133 Sally Hogshead’s Top-Notch Tips to Fascinate Any Audience

What does it take to transform from a good speaker to a fascinating one? On today’s episode of Steal the Show, we’re talking to fascination expert and NSA Speaker Hall of Fame inductee Sally Hogshead about that.

At just 24, Sally Hogshead was the most-awarded advertising copywriter in the United States. Sally is the author of New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling books; her most recent book is FASCINATE: How to Make Your Brand Impossible to Resist.

After the interview, discover a bestselling author who is taking the stage as a “rookie professional speaker.

Free Gift from Sally

Take Sally’s free personality assessment. Click here, and use the code heroic.

How You Can Steal the Show

  • Follow  Sally’s steps, increasing her speaking fee from $3,000 to $35,000 in just 12 months. 
  • Transition into becoming a professional speaker and the marketing “cheat sheet” that can help you position yourself as a speaker, no matter where you are in your career.  
  • Discover Sally’s secret weapon that allows her to charge a premium price for her presentations.  
  • Explore the mistake Sally made when she started out as a speaker (and how you can avoid it).  
  • Identify four types of speakers and how to compete with them.  
  • Pinpoint the decision-maker in booking speaking gigs.  
  • Break out of cluttered markets and become irreplaceable.
  • Understand the heartbreaking realities of speaking before the wrong audience. 
  • Create killer marketing materials. 
  • And, get your mind blown by Sally’s insurance policy for successful speaking gigs. 

Sally: (00:03)
If somebody could take a piece of your speaking materials, take your name off of it and put another speaker’s name onto it and it still makes sense. It is not differentiated enough. Same is true of topics. By the way if somebody else could give your same talk, which unfortunately a lot of speakers in the five to $15,000 range or in the space, the reason why they’re having trouble breaking through to the next level is because, well, Joe’s not available, but Mary talks on this, so we’re just going to exchange them and that means you’re replaceable.

Michael: (00:39)
Welcome to Steal the Show with Michael Port. This is Michael. Today’s guest is Sally Hogshead. She created a method to identify how each person is able to captivate their listeners. The Fascination Advantage is the first communication assessment that measures how others perceive you. After researching over 1 million people, her algorithm can pinpoint your most valuable differentiating traits. Unlike Myers-Briggs or a strength finder, this test doesn’t measure how you see the world, but how the world sees you. The science of fascination is based on Sally’s decade of research. With dozens of fortune 500 teams, hundreds of small businesses, and over a thousand C level executives. In her early career in advertising, Sally quickly skyrocketed to the top becoming the most awarded advertising cooperator in the U S by age 24 her campaigns for brands such as mini Cooper, Nike Godiva, and Coca-Cola have fascinated millions of consumers. At the age of 27 she opened her first ad agency and her work still hangs in the Smithsonian museum of American history.

Michael: (01:51)
She frequently appears in national media including on NBCs today and the New York times named as the number one brand guru in the world. Her practical marketing system now lives inside organizations such as IBM, Twitter, and the Y YMCA as well as thousands of small businesses. Her most recent book fascinate how to make your brand impossible to resist was a New York times bestseller. Her previous book, how the world sees you was a New York times and wall street journal bestseller. Sally also writes a column on issues around personal and corporate branding for inc com and finally she is one of only 172 members of the speaker hall of fame, the industry’s highest award for professional excellence. So without further ado, here’s Sally. Sally, I am so excited you’re here. Thank you for being on steal the show. Michael,

Sally: (02:53)
I am super psyched about being together with you and I have to tell you as I was thinking about our time in our conversation today, started getting these flashbacks of amazing conversations that you and I have had. Sometimes we happen to run into each other at an event. Other times you’re inviting me and a handful of friends onto your yacht and I love both of those ways of connecting, but I’m, I’m especially excited to be able to kind of sit down and talk with you today about speaking and ideas of life.

Michael: (03:21)
Well thank you so much. I definitely prefer the second just telling you what happened on the boat together. Uh, I’m going to go with that as my first choice. But getting to see you speak at an event is an extraordinary gift. Uh, and, uh, I just love, love, love your work. I really do think you are one of the best in the business for so many reasons and I think our guests are going to see why, uh, or excuse me, our, our listeners are going to see why very quickly. Now, of course, uh, you know, you are known throughout the world, uh, for the work you do about, uh, around fascination and how to become more fascinating. And, uh, one of the things that you have done is you have created this very, very sophisticated assessment, uh, that helps people understand how the world sees them.

Michael: (04:12)
Now, uh, because you, uh, you know, speak about this regularly, I’m not going to go too deep into that work today. I really want to focus on your career as a speaker, the systems you use to run your speaking business, um, and the process that you use for delivering really transformational experiences. Cause I think that’s most relevant to our audience. Uh, and they can hear, uh, your work on a fascination in many different places, but you did bring a gift for everyone. And I want to share that, uh, straightaway, because as speakers, it’s really important for us to understand how the world sees us because our role, uh, is, uh, is to show up in front of audiences to create transformational experiences. And if we don’t know how people see us, then it becomes harder to do that. So, uh, you, uh, you created, uh, you gave us a code so that our listeners can actually take this assessment, uh, at how to fascinate.com forward. Slash you, it’s Y O U how to fascinate.com forward slash you. And if they put in the code heroic, then they’ll get access to that. So I just wanted to let everybody know, we’ll put that in the show notes as well, but I wanted to thank you in advance for sharing that. Uh, and then I want to get into, uh, your career as a speaker. But is there anything else that you want to tell our listeners about that particular assessment and how they should think about it when they go take it?

