I am trying to be the Michael Phelps of public speaking. Today concluded the first of 11 talks in 14 days. This is going to be NUTS! I’m already so tired. I had to wake up at 6am, drive 3.5 hours from Houston to Longview, TX, do two talks, only to get up and do two more talks tomorrow starting at 9:15am. I will be on a plane or driving almost every day until September. On second thought, maybe I’m more like The Fugitive of public speaking!
My keynote went well, but I am 99% sure I’m going to make some drastic changes very soon. It’s not doing what I need it to do anymore. I was glad to get it where it is, but it’s definitely time to change. It’s gotta get better, more personal to my life, more interactive with the audience. At dinner tonight (I’ll share this in a minute), I told my guest that every time I’m on stage, I’m practicing for my $25k speech. When I get to that level, I’ll be speaking for audiences of thousands in big arenas and will be absolutely killing it on stage. It’s going to happen. I just have to be prepared so that when that day comes, I will be ready to step up and wreck shop, like I had been doing it for years. I hope you see the lesson in this. I’m way too tired to explain it if you don’t.
The audience was comprised of people from school districts around Texas. The room had concrete floors and orange flood lights. Not the ideal speaking environment at all. They barely laughed at most of my jokes. I changed my game around mid-talk and decided to be more serious. However, even when I was introduced, my host bragged about how ‘funny and light-hearted’ my message was. A little more research about what they wanted me to do and WHY they booked ME would have helped me understand how I was going to be judged. Side note: motivation is cool, but it’s easy to get pigeonholed into being seen as just that. People remember most what they see first. Mixing motivaiton with actual solutions is the only way to go if you want to get rebooked.
I almost thought I was stuck, but I switched gears again and went from serious to intense, getting in their faces, putting my hands on their shoulders as I walked by and gazing deeply into their eyes as I made a point. It worked better because I was then able to implement pauses, which can be followed by a whisper (for intensity) or a wise crack (for humor). I won them back with the story about my mom. It’s killer. Still though, I’m looking for an audience participation moment in that slot.
I did a workshop afterward on “How to Prosper Under Pressure.” It was interesting because it turned into a goal setting/motivation workshop. I was stunned. Many felt that they couldn’t set goals because they had too many responsibilities and couldn’t responsibly drop everything and pursure their passions in life. Some said they were too busy taking care of others so they couldn’t do anything for themselves. One said she knew what she wanted but didn’t want to put forth the effort. One lady straight up said, “I’m too old.” This kind of feedback was priceless. It will provide me some great material for my next book. It’s becoming very clear.
I’m not going to tell the whole story for interest of time, but I had dinner with Mychal Wynn. To give you an idea of what this meant to me, I read his book Empowering African American Men to Succeedwhen I was in college. It saved me out of a pit that I was in at the time. To meet him face to face was a blessing. To share the platform with him as another featured speaker was a sign that I have risen to a level greater than even I knew. Mychal is the top expert in African American Male achievement. He’s an incredibly gracious man, but he’s big time. No doubt. Sitting across from him at dinner, I felt like P Diddy sitting next to Quincy Jones. Big Bank looked like Little Bank compared to someone who has a legacy, not a few good speeches under his belt.
Of everything I took from him, I was happiest to hear that he has been married for 21 years and that his wife runs his business. It gives me hope! It CAN happen! I will alway remember how much he stressed that it’s always about the people, not the profit. Money comes from being excellent at serving people. He said he and his wife had to make a conscious decision about how big they wanted to be. Now, they know their model and their market and they’re making LOTS of money because of it. What a guy.