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How To Get Paid For Public Speaking - The Mike Southon Story

succeed through speaking tom bailey Mar 30, 2022

Tom Bailey, founder of Succeed Through Speaking, interviews Mike Southon.

In this episode we hear about our guests journey with confidence, public speaking and presentation skills and how it has helped them succeed in life and in business - in other words, how to succeed through speaking.

Mike Southon is a serially successful entrepreneur, best-selling business author and one of the world’s top business keynote speakers on entrepreneurship, intrapreneurship and sales. He specialises in teaching entrepreneurship to University students.

Mike is co-author with Chris West of The Beermat Entrepreneur, The Boardroom Entrepreneur and Sales on a Beermat.

He has spoken at over 1,000 live events all over the world and provided face-to-face mentoring to over 1,000 entrepreneurs.

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Tom Bailey  00:07

Hello and welcome to succeed through speaking the place for experts and entrepreneurs who want high value ideas to boost business results. Hello, I'm Tom Bailey and in today's speaker stories episode against Mike Southon, who is a serial entrepreneur, best selling author, and one of the world's top business, keynote speakers on entrepreneurship intrapreneurship and sales to Mike Hello, and a very warm welcome to today's episode.

Mike Southon  00:43

Oh, thank you, Tom. It's a pleasure to be here. Thank you for inviting me. I really appreciate that.

Tom Bailey  00:48

And just out of interest whereabouts are you in the world right now?

Mike Southon  00:50

I'm in North London. And it's lovely and sunny here. So kind of born and bred London more or less. And you're in the Midlands, which I am. I'll try and hide my accent as best I can. But I never I'm never able to worse.

Tom Bailey  01:03

Great. Well, thank you so much. I want to just share a little bit more about you before we do get started. So Mike is co author of the BMX entrepreneur, the boardroom entrepreneur and sales on IBM at. He's spoken at over 1000 live events all over the world and has also provided face to face mentoring to over 1000 entrepreneurs. So Mike, we're gonna jump into the questions. And given that you have spoken at over 1000 live events, I'd love to know. Were you always a naturally born speaker or were things a little shaky in the beginning?

