Would you like to read the second part of the interview by Jerry Banfield with Terry Brock because if you want to start a speaking career, this will be useful for you?
Terry Brock is an internationally recognized hall of fame speaker. He just in 2018 won the Cavett award, the same award Zig Ziglar won from the national speakers association.
Terry Brock’s Speaking Career Path -- Interview Part 2
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Read the first part of this interview with Terry Brock.
Jerry: I’m envisioning myself as a public speaker and having a career in public speaking, and then one of the first key steps based on your experience would be to join the National Speakers Association, especially since I live in St Petersburg, I can go to that Tampa chapter very easily for the monthly meetings.
Terry: That would be a good way to do it cause you get a chance to kind of wade into it. I would say that even before you would join, just go there and check it out.
You know, most of the chapters, and I think NSA also has a rate, you don’t have to be a member. You can go and you can see what it’s like. You might pay a little bit more as a non-member, but once you become a member if it’s right for you, you’d be there.
But for me, it’s just the people I’ve met are just gold, incredible people that I’ve gotten to know, many of whom are well known because they write books and they speak, so they get involved in that and others that are getting started and get a chance to learn from many different kinds of people. I think from the speaking point of view, what you really want to do is get out and practice, and have good kinds of practice.
They say, “practice makes perfect.”
That’s not true.
“Perfect practice makes perfect.”
You can practice something and get it wrong.
Harvey McKay, my friend, talks to us about a lot of that and he says, “You know, you can practice. If you try to learn golf for instance, and you keep practicing your swing the wrong way, you’re not going to get better. That’s not going to make perfect. You’re practicing, but it’s not going to make perfect, but perfect practice, you get someone who can be your coach.”
I got coached in golf because he says, “Ah, wait a minute. You need to hold your hand a little bit more here. You need to swing it this way” or “Do that” or “Think about this.”
Whatever wonderful coaches say, that’s what you need.
You need that perfect practice and getting involved with that, speaking regularly, and then get good feedback. One of the things I’d recommend as a solid tip also, get out and speak when you can do groups like the Lions Club, Kiwanis Club, that are in your area that needs speakers.
As long as you’ve got something that’s really worthwhile, you don’t want to waste their time and do something you’re competent on, you could be an expert in that. You can go to speak to them on that and make sure you get a recording of it.
Today, we can get video recordings much easier, much less expensive than we could years ago. So even if it’s just a little camcorder in the back and you’re pointing it at yourself, and you’re getting the audio that is really bad, but you can at least look at it yourself as one of the most painful things in the world Jerry, it’s to go back and watch your own video. You know what I mean?
Jerry: Yeah, I know what you mean.
Terry: “Oh, it’s terrible at that. I shouldn’t have said it that way. I should’ve said this. Oh, look at that thing. Oh, I didn’t comb my hair just right.”
I worry about that all the time!
All these things that you’ve got to do, and so what you want to do is you want to make sure you get that practice, but get a coach that can go, “You know, you should’ve done it this way or that way,” et cetera, and those kinds of things can really help you.
Jerry: You touched on a couple of things that when I was watching some videos on YouTube, learning the basics of building a speaking career. There are two things people really want to know about. It’s, “How do I price for my speaking?” or “How much do I speak for free to get started and where?”
You mentioned speaking at local groups, and this is something I’ve been looking at lately, how do I find local groups that need speakers to go speak at them?
I imagine you start out for free or charge.
How do you do the pricing, especially starting out, maybe before you have a video or once you’ve got videos, how do you work your way up in price?
Terry: What you would do is you want to find out, first of all, what the market is looking for and what value you can give them,
To speak for free is normal. A lot of people do that and getting paid is a wonderful thing, but often we speak for free because we want to be able to communicate to people that will be able to buy and able to say, “Hmm, that’s a good message. He sounds real good. Ooh, I like what you’re saying there. I wonder if we can have them come speak to our group cause we got a meeting going on next March over in Tampa, and we wonder if they could come to speak for our group.”
So what you want to do is be well known as a person who has expertise. First, aim for the expertise on how you can solve their problems.
We were mentioning Zig Ziglar.
He said something a long ago that I think is still true today:
“You can get anything you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.”
So you’ve got to think of a servant’s heart, be able to help them, find their needs, and then give them real world stuff. Don’t just give them a book report. They can go read those books too. You want to come from your own experience as well as a compilation of many different areas that help, it depends on what you’re talking about,
But then pricing will depend on what you see, what others have been charging in the area. You can ask the people that are hiring, “Hey, what did you pay last? What’s your budget? What kind of range do you have?” Talking to other speakers, you can find out some things.
We have to be very careful that we make sure we do not collude. The federal trade commission tends to frown on that, which is why if we say, “Well, I charge X dollars for a speech and everyone else should at the same time, and that’s what everyone should charge next year.”
Well, that’s not good.
The FTC says, “Now we can throw you in jail for that and find you lots of money.”
