Grant Baldwin The Successful Speaker | PoP 436

Grant Baldwin The Successful Speaker | PoP 436

Are you keen to dip your toes into public speaking? Do you know who your audience is and what topic you would address? How can you establish yourself as an expert and get paid to speak?

In this podcast episode, Joe Sanok speaks with Grant Baldwin about his 5 step roadmap that covers everything you need to know and do to ensure that you become a successful speaker.

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Meet Grant Baldwin

Grant Baldwin

Grant Baldwin is the founder of The Speaker Lab, a training company that helps public speakers learn how to find and book speaking gigs. Through his popular podcast, The Speaker Lab and flagship coaching program Booked and Paid to Speak he has coached and worked with thousands of speakers. As a keynote speaker, Grant has delivered nearly one thousand presentations to over 500,000 people in 47 states and has keynoted events for audiences as large as 13,000. Grant has also been featured in national media including Forbes, Inc., Entrepreneur, and Huffington Post.

He now lives near Nashville, Tennessee, with his wife, Sheila, and their three daughters.

Visit Grant’s website, connect him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and listen to his podcast here.

In This Podcast


  • Selecting a problem to solve
  • Preparing your talk
  • Establishing yourself as the expert
  • Acquire paid speaking gigs
  • Know when to scale

The 5 step roadmap: S.P.E.A.K

S – select a problem to solve

Once you’re clear on who you’re speaking to and what the specific problem is that you solve, then it actually becomes a lot simpler to find gigs versus trying to be all things for all people.

  • Get clear on who you speak to (industry)
  • What’s the problem that you are going to solve for them (interest)
  • Are you qualified to talk about that topic (integrity)

P – prepare your talk

When creating a talk, one of the best tools to use is stories. Stories are incredibly impactful and incredibly helpful.

These are 2 questions an audience is always asking themselves and a speaker should always be thinking about this.

  1. So what? – Why does this apply to me, why does this matter to me and why should I care?
  2. Now what? – What do you want the audience to do as a result of this?

E – establish yourself as the expert

As far as establishing yourself as the expert, you’re basically planting your flag in the ground and saying this is what I am the go to authority on and you’re making sure that your marketing materials reflect that.

There are 2 key marketing tools you need as a speaker:

  1. Website – use your name as the domain because you are selling yourself
  2. Demo video – think of this as a movie trailer, people will get to see why they should book you

A – acquire paid speaking gigs

The simplest events to get hired for are those that are already booking speakers.

You need to look for and reach out to these event planners by sending an email in the hopes that you can start a conversation:

  • Make sure it’s a 3-4 sentence email
  • Ask a question in the email that requires a response

K – know when to scale

You can do all those things, but something’s going to come first and something’s going to come last.

A lot of people who are interested in speaking are also interested in having a book, starting a podcast, coaching or consulting. Make sure that you don’t do all these things at once. You can continue to expand your income, impact and reach as a speaker, but you have to think through the best way to do that and what makes the most sense for you in your business.

Click here to pre-order Grant’s book and get free bonuses.

Listen to Grant interviewing Joe here.

Books by Grant Baldwin

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Meet Joe Sanok

private practice consultant

Joe Sanok helps counselors to create thriving practices that are the envy of other counselors. He has helped counselors to grow their businesses by 50-500% and is proud of all the private practice owners that are growing their income, influence, and impact on the world. Click here to explore consulting with Joe.

Thanks For Listening!

