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Award Winning Advice For Aspiring Speakers - Pamela Slim

succeed through speaking tom bailey Nov 28, 2022

Tom Bailey, founder of Succeed Through Speaking, interviews Pamela Slim.

Pamela Slim is an award-winner author, speaker and business coach who works with small business owners ready to scale their businesses and IP. She is the author of Escape from Cubicle Nation, Body of Work and her newest book is The Widest Net which is accompanied by The Widest Net Podcast. Pam and her husband Darryl co-founded the K’é Main Street Learning Lab in Mesa, Arizona, where they host scores of diverse community leaders and regular small business programming.

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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, I'll be getting to know Pamela Slim, who is an award winning author, speaker and business coach who works with small business owners ready to scale their business and IP. So Pamela, hello, and a very warm welcome to today's episode.

Pamela Slim  00:42

I am so happy to be here.

Tom Bailey  00:43

Thank you so much for joining and just out of interest for all of our listeners, whereabouts in the world are you right now,

Pamela Slim  00:49

I am in Mesa, Arizona, in the middle of the desert, about 20 minutes from the Phoenix Airport.

Tom Bailey  00:55

Excellent. Thank you so much for sharing. And I also know that you're the host of the widest net podcast, and obviously also wrote the book entitled The Widest Net. Now to begin with to to focus on the theme of this podcast episode, I want to just find out from you, when it comes to the widest net, how important is public speaking for business owners when they're thinking about casting their net wider for their customer base,

Pamela Slim  01:20

it is probably one of the most powerful things you can do to give just a tiny snapshot of the concept. I contrast ecosystem, culture with empire building culture. So we think about building an empire where you just are the expert and you're drawing everybody to you and you have funnels and all that which is great. But I really look more at finding your ideal clients through an ecosystem. And so if you center your client in the middle of an ecosystem, you look for all the places where they look for information, resources and support. And where is one place where people go, is events. So if you were on a stage and you were speaking to an audience who are ideal clients, your fellow speakers are amazing peer referral partners. And often the sponsors can be companies that you do brand partnerships with so to me, I call them a this watering hole, this live watering hole when you're speaking Yeah, it probably is the most leveraged marketing activity that you can do.

Tom Bailey  02:19

I love that perfect. Yeah. Great, great advice in there. And I guess for the audience's perspective as well. The persons who stood on the front of the stage is normally the one seen as the leader in the rooms, it's really good credibility and positioning as well for you for you as an expert.

Pamela Slim  02:31

It's true. And I do sometimes, you know, I think, gosh, am I just being driven by ego but like, I've learned through the years, if I'm going to be at an event, even if I'm totally interested in learning to be there. I generally like to speak and if possible, I try to speak early because it just sets a totally different conversation. When people see you on stage, as when you're just out there networking with folks.

Tom Bailey  02:55

I love that perfect and I guess that's you know, for your clients, but what about for yourself how important is public speaking when for you in your career to date?

Pamela Slim  03:03

In my career as a as a whole, I've been a entrepreneur for 26 years. So the first 10 years I was a management consultant in Silicon Valley. I'm originally from California from that San Francisco Bay Area. And in those years, it was not important whatsoever. I didn't do any speaking everything was referral based, working in large companies. And so I didn't do any at all. And really in the rise of entrepreneurship. I started my exposure in the entrepreneur world blogging, my blog Escape from Cubicle Nation that became my first book was the way that I came on the scene. But speaking was extremely important. Then as I went to places like South by Southwest, and large conferences is really where I think I began to connect with people who had come to me gravitated initially because of my writing. But meeting them in person was a hugely important part of my building a community.

Tom Bailey  03:55

And although speaking wasn't important, was it something that you found you were avoiding? Or we naturally a good speaker we did you have low confidence when it comes to speaking where like, Where were you out from a speaking perspective back then,

Pamela Slim  04:08

you can ask my entire introvert family, I apologize to them every day because I have always been the person who is first on the dance floor work in the room at five years old. My whole family are introverts my mom, dad, sister, brother, and now my family, my husband and my two kids. But I love to talk I always have, I'm really confident in front of groups. So I thankfully did not have to struggle. It doesn't mean I don't get nervous. But I was always excited about being in that position.

Tom Bailey  04:37

Yeah, it's a really, really good point because, you know, I resonate with introverts and a lot of people listening as well. But like you said, just because you're extroverted doesn't mean you don't get nervous, you know, we still get the same endorphins, the same, you know, adrenaline that goes through our body just before we speak. So that's right.

