Archives for May 2017

Key Takeaways from Reach Academy Live – Day 3

Day 3 of Reach Academy Live focused on creating a business and offers that make it possible to create much more value from the stages you land. Where most speakers get hung up on how much their honorarium is, this event focused on creating a offers that scale beyond the stage, leading to much greater revenues down the road.

If you missed them, you can check out the highlights from Day 1 and Day 2 here.

There are many different ways to scale; each has certain advantages and drawbacks. Pete opened day 3, presenting the Stage Revenue Model, which serves as a map to help speakers identify what opportunities for scale.

Scale is key for speakers to transition from “road warrior” taking any stage and living off the honorariums, to landing just a few dream stages a year that lead to big revenue, to building a team of speakers to spread their message for them.

With even one or two pieces of scale you can change the value of your stage from whatever the honorarium is, to multiple six figures by having products or services to sell beyond the talk. This is a game-changer for many businesses and many speakers.

How do I know what offer to develop?

With so many different products and offers to consider, it can be difficult to know which will work best for you.

To help decide, Pete has put together the R.I.P. (resistance, impact, profitability) filter system. This filter helps you decide where the best opportunities for your business lie.

Resistance – how difficult will it be to bring this to market? Look for opportunities with low resistance.

Impact – How much impact will this have on people’s lives? Will you be able to help a lot of people with this? Or at least a will this add a lot of value to the people you serve?

Profitability – You need to have a product that leads to profit. Without profit, you can’t scale your message or expand your reach.

As you read through the many different opportunities for stage revenue, consider the R.I.P. filter, and see which fits best for you.

Angelique Rewers – How to work with corporate clients

Angelique Rewers is a master at helping speakers with many different skills to find corporate clients. She pointed out the incredible opportunity for entrepreneurs in corporate markets.

In 2015, the global spend for corporations on training and professional development for their teams was over $355 billion, and that they regularly hire individuals and small firms to help them.

She further drove home her point showing a few key statistics about entrepreneurs and corporate clients. The average top-line revenue for solopreneurs is just $44,000, yet within 2 years of landing their first corporate client, their revenues increase by 264%. Better yet, 63% of small business owners who have corporate clients make over $500,000 a year.

She then walked the audience through the process of taking talk and turning it into 7 streams of income from corporate clients starting with, one simple phrase:

“At the heart of my speaking topic what I’m really teaching people about is…”

If you can answer that question clearly, then you can build a training program around it, sell it to corporations, and turn it into 7 streams of revenue:

  1. Get paid to deliver the content
  2. Get paid to create the content
  3. Get paid to teach your client how to deliver your content
  4. Get paid to allow your client to continue to use your content
  5. Get paid to record your training and share it with more employees
  6. Get paid to teach others your expertise (coach the coaches)
  7. Get paid to let others teach your content to their clients.

Few are really aware of the many diverse ways you can charge corporate clients, and often sell themselves short a lot of the revenue that a corporate client could generate for them. Use the list above to make sure you’re not leaving money on the table.


Sponsorship is an often overlooked form of scale, especially for for-profit businesses. For-profits often assume there’s not much opportunity for sponsorship available. But each year there are billions of sponsorship dollars up for grabs for both non-profit and for-profit causes.

There are three keys to succeeding with sponsorship:

  1. You need to connect your sponsor with and asset. This is usually a talk or a program.
  2. You need to stand out from everyone else in your industry.
  3. You need to be connected to their target customer.

You can have your talks sponsored and deliver your content for free to a community that needs to hear your message at no cost to them. Or you can be sponsored to run a program and teach.

Just make sure that if you do win a big sponsorship deal that you don’t become overly dependent on that stream of revenue, it can go away quickly.


Ron Forseth shared his story of working with Pete to invite 15 couples to The Broadmoor, a luxury hotel in Colorado Springs, to share their story and ask for donations for his cause. Though spending over 70k on hosting these couples at a luxury hotel seemed like a gamble, they netted over 600k in donations from the event. He closed by encouraging the audience to master their story and have a powerful call to action that will make people excited to support your cause.

“You need to work on a story that’s going to change the world. The head’s not going to get it, the heart will help move them along, but a transformation call to action will get you there” – Ron Forseth

For more information on giving a great talk and storytelling for your business, check out: How the best speakers use storytelling as a business growth tool.

Courses – With Dr. Carrie Rose

Carrie Rose has many years of experience in public education and a PhD in educational leadership. She’s developed her own process for creating great courses.

She went on to point out some of the benefits of courses:

Huge demand – Though many people don’t see courses as a business model, Carrie pointed out how it’s a $107 Billion industry.

Scaleable – Creating a course once can drive value continuously.

Duplicatable – Once you learn how to create your first course, you’ll be able to repeat that process and create as many courses as you want. If you think of your content as a continuum, you can create courses that address the different areas of that continuum.

Courses for onboarding – Courses aren’t just for teaching customers. You can use them to onboard and train your team members. This is particularly powerful when you’re training people for a highly scaleable job like sales or customer service.

There are some common pitfalls that challenge many course makers. They are all challenges that can be overcome, but you need to have a good understanding of your audience and market, as well as strong confidence and belief in yourself to make it work.

They don’t sell themselves – Though the work creating a course only needs to be done once, you need to apply consistent effort to selling your course.

They take effort – A course does not have to take months or years, but it will take at least a few days of highly concentrated effort to create.

They require some technical skill – It can be challenging to manage all of the technology that goes into making a good course. They also require some moderate knowledge of audio, design, and writing.

A common problem that causes many courses to fail is that many people create very broad courses that cover many topics. Carrie encourages courses that dive deep into a specific and clear pain point. Many are afraid to do this because it usually means their courses come out shorter. But it’s a misconception to think to equate time invested with learning. It’s better to have a short course with a laser focus on a problem than a long one that does not go deep on any.