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Podcast Transcription

[JOE]: This is the Practice of the Practice podcast with Joe Sanok, session number 436. You have a website that you love, but nobody seems to be finding it. You don’t have the time to learn to do your own search engine optimization, but know that it’s time to get your website ranking better on Google? If you’re looking to outsource your SEO, Simplified SEO Consulting is the place to go. Jessica and her team know what it takes to get private practice websites to the top of Google and do in-depth SEO work on every page they optimize. Whether you hate technology or just don’t want to mess with it, the Simplified SEO Consulting team can put your mind at ease, do the work for you and help you grow your business by showing up on Google. To book your free Zoom consultation call or to begin with $100 off their online course, head on over two Again, that’s
Did you just, duh, duh, duh… I’m leaving that in. Did you just discover this podcast? If so, welcome. I am so glad you’re here. Thank you for tuning in. There are 435 other episodes, so you’ve got your next 10 weeks or so of you to know, podcasts ahead of you. So 10 40-hour work weeks, that should just about cover it. So we’ve got a lot of content out there. If you haven’t rated and reviewed us, that is one of the very best ways for us to get in front of Apple. They then kind of recommend us to other people, but even more so it helps other people know we exist. Share this episode with somebody that you think might get it or might really get something out of it. Grant Baldwin, I’m going to tell you about him in a minute, but his podcast about speaking was the one that really kicked me in the pants to get out there speaking and, The Speaker Lab, I can’t recommend it highly enough if you are thinking about becoming a speaker or you just want to raise your game.
So, you got to check it out. There are techniques, there are ways to get booked. It’s just amazing. You got to check it out. We have a bunch of awesome events coming up and we have more that we’re going to be scheduling, especially when my family and I go on this North American road trip. We’re going to be on the road for at least nine months, at least that’s the plan. We will be podcasting from the road doing this podcast, but then we’re also going to be launching another podcast called Leave to Find and we’ll give you more details when that’s actually going to go live. But you know, we’ve got Slow Down School, which is happening in late July. Those tickets are going to be closing soon, so, you want to go over to and just schedule an interview with me. We’ll take 20 minutes or so, I’ll hear about kind of where you’re at with your practice and your big ideas, what you’d want to achieve., and I’ll honestly say, “I think you’ll get a great return on investment for your time and money,” or, “It’s kind of a waste of your money.”
We have enough people that apply for each of our different things. We just want the right people there because when the right people are there in the room, you know, you don’t even have to facilitate that much. I mean, of course, I do, but when you have, you know, 10 or 20 people that are just awesome high achievers that know they want to slow down, they want to live a good life, but they want to get to the next level, well that’s really important that you pay attention to that.
Occasionally, that happens while I’m podcasting, that is my timer. I set timers probably five or six times a day just so that I can dive full tilt into my work without having to think about what time it is for my next thing. So I actually have a phone call with somebody that’s looking at the Done For You podcasting in four minutes. And so I wanted to squeeze in one more intro and outro of this episode right now. So that’s what I’m doing. So without any further ado, here’s Grant Baldwin.
Well, today on the Practice of the Practice podcast, we have Grant Baldwin. Grant Baldwin has a new book coming out called The Successful Speaker, he has an amazing podcast that I follow and he’s been on my show before and I’ve been on his and I just want to welcome you back, Grant. Glad you’re here.
[GRANT]: Joe, thanks for letting me hang out with you, man. It was good to catch up.
[JOE]: Oh yes. You know, I followed your work for a few years here and to just see how you’ve continued to grow has been so awesome. And you know, speaking wise, that’s one of the questions I get most often from people is, you know, “H can I be a better public speaker?” And so having you back on the show, especially with this new book, I’m just so excited to dive in even more.
[GRANT]: Cool, man. Let’s just jump in.
[JOE]: Yes. So why don’t we just start with what are trends maybe in speaking, let’s start with kind of newer speakers. When you meet new speakers and they’re in their first couple of years and you know, we’ve got a lot of therapists listening to this show and they’ve got immense skills, they’re awesome at therapy, but they’re saying to themselves, “You know what, I want to get out into the world a little bit more. I want to do some local speaking and maybe even in my state or at kind of national conferences.” What are some of those first steps that you want to have them kind of overcome in mindset or things to plan out or ways to practice? Like where would you start when you’re working with someone that’s kind of newer to speaking?
[GRANT]: Yes, so inside the new book that you mentioned, The Successful Speaker we teach a five-step process, a kind of a five-step roadmap that makes the acronym speak; S, P, E, A, K. And so the first part is going to be the most critical part, the S. Select a problem to solve. And this basically involves three pieces. So getting clear on who you speak to, what’s the problem that you solve for them, and are you qualified to talk about that topic? So the biggest mistake that we see a lot of speakers make is we say things like, “I’m interested in speaking. I would love to do more speaking. I’m interested and I would love to incorporate speaking into my business. And so who do I speak to? I’ll speak to anybody. I’ll speak about anything. I love speaking. Speaking, just fun.”
And yet we don’t get clear on who we speak to you or what we speak about. So I know that you work with a lot of counselors, for example. So if people were to say, “What do you counsel about?” Well, “What do you want me to counsel about? I can counsel about anything.”