Pamela Slim  04:53

And just because you're an introvert doesn't mean you're a great speaker. Probably some of the best speakers in the world are introverts. I did a big project with Susan Cain who people might know from her book quiet about the power of introverts, I helped her to build the quiet revolution. She is an amazing speaker has one of the top 10 TED talks of all time. And it actually speaking is an activity that is especially really designed for introverts to be successful. Because when you're on stage, you have all that preparation, you are in your zone, we are talking one to many. I don't know if you relate most introverts that I work with, say, after you are speaking, what is torture is just meandering through the crowd and having small talk afterwards. Yeah, whereas for me, that's, that's what I live for.

Tom Bailey  05:37

Yeah, walk off the stage lock me in a dark room for three hours, I'll be in my happy place.

Pamela Slim  05:42

Exactly. Resting. They call it a restorative zone, you need to like rest and recover from it.

Tom Bailey  05:47

Yeah, absolutely. Brilliant. Well, thank you very much for sharing that. And I guess whilst confident and whilst, you know, center of the party, I guess, as a young person, and did you find though, that you had to still hone your craft as a speaker like, like, maybe had to go through a journey of becoming a better speaker? What What was that like for you?

Pamela Slim  06:07

100%. I am just everything about personal and professional development. And through the years, when I just really, really enjoy watching professional speakers and learning from people that are masters of their craft. I've had the luck of working with amazing people. People like Nick Morgan, who worked with me when I did my TEDx talk in Fargo around my second book body of work, worked with me in a really deep way in order to craft the story of that TEDx talk that was really effective and connecting I'm good friends with Michael Port and Amy port from heroic public speaking and you know, have had the good luck to be around them and get good feedback about the physical kind of entertaining component of speaking. And there's so many other ways that I'm always learning and listening about different kinds of techniques for speaking I it is one of those things that is absolutely a skill and a craft that requires you to be continually improving.

Tom Bailey  07:07

Yes, of course. And I'm I'm putting you on the spot here now. But let's think about somebody who's just starting out in their career as a speaker, they, let's call them an aspiring speaker, they want to do more speaking, what two or three pieces are or top tips, top piece of advice you'd give them to really focus on right now, in the early stages of their speaking career.

Pamela Slim  07:27

The first thing is we tend to think of the craft of how am I going to look on stage and am I going to be connecting with people. The most important thing at first is what is the idea that you're excited about sharing, because speaking is about connecting deeply with and serving your audience. That is the thing that will keep you grounded when you're nervous. When you're right in the wings, about to go on stage about to panic, I always think I am here to be of service to this audience. And so the way that I share things in what I share is something that I know that I know something about, and I feel confident in. That's extremely important. The second thing is to keep it simple. Often we'd like to cram 137 PowerPoint slides into a speaking deck. I'm a fan more of gar Reynolds work and presentations, then, if you've ever seen that series of books that are all about simple graphic images that are visual anchors for your work. So if you think about fewer slides, Guy Kawasaki, who's a dear friend of mine, who's an amazing speaker often talks about just having 10 slides that are just really well crafted and using high quality visuals. But I would say just keep it simple. And make sure you're passionate about the topic and then just fumble and mumble use growth mindset it is not going to be perfect the first time around. What matters is showing up and doing it not doing it perfectly.

Tom Bailey  08:55

Yeah, I love that. So I guess it's centered around one core idea where you can add value to the audience. Keep it simple. And and know that it's a journey know that you're not going to be perfect straightaway if perfect even exists. And you know, you have to go through the amateur phase of honing the craft, putting in the miles to develop yourself as a speaker. Yeah, great.

Pamela Slim  09:15

That's right. Every professional speaker I've ever known has that story or the picture where they are the singular person on stage and there's one very disinterested person in an empty ballroom. My friend Scott Stratton, from on marketing who's amazing, hilarious speaker has a really hilarious picture of him at a book signing table after speaking where his head is just down because there is nobody there. And I just feel like sometimes you need to go through those experiences. The one thing I'll say it's another tip. What will serve you is if you're expecting 100 people and two people show up. You turn that into an intimate, deep conversation. Don't apologize for other people not being there. Don't feel awkward about it. Say something like I am so happy that We get to spend some deep time together. And so maybe you jump off the stage and you have more of a conversation. But that is another thing show up for who is present and don't apologize or feel bad because more people aren't there.

Tom Bailey  10:13

Yeah, I love that. And you know, one of the hesitations that startup speakers say to me is, what if nobody turns up? Or what if very few people turn up? And like you said, if you can reframe that and turn it into an opportunity and a positive experience, then yeah, removes that fear of it happening, then.