Sally: (05:39)
Sure. Yeah. I had a really low time in my career when I tried to transition into being a speaker. I was beating my head against the wall. I was struggling. I couldn’t get booked. I didn’t have any relationships. I didn’t have any contacts. I didn’t know a single agent, the kind of places that were reaching out to me. It was like basically the rotary club and I took a step back and I realized I am positioning myself wrong and it was kind of through this exploration that I developed, the assessment that you just talked about, the fascinate test that when we walk on stage, it’s good for us to be able to look at the audience and have an opinion on who the audience is and what their problems are and what their industry is. But it’s even more important for us to know what are the qualities within us, the qualities within you, Michael or me that are, that are fundamental to how we communicate.

Sally: (06:27)
And how we connect and then how do we build our speeches, our delivery, our content, and our client base around those qualities. And I can describe this a little bit more later, but when, when our listeners take the fascinate test, they’re going to answer 28 questions and then at the end it’s going to give an analysis. Here’s how the world sees you at your best. Here’s how your audience is most likely to respond to you. And so as you’re positioning yourself in your marketing, in your outreach, in your pre speech calls, that moment when you walk out on stage, um, there’s certain words that describe how the audience is gonna, um, um, see you as a, as, um, a place for them to not only learn but to, to, um, to talk about you. And, and so my hope is that when people take it, that it kind of becomes like their own marketing cheat sheet and we can get in. I miss positioned myself for a long time. And, and it wasn’t until I found the right positioning, in other words, the right place to occupy in the mind of my ideal client that I was able to have a breakthrough.

Michael: (07:35)
Now I know, uh, just because, uh, I know you, uh, you know, before this conversation that you, in a very short period of time, I think it was less than a year, uh, 10 X your speaking fees, something like from 3000 to 30,000 in less than 12 months. First, am I remembering this accurately? And second, if so, was this part of how you did it?

Sally: (08:07)
It is part of how I did it. And let me say it, for me, it was the philosophy behind what became the assessment. It’s so, so for those of us who are listening, P not everybody has to have an assessment. It’s, it’s really more coming from a very strategic place about how you position yourself in the mind of this client that you most want to speak to. And what are the practical steps that you can take that help you build a brand. So that most of the work is already done by the time you walk on stage or the time I walk on stage, 80% of the work has already been done. And what that does is it means that it can constantly elevate my speaking brand so that I can charge a premium price. I can have the pick of the events that I want and that it takes a lot less time and time and budget in order to be able to reach out to the events where I’m going to love that audience.

Sally: (08:55)
I’m going to get that happy bubble that it starts exploding in your, in your heart when you know that it’s the perfect fit. So, so the point here isn’t just to make more money, it’s for you to be able to have the right audience for the message that matters, the message that you have that’s, that’s going to change the world. How do we, uh, how do we have leverage to be able to get those events? So what are you doing prior to the actual gig that is setting that up? So well, let me describe what I wasn’t doing.

Sally: (09:30)
Wasn’t working. Yeah, it was really, Andrew says, let’s start at the beginning. Um, I had a really successful career as an advertising creative director. I opened up my first advertising agency in Los Angeles at age 27. I was the most award-winning copywriter at, in, in, in the United States at age 24. So I really came out of the gate on branding. So it was a surprise to me when I had a huge crisis and identity crisis when I tried to become a speaker. So here’s what I was doing wrong. Um, I focus so much on content that I wasn’t focused on finding the right audiences and finding the right decision makers. In other words, I could stand there in front of a mirror or in front of my mom or the tiny rotary audiences and give it and give a pretty good speech. But here’s, here’s my first, my first lesson that I learned.

Sally: (10:20)
You must fascinate the audience before the audience. It’s not the audience with our butts in the chairs. It’s the audience before the audience, the decision makers. So decision maker could be the person writing the check. A decision maker could be the committee that’s going to vote to decide. It could be a meeting planner or highly influential Bureau agent. It could be influencers like on social media if you have a really big presence that can, that can help tip the scales. But I wasn’t talking to the audience before the audience. And so, um, I knew from my background in advertising that we have to, uh, we have to strategically approach our ideal target audience. And so I outlined that the audiences I most wanted to talk to were not in industries that tended to be really traditional and change at first. Like for example, agriculture is, is not a great fit for me because traditionally as a, as an industry, it’s not change centric.

Sally: (11:15)
I want to talk to people who are entrepreneurially minded in enough of a position of influence that they can create change within the organization. They have a healthy competitive spirit and an appetite for being, um, uh, for introducing new ideas inside of their organization. That doesn’t mean they’re at a certain level. It, you know, they could be entry level or CEO. It doesn’t mean that they’re in a certain industry so they could be in sales or financial services or um, or marketing. I, so I got really tight on, um, I could polarize anybody else, but I had to talk to very carefully to that type of decision maker. The next thing that I is, um, I started doing research on why are some speakers more popular than others? Why does some speakers consistently get on those, those big, delicious, sexy stages and other speakers don’t.

