faded photo graphic with two photos of women: Allison Scholes and Laurie-Ann Murabito. The boss lady in sweatpants show: how to grow your visibility by leveraging speaking opportunities

How to grow your visibility by leveraging speaking opportunities

Welcome back to the show my friend. I think it’s safe to say, all of us desire more visibility in our business, which might include blog posts on other sites, like Thrive Global and Forbes, or podcast appearances.

But what about speaking? Have you thought about it? Does it scare you?

My guest today is going to help you communicate with confidence and leverage speaking opportunities!

In this episode, you’ll discover:

  • Why speaking should be part of your visibility plan
  • What qualifies you to be a speaker (the answer will shock you!)
  • How to find your speaking style
  • Speaking has been redefined (it’s not just for public stages)
  • What parts of the presentation are most important
  • How to get started as a solopreneur

Prefer video? Watch here:



Connect with Laurie-Ann: http://www.SpeakAndStandOut.com


dark, faded photo with text overlay: how to grow your visibility by leveraging speaking opportunities


If you’re in the mood to read, here’s the full transcript from the interview:

Allison: Welcome back to the show, my friend. I think it’s safe to say all of us desire more visibility in our business, which might include blog posts on other sites like Thrive Global or Forbes, or podcast appearances. What about speaking? Have you thought about it? Does it scare you? My guest today is going to help you communicate with confidence and leverage speaking opportunities.

Allison: Welcome to the show, Laurie-Ann.

Speaking opportunities

Laurie-Ann: Thank you, Allison. I’m so excited to be here and share that there are 7,500 speaking opportunities today. Holy smokes today here that number is actually just here in the us. So for all you listeners, just wrap your head around 7,500 meeting planners are looking to find speakers for their audiences.

Laurie-Ann: Now let’s just break that down because that does sound like a huge number. It does. Cause it’s right, and I think it’s actually a little underestimated because there’s so many different forms of speaking now today, but. 50 states, we’re just going to divide it by 50. Granted that some places have more than others, you know, like nobody’s going to Alaska in January, but they are going to, probably the crazy ones are.

Laurie-Ann: Yes. Uh, so that’s about 150 opportunities in each state, roughly. Now I live really close to the New Hampshire and Massachusetts border. So I look at that and say, that’s 300 opportunities, 300 chances to get in front of my ideal audience. Do I think you can find one or two a month? Yeah. Right.

Allison: I would say yes once I know that number.

Allison: But here’s my question before we start digging into the nitty gritty of speaking, like why should speaking be part of our visibility plan?

Speaking and your visibility plan

Laurie-Ann: Speaking positions you as the expert in the room. I mean, meeting planners are going to find the right person with the right topic. The people that are in the audience raised their hand because they were interested in the topic that you’re speaking on.

Laurie-Ann: They probably bought a membership like to a chamber or maybe they bought a ticket to the conference. All of that makes them pre-qualified leads. Your ideal audience, your ideal clients are going to be in the audience. So being that speaker in the front of the room positions you as the expert, you get to share your, your unique methodology, your process.

Laurie-Ann: People are going to check you out on social media. They’re going to go to your website to see if they want to go to your breakout session versus another breakout session. So now you’ve got an increase in web traffic. They might even sign up for your opt-in, your freebie, because they’re trying to get a sense of who you are.

Laurie-Ann: So there’s, I mean, I’ll just stop there because there’s, there’s so many reasons to be speaking.

Allison: Now here’s my next question because I’m sure our listeners are going, oh wow. It’d be really cool to start speaking even though it does, you know, seem scary in the beginning, but I’m sure we’re overthinking it.

Allison: But what makes us qualify to be a speaker? Like is there a minimum requirement to get booked?

What makes you a qualified speaker?

Laurie-Ann: No, actually there’s no minimum requirement. But all you really have to do is just reach out to meeting planners, to conference organizers network. So I get that. It’s that it’s scary and I’m a reform painfully shy girl who became a professional speaker accidentally.

Laurie-Ann: You know, that’s another story probably for another day. But, you know, look at the places where you’re already attending. So, What associations, you know, are you already a part of? Maybe it’s, you know, an in-person event like your chamber, you know, maybe it’s, um, some association that has virtual events. Make a list of those places because they probably already know you and you could approach them like, Hey, I’ve been a member here for the past four years.

Laurie-Ann: You know, what’s the process for booking speakers? So now you’re not saying, this is what I tell, like, my clients. You’re not saying hire me, or When can I speak at the, you know, like, uh, what, what do you want me to talk about at the next meeting? It’s, what’s the process? You’re just gathering information but look at the places that you’re already attending and start there because these people already know you.