Hosting your own events

Hosting your own event can be one of the most powerful forms of scale, but it also one of the riskiest.

The upsides are:

  • Good to build trust – Being on stage at your own event is one of the most powerful trust builders out there. You can build the same amount of trust in a few days from the stage that would take years from digital marketing.
  • You make money on both ends – You can profit from the event tickets itself, or you can sell some of your offers on the back end. You also can take a cut from the sales of offers your speakers make.
  • Build a community of fans – People go to conferences once because of a big name, topic, or opportunity, but they come back because of the people they meet. These communities and relationships keep people coming back to your events.
  • Understand your customers – Hosting your own event gives you a place to do great market research and speak with many of your potential customers in person to learn their needs and create better offers for them.

Some of the downsides are:

  • They’re expensive – There’s lots of little costs that can add up quickly. That soda that you would normally buy for $1 can be as much as $6 with all the markup, fees and taxes. Multiply that by the hundreds of sodas and $250 per gallon coffee you’ll buy for your guests and you can start to see how the expenses can snowball.
  • They’re risky – Aside from the financial costs, events also demand a great deal of work. It’s a big challenge to fill a room as well. Unless it’s planned and marketed well, it could be difficult to profit or even break even on events.

Depending on your audience, style, and goals, you’ll decide the length of your event and how many other speakers you’ll need. You can host an event entirely on your own, but if you’re bringing more speakers in making sure they contribute to the event by helping promote it and adding value to the audience.

You’ll also need to choose where you host it, will it be a local one-day event that people can attend and return home to in the same day? Or will you promote it nationally and need to provide options for lodging?

Service businesses

Service-based businesses can do very well leveraging stages to drive customers.

Advantages of service businesses:

  • High demand – Many high end clients only want to purchase “done-for-you” services.
  • Big dividends – Done for your services can command a very high retainer fee, especially if they drive a lot of value for the business.
  • You can leverage small stages – A good service business may only need to land one high end customer to have a successful event. Meaning they can leverage smaller stages more easily than someone who depends on selling a product.

Disadvantages of service businesses:

  • High touch – Done-for-you services usually require a great deal of skill and time investment. This can make them hard to grow and scale.
  • High expectations – When making a big investment into a service business, clients can often have very high expectations and little patience when waiting for results.

Setting good expectations early can help manage some of the downsides that are common in service businesses. You can start setting expectations even from the stage or in passing conversation.

Here’s an example of how to do that inside a story:

“A few days ago, I got a call from a big potential client. I let them know I could not start work with them for another few months and the work would cost $30,000. They said “We were thinking more like $20,000,” and they asked if I had a cancellation policy.

Now, I was willing to give them a bit of a discount if they paid it all up front but told them I didn’t have a cancellation policy, I only worked with people who were serious about this.

They respected this boundary and ended up taking my offer to pay upfront.”

Coaching and masterminds

Coaching and masterminds are often a good way to add some scale to high-end services. You can often coach several people in the same amount of time it would take to manage a single done-for-you client, you can even bundle the work into a group coaching program and work with many clients simultaneously.

It’s also possible to have your clients teach and support each other through masterminds. A mastermind is usually a small group that meets regularly to share insights on a certain problem and keep people accountable. As a coach or facilitator, you’ll still direct the group and the discussion, but you can allow space for your clients to teach each other. Your clients will still find value in being in a group of peers that they can relate to and work with.

Many people create Facebook communities to support their mastermind groups and give them a place where they can engage with each other. A great community is a powerful source of revenue, but it can be difficult to build successfully. If you’re interested in learning more about what it takes to manage a great Facebook community check out 8 Keys to Growing a Great Facebook Community.

How to create value through narrative

Nicolas Kusmich is a master of Facebook ads and a dynamic speaker. He opened his talk by asking the audience:

“I’m selling a used car for $1,000,000… does anyone want it?”

Predictably, nobody raised a hand. He then went on to describe the car in more detail. This was a 1960 Ferrari worth over $10 million. He asked again if anyone was interested and many more hands raised. He pointed out how, through the background story of the car, its perceived value dramatically changes.

We can create this same effect with our Facebook ads. Often we try to make an offer through Facebook in the same way that Nicolas tried to sell the car at first to us, no narrative, no value. Nicolas provided a framework to help create value in our ads.

Nicolas is known for making statements that trigger a perfect mix of confusion and intrigue. He lived up to his reputation when explaining his framework for a perfect Facebook Ad – “A good ad F.A.R.T.S.”

Here’s what he means by F.A.R.T.S.:

Forward moving – It hits on a powerful emotion and encourages action. It also has an image that stands out in the newsfeed and tells a story in itself that supports the narrative of the ad.

Applicable – It’s clear how your message applies to their life.

Relevant – The solution you present needs to make sense to them and connect with the emotions you conjure in your copy.

Titled well – A good title will call out who the target customer is, and capture their interest and attention enough to get them to take action.

Closing remarks – take action

Reach Live closed with Pete Vargas encouraging the audience to take action on what they’ve learned over these past few days. It’s easy to leave an event like that with good intentions and a sense of productivity. But as we return to our normal lives, energy and momentum tend to slip away. The plans we made in and goals we set face inevitable setbacks and challenges.


Reach Academy Live Pete Vargas


Pete shared the 3 things that kept him going during one of the most challenging times in his life.

  • Purpose – You must connect with something bigger than yourself that will keep you going through any challenge.
  • Community – A community of people that will be there for you and support you when you need them most.
  • A mission – A purpose for yourself and a plan to fulfill it will bring meaning to your life and help give you direction. Even though your plans may not work perfectly, your mission will give you the strength and perspective to figure it out and continue.

He recalled a video from Price EA he shared to open the conference:

Pete shared his desire to be liked by everyone in the audience, but that has resulted in problems for him in the past. He would not speak his mind when people told him “they weren’t quite ready” or “They’ll take action once X is done” but he found they leave with the best intentions, but nothing changed and they would often lose touch.

