Category Archives for "Speaking"

Always wanted to do a TED Talk? 3 Steps to take today

By Admin

Woman standing on TED stage, face blurred

Woman standing on TED stage, face blurredWoman standing on TED stage, face blurred

You’ve heard of TED Talks right? Those things on the internet where famous people like Brene Brown and Jamie Oliver share articulate and inspiring ideas, gain millions of views, and open doors to higher speaking fees, book deals, and fame + fortune?

If standing up on that stage has always been a dream of yours but you assumed it was years away (once you’re “qualified”, a published book, have some magic number of speaking gigs under your belt, and happen to live in California), I’ve got some disappointing news. Or not. Appointing news? (Yes, I made up a word just then.)

Here it is: there are TED Talks events all around you. Just over 1000 per year, in fact. That dream you have that’s “far off?” It’s a lot easier to get than you’d think.

Even if you’ve heard of an event near you, you’ll want to read on. I’d bet I can show you at least 5 more.

Here’s how you can find each and every one of these TED Talks speaking opportunities:

Step 1: What not to do

Don’t rely on Google, word of mouth, or chance to find out about TED Talks events. This is what most people do. The problem here is you’re likely to find out about the event after they’ve already selected speakers (since speaker selection is done months in advance, and marketing efforts only ramp up a few months before the event). That’d be a bummer.

I’ll show you a better way.

Step 2: Find Events in the Future

Find TEDx event around the worldOk, now we’re getting actionable. First, go here:  

Now you’ve got a list of every single TEDx event in the world in the next 12 months. Neat huh? You can use filters to search for location, but I recommend you zoom in using the buttons on the corner.

Here’s where I recommend you look:

  • where you live now
  • where you come from (your home town, where you’ve lived in the past, where you went to university etc.)
  • where you visit often (because your family lives there, you go there for business etc.)

If you live in a rural area and there are few events in your area, don’t be afraid to record events that are a few hours away (or even further) if you’re willing to travel.

If we use the example of Atlanta, here’s what I see:

Map showing TEDx events around Atlanta, GANote that there are several in Atlanta, one near East Cobb, and one near Kennesaw (if we had used the “location” filter, we would have only seen those in Atlanta and missed the ones nearby…not good). Clicking on one of these little dots brings up more details as well (like the date, which is important).

Close up map showing TEDxPeachTree event

That little box that just showed up? If you click on the event title (“TEDxPeachtree), it’ll bring up even more info. Notice below, I can see the theme (“Together”), the website, and a nice little description.

Excerpt of TEDxPeachtree website

Now you know the event title, date, website, theme, and organizer info. Wow. Now all you’ve got to do is apply to speak (check out the full guide I put together on that too).

Step 3: (for even more) Find past events that’ll likely happen again

If step 1 found you events in the next 12 months…what about events in the next 13 months? So glad you asked.

Sometimes event organisers run an event and they plan to do another one, but it hasn’t been licensed by TED just yet (because they just finished the last one, or they took a break for a year). The event is still happening, and the audience for that event knows it, but they just haven’t gotten around to applying for a license renewal just yet. For example, many university events get their license in September when the new cohort of students arrives, whereas many standard TEDx events get the license soon after the previous event is done.

You can find these past events by clicking on “Past” at the bottom of the page, or by visiting

If you further add an event date filter for the current year (eg: if it’s currently 2016, you can add a filter for past events in 2016) this will give you an idea of what events are likely to occur again the following year, while keeping you from seeing every event since the beginning of time.

Continuing with our Atlanta example:

TEDx 6Not bad huh? Looks like we’ve found a few more events. Some of these are captured in our step 1 analysis, but you can click around and see if there’s anything new (eg: I found TEDxGeorgiaTech, which I’m guessing is a pretty big event!).

Your fame boosting assignment:

Use the strategies above to find future TEDx events and events in the past that may happen again (sneaky!), and record all you can about them. You can even use this handy spreadsheet to track everything.

If you’re ready to pursue your dream of doing a TED Talk, head on over to for specific strategies on how to put togeter a compelling pitch, find your TED-worthy topic, build relationships with the right people, and more.

Ryan Hildebrandt is a TEDx event founder with an engineering background (P.Eng). helping speakers, authors, coaches, and entrepreneurs with an important idea spread it by landing a TED Talk. He created the website in order to spread little-known secrets about how to successfully land a TED Talk.

Steal this Speaker Proposal Formula (+ win a free book!)

By Admin

Get Picked to Speak book giveaway

Get Picked to Speak book giveaway
Warning: I’m going hard on a book recommendation here. Seriously, if you have an itch to spread your message, market your practice or be seen as a leader and expert, you need to speak at conferences. It’s the shortcut to becoming famous in your field.

But speaking at conferences can be a different animal from other kinds of public speaking. For one thing, there’s a process. And for some potential speakers, the process feels daunting.

(What the heck is an abstract? How do I create learning objectives? And how can I deliver my message in a way that builds my business and gets me invited back?)

Friends, I’ve got your lifeline.

It’s a brand new book, Get Picked: Tips, Tricks and Tools for Creating an Irresistible Speaker Proposal by Aurora Gregory and David Pitlik.

Get Picked to Speak book coverIn the book, Aurora and David share their wisdom, collected from having written scores of successful speaker submissions for conferences around the world.

Chief Marketing Officer of J.P. Morgan’s Treasury Services, Eileen Zicchino credits the Get Picked authors with securing coveted slots for J.P. Morgan’s subject matter experts.

And I agree 100% with her statement: “Crafting a proposal that secures a speaking slot is both art and science.”

Here are a few of the strategies and tactics you’ll find in Get Picked:

  • How to find conferences to pitch your expertise
  • How to make your idea a “hot topic”
  • What makes a great presentation title
  • How to use story-telling to sell your presentation idea
  • Making the most of the limited word counts most call-for-speakers allow
  • Ensuring your presentation deck works for you and not against you

Their material on how to structure your speaker submission alone is worth the two hours you’ll spend devouring the entire book.