Mike Southon  01:36

Well, things are always shaky when you start but I have to say I'm kind of born to do speaking, is kind of in my DNA or something. I come from a family of performers in a way. My dad was a salesman, my mother was a ballet dancer. Hey, so um, it was a thrill. I mean, I've been in bands, I've fronted bands. For years, I've been a stand up, I've been an actor. So the whole business of going on stage is not a challenge for me. The fact is, even if you've done as many gigs as me, you are always nervous, you're not nervous, there's something wrong, you're not hyped up. So there's a whole bunch of procedure we do as actors to get ourselves into just the right moment when you go on stage is no different to being a speaker. So, um, there's a few people I know, particularly Olivia James are connected with her very good with people from lunch for them very experienced, senior government scientist has said, He's petrified going on stage. But once he gets into it, he's kind of okay. But theorists speaking is not something to be either afraid of or to ignore. Because if you're not scared, there's something wrong. You've got to be hyped up to go on. You got to use the adrenaline positively. Now, of course, I'm the kind of person who speak every single day as they possibly could users. Might we've heard enough. Thank you. But so if it was down to be able to speak every day, some people is more aggressive. I'll do it when I have to. And we all have to, there's always some time at work when you've got to talk about whatever. And I spend a lot of time helping people to prepare for the worst possible question, which is oh, sorry, Tom, could you just say a few words about what you're doing in about 15 minutes? Yeah, that you got no time to prepare. Of course, speaking is all about preparation and getting your right and being in the right space. But what I teach people to do is that ability to be able to, without any notes or anything to be able to stop, just say a few words, and explain what you're doing without saying too much. Because most people fall into the trap of trying to say too much. But I mean, I've earned a living as a speaker being paid. There's a big difference between that just getting up and saying a few things. So when you're being paid is a hugely different thing. Because you've got to give value for money. You've got to design these pages to be there. It's not just You're there to cheer people up, you're there to get a definite outcome. So there's quite a lot goes into it. But absolutely, you're absolutely right. The fear of speaking is a major issue. It is thank you so much for that. And you mentioned then that there will be a time when you have to talk. So the title of this podcast is succeed through speaking. How important do you think speaking is in business and of course in life as well? Oh, it's It's absolutely vital. Even if you hate the idea of speaking. I mean, I teach a lot of students now. Some of them they're born to speak, they could do my job. Others it's the worst nightmare and two friends of mine wrote a brilliant book called and death came third is Peter robot, and Angela Potter. And your death was the third most scary thing. Number one and do various which one is speak to one was networking, you know, talking to strangers or conferences. But Peter robe was very strong on you know, speaking in public is the scariest thing ever, but we all have to do it and you may not want to do it everyday like I do, but it's a vital part of your armory to be able to, okay, not in 15 minutes every time but to be able to put something together. We can explain what you do. See you succeed in whatever you're doing, whether you're an entrepreneur like me trying to sell people, your staff or whether you're trying to do well in a large company, being able to not only speak, you know, properly, if that's the right word, but also to get the point across. And then here's the most important thing. And it is the one thing I learned when I started suddenly doing it every day. Because before then I've been doing this thing that suddenly our book comes out. This is 20 years ago, almost exactly today. So I've been invited to speak at conferences. This is the best piece of advice I received from a very experienced speaker and said, when you speak in public, you will always get a round of applause at the end. Mostly because you stopped. Oh, thank God, they finished Oh, there was a board. Yeah. And I was getting that I was getting all this year, oh, he's gone on for busy is over, and so on, and so forth. So you're always going to get the round of applause. But you have to have some kind of tangible outcome. And here's my top tip, which is, whatever you're speaking about five minutes before you finish and timings very important to say, I've got five minutes to go. So I've got to go soon. But I would like you to do this one thing. Yeah. And you measured on the number of people who do that thing, it could be give me a business card and connect with me on LinkedIn or fill in a form. Because if nobody wants to do what you ask them to, you've been a failure as a speaker, they liked you, oh, goodbye golf. If there's no, before anything else, I'm gonna do that thing Mike said. And of course, in a sales context, it's connect with me because I might want to sell you something later. Is that real outcome? So? So he's preparing a talk? So let's go straight to the end? Whatever it is, you talk about? What's your outcome? What do you want people to do differently? What do you what result Do you want? It could be just be a better person. I mean, I do a lot about, you know, be a mentor to entrepreneurs, or whatever it is. You've got to have that. Because if you haven't got that, there's no point speaking, to be honest. You're just there to fill in the time. If you have a different thing of yours at all. I wish I could have heard more from Michael Tom. But yeah, I'm gonna do that thing, then you know, you've won if you measure it, then if you get 10, one day and 20 the next you've done a better job if you absolutely got a worse job. Yeah. And that one thing is so important, because we talk about this quite a lot. But if somebody a week later, after listening to your 60 minute presentation, chances are they're only actually gonna remember one thing from that presentation anyway. So you might as well make sure that's something that you've chosen. Oh, completely, because you're always going to be using something like PowerPoint or Keynote. And the word PowerPoint usually has the two words, death by before it. Yeah, most people will panic and think I better put more stuff up. Because the more stuff up there, the better it is. Because otherwise I'll be perceived as being not terribly good. It's actually the other way around. Yeah, I have these very simple slides, no more than three bullet points. I'm hoping that in half an hour an hour. They remember one thing that was the guy who, you know, I do a lot of talks that involve the Beatles, I'm often the Beatles guy, cuz I know about the Beatles. But and that thing, he said, I'll remember it forever. And I'll do that thing. Now when you watch a top notch politician or something, you can tell they've been coached, to obviously, hope people like them, get the message across. But then let's do this. There's some quite interesting stuff they do to get you to do what they want you to vote for them or something. Absolutely. So let's think back to those early days. So you're happy being stood on a stage? And?

Tom Bailey  08:15

And but if there's one piece of advice you could give yourself now, you know, back to a younger mic, what what would that be?