So what you want to do is you want to say, “Well, this is where we’re going and we find it in this range or in that range, we can do it.”
So there are places, there are ways to do it right, and make sure that you have it right.
But I think the first thing would be to start with free speeches. See how it’s working out, what people resonate with, and then find ways that you can gradually move up, so that they’re willing to pay a little bit more.
You can ask them politely, “Well, yeah, I’d like to do that. What kind of budget do you have for a speaker for this? You can find out what their budget is and find out what kinds of fees are available.
Now some people can do very well. You look at people like Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and others are charging $100,000 or $200,000 or some other contributions they’ll make to various foundations. Those kinds of things happen, that’s in the real world. I think it is appropriate.
If someone says, “Hey, I’ll give you so much money for doing a particular activity” and both parties agree on that, that’s a wonderful thing. It’s where coercion gets involved, where it is the problem. But I think that you’ll find that out a lot also by attending the meetings and finding out what others are charging. Many times you can go to a website and just like you’d go to Amazon, you see the price for an item.
You can go to speakers websites often, not always, but often you can see the price and sometimes it just depends on what they’re going to do. For instance, we as speakers can offer an online presentation. We can offer a one-hour speech, we can offer a four-hour speech, we can do a multi-day speech, and so it’s gonna depend.
I’m in Orlando, I can do one here in Orlando or I just finished doing a program over in London, and so we did the programs there in London, England, and so there are different prices for different activities depending on what it is that you’re going to do.
Jerry: To summarize, you said that when you’re trying to get started, you want to get your expertise and take it out there for free, so that you can get in front of people, practice doing your speeches and have a chance to share what you know with others.
It sounds like once you’ve got out there and got your expertise, you’ve spoken for free and you start making contacts, then you’re in a position to get paid speaking engagements by getting invited because when somebody invites you and wants you to come speak at something, then you’re in a position to say, “Well, here’s my fee for it.”
Whereas if you’re kind of asking, “Can I go present at your conference” and they don’t know you, especially if you’re trying to go in and apply to present somewhere, especially getting started, maybe free is most appropriate to actually get in there and get that spot until I imagine you can apply to things with the fee where you’re at today.
How does that work for you? I’m interested to know your business because you do speaking and you’re an author, and you do coaching. I’m interested to know, just maybe a percentage of your income per area, like do you make most of your money from speaking fees or from coaching or your book sales?
How does that look for you where you’re at?
Terry: It changes from year to year, but for me it’s about a 50-50 or it might be 60-40 depending on the year. The coaching that I do as well as the speaking that I do, and then other forms of help.
I like to give aid in many different areas. One of the things I’m getting into more and more. It’s like you’ve done Jerry creating products that solve a specific problem. When you can show how to solve the problem that ABC widget company is having and help them with that, you can do a lot.
And doing the specific help with coaching is good. I just finished a project with ACE Hardware. They’re doing a lot of training and they asked me to be their chief retail advisor for their international division, training all of their dealers around the world with the exception of the United States.
So not the US, but around the world, and for that we were able to develop some customized programs that they could use on a retail pricing and inventory management, and making sure you’re stocking the right kinds of things, things that retailers are interested in.
The more tightly you can attune to the needs that others have, the better off you’ll do. And Jerry, I have to say, you have done that very well.
Those of you watching this, if you haven’t seen all what Jerry’s got, take a look at it. He’s got a wealth of information on all kinds of programs that he has shared with me. I’ve been able to work with it. We have known each other for a few years now and we get a chance to see what he’s done. He’s done a really good job with that.
So Jerry, I compliment you on what you have done.
Jerry: Well, thank you Terry. That means a lot given your experience. What you’ve shared is helpful to understand even where you’re at, you’ve got a business model that’s not completely dependent on speaking fees.
You’ve gotten consulting and speaking fees are a part of your total income. They’re not all the money you make with your whole career.
I think sometimes that’s easy, “Oh, I want to be a speaker,” and I think that I’m going to make all my money off getting paid to speak other places. Clearly, you need to have an entire business system, especially if you’re going to start out and talk and do free to begin with, and having products to sell.
What kinds of products do you think are best to sell and what kinds of products are you interested in making and are you buying?
Like what kind of products do you see today that are best to make to build a speaking career?
Terry: The ones that are best to make are the ones that people are willing to pay for and they want, because I can make all kinds of nifty groovy things. I often use the example, hypothetical ridiculous example, I say, *”Well, suppose I was an expert on tsetse flies from Ethiopia in the 15th century.”
Okay, that’s really dandy, but you know, nobody wants that one sparky, we don’t care. You know, you’ve got to have something that’s very relevant for the marketplace.
So tools that are available on crypto are very good. I think some people like that. We had more of a demand for that a few years ago. Not so much now, but I think long-term, it’s going to be there, on how to sell, how to market, how to use video, how to use audio, how you can write a book, what steps you need to know to write a book.
