Speaker Magazine Article | Keynote Speaker | Business Speaker


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Transcript of Speaker Magazine Article | Keynote Speaker | Business Speaker

  • 2. rom a strictly business per- And yes, even for those who have a spective, it is perhaps the single true passion for being on the podium, most important question faced speaking is a businessand so, it must by anyone hoping for a career in be treated as such.the speaking business: What, exactly, I dont know why anyone wouldare they selling? think that starting a speaking business is Are they selling a product? any different than starting any other Are they selling a message? business, Sanborn says. Are they selling a service? For Sanborn, a longtime Entertainment? Knowledge? speaking circuit veteran Or are they selling something else and renowned expert inentirelyperhaps even an amalgama- business leadership, thattion of all of the above? key questionWhat Its a difcult question to answer, of am I selling?wascourse, and in the ever-complex, ever- answered in the earliestdiverse speaking industryan industry days of his career, backpopulated by speakers from myriad when he came to realizebackgrounds, telling myriad stories, that, for his speakingsharing myriad messagesthere really career and for the audi-is no one, universal answer. ences he wanted to serve, Even still, says Mark Sanborn, he was selling solutions,much is clear: All speakers must ulti- ideas, and problem-mately ask themselves, and answer, solving. Or, as he putsthat oh-so-important question. it, he was selling anBecause until a speaker knows what actionable narrativehe or she is selling, says Sanborn, they storytelling that leadsdont have a business. to actionable ideas. January/February 2012 | SPEAKER | 11
  • 3. Sanborn has been delivering that Only 27 at the time, Sanborn says THE actionable narrative for 25 years, and he understood on a very fundamental it has served him extremely well. His level that, because of his relative youth, VALUE list of more than 1,500 clients includes his business-world audiencesmen such titans as FedEx, Harley Davidson, and women with years of managerialOF NOW KPMG and the U.S. Postal Service, experiencewere going to question among many others. He is the author his credentials. Indeed, Sanborn recalls of seven books and a member of the feeling that sense of doubt hanging National Speakers Associations CPAE over the room in those early days, with This is hardly news to anyone: The Speaker of Hall of Fame. grizzled old vets thinking to themselves, economy is stuck in neutral. Now, it may not be entirely true to What can this kid tell me? The world has yet to recover from say that Sanborn has succeeded only When I went full time, most of the global economic collapse of 2008, because he knows who he is, and what my audiences were older than me, he and as a result, the speaking industry hes selling. And it may not be entirely recalls. The average age of a manager is enduring some hard times as well. true that Sanborns career has endured has come down over the years, but Mark Sanborn knows this. He knows for the past two decades only because he back then, they were all a bit older, and the industry has changed, and he knew the answer to those key questions I always had this fear that somebody knows that more turmoil may yet be almost as soon as he hit the podium. would just stand up in the middle of ahead. But, Sanborn is not going to But that knowledge certainly hasnt my presentation and say, This is B.S.! waste much time thinking about that hurt, he says. Hes 27, Im 52, and lets be frank, he potential turmoil, or even trying to Speakers who seek similar success doesnt have a clue! make proactive plans for what might would be wise to follow his lead. It was, quite justiably, Sanborns be,in another two or three or ve years. In the world of speaking, we need biggest fear at the timethe thing that Instead, hell spend his time worry- to provide cherry avor in the cough kept him awake at night and kept the but- ing about what he can controlhow syrup, he says. You dont buy cherry- teries churning right up until show time. he performs in the present. And he sug- avored cough syrup because you like But in the end, it was a fear that gests other speakers follow his lead. the taste of cherries. You buy it because served him well. Sanborn anticipated I looked at the front page of The you have a cough. The avor just helps questions he might be asked so that he Wall Street Journal today, and you know the medicine go down. So for me, had solid answers, and he aimed to turn what? I didnt see any story there that I Ive always tried to make sure that my himself into a true encyclopedia on the had any control over, he jokes.I saw a speeches are not about what I did or topic of business management. lot of things that may have an impact what I learned, but what my audiences His goal, he says, was to make sure on my life and on my investments. But can learn and what they can do to be that every time he took to the podium, Im not going to worry about it. more successful. Thats the information he was giving his audience something In the end, Sanborn says, each of the audiences really want to know. they wanted to know. Sometimes, he us can only really control what we do, jokes, he probably gave them more than and how we perform. So those are the FUELED BY FEAR they wanted to know. things we should worry about. To hear Sanborn tell it, getting to the I had a fear that drove me like a Im not a futurist, he says. Im a heart of what his audiences want to crazy person, he recalls. If anything, presentologist. I try to focus on what I know for sure is happening. Im not know has been at the very center of his I probably overwhelmed people with speaking against the idea of looking speaking from the very start. good ideas. I wanted to make sure that ahead. Im just saying its awfully hard Sanborn had been making seminar nobody left that room and said, You to predict the future. presentations for years before he know, I sat through three hours and I He adds: What do I know for sure? decided to make speaking his career didnt get much out of this. I would I know for sure that people will have he made his rst speech, at the age of rather hear them say, I got too much always have difculties and challenges 10 during a 4-H contestbut even my head is spinning. and will always need solutions. I know though he was an experienced pre- As a young speaker, Sanborn says he that people will aspire to be better. If senter by the time he went pro, he was acutely aware that his career was I can help them solve their problems, was most denitely not an experi- on the line each time he took to the then I gure Ill be ne. enced businessman. podium. He knew he had to deliver,12 | SPEAKER | January/February 2012