Category Archives: Skills

Skills

The simple mistake public speakers (and pastors) often make.

There’s a very common, very fixable mistake that a lot of speakers make. It’s something that particularly plagues pastors.

The problem is not something I came up with. I first read about it in a book called “Speak Like Churchill, Stand Like Lincoln” by James C. Humes. It’s such a grievous error that he spends an entire chapter of the book on it. What is this problem?

The weak open.

Or more specifically, wasting the most important minute of your speech.

A speech has two critical minutes, the first one and the last one. What happens in between is certainly important but it’s nothing like what happens when you open and close a speech. It is in those moments that you have the greatest opportunity to reach your audience.

On the front end, this is the moment you first capture their attention. On the back end, this is the moment you send them home with something memorable.

Lots of speakers waste their first minute by doing one or all of the following:

1. Introducing themselves.
2. Expressing their gratitude at the opportunity to speak.
3. Commenting about how great the event is.
4. Specifically thanking the person who just introduced them.

Pastors, however, have added a new twist on these wasted moments. Now, if they have more than one campus watching via video, they feel the need to say hello to all the audiences.

“Hello Springfield, hello friends in Mission Hill, special greetings to anyone watching online, shoutout if you are watching a recording of this on a data chip after the zombie invasion, etc.”

I attend a video campus and I have never once thought, “Thank goodness that pastor acknowledged I’m here.”)

Why shouldn’t you introduce yourself or say thank you in the first minute? Well, for starters, you will most likely have already been introduced. In 99% of the speaking engagements I do, someone introduces me. Why should I repeat what the audience has just been told?

More than that though, it’s a waste of a powerful moment, that moment where everyone in the audience is waiting to see where you’ll take them. It’s an awesome moment, packed with anticipation and hope.

Imagine if a movie or a concert started with an introduction or a hello to everyone who might one day see it. “We’re U2 and we are from Ireland. We usually start with an amazing song. Today though, we want to tell you how thankful we are to play music for you here in Cleveland. This is such a great arena and we’re so glad that the opening band played some songs for you guys. We also want to say hi to everyone who is watching the livestream of this.”

Boooooooo.

What a boring concert.

Instead, what does U2 do? Instead what does the movie theater do? They dim the lights. They widen the screen. They launch you into a huge moment, full of excitement and joy and emotion! They set the stage for something amazing to happen.

 

How do you do that, especially if your speech or sermon isn’t loud and dramatic like a rock show? Read this.

That’s not to say you can’t greet other campuses or thank the event host. You can do all of those things. Just do them where the author Humes recommends, in the middle of the speech.

Don’t waste your opening minute.

It matters too much.

P.S. I’m writing a book on public speaking and giving it away week by week for free. This is one of the chapters. To get the rest, sign up here.

Skills

The secret to getting paid as a writer

This is a guest post from my friend Jeff Goins, who has a new book out called Real Artists Don’t Starve. If you order it this week, you’ll get $200 in bonuses. Find out more at dontstarve.com.

The secret to getting paid as a writer

When the science ­fiction writer Harlan Ellison was asked to contribute an interview for a film project on the making of Babylon 5, he said, “Absolutely!”

There was just one catch: “All you’ve got to do is pay me.”

“What?” the young woman on the other end of the call asked.

“You’ve got to pay me!” he shouted.

“Well,” she said, “everyone else is just doing it for nothing.”

This was when Ellison lost it.

“By what right would you call me and ask me to work for nothing?” he said. “Do you get a paycheck? Does your boss get a paycheck?”

“Well, yes,” she admitted. But, “it would be good publicity.”

“Lady,” he said calmly, “tell that to someone a little older than you who just fell off the turnip truck.”

As a long­-time screenwriter, Ellison has seen many people come and go in Hollywood. He understands how the business works, what the economics are, and how to survive in a very competitive market that is unkind to creatives.

He’s also seen new writers come to town not understanding they ought to be paid for their work.

“It’s the amateurs,” he said, “who make it hard for the professionals.”

Ellison knows a secret many beginning writers don’t know. It’s one I certainly didn’t understand when I began my career: If you want to get paid, you have to charge for your work.

Obvious? Sure. But it’s still something many writers, creatives, and artists struggle with. Harlan Ellison, on the other hand, sticks to one simple standard: he never works for free. Today, he is one of the most successful writers in Hollywood.

Over the past several years, I’ve seen many writers launch their careers by giving away just about everything they do. I made this same mistake. We do this because, we are told, it’s a great “opportunity.”

The problem, though, is what we call “opportunity” is really just a gamble. Opportunity doesn’t pay the bills. It doesn’t put food on the table. You can’t invest and watch it multiply. Opportunity is a bet, and like most bets, you rarely win.