These are all topics that some people are very interested in and will be happy to give you coins from their purse so that they can learn this and say, yes. I think of what old Ben Franklin said.
He said, I’m paraphrasing here: “Take the coins of your purse into your brain, and then your brain will overflow your purse with coins.”
That’s the way to do it, be willing to invest in learning, be willing to part with your capital and learn how to do that. That’s something that you want to do. I remember those words and partying with your capital and being willing to study and put into important what needs to be done. I picked up Tony Robbins a while back. He was speaking for the National Speaker Association. One time he did, and my job, I’ll put that in air quotes.
I picked him up at the airport, brought him to the hotel in the limo that they had arranged and I was like, “Goodbye,” but then he let me, he said, “Terry, could you come up to my room and help me with some things? I’m for tomorrow’s presentation.”
I thought, “Well, that would be okay,” and I learned from him the importance of investing capital. Invest your time, your money and your energy. Many people sit back and arms crossed going, I’m not going to pay for that. I only want it if it’s free.
Well, okay, you can get a lot of things free today, but if you really want to get the best, often you’re going to pay for it in some form. Either with materials, hiring services of someone or doing something and it’s going to cost. It’d be like saying, I want to become a doctor, but I just don’t want to mess with that medical school.
I really care and I’ve got a Jack knife here and I got some roaming alcohol. Let me be a doctor right now. No, not at all. You need to get the training, you need to get the help, and then you can do very well with that.
Jerry: Well, that leads us into a whole, you talked about a little bit in one of your videos you sent me earlier about what to avoid. How do you know, there are so many online courses, so many programs you can buy out there.
How do you know what’s worth investing your time, energy and your money on versus what’s kind of a waste?
Terry: Yeah, that’s always a question. We’re all thinking about that and think about it Jerry, you and your wife go to the store to get some things for your kids. You’re looking at the items, you’re kind of evaluating them not only on price, that’s always a consideration, but even more so, you know, is this good quality? Will it do what they say it will do? Will it hold up? Will it last?
You find that out by trying and a really good way to find out about courses in which are good. Again, our habit is to have a good peer group around you and people that can recommend it.
If there’s someone that you trust, you’ve grown to know this person, you recommend, you like her because she’s really smart. She knows what she’s done, she’s a friend, she’s helped you on these things; this other person has helped you in these areas and you start hearing a bunch of them saying: “Hey, I really like product A, product A is good, but product B, I tried it and it just didn’t work out. It wasn’t what they said.”
If you’re hearing that from someone you respect, that’s really valuable. So that’s where you need to build those relationships, get to know people that you can trust, so then they feel comfortable to say, “Hey, yeah, let me just tell you this, don’t buy product this, buy this product over here. It’s a much better one.”
Jerry: To put together what you said before. That’s something like a coach can help you with or a mentor or like going to the National Speakers Association, getting to know people there.
Then, that’s where you can get pointed in the right direction and say, “Well, if you want to be a great speaker, this book’s good, this course is good. But I’d stay away from this, this and that.”
Terry: Yup, exactly. And I would also say you want to go from the wisdom of crowds. So that it’s not just one person saying, “Yes, you ought to buy blue widgets.”
Well, that might be good. But if I start hearing lots and lots of people saying blue widgets are good, then that just really strengthens it. Versus if I have one person say that they’re good and another one says, “Don’t even try those. I tried them and they were bad.”
Well, you need a diversity, and then you have to use your judgment. You have to be willing to take a risk, try something.
I like the idea of taking lots of small risks, lots of many things where you can fail fast, you know, fail in a way. It’s not going to be really deadly or super costly. You make sure that you can do it in an incremental way, and then learn from there.
Jerry: What’s a small risk example? You mean like buying a book for $10 or $20?
Terry: I think that’s an excellent example. I love buying books.
Yeah, that’s exactly, you can see my books, by the way, Jerry, some of these haven’t even been colored in yet, but seriously I like the books.
I’ll read them a lot because here’s a person who’s really smart, that sat down, wrote a book, put a lot of good wisdom in there. Particularly if you hear it’s a book that a lot of people recommend.
They like it, they bought it, and now you see, “Hey, I can get this for a few coins, please. That’s a bargain.”
So what if you paid $20 or $30 on it, and then you lost and you go, “Hey, I wasn’t as good.” Well, you’ve learned some things from it and $30, that’s a lunch and you’re taking a friend out for lunch. Not a big deal. Don’t worry about it.
Be willing to part with your capital and it is something I learned from Tony Robbins really well years ago.
Make sure you are willing to do that, so that you can learn and when you do that, do it in the right way. Have advisors around you. I recommend strongly getting professional advisors like accountants, lawyers when the time is right. At least have them standing by so that when you do need them, they’re available and other people that can advise you in certain areas.
I love you.
I appreciate the chance to serve you today and I will see you again soon.
Edits from video transcript by Michel Gerard at www.michelgerardonline.com.