Kyle Gray

30 Tips For Better Speaking From 30 Meeting Planners

The Speak Off is consistently one of the highlights of Reach Academy Live. It gives 40 speakers the opportunity to compete and get their message in front of the entire audience. The winner of the Speak Off gets a guaranteed speaking gig, but the true value comes from the process of the competition and the feedback from over 30 meeting planners who work with speakers all the time.

Here’s a video of the full Speak Off finals to give you an idea of the powerful speakers who show up to compete.

Reach Live Speak Off November 2017 – LIVE NOW

For the first time ever we are broadcasting our Speak Off Finals Live. This is like the American Idol of speaking. You will hear 11 phenomenal speakers and from 35+ Meeting Planners (the people who control stages). Don't miss this! #ReachLive #SpeakOff

Posted by Advance Your Reach on Thursday, November 9, 2017

Again, what’s truly powerful and unique about this event for both the speakers and the audience is to see a bunch of different talks and then hear how different judges–all meeting planners with amazing stages or speakers themselves–respond to the different talks and unique personalities of the speakers.

At the end of the Speak Off, each judge shared their words of wisdom for the speakers as closing thoughts. There’s a lot of treasure in what they say for anyone wanting to improve their speaking career.

What to look for in this advice

Before you dive into this advice, remember that although all of these tips are great advice, some may be a better fit for you than others. You may also notice that some of the tips are similar, and the patterns you see in the advice point back to the key elements of a great talk. The more something gets repeated, the more important the idea is.

Dr. Isaac Jones, Health Experts Alliance – “Be authentic and you can move people into action.”

Authenticity is harder than you think, and in some ways it’s counterintuitive. Authenticity comes from practicing your talk and knowing your material so well that you don’t need to spend any time thinking about what your next line is. You instead focus on bringing your unique personality to the stage and your story to life.

Dave Woodward, Funnel Hacker – “Do not be afraid to convey your true emotions so the audience can feel what you felt.“

Emotion is the key to creating a human connection with your audience. Without that true connection, what you say or do may come off as “salesy,” “hype,” or “boring”. Diving into the emotions you felt in the stories you share–and being courageous and vulnerable enough to share them–is the key to building that connection.

Giovanni Marsico, Archangel – “Let go of the rehearsed part and your audience will connect with you more.”

Truly knowing and mastering your talk means that you are comfortable enough to go off script without completely derailing your talk. Every audience and event is unique and will provide you with unique opportunities to connect with the audience in an authentic way. If you cling to your script, you may miss these opportunities.

Connor Beaton, Man Talks – “Less theatrics & more conversation. When audience feels that you are having a conversation with them, that’s when you are winning.”

It’s important that your talk is entertaining and engaging to keep the attention of your audience. A good talk creates a sense in the audience like they’re just sitting one on one with you in a coffee shop and you’re conveying your advice and story just for them. Bringing this conversational feel and relaxed energy into your talk can help your big points connect.

Tiffany Swineheart Hal Elrod – “Rather than trying to be understood, try to make the audience feel that you understand them.”

Remember that the goal of storytelling is to help your audience know that you’ve been in their shoes and you understand the problems they’re facing. Do your homework on your audience and make sure you construct your talk in a way that speaks right to the problems they’re facing.

Heather Cazad, – “Know your audience and teach them something they needed to know that they didn’t think they needed to know.”

From the first second you step onto the stage, your audience is looking at you and wondering if they’re going to get something valuable out of their presentation, or if this time would be better spent checking their email. The way to capture the attention of the audience is to understand them so well that you can teach them something that shifts their paradigm and opens them up to new ideas they never knew they needed.

Angela Phillips, Ontraport – “Own your story and take control of the story that you have.”

If you’ve watched some of the talks from the Speak Off in the video above, you’ll see some very powerful stories. You may think that you need to have overcome tremendous pain or achieved a spectacular goal to be a successful speaker, but that’s not the case. Take your focus off of other speakers and own your own story–don’t let comparison slow you down.

Anthony Trucks, Trust Your Hustle – “You’re going to venture into an unknown that is scary and intimidating. The fears of failure will slow you down. What you also have to realize is that inside of that same unknown is all the amazing success you can experience.”

Being a speaker, an entrepreneur or anyone with a message is an adventure. There’s going to be many uncertain moments you must confront and fear you must overcome. Trust yourself in those moments and don’t let the fear slow you down. Take risks and get back into the arena.

Marc Gutman, Entrepreneur’s Organization – “Relive your story, don’t just retell it.”

Your talk should take us into your story with you. As you tell it, your audience should experience it in the present moment. Talk in present tense, share little details like smells, sounds, tastes, and feelings so they can immerse themselves in the moment with you.

Chandler Bolt, Self-Publishing School – “Have a central idea for what you are saying and tie it back to every idea and point in your talk.”

A good talk is built around an idea that is simple enough to be summed up in one sentence. When you have that level of clarity and focus in your talk, it allows you to loosen up what you are doing because you can always go back to the main point. It keeps you from getting lost in your own talk and lets you focus more energy on connecting with your audience.

Margaret Noroian, CADA – “Be real, be honest, be vulnerable. Don’t be afraid to be the same person on and off the stage.”

A great talk will bring out the best in you and will ensure that you’re the same person whether you’re on the stage or not. Having the courage to be vulnerable and show your true self in your talk is the key to building a human connection with your audience.

Allison Gadeke, CADA – “Deliver with passion.”

Your passion is contagious and it feeds the key emotions your audience needs to take action. Make sure you deliver the key points in your talk with passion and that there’s no doubt in your audience’s mind when you are delivering the best ideas in your presentation.

Heather DeSantis, The Influencer Revolution – “Make sure your message is relevant and timely to what’s happening in the audience’s world right now.”

A few weeks before the Speak Off, there was a social media frenzy around the #metoo campaign. This was a powerful message for many women and men. A few speakers referenced the campaign in their talks and connected their story with it. This timeliness and relevance helped their messages hit home.

Karl Krummenacher, Mindshare Summit – “Keep your stories congruent and try not to do too much.”