[JOE]: “I can handle anybody.”
[GRANT]: Yes, like that doesn’t work. You know, so if you say, “My target audience is humans,” like you, you cannot build a successful business that way. And so it’s no different than then for being a counselor versus being a speaker. So once you’re clear on who you speak to and what’s the specific problem that you solve, then it actually becomes a lot simpler to find gigs versus trying to be all things for all people. So one of the things we talk a lot about is making sure that you are the steakhouse and not the buffet; be the steakhouse and not the buffet. And what we mean by that is that if, Joe, if you and I were going to go to lunch and we were going to, we wanted a good steak. Like we could go to a buffet where steak is one of a hundred things that they offer and they’re probably, everything on that buffet is probably going to be mediocre. Or we could go to a steakhouse where that’s all they do. We do steak, we do one thing, we do it really, really well. And that’s what you want to make sure that you’re positioning yourself as, as a speaker; is the steakhouse. I do this one thing, I do it really, really well.
So, in the same way, that if someone says, “Hey, I need a good family counselor. I need a good marriage counselor, I need to get an addiction counselor.” Like, perfect. I have one person. This is the best person that you should go to for this. And the same way that if someone said, “I’m looking for what’s the best place for tacos,” or, “I’m looking for the best place for a burger,” or, “What’s the best pizza in town?” You wouldn’t send them to a buffet. You’d say, “No. Okay, if you’re looking for this, here’s the place you want to go.” Versus, “I’m looking for, I want to be at a restaurant that just serves food.” You don’t want to do that. You don’t want to be a counselor that helps everyone and you don’t want to be a speaker that tries to speak to everyone. So the more clear, the more specific, the more focus you can be, actually, the easier it becomes to actually find gigs.
[JOE]: Oh, that’s so awesome. It’s funny, you know, as you said that I was thinking about some advice my father gave me as I went off to college and you know, you would think that the advice that stuck with me was really profound advice, “Save your money or put money into an IRA,” or something like that. But instead, the advice that I remember him saying was, “Don’t ever go to a Chinese restaurant that doesn’t have a bunch of cars in the parking lot and never order a burger from a Chinese restaurant and never get Chinese food from a burger joint.” It’s just such random advice that I just thought of as you were saying that. But it’s so true. It’s like, you know, you’re, if you go to a fancy restaurant and you try to order something that maybe is below the fanciest, probably going to be pretty good. That whole idea of specializing, you’re going to still get something decent. But if you go to a mom and pop place and you say, I want Creme Brulee, like it’s not going to taste good. And so I love that idea of, so the S is for being specific, was that what the S was?
[GRANT]: Select a problem to solve. And so, yes, so within that, we talk about what we call the topic trifecta. So there’s three I’s; the industry again, who you speak to, the interest or what you talk about or what’s the problem that you solve, and then integrity. Are you actually qualified to talk about that? So being really clear. Once you’re clear on industry, interest, and integrity, then again, finding and actually booking gigs is a lot simpler.
[JOE]: Oh, I love that. Okay, so select a problem to solve. So what’s the P in speak?
[GRANT]: The P is prepare your talk. So once you’re clear on, this is who I speak to, this is what I speak about, this is the problem that I solve, then you can actually start to formulate the talk and put the talk together. And so within this, we talk about creating the talk, we talk about the differences between keynotes and workshops and seminars. We also talk about delivering the talk and like presentation skills, platform skills. So there’s a bunch of different directions we could go there depending again on where someone needs help. So once they’re clear on who they speak to, what they speak about, then it’s actually putting together then getting the talk ready to present.
[JOE]: And what are some things that you recommend in regards to putting together a talk? I know that there are people like Carmine Gallo who says, you know, don’t, he looked at the top 200 TED Talks and says, “Make sure you have some stories in there. Make sure you have some science in there.” What do you recommend when you’re preparing for a talk? I know we each probably have our own way that we do that, but what are ways that people can really dig into preparing that talk?
[GRANT]: Yes. Well, one thing I’d say is there’s not necessarily any right or wrong formula. So if you look at like the top 200 TED Talks or some of the more popular motivational keynote presentations, there’s certainly going to be some overlapping elements, but it’s not necessarily like you have to have three points and you have to do it this way and you have to go in this order. There’s a bunch of different types of talks. And so it’s not necessarily you have to fit into this certain box or do it this certain way. And the same way that not you know, there’s certainly, a lot of movies may follow some type of formula, but not all movies do. And they can approach telling a story in different ways. So two things that I think would be really helpful, one is to be really, really clear on two things; two questions that an audience is always asking themselves. So what, and now what? So what, and now what?
So, meaning that an audience is always sitting there thinking like, “All right, great talk, funny, interesting, engaging, whatever. So what? Why does this apply to me? Why does this matter to me? Why should I care?” So a speaker should always be thinking about that and making sure that their talk answers that. So what? Why is this relevant to the audience? And now what? What do you want the audience to do as a result of this? So now what? It could be I want the audience to think differently, I want them to take some type of action, I want some of them to do something different as a result of this. Because Joe, again, you and I both heard talks where we leave and like, “That is a great talk. That was interesting, fascinating, fun, whatever,” or we’re just kind of like, “I don’t know what to, am I supposed to do something different? Or like what’s supposed to happen now?” So you want to make sure that the audience is always clear on so what, and now what.