Allison: Now I have a quick question on that. When you said, where are you going, what are you attending? Do online summits count? When you’re invited to be a guest teaching online?

Laurie-Ann: Yes. Yes. I would say yes. I was curious about that. It’s great. It’s a great place to practice. Yeah. The whole point of summits is whoever’s running the summit, they’re actually, you know, like they’re doing something, they’re, they’re growing their email list.

Laurie-Ann: Correct. That’s the whole point. You are promoting somebody else’s event, so if you’re being invited to speak, so look at it that way, but it’s a great way for you to practice, you know, especially if it’s done virtually. And it’s not prerecorded, you know, like how well are you engaging the audience? See like how many people like sign up for your opt-in, you know, how, how, what’s the length of time that you have to speak?

Laurie-Ann: Because those sort of events, I mean, you could literally just speak for 20 to 25 minutes. It can be nice, short and sweet, but it’s a great way just to kind of dip your toe in the water, so to speak.

Allison: Yeah. And would you count two going into other people’s Facebook groups and doing a live training? Oh, yes, because I would think that would be a great opportunity to dip your toes in the water, as you said, because a lot of times the host is watching the comments.

Allison: And they might ask you for a comment and you have to be able to provide feedback. And so I think that’s another great opportunity to kind of so-called practice, you know, public speaking.

Laurie-Ann: Yes. You’re also learning how to speak on your feet. Yes. You know, somebody asks a question, it might be a question that you can answer.

What to do when you can’t answer a question

Laurie-Ann: And so here’s the tip on how to answer a question that you’re like, I have no idea what to say. Oh yeah, it’s. Could you just send me an email? I’m going to get you that information and so you’re just deferring it to later. Like, I want to give you a great answer. I don’t know the numbers off the top of my head, but I want to get that information to you.

Laurie-Ann: So if there’s anybody else who here is interested in this particular, or whatever the question was, send me an email and just put in the subject line and just tell them what to put there. The question about X, Y, Z. Oh, that is juicy tip right there. So I share that because that’s, a lot of times that’s what stops people from speaking, right?

Laurie-Ann: Like, what if I get asked a question that I can’t answer? Well, guess what? Even some of the greatest speakers are going to get asked questions that they can’t answer on the spot either. Yeah. So don’t let that hold you back because you just never know. But, so that’s my eloquent, eloquent way of answering a question that you can’t answer.

Laurie-Ann: But you’re still going to take care of them. Make sure you follow up.

Allison: Yeah, yeah. No, that’s a really, really good tip. Or even a strategy for kind of putting those questions off that you can’t answer on the fly. Now, my question to you is, in your opinion, are there different kinds of speakers could, because when I hear like you should get into speaking or speaking on stages, the first thing that comes to my mind because I follow him and I adore him, is Ed my lap.

Allison: He is just so dynamic on stage and he’s out there and he’s got loads of people and it’s loud. And that can be really intimidating to someone who goes, I think I would like to, you know, speak in front of an audience, but then that scene, it’s in our minds. I know it does for me. Mm-hmm. So is there like a different, are there different kinds of speakers?

Kind of speaking opportunities

Laurie-Ann: yes. And the best speaker for you to be is yourself. Ed Mylett. Is Ed Mylett, right? I can’t be him or Tony Robbins. I can’t be Jasmine Starr. I’m really, really good at being myself. So when I used to do executive coaching, we would do these 360 evaluations and I would always ask, you know, my client, you know, what kind of leadership style do you want?

Laurie-Ann: What I always heard over and over again was they would look up and say, well, that person got there be and their kind of like X, Y, Z. And I’d be like, yeah, but that’s who they are. Mm-hmm. You are going to move up the corporate ladder if you decide on what your style is. So I do the same thing with clients, and I say the same.

Laurie-Ann: I’m going to say the exact same thing to you, decide on what your style of speaking is. You don’t have to be the rah, like Tony Robbins and Ed Mylett. You might be a little bit quieter. Somebody who just, um, takes up this, this space like on the stage, but has a quieter presence, but decide on what your style is.

Laurie-Ann: So I tell people to come up with three words or short phrases, and this is your going to be your style. So now you get to look through, like this becomes the lens of how you’re crafting your presentation. So for example, Let’s say you want to be funny. Now I’m just north of Boston, so I got a little bit of Boston sarcasm in me.

Laurie-Ann: So there is a little bit of sarcasm in my stories. So am I telling enough stories in my presentation, and do they have a teeny bit of that sarcasm that says that girl’s from New England, you know, so I’m going to look at it through a lens. I’m also like, I would classify my style as being a little more laid back and easy.