Your story should be simple and make sense without any effort from your audience. Usually this means keeping it simple and just focusing on one key idea throughout your presentation. Make sure your talk is aligned with your audience by personalizing your story to the unique needs of your audience.

Don Shaffer, CADA – “Care about your clients and become a partner with your audience.”

One of the core goals of your talk should be to clearly illustrate why you care about your audience. The elements of your story should leave your audience without a doubt that you care about them and the problems they’re facing, and that you’re on their team.

Houston Kraft – “Share the story as you see it in your head and not how you see the notes in your head.“

What sounds good in writing is not always what sounds good spoken out loud. Make sure you practice your story so that you can create the sense of being right in the action as you tell it.

Angelique Rewers, The Corporate Agent – “Make sure your message is marketable and memorable.”

A marketable message will get stuck in your head like a hit song on the radio. By keeping your message simple and tying it back to all of the ideas in your presentation, it will make it easier to remember and share.

Julie May, Shine Events – “Your audience needs to know what your message means for them. You’ve gone through a transformation in your story, but what does that look like for them?”

A key challenge to overcome is to make your story relatable so that it not only resonates with your audience, but they can come away with meaningful information to apply to their own lives. Your story shows how you’ve grown and what you’ve learned, but does your audience need to do the same? Make sure you have a clear call to action that helps them take your story home with them.

Julie Davis, eWomen Network – “Come from a place of how are you serving your audience. It’s not about the speaker but about the listener and what the audience is gaining from the speaker and the story and what the listener can do with it.”

Giving a great presentation is more than just telling a riveting story. You need to make sure that the story you share provides something useful for your audience. Break down your key lessons, takeaways and calls to action in a clear way that helps your audience take action on the ideas you share.

Aaron Street, Lawyerist Podcast – “Be purposeful in your body language.”

All of your movement on stage should serve a purpose. Whether you’re moving upstage, downstage, making gestures or leaning in, your movement should help drive your points home. Any movement that does not have purpose is distracting.

Brad Johnson, The Elite Advisor Blueprint®: The Podcast for World-Class Financial Advisors – “Quiz or consult your audience before you go up on stage.”

Your presentation begins long before you take the stage. You can spend time in the weeks before you speak talking to the audience or the meeting planners that represent them to identify their most pressing needs and tailor your presentation to perfectly fit them.

Jon Block, Speaker Venture – “Follow the 3H rule: Head, Heart, Humor.”

Head, heart, and humor are all key ingredients to a good talk. With only “head,” your talk is informative but boring; with “heart,” your talk is inspirational but the feeling fades quickly; and “humor” alone does not work either. By combining all three, you can have a talk that’s memorable and helpful and employs humor to help contrast the powerful emotions of your story.

Keith Yackey, Amplify Live – “Keep practicing.”

The only way you’re going to improve your talk and your speaking skills is by staying in the arena and getting in front of more people. Take risks, make mistakes and always be looking for new ways to improve your talk.

Dush Ramachandran, The Net Momentum – “Interact with the audience and engage them in the conversation. Invite them in, rather than talking at them.”

Staring into the bright lights from the stage can make it easy to forget you’ve got an audience in front of you. Do your best to keep your audience engaged in your talk, respond to their reactions, and involve them in the conversation that’s happening. Interaction helps your audience connect with you on a deeper level.

Terra Ramachandran, The Net Momentum – “Make your close as strong as your opening.”

The very beginning and end of your talk are essential to perfect. A good opening will grab their attention, and a good close is essential to get your audience to take action. Many can get the opening right, but you’ll be a true master if you can close your talk with the same power.

Michael Port, Heroic Public Speaking – “Don’t get too bogged down in feedback.”

As someone who is getting up on stage and in front of many people, you’ll get lots of feedback from lots of different people. It’s important to consider feedback and use it to improve your talk, but don’t attach too tightly to any single piece of feedback and let it slow you down. Carry out your vision and message in the way that feels best to you.

Amy Port, Heroic Public Speaking – “Where you shine is in what makes you different.”

It can be difficult to watch something like the Speak Off and not try to cram every single idea and piece of feedback into your presentation. But it’s not always the best fit for you. Make sure you understand what makes you different and what separates you from the pack, and never compromise it.

Phil Mershon, Social Media Examiner – “Build a bridge from your story and passion to your audience. Make your content as memorable as your story.”

A great talk does not just have a memorable story–it needs to have memorable content that will stick with your audience long after your talk. You need a strong understanding of your audience to make sure your content connects with them in the way they need.

Tom Schwab, Interview Valet – “It’s not only about learning how to be a speaker, but how to be an amazing speaker.”

You can learn all the tactics and strategies for being a great speaker in the world, but the process of becoming an amazing speaker involves more than that. It’s a process and a journey that will change your life in many ways. It requires facing your past, your pain and your fears and turning that into something powerful that you can share.

Taki Moore, Black Belt Marketing – “Be real.”

Authenticity is a challenging thing. It’s not the same as technique, and it’s not a tactic. If you can be real and authentic, your audience will recognize it. Being real comes from talking about something that’s important to you and having the vulnerability to really show yourself to your audience, which can sometimes be scary, but it’s well worth it in the end.


The Speak Off is an incredible resource because you get to see so many different styles, stories and feedback in a short period of time. It can be easy to get overwhelmed if you try to apply all of the ideas and suggestions to your talk at the same time. Carefully consider the feedback you hear, and experiment with the different tips to find what fits for you.

Powerful Speaking Techniques From Three World-Class Talks

When we watch outstanding public speakers do what they do best, it often seems that most of what they do comes quite naturally and effortlessly. In actuality, even the most gifted public speakers are extremely practiced in techniques that all speakers, from beginners to pros, can benefit from.

In this post we’ll examine 3 particularly well-known,of some of the most memorable and powerful talks from the past few decades. We’ll break down the strategies these 3 master speakers are using that make these talks stand out.

Bill Clinton, 42nd President of the United States

At the 1992 Democratic National Convention, future President Bill Clinton accepted the Democratic Party presidential nomination for the very first time. What we see in his speech is an outstanding example of effective communication. He begins by roadmapping his speech, telling us the three things he will talk about—who he is, what he wants and where he intends to lead America. He opens by telling us where he’s from, and in his final words in the speech he closes by once again mentioning his hometown.