Pamela Slim  10:30

That's right, you might and usually when people come in, if they're a few people, they might sit towards the back or the middle. So in that case, you could say something like, I'm so happy that you showed up. Why don't you come down to the front, so we can just have more of an intimate conversation. And then that way, it just normalizes it. Confidence is, is everything, but it's confidence. With the true thing, which goes back to what I first said is that you want to be of service to the audience, the fact that they're there means you should spend their time your time with them. So maybe it's not your super polished speech, maybe you're more engaging in a good conversation with them.

Tom Bailey  11:05

Yep, sorry. Important. Perfect. Thank you for that advice. And one, one thing I want to talk about. So we've talked about, at the beginning of a speaking career, the tips and advice for just getting started. Now, I hear a lot of speakers telling me there's a tipping point between free speaking and paid speaking. What, what is that tipping point? Like? How would you transition it in? And how do you go from being a free speaker to a paid keynote speaker,

Pamela Slim  11:29

this depends on what your objectives are as a speaker, because there are different ways to think about making money from a speaking engagement versus being a paid speaker. There are people many of whom I know, and I'm friends with, who are their profession is being a professional speaker. So they're developing usually, in that case, you have a body of work, you have expertise, you are known in a particular area where people are excited to have you show up and your business is speaking. And so usually, for them, the early stages are doing the rotations of being on stages, really working the process in the business, where you're pitching places where you're connecting with companies to hey, there's so many conferences that give you great exposure, but don't pay by definition. And so that can be a little bit of a trap. If you're constantly on those stages. If you want to get paid professionals, if you want to go the paid professional track. It's really about business to business b2b, buy companies where you have a specific topic. And sometimes the line between a workshop and speaking right can be a little bit different. But the fact that you're getting paid to speak and inform is the most important thing. Well, it's many ways you can make money from a speaking engagement. And this is definitely true, in my case, is where you're in the right watering hole, you're in this place where you have this ideal audience in front of you peers and partners. You're showcasing your thought leadership and expertise. And you're clearly stating what it is that you do as a profession, so that people get excited about working with you. And so that that way, sometimes people make a lot more money than they would make. You can make $100,000 If you're selling a significant product through doing that, and I don't mean cheesy pitching from the stage. And I hate that, please don't do that. I don't think anybody wants to sit through that. But I mean, really engaging with people so that they get excited about who you are, and they want to work with you. And in that case, you really can create a lot of business with that. But you have to have a clear offer. And you have to wait to stay connected with people like having a QR code, having them text to a certain number to get their email address. Yeah.

Tom Bailey  13:36

Rather than that persuasion, persuading an audience to buy right now it's that what's the next logical step? What's the next step that we can take to build a relationship so that we may work together one day, I guess is the defense right? of it? Great. And well, loads and loads of great advice. And one one last question I just want to ask so since it's still quite topical is 2020 global pandemic pretty much wiped out the in person speaking industry? I'd be interested to find out from you, how you transitioned, how it's going. And do you think we've back to where we began? Or are we in a different space altogether with hybrid speaking right now?

Pamela Slim  14:15

Thankfully, for me, because that was not a primary driver of being a professional speaker, because I am a business coach and do consulting, that it personally didn't impact me as much. There were definitely things that I did virtually in speaking engagements, like many speakers did at that time, I saw massive devastation, which was heartbreaking for people, some of whom had million dollar a year speaking businesses, that from one day to the next saw their revenue drop. I just was listening to Brene Brown's podcast, she's just back from her summer sabbatical. And she shared that for her and her team. From one day to the next. They lost 75% of their booked revenue, wow for the company. So that is an example to me of not of not really mitigating Risk. None of us saw this coming, I think. But things can happen whether climate change, you know, like a political unrest, like a lot of things can happen more and more that might disrupt speaking. So I see definitely a revival and a renaissance I had in May, I had three speaking engagements, which was great to get back on the road and Chicago and Philadelphia here in Phoenix. I see people excited to get back together and conferences. But as a business coach, I always recommend having multiple streams of income and thinking about speaking, really designing it so that it could be delivered virtually, in case anything disrupts the in person.

Tom Bailey  15:37

Yeah, perfect, great advice, great summary of what's been happening over the past couple of years. So I get one final question. That promise is if people want to book you, as a speaker, as a coach, find out more about you what's the best place for them to connect with you online?

Pamela Slim  15:51

My Pamela,

Tom Bailey  15:55

less than easy, and what I'll do is I'll put a link to that in the show notes as well so people can click that and find out more. Pamela, all that's left to say is thank you again so much for coming along and sharing such great value with our audience.

Pamela Slim  16:06

Thanks for having me.