Sally: (12:07)
Why do some speakers seem to be able to have the pick of the litter on events with three or four holds on their calendar until, until they choose which one is finalized and others don’t. And um, so I went for, I went on the speaking Bureau websites, which are a wonderful source of information because oftentimes they’ll publish the fee, they’ll publish the topic, um, and they’ll give a little bio. And here’s what I was looking for in this, in this bit of research, which anybody can do. I was looking at the speakers who were getting booked for the events that I wanted and I tried to find the correlations. What was differentiating those particular speakers, speakers who are aspirational for the path I wanted to take. And um, and I found that it, uh, there were four types of speakers. The first type of of speaker who was getting booked, and I wasn’t first type was they had a bigger name.

Sally: (13:01)
Malcolm Gladwell, Seth Goden really hard to compete against somebody with a bigger name unless you add value in some distinct way. Like killer followup that Malcolm Gladwell or Seth Goden might not, the second type of speaker has a lower fee than you are. They’re willing to do it for free. Definitely don’t want to compete in that place because then you’re competing on the basis of fee, which is just a rapid downward spiral. The next type of speaker, the third type of speaker is the one who has maximum authority in an industry or in a specialty. So imagine, um, I love speaking to audiences that have to do with social media, content marketing, digital marketing, because they’re creative. They’re, they have a healthy aggression. They’re constantly looking for, for new tools and new approaches. And they’re not only are they comfortable with, with breakthrough ideas, but they expect it. So I am not the authority on Facebook and I’m not the authority on podcasting.

Sally: (14:04)
So when I’m competing in that space, I have to be able to, um, to say, well, it’s really about the big picture of business concept. The fourth type of person that we are all competing against. When we, when we want to book a speech, is the pet, call it the pet and that’s the person that comes back every year or has some kind of a personal relationship to the decision maker. Like, Oh, we always have Bob every year. Bob’s great. Our audience already knows him every year. He has great scores. So when you start to think who’s getting booked in this places where you want to be, what are they doing differently than you are? In this case, I outlined four different, four different categories, bigger name, lower fee, greater authority in the pet. So I began to think, I don’t, I didn’t have any of this at the time.

Sally: (14:49)
I didn’t have a New York times bestseller. I didn’t have any of these contacts. I didn’t really have a name in the speaking industry at all because just because you have a name for me in this case it was being an being an advertising. Just because you haven’t even one area does not mean that it translates to big fees and big stages and a big platform in speaking until you’ve proven yourself. Um, the, the, the, the next thing I did was I started doing research on pinpointing the decision maker. And I can’t emphasize how important this is. Um, if you have to go out and find the client, in other words, if your phone isn’t ringing off the hook, which is often the case for, for, for many of us till we get to a certain point, um, is, is your decision, is the decision getting made because a committee of people are browsing 20 speakers, in which case your site has to instantly communicate.

Sally: (15:44)
So is it, is it like the senior vice president or the chief marketing officer who’s doing this browsing? Or is it the event planner who’s going to be looking for certain keywords or buzzwords in your materials? And here’s what I mean by that. If you’re talking to the senior decision maker, you don’t have to use the buzzwords. Like this topic is perfect for sales and marketing or HR. You don’t have to do that with the big picture decision maker. They’re not looking for the keywords. Um, the, uh, that the people who tend to be more detailed driven, they want to make sure because their butts on the line, they don’t want something to go wrong. They want to look good in front of their client. So, which is event planners, meeting planners, bureaus. Um, you have to make sure that it’s going to be very safe.

Sally: (16:30)
Everything’s available. Um, so this is, these are the kinds of things that I started learning. And what I found was you, once you, once you kind of get this worked out as a strategic plan, it becomes a North star. So that instead of focusing on attracting the client and convincing the client, you can focus on the fun part, which is your content development and your delivery. And being relaxed, being able to walk on that stage and experience that, that thrilled the joy of having a message that matters. Having people hear and remember and take action on what you’re saying. So that when they walk into the room, they are there. Part one is when they walk into the room. Part two is when they walk out of the room. And your job is to make a transformation between part one and part two. So just getting those nitty gritty, anal retentive, OCD aspects out of the way allows you to do the fun.

Michael: (17:28)
So, to couple of different questions, uh, I’ve been jotting down notes as, as you’ve been speaking. So number one, I’d love to know what you did to fascinate the audience before the audience because I know that, uh, my listeners are gonna, they’re gonna go, what, what, so what did she do? What did she do? And then number two, um, I love the way that you analyzed what you are competing against. Bigger name, lower fees, uh, maximum authority in an industry. Uh, uh, and then number four, you know, the teacher’s pet, which I think is just absolutely adorable cause I know exactly what you mean. Um, so what did you do, uh, in the, uh, sales process, so to speak, uh, to, uh, to compete against those four elements?

Sally: (18:15)
Yeah, so what’s been interesting in the rotary club and the stage with 20 imag screens with 10,000 people. So here’s what I did. My background, like I said, was in advertising. I created global television commercials for brands like Nike, Coca Cola, target. I knew how to bring the wow. But that was actually a downfall for me because up until 2012 when I started this transformation, um, I was choosing topics that there were a lot of other speakers already talking about it. And I didn’t have name brand credibility as a household name among speaking decision makers. So I was using, um, communication, branding, advertising, marketing as my categories. And you can think of the category, like the dropdown menu, um, on a, on a speaker Bureau website, like Washington speakers Bureau does a killer job of positioning their speakers and um, or Amazon uses the dropdown menu side to help you find.

