I’ve asked Bill O’Hanlon to do a mini-series of blog posts on how he got started on the speaker circuit. Today, we know Bill as a very successful speaker – but he wasn’t always . . .
The way I began teaching workshops was perhaps a little strange. I got angry.
I was just learning about a new approach created by Bandler and Grinder, later to be called NLP. I had read a book about it and gone to one of their workshops.
When a well-known Gestalt psychiatrist came to Tucson, a two-hour drive from my Phoenix-area home base, to give an evening presentation on their work, I was excited. I had seen this psychiatrist present a workshop on Gestalt and had enjoyed it.
The presentation was to be a three-hour event, meaning that I would get home very late on a work night and it would cost $25, which was a lot of money for me in those days.
Worse than that, my car was on the fritz. But I was excited about this approach, so I ponied up the money and convinced a friendly colleague to drive. I told her the work was really interesting and she would get a lot out of it.
So you can imagine my disappointment when we discovered that he had not really prepared well for the presentation. I had to bite my tongue from correcting him when he got several points wrong.
I was upset about the cost, the time lost and letting my friend down. All the way home, I ranted about it. “I could have done better than that at half the price!” I proclaimed.
She listened in silence, but when she dropped me off, I continued the rant to my best friend/roommate, who challenged me immediately. “If you think you can do better, why don’t you?”
“Why don’t I what?”
“Teach a workshop.”
I hemmed and hawed, but he wasn’t having any of it. He held my feet to the fire until I agreed, set the date and the topic and secured the venue.
Me and my big mouth. Now I had to put up or shut up. Thus began my speaking career.
I’ll bet many of you reading this have had that thought when you saw a poorly prepared speaker: “I can do better than that!”
The takeaways for any reader interested in becoming a speaker:
- Be prepared. As flaky and lazy as I can be, I over-prepare.
- Start taking action. The only way you will become a speaker is if you step out of your comfort zone and do something toward making your speaking dreams a reality.
- Follow your passion. It doesn’t always have to be “Follow Your Bliss.” (I heard that Joseph Campbell once remarked that he thought that phrase was turning into a cliché and that perhaps he should, have said “Follow your blisters” instead.)
NICABM has teamed up with Bill O’Hanlon to create a course with “the newbie public speaker” in mind, How to Become a Paid Public Speaker.
We lay out the secrets to becoming a successful speaker. And using a clear, step-by-step formula, you’ll learn how to tap into the benefits of the paid lecture circuit.
Interested? You can find more information here.
Next time Bill will share a story about his first international speaking invitation. But first, please share your story – leave a comment below.