Working as a professional speaker can be a strange business. I seldom cross paths with colleagues as I’m often the only outside speaker at a European-wide conference of a major multinational. A lot of time is spent alone in aeroplane and hotel rooms, and a lot of time is spent with strangers. Explaining what I do normally takes 10 minutes, most people are unaware of the many-million dollar industry that is the international speaking circuit. So to have the chance to spend time once or twice a year with colleagues who do what I do, who understand the industry with all its frustration and all its enormous reward, is a joy and a relief.
I’ve been a member of The Professional Speaking Association in the UK for over a decade. Yesterday I attended an afternoon session just for the Fellows, a designation given to those at “the pinnacle of the profession.” It is a chance to swop ideas and experiences with fellow speaking professionals who genuinely do this for a living, paying the mortgage with their speaking, training and consulting fees and we were lucky to get an in-depth analysis of speaker website and web marketing best practise from Internet Psychologist Graham Jones.
Today was the spring convention, titled Creativity Live, a day-long bonanza of superb presentations. I was able to contribute as a panellist on the Probe the Pros session, and spend up the rest of the day soaking up the ambience, cherry-picking a few key ideas and being inspired by the many brilliant ways in which a message can be delivered. Everyone was superbly professional and even when I didn’t like the presentations, the challenge became to analyse why I didn’t like it and how much of that was personal to me or applicable to a wider audience. However, there were two I particularly loved.
Celia Delaney of SpeakingSuccess brought a wonderful sexy sizzle to the platform, sharing with us secret of her superb stagecraft. And fellow South African Rory Douglas Mackenzie – who closed the Paralympics last year – closed the day with a superbly presented account of rowing across the Atlantic to raise money for British soldiers disabled in the line of duty.
I go away refreshed, reinvigorated and with a long to-do list to brush up my own speaking business. My next infusion will come at the Professional Speaking Association ‘MEGA’ Convention October 5th-6th 2013 in Manchester, where I will be one of the speakers in the two-day line-up. I’m looking forward to it!