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Public speaking can help you gain more credibility, get more leads and sell more products. But sometimes, if can also be absolutely terrifying.
Today's interview features a public speaking strategist who's going to teach you how to use speaking opportunities to grow your business.
I’m so excited to have Jessica Rasdall, the public speaking strategist, as our guest on Rebel Boss Ladies episode 026.
Jessica is a motivational speaker, best-selling author, public speaking strategist and the host of The Creative Speaker podcast. She partners with small business owners to craft stories and presentations that connect with their audience and stand out in a really crowded market.
Jessica has shared her story of turning her mess into a message for over 12 years, and she's been featured on major international media outlets such as ABC's 20/20, Katie Couric, The Guardian, MTV, Netflix and much more.
When Jessica was a freshman in college she made a life-altering decision that resulted in the death of her best friend. In an effort to raise awareness, cope with her guilt and keep her friend's memory alive, she began sharing her story. Jessica spoke to over 15,000 young adults across the country before she was sentenced to prison.
Needless to say, Jessica has a plethora of public speaking experience and she's here on the show today to teach you all about how public speaking can be used strategically in your business to get you more leads and ultimately more digital product sales.
When I asked Jessica to share about herself, the first thing she emphasized is she is a mom first and foremost. She has a five-year-old and an almost 10-month-old, and “that always takes priority over everything.”
When it comes to her business, the Public Speaking Strategist, Jessica works with service providers and course creators who want to create deeper connections with their audience and use speaking to grow their business.
“Depending on where you're at in your business or what life looks like for you in this season, that might be speaking on stage at a large conference that might be online summits. It might just be getting comfortable with how you can get your message on a podcast or on a webinar or a joint venture, a livestream in somebody else's group. It's just really understanding that you have something important to share.”
Jessica knows how important speaking opportunities can be, and emphasizes that business owners need to make sure they’re able to make it count when they get in front of their ideal audience.
“You really just want to show them what's possible so that they can join you in whatever the work is that you do.”
If you’re afraid of public speaking, or don’t think it’s for you, you’re definitely not alone. Jessica admits that she’s an introvert and there are days she’d rather stay home.
However she’s also been speaking since 2006, and has spoken to tens of thousands, if not over a hundred thousand people, since then. Her audiences have also been super diverse – she’s spoken for high school students, major businesses, at creative conferences, for the US Navy, on national television, and more.
What she wants to emphasize for people who don’t love public speaking is that you shouldn’t think about it in terms of yourself, and instead think about it from the perspective of your audience’s needs.
“It's really not about you. And what you're doing when you get up there and speak or when you grab the microphone or you hit record or go live online, all of that is to serve your audience and if you can't show them what's possible for them, if you can't give them a glimmer of hope… you're actually doing a disservice to them by not getting up there and sharing and you have something important to share.”
When she’s nervous about speaking or feels uncomfortable about getting up on stage, she remembers two things. “What is this doing for my audience, what is the positive impact that it's going to have? What difference, what's the possibility.”
You can also flip that, and think about the negative repercussions for your your audience if you don’t get up there, instead of thinking about it from your perspective. “What negative things could happen for them if I don't get up there and do the uncomfortable thing?”
Presenting on stage, whether it’s in-person or online, lets you be in control to share your message. It’s not about you, it’s about what you’re delivering to your audience. Remember that you’re serving them, and not talking about yourself, and that may help you remember why you’re doing it in the first place.
As a public speaker, you may be giving a lot of value to your audience when you share your message. But what can you as the speaker get out of speaking?
There are a lot of things you can do to grow your business, like run Facebook ads, or post another blog post. None of those options have benefits like speaking does, though.
“There is nothing that is going to fast track your credibility like speaking on the stage. I like, I want you to think about being at a live event and when you see somebody step on up on the stage, when you see somebody grab the microphone, when you see somebody announced on a lineup don't you automatically start to feel like they're maybe a step ahead of you because they were selected for that thing?”
Public speaking can give a HUGE boost to your credibility and brand. It can change the way that people perceive you and stand out in the market.
Jessica emphasizes that speaking “allows you to make a deeper connection with your audience and show up in a way that other people, your competition, is not showing up.”
This can, of course, have huge benefits in the long run. If your name and message have a lot of credibility, when you open your next program or launch your next product, your audience is going to remember that.
You’re also giving your audience a lot of value by speaking and they’re getting the chance to learn from you for free. “So you're putting your skin in the game without expecting anything in return from them,” says Jessica, which can be very helpful when you’re actually asking your audience to pay for your products.
“We want you to get up on the stage, deliver a ton of value so that that next step they take, hint hint buying your course, is an easy and a no brainer step for them.”
When it comes to different people and businesses, there are speaking opportunities that may be better or worse for you. This all depends on what your goals are.
Jessica, who works specifically with business owners who want to add speaking to their business, has an easy way to categorize different types of people and what public speaking opportunities are the best for them. She’s created three different tiers to break it down.