The second thing I was going to say is that you kind of touched on is when creating a talk, one of the best tools any speaker can use is stories. Stories are incredibly impactful, incredibly helpful because here’s the thing, people may not remember, like 30 minutes from now, they’ve finished listening to this and they’re going on about their day. They may not remember all the little things that we talk about, but they will remember something you touched on earlier of your dad’s advice. Dad’s advice of don’t eat a burger at a Chinese place. Like some little story of my dad told me one time this little line, right. As people remember stories, people we resonate with stories.
So, if I were to say right now, “Joe let me tell you a quick story,” like you have no idea where the story is going to go. Is this going to be funny? Is this going to be sad? Is this going to be interesting? Is this going to be boring? Is this going to be entertaining? We have no idea what the point of the story is. But as humans, we are naturally drawn to stories. So stories are really, really effective, really, really powerful for speakers to use. So I would recommend that you use as many stories as possible. And again, they can be funny, they can be short, they can be long, they can be sad, they can be inspirational. There’s a lot of different ways that you can use stories, but stories are incredibly, incredibly impactful and helpful for a speaker.
[JOE]: Oh, that’s so awesome. So what’s the E?
[GRANT]: So the E is establish yourself as the expert. Establish yourself as an expert. So again, we’re clear on who we speak to, we’re clear on what’s the problem that we solve, we are clear on what the talk is about on how we can best help people. Now the point is creating your marketing materials. And so there are two key marketing tools that you really need as a speaker. You need a website and you need a demo video. You need a website and a demo video. So if you don’t have a website, you don’t exist. You have to have a website. One of the things we recommend is that you use your name as the domain because one of the unique things about being a speaker is that you are the product. You are the brand.
So, you’re not selling some type of, you know, widget or do-hickey or anything. You are selling you. You are the product. So we recommend again that you use your name as the domain. As far as the demo video goes, the demo video is really important for people to be able to see, to determine whether or not to book you. So think of it as a movie trailer. You know, typically before either one of us would go see a movie, we would want to see the trailer. And they take like a 90-minute movie, they boil it down to just a couple of minutes. And within those few minutes, you have an idea of who’s in it, what’s the plot, what’s the theme, you know, all of these things about the movie. And the point of the trailer is to make you want to see more, make you want to see more.
You want that, whenever my wife and I are going to a movie and there we’re watching the previews ahead of time. We want to watch that trailer and be like, “Ah, that looks awesome. Whenever that comes out, we got to go see that. That’s going to be an amazing movie.” And so that’s what you’re trying to accomplish with the demo video; is two or three minutes of you speaking that makes an event planner, that makes it as a decision-maker say, “Oh wow, they are, we have to have them. We have to have Joe for our event. That was awesome. I need to see more, I need to learn more, I need to reach out and have a conversation with them, see if they’re available or what the rates are.” But enough there that makes someone want to see more. That’s the point of the video. So as far as establishing yourself as the expert, you’re basically planting your flag in the ground of saying like, “This is what I’m the go-to authority on and you’re making sure that your marketing materials reflect that.
[JOE]: Now is it okay to just have someone pull out an iPhone or should you have a professional person come get video of you at your speaking events?
[GRANT]: Well today, I mean at the time of this recording, like iPhone videos are actually really, really good. So you can absolutely use an iPhone. In fact, in one of our courses, we show you how to use two iPhones to record a really high-quality demo video. So you can absolutely do that. Now I’ll give you a caveat. If you do that, you want to make sure that you are holding it and recording it in a way that represents a professional video. So you want to hold it horizontally, not vertically. And you also want to make sure that it is on some type of tripod so you don’t want to just, you know, have your buddy just hold up his phone in the back of the room and video you, because that’s not going to look professional. But put it on a tripod, put it at a good angle, push record horizontally rather, and then leave it there. Don’t fiddle with it, don’t move it around a lot, don’t try to hold it in your hand because that’s not going to work.
The other thing I would recommend for the video part, especially if you’re going to do it with an iPhone, is you want to record the audio separately. And so what I mean by that is if you, let’s say you set up a video camera or an iPhone at the back of the room, what it’s going to capture is it captures your audio from the microphone, from the front of the room, but it also captures all the audio that’s nearby. So people that are walking by, people that are, you know, shuffling papers, people that are bumping into things, people that are moving chairs around. Anything that’s close to what the video is or the phone or the video camera. So that’s what the audio is going to be picking up. So it’s not going to create really great audio.
So instead what you want to do is you want to record the audio on you. So this is where you can actually have a second iPhone that just records the audio. And so it’s on you. Maybe, ideally, you’ve got it hooked up to, like a little microphone that’s plugged into the iPhone. It’s recording your audio and even just like a voice memo is fine and then later you can sync together with the audio and the video that you shot. But that way you have the best possible audio and it’s not, you know, really echoey or hollow from the back of the room.
