I sometimes smile to myself at the irony of what I now do. As a General Manager in my late 20’s, heading into my 30’s, I actually refused to speak – getting up and speaking was exposing myself to the harshest form of judgment I could possibly imagine. My mother handed over the family recruitment business to me and at the cocktail party for the handover - even though I'd been trained by some of the best in the industry – clients were taking bets on how long the business would last after ‘Margaret gave it to her daughter’.
Rather than be hurt though, I realised I had the perfect cover story for never speaking because I suddenly had the opportunity to start messaging that the business would never be about one face, one identity. That we would shift to a brand that was about all of us, and not one strong identity - so I had a perfect way to side step every request to speak!
Every enquiry that came through I would simply send one of my very clever consultants out - I could train them how to speak and could send them out confidently - and I got away with not having to speak at any engagement for the first two years as general manager of a multi-million dollar business in a regional city. And then something happened. On the committee of a member-based organisation, at a major awards launch event and very happily running the registration desk – my safe place before walking into any room - suddenly the Chair of the committee, who I swear was a body double for the professor out of Back to the Future, came roaring towards me telling me the guest speaker had missed her flight. Whilst I am looking at him all I could think of was what has that got to do with me, until he said – ‘You are the only woman on the committee, you’ll have to take her place’ My cover story had been so perfect for so long when I told him that I do not speak (it may have been in capitals, staccato style) he simply dismissed it and raced off again with the very clear message that I was to be on stage in 20 minutes.
I pulled together the only thing I had – stories that had shaped my own narrative of inspiration and leadership and by the time I left that night the national chair had asked for a copy of the speech for the website (ummm….) and I had requests to speak at three more events.
The best way to describe the effect is I was like the shy, quiet teenager who discovers crack cocaine…I would speak for anyone, anywhere, anytime, on anything. It became key to the rapid 8-figure growth we built across the business; in fact it made such an impact that I realised I had to get serious about the skill and more than 15 years ago now I invested 6 figures in speaking, presenting, pitching, negotiating – anything that remotely touched on speaking in any shape or form. I was obsessed.
An obsession which has created the foundation of my entire career; skills I have used to launch, pivot, reinvent, strengthen, challenge and navigate both opportunity and crisis for both myself and my clients.
It became what I now call the Speaker Driven Business™ strategy, the result of more than 15 years real world experience, and working with 100’s of clients in numerous businesses, including my own.
So what exactly is a Speaker Driven Business™
A Speaker Driven Business™ is a knowledge-based business where speaking is the primary channel to market.
One of the most interesting observations in recent years is that speaking is no longer just about the conference stage, or the business network, or the boardroom; in fact my American professional speaking clients are grappling with the changes to their revenue models due to changes in technology – live streaming, virtual reality, augmented reality and so much more which means they can speak to literally 10,000’s of people from the same place they used to speak to just 2,000 before moving to the next venue, for the same client, and speaking to 2,000 more.
So speaking, for a Speaker Driven Business™, happens mostly:
- In business, industry, and peak body meetings, summits and conferences
- In small and large business networking and professional development rooms
- From traditional conference stages in front of your peers, your clients, or targeted audiences
- Through podcasts – both as producer and curator, and as a podcast guest – a powerful strategy
- Through developing You Tube Channels and both video and live feeds on Facebook and LinkedIN
We can no longer think of speaking as simply from a stage; it is throughout whatever medium our market most likes to engage in.
Which means speaking, powerfully, with strength and grace, is now the most critical skill you can build. And if you don’t have a speaking-driven-strategy, all your marketing efforts may fail to deliver to expectations.
When does a speaking-driven-strategy work
1. As an accomplished professional, to build your personal brand prior to exiting and creating your own knowledge-based business, or prior to your next bold (strategic) move
2. When you are creating the platform to pivot to a professional speaking career (where your primary revenue stream will be-come from Speaking)
3. When you are launching and strengthening a knowledge-based business – consulting, advisory, strategy, mentoring – which requires a platform, market profile, and the ability to cut through the noise.
What are the core Speaker Driven Business™ Models
1. A Deep Way of Thinking – Research, Write, Speak
Characterised by a desire to research, deeply, core topics, to write and be published in that arena, and to speak to it to shift people’s perspective
2. Deep Lived Experience – Develop, Educate, Speak
Driven by deep lived experience with lessons and insights to share; creating programs and training, focused foremost on education with speaking to broaden the reach and invite people to think about new possibilities.
3. Deep Expertise – Productise, Consult, Speak
The development of tools and products based on deep expertise in a specific field, encompasses consulting, strategic and advisory arenas, where speaking leans more to subject matter expert, recognised for excellence in a specific field.
More than this, it is not one simple business model; there are frameworks which absolutely guide how you build a Speaker Driven Business™ but the nuances are endless, and you must be prepared to do the most valuable work of all – you must get up close and personal with who you are, what you have the right to speak on, and the good and great work you are here to do for a market that is willing to pay for it.
I sometimes wonder just what would have happened if not for that one moment when I had to speak, when I had to find my voice, and I simply find myself in a blank space. Because I can no longer imagine a world without the possibilities speaking created for me.
Speaking is the ultimate skill if you are serious about getting what you want. And if you are serious about getting what you want, maybe it is time we had a conversation to see if a speaking driven strategy is right for you.
Jacqueline Nagle has forged a successful career dependant on redefinition, evolution and left of centre thinking. Conceptualising and deploying strategies and projects which have driven rapid multiple 7 and 8 figure growth, selling business to ASX Co’s, taking on hostile installation as CEO in traffic control, an expert enterprise agreement negotiator with a 100% success rate with experience in recruitment, labour hire, mining services, industrial relations, construction, events and advisory. A speaker, facilitator and strategist, Jacqueline works with founding owners whose work is based on deep lived experience, deeply held expertise, or a unique perspective to drive sustainable impact through the creation of mental, positional and commercial strength