Laurie-Ann: And easy going. But at the same time, I want to be approachable. Approachable in my stories, approachable in the tips that I give my audience. So that I make it like, wow, I can do this also. And that’s why like I share with people like I’m Marie form painfully shy girl who couldn’t even make eye contact.

Laurie-Ann: You know, if I can teach my nervous system tricks, so can you.

Allison: No, that’s really good. And I like how you said be yourself, and you gave the tip of writing down some characteristics or some adjectives that would describe your style. And to me, that immediately thinks like, don’t stray away from your brand.

Allison: Right? Like you have a brand, you have a personality, so infuse that into your speaking style, and you’ll be just fine.

Laurie-Ann: and nobody can duplicate your personality.

Your speaking personality

Allison: I mean, I already know how I’ll show up. I’ll have like a fun shirt and jewelry and I’m going to have some sort of like sweatpants on, I mean that Bossley sweatpants.

Allison: Well, it kind of goes with the name of pocket and it goes with my brand. Right? I think they would expect it if I showed up. In like a jumpsuit in heels. They would be looking at me going, that’s not Allison. The boss leans sweatpants. Right? There’s a disconnect. Yeah. So I was like, oh, I’ll have to figure out a way to dress up my sweatpants if I’m going to go on stage.

Laurie-Ann: And you being you is what makes the audience fall in love with you. When they fall in love with you. They also want to refer you. They’re going to rave about you and sign up for your freebies, they’re going to sign up for a call. They’re more apt to follow you and fill your programs, but, but just by being ourselves.

Laurie-Ann: Yeah. Show up with your personality. Yeah,

Allison: I like that. And I think this is going to segue to my next question because I have heard you mention the, that speaking needs to be redefined. So what do you mean by that?

Laurie-Ann: Well, I think too many times people think that speaking is stages in Zoom and it’s not. Your podcast.

Laurie-Ann: Hosting a podcast. This is your stage. You just invited me onto your stage. So I am coming as a guest. That’s another form of speaking, but I also have a podcast and I also put it on YouTube, so there’s another like you can create videos that could be your stage. I was just talking with a former client.

Laurie-Ann: And he’s using LinkedIn audio events. That’s another one of his, of his stages. So going into private Facebook communities or private memberships, you know, my high-end Masterminds teaching, those are all forms of speaking. And I also think a sales call is a form of speaking. Mm-hmm. Because you have to communicate with confidence.

Laurie-Ann: People are buying your confidence, whether it’s just one person or there’s a bunch of people in the room.

Allison: Yeah, no, I never would’ve thought of a sales call as being like almost like that speaking opportunity. What a great way to look at it.

Laurie-Ann: Yeah. Yeah.

Allison: So now what about the person listening, going, okay, I got it.

Allison: Like I do Zoom. Maybe they have a podcast, or they’ve been podcast guests. But it’s almost crossing that line of going from in front of a screen in the comfort of your home to stepping out into the world. And now you are surrounded by all these faces. And to me, like 10 people would be a little like, oh gosh, 10 people, or even 20 people, or even a hundred people.

Allison: What are some tips or strategies for them to ease in to the in-person speaking events?

In-person speaking events

Laurie-Ann: Number one, memorize your beginning. Hmm. And so not memorize in the form of it sounds scripted. You want to memorize it in the sense that it sounds very conversational, so we write differently than we speak. So I would encourage your listeners to write down the beginning of their presentation, which is the opening, and then say it out loud.

Laurie-Ann: And make sure it sounds conversational. So the reason why I’m going to encourage everybody to memorize that beginning is because that’s where like we, we have the butterflies. But if you know exactly what you’re going to say to grab the audience’s attention, to keep their attention, to keep them interested, you know, the butterflies settle down.

Your call-to-action

Laurie-Ann: You’ve said exactly what you need to say, and then you can go into the teaching portion of your presentation. Now, the second part I’m going to tell you to memorize is your ending. Mm-hmm. Because that’s where your call to action is. So you should know exactly how long your ending is and your call to action so that you can look at a clock knowing that my ending is five minutes long, so I can only finish with one more question, and then I’m going to go into my close.

Laurie-Ann: Go into your close. That way you always get your call to action in. Now that leads me to, if anybody caught what I just said, which is the q and a came before your clothes. Make sure you never, ever, ever, ever, never. And with a q and a. Yeah. The reason why, and most people are like, but I always see the q and a at the end, but unfortunately, what if somebody asks a question, one that you can’t answer, or two is completely off topic.

