Today, we're going to do Ask Tom A Pro Speaking Question, and you know more and more venues are opening up to live presentations. So I thought this would be a good time to put together some of the questions I get about professional speaking, and a reminder to those of you not in the field how lucrative this can be for you.
NOTE: Complete transcript available at the bottom of the page.
Screw The Commute Podcast Show Notes Episode 564
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See Tom's Stuff – https://linktr.ee/antionandassociates[00:23] Tom's introduction to Ask Tom A Pro Speaking Question [01:33] To use or not to use Powerpoint [05:20] Changing seating methods to make a better presentation [10:36] Always be ready for when your time gets cut [16:00] Discounting your speeches [23:00] Sponsor message [25:02] Tom's most memorable speech
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Episode 564 – Ask Tom A Pro Speaking Question
[00:00:09] Welcome to Screw the Commute. The entrepreneurial podcast dedicated to getting you out of the car and into the money, with your host, lifelong entrepreneur and multimillionaire, Tom Antion.
[00:00:24] Hey everybody, it's Tom here with episode five hundred and sixty four of Screw the Commute podcast. Today, we're going to do Ask Tom A Pro Speaking Question, and you know more and more venues are opening up to live presentations. So I thought this would be a good time to put together some of the questions I get about professional speaking, and a reminder to those of you not in the field how lucrative this can be for you. I mean potentially millions and millions of dollars, and it helps you sell your other products and services and all kinds of great things coming. Not only that, at the end of the episode today, I'll tell you about a story that happened had to be, I think about thirty one years ago that I'll never, ever, ever forget, and I don't think the person that was there in the crowd will ever forget it, either. All right. Episode five Sixty three was another AC Tom a question, but it was more general internet and entrepreneurship stuff. You can always find the back episodes by going to screwthecommute.com slash and then the episode number. That was 563. All right, let's get into a couple of questions and then I will break it up in the middle sometime and tell you a little bit about how it's going with our program to help persons with disabilities.
[00:01:46] So let's take the first question, and it had to do with someone that just listened to episode five sixty two with Ellen Finkelstein, who is a prolific writer and a PowerPoint expert. And so. I made the comment that I don't use PowerPoint in my speeches, so the question was. Is hey, Tom, well, if you don't use PowerPoint, what do you do? All right. So so my method is really powerful and I'm surprised people, more people haven't taken, taken it and used it, but I just put all the stuff that I'm going to show as visuals. On the desktop of my computer, I run a computer from the stage, it's hooked into the sound system and I can pick and choose whatever things I want off the desktop to display on the screen. And so. If my time gets cut, nobody ever notices because they never know what I was going to do, and I don't have to look at the screen and read and a lot of people, they do PowerPoint and they put exactly what they're going to say as bullet points and then they look at the screen to read them. I mean, that's you talk about pitiful. That's really pitiful. I mean, I look at the screen occasionally to draw your attention to the screen, but you got to talk to the people, not to your PowerPoint slides.
[00:03:18] So that's what I do. And then also what happens is, is a lot of times people will ask me or when I did corporate speaking, Hey, all those videos, you were those training videos you showed. How do we get those, you know? Can we buy those? Well, maybe let's see. So I had one hundred and ninety nine dollars DVD. And they they bought that, you know, so they just gave them two or three of them on screen and then told them there was 50 of them available. And they said, Well, where do we buy them? You know, and sometimes, you know, I was kind of king of back in those days of being able to sell when you're not allowed to sell. And so the meeting players had know you can't sell at the back of the room. Ok, no problem because I was getting paid to be there. So so when somebody came up to me and wanted to buy the the videos, I said, Well, the meeting planner doesn't allow me to sell here, so they would go hammer the meeting planner, who would either buy a a bunch of them from the budget of the group or let them purchase them from me, you know, so but I was clean. I didn't violate any things, you know, I just put kind of put the bug in there.
[00:04:36] So that's just one way to sell when you're not allowed to sell. I have a bunch of ways to do this. Anyway, that's not the question here. Question here is about not using PowerPoint. Now, what you definitely don't want to do is just start talking faster and running through the slides faster because nobody's going to going to absorb what you're saying, nobody's going to appreciate it. And if you're running through the slides and not talking about them, then they feel cheated. So I just use my desktop to display what I want to display. And if the time is cut, then I don't display some of the things and nobody knows the difference. They don't feel cheated. That's what I do, and I highly suggest you do too. But I know people, a lot of people don't have the guts to do it. All right, next question for my speeches and workshops, I usually set up the room with classroom tables. I've heard you talk about better seating methods. How could I change my seating to make a better presentation? Well, first of all, the material here was I learned from and was developed by Dr. Paul Rorty. That's R&D. And I had done over five hundred speeches before I learned this. And when you've done five hundred professional paid speeches to various audiences, you kind of get a feel for. I mean, I might have told the same story two three hundred times out of that five hundred.