Mike Southon  08:22

Well, speaking in public is actually stage craft, I was very lucky, I've been an actor. So I knew where to stand on the stage, how to work, how not to walk in front of the projector, all those things, which are very basic stage quarter, anybody's been trained as an actor. So often, if somebody is really good, you know that they got some great stuff, like a lot of confidence, I teach them a stage called how to walk on where to stand what to do. I don't go as far as you know, these are the positions you hold to get more influences that looks false. It some understand your space, where you are. And have you got the sight line of people and can you captivate them in the first two minutes. Because at a commercial conference, if you're being a bit boring in the first minute, they'll say, Sure, go to the bar, which you're going to get a drink, we'll come back later. That's not very interesting. You've got to keep them saying, Well, you will go to the bar in a minute, but maybe we'll just listen to this. So as part where you're the reason I'm here today, and it's often you're talking about, you know that pain of empathy, let's say public speaking, it's nerve racking. Yep. I'm going to solve that today. But you're saying Hang on, I don't quite believe them at all sticking longer a couple of minutes. So it's first it's you stating a pain or a problem which are there to solve. Establishing your authority there is you should talk to me is because I've done 1000 gigs or whatever. Once you've got them, then you probably got another five minutes after that to get into a bit of content, which is the here's my three top tips or something like that, which you're going to write down remember forever, then you get to the winner. I've only got five minutes. Could you do this? And then you're finished. And the reality is if you got a 30 minute slot or an hour slot, if you finished, finished 10 minutes ago

Tom Bailey  10:00

Yeah, you're the biggest hero in the world. Thank you overran especially with being paid, you will never get booked. Again, this is all robotics, I want to talk about that I'm in my flow. And

Mike Southon  10:12

if you're 15 minutes late and somebody else is coming on 15 minutes late, because you've been unprofessional, you'll never work again. Great. He's like, Yeah, he's great. But he's too into himself. So yeah, so lots of top tips there. But I think the first few that that stood out to me was captured that audience in the early parts of your presentation, and make sure that you use the space well on the stage and learn how to do that. And also, if you can, it's better to finish early than it is to override absolutely absolute because you always say, Look, you know, I can do a q&a, I can do whatever, if you finish five minutes, and especially if you're coming up to a break. If you keep people from a break from lunch or dinner, you're the worst criminal in the world. Yeah, because they're hungry, they're fed up, they whatever. But the other the other big point I would say is that when you're up there, you make a point or your there's a problem, we're going to solve it, then you're into the easiest part of stories of speaking, which is storytelling. I remember when it might be a story about you, Bobby, an anecdote might be a parable. And all stories have the same form. And we do it every day. Once upon a time there's a problem. Yeah. Then I this happened? Why did that. And the result was, we all can all tell a story about how we got stuck in traffic or whatever happened. Storytelling is the easiest part of public speaking. The hardest bit is comedy. I started comedy. A lot of my usual advice is do not try to be a comedian. Unless you happen to be a comedian. Yeah, this is difficult. Now, gag comedians, I went see Gary Delaney recently is brilliant. And you know, Jimmy Carr and Ricky Gervais, these kind of people, it's a guy, if you're just in the right timing, you'll get the same laugh, you'll probably get the timing wrong and ruin it. So, but telling a funny stories gives people a sort of wry laugh, and we've all been there, we've been stuck in traffic or trying to get to an event. And so I did this top tip wear a hat or something, tell stories. And they can be stories about yourself. So authentic, or once upon a time there was a guy it's like a parable. Yeah. So when I'm teaching students to be able to stand up in 15 minutes and do 15 minutes, have a slide set of six slides, pictures. And that picture reminds you Oh, and then an elephant came in, says a picture of an elephant. So you tell stories. And Bill Oh, you were the guy that talks about the Beatles, or an elephant or something. So stories are the easiest thing to do. Don't try and be funny, unless you're professional, you will, you will crash and burn. I've seen it. Lots of great value in there. And the next question then is we talked about speakers that are starting their journey and possibly ones that are already speaking. And there's a bit of a transition then to go from speaker to paid speaker. What advice would you give to somebody who wants to actually get paid to stand up and speak? Well, if you're being paid, the only issue is value for money. Yeah, and somebody is paying you. So they paid you that's mounds have they had 1000 pounds worth of value. Now, if you're a big star, and you're gonna do something, you're going to get 1000s of people, because they want to see Paul McCartney, Mr. P, but the organisers thinking I paid them 1000 to get 1000 of value. And my customers so happy that I spent that money. This is a very hard thing. I think the market has changed. And I started speaking full time in 2002. There were plenty of gigs out there. There's lots of people speak for free, and TEDx has got people speaking for nothing, which is a great thing, different model. It's very tough now, unless you're a celebrity. And normally, when I go out and speak, I'm up against the celebrity, the person who won the gold medal or did whatever, this is very difficult. I did if the market is going to recover post COVID. I mean, June COVID, all my speaking, what just stopped, and it may come back, it may not I'm busy anyway, if it does, I'll be happy. But it's a very tough thing to get money for speaking. Now. The other model is just speaking for expenses. But you've got what's called an upsell, which is anyway hoping your brother said, if you're interested in my, I don't have them. But you know, workshops on negotiation, like my friend, Derek garden is brilliant, in unison, that you can sign up and I'll make money doing that. Yeah, that's a very good model. You don't have to be famous. They're just thinking, yeah, that makes sense. I liked his half hour or hour, and I'm sure if he comes in for half a day to my company, he'll improve whatever problem we have, you know, lack of sales or whatever skill it is, because a lot of speakers do that. That's their model. You don't have to pay me to turnout because I think if there's 100 people in the room 20 are going to book up my workshop, therefore it makes economic sense. Yeah, I've never done that. Personally, I've always been an ad that I'm just going to talk about the Beatles. You'll love it.