Laurie-Ann: And you say, I don’t know. What if somebody in the, you know, there’s going to be people in the audience, they’re going to walk out and be like, she didn’t know the answer to that question. I don’t ever want anybody, for them to hear somebody else speaking. I want them to hear your words, your close at the end of the presentation, so that that’s what people walk away remembering.

Laurie-Ann: So you are going to have a q and a. Just have it before your close. No, that is really smart.

Allison: I mean, because if you think about it, like when you, I mean for me, if you listen to a podcast, or even if you read a book or you watch a movie, you really remember how it started, right? Because it drew you in and then you remember the endings.

Allison: But the middle can get fumbled, right?

Laurie-Ann: Yeah, it can, you, you

Allison: can’t, you can’t remember all the details, but you know how it ended. So how smart that is to end with your call to action and make sure that you really know it and it’s conversational. Oh, that was really, really good.

Laurie-Ann:  Oh, I’m glad. I’m glad you like that.

How to control your speaking time

Laurie-Ann: Now here’s another reason to do this also. It will help you control the time. Meaning like, let’s just say you only have 15 minutes to speak, and you’ve got that q and a section that’s about 15 minutes. What if people don’t ask a whole lot of questions? There’s a way for you to fill that time, have some stories that you can pull out of your pocket, some commonly asked questions, but you know, you’ve gone to those conferences or those events where somebody asks a question, and they ramble on for like two or three minutes.

Laurie-Ann: Yeah. So you, you can look at the clock and just know I have time for one more quick question. And the audience. The people in the audience, like if somebody does have a quick question, they’re going to raise their hand and they’re going to ask that quick question, or they’re going to shorten whatever question they have because they already know that you’ve basically, you’ve pre-framed it.

Laurie-Ann: It’s a short question so that you stay on time to be a really good speaker, even if it’s your very first time. End on time. End a few minutes early, but never go over. Especially if you’re like the next, like the next session is either a break or lunch. Yeah, yeah. You never want to interfere with that.

Allison: No. You never interfere with someone’s lunch, someone’s food break, right?

Allison: No, no, no, no. I like that. Now, what if someone is like, okay, I really want to get in front of people. I want that one-on-one conversation, or not one-on-one, but more of an intimate conversation or communication with people. But they might not be a part of groups, and they might be the solopreneur or the mompreneur that’s working from home.

Allison: They don’t even know where to start. Where is the starting point to find these small groups to start getting into speaking?

How to get started with public speaking

Laurie-Ann: Well, one, put speaker in your bio. Let people know that you’re available to speak. That’s one way to start. Um, so. IG Live. Like whom said you had to have an audience? Just start sharing your message.

Laurie-Ann: People will start seeing it. They will start remembering your stories. Um, just reach out to people when you’re having copy chats, let people know like, Hey, I’m also an available speaker, so if you know of any groups, you just have to ask for the referrals. And I know it gets so awkward at first.

Laurie-Ann: Yeah, so ask yourself in the mirror. Say it a hundred times. You know, when I start like working with clients and I’m like, and I literally start spewing this out. They’re always like, oh my God, which sounds so good. Well, it’s because I’ve said it a hundred times before and I can, like, I can just adlib now, but I couldn’t in the beginning.

Laurie-Ann: So I just, you just have to start making the ask and then just realize, wow, that actually wasn’t as hard. I literally just had a client, she Voxer me and she said, I, you know, I did my, I did this podcast interview with, um, it was somebody that I actually referred her to, and she said at the end she said, I asked for a referral to other podcast hosts.

Laurie-Ann: And my question, I was like, Hey, I’m, you should be super proud of yourself. Yeah. How does it feel now that you’re on the other side of that ask? And she said, it wasn’t that bad. I said, good. Keep that in mind next time. Like we’re just teaching ourselves new tricks basically. Right. Teaching our nervous system like.

Laurie-Ann: You know, just, you know, and the woman didn’t say, oh, I know exactly who I’m going to refer you to. She said exactly what I expected her to, because she said this to me when I was on her podcast. Let me think about that and I’ll get back to you. And she did. Yeah. Oh, that’s awesome. So just start. Start by like with your own platform.

Laurie-Ann: Like whatever, whatever platform’s easiest for. If you want to do Facebook Lives, you want to do LinkedIn lives, you want to do IG stories, just start sharing your message and letting people know. Put the speaker in your bio so that they know that they can actually hire you.

Allison: Here’s my next question that just came to my brain now that you said that.