[00:06:07] So you get a feel for the reaction of the audience members. And when I changed the seating method that I learned from Dr. Rorty. I would get sometimes three times the response on the same story, if it was a funny story or if it was a serious story on serious stories you see nodding, or sometimes people would cry. Hopefully not because it's just looking at me on stage. But, but. The laughter, for sure, because I was very comic speaker, I still am. And you could tell the amount of laughter for the same story was like three times bigger. So I said, this is really serious stuff. So. So what we're talking about here is semi-circular theater style is the best of all seating methods. Now you can't always get that. And the reason it's so powerful is because interaction in an audience is a socially facilitated phenomena, which means that when people can see the other people's faces, they're more inclined to do what the other people are doing. So if somebody is laughing and somebody the rest of the people see that person laughing, they're more inclined to laugh if they're nodding their head in agreement with you. If more people can see people nodding heads, the more people will not heads. I mean, it's just that way, folks. So when you're in a straight theater style or this person had classroom tables.
[00:07:48] Well, all somebody can see is the ear of the person next to them. You know, one on each side unless they're on the end of a row. And even if they're on the end of the road, that's doubly bad because they can only see one person and to the next to them, the face of one person next to them and they have to turn their head sharply towards the present. The presentation, which gives you a neck strain and cuts off the blood flow to their head, it actually does, and some of my audiences can't afford to lose any blood flow to their head. Ok. So this is a crazy, powerful and what do you do about it well? Well, if you are setting the room up yourself and you have classroom tables, you know the skinny six or eight foot ones, you can set them up in a Chevron pattern if you don't know what that is, look it up or all of these patterns, seating patterns and plus a million other things are in my wake them up business presentations, book and system. I think we have a link to it. Screwthecommute.com/wakebook. If you're on a budget you want like a million dollars worth of education, get the darn book. It's an e-book. You'll be reading it in a few minutes. But and I still use the same techniques today that when I wrote this book twenty five years ago, same things work with people.
[00:09:14] It's one of those evergreen things. Now, if you just have chairs, that's great, because you can move them in a beautiful semicircle and then each person in a row can see all the other faces in that row. If one person is laughing, it really makes a whole bunch more people laugh. And then when those other people are laughing, other people see them laughing and it just mushrooms on you. I mean, it's really, really great. And but anyway, all the different patterns for, you know, boardrooms, the tables and you know, all the kinds of things you run into are there in the wake book. But anyway, think semicircle and think make sure people can see the other faces and round tables kind of suck because half the people are facing away from you or they have to turn their chair around. And it also makes people further away from you. See, the closer people are to you, the more your interaction and engagement you'll get. That's why semicircular theatre style is the best, because there's no tables stretching people out much further away. They're all jammed in tight and you'll actually see people if you're any good at this elbowing each other. Oh, there, that was funny when you know that kind of stuff. So but you can't do that if they're seated far from each other, say so.
[00:10:34] So there you go. That's something you can do. All right. Next question comment here. Tom A lot of meeting planners aren't very organized or experienced, setting up meetings frequently. They are running so late my time gets cut and I have to scramble at the last minute cutting material. How do you handle this? Well, I got to tell you, many of the people that are planning meetings were secretaries the day before, and then they're thrust into planning meetings because the group didn't want to hire a professional meeting planner. Now, you always, always, always have to be ready for this. Now, the first thing. I do, as I call it, I call it a genius technique, and I learned this from Terry Paulson, who was a past president of the National Speakers Association. So one of his tips and I have as a genius technique in my wake him up book. Is you have a quotation that makes the same point as a several minute story you were planning on telling. Now, like I said about the PowerPoint, you don't want the audience to think they are missing something. And if you tell a quotation that makes a point, they don't know that the story even existed. And definitely just don't talk faster to try to get everything in that you originally planned. That's just stupid. This is another benefit of my speaking without using PowerPoint. See, the audience never knows what they were supposed to get, so they don't feel that they got cheated.