Tom Bailey  14:39

And I've seen it. And well done, Mike and we'll talk during the bar, but I'm in that mode. Yeah. Perfect. Great. Thanks for that. And you mentioned the pandemic which has also been hot on on the press recently. So how did you personally transition during that period? Did you move into virtual or did you just pause your speaking? I paused the speaking and then started doing other work.

Mike Southon  15:00

I speak a lot at university. So I was doing University presentations via zoom. Also, I took on a sales job again for the first time in a few years because my I needed some help. I was doing it via zoom. Right? It wasn't as good as going to visit people and whatever else. But you know, all of us Yeah, in times of difficulty, we find another way of doing it. But now everything is opening up and everybody thinks, I would love to go to a conference and see some speakers and meet people and talk in the bar and doing that. I think it's going to really open up. Yeah, and so you really got to be the best you got to be. You provide value, you're obviously authentic in what you do, your giving value, a combination of inspiration, Oh, I'm so inspired hearing the speaker, but also that some stuff I can use personally, in my work to to make myself more successful. So for those speakers that are maybe not yet on the circuit, but they spent locked down writing their scripts and practicing, they're ready to go out into the world. Have you got any advice for a new speaker who wants to land a speaking gig and they've never done that before? Find where there's a speaking gig going on and talk them into having you in a nice situation. Persuasion is a standard thing, which is look, I will add value, they're saying, would you then here's how I would do here's what I would do. That sounds right. Good. Then it's just practice. Yeah. And I tell my students, go back to your old school and tell you your experience in London. Yes. Because often from abroad, that's easy to get, yeah, why haven't you and even to London, there's been stuff, there's bad stuff, you develop practice. The thing is that if you do a good job speaking, whether it's sort of TEDx, or any other event, there'll be people in the audience saying, that person will be great for my conference, then I heard you speak of this thing. And I'd like to speak of my thing. You say a very simple question. What's your speaker budget? Yeah, zero, make it valuable. You'll be amazed. He will say, I'm really sorry. So Mike is sat down. So I know you're really disappointed. It's only 1000 pounds. I'm thinking 1000 pounds for an hour's work. Okay, we're gonna get there and get back. I'm happy with that. See, because I don't have a speaker right? Because I'm different gigs. In one gig, I can charge five grand and experience around. I love speaking so the default? Yeah, I'll do it. Yeah, yeah. But it's See, I'm asking what the budget is, and then then make the call to five pay Mike 1000 pounds? Will I get 1000 pounds worth of value? Not just people like me, as Paul was saying, yeah. Well, after hearing Mike, I increased my sales by 20. Grand Well, yeah, Mike was value for money. Yes, do gigs. But whatever your business is, podcasts, anything speaking in public, and then chatting with them afterwards. And this sat near that there's always benefit to be had. If you're the kind of person who dreams of getting in a car and driving somewhere or getting on a plane and going somewhere, there's always good you can do but make sure you're earning a living. So you may have that dual model, which is I speak for nothing, but I do enough workshops. Yeah, perfect and made a really good point there about just getting started, don't wait until you've got the perfect opportunity to speak. You know, just speak at your school, then speak at your local business conference, and then build up to those national business conferences. And the global in the end, is when I started, there were plenty of places you could go and speak for nothing, fortunately, and a best selling books and people knew they had to pay help. But there's chambers of commerce, there used to be busy. So there's always groups of people at schools, there's everything where they'd love to have a real human being