One of the most important things a speaker can learn early on is the ability to portray themselves as being both ordinary and extraordinary simultaneously. .Clinton’s speech is an outstanding example of doing this well. He talks about some of the everyday struggles of his life and the life of his parents—struggles that are extremely relatable to the average person. This gets the audience on his side from the get-go.

The speech is also an example of excellent episodic storytelling. He doesn’t just tell us about his grandfather and his relationship with him growing up—he takes us right into his grandfather’s store and allows us to see what he sees and feel what he feels. One of the things we always try to do as speakers get people to go from a first-person memory to a first-person narrative, to form more of a connection between the story and the listener.

When combining this ability with the ability to be ordinary yet extraordinary, you get powerful results. Here, Clinton talks about humble beginnings in Middle America, his time with his grandfather and watching the birth of his daughter, yet is able to work in his time at Yale Law School without coming off as an upper-class elite. He says all of this as the sitting governor of Arkansas and the Democratic nominee for President of the United States, yet he is still able to relate to and connect with average Americans using these strategies.

In discussing the birth of his daughter, Clinton uses a different, nonverbal technique to enhance the emotion of his speech—he takes a short pause and swallows. People might not think of swallowing as being a powerful oratory technique, but when you see someone’s Adam’s apple go up and down, the emotion suddenly feels much more real and palpable. He also licks and purses his lips to show two different sets of emotions, partially as a stalling technique to get the audience with him, but also as a way to communicate to the audience that it is an emotional moment.

Clinton also makes use of “repeated stems,” which are repeated key phrases that draw attention to ideas and takeaway points. Perhaps the most famous example of a repeated stem is “I have a dream,” in the famous Martin Luther King, Jr. speech. Those repeated stems help listeners to remember the speech and take away the intended message.

In Clinton’s speech, one example of a repeated stem is “let it be our cause.” This happens several times throughout the speech, and whenever it does, it is always followed by three items, often pairing the following words with different techniques to help the audience better connect to his message, such as slowing down and adding separation to emphasize important points, or using alliteration to help people remember the points he is driving home.

None of this happens by accident. You could present this exact speech to any other person and have them read it, but it would not be as effective without putting all of these little details and techniques into practice. This is a man who has honed these skills over the decades in the political sphere, and has become a master of public speaking and influencing people. There are few in our time who have done it better. His “aw shucks” style, his pacing and rhythm in his cadence and his ability to get the audience to feel a moment with him through episodic storytelling make him an outstanding example for public speakers.

What makes episodic storytelling so powerful is not the amount of detail, but one or two small details that really drive the story home and define everything. Ideally, this main detail is something especially human that makes for a strong connection. The story in the hospital room, for example, includes the smell of antiseptic, and the feeling of holding his daughter in his arms for the first time.

Throughout any speech that includes episodic storytelling, however, it is important to remember that the entire reason one uses episodic storytelling is not to make a person laugh or cry—it is to show them your “why.” In the case of Clinton, “why” should the audience vote for him?

If you are able to show your “why” and connect with your audience through storytelling, they won’t just fall in love with your product—they’ll fall in love with you.

Malala Yousafzai, Nobel Peace Prize Recipient

Malala Yousafzai was a co-recipient of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize, the youngest person and the first from Pakistan to be so recognized win it. She first became famous as for being “the “girl who got shot for going to school” by the Taliban.

She may be a young woman, but her acceptance speech for the award is one of the all-time greats, and speakers of all ages have plenty to learn from it.


One of the first things you see in this speech is the building of “participation momentum.” It is the role of the speaker to bring out the energy of the audience. If you say you have a dead audience, it is likely you haven’t done enough to get the audience on your side. This can be especially problematic at a Nobel Peace Prize ceremony, which tends to be less energetic, but Malala masterfully increases the momentum to get the audience on her side.

Just 53 seconds into her speech, Malala already has the audience on her side by giving some simple thanks and also using the ordinary/extraordinary approach. She mentions being the youngest person ever to win the Nobel Peace Prize, but also that she still fights with her younger brothers, which immediately draws laughs from the audience. She was shot by the Taliban for standing up for her rights, but her brothers still call her a bossy sister. Using this humor helps to get the audience on her side and build momentum.

Participation momentum begins as soon as you are introduced as the speaker and the audience claps as you come on stage. An easy way to keep that momentum going is to ask the audience to clap for the person who just introduced you. You can thank the organizer of the event and even recognize the speaker who came before you, and already you have had the audience clap and cheer several times before you’ve even begun your speech. This momentum will carry through the early parts of your speech and give you a friendlier audience. Malala uses this tactic masterfully.

Malala also demonstrates the repeated stem method, using the stem “it is for those,” talking about the people the award recognizes and honors beyond just herself. The repeated stem technique helps her to get her rhythm going and pick up her pace. For a young girl who might be a little more nervous in front of an audience, the repeated stem method gives her something to lean on and build up confidence.

The method also works with Malala’s natural speaking cadence. She tends to speak a bit slower, which is seen in other interviews with her. Speakers should always use their natural speaking cadence as much as possible, rather than trying to force change in the hopes of sounding more natural. Ultimately, using a cadence that feels comfortable to you is the best way to sound natural. Telling stories can help you to draw out your natural cadence and get you relaxed because it is a natural memory rather than something you need to memorize.

Contrasting your cadence (moving from fast to slow or vice versa) and changing volumes also is an effective technique to highlight key speaking points, and Malala uses these techniques repeatedly.

Malala uses another technique that is effective for most beginning speakers, which is contrast. Malala paints a picture of the world as it could or should be, versus the world as it is, rather than just discussing the negative state of the world. For business owners using this method, it is more effective to not just talk about the benefits of a product, but the benefits of a product versus what would happen without using that product. What is more powerful is when you contrast how it is with how it could be.

Jim Valvano, Basketball Coach

Jim Valvano was a basketball coach at North Carolina State University who received the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPYs after his cancer diagnosis. During his speech, he told the story of his battle with cancer, despite having already been told that cancer had taken over his brain and that he had limited time left to live

An extremely emotive and emotional Italian, Valvano’s speech is one of the most beloved and remembered moments in sports in the last several decades. A line near the end of the speech has become especially famous, and is consistently used in stories of fights against cancer: “Don’t give up, don’t ever give up.”