[JOE]: That’s a great hack. I mean getting a Lavalier mic that you can plug into your iPhone and just have it running. It’s so quick and easy. And then, I mean, even when I’m doing like a Facebook Live from my phone, I try to plug my Lavalier mic into the phone just so I get a little better quality audio than the typical people that are doing it, so.
[GRANT]: Totally.
[JOE]: Yes, you’ll be able to reuse that in lots of ways too. Okay, so they’ve selected a problem, prepared their talk, established themselves as the expert. Are there any things that, so I do want to just stay on that establish yourself as the expert for a little bit. I feel like sometimes there’s a tendency to say, “Well, I have a double master’s degree and I’ve done this and I’ve done that,” and that people will often in establishing themselves as an expert, kind of overlook the pains that they’re trying to help and their ideal speaking audience. Just, it’s almost like they’re just bragging or just giving their whole vitae or their whole resume. How do you make sure you avoid that on your speaker page where you have this video and you’re establishing yourself as the expert?
[GRANT]: Yes, and some of this goes back to even the S of selecting a problem to solve; is that the decision-maker and event planner and even an audience, they don’t necessarily care about all the best bells and whistles and criteria that you are; your accomplishments and your achievements. Like some of that’s important. Some of that’s good for credibility’s sake. But at the end of the day, an audience wants to know again, “So what, and now like how does this apply to me? How is this going to help my life? What’s in it for me? That’s awesome. All the things you’ve accomplished in your life as a counselor or this crazy obstacle that you had to overcome or whatever, that’s all great. But I want to know how does this apply to me?” So you want to make sure that ultimately you are a member. You are not in the business of, “Hey, let me tell my story or let me tell how awesome I am.”
You’re in the business of solving a specific problem for a specific audience. So your website and video need to reflect that. This is how you’re going to actually do that. So I think it’s absolutely fine to show like in your bio like here are some awards that I have or “Here’s my degree or here’s,” and some of those things are going to be, you know, more relevant than others depending on who you speak to. So for example, if you were to say, “Okay, I’m creating my website, and I’ve won all these awards or have all these degrees. Should I put those things?” It’s like only if it matters to your industry. And that goes back to what we talked about at the beginning. Like once you’re clear on this is who I speak to, this is the problem that I solve, then whenever you’re creating your marketing materials, your website, your video, you can make sure that you are speaking specifically to them and not that you’re just trying to speak to everyone.
So, if you say, you know, I’m assuming for like a counselor for example, and then showing your degrees, your educational credibility would be very valuable and very helpful. Whereas in a different industry, it may not matter at all. It doesn’t matter how many degrees you have. That’s not necessarily why they’re hiring you. So it also, again, it depends on the industry but if you, you do need to have like a level of that in your bio there to again, just show that you are the expert on this specific subject or topic. And to that point, like it’s also important to recognize how speaking fits into your business.
There are a lot of organizations and groups that are not necessarily hiring a speaker. They’re hiring an expert who happens to speak on a certain subject or topic. So showing your expertise and that can come in the form of like you said, some of your bio, it could also come in the form of a blog or podcast or other content that you have that demonstrates and represents your expertise. And then also shows, like, I can speak on this more than like, I’m just putting out this content or this commentary on this topic. But this is something where if you’re interested in having me come speak to your audience on this, that’s something that I’m able to do. So that’s where your website and video can be very powerful and effective.
[JOE]: And how important is it to be making kind of regular content? So doing, say YouTube videos where people can look at more than just that teaser or sizzle reel but they can say, “Oh, okay, now I’m seeing him or her teach on a different topic and there’s a lot of content here.” Is it important to have like a YouTube channel and all of that is well?
[GRANT]: So I’ll give you a couple of thoughts here just on content in general. So I think a lot of times it’s easy to look at the kind of shiny objects that exist. You mentioned, you know, a variety of different social media platforms. In addition to blogging or doing videos or doing a podcast, there’s a lot of things that we feel like we could be doing. The reality is that you can’t do all those things. So something’s going to come first. Something’s going to come last. Joe, you and I both produce a lot of content and there are certain channels that we do a lot with and there are other channels and platforms we don’t do anything with. We could, there’s certainly an opportunity there, but we can’t do everything.
So, you want to think through one, where is your audience? Where is your audience? Where do they gather? What are the things that, what are the platforms that they are on? So, you know, for one audience and maybe like they are really, really big on a Pinterest, then as a speaker you better make sure that you are really active and know what the heck Pinterest is and how to use it. A lot of our audience isn’t necessarily there. So we don’t do anything with Pinterest. It’s a great platform. Nothing wrong with it. It’s just not necessarily going to move the needle for our business. So one, thinking through the platform where your audience is and two also thinking through the platform or the medium that you are interested in and passionate about. So, Joe, I know you and I both do a lot of podcasting but in part because we enjoy podcasting.
