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Personal Development

Is Speaking Helping You Build Your Brand? Don’t Make These 3 Mistakes

Despite the fact that speaking was my primary source of income and I had a slew of fantastic clients and significant media recognition, my presentations were not game changers for an audience for nearly a decade. While I appreciated that people would tell me, You are so inspiring.” Or they would say, “You are such a great speaker. You never say ‘um,’ ” audience members rarely signed up to work privately with me and clients rarely recommended me to their colleagues for future speaking gigs.

I didn’t get it. Literally. I worked so hard to educate the people I spoke with. To prove my credibility. And to show that I had it all together and practiced what I preached. Why was I a good speaker and yet miserable at using public speaking to create raving fans and clients?

Here’s the good news—I now know the answer. And more importantly, through my own journey and from coaching hundreds of entrepreneurs on how to use public speaking to build their businesses, spread their messages, and ultimately build their brands and speaking platforms, I understand and teach that the strategies that make us successful online are the exact same strategies that will make us successful offline—on stage and in the spotlight.

Read also: 9 Easy Steps To Improve Your Communication Skills

In order to get out of our own way and become a hotshot speaker, we just need to avoid the following traps.

Mistake One: Proving our credibility

While hearing somebody’s media hits or sexy testimonials can happen in a speaker’s bio, there is nothing that gets in the way of an audience connecting with a speaker more than when these so-called credibility enhancers happen within a talk or presentation. Speaking on stage positions an entrepreneur as even more of an authority than having a beautiful, well branded website or a 6-figure launch.

Audience members are hungry for their speakers to show that they understand intimately their struggles and that they know how to surmount them. The most effective way to make yourself credible is to speak about where you know you audience is scared. Stuck. And by providing solutions that are specific and easy to apply, your audience will believe not only that you are the real deal, but more importantly that you are the right real deal for them to invest their time, belief, and money in.

Read also: Why Efficiency Isn’t Everything

Mistake Two: Educating rather than transforming

While being substantive is important, to be an audience favorite ensure your talks are not live versions of your online trainings, blog posts, or newsletter articles. No “the top 5 reasons why _____” or “10 ways to _____.” A live audience wants to be edutained. Pick one key idea that everything you say is advancing, and then focus on telling stories, asking questions, and giving examples that facilitate ‘aha’ for your audience, make them laugh, and most importantly, make them feel.

Think about what makes your brand sticky online and demonstrate these features not only in what you say but also in how you say it. And again, tie everything back to one central idea so that it’s easy for you to call your audience to take a specific action in your conclusion.

Mistake Three: Privileging self-control over vulnerability

For years I would tell stories about my clients’ hiccups on the path to success, but I NEVER revealed mine. After all, if I was the “expert,” I needed to show I had my shiz together. Big mistake. Colossal. In my having-it-togetherness, I failed to facilitate trust with my audience by showing I had been where they were.

Once I started revealing the stuff I had been through—the really painful stuff like losing family members after speaking up about my sexual abuse, as well as the embarrassing but less high-stakes stuff, like showing up to a plum speaking gig with baby spit-up on my dress—not only did audiences laugh and cry with me. They could transform alongside of me in the stories I shared. They saw that like me they could close the gap from where they were to where they aspired to be.

Read also: Intuitive Life Coaching: Do You Know What It Takes?

As speakers our stories are never really about us. They show our brand in action. 

If you know that what you do in your business is fanfrickintastic and that you provide programs, products, or services that make a big difference in your clients’ lives, then you have a responsibility to grab a mic and get on stage and into the spotlight. There is no more effective way to shift someone’s behavior or inspire them to take action than by connecting with them live and face-to-face.

The vast majority of speeches and presentations are delivered simply because they are anticipated or requested. The speakers take the stage and speak for around 20 minutes before sitting down amid quiet applause (from those who haven’t passed out from boredom). Every week, thousands of speeches are delivered that express nothing at all. The messages are generic, and the viewpoints are in the middle. Many words are spoken that have little or no meaning.

For them to see you, really see you, and for you to be 100 percent present for them. By focusing on the remedies for each of the three preceding mistakes, you will ensure that you are of maximum impact for an audience and, just as importantly, that you build a successful and sustainable speaking platform.


Sadie is a freelance writer documenting the adventures of downsizing from the family home in the suburbs to a mountain cottage in the woods. She share the downsizing details, scoutings of the mountain locations, and her never-ending search for the perfect T-shaped clothesline.

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