[00:12:13] And there's been times when people flew just to hear me or or got up super early for an early bird session, which I hate, by the way. But I can make them work and I tell stories about that. I'll save it for another day. So you just definitely don't want to disappoint people. Now, another cool technique I used is to give an extensive handout knowing that I couldn't possibly cover everything in the handout. And near the beginning of the speech, I referred to the handout and I say something like this. Hey, folks, I give you a massive handout or I gave you a massive handout, and I couldn't possibly cover everything in it in the time I have with you today. But I wanted you to have as much immediately usable information as possible, and when I'm done, I'll be around for the rest of the conference. So. So just grab me in the hallways and I'll be glad to cover anything I didn't get to. Well, guess what, folks, this does a couple of things it absolutely knocks out any chance they feel cheated. It makes them feel I'm very accessible. Unlike many of the other diva presenters who blow in and blow out with their entourages because they're too good to speak to you. And it gives me a greater chance they'll join my mentor program because they see how giving I am with my time and I really am, I'm not pulling any tricks on them.
[00:13:46] I am that way. And one other thing, if the meeting planner comes up to me and tells me about a time cut. I ask them, well, what material would you like me to cut? All right. And a lot of times I've discussed the importance of the material and the relative importance of all the things I'm supposed to cover. See, this puts it on them if something I was supposed to cover doesn't get covered. If the executives come and say, I thought you were going to talk about so-and-so, well. The meeting planner over here said the time was cut and told me that this was what I was supposed to cut, you know, so it gets it off of my back. Now, here's the one thing I guess there there are times when you don't have to prepare too much for time cuts, although I'm always ready just in case. When you get to the point where the entire event depends on you to be profitable, which has happened to me in the last 20 years, if I wasn't there, the thing wouldn't make money. You can put in your contract like I do that regardless of what's going on in the event. My time will not get cut. Now that doesn't count if the president has a heart attack right before I go on it.
[00:15:05] So. So I know I'm not crazy about it. But the thing is is, I want to make it very clear I have a plan that works in and makes enormous amounts of money in sales, which the event gets a portion of. So they want to make sure that I, you know that that I'm there and get what I need to get done done. I mean, this is a job that I'm expected to produce enormous revenue for this event. And so they, you know, and a lot of times in the middle of the event, they kind of forget about this because they've got all kinds of stuff going on with, with people coming up and complaining it's too hot or too cold and all the other things they've got to deal with when running an event. And so I have to to keep it in there knows that, hey, you know, I'm sorry about that, that the air conditioning is broke, but you're not going to cut my time. All right. All right. Next, Tom, do you ever discount your speeches? Well, this is we're getting into the business of speaking here, which, you know, like my time not getting cut, that's that's a contract agreement thing. So that's the business of speaking also. First, just so you know, I haven't charged for speeches in over 20 years. When I quit corporate speaking, I was $20000 a speech, and I rarely discounted unless I got something substantial in return.
[00:16:34] Like, maybe they would buy a bunch of my products in advance. That's pre pre product sales, or I was allowed to sell at the back of the room or they gave me extra days at a resort or, you know, stuff like that. That's as for another discussion, I do have a webinar that's really powerful on how to maximize the value of any speaking engagement. We'll put the link in the show notes for you. Now, the only time I really discounted was for multiple engagements on the same contract, and I emphasize on the same contract, for instance, if I was at an event and getting paid $20000 plus expenses and all that stuff. I might add only one or two thousand dollars to do a special session for their executive board, or maybe I was the headline speaker and I agreed to do a breakout session. And here's the key. Sometime after my main session. Never the other way around. I never did the breakout first. This is all in my contract. And then did the main session. No, I want the main session where everybody sees me, and then I can go to the breakout session to make a deeper connection with people. And my breakouts were usually standing room only and the other breakouts were sparsely attended, much to the chagrin of the other speakers. And and even if it was a corporate event, many of those corporate people love the idea of being an entrepreneur, and they spent lots of money with me on my more entrepreneurial products and services.