Right at the beginning of his speech, Valvano takes the stage and begins building participation momentum, making a joke about Dick Vitale, who just introduced him. This keeps the audience warm for him as he begins his speech.

As he begins his actual prepared speech, Valvano then uses the technique of road mapping, which we discussed earlier when looking at Bill Clinton’s speech. Valvano points out the three main points he wants to make, saying he wants people to laugh, think and cry every day.

He also uses the ordinary/extraordinary method, talking about his Italian roots, despite being up for a prestigious award and being recognized for an outstanding career in sports. He discusses how important it is for a person to remember where they came from, and to have a goal and a dream they work for, then introduces his family in the audience. All of this connects with the average person sitting and watching the speech.

When the light begins flashing and Valvano is told his time is expiring, he famously turns to the camera and shakes it off and jokes that his head is full of cancer, so he doesn’t care that they are attempting to cut him off. Actors have plowed through their music at the Academy Awards, and singers have shaken off their cues at the Grammys—this was Valvano’s own unique take on that strategy.

Valvano is able to use humor as a way to help get through an emotional story. It can be tiring for an audience to sit through a depressing or serious story, even if it is important. The use of humor can help to release the tension and get an even bigger audience reaction.

He also uses the repeated stem method, by saying about cancer research that “it may save” his life and the lives of others. He also says about cancer that “it cannot touch” his mind, “it cannot touch” his heart and “it cannot touch” his soul.

The entire speech is filled with great oratory technique, even if a lot of the more memorable moments weren’t particularly planned. Jim Valvano had been on the speaking circuit for a long time and understood how certain speaking tactics could help to get people on his side. These repeated stems, moments of interjected humor and nonverbal touches such as swallowing and licking his lips come across very naturally, but they are all very practiced tactics.


These are three speakers who have very different backgrounds and are seen in very different settings, but all three of them use tactics that other speakers of all ages, backgrounds and experience levels can use to great effect. They are outstanding examples for any beginning speaker to look at and analyze.

Storytelling Secret Weapons – How To Create A BHAG

As entrepreneurs, we spend a lot of time talking about our businesses–whether it’s at a networking event, business development, speaking from the stage, or chatting with our Uber driver. You’d think with all these opportunities to talk about our business we’d be pretty good at it, right?

Well, the fact is, most of us aren’t so good at it. More often than not, we drown our listeners with irrelevant and uninteresting details, which hurts our growth and limits our opportunity.

But with a few storytelling tools and a bit of practice, we can transform our boring elevator pitch into an inspiring and engaging story.

One simple and powerful tool to do this is a BHAG.

What is a BHAG?

BHAG stands for Big Hairy Audacious Goal. It represents the impact you want to make on the world through your business. It’s the future that you are manufacturing day by day with the work you’re doing.

Here’s an example of our BHAG at Advance Your Reach:

Benefits of a BHAG

A good BHAG can impact your business in many surprising ways.

  • It makes it easier to talk about your business – With your BHAG, you’ll have a tool that explains your business and sparks thought-provoking conversation.
  • It creates something bigger than yourself – With a BHAG, you have a vision that you’re set on carrying out. This gives more meaning to your work.
  • It allows you to enroll your customers in a vision – A good BHAG gets people excited and inspired, and by working with you, your customers feel that they’re playing a part in carrying out your vision to improve the world.
  • It creates more meaning for your work and your team – Like with yourself and your customers, your team members will also find inspiration and meaning in your vision. This means your team will be more loyal and inspired.

How To Create Your Own BHAG

First, you need to identify a goal worth pursuing. We often think too small with our BHAG, so as you write out your potential ideas, don’t try and filter yourself. If anything, try to err on the side of “too audacious” or even “crazy.”

A good BHAG is not something can be achieved quickly or easily. Aim for a goal that would take 10 years or more to achieve.

Your goal should be action-oriented. It’s not something that will take care of itself.

Your goal should be measurable. Giving a concrete number in your BHAG allows you to measure your progress, but it also makes it more memorable and compelling.

A BHAG Is Simple

You should be able to fully communicate your BHAG in a sentence or two. Don’t confuse simplicity with dullness, though. You can create more of an impact with a few well-chosen words and ideas than with a drawn-out monologue.

Connect a BHAG to your story

Your BHAG should come from your story. It should connect with something in your past or present that has shaped you to be who you are.

  • How did someone help or inspire you in the past?
  • What mistakes have you made that you want to help people avoid?
  • What problems do you see in the world that you want changed?

[bctt tweet=”Connecting your BHAG with your personal story should inspire and excite you.” username=”advancereach”] You’ll use this as fuel to achieve this ambitious goal, and the energy and passion you feel will be contagious to your audience.

Daniel Moskowitz from Superhero Sales Academy has a goal to change how people see sales from “manipulative and sleazy” to “inspiring and helpful”:

“I want to help 100,000 Entrepreneurs double their sales with INTEGRITY and LOVE and ZERO ICKINESS!”


A BHAG Is Long-Term

[bctt tweet=”Any goal that you think you can achieve in a year or two is not ambitious enough to be your BHAG.” username=”advancereach”] It should be something that represents your legacy. Your BHAG should be something you aim to achieve in 10 years of focused work. By setting a goal 10 years out, you’ll aim higher, and your BHAG will be more compelling to you and your audience.

It’s a goal that should force you out of your comfort zone. It’s a goal that should intimidate you at first and cause you to think, “How in the world am I going to pull this off?” By aiming high like this, you’ll start to think differently about your day-to-day work and consider new strategies that you may not have with a more comfortable and achievable goal.

A good example of a long-term BHAG combined with a Proprietary Process is Malorie Tadimi’s “Billion Dollar Business Plan”

“Our mission is to help create a thousand 7-figure businesses with our 3-part framework:

  • Money is the greatest tool you have to take care of yourself.
  • Money is the greatest tool you have to take care of others.
  • Money is the greatest tool you have to create the impact that you were born to make in this world.”

