s been homeschooling for like six, seven years now. So, uh, obviously a lot of the world right now has suddenly overnight, more or less tried to figure out how to homeschool and, and maybe even been forced into it. And so we’ve been doing this for, um, uh, for several years. So, uh, we’re by no means any expert, but, uh, she certainly figured out a few things that work.

Oh, yeah, definitely. Um, and that, that brings me back to something else. You’re a introvert, which is possible. People will find that a little bit interesting. Considering public speaking is your thing. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. In fact, um, I think a lot of times this is kind of a misconception that people assume in order to be a speaker, you have to be this big extrovert. You have to be this life of the party. Uh, you have to be like this, this big charismatic personality. And the reality is, is that you don’t. In fact, most speakers that I know are actually relatively introverted, meaning that we like people. I enjoy being around people, but it’s also, it can be tiring and draining. And so I also have zero problem, you know, right now I’m home and my home office, I have zero problem being here all day and not getting out. Now I know, like I got to interact with people and, and that’s, that’s a that’s part of life, but, um, uh, don’t feel like you have to be something that you’re not in order to be a speaker. You don’t have to be some, you know, again, big, larger than life, personality or extrovert in order to be a speaker. Yeah, no, that’s interesting. Did you work with many people who put their hands up and go, I don’t want to public speak and you can actually mold them into that or is it something you’ve got to want to do? Yeah, you absolutely want to do it. You know, so for example, my wife, she hates the idea of public speaking. So she’s like, Hey, you go do your thing, but there’s zero chance. I’m going to get up there and that’s fine. You know, if someone’s not interested in speaking, you know, it’s still, still fairly common that, that, um, uh, the majority of people are scared of public speaking. So if. Public speaking terrifies you, then that’s fine. You don’t have to do it. Right. So it’s kinda like, um, I’ll give an example. I remember a couple years ago there there’s a, a friend of mine who was, um, kind of this real estate investing, um, experts. And, uh, I remember asking him was that, Hey, if I wanted to get into real estate, there’s all these different in terms of real estate investing, there’s all these different options. Um, And I remember talking about like, you know, you have, you have single family, you have duplexes, you have multifamily of apartments, you have storage units, you have commercial, you have, um, Airbnb and just like on and on and on the list goes right. And I remember saying like, okay, I have all these different options, which one is best. And I remember he said, yes, It’s like, there’s no best option, you know? So meaning that for us as like personal brands, you can, you could do speaking, you could do a book, you could do coaching, you could do consulting. You do a course, you do a podcast, you could do YouTube. Like you can do. There’s not like a right or wrong combination. So in order to be a personal brand, do you have to speak? No, you certainly don’t have to. There’s a lot of pros to it. And I’m a little biased that yes. Speaking is really, really, really valuable. But do you have to speak? No, of course not. And the same way that, like, do you have to do a book? No. Do you have to do a quick, no, you don’t have to do any of these things. Like you can, you can find personal brands that have a different combination of things that they do and they can all work. They all make sense. A lot of it just depends on what your goals are. So, yeah, I think speaking is really, really, really valuable, but if you hate the idea of speaking, then you don’t have to be a speaker. Oh and you wouldn’t be alone.

Oh, did I read recently? 75% of people. That’s their biggest fear is public speaking. So yeah, it’s a, it’s a it’s way up there for a lot of people. Um, but there’s also, there’s the difference between like, you know, I think sometimes people can kind of confuse that fear with excitement or adrenaline. Right. So, um, so, so speakers who still feel like nerves before they speak, you know, and I’m that same way. Like a lot of speakers feel that, does that mean that that speaking is a bad thing or it’s a negative thing or that they should do? No, not at all. It’s just, that’s kind of the, the body’s reaction that what you’re doing matters, that this is significant. This is important. I’d be, I’d be more concerned for speaker. They’re like, ah, Feel anything I’m just going to like this, this soul is person of their onstage. Like that’s not going to be good for anybody, but if you’re, if you’re feeling like, you know, I’m really excited about this. Yeah. I feel some nerves, but that’s, that’s not necessarily a negative thing. Or it means that that, that you shouldn’t be doing this. Uh, it just means that it’s your body’s reaction like this, this is a big deal. This is significant. Yeah. No, definitely.