Like if I’m not recording an episode or being on someone else’s show like this I enjoy listening to podcasts. I listen to a lot of podcasts and so it’s a platform I’m naturally interested in and comfortable with and familiar with. So, it’s a natural platform for me to be involved with and to create content around. So the other thing I would say is that for anyone who’s interested in speaking, you need to think through and decide how speaking fits into your business. Okay. And one way to think about this is like what percentage of your income, what do you want to come or what percentage of your revenue do you want to come from speaking? And what I mean by that is, are you, let’s say a counselor who happens to speak or you’re a speaker who happens to be a counselor? Okay. And think about the difference there.
There are some people that I know that are, they’re, the primary thing that they do is as the primary role that they wear is a or half that they wear is as an author. The primary thing that they do is write books, publish books, and promote books. You know, that’s their primary thing. And Oh yes. I do a little bit of speaking on the side. So their website needs to reflect that. The primary thing that I do, the primary calls to action are around my books. Oh yes. I happen to be a speaker, whereas in your case, Joe, maybe the primary thing for some of your audience is, “The primary thing I do is I am a counselor who happens to speak a little bit on the side.” Then your website, your video needs to reflect that versus if you said, “I’m exclusively a speaker who happens to have a podcast or who happens to write a book.” Then the way that you would structure your site, the way that you would present your content, your material is going to be slightly different because the entire site is geared toward people booking you as a speaker.
So, it also really just, again, determine, anyone who’s interested in speaking has to think through and determine how does speaking fit into my business and then you adjust your marketing materials accordingly.
[JOE]: Oh, that totally makes sense. So what’s the A?
[GRANT]: So the A is acquire paid speaking gigs. Acquire paid speaking gigs. So this is the part that a lot of people want to skip to. “This is where we’re here for. We want to, I want to book gigs. Grant, what do I need to do?” But again, we, you have to have these other foundational pieces in place before you get there. So for someone who says, “I just want to book gigs.” Awesome. What’s the, let’s go back to the S. Well, select a problem to solve.
Who do you speak to?
“Well, I, I speak to humans.”
Okay. What’s the problem that you solve?
“Well, I don’t know. I’m don’t speak about a problem. I just want to speak.”
Okay. Good luck with that. Okay. So what’s the talk about? The P prepare your talk.
“I don’t really know what the talk is about. I just, I just want to speak.”
Okay. Do you have our website or video or anything that can represent your expertise to event planners and decision-makers?
“No. No, I don’t need that stuff. I just want to speak.”
It’s like, okay, you’re never going to be able to acquire paid speaking gigs if you don’t have these prerequisites in place.
[JOE]: I don’t know if it was you that said it or someone else that, when I was really kind of taking in content around speaking. Somebody said, “Do you have something to say or do you just want to say something?” And as you said that, I’m like, there are those people that are just like, “I just want to talk.” And it’s like, but why? Like why does it even matter? And so, you know, I love, sorry, I didn’t want to interrupt you, but I did.
[GRANT]: No, you’re good. You’re good. That’s exactly right. This is where you have to have these preliminary things in place first and then it actually, it becomes simpler to find gigs because you know exactly who it is that you’re looking for. So Joe, you’re a great example of this. If you’re not trying to be all things, all people, like you serve, one very specific niche and you can become a go-to person there. So you, you know, you become that steakhouse in your space. You are if someone’s saying, “I’m a counselor. I want to know how to build and grow my counseling practice.” “Oh, you’ve got to check out Joe. Joe is the guy for this.” So it’s not, you’re not trying to be all things, all people. You’re trying to be this one specific thing to this one specific audience. And so then, in that case, it actually again becomes simpler to find and book gigs because of that.
[JOE]: Oh yes. So, talk a little bit about how you acquire those first speaking gigs.
[GRANT]: So the one kind of the overarching idea here is it’s actually simple, the simplest events to get hired for are those that are already booking speakers. Okay, let me say that again. The simplest events to get hired for are those that are already booking speakers. It’s very simple, but it’s also, people miss that. Organizations, events, groups. So let’s say, for example, I’m assuming, again, you know this world better than I do, but I’m assuming that there are a lot of association events, for counselors. So I assume there’s some type of American Counselors Association national —
[JOE]: Well done. Look at you.
[GRANT]: I’m throwing it out and making a guess there. And so they have, you know, their association, there’s going to be a lot of state-level associations around that, there’s going to be, and within that, there’s going to have various you know, meetings and events and conferences and training and gatherings that are going to naturally have speakers at those events. So the American Counselors Association, you don’t have to convince them to hire a speaker for their conference. They’re already planning on hiring a speaker, right? You’re just showing them why you’re a good fit. And so this begins the process of looking for and reaching out to those potential event planners and just discussing what it would look like to work together and how you can, again, provide a solution to their problem.
So, again, the simplest events to start with are those that are already looking for a speaker. So that’s could come in the form of conferences, associations, schools and nonprofits, churches. There’s a variety of groups and organizations that already naturally have events and gatherings where they’re looking for a speaker. And so, you can begin to reach out to them and talk to them about working together.