If you want to be generous, by all means give your work away as much as you want without expectation of payment. Personally, I love doing this, but I do it because I choose to, not because I believe it is my only option. It’s not that I don’t enjoy being generous. It’s just hard to build a career on the currency of chance.

So, please, believe you’re worth more than an “opportunity.” Charge something, anything. It doesn’t have to be a lot. Some is better than none. Just be careful giving away your best work, because it can become a hard habit to break later.

This doesn’t make you greedy, by the way. When someone accused Walt Disney of making movies for the money, he replied, “We don’t make films to make money. We make money to make more films.”

Money is the means to making more art. Without it, our work is over before it begins. When we charge for our art, we are making a statement about how we value our work. The world won’t take us seriously until we do.

Skills

The number 1 mistake public speakers make.

I’ve been a professional speaker for the last 9 years.

“Professional” basically just means that I own a sport coat and a belt.

The number 1 mistake that I see over and over is actually very simple.

Want to know what it is?

It’s a mistake that people make whether they’re talking to 10,000 people or 10. I think that’s what we forget sometimes. Public speaking doesn’t just mean you’re a famous person on stage. (Like Betty White or Lorenzo Lamas.) It also means you know how to lead a meeting at your company.

Being able to clearly communicate an idea is critical for your career.

You might never keynote a big event, but if you need to get buy in from your manager at work, you better know how to deliver a speech.

So, what’s the mistake most people make?

Most people think the first step in creating a speech is to write the speech.

It’s not.

The first step is to understand the audience.

When you give a speech, you’re not there to speak. You’re there to serve.

It’s not about you.

It’s about the audience.

The first thing you need to do, long before you work on your speech, is talk with the audience. If it’s an event, you need to call the event planner. If it’s a meeting, you need to talk with one of the attendees.

Every time I give a speech, I ask the client a specific list of questions I have developed over the years. Some of the questions are obvious, but one of them is very, very surprising.

Depending on the size of the event, I’ll even go meet with them face to face. It gives me the chance to get a sense of how to best serve them.

One of my goals with a speech is to make the audience know I care about them. I don’t get to do that unless I know them.

Empathy requires curiosity.

Have you ever been at an event where you could tell the speaker had one speech and no matter who was in the audience, it was going to be the same talk every time? You feel invisible, like you don’t matter.

That speaker didn’t try to understand who was in the crowd.

They had a stock talk and that’s what you got.

What questions do I ask people before I talk to them? How do I use social media to really figure out who my audience is? What’s the best thing you can ask before you lead a meeting or speak at an event?

I’ll give that and much more with my new free resource, the Speaker’s List.

Once a week, I’ll send you a speaking idea it took me years to learn. My goal is to help you give better speeches. Pure and simple. If you’re a professional speaker, my goal is to help you make more money in your speaking career.

How you communicate your ideas matters, regardless of what your job is.

Ready to win at public speaking?

Sign up here.

Skills

How to get a raise at work.

I made $24,500 at my first real job and felt like the richest person in the world.

I was absolutely thrilled to be making that kind of bank. I was like a short, skinny Rick Ross. Woke up in a new Bugatti!

Over the years, I received a few raises and started to notice an interesting pattern. The more skills I acquired the more money I’d received. Or to quote P-Diddy, “Mo’ Skills, Mo’ Money.”

The better I got at identifying, acquiring and utilizing new skills, the higher my salary climbed. The challenge is we have a hard time knowing what our skills really are. When you ask someone, “What are your skills?” They often say, “Nothing.” or “People. I’m good with people. And dogs.”

You’ll never get a raise that way. Perhaps even more critical, if you don’t learn new skills, you could lose your job. I remember two designers that showed me that. I met one in Dallas. He told me, “Jon, I remember when I realized that if I didn’t learn how to design for the Internet I was going to become a dinosaur and lose my job.” So he learned new skills, new software and new approaches to being a graphic designer.

The other person was an industrial designer. His company told him that they loved his work but they needed him to learn AutoCAD. He refused, promising that he designed better by hand. For a minute he could keep up, but eventually, you lose the race to a computer. He got stuck and lost his job.

That’s what’s so amazing about new skills. It’s impossible to get stuck somewhere old if you keep learning something new.

New skills make you stuck proof. The reason why 25% of my book “Do Over” is about skills is because they are critical. If you haven’t read it, I strongly encourage you to pick up a copy. It’s only $11.

How do you start identifying your skills? Well, it’s pretty simple. You just have to ask 5 questions. I even made an infographic for you. Ask these and check out Do Over to really supercharge the skill part of your career. Remember, Mo’ Skills, Mo’ Money.

Skills

Are you ready to DO Summer?

Next to relationships, skills are the most important thing you can have when it comes to chasing a dream. Whether you want to write a book, start a business, like your current job more, or turn a hobby into a job, you need skills. That’s why 25% of my latest book Do Over is dedicated to helping build your skills.