Sally: (19:11)
Um, but the problem was those were crowded, cluttered marketplaces. Um, there were a lot of other speakers who were cheaper, who are more famous, who are the pet, who are more specialized. So, um, so I realized I, I had to find something that those speakers couldn’t offer. Um, but what I could offer was I knew how to make a genius first impression through marketing materials. And at that time in 2012, most speaking materials were pretty crappy. You know, they looked like speaking materials people had. I know what you mean. Yeah. And so the speaking materials were highly undifferentiated.

Michael: (19:50)
Oh, actually I actually said this to one of my, uh, senior students recently. Uh, he ha I saw his website and uh, I said, you know, I said, it looks like local news.

Sally: (20:01)
Ah, yes. Yeah. That was a low end recording.

Michael: (20:06)
Yeah. You need to look at good morning America, you know, or national news, you know, the the big time. And uh, he, he did, uh, he actually worked with Ron tights, uh, organization to redo his website and now he looks like national news. So that’s what, that’s what I feel like when I, when I hear what you’re, what you’re saying like w like speaker one sheets that look like speaker one sheet material.

Sally: (20:28)
Yeah. And by the way, for anybody who wasn’t in speaking in 2012 to 2014, they’re looking at you and I like what’s a one sheet, you know? And so yeah, here’s a takeaway from that. If somebody could take a piece of your speaking materials, take your name off of it and put another speaker’s name onto it and it still makes sense. It is not differentiated enough.

Michael: (20:51)
Yes.

Sally: (20:52)
Same is true of topics. By the way, if somebody else, if somebody else could give your same talk, which unfortunately have a lot of speakers in the five to $15,000 range or in this space, the reason why they’re having trouble breaking through to the next level is because, well, Joe’s not available, but Mary talks on this, so we’re just going to exchange them. And that means you’re, you’re replaceable.

Michael: (21:12)
Yeah. You know, it’s interesting. So I, I, I don’t think, you know, cause I don’t think I’ve mentioned it. Oh, we were supposed to see each other in Puerto Rico a few months ago, but Amy and I got sick and we couldn’t, we couldn’t get there. But, uh, Andrew Davis and I are working on a book together and, uh, it’ll come out this summer and it’s called the referrable speech. And one of the things that we’re addressing is the overpopulation of experts because, because, uh, you know, historically what you, you know, the education that, uh, you know, the you that you received in this industry was that you need to position yourself as an expert. Uh, but you know, there are a lot of experts out there. I mean, you can, you can go onto YouTube and find out how to do just about anything and experts, they know current best practices, which is fine and experts will do breakout sessions.

Michael: (22:06)
But if you want the big keynotes, uh, then you need to be seen as a visionary. And a visionary is someone who changes the context of an industry or helps you see the future of the space of an industry. And you’re a visionary. And that’s, that’s one of the things that, uh, that I hear in what you’re describing is that if you can, you know, you know, if you’re doing a, if someone’s doing a speech on, you know, uh, you know, 10 ways to get more views on YouTube, well that’s a great breakout session. But you could take, uh, the person’s name off that description and you could put hundreds of other people, uh, right in there and they can do that same speech. So when, you know, when a meeting planner is considering you, you know, and they’re looking at your speech like, Oh, we really want a speech like that, the next thing they’re asking is, well, do we want that person to deliver it? Because there are a lot of different experts that could deliver that speech, but there’s nobody that can deliver, uh, the speech that you deliver.

Sally: (23:08)
Yeah. And if somebody else can deliver your same speech, then it becomes a question of how low can the client haggle with you? You know, like the rug salesman philosophy, you know, Joe will do it for the benefits. If it’s current best practices. There’s lots of people who can do that. Yes. So, so here’s, here’s how I translated that. Um, um, there were a lot of things that I didn’t have. My, my self confidence was really, really low. But what I did know was how to understand people really quickly, but just by looking them up online. So I picked the top stop.

Michael: (23:37)
You, I have to stop you there and then I’ll let you continue because I just wanted people to hear this because they’re going to go, wait, what? When you say that your self was very low because if anybody’s ever seen you speak, then anybody’s ever read your books. Uh, you know, they’re gonna think this is the most confident person that walks this planet because you are, you have got charisma. You, you know, you’ve got gravitas. You know, you walk onto that stage and you own that stage. So you, you certainly have a lot of confidence, uh, now, uh, but it’s might be hard for people to imagine that there was a point where you were insecure about yourself as a speaker. So I would just love you to just talk a little bit more about that because I think it’ll relate, you know, I mean, I think it’ll resonate for people.

Sally: (24:27)
Yeah, it was, I started trying to be a professional speaker in 2008. And what I didn’t get was there was a difference between being a killer speaker at, in other words, having the ability to be an orator who can rally people up and being able to consistently deliver, to be able to guarantee the client and insurance policy and to know that they can confidently expect that their calendar is going to fill up without, without stress. So just like it was kind of humiliating that I couldn’t raise my fee above two or $3,000, but worse than that, because 2008 was a really dark time economically. The two budgets that were getting cut were the first, the first budgets get cut, first of all, the advertising budget. So while my advertising work dried up, second budget is conference, conference budget. So everybody was going for very practical speakers who could get their employees to make more money.