Right. Let’s get back to you grant. If you had to eat the same meal for the rest of your life, what would that meal be? Uh, ice cream, maybe. I don’t know. Um, I do love me some ice cream. Um, I love, uh, I love sandwiches. Um, Oh, just a good like steak and potatoes. Uh, so I don’t know, you’re making me hungry. Um, I’m throwing out a whole bunch of different options. I like the ice cream version because my dad is a big ice cream guy and he recognized that ice cream fixes everything. So when I was growing up, you know, if you got sore throat ice cream store, head ice cream, missing something. Oh, ice cream heartbreak. Oh, ice cream. Yes, totally. He is a wise man. Very wise, man, I write grant. What is your favorite book? Um, I’m biased right now. Um, let me let browse the shelves here. Uh, there’s a book I really liked that came out, um, several years ago called rework by Jason fried. And I really liked that one, that those guys run a, um, a software company called base camp. Um, and, uh, I really liked the way that they think about business and that they, you know, when you, when you are building a business, you get to make the rules of the game. You get to design. What success looks like you get designed how the rules are, how the rules of the game are played. Uh, and so I think they, they do a good job of doing things in an unconventional way, meaning that, you know, you don’t have to, you don’t have to kill yourself to be successful. You don’t have to work, you know, 70, 80, 90, a hundred hours a week. You don’t have to have massive amounts of stress or you don’t have to. I have this like Silicon Valley approach of I’m just going to, um, run, run, run, run, run until I burn out. Like, they’re just like, Hey, we’re in this for the long haul. Uh, and so the, some of the things that they do are a bit more unconventional, but it really that, that book, a lot of the ideas and just kind of how they run their company, uh, really resonates with me.

Awesome. What is one word that you overuse? That’s a tough one. I don’t know if I’ve been asked that before a word I overuse. Um, uh, this is going to be a random one. Goose will mix. Let me explain. Okay. So, uh, our youngest daughter, um, she’s nine. Our nickname for her is goose and she is the, uh, she has the most energy. Of anyone in our house of all, uh, everybody else combined, um, at some we’re always having to get onto her. So I’d have to say goose quite a bit.

Awesome. And my word is awesome as you’ve probably picked up 10 times already. Um, what is one word that your friends and family would use to describe you? Um, um, I think they would describe me as a, uh, a hard worker. Um, I think my wife and daughters would say that, um, my family would say that, um, like I, I pride myself in working hard and, and wanting to provide a good life for my family. And, um, if we all have to work, we all have to make a living. We all have to do something. Uh, I’d rather do something that I enjoy and I really genuinely enjoy what I get to do. I enjoy helping speakers. Um, and so, um, yeah, we’ll, we’ll go with hardworking. No, I like that. I am, I follow you on Instagram. And I see a lot of very family focused and a lot of the book and sort of helping people. So yeah, I would, um, not knowing you, I would agree that that’s a, that’s a good word for you.