[00:18:14] And the other thing is, is, heck, I'm already there, the day is already shot, I can't book some other engagement. I'm there, I'm in the room watching Oprah reruns or something, so I'd rather have another thousand or a couple of thousand bucks and make all these deeper connections for further product sales, say. So I will once the main thing is purchased, I will discount heavily while I'm there to do other stuff. Now, the next thing you need to know is that meeting planners can be scumbags. Ok? They tell you they have multiple engagements for you if you can discount each engagement. Now, if you agree to this, they pay the discounted rate for the first engagement and then guess what? They never booked the other engagements. They didn't even exist. This means they tricked you into a discount. Now, the way to combat this is that all the engagements must be on the same contract with a 50 percent deposit on the whole shebang. Now, if the engagements are real, they'll likely agree to this and sign the contract. If the engagements aren't real, they'll likely try to weasel out of signing the agreement with all kinds of excuses. We don't know the dates or the locations yet.
[00:19:41] And you say, Well, that's OK, that's all right. We just put in engagement one, two, three, four and five to be at a mutually agreed time and place. And so you don't give them a weasel clause, you know, now. But anyway, if they weasel out of it and and then they want to get still the discount on the first engagement, then you tell them that you'll do the first engagement at the full rate and apply the discount for the first engagement to the next engagement. So let's say you were five thousand bucks. And you agreed to do multiple engagements at 4000. All right, so the first engagement they pay you five thousand. Well, then you take one thousand off of that for the next engagement that was supposed to be four thousand and they'd only pay three thousand. Go back and listen to that if you need it. And then for the second engagement, it's three thousand because you gave them the extra thousand discount from the first engagement where they had to pay full price and then the rest of them are four thousand. So and if they won't agree to any of this, they're scumbags, they're lying to, you see, and just don't think because they're sweet to your face that they're not lying because they might get a bonus or something if they can get a cheaper speaker, you know, so. So don't get sucked into that.
[00:20:59] Now, what about remote presentations? Well. Some people discount and some don't. I don't really want to get on a plane unless there's a lot of money involved. So if I was doing paid speaking, I'd be inclined to discount. However, most of the work preparing for a speaking engagement is done long before I ever go to do the speech. That's why you always, always, always, always get a 50 percent deposit because non-refundable say. And that's another thing because you do not want to do all this prep work. Book the date, the engagement, book the airfare and everything. And then they say we decide not to have the meeting. Oh, was that right? Well, I did all this work and and I'm not doing it for free. So make sure you get a 50 percent deposit and back to doing most of the work. I mean, you create a handout, you know, customization research can take hours and hours. Pre engagement phone calls is which I did and do, which I averaged about 20 or so phone calls before an event. So you've got to get paid for that. No fundraisers. I don't really discount for fundraisers. Now I suggest. To them that I do a seminar and we sell tickets and split the revenue, and I have an entire course on this, how to make a fortune speaking at fundraisers. And it's screwthecommute.com/fundraiserdeal. It's very inexpensive, can make you a fortune and really change the course of your entire speaking career.
[00:22:44] And before somebody bitches at me, I'm talking about planned fundraisers, maybe to build a playground or a library or something like that, not some little girl that has cancer. All right. In that case, if they want me there, all the money goes to the child. Ok, so don't be yelling at me about that. All right, before we get to the most, the next question, which was what is your most memorable speech? I can't wait to tell you about that. But I do want to remind you about the program that we have to help persons with disabilities. Get trained and internet and digital marketing, they're making great progress in the school. Two of the people are blind shooting videos and, I mean, just amazing people. And we're giving them a break of a lifetime, and I'm so proud to be involved in it and have thought up the idea. But we really need your help. It costs a lot more money to handle these people. And if my goal is is and I took, I paid a lot of money to take a grant writing course so that once I prove this concept, I can roll this program out to foundations and corporations and bring in loads of money to help hundreds or thousands of people with disabilities. So. So give me a hand on this. Love to have your help.
[00:24:05] And it's something you can really be proud of. We have a Go Fund Me campaign if you go to my website for the school, which is IMTCVA.org/disabilities. This will be in the show notes and click on the Go Fund Me campaign and you can see them. And like I said, they're on video and you can see how we're doing with that. But we really appreciate anything you can kick in as great and well appreciated. And hey, if you're really flush with cash, you can sponsor a person yourself. Just get a hold of me at Tom@screwthecommute.com And we can kick it around. And boy, that's something you could change a person's life forever. So help me out on that and also make sure you pick up a copy of our automation e-book for your business. Well, even if you're not in business, it'll just save you lots of time in the stuff you do on your computer. So check that out at screwthecommute.com/automatefree. All right. So Tom question is, is what was your most memorable speech? Well, there have been many over the years, and one one was a nightmare. I won't go into too much detail, but I'll just give you. The idea is there was a big crowd and there was a bunch of helpers supposed to pass things out to the crowd at a certain point in the in the speech.