Allison: Yes. So we have someone who has just finally put speaker in their bio and they’re doing lives. And someone reaches out and says, I’m having this event. Your topic would be amazing. My audience would love to learn from you. What is your fee? And then it’s almost like, oh, this is getting real now. Yeah. How do we handle that when we’re, when we don’t really, like, we’ve never done this before.

How to price your speaking fee

Allison: You don’t want to undercharge yourself, right? Mm-hmm. But you don’t want to overcharge. Like how does someone start with charging for speaking?

Laurie-Ann: Here’s, here’s the magic question. What’s your budget for speakers? Hmm. Well that’s speakers. It’s plural. So I use this question all the time because I, you know, if I’m running at your event, I can be a breakout speaker as well, so I can, I’m happy to speak twice while I’m there.

Laurie-Ann: That’s not a problem. But like, what’s your budget for speakers? And meeting planners will tell you, okay, oh, here’s our budget. Okay, I can work with that. So there are lots of different ways to do this. Also, like I happen, I have a couple of books, so if somebody can’t match my speaker fee, books can come out of the gift or education fee.

Laurie-Ann: So together, that might actually come to my speaker fee or even more. But I want to share with people that. Speaking is the gift that keeps on giving. Mm-hmm. And I will share with you a, a client of mine. She, um, her and I were working together. We crafted a presentation for her. She worked; she spoke at a free networking event last fall.

Laurie-Ann: She stepped off the stage to somebody handing her a business card saying, we need you to speak at every single one of our credit unions. That’s 26 paid speaking opportunities. Do you think she cares that she spoke for free for one hour? No. No. Cuz she just made an extra $26,000. Right. Wow. That’s amazing.

Laurie-Ann: So speaking is the gift that keeps on giving you just and that’s just now what happens after she speaks at each of those, those people be like your audience is also, they’re also referral agents. So who knows how much spinoff business she’s going to get from each of those. So the end of the end of this year, I will be, uh, asking her that question is like, how many more speaking events did she get as a result of those 26?

Allison: And it goes right back to how we started this conversation about visibility. Like mm-hmm. You did 1, 2, 5 events. You know, your visibility, it’s just going to compound after that.

Laurie-Ann: It does. It really does. You know, one event turns into two, those two turn into another two. I mean, it just like, it really does snowball pretty fast.

Allison: That’s really cool. That’s exciting. That’s so exciting for people who really want to dip their toes into the speaking world. You know, you just have to start, you have to just get your face out there. You have to claim that you’re a speaker. I think that’s the one of the things is you just have to be, you just have to claim it and be confident in yourself because, you know, the first time you do it, you’re, you’re going to flip over, you know, slide over your words or fumble.

Allison: It’s just, that’s human.

Laurie-Ann: That’s the human. I can, I just, can I address that? Yeah. If you flub up your audience doesn’t know. So I literally have flubbed up or answered a question in the middle of a presentation. And then I like this one, one really, and this is just me because it’s my style. I put my hand on my hip and look down at the nearby person, say, what was I talking about before?

Laurie-Ann: And that’s what happens. They laugh, they think it’s actually part of the presentation, it’s part of the show, it’s part of the entertainment. They have no idea that I actually forgotten. I just needed a moment to get back on track. That’s pretty funny. So your audience won’t know if you forget to say something if you flub up with your words.

Laurie-Ann: I love, um, I’m known for saying two things at the same time, so I make up a lot of words and I just poke fun at it. I’m just like, oh, there I go again. You know, like combining two words or two thoughts at the same time and everybody who’s in the audience who does the exact same thing was like, oh my God, I do that too.

Allison: Yeah. Yeah. Well, and it makes you more relatable too, and there’s that connection piece.

Laurie-Ann: Yes, yes. So it’s really a lot of fun. Plus the places that you’ll go, the people that you’ll meet. I’m starting to sound like that Dr. Seuss book, but it’s true. I mean, you can get paid to travel and speak in front of other people’s audiences.

Laurie-Ann: You know, and who knows, you might become the next Ed Mylett.

Allison: Yeah, right. You never know. So Well, Laurie-Ann, this was an amazing conversation and I know some of our listeners are definitely going to want to connect with you, learn more from you. So where can they find your work?

Laurie-Ann: I would say the best place, the central location would be my website, which is speakandstandout.com.

Laurie-Ann: And from there you can jump and start listening to my podcast, which is called Be In Demand, and find me on different forms of social media.

Allison: Well, I will make sure that I put all of your links in the show notes. And thanks again for being here today and just giving us some great tips and strategies.

Laurie-Ann: on public speaking.

Laurie-Ann: Thank Allison. Thank you so much and thank you for the work that you’re doing.

Allison: Thank you.

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