Public Speaking-Speaking To “Mixed” Audiences (Shreveport, LA)

Only once in the history of my career have I missed a talk due to negligence. That was during my first year of being a full-time speaker. Today was almost the second time.


I got the 7:30am wake-up call. Continuing from <<<<Part 1>>>, I had just gotten to bed at 4:30am, so I essentially paid the hotel to take a nap in their room. I wasn’t thinking clearly at all.


I laid in bed like I had nowhere to go. Mind you, I was due on stage at 9:00am, per my notes. With shower and travel time, I was cutting it extra close. I have always been *very* slow in the morning, even since I was a kid. I don’t do mornings at all. I chose the wrong time to act like a six year old.


I finally got up, took a shower and realized…I don’t know where I’m going! I looked at my notes and realized…I don’t have my contact’s cell phone number! It’s now 8:00am and I’m half-dressed with no clue about what to do next.


TIP: Always, always, always confirm then reconfirm the time, date and location in which you’ll be speaking at least two weeks prior to your engagement. As soon as the contract is signed and your engagement becomes official, get an emergency contact number and give them your cell phone number.


I was screwed with a capital SCREW! As the minutes passed, I became increasingly nervous. I called my contact’s office number, telling her to please call me. I threw my stuff in the car and parked at the entrance of the freeway, figuring that because it was now 8:30am, she would call me to see where the heck I was. It didn’t happen.


I looked up her office address on my phone and drove there. Fortunately, they were having a school board meeting and an older lady gave me directions to the school at which I was supposed to be speaking.


10 minutes till showtime.


I was sweating bullets. Fortunately, she called me and I told her I was at her office. I repeated the directions to her and she confirmed they were correct. She even asked if I needed someone to come get me. I said, “Nah. I’m good. I’m on the way!”


Why did I say that? One of my turns was missing a street sign, so I missed it. The lady forgot to tell me about the turn just before the final street, so it missed it. I then got stuck at a FIFTEEN MINUTE train! It was so long, I couldn’t see the end of it. Then it just stopped and sat there on the tracks. I’m not a believer in terrorism, but I sure did wish I had Rocket-Propelled Grenade to blow this thing up so I could drive through! I was PISSED!


I called my contact and her phone was going to voicemail. It was 9:20am at this point. I kept calling and finally got her. She said they would start the program without me and would be ready by the time I got there. I said, “Well talk REALLY SLOWLY!” She finally had to send someone to come get me.


Once I got there, it turns out there was still another 10 to 15 minutes of the program before me. I was so relieved. She was sympathetic to my struggles this morning. I was REALLY relieved.


TIP: Don’t ever stress your meeting planner out. They will never forget it. No matter how great you do, he or she will always remember that you nearly gave them a heart attack and will be less likely to refer you to others. Be easy to work with. Let them worry about the audience, not the speaker.


The talk itself was one of my best ever. Period. I felt so at home. There were about 250 parents, teachers, administrators and principals in the room. It was a challenge though because I didn’t know who was who. They were all mixed in. I had to appeal to everyone and not talk down to some nor above anyone’s head. I carefully selected the stories and jokes I told to make “bus stops” (you’ll learn about this at my bootcamp so I could CONNECT with as many of them as possible.


TIP: When you speak to “mixed” audiences, use universal humor and stories. However, acknowledge that you have people from various backgrounds and use each demographic in your examples so everyone feels included and that you can relate to them.


I challenged them. I inspired them. I used the platform of “choice” to go the tough love route. I made them laugh, then I flipped it around and nudged them to reject excuses and choose to finish in a higher place. With all the black mothers in the crowd, it felt like part speech and part church! They were clapping at EVERYTHING I said! Shoot, I was trying to think of more things to say, just so they would keep clapping. Ha, ha, ha.


I ran out of books. They bought everything I had.


TIP: Keep extra order forms in your bag in case you run out. Don’t scramble to find a piece of blank paper to write their addresses down. That’s tacky.


I had so many people thank me afterward, I forgot about my troubles earlier. My contact called me afterward and said, “I have never seen parents line up like that to shake hands and buy books from one of our speakers!” They have plans to bring me back for a week to speak to their kids, teachers and parents. I feel so blessed.

Today was a very good day.


Connection is key,



“The Connection Coach”


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One Response

  1. Dude this was a great suspenseful blog. You had me there, “Come on J, Come on J, Come on J” Whew, so glad you made it!

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