[A little straight talk here, ’cause we’ve all noticed the trend. But let me assure you that this is not one of those books with an interesting concept that could be thoroughly explored in 20-30 pages, but instead is stated, restated and fluffed and s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d to eek out the 200+ pages that seem to be required for every New York Times Bestseller hopeful. Get Picked gets right to the point.]

Best of all, you can use this speaker submission framework for everything from formal conference submissions and informal pitches to event organizers to the topic descriptions on your website. With this formula, your conference speaking game is going to be so next level. Enjoy!

3 Simple Steps to Construct Your Session Story (excerpted from Get Picked)

Applying some basic storytelling principles can help you lay out the session description in a way that grabs attention, creates drama, and hopefully makes it irresistible to the committee or task force who will be making the conference speaker selections.

Step 1: In the beginning

Start by setting up the common challenges your potential session attendees face. These may include common headaches you share, things that keep you up at night, obstacles that you and your organization faced – all of which drove you to seek solutions.

Challenges can include everything from lack of know how, mindset issues, economic conditions, regulatory restrictions, process shortcomings, lack of technology, management hurdles, etc.

Be sure to keep your audience in mind when setting up the problem. The more they can relate to the situation you faced, the more likely they will want to hear how you addressed the problem. This sets the dramatic stage for the solution that follows.

Examples of setting up story drama:

“As baby boomers are rapidly aging-out of the workforce, human resource professionals are facing a tremendous brain drain in the senior ranks of their organizations, leading to increased pressure to cultivate the next generation of leaders.”


“With 25 percent of millennials putting off obtaining their driver’s licenses, the automotive marketplace is facing a potentially catastrophic loss of its future consumer base, leaving critical questions for the future of the industry.”

Step 2 – Building the yellow brick road

Now that you’ve briefly laid out the challenges, you’ll want to paint a compelling picture of how you addressed these problems and implemented solutions that delivered noteworthy results.

Stealing a little Wizard of Oz imagery, this is where you’ll describe how you built your yellow brick road to a successful outcome.

Once again, it’s important to keep your audience in mind as you lay out this part of your story. Think of it this way, if you could talk one-on-one with a peer who’s facing the same issue, what would you tell them? The middle of your story continues to build the drama by outlining the steps you have taken to overcome all of your challenges.

Some examples of these steps might include:

  • How you developed a new process for reaching your goals
  • How you worked with different departments to achieve success
  • Or how you innovated a new way to use technology

This is your opportunity to describe your best practices and explain why they were so important for your organization or your clients. Here you just need to hit the high notes, so you can whet the selection committee’s and your audience’s appetite. Get this right and you’ll be the wizard behind the curtain!

Get Picked gives examples of how to frame the heart of your presentation proposal:

“The 21st Century classroom is all about engaging students using the tools they already know and use, which are primarily technology-based. In this presentation, we will explore the use of technology in the classroom and how to ensure quality teacher practice. We will discuss balancing accountability with innovation and how these tools can be used to stimulate effective learning.”


“No marketing tool today has the impact video has on audiences. In this session, attendees will learn about the latest trends in marketing with mobile video, and hear from practitioners on how mobile web and apps can drive engagement, increase conversions and build brands.”

 Step 3 – The big payoff

Wrap up your session description with a brief explanation of what you achieved. This is the happy ending to your story – the part where you achieved your goal. It’s okay to toot your horn (a little bit.) Everyone loves a success story.

Things you might include as your ending could be:

  • A new process that saved your company millions of dollars
  • Your ability to cut the time it takes your staff to execute processes
by half
  • How you managed to grow your business by 200% in the first three years

One caveat: It’s vitally important to couch everything in your session in terms of what attendees will take away. A common mistake is to focus solely on your own accomplishments. It’s important to be crystal clear that attendees will come away with valuable insights that they can apply to their own life, organizations, classrooms, or workplace.

While it may seem like semantics, shifting the language from “here’s what we learned” or “here’s what I did” to “here’s what attendees will learn” can make a big difference in the eyes of the folks reviewing your submission. This simple trick can dramatically improve your odds of selection!

Now we’re at the big finish. Feel free to model one of these examples of how to wrap up your presentation: 

“We will share how technology improvements have led to significant efficiency gains in managing the supply chain, saving the organization $1 million a year and dramatically improving the bottom-line.”

“Attendees will learn how this government agency was able to implement process improvements that ultimately reduced costs by 60%, drove tremendous staff efficiency, and freed up vital resources to focus on the critical task of supporting constituents.”

“We will reveal how this simple design concept has turned the lighting industry on its ear, and how game-changing innovation from a garage-based company has exploded into a $500 million-a-year business.”

Like what you’ve seen so far? Want more juicy tips? Buy Get Picked to Speak on Amazon today:

Super exciting bonus alert!

I’m giving away two copies of Get Picked to two lucky readers. (Yep, my first-ever giveaway.)

To be entered into the giveaway, just leave a comment below and tell me what you most want to know about getting picked to speak.<<

I’ve said it before, but never forget that you, my friend, are straight up swoon-worthy.

UPDATE: Huge congrats to the winners of Get Picked, Lisa R. and Randy W. Your books are on the way to you right now. Soon we’ll see YOUR names on those conference programs!

Podcasts: Boost your fame factor in 30 minutes (without spending a dime)

By Lori

Boost your fame factor with podcast interviews

Boost your fame factor with podcast interviews

Want to stand out?

Of course you do.

When you stand out, more opportunities come your way.

Clients, investors and followers come to you, rather than you having to chase them.

You have more status and recognition in your industry.

When it comes to standing out, there are hundreds of things you could do. From buying magazine ads to skywriting, there’s an endless stream of ways to make people notice you.

But let’s talk about what works. 

One of the best platforms for attracting attention, sharing your message and standing out as a leader and expert is….podcasts.

Yep, podcasts. This once-geeky medium is now the coolest kid on the block. The biggest stars in entertainment, business and tech are or have launched podcasts.

No matter what industry you’re in, there is a podcast for that. (Usually hundreds. Or thousands.)