Sally: (25:24)
They didn’t want a high concept speech and um, and it took, you know, it took four years for me to do this. So when I walk out on stage and the person you are when you’re on stage isn’t necessarily the person who’s practically in tears because you have no way of supporting your family. I had two young kids and uh, it was, I was getting really desperate and I had to take, I had to take engagements that were not a good fit, which is, you know, speaking in front of an audience that doesn’t want your message is, uh, it’s heartbreaking. They’re not getting what you’re saying, but worse, it shatters your self esteem because you’re not getting the feedback. You’re not getting good scores, but more importantly, they’re looking at you with dull eyes that you’re not getting rebooked and there’s not word of mouth talk value like you have not, you have just not been a great speaker, which then confirms your fear that you’re not a great speaker.

Sally: (26:25)
And, um, you know, on a scale of one to five audiences that are going to be filling out reports, you really need to get above a 4.65 in your scores. But if it’s not the right audience and it’s really hard to, to, to impress and influence them and to walk off stage and be like, I was born to do this and that’s where I was stuck. So, so here’s the action that I took. This is, this was the pivot. Um, I wasn’t the most polished speaker. I wasn’t the most famous speaker, but I knew that I could read the pur, I could read the person based on cues of the communication cues in their personal brand that they were consciously or unconsciously sending in our online presence. And so I spent about two to three hours ident after I identified here are people that I really would love to speak to and they have the power and authority and budget to bring me in.

Sally: (27:21)
And I would spend two to three hours researching them. I would look at their social media, I would look at the awards that they had won. I looked at the words they used to describe themselves in their LinkedIn profile. And I identified is this person, is this person communicating with passion? So I’m tapping into the language of the fascinate system right now, but, and so this is this, to me that was the filter of how I was looking, where they posting photographs of their kids and their pets. Did they use a lot of adjectives? Did they have a sprinkling of exclamation points? Did they wear color in their photographs and have a big smile? Were they in charge of something like HR and diversity or in contrast was most of their online presence related to awards. They’ve won that. They had a private social media accounts and it was really difficult to be able to read what kind of person they work from their photographs. And then I wrote handwritten notes on my stationary. Dear Joe, here’s what makes you fascinating. You communicate with enthusiasm that motivates the people around you. When you use adjectives, I feel what you’re feeling and that wants me to connect. It makes me want to connect with you. I would love to be able to talk more about what makes you fascinating. So here’s my private cell phone number.

Sally: (28:55)
I said nothing about myself. It was all, let me tell you about you. And that was the breakthrough because we all want to know about ourselves. And I sent this off. I sent this handwritten letter off in a, um, in a Bluetooth turquoise box. And let me say I was scraping the bottom of the barrel. I was putting these materials on my, on my credit card. At this point, I was just going on faith and, um, and, and within 60 days, I had booked my entire year on the calendar and I, what I learned was all we have to do is be able to initiate a conversation. But you can’t do it by screaming louder or getting inside getting in people’s face. You have to find an some kind of an entree that is consistent with the experience you deliver on the stage.

Michael: (29:49)
Say that again. Say that again.

Sally: (29:51)
The key to killer marketing materials for speakers is that the material replicates the experience that you deliver on the stage. Now, here’s what I mean by that. I’m not saying that if you teach about dental tools, you have to talk about dental tools, but you might talk about somebody’s smile and you might give them some information about themselves that allows them to create an emotional experience that matches how they would feel if they were sitting in the audience. When you’re delivering a keynote,

Michael: (30:20)
what do you think the difference is between a good speaker and a world class speaker?

Sally: (30:30)
A good speaker delivers how to do something. A great speaker makes people feel something, so they go back to the office on Monday and they do something differently and they talk about it, but a world class speaker, fundamentally, they put a lightning rod in the ground that changes the way people see themselves and their world and that when they talk about it, they will never forget the moment when they had that epiphany while they were sitting in the audience and that every time they think about that epiphany, that distinction they think of you.

Michael: (30:57)
Yeah, that that is exactly, that is exactly how I see the difference between the expert and the visionary. The expert can do a good job and deliver good information. And that visionary is somebody who changes the way that audience thinks, feels and acts. And yeah, it’s like a, it’s like a, uh, like Thor takes his hammer and he hits the ground, you know, electricity just runs through the entire theater.

Sally: (31:26)
Yeah. And you wouldn’t w when that, when that’s done, when that’s done at its best, the audience can’t not remember you. When that situation that you’re describing comes up, it’s like you can’t unring the bell. And, um, here’s an example of that. It’s really important in a keynote for you to make Hyland make polarizing statements that only you could make, but that you feel confident when you’re saying it so you don’t back down or have to qualify it. And here’s what I mean by a strategically polarizing statement, say things that are true, but the audience has never thought of before. And an example from, uh, from my content would be, it’s no longer enough to be the best.

