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The Uncomfortable Truth About How to Become a Professional Speaker

professional speaker

People ask me all the time, “how do you get into public speaking?”

There are lots of different answers and many necessary steps but there is one simple one you cannot overlook.

If you want to teach people about greatness, then you yourself have to have done something great.

You have to earn the right to talk to people.

You have to prove that you aren’t just a student but that you also are a practitioner.

You cannot lead a mediocre life and expect anyone to want to learn from you.

Your opportunity to influence and lead others is always a direct byproduct of your ability to create greatness in your own life and in the lives of the people around you.

So it doesn’t matter if you think it’s your purpose.

It doesn’t matter if you think it’s your passion.

None of that matters if you haven’t pushed yourself to some extreme level of performance. Because then all you are is an educated derelict.

You could be someone who knows a lot but you’ve done nothing. Which actually means you know nothing.

That’s not who you want to be and that’s not who the world rewards.

The world rewards those who work.

The world rewards those who overcome.

The world rewards those who have done something that proves to the rest of us that we are capable of more ourselves.

So don’t tell me you want to speak and teach and “impact people” and then go out and look for the easiest route, listen to all the naysayers, make weak excuses, and do all the things that are comfortable.

If you want to teach people about greatness, you yourself have to have done something great.

So if you want a chance to speak – at least to me – then go out in your industry or business or area of study and do something great.

Do something impossible.

Do something extraordinary.

Do something that shows me as a fellow human that I’m capable of more than I thought.

Do something that makes me believe that if you can do it then I can do it.

Do that, and I will be the first to sign up and sit in your class at your feet to have a chance to learn from you…

And so will everyone else.

PS. If you want to know more tips and strategies for how to be a better speaker or build a speaking business you and I could talk twice a month1?

Check this out: http://www.roryvadenmastermind.com

Succeeding in the Speaking Industry with Brian Tracy – Episode 163 of The Action Catalyst Podcast

Speaking Industry

Brian Tracy is an Author, Keynote speaker and seminar leader. He addresses more than 250,000 people each year on the subjects of personal and professional development and has studied, researched, written and spoken for 30 years in the fields of economics, history, business, philosophy and psychology. He is the top selling author of over 70 books that have been translated into dozens of languages.He has written and produced more than 300 audio and video learning programs, including the worldwide, best-selling Psychology of Achievement, which has been translated into more than 28 languages.

Prior to founding his company, Brian Tracy International, Brian was the Chief Operating Officer of a $265 million dollar development company. He has had successful careers in sales and marketing, investments, real estate development and syndication, importation, distribution and management consulting. He has conducted high level consulting assignments with several billion-dollar plus corporations in strategic planning and organizational development. He has traveled and worked in over 107 countries on six continents, and speaks four languages. Brian is happily married to Barbara and has four children. Brian is active in community and national affairs, and is the President of three companies headquartered in Solana Beach, California.

Show Highlights:

  • Without self-discipline, hard work, and focus, you really can’t accomplish anything. @BrianTracy
  • “The Master key to riches is self-discipline” – Napoleon Hill
  • “Self-discipline is the ability to make yourself do what you should do, when you should do it, whether you feel like it or not.” – Albert Hubbard
  • Self-discipline is the catalyst or linchpin that makes all the other principles work. @BrianTracy
  • Manage your time, get organized, set priorities and determine most important thing and stay with it until it’s complete. @BrianTracy
  • I didn’t graduate high school so I thought washing dishes was my future. @BrianTracy
  • I had 3 major turning points in my life:    @BrianTracy
    1. Discovered I was responsible for my own life.
    2. Discovered the importance of written goals and plans.
    3. Discovery of personal development
  • Discipline yourself to do what you need to do to accomplish the goals that are important to you. @BrianTracy
  • Every high powered person is very responsible. @BrianTracy
  • I found the only way to be successful was to go back to basics. @BrianTracy
  •  My focus has been to teach people how to dramatically increase the rate at which they reach their goals. @BrianTracy
  • When speaking, romance your points. Give more stories and low it down so they can assimilate it. @BrianTracy
  • Rory shares his checklist for how to get started and to be successful as a professional speaker! @rory_vaden
  • The number one element for becoming a great speaker is: Be a student. @rory_vaden
  • It’s not about age time, it about stage time. @rory_vaden
  • Take charge of your own success. @rory_vaden
  • You can’t afford to wait to be discovered; your dream is too valuable. @rory_vaden
  • Don’t allow your pursuit of your dream to compromise your other targets. @rory_vaden

To connect with Brian and find materials on self confidence, goal setting and much more visit: briantracy.com

This is a special extended interview with Brian Tracy. The extended interview is all about wealth and successful habits of millionaires! To receive the extended bonus interview, send an email to rorypodcast@gmail.com with just your FIRST NAME in the subject line and it will be sent to you in an email format.

