Speaking Business Success Strategies Part III: The Seasoned Speaker

By Jane Atkinson

For our third and final piece in the Speaking Business Success Strategies series, we are focusing on the seasoned speaker. These are speakers who have been around for a while and have a very solid speaking income. And they, like every level we’ve talked about, have very specific challenges to overcome. Here are my best speaking business success strategies for them.

As a seasoned speaker, you have successfully established yourself as an expert on your topic. You have moved your fee up the ladder (well beyond the $10K mark), and now you are looking to live up to your fullest potential and generate income beyond your wildest dreams.

But just like the Emerging Speaker and Rising Superstar, there are growing pains that come at this level of business. When I interviewed Kindra Hall for my podcast a while back, she said that when she was an emerging speaker, she felt like she was pushing a boulder up a hill.  But once she got further along in her career, it felt like the boulder was then chasing her down the hill and she had to try and stay ahead of it. (You can picture the alternative, right? Splat!) Well, our goal with this post is to help you avoid the “splat.”

SPEAKING BUSINESS STRATEGIES - STAYING AFLOAT

Let’s look at what some of the common challenges are for the Seasoned Speaker and how you can best work through them.

Managing the Calendar

Back when I was managing speakers, we always had a wall calendar with different color dots.  Green was for a booked engagement and said the name of the client and the city. Red was for holds, and yellow was for personal time. Seeing a sea of green was a terrific visual for the business and meant we were all making really good money.

speaking business success strategies - calendar management

But calendar management has its challenges. When you start to gather multiple holds on a single day, there’s a certain finesse required to ensure that you don’t annoy clients or bureau partners.

When you have two bureaus fighting over a client – that can become tricky to navigate. My position is that the tie always goes to the client – it’s who they want to work with that counts. Then there is the very delicate navigation of bureau business on hold vs. direct client in hand.

Speaking Business Success Strategy Tip:  Always keep in mind that you own your time; nobody else does. So be very aware of how and when you give holds on your time. I know I’m a bit vague here, but remember, just because this is always the way you (or others) have done it doesn’t mean it’s the way you always have to do it. Take charge of your calendar and make it work for you vs. the other way around.

Road Warrior Travel

When you are first getting started in speaking, tons of travel makes you feel what: Excited? Successful? Grown up? (Every time I travel, I feel grown up and like Mary Tyler Moore wanting to throw my beret up in the air in the middle of a busy city street).

But for seasoned speakers who are spending more than 50% of their time on the road, the excitement can quickly fade. There is nothing glamorous about running through airports and arriving at a hotel at 2 am because your flight was late. Moreover, excessive travel can begin to take a massive toll on your marriage, family, personal life… and the business. Finding the right balance for yourself will be key to sustaining and growing your business at this level.

Speaking Business Success Strategy Tip: One of the best ideas I’ve ever heard was from my former client, fighter pilot Carey Lorenz. Every year she would go through her master calendar and block off all of her family activities first. School events, recitals, graduations all got blocked off on the calendar before any speaking gigs got accepted. Most of us do this the opposite way. We try to fit our family in around our business. I love the flip flop idea of this.

Finding the Right Fit Team

Just as you want to have clients that are the right fit for you and your business, you also want to have the right fit team. For those of you who are parents, do you know that feeling that you get when all of your kids are happy? That feeling of relief and contentment? Well, having the right team in place can also bring that same level of happiness to your business.

When you have the wrong people on your team, that is when problems occur. And ultimately, you’ll be miserable. Many seasoned speakers have the desire to hire in order to produce more bookings. I have seen that relationship go south quickly if you don’t already know how to book dates yourself. So be aware – you may have an issue.

There’s a saying I recently heard from Brooke Castillo:

So good!

Make a commitment to hiring people who best fit each category of your business: admin support, web maintenance, graphic design, calendar and gig logistics and management (you need a detail person for this), social media, content development, etc.

When you want to get to the 7-figure income level, getting the right team in place makes a difference, so don’t cheap out or try to have one person do everything. While that’s okay in the early days, at this level there will be too much for one person to do.

Speaking Business Success Strategy Tip: When hiring, find people that share the same values as yours but offset your weaknesses. Hiring a shadow of yourself is not helpful. Get very clear on the job description first, and then seek out someone who does that job really well. You may need to bring in experts for each segment of the business. I’m not going to have my video person do my website, that’s not their sweet spot. Hire the best in each category.  And don’t be afraid of the 60-day trial. Jumping into a commitment too quickly can sometimes backfire once the honeymoon period (where your new hire is on their best behavior) wears off.

The challenges and pains that you experience in year five of your business are much different from the ones you face in year one. My goal is to help you move through each of these phases with less stress and more income.

Are you listening to the Wealthy Speaker Podcast? We share ideas for speakers at all levels, and I hope you will subscribe and leave us a review on iTunes.