Sally: (32:06)
Being the best is not enough. You have to be different. Different is better than better. And then I go into, as I’m describing what it means, different is better than better. I say, if you try to compete on the basis of being the best, you will never succeed unless you have the biggest marketing budget or you the most facet. Excuse me, you’re the most famous. But for most of us, being better will get us killed because that worked really, really well five years ago, not today. Um, anytime you can say, uh, the what succeeded yesterday no longer works. Um, so keep if you want to, but now we need a new way of doing it. You’re putting the audience in a position of having, uh, they sit on the edge of their seat, they feel nervous and uncomfortable. Another example of a polarizing statement is,

Michael: (32:51)
and just before you give that second example, I just want to mention, uh, I can attest to the fact, uh, that that was a very, very powerful moment in your speech because I remember that from seeing you at Archangel summit, uh, probably 13 to 14 months ago. And I remember when you said different is better than better,

Sally: (33:15)
which is kind of, yeah, different is better than better bit. You can, you can either compete on the basis of being better, which is exactly what I was trying to do from 2008 to 2012 I’m a better speaker. Um, and that just doesn’t work anymore.

Speaker 3: (33:28)
We talked about how a big idea can differentiate you, especially if it’s a counterintuitive or strategically polarizing. But there there’s specific logistical things that differentiate a world class speaker because when you’re being paid at the top of your [inaudible] at the top of your category, you have to deliver an insurance policy. And here’s what I mean by that. The client can never worry if something’s gonna go wrong because it’s your job to foresee all the problems and to proactively prevent them. And here’s how I do that. Um, I’m always on site four hours before the keynote starts to matter where it is. I always have two flights that are booked, so I know I can meet that deadline. If I can’t guarantee that I have two flights and be on site for hours, then I don’t take the keynote. Um, before I go into, um, any keynote, my team does what we affectionately call mini stocking.

Speaker 3: (34:26)
We learn as much as we can about every single person who’s going to be on the pre-call and anybody who’s a VIP. And then I study that information on the plane. So by the time I actually see the person, I already feel like I have a connection with them. Of course they’ve taken the assessment, but I’m like, I’m sitting here looking at the one, I’m in Chicago right now for Morningstar. Um, so for each person, including the person’s speech, uh, introducing me, I have their LinkedIn profile. I have photos that they’ve posted. I have personal information like where they went to school. And most of the time it never comes into play, but sometimes it does. Another thing that we do is we always record the pre-call. We have it verbatim transcribed, and then I go through that and I make slides that are using the client’s language.

Speaker 3: (35:14)
So I know, I know that I’m reflecting what the client wants. And here’s an example, um, in, in this, in the keynote that I gave yesterday, here’s what the client said. Um, w um, uh, it’s almost like, so what, what, what our team teens, his skills besides the rah rah. So let’s kick off 20, 20 and move forward in a way that each person on the team is going to be differentiated. So then I take that and I say, well, as I was talking to John about in our pre-call, another thing that I do is I’m very careful in distinctions like the, uh, client versus customer. So we have a checklist of all the terminology that, um, that you can get wrong. Like, are they employees or are they team members? Are they leaders or managers? The client customer one’s really important because people, you know, makes you sound like you’re, you’re not inside of it.

Speaker 3: (36:10)
Um, we always spend a lot of time reviewing the clients about us page on the website. So let’s say, um, when, uh, let’s say I’m doing a keynote to, to, uh, to an organization that I may not know that much about, like a technology organization, spending time on the, about us page gives you a lot of sense of the company culture. It helps you predict how they’re going to be dressed and what stories you should tell. But more importantly, when you can take a company’s mission statement and put it on screen and here’s the key, use it to reinforce the point you’re making. Then what you’ve done is you’ve fundamentally tied your content to their company in a way that feels incredibly customized. You’d be surprised how much information you can get simply from the mission statement to be able to then relate that to whatever your topic is.

Michael: (37:04)
So it sounds like you’ve got these systems really dialed in.

Speaker 3: (37:11)
How long

Michael: (37:13)
did it take for you to put these kind of processes into place such that you felt really secure going into each gig and, uh, and you, you actually saw an impact, uh, so that it’s not, you know, cause sometimes people feel like that, I don’t know if I, I could do all that research and do all that work, but what if it never comes up and you know, then it feels like a waste wasted time, you know, that kind of thing. You know, sometimes people get a little, you know, we’ll make excuses if we’re busy, you know, as a, as a way to get out of doing something. But how long did it take you and then what are some of the other, um, processes or systems that you’ve got in place for before and after the gig? Uh, to make sure you’re, you know, you’re delivering that insurance policy.

Speaker 3: (38:03)
The dual insurance policy aspect of it is the extra work that you have to do that may never come into play. But it’s, it’s like, it’s like fire insurance so you hope you never need it. But when you have that level of confidence, when something happens on stage, like the mic goes out or your clicker suddenly stops working or the audience is not connecting with what you’re saying that you are so in the moment that you’ve got that muscle memory built in. You don’t have to be stressed by having to worry about all of these other things. I never make an important decision 24 hours before keynote because decisions create stress. Stress creates anxiety. When you have that little anxiety, kind of circling in the back of your mind cause very hard for you to be present and fully in the flow in that moment when you’re on stage.

Speaker 3: (38:47)
Because there are a thousand details, sometimes a year of planning has gone into this one hour. And so, um, we, we estimate that every keynote is 100 hours of man time by the time I walk on stage. And yeah. So we, you know, but between all of this research, everybody in the audience has done the assessment. We’ve done in depth the analytics that we’re then going to hand over to the client after the speech. But you know, that that’s how we do it here from 2008 to 2012 when I could not make ends meet through speaking. And, you know, it’s like my books weren’t selling and just, you know, terrible time. I have a lot of time on my hands and this isn’t it. This is an advantage that less known speakers have over highly sought after speakers, highly paid speakers who already have it.