Don’t be one of those people that disappear and never takes any action.

Don’t be the person that comes back to the next event exactly the same.

Don’t let your ideas, aspirations, and dreams end up in the graveyard.

Don’t miss out!

These takeaways are just a small piece of the value you can expect from Reach Academy Live, in addition to great talks you can expect to meet amazing people, form lifetime relationships, and grow your business beyond what you thought possible.

Get your tickets to the next Reach Academy Live in November here.

Key Takeaways from Reach Academy Live – Day 2

Day 2 at Reach Academy Live was all about stages. This is where Pete Vargas is truly in his element. The focus of all the discussion and topics was how to get on more stages and find the stages that are the most lucrative for you. (If you missed the highlights from Day 1, check them out here)

What meeting planners want

Many people want to get on more stages, but few seem to understand the needs and mindset of the meeting planners that are the gatekeepers for those stages. To be successful on stage, you need to win the stage first, which means you need to know how to work with meeting planners. The good news is, with a few small tweaks to your approach, you could easily double the amount of stages you win.

Here’s what meeting planners want:

  • Solve their audiences problem – They want to know you understand their audience and know how to solve a problem that they are facing.
  • Powerful video – They want to see you in action speaking. It’s usually better to have a good uncut clip of you speaking for 3-5 minutes rather than a sizzle reel.
  • Know the event’s theme and purpose – Do research on the event and what it’s values are before you try to land the stage.
  • Have a unique perspective – They want someone who will bring fresh and interesting ideas to their audience, not just parrot what everyone else is doing.

There are also many common turn offs for meeting planners:

  • Being too salesy – Being too pushy will damage your trust with the planners.
  • Making it about yourself, not the audience – Many pitches to meeting planners have every sentence start with the word “I”. Frame everything you do with “you” or make it about the audience.
  • Bad reviews – Word travels quickly in the speaking world, so be careful not to get bad reviews.
  • Treating their staff poorly – Don’t treat their team poorly or be difficult to work with.
  • Jack of all trades – They don’t want to hear that you have talks on Facebook ads, gardening and leadership and you’re ready to do any of them.

Along with the common do’s and don’t with meeting planners, there’s also a lot of common misconceptions about events and working with meeting planners that many speakers hold.

  • Breakouts are bad – Many speakers have a “keynote or bust” philosophy. This ends up hurting them in the long run because there’s a lot of powerful opportunity with breakouts, and they are usually much easier to land than keynotes.
  • I’m not a celebrity, so I can’t win stages – Many meeting planners are looking for new faces, not just big names.
  • Meeting planners want to know everything about me – Like in normal conversation, we often “vomit” out as much information as possible when speaking with planners. Practice your story and be clear and concise in the information you deliver.
  • I can’t get feedback forms from past events – It’s possible to get your feedback forms from past events if you ask. They can be useful for helping you book more stages.

Most of the insights that were shared were from “The Mind Of A Meeting Planner Summit” that was held a few weeks before the show. Though the summit is closed now, we do have a post up with highlights and quotes from 15 planners. Check it out here – Inside the Mind of a Meeting Planner

The anatomy of a great speaker page

The most common questions at Reach Academy Live revolve around what assets you need to work with meeting planners. A good website or landing page that showcases your speaking topics is the foundation for all of your outreach. Here’s what makes a great speaker page.

  • Free gift – Your website and speaker page should offer a gift that speaks directly to the problem that resonates with the meeting planner and their audience.
  • A promo video – A short 3-5 minute video that shows who you are and footage of you speaking.
  • Social proof – Quotes from past events praising you, list what publications you’ve been featured in, ratings from past events.
  • Popular speaking topics – List one or two of your most popular speaking topics.
  • (Bonus) a good tagline – A short yet clever tagline can make you stand out to a meeting planner and entice them to dig deeper into your speaker page. For an example take a look at Nicolas Kusmich’s masterful tagline. “Because cute, warm-fuzzy, run-of-the-mill anecdotal quotes and stories don’t cut it anymore!

There are many misconceptions about what makes a good promo video. Most believe you need to have footage of you standing in front of thousands of people, but that’s not the case. Take a look at Pete’s video below and notice how he has a few clips of him talking on stage, but much is him speaking to the camera. Notice how the video also has social proof baked into it.

Also, as many mentioned on the Mind Of A Meeting Planner, meeting planners are looking for unedited, uncut footage of you speaking for 3 minutes or so.

Know your stages

To get the most success with your speaking, you need to understand the different types of stages and their inherent advantages and disadvantages. Depending on your audience and your business some of these stages will work better for you than others. Once you understand what your “dream stages” look like, you have more power and flexibility to focus on the stages that will move your business forward and avoid stages that will waste your time.

There’s 5 different types of offline stages:

  • Paid to speak – You get paid an honorarium to speak, but you may not be able to directly sell a product from the stage.
  • Speak to sell – You can sell from the stage, but you’re usually not paid to speak.
  • Free stages – Stages you don’t get paid to speak on.
  • Stages that “cost” – These stages you actually have to pay to get on, but they also provide valuable opportunities.
  • Your own events – You get to choose the rules for your own events.

Along with different kinds of stages, there’s different ways you can speak on those stages.

  • Keynotes
  • Breakouts
  • Seminars
  • Presentations
  • TV and radio media
  • Local Stages
  • Masterminds

If you understand what kind of stages you want to speak on and what kind of speaking you want to do, you’ll have a strategic clarity that will help you find your “dream stages” that enable you to grow your business and get the results you want. You can map this out using a tool called the Scalable Stage Matrix.

Reach academy live - scalable stage matrix

How to win your dream stages

Over 13+ years Pete has developed and perfected The Unstoppable Stage Campaign, this is his process for landing some of the most competitive stages in the world. It’s a highly detailed campaign that uses a mix of cutting-edge technology and automation with a human touch to make you stand out to meeting planners and get you on stages faster.