What’s making podcasts so darn hot? For one, technology changed over the last few years and now podcasts are accessible to everyone. The rise of smartphones, streaming technology and connected automobiles means that new people are discovering podcasts in droves.

A few big media producers – like NPR with its procedural thriller Serial – have upped the cool factor of podcasts, too.

Celebs and influencers are jumping on the podcast bandwagon because it’s such a powerful way to connect with their audience. From fitness guru Jillian Michaels and comedian Marc Maron, to retail mogul and #girlboss, Sophia Amoruso, errybody’s getting into the game.

Why? There’s something very intimate and powerful about your voice being in your fans’ ears each day or week. It creates a relationship that print can’t match.

If you are a budding leader or expert, you want to be on podcasts.

Here are 5 killer reasons you want to be interviewed on podcasts:

1. It’s targeted.

Unlike say, drive time radio, the local morning news or a newspaper ad, podcast listeners are a targeted audience. They’ve sought out that show, even that episode. The economic value of a highly targeted audience is HUGE when it comes to stretching your marketing dollars and your most finite resource, your time.

2. It builds trust.

Podcast listeners are invested in the show. They know, like and trust the host. And when you’re the guest, a little of that trust is automatically extended to you, too.

3. It leverages authority.

Being featured as a guest is a mark of distinction. It means that the host (or the booker) felt that you had something of value to offer the audience. It puts you in the spotlight and offers social proof that you’re credible.

Plus, every interview expands your Google footprint, forevah! (There’s an interview I did four years ago – with a superfantastic interviewer – that still brings raving fans to my website.)

4. It expands your reach.

You might have built a sizeable network. But when you’re a guest on a podcast, you get access to a whole new audience. One that might decide to follow you, join your network or work with you.

Even if the podcast has a few hundred or few thousand listeners, how long would it take you to reach all those highly targeted people on your own?

5. The time factor.

If you manage to score a spot on your local news morning show, you’ll be on screen for what? Three minutes, if you’re lucky? (A 30-second sound bite is more likely.)

But on a podcast, your moment in the spotlight could stretch to  15 minutes to an hour or more. Just you, baby – not jammed between prank calls and celebrity gossip. That’s an incredible opportunity to share your message and your expertise.

Let me feature one fantastic resource to find podcast interview opportunities:

The iTunes Podcast Directory.

iTunes, Apple’s media marketplace, announced in 2013 that it had reached one billion subscriptions, across 250,000 unique podcasts. (And podcast popularity has been on a hockey stick trajectory since then.)

Hundreds of thousands of podcasts. And most of them need guests to fill the time.

Here’s how to get started:

  1. Go to iTunes and search through the categories. iTunes organizes its podcasts across 16 categories, ranging from Business to TV & Film. There’s something for every industry.

iTunes Podcast Directory Categories

  1. Next, you can look at all the podcasts listed in a certain category or search for a specific topic, like “leadership podcast.”Famous in your field: get interviewed on a podcast
  2. When you think you’ve found a podcast who’s audience could benefit from your message, dig further. Look at how long it’s been published, how frequently it’s produced and the topics covered.
  3. Famous in your field: podcast interviewsListen to at least one show to get to know the format, length, the type of questions, how the discussion flows, and so on.
  4. Go to the podcast’s website. Poke around to see if you can submit yourself as a guest. If you can’t find a clearly labeled button or form, reach out using the site’s Contact form.

Make it easy to choose you.

Popular podcasts get hundreds of pitches a week for guest spots. Stand out from the crowd and make selecting you as a guest as easy as possible.

In your pitch:

  • Make it short and concise.
  • Show that you’ve done your homework. Personalize your message with specifics about their show. Mention your favorite episodes or guests.
  • Make your message focused on the value you would bring to the show’s audience.
  • Include links to other interviews you’ve done.
  • Use an online scheduling tool like, or (my fave) to link directly to your calendar and show available time slots. (Doing this prevents all those annoying back and forth emails to schedule an appointment.)

Once you’re booked, prep to give great interview by following these 5 tips:

Being a great guest on one podcast also kick starts the snowball effect. More hosts are likely to book you as a guest because you’re a proven performer. Pretty soon, you’ll dominate those on-demand air waves!

Your fame boosting assignment:

Head over to iTunes this week and find three podcasts that reach your target audience. Listen to the shows and prep your pitch.

Time to give the future a history lesson, A-Listers. You were made to shine.

One amazing new resource to find conferences for speaking gigs

By Lori

One of the most common questions I get on this site is, “How do I find places to speak?”

It isn’t often that an entirely new resource comes to my attention and makes me want to fangirl like I’m front row at a Beyonce concert.

This might be one of those times.

And I think you’ll be joining me in cheering this fantastic new resource: - how to find speaking opportunities at conferences

(I know, I know, the name doesn’t exactly broadcast the thrills within. But stick with me, please.)

Here’s how the founders describe 10times:

“10times is the world’s largest service provider for business events. We are using technology to change the way our millions of users discover and experience events…whether it’s a tradeshow or conference, we have it all on a single freakishly amazing platform!”

Loose translation: 10times is a website featuring more than 250,000 events around the world. (That’s a quarter of a million.)

I don’t know about you, but those numbers get me all kinds of hot and bothered.

Plus, this site features my new favorite publicity headline:

“This Indian just made Tinder for event goers”

[Famous in your field teachable moment: that publicity headline demonstrates the awesome power of a great sound bite. People immediately understand what you’re offering AND they remember it.]

Now, let’s look at what you can do with

1. Look around the site. is designed as a platform to connect conference goers and event organizers. As someone who wants to become famous in your field, you can think of it as a Giant Opportunity Database.

It boasts more than 260,000 conferences and trade shows across the globe. You can “follow” events organized across countries, cities and industries.

For example, if I click on Washington DC, I’ll see a listing of all the events in Washington DC for the current month. There’s also a calendar showing the number of event listings for each month in that city.

You can also:

  • Filter by country.
  • Filter by month.