Speaker 3: (39:41)
It’s easy for them to kind of get comfortable. They usually take less risks. They are less likely to experiment, the more likely to take the client for granted. They’re more likely to do a canned speech. They’re less hungry, so they don’t explore on traditional fee structures. And they’re often less willing to customize their specialize. And so if you can find hacks that allow you to actually not spend that much more time, um, but um, but, but be able to wildly over deliver, um, it really helps. We also the, you know, you can’t over-deliver in every single area. We talked about an insurance policy, but you can have, you can have one specific way that you over-delivered. One specific thing that you do that nobody else can do or you’re kind of extravagant. Um, and an example of that would be follow up after the speech if you, um, if you do highly customized follow up.

Speaker 3: (40:39)
Um, we, for us it’s the amount of research we do before the speech. So by the time I walk on stage and if I don’t know the industry, um, that I have insights that relate directly to my content, that even people who are sitting in the room wouldn’t be able to articulate cause they haven’t connected the dots the way that I do. I remember when we were at, uh, Archangel the technology went off the rails. You remember that? You know what I actually was? Uh, I was, I was chuckling to myself and my assistant Beth, who with me, she travels with me, does another example of kind of the insurance policy. She wanted to know what I was laughing about. Yeah, no, I remember that. What you did when that happened, um, when I was introduced, um, D let me take a step back. It’s in my contract that my keep my, um, my laptop is on stage.

Speaker 3: (41:39)
My, my laptop is always on stage and it’s not negotiable for me to do that. So the AVS department has to know about things being wired ahead and the client has to sign off on it and so on. But taking care of those details really lower stressed when you’re on site. And um, because of the way it was set up, JP Sears was speaking before me and the way the stead stage was set up, they had to take out my laptop in between the time when I was being introduced and I walked on stage. Their team was amazing and that production quality at Archangel, and I didn’t even interview Giovanni a couple of times is over the top. Some of the best video I’ve ever received. Um, in this one moment, the, the technician ran out on stage up the stairs and across this massive stage with 3000 high end entrepreneurs in the audience and tripped and my laptop went skittering across the stage and almost fell out over the other side of the whole show.

Speaker 3: (42:35)
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. So this is part of the insurance policy. You always have to have some stories in your back pocket or a way to divert if something goes wrong. You always have to be able to address the fact if a Mike goes out on it. So, um, everybody’s had the Mike go out sometimes twice. And here’s what I do. Um, I, I stop and I say, uh, I asked the audience, Hey, I’m hearing some feedback or I’m, I feel like my Mike’s going in and out. Do you feel that? Um, and you know, and the audience likes being able to acknowledge and saying, um, uh, raise your hand if you would like to actually hear what I’m saying or something. Even when you got to keep it, you’ve got to make it funny. Cause if you feel awkward, they feel awkward. I always know the name of my audio person so I can, I can smoothly say, Hey Bob, um, can I get a runner, Mike, please.

Speaker 3: (43:29)
And then it’s your job to continue while Bob is bringing you the runner. Mike, you have to be able to, um, to make a point. And here’s the point I always make. It’s my job to teach people how to be fascinating, but it’s really hard to be fascinating if people can’t hear you or if you’re distracted. So it’s my job. So I’d say I’m going to prove my point. If you can’t hear what I’m saying and you’re distracted by this mic, then just like your clients and customers, you’re not going to be able to, um, to take action on this. But at that time, Bob is over there. And then I’ll say, Hey everybody, let’s give three cheers for Bob. Something that then get then the audiences on track. And a lot of times a mishap like that if you’re really well prepared and you don’t lose your cool actually becomes something that helps you win over the audience.

Speaker 3: (44:17)
In the case of, in the case of Archangel, as I was watching my laptop go, let me know, like literally a hundred feet across the stage and I could hear it, um, I, I just walked to the front of the room and I could see out of the corner of my, that they were doing exactly what they needed to do to get it hooked up. But I had to distract the audience. And in this case I had, I, um, I knew I needed to bring my a game. So for this speech with 3000 people in the audience, I had had 3000 of those tiny hands, a little plastic, funny little hands, you know, that you put on your index finger and wave. I’d had them FedEx and they got through customs in 24 hours and they were sitting on everybody’s seat when I took the stage. So that was a perfect opportunity for me to kind of, to play with that and to, um, to, to tell a story.

Speaker 3: (45:07)
And in this case the story to distract was um, Hey, you know, it’s, it’s one thing to be fascinating, but it’s also important to be fascinated, to feel like you’re fascinated with the people around you. So everybody raise your, ruins your little hand. Now Pat the other person next to you on their back, give him a massage, make the best hand pun you can. And then I asked people a couple of, you know, I think canned job was among them, but once you’ve, so, so that’s, that’s kind of the thing that I have to be when we’re really in the moment and you’re not stressed and you don’t have to make decisions when something happens that you do have to make a decision, then you have the mental capacity to be able to focus on it. Yeah. Sally, you’re tremendous. Is there anything that you’d like to share with our audience before we wrap up that we might not have covered yet that you think is important for them to know as speakers?