This campaign takes a long time to develop and perfect, so Pete outlined the three parts of the campaign that could get the audience some quick wins and momentum. These were video email, the speaker box, and the win-win script.

Video email outreach

Video email is uniquely powerful for people looking to get on more stages. A meeting planner can get dozens of pitches in their inbox every day from people who want to get on their stages. If you’re doing the same thing as everyone else, it will be difficult to stand out. Video email is great because it is unique, it catches their attention and provokes their curiosity.

More importantly, a video email is an audition. It’s an opportunity to indirectly show the meeting planner how engaging a speaker you are, how clearly you can share your story, and how well you understand their audience. Though you should have a demo video prepared, a good video email will get the meeting planners imagining you on their stage.

A good video email will introduce yourself, explain how well you understand the meeting planner’s needs, and let them know something special is coming in the mail for them.

For more on how to master video email check out The Ultimate Guide To Video Email.

The Speaker Box

While a meeting planner can get dozens of emails every day from people wanting to get on their stages, it’s rare for them to receive anything other than bills and coupon books in their mailbox.

The speaker box is the secret weapon of Advance Your Reach to make a strong impression on the meeting planners and get your materials in their hands.

A speaker box can include:

  • A speaker sheet – A sheet that highlights you, your speaking topics and provides some social proof.
  • Your work – This could be a book, a USB drive with digital files, videos of you speaking, articles or publications you’ve been featured in.
  • A gift – A small gift that’s useful and interesting will endear you to the planner and show that you’re not making this all about yourself. Remember that if you’re tempted to put your logo on the gift you send, change it to their logo and you’ll make yourself totally unforgettable.
  • References and testimonials – This could be people talking about your speaking, or the work you do when you’re not on stage.

Win-Win Script

The Win-win script is designed for your first call with a meeting planner. This script focuses on adding value to what the meeting planner is doing, like offering to sponsor or promote the event. This helps the meeting planner let down their guard from all the other speakers who just want to “take”.

Another strategy is to offer a gift to the audience. This could be a copy of your book, a course you offer, or access to a tool you’ve developed. Make sure to frame it as something that will help the audience with a problem they have, not as a marketing tactic.

For more details on outreach strategies for landing stages (or just about anything else) check out – Unstoppable Outreach Strategies That Cut Through The Noise.

Bonus tip – use your champions

Pete shared some insights he learned from Marc Gutman. Marc told him he only works with speakers he knows or he has seen before. Though this seems like a tough barrier, it can be easily overcome by finding a mutual connection on Linkedin and getting an introduction.

Chances are you have more than a few people who know you and your quality that could introduce you to people that could get you on your dream stages. The process of getting on stages is much easier and faster when you have a good champion to help make the right introductions. A champion can be a client, a meeting planner that knows you, a coach/mentor, colleague.

Create a list of as many champions as you can think of and reach out to them tell them you’re looking to get on more stages. Ask them if there’s anyone they know or if they have any ideas for how that could happen. Always check your social media for mutual connections between meeting planners and champions to see if you can get an introduction.

The Stage Panel

To dig deeper into the various kinds of stages and how to succeed on them a diverse panel spoke about their own experiences winning stages, or in some cases, creating their own stage.

Pat Flynn, Smart Passive IncomePat described how his podcast has become a massive stage that he can speak to on a weekly basis from the comfort of his home. He pointed out that he wanted to start a podcast in early 2008, but didn’t start until 2010. Now, 7 years later, he only wishes he started sooner. He recommended that new podcasters start with just two tools: the ATR 2100 for a mic and the Logitech C920 for video. For about $100, you can be on your way to a professional podcast and a stage of your own.

David Eaton, AxisDavid Eaton described the power of online summits to spread your message. He mentioned how the Parenting Teens Summit allowed him to reach millions more people online than he did with his in-person events. He even received messages from people in distant countries like Madagascar who got value from the summit who he never could have reached before launch the summit.

Jami King, One Orbit – Jami discussed the power of building a team to help you speak. Jami told the story of her business partner Leeroy Chao, an astronaut, was having trouble getting on stages (who could have better positioning than an astronaut?). Once Jami joined the team and helped with the booking process they more than tripled the amount of stages they were booking and it freed Leeroy up to focus on what he did best.

David Bayer, The Powerful Living ExperienceDavid spoke about the deep psychology of winning stages and how the story you tell yourself can influence your success on stages. He mentioned how often we get hung up on the small tactics and details to try and advance our work but neglect asking the tough questions and examining our inner mindset.

“You have to figure out what it is that keeps you from getting the results you want and focus there.”

Don’t miss out!

These takeaways are just a small piece of the value you can expect from Reach Academy Live, in addition to great talks you can expect to meet amazing people, form lifetime relationships, and grow your business beyond what you thought possible.

Get your tickets to the next Reach Academy Live in November here.

Key Takeaways From Reach Academy Live – Day 1

The first day at Reach Academy Live was focused on storytelling. Story is an essential tool for speakers to master, not only for speaking from the stage but for helping them relate to their customers, their work, and themselves. Here are some of the highlights from the keynotes and the world-famous speak off.

David Bayer – How to overcome suffering and unintelligent thinking

David Bayer is a master at helping entrepreneurs make big leaps forward in their business by improving their mindset and outlook. David provided some unique insights into how the story you tell yourself can have a dramatic impact on the results you see in your life.

“Your brain is a goal-achieving machine. The stories that you tell yourself are shaping your brain. Your story dictates what you think and how you view the world; your brain looks for evidence to confirm and fulfill that story.” – David Bayer

Many entrepreneurs experience a great deal of suffering and stress while growing their businesses. Most assume that suffering is something to be expected. David broke down the truth about what suffering really is and how to view it.