Tier one focuses on subject, and is for business owners who mainly want to focus on building credibility.
“This might mean that you don't have those courses in place just yet. But you know you want to do that in the future. This is the tier that you want to speak in to start building that credibility so people look at you as the expert in your subject matter.”
If you’re in this tier, the best types of speaking gigs to pursue are ones with a low cost and low barrier to entry. Since you want to focus on building credibility, you don’t want to pay a ton of money for these opportunities.
Tier Two focuses on audience, and is for business owners focusing on conversions. If you’ve already set up things behind the scenes like solid funnels, courses or programs, and you want to move people into those funnels, this is the tier for you.
“You want to get in front of ideal clients so that you can move them into your programs. So the most important thing there is getting in front of the right people.”
If you’re in tier two, you really want to focus on events that have your ideal client. “It's not going to make sense for you to go deliver this incredible presentation to an audience that wouldn't be a good fit for your programs.”
Tier Three is for speakers that want to get out there, deliver their message and get paid upfront for their time. People in this tier are looking more at the “motivational speaker” influence.
“You're not as worried about conversions because you're going to get compensated on the front end.”
Jessica emphasizes that speaking opportunities for this tier are really dependent on what you want to speak about. They’re really specific, and will depend on your industry, topic and type of business.
Want to learn more? Check out Jessica’s super easy public speaking quiz, which you can take to figure out which tier you fall into and what your public speaking strategy should be!
What kind of qualifications or experience do you need to pitch yourself and land those speaking gigs?
Jessica works with a lot of organizers when they’re curating their line ups, and says that there are a few things that people are looking for in potential speakers.
The first is they want to see that you’re serving and that you can demonstrate that you know the topic you want to speak about well. Organizers want to see that you’ve put in the time to understand the subject matter and can deliver something valuable.
“If you're saying you want to speak on, for example you want to speak about SEO, and I go to your Website right now and it doesn't actually say anything about SEO and there's nowhere that I can look, there's no blog post, there's no video, there's no content created to show me that you actually know this stuff, I most likely as an organizer am not going to select you.”
Not only will having this content help you land gigs, it will also help you grow your business later on.
If you want to speak about a topic that you don’t have any content created for, then that will only be a disservice to you and your business in the long run. If you deliver a presentation and inspire your potential audience to look into your business or the topic you presented on, but you don’t have any content on that topic, you’ll be leaving them disappointed and uninterested in working with you.
“You've got me all fired up, I go to your website, and there's nothing for me. I'm just going to be left to Google all night long trying to figure out how on earth do I do this?”
On the flip side, if you have good content on your website for the topics you want to speak about, public speaking can be a great way to inspire your potential audience. Jessica recommends having a very clear opt-in for your audience to know the first steps, and lots of content that your audience can binge to start learning about the topic.
“By not having that digital presence and that education part of your business already set up you just can't continue serving them after the stage.”
Another way to prepare is to build your online “speaking” presence. Organizers aren’t looking to see that you have a ton of experience speaking when they’re curating lineups, but they do want to see that you can speak in front of people.
The best way to do that in this digital era is through video.
“They want to see how you present and that could be YouTube videos, that could be live streams. Honestly there's one organizer who stalks speakers' Instagram stories.”
Organizers want to get a taste for how you communicate both on stage and with other potential attendees.
If you decide that sometime this year you want to start speaking as a part of your business, start building your online video presence now. The best way to do this is to create content that you want to speak about, and create videos and footage to show you’re ready to speak in public.
“Start showing up without expecting anything in return and create your content. Start building that credibility so that when you do put in an application or when you are considered to speak that you can show proof of concept and you can say this is the type of stuff that I talk about.”
Aside from showing up online with your content and in video, there are a few other things that you can do to make yourself a prime candidate for speaking gigs.
Jessica emphasizes the importance of really understanding and working for your clients. The best way to do this is by serving them.
“You have no idea what they need from you until you work with them and it can be great to assume that the audience needs X, Y and Z but until you have served those clients, whether that is through like one on one coaching, consulting work or through your programs and getting feedback from your courses, you just don't know what they need from you.”
Crafting a high value presentation and content for those clients can be tough if you haven’t put in the work.
Jessica has worked with people in this position before, who are potentially good speakers but don’t fully understand their clients’ needs. “They just really struggle with crafting their talk versus the business owner who has worked with tons of clients or has had tons of students. They know what the pain points are, they know how to address it, they know how to teach their topic because they've already created a billion blog posts about it and they understand all of those pain points.”
Jessica recommends that before you start speaking, you go deeper with your clients. One of the best things her students do before crafting a presentation is interview their former clients, so they can be really clear about what those students’ experiences were like.
You can use those answers to adjust your presentation content and understand the end result. This will help you paint a clearer picture about what’s possible for your audience.
When it comes to pitching yourself for potential speaking gigs, remember that explaining the necessity of your content is the most important thing to pitch, and not necessarily you and your credentials.