Filter by month

2. Search by City and by Category.

Initially, the search by City feature only included 8 major US cities, but now it’s expanded to at least 100 major metropolitan areas. And using it is dead simple: just pull down the Filter by City menu.

Plus, you can filter by Category, which helps you narrow your focus to your ideal audiences who want and need what you have to offer.

Events are organized in 12 categories:

  • apparel & clothing
  • architecture & designing
  • baby, kids & maternity
  • business services
  • computer hardware & software
  • education & training
  • gems & jewelry
  • gifts & handicrafts
  • industrial products
  • lifestyle & fashion
  • media & advertising
  • medical & pharmaceutical.

3. Find events where you’d like to speak.

This is what you came for, riiiight? But, be prepared to do some #werk.

And to plan ahead. You’re playing the long game here. Most large conferences are planned 6-18 months in advance and lock in their speakers early. (In October 2015, I was selected as a speaker for a statewide industry conference being held in October 2016.) Smaller events may have a shorter planning window – say 3-6 months.

4. Dig your goldmine.

Less glittery phrasing: build your database.

But don’t fret – your database doesn’t have to be a fancy software program with dozens of features. Start simple. Open a spreadsheet and log events, dates, companies and contacts.

I know that this can feel like the most blindingly boring work ever, but you don’t have to do it yourself.

All over the interwebz, there are ambitious folks who would love to populate your spreadsheet for you, for just a few bucks. Check out sites like, or for data entry muscle.

Database = dollars

Want to build it even faster and give yourself MOAR opportunities to spread your message? Join forces with a few other speakers and combine your databases. You’ll double, triple, or quadruple your prospects with the same effort.

By the way, your database is more than a handy place to track speaking opportunities. It’s an asset that’s worth real money!

Speaker business guru Lois Creamer of suggests two ways that speakers can use their database to generate income even after they’ve left the circuit:

  • Sell it outright to another speaker, a speaker’s agent or a bureau.
  • Rent it and receive a percentage of all speaking engagements booked through one of your leads.

5. Subscribe to events

Keep the flow of new opportunities coming your way. 10times lets you “follow” events, similar to subscribing to a Google Alert search result.


Here’s how it works:

  • Perform a search for events that meet your criteria. I chose “Business Services” filter and the “USA” filter.
  • Click the orange FOLLOW button. You’ll be taken to a screen to enter your name and email address. After that, you’ll get periodic updates, straight to your inbox. That’s when you or your lovely virtual assistant can research the contact information and add them to your spreadsheet for the next step.

6. Make your pitch

When you’ve found a few conferences where you’d like to speak, it’s time to reach out to conference organizers about speaking at upcoming events. (Remember to start early!)

Some conferences may have a formal submission process. Others may “crowdsource” their speakers through their network and recommendations.

Whichever path you follow, be sure to present a strong case for how you can help their audience.

Bonus tip: If you’re local to an event, offer yourself as a substitute for any last minute cancellations.

7. Do a little detective work to increase your opportunities

What else can you do to increase your number of speaking opportunities? Become an event detective! See who’s speaking at the event. Check out their website. See where else they’re speaking. Connect with them.

Your best resource for speaking opportunities? Other speakers!

Your best resource for speaking opportunities? Other speakers!

Your fame boosting assignment:

If you want to share your ideas and spread your message, jump over to and start searching for speaking gigs this week. Set your filters, hit the “follow” button and track your opportunities.

Something tells me that you are going to have an amazing year. I’m all kinds of fired up about you!

Everyone gives the same terrible advice about public speaking–ignore it and do this instead

By Lori

Famous in Your Field public speaking tipsYou are:

  • a budding motivational speaker.
  • an ambitious professional who knows that public speaking will set you apart from all those other people in your industry.
  • a business leader who needs to inspire your team.

You’ve probably taken some kind of “Introduction to Delivering Presentations” course. (Maybe more than one!)

It might have been your high school speech teacher, or a well-meaning seminar leader who drilled public speaking commandments into your head.

But I’m here to tell you that some of the “conventional wisdom”; the stuff we all know about speaking to a group, is just plain wrong.

Let’s dive into three pieces of public speaking advice that you’ve heard again. And again.

Myth #1 – Don’t move your hands while you’re talking, it’s distracting to your audience.

Who hasn’t read or been told that they should keep their hands still? It’s one of the oldest bits of advice that gets passed down, from wise teacher to eager pupil.

Annndd it’s not true.

Sure, you don’t want to make repetitive, nervous tapping or coin jingling noises, but moving your hands – yes, frequently even – to emphasize points you’re making?

THAT builds an impact.

Vanessa Van Edwards is a body language expert who runs a human behavior lab. She talks about science, psychology and body language on her site, Science of People.

Vanessa’s team ran a study on the most popular TED talks. They found that even when two talks covered the same topic:

“…the talks that had the most hand gestures correlated with the talks that were overall favorites.”

Moving your hands from side to side and up and down actually makes your talk more compelling.

Why? It gives the listener visual, as well as auditory content to keep the brain engaged.

Myths #2 – To keep people’s attention, speak quickly. 

The gist: You should speak quickly in order to capture your audience’s attention and keep them interested.

“Speaking quickly shows energy and excitement,” they say. “Don’t take too much time. You need to speak fast, otherwise your audience will be bored.”

No. Just no.

Instead, use your voice to influence others.

UCLA acoustic scientist Rosario Signorello conducted charisma experiments. Here’s what she told the Wall Street Journal: “You have the capacity to shape your voice in a way that makes people perceive you as a leader.”

So, how can you become more charismatic while speaking? By speaking more s-l-o-w-l-y.

Think about the qualities of a nervous (sounding) person:

  • squeaky, high-pitched voice
  • rapid speech

To broadcast confidence, slow down. Don’t rush to get the words out; pause a second or two between points for emphasis. Silence, used strategically, builds interest.

Speaking more slowly and pausing demonstrates that you’re confident in the importance of what you have to say and in your audience’s desire to hear it from you.

Myth 3. Focus on your words.

Here’s a bit of speaking advice you’ve heard over and over, “Script what you’re going to say. Plan it carefully! Using the right word or phrase is crucial.”