There are only 2 states of being, a state of “beauty” and a state of “suffering”. You’re always in one, never in both. Suffering is separate from experience; the only cause of suffering is your own experience and the meaning you assign to it.

With a little bit of self-awareness, we can actually use the suffering caused by unintelligent thinking as a compass to find our own truth.

Examples of unintelligent thinking:

  • “I’m not ready to get on more stages.”
  • “I need to achieve more to deserve what I want”
  • “Nobody wants to hear my story”
  • “I’ll never make it as an entrepreneur”
  • “There’s no good men/women out there”

The good news is that whatever thoughts cause you suffering, the opposite is true. If you can manage to notice and recognize the unintelligent thinking patterns.

Unintelligent thinking can be overcome and uprooted by noticing when you are having unintelligent thoughts. When you start to see your unintelligent thoughts, you can question them and replace them with “intelligent thinking”. For example, trading a thought of “why can’t I succeed?” to “what needs to happen to double my sales next month?” transforms how you feel about your current situation, and sheds light on new solutions. This breaks the cycle of repeatedly telling the story that causes us suffering and holds you back.

Chris Smith – The 5 forces of storytelling

Chris Smith from The Campfire Effect continued with the thread of storytelling and how it can impact how others relate to your work.

Most of us do not have a good way of sharing our story. Any time someone asks us what we do, we “vomit” a bunch of information on them. Most of us do this because we don’t understand how to use our stories. But if we can get clear on what our story is supposed to do, we can begin to craft it into something powerful.

Your story has 2 jobs:

  • It needs to make sense – Your story should be easily understood and followed. This builds trust and familiarity with the listener.
  • It should make the listener believe you can help them – It needs to relate to your listener in a way that makes them feel like you understand their problem and that you can help them with it.

“Stories are remembered up to 22 times more than facts alone.” – Jennifer Aaker

To create a story that does these jobs well, it’s important to understand the five forces of storytelling.

  1. Who you are – People buy from other people, your story should be a bridge to build a relationship with your listener and help them understand where you come from. Understanding “who you are” also gives you a source of power and confidence, it gives you context to create and live your own story.
  2. What you do – Most people overdo this part. It’s easy to go on and on here, and this is where we usually end up losing out listeners. This part should be clear, succinct and thought-provoking.
  3. Why you do it – What lead you to where you are now? Whats gets you excited about the work you’re doing. This builds credibility and context in your story.
  4. How you do it – Your process for solving a problem. Your “how” is what makes you unique from your competitors. Chris helps people get clear on their process and helps them create a “proprietary process” that is unique to them and engaging to their customers.
  5. Social proof – You want to add evidence that reinforces that you can solve this problem and points to some of the results you have gotten in the past.

For more on the five forces of storytelling check out: 5 Steps To Great Brand Storytelling With Chris Smith

Pat Quinn – Amazing presentation tips

Pat Quinn is the master of delivering a good talk from the stage. He opened with high-energy and delivered several value bombs before he even made it up the stairs on the stage. This left the audience transfixed on him with pens in hand, taking notes trying not to blink for fear of missing something.

He shared a framework for speakers to use to make sure every line of their talk is effective and contributes to their presentation. He calls it the “litmus test”.

The litmus test is simple, take any part of your talk and ask yourself, “does it help drive home the core point of my presentation?”. As you practice your talk, use the litmus test to find areas that you can improve your message.

Pat then shared one of his most powerful tools for capturing the attention and imagination of the audience, episodic storytelling.

Episodic storytelling is stringing together a few vivid moments into a narrative. You should bring your listener into each moment with you. This means talking in the first person and sharing details that allow the listener to create the scene in their mind.

Pat demonstrated this in his talk several times, once by describing gathering wild grapes in the fall to bring to his mother to make wild grape jelly and “eat like kings”. This conjured an image of Pat as a youth and allowed us to share that memory with him, which he called back several times in the presentation.

Another great example of episodic storytelling came from the speak off contestant, Shelli Varel, when describing a low point in her journey.

“…I remember laying in bed staring up at a white stippled ceiling…” This tiny little detail allows us to join her at that moment and put ourselves in her shoes and feel what she feels.

By stringing two or more of these little moments together, you can create a powerful talk that engages your audience from the moment you begin speaking, to your closing line.

For more information on giving a great talk and storytelling for your business, check out: How the best speakers use storytelling as a business growth tool.

The Speak Off

The night closed with 12 speakers testing out their own stories in front of a panel of over 20 meeting planners. Each had five minutes to deliver a talk. Many talks shared inspiring stories of overcoming challenges, while others shared heartwarming scenes from their past and related them to the world-changing work they aspire to do.

Here’s a video where the panel of 24 meeting planners give their final feedback to the contestants, and the winner is announced.

Don’t miss out!

These takeaways are just a small piece of the value you can expect from Reach Academy Live, in addition to great talks you’ll meet amazing people, form lifetime relationships, and grow your business beyond what you thought possible. If you want to take part in the speak off, be sure to register early, it tends to sell out fast!

Get your tickets to the next Reach Academy Live in November here.


The Mind of the Meeting Planner

Insights from 15 Industry Leaders on Making an Impression, Booking Stages, and Getting Invited Back Next Year

Speakers are always asking us how to make a good impression with a meeting planner. How do you go from a total unknown to a booked speaker? Where should you invest your time when you’re just getting started? What are the secret mistakes that other prospective speakers make?

A few weeks ago, we hosted our first ever Mind of a Meeting Planner summit. We brought together fifteen top meeting planners, to give the inside scoop on what works for them and, more importantly, what doesn’t.

The results were outstanding. Every meeting planner brought unique insights on making the perfect first impression, standing out from the crowd, and getting invited back for next year’s event. They shared their biggest turn-offs and tore through some of the industry’s biggest misconceptions. Are you sending out a sizzle reel? Do you think you’re not famous enough for the top events? You’ll want to read this.