not on Zoom, come in, talk to them, shake hands, talk to people, you know, give some value and just tell stories about yourself and why you're authentic. And you're just as authentic when you're 20. And you've had some experiences as when you're my age, which is a lot more than 20. So just be yourself. Just build it and don't try and be somebody else. And also, I'm not that big of a fan of the you know, the personal development, people who know you too can be a millionaire, if you know, yeah, there's a lot of bad stuff out there. You just say, Here's my story, hope it's useful. How can I help you? And you got to understand yourself and what value you personally provide to people other than making them slightly happier. I mean, the obvious ones are, I'll increase your revenue or I'll reduce your costs. That's the easy one. And that's measurable. That's why you feel slightly happier tomorrow. Not so good. But I'll show you how you can with the classic thing now is how can you use social media to improve your business that's an on my university on Monday. I'm just so thrilled I got a guy and I went to see him specifically in Los Angeles, Michael Scott Bradley from Bozeman Dubois, who put a video up. Then he turned that into postmodern jukebox. He then got more than a billion hits on YouTube. Wow. Then how did he monetize that? He was he has no idea why it happened. He just did it as you make money out of it. So you got something and he just plays the piano. It's amazing. If you saw the videos, you'll you'll understand why people love him as a touring band. That's why it's here at the moment. But, again, just step back home I want to help people poolside do and it's not just you know, cheer yourself up, you know, but it's, you know, have fun is more do this and you will be closer to where you want to be whatever it is. And the most obvious measurable outcomes are money, you'll get more money, you'll save some money. Those are the two start if you do that, everybody wants to hear that save money on utilities, utilities ago, I'll show you how to do it. Or I'll show you how to get more revenues. You don't care about your heating bill. Because you're making so much money, you don't care. Because I'm trying to pounds. Who cares? You know? Well, yeah. All about providing value to the audience to the event organiser and to anybody that gets to listen to that presentation. So one last question from me, Mike, is where can people connect with you if they want to either book you as a speaker or just find out more about you? Well, it's Mike's That's my speaker site. And there's all my life history, and all of that, and everything's on there. But my particular call of action is actually something very specific, which is hopefully quite nice, which is I teach all the university students who have come from all around the world. So I've decided, what I need to do is to get in front of them about the time they're thinking, shall I go to university or not? So my open offer is, you know, if you're in somewhere nice, like Monaco, or Berlin, or something, of course, in the UK as well, if you want me to come into your schools and say, here are your options. Here's why London's interesting, obviously, I'd love it if you came to London to BS business school where I am in Sydney University. But those are the talks that I want to give, I probably won't earn money doing that in schools. But I own money different ways now. So so that's, you know, if you want to book Mr. Speaker, I can speak at any conference about anything. Trust me. I'm brilliant. I've got the Beatles in there. I know the Beatles. It's all great. But the particular thing i'd love any of your listeners to to do is, yeah, wouldn't it be nice to get Mike into my school? When the students of the University Yes. Now, what do I do? How does it work? So that's my call to action.

Tom Bailey  21:57

So Mike something and I'm sure on this, I'll drop that into the show notes. And also make a little note there about the speaking at universities as well. So make make sure that's available to all of our listeners. Brilliant. So, Mike, thank you so much again, for your time today. I really appreciate you coming along and sharing your story with our audience. Brilliant. Thanks.