[00:25:30] Well, they started throwing them into the crowd and one of them bounced off somebody's hand and hit somebody else in the eye and tore their cornea. I thought, This is it. My speaking career is done. I mean, if this person goes blind over this, it's done. You know, I'm done. But anyway, they turned out to be OK, which is, thank thank God for that. All right. But I guess one of the ones that sticks out the most this is has to be close to thirty one years ago, maybe 30 years ago. Maybe twenty nine, I can't remember exactly, but this was, you know, I came from a comic background entertainment background did over a thousand comic performances and, you know, really developed this system of being entertaining along with giving great information. So I was doing a a seminar on how to add humor to your presentations called Make Them Laugh. You don't have to wake them up system, which includes a lot of the funny stuff, but to make them laugh was specifically on the techniques of making people laugh. And so all day seminar. And. There's a bunch of people there, but there was one lady sitting in the front row. And. I mean, remember, this is a make them laugh seminar, we're having a blast, I mean, some of the things are serious, the techniques aren't that funny, but the payoff was I was using the techniques and people were laughing like crazy all day long, except for this lady.
[00:27:08] She didn't crack a smile all day. Lunchtime, you know, everybody went to lunch, I'm thinking, man, what's wrong with man, I must have said something politically incorrect or something, you know, offensive, and I don't know what it is and this lady's not saying a word. She just sitting there taking notes and and just, you know, kind of a mean look on her face almost. And and so I'm I'm like, Oh man, hey, you can't miss a person like this, but this does bring up a sidebar here of professional speaking point. You can't concentrate on a person like that. You have no idea what's wrong with them. If it was you, if it was a toothache, if they had a migraine, if they just lost their grandmother. I mean, you have no idea. And if you go crazy thinking about it, you're going to ruin your performance for the other ninety nine percent of the people that are loving what you're doing. So you have to force yourself. And I was experienced enough at that point to do that. However, it still is in the back of your mind. What's up? So the end of the day comes. We. Uh, you know, everybody's loving this, they're buying stuff, and then they're leaving and and and she's kind of lingering and I said, Oh man, here it comes.
[00:28:38] I don't know. I'm going to get what we call an ear beating on something I said or something offensive. Or I just my mind is racing like, Oh my God, what's this lady going to hit me with? And it gets to the point. Talk about uncomfortable. It gets to the point everybody else had last left. I was packing up my projector and stuff, and she's still there. And she comes up to me and I said, OK, here it is. And she starts crying. Oh my God. I'm like, Oh man. Something horrendous going on here. This day was so beautiful. And now here it's going to end like this. Oh, man. So she's crying, and I get her a tissue. And I say, what's wrong, man? You know, did I say something, what if I said anything to offend you? I'm sorry, I didn't mean it. That happens sometimes with humor. I really apologize. And she's just blubbering away. And she finally gets enough composure. Oh, man, I get goose pimples just thinking of this moment, because this was a moment in my life that I'll never forget. She said. I had a pretty rough childhood. There was no humor in my family. It was one of those things where, you know, kids were supposed to sit down and shut up and, you know, speak when you're spoken to.
[00:30:12] No laughter at the dinner table. No nothing in her life. He said. I don't know. She must have been thirty five years old, something like this, she said. I never thought I could have any humor in my life until today. I. I started crying and she started crying. I was like, Oh, man, oh, it's one of those moments when when you're on stage one of the the the themes of the National Speakers Association when Naomi Rody was president was the privilege of the platform. When you're up there. In front of people that came from all over varying backgrounds, varying childhoods. Some had silver spoons. Some had no spoon. You've got to be careful what you say, and you have to do things that uplift people, and so if I died today, it kind of messed up this podcast, I guess, but if I died today? I know I changed one person's life, I mean, there's been lots of stories like that over the years, similar and different and, you know, financially, not humor wise, just all kinds of things that helped people with but but knowing that I changed that lady's life. Boy, it's really a really powerful part. So anyway, pro speaking can make you a lot of money, give you a lot of experiences like this, or you can change people's lives, and it's a really, really rewarding field to be in. Just like I just told you. All right. We'll catch on to the next episode. See you later.