Dush Ramachandran

Dush Ramachandran has built Underground Online Seminar into an event that Forbes describes as a “must-attend conference for entrepreneurs.” Their focus is on presenting insightful, useful content to the marketers in attendance. And while they often have big-name speakers onstage, like Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, they also regularly book small-business owners and less-known speakers.

“A great speaker is someone with a unique point of view,” Dush says. They want speakers with a unique take, who have their own insights into the industry. If it’s a controversial take, that can be even better. “We’re looking for someone that can come onstage and command and hold the attention of the audience,” he explains. In some cases, that means a well-known, big-name speaker. In other cases, he’s seen newcomers have a bigger impact on the conference attendees than headliners – by sharing their unique, compelling point of view.

Photo of meeting planner Dush Ramachandran with quote, "A great speaker is someone with a unique point of view."

[bctt tweet=“A great speaker is someone with a unique point of view.” – Dush Ramachandran” username=”advancereach”]

Pat Quinn

Pat Quinn speaks and books speakers for with Ideas Unlimited Seminars, a seminar series dedicated to helping teachers improve their classroom management skills. Their events have trained thousands of teachers and routinely sell out, as teachers, administrators, and counselors gather to learn concrete techniques from leading experts.

What his biggest turn-off? “When the first five sentences in the email ask to start with ‘I’,” Pat responds. He’s interested in a speaker that’s here to help his audience, not to sell themselves. When the ask explains that they know a specific problem the audience has, and how to solve it, that catches Pat’s attention.

We emphasize this point in Advance Your Reach seminars and coachings, too. A speaker shouldn’t approach an opportunity thinking it’s about them. It’s not even really about the meeting planner; it’s about solving a problem for the audience. The ask is all about you and your, You, the meeting planner, are having a great event where your audience will come to learn the solution to a problem. It doesn’t matter what stage you’re trying to get, that’s very important.

Pat meets speakers through other conferences, especially in breakout sessions. Then, in narrowing down his potential speakers, he says, “concrete deliverables is the key.” The most important asset to send is a good video“not a sizzle reel that’s been cut up,” but the real video of you speaking to an audience.

Image of meeting planner Pat Quinn with quote, "The most important asset to send is a good video - not a sizzle reel that's been cut up, but real, uncut video of you speaking to an audience."

[bctt tweet=“The most important asset to send is an uncut video of you speaking to an audience.” – Pat Quinn” username=”advancereach”]

Connor Beaton

Through ManTalks and their annual Real Talk Summit, Connor Beaton brings in speakers and guests year-round as bloggers, podcast guests, and event speakers. His guests are a mix of celebrity speakers and less well-known experts.

We asked him how regular peoplepeople who aren’t celebrities, who don’t have a New York Times best-selling bookconnect with him and get hired. “If you’re not a celebrity, for me that’s actually an advantage,” Conner says, “because then you can approach me and say, ‘Here’s the problem that I see your community facing, here’s my story and how it can engage your audience.’”

He emphasizes storytelling as the unique x-factor that unknown speakers bring to the table, a point that we dug into in our recent blog post on brand storytelling. Audiences already know the stories of his celebrity guests, so telling your personal, authentic story sets you apart. “I’m so interested when I don’t know who you are because I’m always looking for a fresh face and a fresh voice,” Conner says. That freshness comes from bringing your personal story and perspective into your speaking.

Photo of meeting planner Conner Beaton with quote, "I'm so interested when you're not a celebrity, because I'm always looking for a fresh face and a fresh voice..."


[bctt tweet=“I’m so interested when you’re not a celebrity because I’m always looking for a fresh face” – Conner Beaton” username=”advancereach”]

Heather Cazad

Heather Cazad books speakers for the National Forum on Character Education, an annual conference hosted by This year, they had room for 50 speakers, and received closer to 200 submissions. She offers some great practical advice on getting the attention of a meeting planner when you’re just another face in a big crowd.

First, she says, make sure your proposal actually matches that year’s conference theme. The irrelevant proposals are first to go. Then, she looks at reviews the speakers received if they’ve spoken at her conference before. For new speakers, she says, “I would take recommendations from other meeting planners I trust.”

In fact, an Advance Your Reach client booked this very stage by putting their great reviews to work for them. After 3 years of trying without success, the client won the booking by sending an actual review from a previous conference, including a perfect score and glowing remarks. The meeting planner called the reviewer to verify, and that built up the credibility of this unknown speaker enough to land her that stage.

Heather has one final, excellent tip on making yourself memorable: focus on the long game. “I love the people who didn’t get selected, but they come to the event anyway, learn about the event and participate, then follow up right after.” Focusing on the organization and the conference content proves that you’re actually interested in the topics, not just self-promotion. And next year, your application will be sure to stand out.

Photo of meeting planner Heather Cazad with quote, "Even if you don't get selected, go to the event anyway - learn about the audience, participate, then follow up right after."

[bctt tweet=“Even if you don’t get selected, go to the event anyway.” – Heather Cazad” username=”advancereach”]

Julie May

Julie May books speakers for the Joyful Living Women’s Conference, an event that focuses on bringing women together to increase personal joy, become empowered and inspire others.

The number one thing she looks for when hiring speakers is a 3-5 minute video of them speaking. “If they catch me from the beginning, and I want to do something different with my life because I watched it,” she says, “they’re a shoo-in!” This may seem like a lot to ask of a video clip, but she says it’s accomplished by keeping the video short and to-the-point. “If they can do that in five minutes, then what can they do in an hour on my stage?”

The videos you send to meeting planners are so important, we’ve even published our ultimate guide to video email. Tools like BombBomb make it easy to record and send intro videos, and to track their impact using real-time metrics. When booking stages, video is your audition. Make it count.

Photo of meeting planner Julie May with quote, "A speaker is 'a shoo-in' if they catch me from the beginning of their demo video and I want to do something different with my life because I watched it."