[JOE]: Is it typically over email and you send maybe like a one-page bio sheet, your website or your landing page, your sizzle reel, how does that reaching out to those people that are just, maybe you don’t have a warm lead there?
[GRANT]: Yes, so the email is typically the simplest place to start. And whenever you’re sending some type of email, it is generally going to be a cold email. And ideally, if you have any type of connection or you can get any type of introduction or there’s any type of warm lead and contact there, we have some type of connection or affiliation with them that’s going to make it simpler for sure. But there’s going to be certain those that are, “I happen to be a great fit for this event, but I have zero connection there.” And so email is the simplest thing to do and what you’re trying to do when you’re sending an initial email to a potential client is you’re starting a conversation with them. You’re not trying to, “I’m going to send this email and I’m going to get booked right away.” That’s not how it works.
So, a mistake a lot of speakers make is they send some like 98 paragraph email about why they are so awesome, and here’s again, here’s my life story and here’s all my credentials and here’s what I speak about and here’s my website, my video, here’s all these different things. You send that, and again, put yourself in the shoes of the recipient. If you got some 98 paragraph email from someone telling you how awesome they are, there is zero chance you would read that. There is a 100% chance that you would delete that immediately. So don’t do that. Would you want to try to do is again start the conversation. So this is generally like a two, three, four-sentence email; something really simple, quick, easy to respond to. So for example, one thing I always like to do is I always like to ask a question that gives them a reason to reply.
So, a mistake some speakers make is will send some email and maybe that’s a short one. It’s a two or three paragraph email and it’s just like, “All right, so if you ever need a speaker, I hope you think of me.” It’s like there’s nothing to respond to there. It’s just kind of, “FYI heads up,” versus what I like to do is I like to ask a question. So something like, “Do you mind me asking when you’ll start reviewing speakers for your upcoming event? I saw you have this conference that’s happening in a couple of months and so I was just curious when you’ll start reviewing speakers for that event.” That gives them something very simple to reply to versus if I ask something like, “Hey, do you ever have any events?” But I can clearly see on their website that there’s a bunch of events that happen and I can see these specific events and the dates and the locations and the details of them. Well, then it shows I didn’t do any homework.
So again, you can ask some type of question that just starts a dialogue, that starts a conversation. Now the goal ultimately is that you want to be able to get someone on the phone. That’s the ultimate goal because you’re going to be able to build a relationship with someone better over the phone than you would via email. So if you can get someone on the phone, that’s ideal, but we just don’t recommend starting with that because it could just, you know, if you just cold call someone, that’s no fun for either side; but just sending an email is much more non-intrusive and it’s just a way for them to be able to respond at their convenience. Maybe they want to do a little bit research on you but it’s much simpler to just get your foot in the door and to start the conversation, with that email.
[JOE]: Yes. You know, that especially jumping on the phone, you know, having, I did the keynote for the Alabama Counseling Association, Illinois and Minnesota counseling associations, and my recommendation to therapists around that is to make sure you really know what your content is going to be that’s going to be applicable to all kinds of situations of therapists because you know, there’s going to be school counselors there, there’s going to be people that are in private practice, people that work at community colleges. So what’s something that you can speak about that kind of transcends all of those, but then also realize that there are usually committees that have to approve things and even one person may be the first point person. It usually has to go back to a committee and then there’s a lot of back and forth. So if you can have that relationship over the phone with someone, it makes it so much easier. And I don’t know if that’s necessarily true outside of kind of the counseling world, if that’s how you see it as well Grant, that there’s often a lot of back and forth but it, at least in my experience with those three entities you know, they have a committee that they always have to take things back to.
[GRANT]: Yes, absolutely. And so it is, and then that’s just part of understanding kind of the buying cycle and the sales cycle for most speakers because I’ve done close to a thousand events and I can, probably less than five of people that I’ve emailed, we hop on the phone, they’re like, “Cool, sounds good, let’s do it.” Like it just doesn’t work like that. If it does, if like you have something like that that falls in your lap and there they are ready to pull the trigger, great. That’s awesome. Run with that. But that’s just typically not the case. Most of the time like you said, there’s a committee, there’s a board they are looking at, they’re reviewing, you know, five different speakers and you just happen to be one of them that they’re talking to, they’re gathering information, they’re going to come back together and compare notes. There’s a lot of other moving pieces that are involved in it.
So, what you’re trying to do is you’re just trying to get and stay top of mind when they’re ready to make that decision for speakers. That’s why figuring out their timeline, you know. So maybe they, you know, you have a conversation and, “Hey, our committee doesn’t meet for another month.” “Awesome. Do you mind if I follow up with you and circle back with you then?” And then just again following up, staying top of mind with them, so whenever they’re ready to make a decision, hopefully, they’re thinking of you.
[JOE]: Yes, I found that the easier you can make it for those committee members, the more likely they are to hire you. You know, to just say, “Yes, let’s make this easy.”