In fact, most people who have to give a presentation or a speech spend nearly all of their preparation time crafting the words.

They agonize over this phrase or that. Have they used a certain word too often? Is it the right word? Is there a better word? What if I flub the word?

The content that you deliver matters. There’s no doubt.

But the way that you deliver your content, the non-verbal matters so much more than you think.

For more research-based speaking advice, let’s again look to the Science of People’s TED talk study. SOP recruited over 750 people, asking them to rate hundreds of hours of TED Talks, looking for specific nonverbal and body language patterns.

What the researchers found was amazing. And counterintuitive.

It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.

Viewers who watched talks with sound and those who watched speakers on mute both rated the same talks highly.

Both the with-sound and the without-sound viewers rated same speakers as the most charismatic, intelligent and credible. (Yes, whether they heard the words or not!)

The lesson here is that anyone who has to deliver a message should spend at least as much time practicing delivering the content as what they’ll say.

Focus on the energy you want to bring and using it to connect with the audience.

“Anyone with a big idea should be able to express their passion both verbally and nonverbally,” advises Vanessa Van Edwards.

Your fame boosting assignment

This week, pick one of these three speaking myths and practice doing the opposite.

If you normally keep your hands at your side while talking, bring them up to your waist and move them to emphasize your points.

Try slowing down your speech in a conversation. Use strategic pauses when leading a meeting.

Or, focus on your energy during a presentation, not a script.

The forecast for your week? 100% chance of awesome!

The best free publicity tool you’ve never heard of

By Lori

Free Publicity - USNPL

“Roommate wanted.”

I see a version of that request at least once a week on forums across the web. (And no, it’s not some Tinder-esque come on.)

The “roommate” request is just a cheeky euphemism for sharing a media database. It’s something solo public relations professionals and small PR companies do, to offset the cost of subscribing to professional media databases.

Publicists and PR agencies spend thousands annually for subscriptions to popular PR databases. (For those who are new to the PR game, a PR database contains the names of media outlets, like magazines and websites, along with contact information for the outlet’s journalists and editors.)

Prices for some of the market-leading subscriptions can range from $2000 to $12,000 a year. If you’re spending most of your day finding and pitching media for coverage, that’s not bad. Spread across multiple clients, it definitely makes sense. But for professionals and small business owners, it can be overkill.

How about a much less expensive alternative? As in completely f-r-e-e!

USNPL - US Newspaper List

It’s USNPL, aka the US Newspapers List. However, it’s so much more than newspapers – USNPL is a free database of television station, radio station and newspaper contacts. (US only, though.) But wait, there’s more: the site also has a list of colleges by state, along with their newspapers.

How USNPL works

The USNPL site features contact information, mailing addresses for US newspapers, radio and TV stations. Looking for online media? Start here.

Most entries have links to:

  • The outlet’s website
  • Contact information, including address, phone, fax, and manager/editor
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Video

The newspapers section event has a link to Local Weather & Forecast.

Free media resource USNPL - links to newspapers' websites, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube

Plus, for only $40, you can download the mailing addresses and phone numbers of over 1000 television stations. (Giddiness, people! That’s what you’re feeling.)

Because USNPL lets media contacts update their own entries, it’s remarkably accurate for a completely free resource.

What you can do with it

The site lets you search for contact info for U.S. newspapers, TV stations and radio stations by state. Once you get a list of outlets, you can go directly to the media outlet’s website, or click on links to their Facebook pages and Twitter feeds.

Beef up your local media outreach

Pick your target media outlets and follow them on Twitter. Re-tweet, reply to and comment on their tweets. Build, build, build that relationship, people.

Lather, rinse and repeat for Facebook.

Share their YouTube videos.

Make a splash in a new city

Let’s say that you work for a company planning to open an office in a new city in a few months. Plan ahead and build those relationships now!

Look up the media outlets in that county and start gathering contact information, reading the articles, watching the news reports and creating relationships with the newsmakers through social media.

Then, when your new office opens, you’ll be positioned to get more than the perfunctory press release mention.

Author or speaker traveling to another city?

If you already have a visit to another city on your schedule, try the same approach as above. Find the contacts and create some warm relationships. Then, a few weeks before your visit, pitch a segment for their local morning show or an article about your speaking appearance in the local paper.

When you add USNPL to some of the other top free media tools, like HARO and MuckRack, you’ve got an amazing roster of resources. Use them to get your message into the minds of people who need it, wouldya please?!

Your fame boosting assignment:

There are sooo many ways you can use the USNPL goldmine. Pick one goal – say, increasing your local media presence or warming up a new city before your debut – and spend the next ten minutes finding media outlets and following them on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

We’re waiting for more of your magic.

How to get speaking engagements at associations, companies and conferences

By Lori

Speak at Associations, Companies and ConferencesEdward writes,

“I have given speeches at Rotary Clubs & Kiwanis groups. I want to know how to approach associations, companies, conferences, conventions, etc. – for speaking engagements. Also, should I offer free speeches at these groups in the beginning?”

Edward, thank you for asking the question!

And the answer is…. Yes.

Okay, let me say a little more about that.

Yes, you should offer free speeches to these groups in the beginning for three BIG reasons:

  1. Free speeches build your name recognition.
  1. Speaking for free gives you an opportunity to hone your delivery and your material until it ignites hearts and minds.
  1. Free speaking can also be a gateway to other moneymaking avenues that stem from speaking, like private consulting, training, coaching or product sales.

But here’s news that may shock you: even after you’re “established,” you might also be giving free talks. Only now, they’ll be at the biggest, most prestigious events.


It may sound counterintuitive, but among the most successful speakers, there’s no hard and fast line between speaking for big fees and speaking for free.

Public speakers who use speaking to grow their business, motivate the masses or those who want to make a living of being on stage understand that sometimes, you’ll speak for free because it’s a smart return on investment.

Chris Widener, a personal development and leadership speaker who commands $20,000 a speech told Forbes he’ll “also speak – often for free – at large multilevel marketing conferences large where he sells a variety of products he’s created, including sets of CDs and DVDs, e-books, and hard copy books.”