The most important thing to get across is “the difference that you’re going to make for the audience, how your presentation is going to impact them and what that will look like for the overall lineup of the event and how it fits in with the organizer’s brand.”
Don’t focus on yourself, because the organizer will care less about who you are if your message is good and fits in with their brand.
Jessica recommends being very upfront with the organizer, and explaining “this is what I want to speak about, or this is what I think this will really benefit your audience.” Explaining the why behind your presentation will help make it a lot easier for them to decide that you’re a good fit for their line up.
If an organizer decides that they’re interested in your topic and impact, the next thing they’ll do is see if you’re credible. Jessica emphasizes that this is why you should first focus on your message. “You don't need to sell your credibility first if this topic isn't even a good fit for them.”
Once you have the speaking gig and the opportunity to be in front of this audience, you need to make sure that you can follow through in your presentation. Just because you were chosen to speak doesn’t mean that your work is done.
First, you need to figure out what the best message you can send to that specific audience is.
Jessica says that “the most important thing is to figure out exactly what is one, I know this is hard… just one thing that I'm going to teach my audience. That's it.”
Once you pick your one thing, you can think through the different steps that you use to solve that one thing, and the objections, pain points and hurdles that your audience may have.
“That's what I want you to address because if we can get them to overcome that part ahead of time, if we can help them get the quick win, then they yes to your program is going to be easy.”
Jessica illustrates this with an example of a course that will teach how to get 10,000 followers on Instagram. If your audience doesn’t even have an Instagram account yet, then a course about getting followers probably isn’t something they would invest in. But if you can address that problem, and teach your audience how to make an account in your presentation, then you’ll be able to successfully pitch your product much easier.
Jessica recommends thinking through the things that may come up before somebody says yes to your product. “I want you to break that down for them. Why is this a problem and why are you the person to talk about this? What's possible for them if they can overcome this, and then maybe in one to three steps, how do we fix it.”
Pitching to Different Audiences: How to Tailor Your Specific Pitch to the Right People
Sometimes you may be speaking to a big audience – which means that you’ll probably have two (if not more!) different types of customers listening to your message. These people may all be in different phases of your ideal customer – so how do you juggle them all?
Jessica says that there are a few different ways you can do it. The way that she segments her audience is through a quiz, so her audience can figure out what type of public speaker they are and what their strategy should be. She then tailors her message to be specific to their needs.
“People could be all across the board and how I would serve them and help them is so different. So for me that works really well.”
After people take her quiz, they’re funneled through specific content that can help them address their specific needs. They receive a few emails with different topics and links to different podcast episodes to serve them exactly where they are after they take the quiz.
Jessica emphasizes the importance of tailoring your content to the specific needs of each person. “Trying to use blanket content across the board for everybody just isn't going to serve anyone.”
If you don’t have a quiz set up to immediately differentiate your audience, Jessica recommends approaching your audience like they are your ready, ideal customer, but also including information for other customers who may not be ready yet on what direction they should be going in.
“Go ahead and make your presentation for the person who's ready, for your ideal client, but you want to add an objection section right before your teaching points… You should have an objection section for the person who's not ready.”
This objection section could address the audience’s sense of being overwhelmed or not ready, but should provide guidance on their next steps.
“That person might not be ready today and you want your conversions today, but you also want to empower them that it's not that far behind there's just a few more steps and if they stick with you they can put all of that together.”
If you’re still feeling a little nervous about public speaking, Jessica wants you to know that you’re not alone. She wants to make sure that everyone feels empowered to try public speaking.
“I just really want to encourage everybody that if speaking is something you feel like you're ready to do, do it, like stop saying someday. If you're somebody who's been telling yourself that ‘I'm not enough’ or ‘I'm not extroverted enough,’ that's me.”
If you want to start public speaking, it’s time to start sending those emails. The only person holding you back is you. “Start putting yourself out there and you'll just get to serve your audience in a bigger way.”
The worst thing that could happen is that no one will respond to your email, or they’ll just say no. If that happens, you haven’t lost anything. But it could potentially lead to something great.
For those of you worried about something tripping on stage in front of a lot of people or doing something embarrassing – it happens. Both Jessica and I have had embarrassing moments in while we were speaking. But we made a joke about it, moved on, and it really wasn’t too bad.
It’s easy to look at people who are already public speaking and see them as being a level above you. Jessica wants you to know that they probably aren’t any further than you are in their business – they’ve just taken the steps to get out there and find speaking engagements.
She says, “I'm going to promise you that the only reason they're getting those engagements is because they're out there doing the work. Doesn't mean that they're better than you. It doesn't mean that they have more knowledge than you or they could show up and serve better. It just means that they're sending this scary email.”
//LINKS IN THE SHOW//
Check out Jessica’s site – https://thepublicspeakingstrategist.com/
Listen to Jessica’s podcast – https://thepublicspeakingstrategist.com/podcast
Want to take Jessica’s Public Speaking Type Quiz? – thepublicspeakingstrategist.com/quiz
//BUILD YOUR OWN QUIZ//