The challenge though is that skills get sharp slowly and dull quickly.

Last summer I introduced the DO Summer Challenge as a way to keep our skills sharp, and over 9,000 of you joined in. This summer, we’re bringing it back. (Sign up here!)

We’re going to work on our skills together. We’re not just going to talk. We’re going to do. We’re not just going to dream. We’re going to do. We’re not just going to wish. We’re going to do.

DO Summer is simple.

1. Pick one skill you want to work on.
It can be a completely new skill or something you used to love that fell behind in the busyness of life. It can be career related like working on your resume or life related like jogging for better health.

2. Work on the skill for 1,500 minutes this summer in easy 15-minute segments. dosummertease
I’ve created a free worksheet that helps you track time in 15-minute chunks. Each time you knock out 15 minutes, color in one of the boxes on the sheet.

3. Share your results each Monday morning online with #DOSummer2016

You’ll be surprised how encouraging having other people cheer you on is. It was so fun to search the hashtag and see the skills everyone was sharpening, and I can’t wait to see what you’ll be working on this year.

That’s it. At the end of the summer, if you spend 1,500 minutes on your DO, you will have invested 25 hours in a skill. There’s no telling what positive habits, life changing opportunities and unexpected adventures you can stir up by doing something so simple.

The challenge starts Monday, June 20th and will run until August 5th. (Invite a friend to do it with you if you really want to increase your results!)

To get the worksheet for free sign up below! You’ll also get all of my blog ideas.

Get your free #DOSummer2016 Worksheet

You ready to DO Summer?

You ready to make a small investment in your big dream?

I am.

Skills

5 tips for speaking to 10,000 people or 10.

Recently I was in Dallas, TX speaking to 10,000 people at a Young Living Convention. That’s an intimidating amount of people, but five lessons I’ve learned over the years helped me deliver the speech. Here they are:

1. Speak to a person, not a crowd.
No one wants to feel like they’re a part of a big glob of an audience. One person speaking to ten thousand people is hard, but one person speaking to one person is a lot easier.

I always try to find one person in the crowd who is happy and engaged. It’s so easy to find (and focus on) the one person who hates every word you’re saying. Public speakers tend to have laser vision for the guy in the room with his arms crossed and a scowl. Instead, find the one person who’s locked in on the conversation and speak to them. When you do that, your talk feels less like a lecture and more like a conversation, and everyone wins.

2. Be careful to not be subtle.
As the size of your audience grows, so too should the way you express yourself on stage. This is a tip I learned from my friends Tripp & Tyler, who have spent a lot of time on big stages making people laugh. They warned me that subtle jokes and subtle movements don’t always play to a larger crowd because you’re communicating with the first row AND the last row, no matter how far from the stage it is.

The dynamics shift with big crowds, so be careful to avoid subtleties as your audience grows. If you’re speaking to 10 people, make sure you don’t act like you’re speaking to 10,000. It’s always awkward when a speaker yells like he or she is in a stadium if there’s only a few people in the room. In those situations I’ll often circle a few chairs and sit down for the talk instead. If the event is intimate, acknowledge that.

3. Allow time for the crowd to laugh and think.
If you prepare 45 minutes of material for a 45-minute talk for a larger crowd, you might run out of time with ten minutes of material left. The problem is, you didn’t account for the crowd.

The crowd will laugh, and they need time to laugh. The crowd will think, and they need time to think. If you ask the crowd a question, give them a moment to actually answer it.

Planning an event is hard. Honor the event planner’s schedule by preparing a talk that’s slightly shorter than your window to account for the crowd.

4. Laugh or move on if you make a mistake.
There are two types of mistakes you make when you speak. There’s the mistake that’s big enough that it’s funny, and you should sit on it for a minute and enjoy it with the crowd. That happened to me at the Orange Conference. I said something that was accidentally inappropriate in front of 6,000 people. I heard a few start laughing so I decided to ride the wave of the mistake and laugh along. It ended up being the biggest laugh I got during my speech.

The more common mistake is the small one you just move on from because it’s so inconsequential. If it’s a minor mistake don’t call attention to it. Just move on, more than likely the crowd didn’t even notice.

5. Have fun.
I know, I know, this is so cliche, but that doesn’t mean it’s false.

If you’re not up there on stage having fun, the crowd’s not gonna have fun either. If you’re wound up, the crowd won’t be relaxed. If you’re racing through your notes, the crowd will feel that too.

I get nervous when talking to big crowds like everyone else, but the times when I have the most fun on stage are the times where the audience does as well.

You might never become a public speaker, but you’ll speak in front of a crowd at some point. You’ll present a college paper, deliver a project at work or make a speech at a wedding. Remember these tips for when do and you’ll have a great time, whether it’s 10,000 people or 10.

P.S. If you want to become better at public speaking or anything else, do the note card exercise on page 93 of my book Do Over.