A BHAG Is Measurable

[bctt tweet=”Measurability is key to making your BHAG stick.” username=”advancereach”] Making it measurable adds more clarity to your vision and allows you to break up your BHAG into clear steps. It also makes you more accountable to the goal. If it’s measurable, it’s clear to you, your customers, and your team if you’ve ended each day/month/year closer to the goal than when you started.

Moving toward this goal with measurable numbers creates a storyline in itself. It enables people to follow your progress and it gives your audience a clear way to participate. If they join in your vision and become a customer, advocate, or partner with your business, they know exactly how much they moved the needle on this vision.

You can see the power of measurability with how Alex Turnbull from Groove HQ shares his story.

In 2013 Alex Turnbull was considering shutting down his startup, Groove. His content was not getting any traction, and growth was too slow to be sustainable. Alex had a BHAG to reach $100k in monthly recurring revenue, but the customer support SaaS space is extremely competitive and already had a few big players. To break into this space, Alex had to do something very different.

There was plenty of content on customer support already existing, but Alex discovered that few people were talking about what was happening behind the scenes in their businesses. So he decided to blog about his $100k goal and discuss what he was doing to achieve it. He introduced this new direction in the first post of his blog “Startup Journey”:

“This is the blog I wish I had read the first time I started a company. It’s going to cover the lessons we learn from our own experiences, including our tests, our wins, and our fails backed up with real numbers. Everything from design, development, strategy, marketing, sales, growth hacking, hiring, fundraising, culture, customer support and more.”

The combination of transparency, storytelling, and the measurability of his goal completely changed the direction of his startup.

By using your BHAG as a measurable goal you can create a visual story that enhances your message and allows you to share your progress.

Testing Your BHAG

Once you identify your goal, you can test it on friends and colleagues. You want to create an emotional response in the people you share it with, and it should be memorable.

Is it something that people will understand if you share it?

An easy way to test this out is to get in an Uber or Lyft and go on a drive. During the drive, explain your BHAG to your driver and see how they take to it. You’ll know you’re on the right track if you see your driver start to get energized and ask a lot of questions.

Announce your new BHAG on social media and start conversations in the comments and responses with people who like it or respond to it. If your BHAG is good and you commonly post on social media you should get some engagement.

Another strategy is to head to events and test it out with the people you meet. Anything from a local networking event to the next Reach Live is filled with all kinds of people eager to ask you, “What do you do?”. We also have a few Facebook groups like our Backstage Pass group that is filled with people who want to tell better stories and could give you feedback.

Need more inspiration for your storytelling? Check out 26 Tips For Storytelling

Where To Use A BHAG In Your Business

Webinars – Talk about your BHAG in one of your first slides. Talk about the goal and the story behind the goal. This is a good way to capture the attention of your audience and talk about yourself without sounding like you’re bragging.

Signature talk – Talking about your BHAG from the stage is a powerful way to inspire and connect with your audience.

Content – You can also use your BHAG as you create content that solves your customer’s problems and walks them through the Buyer’s Journey.


With a good BHAG, you can transform talking about your business from an awkward experience to something engaging and inspiring for everyone involved.

If you’re looking for more great tips to tell your story, come join us at Reach Academy Live, where you’ll meet hundreds of other people with world-changing BHAGs.

Storytelling Secret Weapons – A Proprietary Process

Are you ready for an uncomfortable truth?

It does not matter how good you are at what you do or the results you can get for your clients…

That sounds outrageous, right? But your skills and your results alone won’t create the kind of business you’re looking to build. There’s a missing ingredient.

You need to be able to talk about what you do as skillfully as you actually do it. Unfortunately, many of us are terrible at that. Even when we have the attention of a potential customer, meeting planner or ally for our business, we have a hard time talking about what we do in an interesting and clear way. As a result, we get lost in a sea of competitors, cut our prices, bleed money with advertising, and end each day stressed and exhausted.

But you’re better than that, and you deserve more.

It’s difficult to differentiate ourselves online when we’re competing with potentially thousands of other businesses that offer similar products or services to our own. But we don’t want to compete on price, or by “working harder.” We need to describe what we do and how we do it in a way that gets people to clearly visualize the value we provide and imagine themselves experiencing that value.

Often, talking about our business can feel a lot like this:

We think we describe what we do masterfully, but really we may as well be speaking German.

Gregory Diehl sums up this problem in his book Brand Identity Breakthrough:

“When they’ve been doing things one way for a certain amount of time, and have had some success with it, they will get often trapped in that particular pattern of thinking. There’s a lot of emotional and intellectual inertia that needs to be overcome when someone voluntarily changes their mindset.

What is a proprietary process?

A proprietary process is like grandma’s secret lasagna recipe. Lots of people make lasagna, but nobody does it quite like grandma. In fact, you don’t even like other lasagnas, because grandma’s is so much better that it makes all the others seem cheap and terrible!

Your proprietary process has the same effect. It’s your “secret recipe” for how you get results for your customer. It’s a narrative for you to communicate the “what” and “how” behind the results you bring people.

Why should you have a proprietary process?

It empowers you

The beauty of having a proprietary process is that it empowers you to talk about your business in a way that’s both clear and thought-provoking. This not only impacts how people receive your message but also how you deliver your message. With this process in place, you draw upon your own story and the deep aspects of who you are. This creates something bigger than yourself and changes how you show up every day.

You’ll get more clients

Of course, a proprietary process also helps you get more customers. People buy from people, and your proprietary process gives you a story to tell and creates a personal connection while talking about your business.

As you begin to speak to people about your new process, your story will resonate with them, and they will sense your energy and empowerment.

You can charge higher prices

A proprietary process instantly changes you from another “me too” business to “the one and only,” which allows you to charge higher prices because they can’t get what you have anywhere else.

It makes presenting easier and more effective

A proprietary process helps you outline your signature talk and provides a framework to clearly deliver your ideas from the stage in a way that makes your audience want to engage with you more.

You’ll have a better team

Your proprietary process and the story behind it will resonate just as much with your team members as with your customers. It will create added meaning for them in their work and become a source of motivation for them to draw upon.

