This is part two of the mini-series of blog posts I’ve asked Bill O’Hanlon to do on how he got started on the speaker circuit. This is the story about Bill’s first opportunity to speak internationally. At this point, he’s spoken in 24 different countries throughout the world, but everybody has got to start somewhere . . .
In the early 1980s, I wanted the whole field to know about Erickson’s approach.
I was sitting in my farmhouse in Nebraska, excitedly reading yet another book on the work of the late psychiatrist Milton H. Erickson, with whom I had studied in the years before his death in 1980.
As I told you in my last guest blog post, I decided that what I had to do was become a workshop leader to let everyone in my field know about this exciting new approach.
The only problem was that I was terrified of speaking in front of groups and had no idea how to proceed.
I began by self-sponsoring a few workshops in my local area, then expanding out geographically to places in which I had friends and relatives with whom I could stay (I was on a tight budget. Actually, I was poor as a churchmouse and terrible with money in those days.)
As I got more confidence and speaking experience, I began to be more comfortable speaking.
Around that time, I was asked to begin a newsletter for the Milton Erickson Foundation. The position involved no pay, but I created a section to list workshops in Ericksonian approaches. Of course, I added the workshops I was doing to the list.
One day the phone rang in my farmhouse . . .
The voice on the other end said, “This is Jim Wilk. I am calling from England. I saw your workshop listings in the Erickson Newsletter and loved your topics and titles.
Would you be willing to come to England and do a workshop for us?”
I managed to keep my voice relatively calm but I was jumping up and down with excitement. I was on my way to being an international workshop presenter. And they were going to pay me for five two-day workshops.
Two takeaways from this for any of you reading this who have ambitions broader than your practice:
1. Follow your passions. I couldn’t get enough of Erickson and his work. I read it like others read beach novels. 2. Do something to spread your name and build your credentials. I self-sponsored workshops, volunteered to edit a newsletter and put my workshops in the listing in that newsletter that had subscribers all over the world.
NICABM has teamed up with Bill to create a course with “the newbie public speaker” in mind, How to Become a Paid Public Speaker.
We’ve laid out the secrets to becoming a successful speaker. You’ll get a clear, step-by-step formula to learn how to tap into the benefits of the paid lecture circuit.
Interested? You can find more information here.