His take home haul from those events is far north of $20,000.

And now let’s look at how things generally work in the Association/Company/Conference speaking world.

(As always, your mileage may vary.)

Members only_sm


Looking for the best way to kick off your association speaking tour?

Start locally.

When you’ve found an industry or association that’s a good fit for your speaking or training topics, offer to present to a local chapter first.

Then, once you’ve delivered a fabulous experience, chapter members will recommend you to other chapters and even to the larger regional or national organization as a speaker.

You see, association chapter leaders communicate and support other chapter leaders by sharing valuable resources…which could include you!

(Within each local chapter of an association, there are often several members who participate in organizing statewide, regional or national events, too.)

How to approach associations for speaking opportunities

You can reach out to these associations cold, and hope that your email and phone calls are persuasive.

And you can send big fat speaker kit packets and cross your fingers.

But I’ve found a different method to be more effective than the “spray and pray” approach.

Find someone in your network who knows someone in that organization:

  • Email or call friends, neighbors, and colleagues, asking if they know anyone involved in the association.
  • Ask people you meet at events if they know anyone in your target association.
  • Look up the association on LinkedIn, which will often show if you have a second-degree connection to one of the association’s members.

Here’s why this approach works better than cold calling: people often ignore solicitations from strangers. After all, association staffers and volunteers are busy.

But a request from a friend or business colleague? That gets an answer.

Of course, if you just can’t find a “warm” connection, go in cold and heat it up! Follow these simple steps:

1. First, spend some time looking at the organization’s website, event calendar and social media to get to know the types of events it holds, topics covered and speakers.

2. Next, find the staff or board listing (in the case of a volunteer-run organization) on the website. Often, you’re looking for someone with Education, Programs or Events in their organizational title. If those are missing, go straight for the Director or President.

3. Then, craft your pitch. Don’t be salesy, but do include a clear description of your topic, your bio and why your topic is a good fit for the organization.

4. Finally, send it off to the organizational contact you found.

5. Follow up as needed. (That usually means two or three times at the most.)


The process for getting speaking opportunities with companies is similar to working with associations.

Find your target companies. Then search your network (using the same process as you did with associations) for a connection to the company, who can then introduce you to the right person to hear your pitch.

If you can’t find a connection, approach local companies directly, often through their Human Resources, or training and development groups. (However, depending on your topic, you may reach out to specific departments, like Sales.)

Here, too, giving a talk or workshop that moves hearts and minds will go a long way toward getting you booked for multiple sessions, long-term training or with other organizations.

Bonus tip: members of associations are often employees of companies! Own the stage at that association chapter meeting first, and then ask the audience members to suggest companies and other organizations that could benefit from hearing your talk.

Another client includes this question on her presentation evaluation form.

The best time to ask for more speaking referrals is when you're basking in the warm glow of a successful speaking gig.

The best time to ask for more speaking referrals is when you’re basking in the warm glow of a successful speaking gig.


Conferences range from one-time gatherings to recurring local, statewide, regional and national events, often organized by associations, companies and media partners.

Some conferences are organized informally, and seek speakers who are recommended by members and peers. (These are typically smaller events.)

Other events have a formal submission process, starting with a Call for Presentations or Call for Speakers. Speakers are typically vetted by a committee that evaluates submissions based on the event’s theme and desired topics as well as the speaker’s experience, reputation and speaking ability.

Pro tip #1: Event organizers know that getting bums in seats is much harder than it used to be.

That’s why some organizers prefer speakers with a large platform – speakers are expected to help market the event to their own subscribers and social media followers.

Pro tip #2: Don’t assume that bigger is better when it comes to getting paid to speak.

I’ve spoken at local, regional and national events from the same industry association. Here’s what happened at each:

  • The local event did not pay a speaker’s fee, but I have gotten referrals for business from people who attended my workshop.
  • The regional conference (a gathering of the members across 6 or 7 states) paid travel expenses and a small stipend.
  • The national conference did not pay a speaker’s fee, nor did it cover travel expenses, contending that speaking at its national conference was an honor beyond payment.

Sad truth: The no-pay for session speakers policy is not unusual. In fact, it’s more common than not. While headliners like New York Times bestselling authors, top athletes, and newsmakers like astronauts, business and political figures may score $15,000 to $75,000 for a single conference keynote, breakout speakers are paid in “exposure.”

Just this week, one of my clients was asked to submit a proposal as a break out speaker for an upcoming national conference.

Here’s what she’d get, if selected:

“Presenter Benefits

  • Opportunity to influence the practice of [industry] and to enhance the future of the profession
  • Promotion of presenter’s credentials on the [Association] website, in Convention programs, and in print and electronic marketing materials including the [Association] 2016 Convention App
  • Recognition of presenter’s subject matter expertise by [Association]
  • Full complimentary registration to the 2016 [Association] International Convention & Expo in Philadelphia.

[Association] does not pay per diem, honoraria or expenses for session presenters.

Is it a universal truth that conferences don’t pay breakout speakers? No, but the practice is common and new speakers are often surprised to learn that.

Your fame boosting assignment:

If you’re looking to share your brilliance by speaking at associations, companies and conferences, start by picking three targets.

This week, find your connection to the organization and reach out with a request to speak. (Feel free to get creative with the steps I’ve listed.)

I’m all kinds of fired up about you, superstar.

16 ways to get more of what you want

By Lori


My friend Gina is not a “car chick.” Her head doesn’t turn for an Audi, Porsche or Mercedes S-class. She’s been driving the same mom-van for more than a decade.

For her, cars are just a way to get from one place to another.

Then last week, she floored me with this comment, “I really want a Tesla. I’m going to buy one when I get my bonus this year.”


The funny thing is, I’ve found out that Gina is not alone in her Tesla-mania. Business Insider reported on a study of Tesla owners:

“What we can glean from this is that Tesla is indeed special — so special that buyers are willing to pay substantially more for the privilege of Tesla ownership than to park a traditional car in the driveway.”

