Speaking before an audience can be nerve-wracking, yet rewarding. I know cause I’ve been there. In my speech for Pays to Be Brave where I faced thousands of female entrepreneurs as a guest speaker, I feel great for having the ability to inspire and empower other people.
But really, what makes a great keynote speaker? As a motivator, I’d like to help you reach your full potential in public speaking. I know you have it in you to persuade, encourage and make people feel good about themselves. You just have to channel that effectively through your speech.
In this post, I’m going to walk you through my routine before a speaking engagement and give you actionable tips so you can be the best keynote speaker you can ever be. You can also check out my speech down below.
My Pre-Speaking Routine
For a few hours, before I get up on stage, I would do a little more writing. I don’t work with scripts a lot, but I do bullet points to sort some things out. I start with the end in mind and then work backwards with a litany of stories that are going to take them there.
For this speech, I started with a story about me being in Times Square. I’m 30 years old, passing out chocolates. It was kind of my ‘enough is enough’ moment as far as not making money.
Then I take my audience further back. From the New York City talk, I take the audience to my first-grade experience about when I realized what I was supposed to do in life…when I realized my purpose: to be in front of an audience.
Although I’ve realized my purpose at such a young age, there were hindrances I had to face for that goal. I was 100 pounds overweight and came from a broken home and didn’t have much confidence. So, I’m going to build my audience up and tell them this is what led to that Times Square moment, that’s why I was there.
Give Yourself Permission to Change
Whenever I think of different times in my life, I like to think that those moments in Times Square were a turning point in my life. I thought I was supposed to be in other places in my life, but I realized that instead of waiting for somebody else to give me permission, this is where I gave myself permission to change. From there, between the ages of about 29, 30 years old to now 40 years old, within the past 10 years, I haven’t waited for somebody else to come save me. I haven’t waited for someone to come give me permission, to come to say “Oh, Jimmy, it’s your turn to be great.”
Then I talk about my morning routine and how powerful it has been for me. This is how you tell a good story in order to move an audience, and then hopefully give them some tactical things where they can go apply this in building their business, their life, and what they want to do.
This morning routine is a little different because I have around 20 minutes to talk on stage and there’s so much I want to pack into that, but I have to start mapping stuff out. I can get super long-winded and go all over the place. I’ve hosted my own events where I can talk for hours onstage. So, I want to make sure that I get my points across, I tell a good story, yet give them something actionable. That’s the biggest challenge.
After the talk, Angie and I are going to do a Q & A and that’s a fantastic time to work with a few other things. Now, the talk is about long-term success, and I wanted to not just try this, but do this for the long haul. I just knew that even if I failed, I’m further along than where I was a hundred pounds overweight, a three-time college dropout, passing out flyers and chocolates in Times Square, drowning in debt.
At that point, I wanted to work my entrepreneurial life, and I’m going to give myself a while to do it because I didn’t finish college. So, life became my college, bachelor’s, master’s, and my Ph.D.
Co-Creating With the Audience
Going back to my pre-speaking routine, I try not to over-indulge myself over the whole thing. What works for me is that I put on some football, and I try to get out of it. I walk away from it for a little bit then I’ll come back to it, shower, do a little prep, and do some vocal warmups.
After all of that, I go back through the bullet points in my head. I want to prepare, but I don’t want to overdo it. I go back through the bullet points in my head and I try to prepare, but not over-prepare, because I always want to leave a little bit of room to create it while I’m on the stage.
So, one of the things that worked effectively for me is a lesson I learned from Gleason about speakers co-creating with their audience. You don’t just go up on stage and say what you want to say. You have to check in with your audience, make sure they’re okay, if they’re following along, and if you’re connecting with them. Doing so really informs me where I’m going because no two talks are ever the same. Even if I’ve shared similar stories in my past talks, I always guarantee you this talk will be completely different; it makes it exciting and keeps it fun.
A bonus tip as I prepare for my speech: I listen to music in the background. Sometimes it’s Sinatra, other times it’s Justin Timberlake or Eminem.
Leaving the Stage Satisfied
After the speech, you should feel great and awesome. My talk earlier went so well, and it helps that I got there early and did my morning routine. It also helps to connect with other people, and listen to other speakers and be inspired.
I’ve met so many amazing people. Being on stage makes me feel like I’m a baseball batter. As soon as you take a swing and you hit a single, you hit a double, and then I feel like I’ve left something off. I could’ve hit that home run today.
However, I left that stage completely satisfied. Even when I found out I only had 25 minutes to talk, I thought that I had 40 and that was a blessing in disguise. It’s great because you come off stage and you feel hyped like you emptied your bucket. It feels great because people come to me, they have tears in their eyes and they give me hugs. It wasn’t about me talking about my accolades or how much money I made, or that I talked about my weight loss and that I’ve been in business for 11 years, but that didn’t matter to these people. It wasn’t about stats or resume. They cared because I cared enough to really connect and co-create with them.
Doing What You Love to Do
So, my talk has been very amazing. It’s what I love, it’s why I continue to look for more opportunities for. If you have an organization or a business, you need somebody to come in and teach high performance, selling a story and tying a personal story with your business. At the end of the day, it isn’t about who you are or what you do. What matters is that you establish trust with your audience.
Today, most of the people in the audience had no clue who I was, so there wasn’t a home-field advantage. What I did was I looked into their eyes and made a connection. That’s when I was able to open up and play and go. For those looking for that keynote speaker, they’re looking for that guy to come in and train. They’re truly going to move the needle for their organization, for them personally and their business, so reach out because that’s what I love to do.
This is my play; this is what I was designed to do and I’m just so thankful to Angie Lee for the opportunity. It’s just another opportunity for me to live my purpose and do what I love. Hopefully, you’ve found a couple of nuggets of wisdom that you can apply in your life, career or business. It’s just flattering to know that you shared some of your time with me, and I appreciate it.