How do you create your own proprietary process?

A proprietary process must say three things about you:

  • You’re ordinary – They need to know that you’re just like them, a normal person with the same problems and setbacks they have.
  • You’re extraordinary – At the same time, they need to know that you’re special, that you’ve solved the big problem they have, and can help them with the same.
  • You care – They need to know that you’re in this for more than just money. The story of your signature talk needs to communicate that you care about them and their success.

Create 3 sections for your proprietary process.

Why 3? It’s a number that’s easy for the mind to process and remember. It’s enough to create a sense of sequence with your process, but not so much that people get confused. If you must, you can add more than 3 distinct sections, but with each addition, you risk diluting your message.


Listing your process as a sequence is a powerful way to show people a path to working with you. For example, at Advance Your Reach, we help people with three things: story, stage, and scale. Typically our customers start with story, and once they’ve mastered their story, they begin to get stages. Once they have stages, then they scale up their business.

Your process does not necessarily have to be a sequence. You can list various components or “ingredients” to your process that are all integral to getting the results you promise.

Connect each section of your process to your story or a metaphor

Personal stories help people know you care. They allow people to see the reason “why” you do what you do.

What are your roots? Where do you come from? What events have shaped who you are today? Look at how your past and your roots influence what you’re doing today, and find a way to connect that with your process.

Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. Stories that connect with a painful moment or a mistake in your past can quickly create a deep connection with your audience. They also help you appear both ordinary (you make mistakes just like everyone else) and extraordinary (you have overcome these challenges). Learning from these mistakes, you’ve become sensitive to them and notice the same problems in your customers.

Here’s a video of Chris Smith from the Campfire Effect building a proprietary process live with an audience member at Reach Academy Live. You can see Chris work through these specific steps and draw a story and shape it into a proprietary process. The incorporation of story in the process creates a powerful and engaging effect right away.

Identify specific results you get

Most of us focus on “what you do,” with the specific nuts and bolts of how that will work. Our proprietary process focuses on results and what your customer will get out of the process. By focusing on results, you instill confidence in your listener and they will begin to imagine themselves experiencing the results and benefits you offer.

Each section should have a clear result that you can promise at the end.

Break each section your process up into 3 concrete steps

Within each section, you should outline concrete steps that people can take to get the result you promise. Within these steps, you need to have something for your whole audience. Remember that your audience has a mix of experience and familiarity with what you’re teaching. You need to reach both the beginners and the experts in your presentations.

When designing your steps, make sure you address:

Newbie – Something that someone who is totally new to your concepts can take action on right away.

Expert – Something to show the experienced professionals in the audience that you’re not just repeating what everyone else is saying.

Short-term – Something that can get fast results and be applied immediately to their business

Long-term – Something that takes time and investment, but yields good long-term results.

Create activities for each section of your process

A good way to break up a presentation and get your audience to engage with your ideas is through activities. An activity helps your audience see the value of your process and gives them a little taste of what working with you is like.

Activities don’t have to take long–you can get a lot done in 2 or 3 minutes. Here’s a list of a few different kinds of activities you can test out with your process.

Reflect – Have them think about the step and how it would work in their own life or business.

Apply – Have them write or discuss how they can take action on the step.

Solo – If you’re on a webinar or don’t want people to get lost in conversation, consider an activity that they can do on their own.

Group – Group activities are great to get people connecting with each other. They allow people to bounce ideas off their neighbors and get more clarity on the step. If you’re on a webinar and your audience is likely alone, then ask them to share their thoughts with friends or colleagues after the presentation.

Move – Incorporating movement into your presentation helps ideas stick and can refresh an audience that’s tired of sitting. Even just asking someone to move around the room to get into groups is good enough. This is a particularly good strategy for health professionals to get people to try out ideas if they involve exercises, stretches, or breathing.

Build sales into your process

People dread a pitch that comes at the end of a presentation and often shut down when they sense it coming. It’s possible to talk about your product or service in your business and make people want them in a way that does not feel “salesy” to your audience.

You can embed your testimonials and offers right into the stories you tell for each section, or to support the concrete steps. Just make sure it adds value and clarity to the ideas you share.

Embedded testimony – Most people just have a single slide of “quote” testimonials from their clients. Slides like this are often quickly forgotten by your audience because they don’t connect with the emotions and actions in your process.

An embedded testimony involves adding a testimonial to support your story or point directly. Instead of framing your testimonial as proof that you get results, use it to prove that this process works. This gets people more invested in the process itself.

For example, in his presentations, Pete often builds testimonials in with screenshots from social media – “Just this week I got a message on facebook from someone who applied these ideas and booked a stage in 24 hours.”

Embedded next engagement – This is when you mention what next step your audience can take with you. A good embedded next engagement feels to the audience like they’re getting a bit of extra information that you usually only give away to your clients. By wrapping the next engagement into a useful piece of information or a story, people are more open to the idea and associate what you embed with the feeling you provoke.

For example, you may hear our head coach Pat Quinn embed a plug for the story execution workshops into a tip about speaking well.

“One of the things people are worried about is that I’ll change their ‘style.’ I don’t want to change your style — I want to make you more authentic. One of my favorite parts about the Story Execution Workshops I host is being able to focus in on the movement of our speakers. Some people like to move a lot, and others don’t like to move at all. Either way is fine, but what’s important to me is that, when you move, you move with purpose.

Embedded value offer – If you give away a gift or lead magnet at the end of your presentation, remind them about it when discussing sections of your proprietary process that relate to the download so they anticipate the gift and understand it’s value to them.

For example, “A lot of this process can get confusing but don’t worry, I’m going to give you a template/tool at the end of this talk that will keep you on track.”

How many proprietary processes should you have?

I recommend you start with just one — create a process that describes the full-spectrum of your business and the results you get. This will become the foundation for your marketing and brand storytelling.

Once you have your foundational process established, you can create multiple proprietary processes in your business.

As you begin to create multiple processes, think about the “big picture” result you want to get for people and try to create a proprietary process to solve the major problems keeping your audience from that result. Your processes should relate to each other, but they should not overlap too much. Otherwise, you’ll confuse your customers and your messaging.