“On average, owners were willing to pay 60% more for a Tesla…” [Yahoo News]

Why would a woman who doesn’t care about cars suddenly long for a particular model vehicle?

And, um, pay 60% more?!

Aren’t we all practical, rational humans who buy the best product at the best price?

I’ve got three words for you: emotional hot buttons. 

What are emotional hot buttons?

Those factors that hit us right in the feels (whether we admit it or not.) They make us die to have one thing, and totally abhor another.

There are certain emotional hot buttons that when triggered will force people to take some kind of action. Hot buttons make us buy, listen to, read, or follow certain things and people, but not others.

When your hot buttons are hit, the response you feel is pure emotion.

Logic goes out the window (no matter what you tell yourself!)

Do I buy that darling Kate Spade New York Cherie Three-Quarter-Sleeve Coat because I’m cold?

No. A stuffed Hefty sack would solve that practical problem.

I buy it because emotionally, I think it will make me chic, sparkling, vibrant and a little madcap.

Me in that coat = Audrey Hepburn in Charade.

Connect to their emotional hot buttons

Your audience – whether it’s a group of professionals listening to you speak, the staff you lead at the office or your kids’ hockey team – is driven by desire, too.

And when you can connect your message to their emotional hot buttons, you’ll motivate them to listen to you, follow you and join your

Exactly which hot buttons hook you the most varies from person to person, but there are some generally universal triggers.

Author and marketer Barry Feig has identified 16 hot buttons in Hot Button Marketing: Push the Emotional Buttons That Get People to Buy:

  • desire for control
  • I’m better than you
  • excitement of discovery
  • revaluing
  • family values
  • desire to belong
  • fun is its own reward
  • poverty of time
  • desire to get the best
  • self-achievement
  • sex/love/romance
  • nurturing response
  • reinventing oneself
  • make me smarter
  • power/dominance/influence
  • wish fulfillment

I’ll add a few variations that I’ve seen from my clients:

  • desire to be known for something
  • to leave a legacy
  • to effect change

As Barry says, “Consumers buy from emotions they’re not even aware of…. Hot buttons are the keys to the psyches of your customers.”

For my friend Gina, the idea of owning a Tesla is 100% emotional hot button driven.

But what does this have to do with you?

When you’re selling something, don’t just rely on the old standbys to motivate. Making more money, saving money, or having the most features can be powerful for rational decisions, but hitting an emotional hot button or two will ignite desire, which overrides rationality.

Emotional drivers

Let’s say you’re a coach or consultant to small business owners. You could focus your appeal on how you can help small business owners make more money. (And that’s what most coach-sultants do.)

But if you pay attention to your prospective client’s hot buttons, you might find out that one of his major emotional drivers is Desire for Control.

Here’s what that looks like:

He started his business to have more control than in his corporate job, but instead he spends his days in reaction mode, his mood and self-esteem battered by the latest high or low in his business.

His staff gets along one day, and squabbles the next.

Orders are up (yay!) Orders are down (arghh!)

If you, the small business coach, can show him how working with you will create the control he’s after, he’ll be hooked.

Do people have just one emotional hot button?

Nope, people can have multiple hot buttons that motivate them to buy something or take action.

Let’s say you look around our small business owner’s office and see picture after picture of his wife, kids and extended family.

You notice a toddler seat in his car.

A clearly “handcrafted” clay pencil holder on the desk.

Clearly, a strong candidate for the Family Values hot button.

During your conversation, you can paint a picture of the psychic rewards of family togetherness that he’ll enjoy once he starts working with you.

Gotta team? Hit ‘em in the hot buttons

If you manage a team, you can retain your best employees by combining both external rewards, like public kudos, bonuses and raises, with internal rewards like new challenges. (Boom! I’m Better than You and Self-Achievement hot buttons.)

Become an emotional hot button detective

Ask your audience (whether it’s your staff, a prospect, or an actual audience) questions to uncover some of their emotional hot buttons. Notice when their eyes light up and when they glaze over.

Weave some emotional hot buttons into your marketing.

Sprinkle them into your conversations with your team, for motivation.

Spark those desires in your presentations or talks.

Your fame boosting assignment

This week, hone your emotional hot button-finding skills.

There’s one dead-simple way to do this. When you find yourself in a selling situation – whether it’s selling an idea, a message, a service or a next step – try to uncover at least one emotional hot button.

Whip out the easiest, cheapest research tool available:

Asking “why?

Boom! 100% chance of awesome.

Power Up Your Marketing, Part 2 (The Speaking Series)

By Lori

Welcome back! In a previous post, I laid out the case for using speaking as a core element of your fame campaign. Nothing works like speaking for increasing your reach, influence, reputation and building an expert position. (You can read a quick overview of why speaking is so effective in Part 1.)

In this post, I’ll share a few success stories from professional service firms who’ve leveraged the power of public speaking.

Proof of concept

Sure, speaking is important for prestige,  but does it really bring in the bucks?

Yes. Yes. Yes.

Let’s look at three examples from different professionals.


Robert Czachorski, PE, PH, is an engineer with OHM, an engineering/architecture/planning firm, headquartered in Livonia, Michigan. Robert is a modeling guru, who, together with his college roommate, an aerospace engineer/software developer, developed a novel way to model sewer systems. His new modeling method gives the client precise information to right-size the sewer system, meeting regulatory requirements and avoiding ‘overbuilding’. Because the approach is new, Robert has found it effective to present his method, along with project results at conferences. It gives prospects an in-depth view of the idea, and offers proof, in the form of case studies.

Robert says, “I meet new leads at every presentation. There are at least 3-4 at each one. Over the last 5 years, I’ve done between 10 and 15 presentations, so that’s easily 40 to 50 new opportunities.”

“Three people come to mind who I met through presentations – a contact for a large municipal sewer authority, and two partners from other firms. Those relationships are leading to hundreds of thousands of dollars of new business.”

Management Consulting

Carl Friesen, a writer, author and management consultant, also testifies to the business-building benefits of speaking. “I’m living proof that speaking engagements work – I received my two biggest clients, one of which I’ve had for ten years, through one speaking engagement in Vancouver in 1999.”

