Oh my GOD! This year’s conference was the worst-run conference I have ever attended. I have attended high school conferences that were more organized. I showed up this morning to discover that my name was completely taken off the program list! I am in New Orleans specifically to speak to this organization and my name wasn’t even on their list! The day looked like a disaster before the clock struck 9 o’clock.
When I originally submitted my application, I told them I could speak the entire week, but because they took so long to confirm their workshops, other organizations wanted me on those dates so I reduced my availability down to only Thursday. I sent an email to confirm (again) that I would be speaking exclusively on Thursday and I was assured that it was all good.
I guess not.
They marked me as a no-show because I didn’t arrive to present on Wednesday, as their program book erroneously indicated that I would. What’s worse, I have a reputation at this conference, so people were coming up to me in the halls telling me that there was STANDING ROOM ONLY of over 250 people in my workshop yesterday, filled with people anticipating my session! So now, all these people thought I was a no-show for the entire conference. I was PISSED!
The committee’s compromise was to give me a room of another presenter who cancelled and put up a sign on the door, hoping someone would come in. When I began, I only had five people in the crowd. In my mind, I was trying my hardest not to curse because I was certain that it would come out during my talk! I couldn’t believe that I flew to New Orleans, packed all my products and paid all this money to speak to FIVE FREAKING PEOPLE!
I stayed positive and told the people I was grateful that they chose to attend based on the title alone. I proceeded with the workshop, and low and behold, the Good Lord began to send the flood. By the time I was half way into the session, the seats were nearly filled to capacity! It was like I blinked and people were clamoring for seats on the back row!
What? How did this happen?
It was a magnificent session and I was well-pleased with the way I presented my information with expertise and a mastery of the subject. I was still hot from the day before.
My second session only had seven people in it total because they put me down at the end of a hallway where nobody was. However, the magic happened there too, but on a more intimate level. I gave each one of them the equivalent of a coaching session, guiding them through the process of getting their personal breakthrough. It was more than amazing. I was clearly being used to touch those people. In the end, I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Sometimes, the worst things that happen can give us the best results. In my moment of despair, I remembered a tool that my buddies Kevin and Tom from Swiftkick taught me called Mozes. I should have been using this tool anyhow. Mozes allows you to set up flashmobs, in which you can text message a group of people from your phone all at one time. For example, I could have said, “Folks, text SPRINKLES to 1234 and it will send you an automated message letting you know the room and time of my next workshop.” I could have kept that group with me for the second session had I been thinking on my feet and used that tool. It’s a speaker’s best friend, but only a handful of people even know to use it. That’s why I’m so glad things happened the way they did because I now know a way to get ahead of my competition without having to work very hard to do it. Yeah!
Another key learning point I’m taking away is the power of a title. Because I had the right titles, I was able to attract an audience to me versus having to sell them on my session. They were government workers who were attending a national training conference, so they were looking to get solutions they could take back to their offices. They had to give a report to their supervisors about what they learned. If all my titles were things like How to Find Someone Fine in 2009 or Get Your Miracle in 30 Days or Less, they couldn’t use that in their reports. And most importantly, they couldn’t book me for their agencies later this year! This is a HUGE revelation!
No matter how great the speaker is, someone still has to sell him or her to someone who never heard the speech. Therefore, all they have is the title and the notes from your session to persuade their boss or a committee. A smart speaker considers this when creating their speech titles and the contents of the presentation. Everything about you should say, “This is an easy sell. Your company or organizations needs my solutions.”
I used to do the “cute” titles but now that I know how the game is played, I have totally repositioned myself in the marketplace. Even my title How to Prosper Under Pressure has become How to be Productive Under Pressure. “Prosper” is reminiscent of church and prosperity. Productivity is universal and it solves a problem in the workplace. As one of my mentors, James Malinchak always says, “Don’t do what’s cute, do what sells.” Enough said.
I’m even more tired. After three more hours of talks plus all this stressing out over this foolishness, I’m about to pass out. I’m fighting the “I hate airports, long lines, heavy luggage, public restrooms and fast food being the only thing open past 10pm” type of thoughts that are rolling through my head. This is the toughest part about what I do. If you can press past this, everything else becomes a lot easier.
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