At Advance Your Reach, we have several processes, but our most prominent is our Unstoppable Stage Campaign and The Story Braid Framework that explains how to get on stages and how to deliver an amazing talk once you’re on that stage. They address two separate and unique problems for our customers, and they support each other.


There are few tools more powerful than a proprietary process for your business. It makes sales, marketing, and speaking from stage a breeze. Join us at Reach Academy Live where we’ll help you build your own!

Want to get some feedback on your own proprietary process? Type yours in the comments below, and we’ll share our thoughts.

How LaVonna Roth Lands Stages With Confidence And Focus

LaVonna Roth is the creator of Ignite Your S.H.I.N.E.®, an organization that is making an impact in education and corporate settings throughout the United States, particularly amongst women. Previously a teacher for 10 years, Roth used to lack the confidence necessary to speak in front of others. When she was asked to train other employees in her school district, she says her brain screamed “no,” but she verbally said “yes” anyway. From there, she became a consultant and planted the seeds for Ignite Your S.H.I.N.E.® She wanted to help support others to help them gain the confidence that she lacked for so long.

Tapping into her education background, LaVonna likes to talk to students about confidence. She views confidence as a huge factor in the success that people will have, not just in school, but in their careers as well. She wants people to look into other positive traits while acknowledging their own strengths.

Nine years ago, LaVonna took the risk and created her own company. Although she’s had plenty of risks and challenges along the way, she’s turned her business into a six-figure company. In fact, her hope is to build upon this success and strive toward having a million-dollar company in the near future, with her speaking engagements serving as the main driver of that growth.

How LaVonna Has Increased Her Revenues From Speaking

Since LaVonna created Ignite Your S.H.I.N.E.®, her speaking fee has more than tripled. But that’s only a small part of the revenues she earns from her stages.

Most of the revenue growth, according to LaVonna, comes down to finding a niche. LaVonna wanted to set herself apart, and she went and did a lot of self-critique as a result. As she improved as a speaker, she was approached by a publisher, who asked her to write a book. That one book has turned into eight books, which helps supplement the income that she receives through Ignite Your S.H.I.N.E.®.

With Ignite Your S.H.I.N.E.®, she has also explored additional sources of revenue that further reinforce the meaning of her business. She’s launched a bracelet that has five twists – one twist for every letter in the word “S.H.I.N.E.”. Each letter has a unique meaning: self, heart, illuminate, navigate, and exceptional. It’s more than just an accessory that people can wear. The bracelets that LaVonna sells serve as a reminder to those who may be struggling to live in the moment to think of what’s positive around them and to see the good in others. It’s a reminder that they can always find something that shines in any aspect of life, no matter how adverse a situation may feel in a given moment.

Aside from LaVonna being a solo speaker, she has looked at other methods for spreading her message. She is beginning to hire speakers that will make up a team to help spread the message of Ignite Your S.H.I.N.E.®. These speakers will be trained in LaVonna’s speaking style, and they will be there to help with LaVonna’s various speaking needs. Whether she needs a speaker to take her place due to other commitments, or if a client cannot afford LaVonna’s asking price, LaVonna wants to ensure that her message of positivity is continuously being spread. This helps her team land more stages and bring in more revenue.

Additionally, LaVonna is exploring a new digital product that will be released before the end of 2017. Calling them, “SHINEtastic Lessons,” LaVonna says this is a framework course composed of videos and lesson plans. Any educator can shine in the online program at any time and go through the program at their own pace. While this provides more income for LaVonna, it has the added benefit of allowing her to take time off of the road so she can spend more time with her family.

If you want to learn more about how to land your first stages, check out: 10 Steps To Book Your First 10 Stages This Month

How LaVonna Engages Meeting Planners And Wins Stages

One of the biggest ways that LaVonna has been able to grow her business is by landing an increasing number of speaking engagements. This rise in engagements has been in large part due to social media websites, most notably Twitter.

LaVonna participates in many informational Twitter sessions with her followers, who number more than 13,000. From time to time, she will engage in conversations with her followers to help expand her network. But her social media activity has also helped her get noticed by others looking for potential speakers. She says that she will receive direct messages for people to book her as a result of the content she posts on Twitter. In fact, it’s not unusual for her to see two new bookings each month that can be traced directly back to her activity on the social media platform. After customers have found her on Twitter, they have looked at her website, which she has linked on her Twitter account, and they have often been even more impressed.

LaVonna’s mastery of Twitter speaks to a key concept that she says has made a real difference in her approach to seeking stages: picking a channel and nailing it. While there’s something to be said for having a presence on multiple social networks – and Facebook and LinkedIn are not without their own advantages – this does create challenges when it comes to achieving consistent branding across various platforms. In the end, LaVonna is living proof that being strong on a single social network is preferable to being mediocre on many.

Outside of social media, one of the most powerful tools LaVonna uses is her speaker box. Speaker boxes are exactly what they sound like – a box with a series of gifts that helps you introduce yourself to a potential client.

LaVonna has her speaker box laid out in a unique way. She uses a white box that contains the Ignite Your S.H.I.N.E.® logo inside of it. She combines decorative aspects with colors and shapes that complement her company’s branding. LaVonna then makes sure that her speaker box includes aspects of her work – such as a 3-minute promotional DVD of her speaking.

LaVonna’s speaker box also includes a simple promotional brochure that provides additional information on her experience and background. She makes sure her contact information is included in the brochure so prospective clients can get in touch with her. As a special touch, she includes a light bulb in each box that is packed with yellow M& Ms. The color scheme lines up with the rest of the branding and reiterates her overall message of igniting the shine of yourself and others. LaVonna considers adding her logo to the light bulb in the future, so it can serve as a constant reminder of her brand. Finally, she includes other smaller gifts to help introduce herself, such as small gift cards. These gifts have helped LaVonna be referred to other customers, further widening her potential income stream and expanding her customer base.

Identify Your Biggest Asset

LaVonna says her strongest asset, by far, is her assistant. One of the biggest traits to look out for in your biggest asset is whether or not they share your passion for your business and will be there to support you as you strive to reach higher. For LaVonna, her assistant Sandi is very much that person.