[bctt tweet=“You win if watch your demo, and I want to do something different with my life.” – Julie May” username=”advancereach”]

David Bayer

For his annual event The Powerful Living Experience Live, David Bayer books speakers who will help his attendees “reignite the passion and spirit that lies dormant within each and every one of us.” He’s interested in unique, authentic speakers who fit the theme of the event and really have something to offer.

One example is Chris Smith, who we recently featured in our post on brand storytelling. Smith tells his own unique story, with a genuine passion for what he’s doing and what he’s learned. Once again, storytelling and authenticity are key—and it has to naturally fit with the event goals. “We recruit speakers who are congruent with our content,” Bayer says. “It feels good to be congruent, and it feels bad if you need to convince someone” that you’re a fit for the event.

“People need to hear your story, from you,” Bayer says. You don’t have to be a celebrity to share a meaningful story. Instead, he wants the unique perspective that only you can share. A celebrity speaker may have a similar underlying message about, say, the importance of dedication. But only you can surprise your audience with the story of your unique journey and how you see the world.

Photo of meeting planner David Bayer with quote, "Become obsessed with what you're doing and stick with it... people need to hear your message from you."

[bctt tweet=“Become obsessed with what you’re doing… people need to hear your message from you.” – David Bayer” username=”advancereach”]

Phil Mershon

Phil Mershon is a meeting planner for Social Media Examiner’s annual Social Media Marketing World conference. The enormous conference has over 5,000 attendees each year. It brings together industry leaders from the world’s top brands, subject matter and content creation experts, and professionals looking to network and expand their skills.

What do his successful speakers have in common? “A servant mindset,” Phil says. “They understand how to serve their audience.” This means not only having a deep knowledge of the subject that you’re speaking on but being an excellent communicator who can break a topic down clearly and provide actionable tips. “We’re looking for teachers.”

Phil also looks at the reviews for speakers who presented at his event in the past. A staff member watches the recording of sessions with bad reviews and evaluates what went wrong. He’ll even give feedbacknot just the scores and reviews from attendees, but his own personal, constructive feedbackbut only when asked. “I had a guest last year that had bad reviews,” he says, “but I talked to her about it and she took the feedback so well that I invited her back the next year.”

Photo of meeting planner Phil Mershon with quote, "Great speakers have a servant mindset, they understand how to serve their audience."

[bctt tweet=“Great speakers have a servant mindset, they understand how to serve their audience.” – Phil Mershon” username=”advancereach”]

Audrey Hagen

Audrey Hagen books speakers for numerous conferences worldwide through her event management company, Platinum Events. Because she books multiple different conferences, she has a unique position and relationship with speakers and has the power to make or break many opportunities.

Audrey tells us that the key to success is to “take every opportunity you can get and be gracious, you never know who’s in the audience.” Demonstrating integrity and commitment to the audience is sure to impress her. What doesn’t impress? “Having someone text me [during an event], saying, ‘I’m here, make room, let me on the stage.’ There’s no integrity in that.”

She evaluates first-time speakers along similar lines. It’s impressive when “they come from a place of heart, they’re authentic, and they’re putting the audience first.” When she sees that, the speaker stands out in her mind and is more likely to get booked for more opportunities down the road.

Photo of meeting planner Audrey Hagen with quote, "Take every opportunity you can get and be gracious, you never know who's in the audience."

[bctt tweet=”Take every opportunity to be gracious, you never know who’s in the audience. – Audrey Hagen” username=”advancereach”]

Karl Krummenacher

Mindshare Summit is an annual conference that brings together health and wellness entrepreneurs. Meeting planner Karl Krummenacher books speakers who can help his attendees grow their business, with a special emphasis on speakers with expertise in the health and wellness entrepreneurs.

Karl emphasizes the importance of research. He’s looking for speakers who “take the extra effort to personalize content to the audience.” A standard, one-size-fits-all approach won’t work for his niche event, and he needs speakers who are willing to go the extra mile. “Can you take the time to weave into your presentation the language that our audience is used to?”

Research is the key to stagesnot just winning them, but being successful on stage. It can require extra effort, but knowing what is going to be relevant to a specific audience makes your presentations more powerful. It can be the deciding factor in booking an event, and even more in getting invited back next year.

Photo of meeting planner Karl Krummenacher with quote, "Make the extra effort to personalize your content to the audience."

[bctt tweet=“Make the extra effort to personalize your content to the audience.” – Karl Krummenacher” username=”advancereach”]

Keith Yackey

Keith Yackey found success from the start with his approach to the Amped Life seminar, which gives subject-matter experts tools to get their message out and monetize their expertise. He tells us about his approach, which focuses on generosity and long-term success. “You can tell when people are self-serving,” Keith says, and “you can just tell when people are supportive of each other.”

The biggest mistake is to reach out and make it all about you. When Keith was planning his first event, David Bayer reached out and offered to help promote it—David was excited about the event and wanted to share it with his list and audience. Instead, Keith invited him to speak. The offer to help was selfless and generous and made Keith want to work with him and help him in return. David ended up booking that stage because he was able to “raise the level of the event,” bring in an audience and lead with generosity.

One final tip Keith offers is to give praise and thanks to the meeting planners. The event promoters often get attention for a successful event, while the meeting planners go unnoticed and underappreciated. Set yourself apart by thanking them.

Photo of meeting planner Keith Yackey holding child, with quote "The biggest mistake is to reach out and make it all about you."

[bctt tweet=“The biggest mistake is to reach out and make it all about you.” – Keith Yackey” username=”advancereach”]

Marc Gutman

Marc Gutman books speakers for the Entrepreneurs’ Organization, a global network that hosts events ranging from small forums and panels to large, international conferences. He offers practical tips to navigate fee negotiations. He knows the topic can be touchy, but he recommends speakers be concrete and realistic about their proposed fee. “I’m always very frank,” Marc says, and going into that conversation he already knows roughly what his budget is. He’s seen speakers demand a high fee because they thought it would make them seem impressive or high-demand, even though they’re really being paid a fraction of that amount. This ultimately just slows the conversation down, and it can be a real turn-off.

