Do you believe you can learn lessons from “bad guys?” I do! There are lessons everywhere we look… if we’re looking. I’m not much of a Star Trek fan, but one of my cousins was a big fan of the original TV series. We used to watch the show together as kids, and I remember one particular villain who was wreaking havoc on a planet. Looking back, I find a positive lesson for speakers in this negative character. I don’t even remember the character’s name, but I do remember what he stood for.
Though he looked like everyone else, the character’s strength was many times that of the average man. All I remember from the episode, was the ending when another person asked him why he came to this planet from his own. He explained that gravity on his own planet was much greater than on theirs. He could’ve either stayed there and been a librarian or come here and be incredibly strong. Now, I don’t mean to slight librarians — it’s a metaphor from an old TV show. But, which would you choose?
Although his intentions were bad, his logic made sense. Unfortunately, I see too many speakers presenting stories that aren’t original or not about their own experiences. Your strength lies in your own experience. When you bring your own knowledge — from your life or studies — and present it to an audience filled with people who are hungry for that information, you truly are the strong man/woman.
If you’re trying to “create a speech” with good stories that you haven’t actually lived, you’re just like everyone else. Someone with real life experience can easily bring more value. One of my favorite comments I ever received after a keynote was, “We’ve heard many speakers before talk about motivation, but you’re different, you lived it.”
During that keynote, I may have said many of the same things they’ve heard before — but because I was drawing from my own real-life experience, it was somehow absorbed at a deeper level. For years, I shared with my fellow speakers the advice from my mentors about the value of “stage time.” It was only after I won the World Championship that it meant more. My success in that arena, gave me more credibility, and the advice a higher perceived value. I’ve helped many coaches coach other speakers. I’ve heard the advice they give, and often I will give the exact same advice. But my advice is received differently because of my background & experience.
One of my students, Scott, put into practice some advice he learned at one of my Champ Camps. Even while still searching for his niche, Scott was out there, learning by doing it. When speaking at local service clubs, he asked his audience what they wanted to hear more about if they were to hear him speak again. (Brilliant! Ask the people you’re in front of!) Scott thought for sure that people would want to hear about customer service or starting a business. These are two areas in which he had experience and would also encounter much competition. The third subject he listed on a whim was sports betting. It, too, was a topic with which he had years of experience.
To Scott’s surprise, about 80% of the people who turned in their feedback forms wanted to know more about sports betting! This was a topic where Scott has value, and people wanted more! Scott took for granted his own personal experience — he didn’t realize how much value it would have to other people. The bonus is that there’s very little competition in the speaking and live boot camp arenas when it comes to this subject. With the customer service and starting a business topics, Scott would be a librarian. But on the topic of sports betting, Scott is the strong man! It’s also his passion. He can quickly stand out with the good speaking skills he’s been honing.
Even CEO’s look at being the strong man. The book Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com covers this same subject. As Zappos was first gaining notoriety, Tony spoke anywhere and everywhere… about anything. Now, after realizing where his core values are and what subjects he’s passionate about, he will only speak on those topics. He knows that his value and influence lie in his passion. When he gets invited to speak — no matter how high the fee — the event planner is given the subjects on which Tony will speak. If those subjects don’t fit within the conference plan, he will politely decline.
It pains me when I see Toastmasters who search aimlessly for a topic to speak on, and don’t even consider speaking on their job, hobby or passion. These are the subjects that will make them the strong man/woman.
Wreak good havoc in the minds of people who need and want your influence. If your goal is to be a motivational speaker, ask yourself, “What have I done?” It may not be very clear at the moment, but that’s okay. It took me awhile to find my own value, too. Even though I can speak in front of many audiences on many subjects, I choose not to do that. I choose to be the strong man. I can make a bigger impact and have more fun doing it.
As I look to my own future, I don’t want to be just another comedian. I want to inspire people through the medium of humor. There’s a big difference. I can speak on customer service or starting a company, as well. But, it’s not where my core value lies. I could speak on social media, but I’ve not monetized it. However, I have been successful and I’m passionate about YouTube. My YouTube channel now has more than 777,000 views, and I’ve created an educational DVD, called “YouTube it!”
You might be thinking, “Yeah, but I don’t have any credentials like you.” Neither did I when I started! I was a middle-act comedian, at best, when I came into speaking. I barely had 20 minutes of mediocre material. But, I was passionate about humor and I’d always loved business. So, I started interviewing people who had credibility in business. My passion gave me the follow-through to create a quality audio and book, Learn how the Pros Make ’em Laugh and Laugh & Get Rich. My first speeches and workshops were about what I learned doing those interviews. I used their credibility not my own. It was my own passion though, and it catapulted me to becoming an expert.
What about you? Are you trying to “stand out” in a crowd of many other speakers on subjects that have a lot of competition? Why not take a look inside and see on what planet you can stand out and be the strong man/woman. What mistakes have you made? What new subjects might you consider? Did this make you think?
Post your comments here on my blog!
2001 World Champion of Public Speaking
P.S. Humor and Hope contest and introductory special end TONIGHT (Tuesday, July 26, 2011) at 12 midnight Eastern time. Last chance for the introductory offer!
P.P.S. Want to meet Scott and hear him tell you about this experience in his own words? Click below to watch the video.
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Here’s an email I received recently…
Yes, I am getting two of your newsletter, the Inspirational Quotes and Get Paid to Speak Tips. Any others do you have?
I’ve got to say… you are the best in the business… with most products, highest visibility on the internet, and totally outshine the others.
Lee Xi Wen
Tips he’s referring to: