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How Public Speaking Built My Career - Andrew Davis

succeed through speaking tom bailey Jul 04, 2022

Tom Bailey, founder of Succeed Through Speaking, interviews Andrew Davis.

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.

Andrew Davis has wrote documentary films and produced for NBC. He's worked for the Muppets and MTV. He co-founded, built and sold a marketing agency. You might have seen him on The Today Show or in the New York Times. He's a best-selling author and one of the most influential marketers in the world. He's had more coffee today than you'll drink in a week.

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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 Andrew Davis was a keynote speaker, the best selling author, and one of the most influential marketers in the world. So Andrew Hello and a very warm welcome to today's episode. Hey, thanks, Tom for having me. This is fun. I'm so excited about telling my story and hearing some more awesome. We can't wait to hear all about it. So whereabouts in the world are you right now just having a trip. Today I am in South Florida. I live in Boca Raton, Florida. Amazing. Thank you so much. And I just want to share just a little bit more about you before we do get started. So Andrew has written documentary films, his works for the Muppets and MTV, co founded, built and sold a marketing agency. And you may well have seen him on the Today Show or in the New York Times. So quite an incredible journey from the sounds of things. And given the topic of this podcast, I'd love to find out how important has public speaking been for you along the way on your journey?

Andrew Davis  01:24

Yeah, well, public speaking has built my, my entire career like, you know, I started a marketing agency in 2001. And it wasn't until 2008, that we found that public speaking was the best way to generate business for the agency. We had tried everything else, you know, advertising and events and sponsorships and all sorts of other things. And, you know, I, all of a sudden, I would speak at an event, I was the kind of lead strategy person at the agency. And people would come up afterwards and say, Oh, my gosh, like, what do you do? And then I tell them what they do? Or they'd say, can you do what you just spoke about? And I would say, Yeah, you know, we have an agency. And next thing, you know, we had a full book of business. In fact, that got so busy. That, you know, I was speaking we were generating leads we couldn't handle which is I mean, a good problem to have. But a frustrating.

Tom Bailey  02:17

Yeah, absolutely. And did you find that you had to be you had to choose the right places to speak it was that was that one of those important elements of public speaking for you?

Andrew Davis  02:27

Yeah, well, we chose what we call a fractal every year. So we would, we would determine a new business opportunity and look at the kind of a fractal for me as a niche within a niche within a niche. It's a small enough target, where you can really focus your energy and understanding the industry. And usually we do the first speech for free in the industry. So, you know, we'd pick like multifamily housing, and we'd speak at an industry event. And you know, that would kind of open the door to other opportunities within that industry. And we can usually build like a three or four year business cycle out of focusing on one industry a year. And so that became really important. Yeah, it was a big aspect of the strategy that made it work

Tom Bailey  03:11

on that a lot of speakers that I speak to tell me that whenever they speak at an event, if they get their presentation, right, they always get offered another presentation afterward or another opportunity to speak. So it almost creates that snowball effect for you if you do that first one for free.

Andrew Davis  03:25

Yeah, that's what Well, yeah, that's my goal. My goal is for stage side leads from every single event. And a stage side lead for me is just someone within the first 72 hours after speaking, that they asked me to speak at a specific event, which means it has a date and time, it means that they're higher enough up in the organization that they could, you know, make the decision or refer me, and that they have a budget. And if those things, three things are true, then I've gotten one stage side leads. So my goal is for after every speech, and to be totally fair, just to manage everybody's expectation, the goal is for but right now, I'm averaging about 2.78 or something per gig. So I measure all of that to make sure I know that the speech is working that the you know that I'm actually getting those stateside leads,

Tom Bailey  04:10

right. I love that you've got that data, and it's so accurate as well. So let's go back to the very beginning, just just for a moment. So we talked about 2001. You know, you were trying everything when you first launched that business. What's your earliest memory of having to stand up and deliver a presentation? Was it during that time? Or was it way back when you're in college or university? Well,

Andrew Davis  04:30

I mean, it's a little unfair because I as a kid, I was really into acting and performing and stuff. So you know, I they weren't really speeches, but I guess a monologue, you know, I had to learn stuff. So I was never actually afraid of performing in front of people. But I can tell you that what when I when I started speaking from the agency, you know, I can remember the very first time I was invited to speak and it was actually a fluke, like I I'm one of those people it's really early time for me, every event I go to, and I wasn't handy at a conference. And I showed up really early, I was, you know, registered, got my badge. And this woman comes running, running up and says, Oh my gosh, like, I'm so glad you're here. You know, we had someone canceled for 10am. Like, have you ever spoken in a breakout session before? And I was like, no. And she was like, Well, if you have a topic and you want to deliver it, like, I've got a room at 10am. So I was like, well, I'll take it. So I went back to my room, I skipped the opening sessions and put together a 45 minute presentation. And I'll tell you that I was not nervous about performing in front of people. I was unbelievably nervous about the ideas I was going to present I, I had severe impostor syndrome. And I thought, you know, what, what do I know? Like, this is my first time at this conference, I came here to learn stuff, like who am I gonna be able to teach these people about this topic? You know, and I was really nervous about that. And I've come to learn that. You know, I guess over time, that I, my best performances, and my best ideas are the ones where I actually don't need to be the expert. And in fact, I think that's a big detriment to the audience and my, my process. And so all I want to do is to provide them with a solution to a real problem they're facing, but it's not the solution. It's an idea. It's one solution that you may want to try. And I'm very honest and open about the fact that I'm still investigating all this stuff. I'm looking for answers. And I'm just going to share with you what I've learned. And that's changed my perspective. And I'm no longer nervous, because I don't believe I need to be the expert in the room, I just need to have a unique perspective that I want to share. And that's, that's eliminated that that alleviated that impostor syndrome that I know you guys talk about a lot

Tom Bailey  06:36

on the show. I absolutely love that. And I guess that that frame of mind is thinking about what value can I add to this audience, which is, you know, how do we offer them something tangible, something useful a solution, they can go and try. And by providing value, you're more likely to get booked again to speak at other venues. So yeah, that's a really great piece of advice. So what would you say is one thing that you that you know, now that you'd wished you'd known back then when you first delivered that presentation in that breakout room? What's that one thing that you'd wish you could

Andrew Davis  07:05

tell? You know, Andre, it would be that, that the, the speech is the cake that all the marketing in the world won't make you a better speaker, it will book you more gigs, that won't build your business. But creating a great speech that people want to hear over and over again and want to share with other people is all you need to be a great speaker. So I mean, just if I back up, I spent a lot of time and energy, trying to increase my fame factor, you know, like, I needed to be everywhere, I had to have followers on Twitter, and I needed to be famous. And it turns out, you don't, you know, to be a surprise and delight speaker, the kind of speaker that I feel like I provide, all you need to do is provide a transformational experience for the audience. And if you can do that reliably, and that's the key, you have to be able to deliver that every single time you speak, then yeah, you can, you'll have a very big and growing business where you know, your business is just a referral based business. And your fees increase and the bookings increase. I love

Tom Bailey  08:07

that. And can you help us understand what goes into that kind of speech? Is there a certain Is there a certain building blocks that goes into a speech like that? What would what would you say is the core parts you need to get into that presentation? It

Andrew Davis  08:19

was, I think, it boils down to number one, having a real problem to solve. And I think too many of us try to solve a problem or 10 problems in one speech. And I think very often we don't know, we don't truly understand what the real problem is that the audience is facing. So number one, understanding that number two, having a contextual model, not a contextual model is really important. It's a to me, I define a contextual model as like, something you could that's simple enough, you could draw on a napkin to kind of illustrate the idea, but complex enough to have deep layers of understanding and meaning for the audience. So you could talk about it for three minutes. But you could also dive into it and keep charting on that one contextual model for 45 minutes, and people will still have aha moments, right? Like, that's unbelievably important. That kind of demonstrates your domain expertise, it, it demonstrates the deep thought that's gone into the solution that you're presenting or providing for the audience. You need to have a signature bit a signature bit for me is the five to seven minutes in the speech that is so memorable that people will tell other people about that five minute experience or that seven minute experience. It's really sticky, but it's not just entertainment, it has to illustrate a deep point that people previously didn't understand until they got the signature bid. Lord, is that that was a good list of three started those but

Tom Bailey  09:44

that was perfect and, and that contextual model has a lot of what we do is intangible if you're offering a service, you know, you can package it and give it to somebody. So by making it a visual represent, you might know like Maslow's hierarchy of needs the triangle or something like that. And where you can walk through each layer and then like you said, then you can either spend one minute on each layer, or you can really drill down for 30 minutes on each layer if you had the time to do so. Yeah, yeah,

Andrew Davis  10:09

yeah, I mean, I even mean, not just the one drawing, but like, I have a quick example, like, I have a speech this year that I've been working on for the last year, it's called the cube of creativity. And it's, it's essentially four simple constraints, you can add to any project to come up with better, more creative solutions faster. So the basics are the four constraints, you can add, and anyone can draw a cube on a napkin and write the constraints. But what happens is, it turns out if you, if you divide the cube into quarters, it turns out each of the two corners, like the two constraints actually provide an emotional aspect of the creative output. So I mean, like trying to layer the contextual model like that, like, Hey, you can draw it like this. But if I have extra time, I can show you what happens and why these are. And then you can layer it again, and say, if you don't do all four of these things, here's what happens. This team falls apart. Um, so the deeper you actually invest in that contextual model, the better off you'll be. I you know, I started with real simple ones, like, it's the ABC model. A stands for this P stands for. That's like the very first version of an idea. You got to keep going until you really have have dissected the idea so much that, you know, you believe this is the solution that's best to present at this time.

Tom Bailey  11:30

Yeah. Love it. Great advice. And what would you say to somebody because there's always a step between being a speaker and and being a paid speaker? I think that's always a step. And that's kind of an internal mindset step. But but also, there's also things you have to do externally. So what what is that transition for you to go from a free speaker to a paid speaker.

Andrew Davis  11:52

It's all based on stage side leads. So like, here's what I do every year, I every year, I come up with a new idea for speech, brand new speech, right, never been performed before. And I go to free speeches to just try to get the ball rolling. And, you know, to be totally honest, it doesn't work the first three or four times, right? Yeah, I'm still working out the kinks. The idea isn't good. My performance isn't great. There's no signature because I haven't figured one out yet. Because I don't know what the audience is struggling with. Yeah. But the moment I finish one of those free speeches, and somebody comes up and says, Andrew, that was amazing. We have an event on March 25. How much do you cost? We would love to have you that when they say they want that speech? That's when I say, Oh, it's $500. Yeah. And then when I get three stage, leads from every event, I say, it's 1500. I mean, I'm making up the fees. But, you know, I, if you're starting out, that's the best way to think about it when the speech is preferable, then start raising the fee.

Tom Bailey  12:51

Yeah, I love that. It's a great way of looking at it. I've not heard of that perspective. And that's Yeah, really good way of looking at it. Thank you. And quick question then on, I guess. So let's, let's talk about the pandemic. I think that's quite a good place to go now. So 2019, two years went into lockdown, pretty much what it did it it killed the in person speaking industry. And I guess, how did you transition during that period? And what did you do differently?

Andrew Davis  13:19

Yeah, well, so I have a television background. So you mentioned that in the beginning, I worked in television for the first 10 years of my career. So I immediately thought, you know, what, how can we make virtual events better than an in person event? Yeah. And I decided, you know, what, the best way to do that is to turn it into a television show. So basically, I took every keynote, and made it this kind of television show like experience where I would do live segments in front of a camera in my little studio. But then all of a sudden, I I'd say like, Hey, follow me, let me tell you a concept out by my pool here at my house, right? So that would be a pre recorded little seven minute or five minute segment. But it you know, the illusion was that it was all happening real time. And you know, it worked really, really great. It took a lot of time to get the kinks out to figure out how to use the production equipment that I hadn't used in 20 years. And you know, it all changed and the technology was different. But I think the key is trying to remember that we you've got to provide an experience that is different than the in person experience. If you want to be successful in the virtual world. I have really hard opinions about why I think the virtual world is a little backwards. Easy stuff. Like if you want to do a presentation on Zoom. It makes your slides real big and your head real small, right? Like, that's just backwards for a cold medium, like the internet. You need to be big that person needs to be Yeah, and the slides can be real small because your close up. But anyway, I think there are a lot of things we could work on. If you just start saying you know what, forget about what I do in person. How can I transform this experience to be transformative for the audience to feel different and to keep them engaged for 45 minutes or an hour? Our you know, you gotta have to think that way.

Tom Bailey  15:02

Yeah. Love the thought of making sure it's an experience because you know, we've seen so many webinars over the past two years where you just sit there and or you want to PowerPoint and you're watching someone talk over their slides. Yeah. So really important. And one thing that came up to me, as you were speaking a minute ago was about finding the speaking gigs. So you find these free speaking gigs, and then that will then lead to the lead generation, I guess, how do you find that first speaking gig? What What methods do you take find if you can,

Andrew Davis  15:30

there's, I mean, to be totally frank, I'm at the point at which I get so many inbound inquiries that, you know, for, for the free gigs, like I, you know, I can say, hey, look, I can't I know, you can't afford me. But hey, guess what, I have a brand new speech. And I'd be happy to do this brand new speech for you, you know, instead of loyalty loop, which I know is what you want it. So that works for me. But look, if you're trying to get your first gigs, the easiest thing to do the three simple things. Number one, I want you to reach out to three executives, you know, on LinkedIn, everybody has connection with at least one executive, reach out to them and tell them you've been working on a new keynote speech or a new speech. And wondering if you could do a lunch and learn for your staff. Here's the topic, what do you that's, that's number one. Number Number two, I want you to reach out to all the nonprofits and and professional organizations that you're a member of or a former member of, and ask the exact same thing, hey, I know you have monthly meetups and you do educational sessions, you know, I have a new speech I'm working on I would love to be able to deliver that to the audience free of charge to to get their feedback, right. And then the third one, the third one is the most valuable one. It's a super secret underground marketplace that no one ever talks about. In fact, I'm trying to build a my own little tool to help us with this. But you need to reach out to three other speakers. And they need to know that you have a brand new speech and that you're interested in performing it because people like me and your peers, even if they're not busy speakers doing 55 gigs a year, they're doing 1012 gigs a year, they have the opportunity to refer you as well. For three, they have opportunity for three reasons. One, their gigs, they might not be able to do, right they're unavailable to maybe they're charging for the speech, and they don't want to do any free speeches, but they're getting those free inquiries, right? And three, after every gig you complete, if you want to maintain that relationship with that event organizer, so they bring you back in three years, you need to be able to offer them three great referrals to follow up from your speaker this year. Yeah. So if you do that, if you just reach out to those three groups, I guarantee you can get that wheel spinning much faster than if you're just filling out you know, Speaker inquiry forms and stuff that doesn't really work. And if you're interested, by the way, and you're listening, or you're interested, Tom, in my little trial here for for this referral thing I'm building, you know, let me know, I'm happy to send you guys a link and I have a little questionnaire we need to fill out and, and a little process that we're working on. So I'm happy to share that with others.

Tom Bailey  18:01

That'd be great. And I guess just on that note, and for anybody listening that wants to connect with you, or wants to book you as a speaker, where's the best place for them to go? Oh, let's see.

Andrew Davis  18:10

I mean, the easiest place to find me is aka Drew That's my website and my email addresses there. My phone number you can call my cell phone or LinkedIn. Just search for Andrew Davis, keynote speaker and you'll you'll find me I have orange glasses. So if you're listening Yes, your glasses. bowtie.

Tom Bailey  18:28

Yes. Perfect. Well, Andrew, I want to just say thank you so much again for coming along sharing such great value with our audience and yeah, I can't wait to keep what's your journey and find out where you go next.

Andrew Davis  18:39

Anytime now. Thanks, Tom. Thanks, everybody listening