[GRANT]: Yes, absolutely. So part of what they are hiring you for is what you do on stage. You want to be amazing on stage, do your absolute best job. But part of what you’re also providing is that you’re great to work with offstage because here’s the deal. If you’re an amazing speaker, but you’re a pain in the butt to work with and by pain in the butt, I don’t mean like, you are, you know, kind of as prima donna diva. I mean like you’re just unorganized, you’re sloppy, you’re kind of dropping balls, you said you’re going to be there at a certain time for a soundcheck and you didn’t show up or you’re late, or they have to follow up with you over and over and over about, you know, getting something from you. And it’s just, you’re just like kind of just a pain to work with. Like people don’t want to work with you. The best people that people want to work with are those they are like, “They’re great on stage, but they’re great offstage as well.” And so having systems and processes can make a big difference there.
[JOE]: 100%. So what’s the K?
[GRANT]: So the K is know when to scale. Know when to scale and this kind of goes back to the content thing we talked about earlier that a lot of people who are interested in speaking are also interested in having a book or in coaching or consulting or doing a course or doing their own event or doing a podcast or doing a blog or doing any number of things. And so the reality is, it’s like you can do those things, but something’s going to come first and something is going to come last. So make sure that you don’t try to do all, “I’m going to be a speaker and I’m going to be this and I’m going to be this and I’m going to do that, and I’m going to do this all today.” It just doesn’t work. So you can continue to expand your impact and your income and expand your reach as a speaker, but you just have to think through what’s the best way to do that and what’s the way that makes the most sense for you and what you’re trying to accomplish in your business.
[JOE]: Oh, that’s so awesome. So we’ve got, select a problem to solve, prepare your talk, establish yourself as the expert, acquire paid speaking gigs and know when to scale. The last question I always ask people, Grant is, if every private practice owner in the world were listening right now, what would you want them to know?
[GRANT]: So I think speaking is one of the best ways that you can actually grow and build your practice because a part of the fun of speaking and part of the value of speaking is the personal connection, right? So for example, whenever you, you know, any type of marketing that you may be doing as a therapist, as a counselor, whether it’s a Facebook ad or you’re doing a Facebook Live or YouTube video or a podcast or blog posts and all those things are great, but nothing compares to meeting people in person; of having the face to face, you know, getting to shake someone’s hand or giving someone a hug or whatever it may be to have that personal connection. And speaking allows you that opportunity.
So there’s going to be potential audiences that you may speak to locally at let’s say a rotary club or chamber of commerce or a church or a nonprofit or something, and you’re talking about, here are, let’s say you’re a marriage therapist and so you’re speaking at some local event on, you know, “Here’s the five keys to a healthy marriage. There are going to be, you can put that in a blog post, you could put that in a podcast, but there will be people that you would speak to in an audience in a live setting who you’re going to have a personal connection with them that you can’t have via a blog post, that you’re not going to accomplish via a podcast episode. So, you know, there’s people listening right now, Joe, that are like, “Man, this is really helpful. This is really good. Reading the book is super helpful and good,” but if they, if we met in person, like it just changes the dynamic of things. So, speaking can absolutely be a great way for any therapist, any counselor to grow their business.
[JOE]: Oh, such great advice. The Successful Speaker, tell us a little bit about when it comes out and if people want to follow your work with your podcast and everything else, where should they find that?
[GRANT]: Yes, the book is going to be out on February 18th of 2020. So depending on when people are listening it may already be out or maybe out very soon. We actually have, if you’re listening to this before the book is out, then we actually have a lot of preorder bonuses that are available that people can learn more about over Again, that is and people that listen to podcasts, if you’re looking for a podcast about speaking that’s one that we host. Like Joe, you mentioned you had been on the show, coming back for a repeat episode soon, so make sure people check out that as well.
[JOE]: Oh, thanks so much Grant for being on the Practice of the Practice podcast.
[GRANT]: Thank you. I appreciate it, buddy.
[JOE]: Well now you know my secret that I didn’t just listen to that interview with you. I recorded, you know, after I do it. Man behind the curtain, you’re seeing it all right now. Well, needless to say, that was an amazing interview. Grant Baldwin just brought it and what a cool guy and his new book that’s coming out, can’t wait to read it. He is just so good at what he does. So, in the show notes, we have all those links for you as well.,, those things are all coming out. Also Simplified SEO Consulting. They’re amazing., go check them out, schedule a free call, look at what they could do to help you rank higher. I mean, if you’re on the bottom of page two, what would the top of page one look like for you, for your business?
How much would that be worth? I mean, you might as well reach out to them. At least schedule one of the free calls and let them know I sent you and would love to have some feedback on how that goes for you. And thanks for letting me into your ears and into your brain. We’re going to wrap up this speaking series in the next episode. So super excited about that.
Special thanks to the band Silence is Sexy for your intro music. We really like it and this podcast is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is given with the understanding that neither the host, the publisher, or the guests are rendering legal, accounting, clinical, or other professional information. If you want a professional, you should find one.

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