Beyond that initial budget conversation, he looks for speakers to fit different roles. “There’s always room for an inspirational speaker with an amazing story,” Marc says. There’s also always room for a subject matter expert who is there to teach great tactics. Both styles can work, and his job is to find a mix of different approaches that will make the event a success.

He has an extra tip for unknown speakers. “If I don’t know you, I’m not sure I’m looking for you,” he explains, “but I’m probably only a few clicks away from an introduction from someone you know.” Speakers don’t have to be famous to be “heard of,” if they can leverage their existing networks to make an impression.

Photo of meeting planner Marc Gutman with quote, "There's always room for an inspirational speaker with an amazing story."

[bctt tweet=”“There’s always room for an inspirational speaker with an amazing story.” – Marc Gutman” username=”advancereach”]

Kym Yancey

For their events and summits, Kym Yancey of eWomenNetwork books speakers who can teach his attendees concrete strategies in marketing, entrepreneurship, and business growth.

With Kym, the content is key: “People buy topics, not speakers,” he says, so “make sure your topic is engaging.” He’s interested in polished presentations where he can immediately see the benefits to his audience. “Put thought into the title of your talk and the takeaways” in your proposal, he advises. “We’re making a decision in 60 secondsif you don’t see it in 60, then you’re done.”

He also agrees with many of our other planners, that a great video clip is a key to booking stages. “Don’t give me a sizzle reel, give me five uninterrupted minutes.” Kym uses the video to see who you are as a speaker and uses the proposal to see what you bring to his audience.

One bonus tip to really stand out is to do a little research on the organization first. “When reaching out, lead with something about the organization… some compliment.” It shows that you’ve done your homework and care about the person on the other end of your email.

Photo of meeting planner Kym Yancey with quote, "When reaching out, lead with something about the organization or the audience they serve."

[bctt tweet=“When reaching out, lead with something about the organization.” – Kym Yancey ” username=”advancereach”]

Deanna Rogers

Deanna Rogers is a meeting planner for Traffic and Conversion Summit, an event described by Inc. Magazine as “the largest, and best, marketing event you’ve never heard of.” She offers some crucial no-nos for speakers looking to break into bigger stages and book a second year.

“A big pet peeve is not being prepared to give us all the materials we need on our timeline,” Deanna says. A difficult, disorganized, or unpolished speaker may book her stage one year, but they’re not getting invited back. “It’s a big problem if you or the company that represents you is difficult to work with,” she says.

Speakers must also be impeccable in their presentation and ready to make a great first impression. Deanna will often travel to see a speaker on stage in person, and invitations to do so catch her eye. “There are things like fidgets and twitches that speakers will do that you don’t see until you meet them in person,” she says. Practice to iron out these problems before you take the stage, then take the extra step to find out meeting planners in the area whenever you’re presenting. It’s an opportunity to make a great impression and to build trust by really showing what you can do.

[bctt tweet=“Make sure you’re easy to work with – fit with the meeting planner’s timeline.” – Deanna Rogers ” username=”advancereach”]

Sandra Kurland

For the California Association of Student Leaders annual conference, Sandra Kurland books speakers with special attention to the unique needs of her young audience. “With the youth, the delivery of the message is very important,” she says. “You need to grab their attention early.”

It’s important that her speakers have stellar educational content. Beyond inspiring the audience, they must provide resources to help them take action. “If they come off the stage and can teach those skills, it makes a big difference,” she says.

Speakers should have goals and plans beyond just landing the stage and giving their presentation, too. “I need someone who is looking beyond just the stage,” Sandra says, because “there will be more opportunities if they do well on our stage.” Sandra is always on the lookout for speakers who she can book for additional school visits and workshops. If a conference presentation has excellent content that really sparks the interest of her audience, she’s ready to book that speaker throughout the year. The best speakers are always on the lookout for ways they can contribute to the organization’s long-term goals.

Photo of meeting planner Sandra Kurland with quote, "With the youth, the delivery of your message is very important, you need to grab their attention early."

[bctt tweet=”“The delivery of your message is very important, you need to grab their attention early.” – Sandra Kurland” username=”advancereach”]

Don Schaffer

Don Schaffer books speakers for various events hosted by the California Association of Directors of Activities, including regional and state conferences.

The relationship is very important to him when booking speakers. “The biggest thing is being willing to be a partner,” Don says. “We don’t like the blow-in, blow-out speakers. We want them to be a part of our event, not just speak and leave.” He rarely hires speakers he hasn’t already heard. A prospective keynote speaker once contacted Don’s team, letting them know that he was in town speaking, and invited them to come hear him speak. That helped build the trust needed to land the booking.

This can have a huge impact on your career. Prospective speakers should make contact with event planners anywhere they speak. Identify your dream stages, and find out who books them. Then, when you’re in town, invite them out. Take them to lunch and invite them to hear you speak afterword. It helps you stand out, puts a real face to your ask, and scores the undivided attention of someone with the power to book big stages.

Photo of meeting planner Don Schaffer with quote, "We don't like the blow-in, blow-out speakers. We want them to be a part of our event, not just speak and leave."

[bctt tweet=”“We don’t like the blow-in, blow-out speakers.” – Don Schaffer ” username=”advancereach”]

Time to win some stages!

There you have it. Insights and wisdom from fifteen top professionals on the do’s and don’ts of contacting meeting planners, making a great first impression, and setting yourself apart from the crowd.

What’s next? How do you take these tips and organize them into a plan, to actually win stages? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Our Unstoppable Stage Campaign will give you the next steps to turn advice into action. This is your step-by-step guide to getting noticed, building rapport, and making yourself impossible to ignore.