Software Technology

Beck Technology, Ltd., is a Dallas-based developer of specialized macro BIM software, used in preconstruction to create fast and accurate 3D cost models. Andy O’Nan, Beck Tech’s director of business development, is a believer in the power of speaking engagements. He’s devoted a significant portion of his marketing budget to securing and delivering presentations to regional and national audiences, using a consultant to perform much of the work.

Beck Tech uses speaking engagements to get the word out about the company’s software. Because it’s a new and unique offering, presentations give Beck Tech leaders a non-promotional way to introduce their product and its capabilities to their target market. Beck’s presentations are based on customer success stories and industry trends.

“We never give a sales pitch – that’s important to us,” says O’Nan. “Instead we focus on trends and case studies that impact our target market.”

And the results? “It’s powerful. Each time we give a presentation, the visits to our website increase significantly, along with the number of people requesting trials of our software. And now that we’ve focused on developing a speaking program, opportunities come to us.” O’Nan continues, “Stewart Carroll, our COO, was recently invited to be a keynote speaker at a conference organized by Disney, in a room filled with industry leaders.”

Ready to try your hand at developing a speaking program to propel your professional service firm into fame and fortune? Tune in for Part 3 of The Speaking Series. I’ll share the most common mistakes that firms make, derailing their success with speaking.

Want to jump start your public speaking? Start here.

Five places to find your target market

By Lori

Image of Jack Russell Terrier giving a human a high five

Five places to find your target market

Whether you’re a consultant, public speaker, trainer, photographer or other business professional, you want to find your tribe.

Your people. The ones who need the magic that you deliver.

If you’ve been in business for years, you’ve got it down. You already know where those folks hang out.

But when you’re starting out? Or shifting to a new business or career? How do you find the prospects, audiences and customers who will become your raving fans?

It’s a recipe of empathy and ingenuity, seasoned with research.

(For a backgrounder on using market research to find your target market, check out this free market research guide from Shopify.)

Let’s say that you’re an up-and-coming expert in cyber security (hey Scott!) and you’re looking for more presentation opportunities.

Your initial brainstorming list might include the usual suspects:

  • Information technology professionals
  • Chief Technology Officers
  • IT managers
  • Database administrators

Those are the easy targets. People in the IT realm already know that cyber security is vital.

This is where the empathy comes in…

Put yourself into the shoes of other business professionals. Who should care about cyber security because it affects their roles and outcomes?

  • Chief Financial Officers
  • Chief Executives Officers
  • Company Directors
  • M & A consultants
  • Government leaders
  • Military leaders
  • Small business owners

And now that you’ve got your expanded list of prospects, think about where you can find people in those positions, in large numbers.

1. Mine your network

Your richest resource is the people you already know. This includes clients, former clients, prospects, vendors, friends and family.

Ask them what groups they belong to.

What organizations would host a workshop or would invite you to present to their members?

What organizations might host a workshop for their clients?

What conferences can you pitch yourself as a breakout presenter?

But to make it really effective, you can’t send a bulk email to all your contacts. A few very close pals might respond to it, but most of your network won’t.

It puts a psychic burden on your friends and colleagues to do work for you.

The way to get the best results is to actually talk to each person. (Note: I hear you, this is incredibly time consuming. Deal with it. #Sorrynotsorry.)

Make it easy on your friends. Just ask what groups they belong to, ask a few follow up questions about the group or groups and do your own evaluation of whether it’s a good fit for you.

2. Local publications

Your local newspaper and city or regional business publications typically have community events calendars. (Most are available online!)

Scour them weekly to find events and groups.

3. LinkedIn

LinkedIn is more than your online resume. As the world’s largest professional network, it’s a hella good source of business intelligence.

Let’s look at two ways to find your target market on LinkedIn:

Groups. Groups are LinkedIn’s feature that lets members who share an interest or profession gather online, have discussions and share information with each other. As a member, you can join as many as 50 groups.

First, go to your groups. You’ll also see a prompt to find more groups.

Use the search field to find Groups to join. You can search for groups to join using a keyword, company name or school.

Try searches based on geography (Ann Arbor or Detroit groups for me) or based on an industry or topic.

Groups___LinkedInThe second way to find your target market using LinkedIn involves a little more labor:

Review your contacts to see what organizations they belong to.

Start by looking at your Connections. If you’re looking locally, filter your connections by location.

Then look at each person’s profile to see what groups or organizations are listed. You might find groups or organizations listed in the Experience section, the Volunteer section, Organizations section, or under Additional Info.


And finally, you can see the LinkedIn Groups your Connections have joined as well.

4. Eventbrite and Meetup groups

Eventbrite is a web-based event registration. And is the world’s largest network of local groups.

You can search for events based on location, date or by using keywords.

As an example, on Eventbrite, I searched for “Leadership” and found 388 upcoming events in my area. I can look at each one in the search results, refine them further by date or geography or category.


I can also subscribe to get an RSS feed of those events, delivered to my inbox. Genius.

5. Trade or industry associations

A trade association, also known as an industry group or business association is an organization founded and funded by businesses that operate in a specific industry.

Associations Unlimited, aka, the Encyclopedia of Associations, is a huge resource, but you may need a library membership to access it.

AU provides information on nonprofit membership associations and professional societies worldwide (20,000 international, 134,000 U.S. national, regional, state and local), plus IRS information on over 300,000 U.S. nonprofit organizations.

Sounds fantastic, right? 100,000+ groups, ripe for your services?

But there’s a catch. You can’t jump in and start pitching your wares.

Marketing to professional and trade associations means becoming part of the organization.

Go to their events. Meet people. Get a feel for the people who attend.

Volunteer for the organization. From taking registration at the door, to helping behind the scenes, volunteering within the organization makes you part of it, quickly.

Join a committee. You’ll get to know and create relationships with the key influencers quickly, while you demonstrate your value to the group.

Your fame boosting assignment:

This week, pick one of these five ways to find your target market and get on it!

I see your name in lights…

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