The Action Catalyst is a weekly podcast hosted by Rory Vaden of Southwestern Consulting every Wednesday. The show is regularly in the Top 25 of Business News Podcasts, has listeners from all around the world and shares “insights and inspiration to help you take action.” Each week Rory shares ideas on how to increase your self-discipline and make better use of your time to help you achieve your goals in life. He also interviews special expert guests and thought leaders. Subscribe on iTunes and please leave a rating and review!

How Do You Write Jokes?

jokes

If you’re a business leader or a professional speaker you don’t necessarily need to learn how to write jokes, but it will help you if you can learn to be funny. 

Someone recently asked me, “Rory how do you write jokes?”

My response was “don’t try to write jokes; instead write stories.” 

For most people it’s much easier to write about something that really happened to them that makes them or other people laugh as they think back on it. And there is automatically an extra added element of humor when it’s based on a true story. 

Start with writing out the story first in as much detail as you remember. Then as you go back through and edit the story, look for natural opportunities to use these humor techniques:

Exaggerate the character features – Developing your characters is always one of the best ways to improve your stories. So let us know more about who the people are that were in the story and anytime you exaggerate their characteristics it’s usually funny. 

Instead of saying “she was an older woman” say “she was probably 67…thousand years old. Seriously, she was in the Yoda stage of life.”

Embellish the circumstances – Think of interesting ways to express the circumstances. 

Instead of saying “the family was poor” say “there was no way this family was going to have the money…there was a better chance of an Amish family pulling up in a Hummer.” 

Be self-deprecating – People love to laugh at a speakers own ineptness so don’t be afraid to highlight it. 

Instead of saying “I don’t know anything about changing air filters” say “I went to Home Depot and asked the lady for an air filter and she said ‘what size’ and I said ‘they come in different sizes?!'”

Connect the old with the new – Since all stories are from the past it makes us laugh when you introduce an element of the future that everyone knows wasn’t there. 

Instead of saying “Jesus went to Galilee” say “So Jesus pulled up Google Maps and said we must go to Galilee!”

Humanize inanimate objects – Anytime you treat things as living that aren’t really living it is often funny. 

My friend Craig Valentine has a cute story where he says “I needed help so I picked up a book. I remember I looked at the book and then the book looked at me!” The book then proceeds to give him advice as if it were a real person. 

Get inside their heads – We connect with other people by being able to relate with what they’re thinking and experiencing. So tell us what the characters were thinking in the crazy moments. But say something different than what everyone might expect. 

For instance let’s pretend you’re telling a story about a bicycle accident you once had during one of your first jobs. As the bike is falling over tell us what you were thinking. Except what we would expect to hear is “this is going to hurt” so instead say “wow this is really going to enhance my resume!”

Remember you’re not a stand up comedian so no one expects you to be. Which actually very much works in your favor because people won’t be expecting you to be funny in a business environment – and that makes it easier to pull off. So instead of starting with trying to write jokes, just tell stories. 

When speaking you don’t want to “lie” and just outright make things up because that’s dishonest. But you also don’t want to just tell what happened in plain detail because that’s boring. Both are a disservice to your audience. 

Instead, use what is commonly referred to as a “license to embellish.” Which simply means to highlight and play up the most salient features of the story. 

This will give your stories more life, more color, and more laughs.  

P.S. For more on the psychology of why we laugh and how to become a funnier person check out my book “How to be funny to make more money.

David Avrin: Visibility Marketing – Episode 154 of The Action Catalyst Podcast

visibility marketing

 

David Avrin, The Visibility Coach, is one of the most in-demand Business Marketing/Branding Keynote Speakers in the world today. With a surprisingly irreverent and entertaining style, David delivers a profoundly insightful and hard-hitting message to business audience across North America and around the world.

 

Show Highlights:

  • The new reality in the marketplace is that everybody’s good. @DavidAvrin
  • You have to make a compelling case that you’re a better choice than the other good choices. @DavidAvrin
  • Most of our marketing connection really has to be about making that compelling case about what makes us different. @DavidArvin
  • Four most dangerous words in business – All Things Being Equal. @DavidAvrin
  • True does not equal compelling and accurate does not equal persuasive. @DavidAvrin
  • To what question is your business the answer? @DavidAvrin
  • What makes you the best choice in a sea of good choices doesn’t have to be monumental but it has to be memorable. @DavidAvrin
  • For most of us, our biggest challenge is not our competitors it’s anonymity. @DavidAvrin
  • If they don’t know who you are they can’t buy what your selling. @DavidAvrin
  • There are lots of way to do it right but only one way to do it wrong and that’s complacency. @DavidAvrin
  • If you want people to be interested, you have to be interesting. @DavidAvrin
  • Find your uniqueness and exploit it in the service of others – Larry Winget
  •  Quality is no longer a differentiator, it is simply the price of admission. @rory_vaden
  • There is no such thing as copy that is too long, only copy that is too boring. – Randy Gage

Go to Visibilityinternational.com for more on David and his book Visibility Marketing.