Cool. So, grant, um, you touched on it earlier, we’re in the middle of. COVID-19 Corona virus, whatever you’re calling it. And, um, hopefully if some people are listening, we in the future, it’s a distant memory. But for those that are listening just now and they are wanting to pursue, uh, a public speaking carreer or make it part of their personal brand, what are some tips and tricks suggestions that they should maybe be doing at the moment? Cause most stages are closed at the moment. Yeah. You’re exactly right. Like at the time of this recording, like for the most part, most events just aren’t happening. Right. We’re doing a lot of the social distancing. We’re doing a lot of the quarantine. Everyone’s kind of staying at home. Uh, and so, uh, events just aren’t taking place right now, but here’s the thing that I’ve noticed. A couple things. One is that, uh, even though events may not be happening today at the time of this recording, like you said, at some point in the future, we don’t know if that’s going to be the near future, the distant future, but at some point in the future, we will get back to this will pass and we’ll get back to life as normal. And so, because of that, uh, there’s always going to be events that are still looking for speakers. So I was talking with an event planner the other day. Uh, and he is planning on, uh, a, um, a conference from several months from now. And he said, Hey, as, as who knows, what’s going to happen between now and then, but as of now, I still have a conference to plan and I still need speakers. And so there’s still a lot of events that are still looking for speakers, uh, that, that, that. A need what it is that we offer. Um, the other thing I would say is that the speaking industry is one that has been around literally for, for, uh, decades and decades and decades. It’s gone through recessions on nine 11 and other, you know, crazy situations. Uh, and there’s weather, those storms. And again, obviously this is unlike anything we’ve really ever seen before, but, uh, the speaking industry has a lot of resilience, especially on the other side of this, where we all have all been quarantined. I think people even more sure going to be looking for that human connection, where we’re looking forward to giving someone a hug, we’re looking forward to giving someone a high five or a handshake. And, uh, on the other side of that, the, the, the, uh, live events and speakers will really serve a, a real need and helping and providing a real solution to the need that, that people have right now of, of, uh, coming out of this. And so, um, yeah, so it’s, it’s certainly weird right now, but I know I’m super confident that events, uh, are still. Happening in the future will continue to happen in the future. And we’ll always have a need for speakers. Yeah, I think you’re right. And just, you know, you touch on it in the book quite a bit as well about storytelling. And that’s essentially what you’re doing when you are public speaking, your story everyone’s story is different and your topics different, et cetera, but that’s what people need. And we need that more than ever right now. And people need a direction, the needs, a little bit stability. They need answers. And I guess we’re operating in fear a little bit at the moment. So if there’s someone that can stand up and actually give you some security and direction, you’re going to listen. And I guess. And the platform’s changed just now. There’s not, you know, we’re not physically meeting in stages and stuff, but are you finding that there’s a lot of public speakers are turning their skillset into virtual they’re, you know, they’re doing it through different means at the moment. Yeah. There are certainly people who are doing more virtually and I think that that’s fine. Um, I think virtual is a good supplement. I don’t think it’ll ever be a replacement for a live in person events, but right now, one of the things that we’ve been telling the speakers and that one of the things we’re seeing. Is that, um, whatever an event had hired a speaker for, if the event is not happening, it doesn’t necessarily, it doesn’t mean that the need or the solution that the speakers are going to be providing as all of a sudden gone away.

Right. So for example, if you were, you know, if you were going to go speak at a, uh, a, um, a sales conference and you’re teaching salespeople how to improve their selling skills, uh, and all of a sudden that event isn’t happening, it doesn’t mean that all of a sudden, they magically got better at selling, right. So they still have that need. And speaking on an alive event just happened to be the medium that you were going to be delivering that solution in. So now it’s up to us as speakers and as personal brands to look for other ways that we can provide, uh, that help or that support. And so there are certainly a lot of people who are doing, um, uh, who are delivering. Presentations or trainings through a virtual means. It’s obviously it’s a, it’s a different context than being in person. And so a lot of strictures trying to figure that out, what that looks like a lot of, uh, uh, clients and customers and events are trying to figure that out right now as well. So we’re all trying to figure this out, uh, of what this looks like. So, yeah, I think it’s a good, uh, I think it’s a good short term way to continue to offer solutions and support, but longterm, I don’t think it’ll ever replace actual live events. Oh, no, never. It’s the same with networking. You mean I’m trying to do as much virtual networking at the moment, but it totally doesn’t. Um, you know, it doesn’t replace. No, because as humans, we just want to be around other humans, you know, introvert or not, you still need other humans around you, so, correct.

That’s interesting. Well, thank you so much, Grant. I’ve really enjoyed talking to you and I’m going to finish off your book this evening. So I will, um, I’ll let everyone know more about that. Can you just let everyone know where they can find you what’s your web address and your handles, et cetera? Yeah, so everything we do is If you’re interested in speaking at all, whether you want to speak full time or speak a little bit here on the side, uh, there’s a ton of free resources over there. So definitely check that out. We have a podcast by the same name, the speaker lab podcast. Uh, yeah. And, and I think on Instagram, I think I’m at G Baldwin. Uh, Twitter is grant Baldwin. Um, so yeah, anything we can do to help serve support you, please don’t hesitate to reach out, let me know. Thanks so much grant. And I’m going to put them in the show notes for those to actually read them as well. Cool. Thanks man. Appreciate it. Hopefully you took away something from that grant is awesome. If you have any questions about public speaking, um, he’s your guy definitely get in touch with him or check out his social media to handles as we just discussed. Um, if you enjoyed this episode, please check out another one or leave me a rating that would be really appreciated. We’re on the seventh day. So at the moment and I’m still growing it and still building things up I’m so it means a lot. And if you can check me out on social media, if you’ve got any questions, head there, leave them with me. And I hopefully I’ll answer them for you until next time. Catch you soon.

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