Speaker 3: (46:04)
Yeah. One thing that I, that I’d like to leave us with is the word doesn’t mean another speech. So as speakers, our job is to have a message that makes a difference. So right before you walk on stage, ask yourself one question, what is it that vain need that only I can provide? What is making them insecure? What’s keeping them up at night? That by the end of this keynote, if I do nothing else, that I will have communicated this. When you, when you’re centered with that, you’re always going to come from a heart centered place. But it helps you tie your points back over and over again. What’s lacking for them that you can give to them. And for me, it’s, you don’t have to change who you are. You don’t have to fix yourself. You don’t have to try to overcompensate. You don’t have to change who you are.

Speaker 3: (46:58)
You have to become more of who you are. So I know by the end of the keynote, if I’ve, if I’ve given them a very clear sense, here’s who you are at your best. You don’t have to change that. You have to be more of that, then I will have done my job because I’ve given them something that becomes that lightning rod that hopefully they’ll, they’ll think back on, but go out there and share. And that’s really the kind of the kind of keynote, the transformation that you talk about, Michael, that’s been so inspiring to me since the first time you and I met in 2014. There’s nobody who does a better job than that than you do. And so I appreciate it. Thank you for being a role model for me and for being somebody that I look up to, not just in your content, but who you are as a person.

Michael: (47:45)
Oh, that’s so sweet. Thank you. I was just going to thank you for that last message because that spoke to me personally today, uh, as well. Um, so look, I think that, you know, you are somebody that every single speaker speaker should be, uh, following, paying attention to learning from. Uh, and I just want to remind everybody that you know, you gave so generously this gift, uh, to all of our listeners@howtofascinatedotcomforwardslashyouhowtofascinate.com forward slash you Y O U and you use the code heroic and uh, you’ll be able to, yeah, we’ll be able to take this assessment to discover how the world sees you. And if people, uh, want to get in touch with you, uh, where’s the best place for them to connect with you online?

Speaker 3: (48:32)
Well, I’ll tell you something a little bit embarrassing. I have a not good presence in social media right now. So I w I’m going to say social media specifically Instagram because I’m going to be in this process. I’m, I’m, I’m just like, I am not following my own rules. My Instagram feed looks like anybody else’s could different in my case is not present. So, um, so follow me on Instagram and watch how I’m going to try to do all the things that I, that you and I’ve been talking about today and hopefully of, um, not just say it but also be it.

Michael: (49:04)
Well, just like you said at the beginning of our conversation today, you know, uh, well I’m not sure if you said it exactly, but I remember hearing it is that, you know, everybody starts somewhere. You know, nobody starts with a hundred gigs at 30,000 or $50,000 a pop. No one, I mean, you know, maybe a, you know, a professional football player after they retire may start there. Uh, but, uh, you know, the rest of us, uh, we, we got to start at ground zero and you’re starting at ground zero with your Instagram and within a few short months, I’m sure it’ll be quite fascinating because that’s just how you roll.

Speaker 3: (49:41)
And I should probably give you my, my Instagram account it, yeah, hugs head. Surprisingly that name was not already been taken. Well, there’s a fascinating name too, so you’ve got that. Thank you so much, Sally. I really appreciate the time you spent with us. Uh, give my love to Amy. It’s so good. There’s

Speaker 4: (50:06)
hybrid. They mingle at the end of each episode of steal the show. We feature a heroic public speaking alum who saving the world one speech at a time. This week we’re profiling Larry K, a bestselling author and three time HBS grad graduate who calls himself a rookie professional speaker. For years, Larry saw himself as someone who’s behind the camera, not in front of it. He worked as a documentary writer and producer for PBS and the travel channel and a writer for the Muppets, but being on camera terrified him. He worried that he’d make a fool of himself in front of an audience. Then he became an author writing training, the best dog ever, which won two national book awards and became an Amazon number one book in the dog tricks category to support his message and sell his books. He knew he needed to get on camera and on stage.

Speaker 4: (51:10)
Larry knew and HBS alum who showed him what public speaking training at HBS can do as she delivered a fabulous keynote at an annual dog writer’s conference. So Larry signed up for HBS grad and then he finished that class. He signed up again and then he completed the class a third time. He likens heroic public speaking training to a drinking fountain principle. He says that when children move up from elementary school to middle school to high school, the drinking fountains get higher with each HPS grad. He says it felt like the drinking fountains got higher and now he’s a rookie professional speaker. Not only has he appeared on television in front of the camera, he has performed more than 50 speeches now that he’s completed his road public speaking training, however, he’s ready to start increasing his fee. His secret is to stay humble as he transitions to a paid speaker.

Speaker 4: (52:06)
He says there are drinking fountains he’s not even yet aware of and this month he and spider will appear at the California science center in Los Angeles in February. He’ll speak at his first international event, delivering a 90 minute keynote and a two hour workshop using local dogs at a conference in Mexico city. So what advice does a three time HBS graduate have for new students? Use your enthusiasm and your fear as your allies to let go of your precocious Snus and let your true self come out. Come to your first class, ready to be held by what he calls world-class faculty. Oh, and of course, reach up for the next drinking fountain. Thanks for listening to steal the show. I’m your host Michael port. We record our episodes at heroic public speaking HQ. Thanks for listening and learning how to be a performer in your spotlight moments. Make sure to reach out to us on Instagram and Facebook at heroic public speaking. And leave us a review on iTunes. If you like the show. Until next time, keep thinking big about who you are and how you see the world. Bye for now.

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