The Action Catalyst is a weekly podcast hosted by Rory Vaden of Southwestern Consulting™ every Wednesday. The show is regularly in the Top 25 of Business News Podcasts, has listeners from all around the world and shares “insights and inspiration to help you take action.” Each week Rory shares ideas on how to increase your self-discipline and make better use of your time to help you achieve your goals in life. He also interviews special expert guests and thought leaders. Subscribe on iTunes and please leave a rating and review!

How to overcome your fear of public speaking

Rory Vaden Public Speaker

I am amazed that it has already been over eight years since I came in second at the Toastmasters World Championship of Public Speaking.

And still to this day many interviewers ask me questions about that season in my life, which was so long ago. The most common question asked is, “How did you overcome your fear of speaking in public?”

It really is quite simple.

First, you have to have an understanding of what causes this type of fear in general.

Fear is the result of a self centered perspective. It is thinking about whether or not you’ll be good enough, whether other people will like it, or whether you are ready.

In other words, fear results when you’re thinking about all of the bad things that could happen to you.

That is amplified when you think about being in front of a room full of people. If something goes wrong, you not only have the personal embarrassment you would feel of making a mistake, but it is compounded by the humiliation of having many people witness it live.

In general, fear is your creativity working in the wrong direction.

In this instance, fear results as you allow yourself to daydream about all of the terrible things that could happen to you while you are up speaking.

So the solution to overcoming this fear is very simple…

The solution is to not think about yourself.

The solution is to be others-centered.

The solution is to think about other people-specifically the audience.

The solution is to think about how you are going to help them – and not worry about you.

If you simply direct all of your energy into helping them rather than into worrying about yourself, your presentation, what you’re going to say, and whether or not they are going to like you…your fear will go away.

“It’s hard to be nervous when your heart is on service.”

So right before any presentation I do not think as much about what I’m going to say, or what people are going to think about me.

Instead, I stand back stage behind the curtain and I look out over the room. And then I pick people out of the crowd one by one.

And in my mind I think about what life might be like to be that person. I think about what are the types of things that person might be struggling with on a day-to-day basis. I create a story in my mind about some of the physical, mental, emotional, financial, professional, relational, and spiritual challenges they might be dealing with.

I think about how hard it might be to be that person.

And then I think about how likely it is that this person has only a very small few number of people – if any – who constantly encourage them in their life.

In that moment, when I feel connected to that person, I simply ask God to use me in a way that would help them. That He would give me the words to say that would encourage them. That the ideas that I share would excite them.

And then I move on to the next person.

I consider that as my creativity working in the positive direction.

It takes all of the focus off of me and my fear goes away with it.

The #1 Greatest Secret Technique of World Championship Winning Speeches and Presenters

What if I told you there was one distinctive secret of world champion presentations that separates them from all others?

Well there most certainly is…

I don’t talk about it much anymore these days, but a big part of how I started my speaking career was by competing in the Toastmasters World Championship of Public Speaking.

It’s a contest where 25,000 contestants compete over 9 months for the chance to be called the World Champion of Public Speaking.

I joined Toastmasters in October 2005 when I was 22 years old and I saw the World Championship as a way to establish some credibility for myself in the world of professional speaking.

Over the next 2 years, I did 304 speeches for free, received over 2,200 evaluations, watched over 3,000 hours of film, read dozens of books and took dozens of courses in the art of speaking.

In August of 2006, I made it to the World Championships: the top 10 speakers in the world. That year though, I lost.

But in August of 2007, however, I made it back to the World Championship and that was the year that I…well I lost again but I lost higher!

As Jerry Seinfeld would say, I was “the #1 loser.” Because in 2007 I became the Toastmasters World Champion of Public Speaking First Runner Up. In other words, I came in second place in the world just after my 24th birthday.

But after all of that relentless study, I realized that there was 1 primary secret between the winning speeches and everyone else.

To this day, I’ve noticed the same to be true on the professional speaking circuit and in all of the presentations we see at various companies.

Here’s the secret…

Most people take a 9-minute speech and try to cram it into 7 minutes (the maximum amount of allowable time in a Toastmasters competition).

The champions take a 4-minute speech and they deliver it in 6.

Champions realize that less is more.

They allow time for pauses.

They allow time for laughter.

They allow time for spontaneous connection with the audience.

And that is true for any presenter – whether it’s a CEO at a company meeting, an entrepreneur at a pitch meeting to investors, a salesperson trying to demonstrate the benefits of a product to a prospect, or a professional speaker speaking to an audience.

You have to allow time for space and margin and connection.

It is one of the most challenging but important disciplines of professional speaking.

Most people can’t do it.

Most people instead try to say everything they know in the short amount of time they have alloted.

Don’t do that.

Be concise.

As Mark Twain once said, “brevity is the essence of wisdom.”

And remember as James C. Humes wrote…

There are 66 words in the Lord’s Prayer…most people can recite it.

There are 179 words in the 10 Commandments…most people know a few.

There are 282 words in the Gettysburg Address…most people would at least recognize it.

And then there are 26,911 words in the United States Government’s regulation on the sale of cabbage!

And nobody cares!

Less is more.