LaVonna describes Sandi as her “right hand.” When LaVonna needs help with anything related to the business, Sandi is always willing to help. When there’s the opportunity to learn about new technology or skills to enhance LaVonna’s business, Sandi is always willing to do it. Sandi also has a business and marketing degree, which proves only to strengthen the business. When you want to take your business to the next level, it’s important to have that additional person to support you.

The Importance Of Your Story

Everyone has a story.People may think that their stories may be similar to those of others, but everyone’s story has impacted them and shaped them into who they are today. At the same time, everyone’s story has the potential to affect, influence and inspire others.

LaVonna Roth Competing In The Speakoff At Reach Academy Live.

For LaVonna, her story goes back to when she was born. LaVonna was told that her biological father walked out the door at the hospital, to never be a part of her life, and it had a large impact on her throughout her life, although she didn’t really realize how much until several years ago. She admits she was a people-pleaser, always wanting to fix things and struggling with low self-esteem.

LaVonna’s self-confidence would not be helped as she struggled in school. As someone who learns in a way that she describes as “different than how subjects are often taught in school,” LaVonna’s grades began to decline as soon as she hit middle school. By the time LaVonna was in high school, she admits that she was struggling to get by, and her confidence had reached a low point.

This low self-confidence persisted, lasting even while she was able to find validation in other areas of her life. Despite receiving recognition for her excellence as a teacher and later as a business owner, she still struggled to believe in herself. Thinking back to her own time in school, when she thinks about her work with Ignite Your S.H.I.N.E.® in the education sector, her focus is on finding ways of teaching that allow every single student – and every teacher – to discover the ways that they shine and the value they bring.

People who understand the power of their story and get their signature story down is the key to making your speaking career a thriving success.

Starting On Your Journey

For LaVonna, realizing the roots of her lack of confidence and discovering that there are elements of her life that needed to have shine played a key role in helping her discover what she refers to as her “calling” – finding a way to best support others in developing their confidence – giving her the boost she needed to strike out on her own as a speaker.

For those who want to get into speaking, LaVonna stresses the following key points:

  • Get involved for the right reasons.Don’t get caught up in glamorous ideas of being a speaker to travel the world and see the sights. That’s not realistic. Speaking is hard work, and you need to have a deep sense of purpose for what you’re doing to keep you going.
  • Find a mentor.Don’t assume you’ll be able to figure everything out on your own. Find a mentor with experience as a speaker – and as a business owner – to provide you with extra guidance to build your brand and reduce your likelihood of making limiting mistakes early on in your journey.
  • Stay focused on your goals. If you want to build your own business, your goal is to make your mission as large as you want it to be. While the mindset of “hustling” for your own business can be extremely overwhelming, the key for your business is to always keep it moving forward. Identifying your immediate and near-future goals is one of the best ways to keep your business on track.

Despite being in the speaking business for the better part of a decade, LaVonna continues to make changes to her business model even today. She has seen an increase in customer engagement through continued efforts, and more people are talking about her presence as a result. The journey may not be linear, but the focus must always be straight ahead.

Feeling inspired to jumpstart your speaking career? Learn how to book your next stage in 24 hours with the Unstoppable Stage Campaign

10 Steps To Book Your First 10 Stages This Month

Your first 10 stages are crucial for building your speaking career. Whether you want to become a motivational speaker or use speaking to grow your business, landing stages is the way to make it happen. There will be extra challenges landing stages when you first start out because you need to learn how to work with meeting planners, and you need to build up some social proof and promotional materials with these first stages.

We use the Unstoppable Stage Campaign as our main tool for landing stages. But this campaign is highly detailed and can be challenging to set up if you’re just starting out speaking. Plus, some of the biggest and most valuable stages that you want to get onto may take several years to happen, so it’s important to get some quick wins and momentum early in your speaking career.

In this post, we’ll share some quick action steps you can take to land your first speaking gigs, test out your talk and build out some social proof.

Step 1 – Define your target

Before you start anything else, you need to be clear on who you want to reach with your talk — who your ideal audience is that would be interested in your story as well as your product or service.

There are thousands of stages out there, and if you don’t take the time to understand what to look for, then you’ll waste time on stages that don’t benefit you. Worse yet, if you speak on the wrong stages you probably won’t resonate with the audience or the meeting planners, which works against you.

Here are a few questions to help you define what the best stages are for you:

  • Who is my ideal customer?
  • What makes me different and interesting to them?
  • What kind of events would they attend?
  • How can I relate what I do the core themes of these events?
  • Who are some of the people they follow, and what events are they attending?

Step 2 – Prepare a signature talk

If you want to start landing stages, you’ll need to have a talk ready to deliver. Now that you understand who you want to speak in front of, you need to develop a talk that’s going to touch their hearts and inspire them to work with you. Plus, having your talk prepared will give you some excitement and energy to get it out in front of people.

You should be prepared to speak for 5 to 30 minutes for your first talk. Since these are your first 10 stages, it’s likely that you’ll be getting a lot of breakouts and smaller time slots. These will give you some time to practice and refine your talk as well. If you can master delivering a good talk in 5 minutes, then it’s easy to build out around it.

Step 3 – Ask around

Now that you have a talk ready, you can start searching for speaking opportunities.

The lowest hanging fruit for stages is in your current network.

Take some time to sit down and think up friends, clients, mentors, colleagues and anyone else that both trusts you and may be able to connect you with some events and stages.

Sit down for an hour and brainstorm people that might be able to connect you with some stages, and then reach out (by phone if possible, but email is okay, too).

Here’s a basic script for what to say:

Hi [NAME],

First off, I just wanted to thank you for believing in me and my message. These last few [MONTHS/YEARS] have been so fulfilling for me as I have seen [AUDIENCE] respond to my message of [MY CORE MESSAGE]. You’ve always been so supportive of me, and it means a lot.

Now, I’m ready to take it to the next level. Since I’ve been getting such a great response, I know I can reach even more people with my message. I’m looking for more stages in my area of expertise, which is [NICHE]. These might be podcasts, webinars, online seminars or summits, or actual physical stages.

You’ve been in the industry for a while now, and I wanted to see if you had any recommendations of stages where my message would resonate?

Would you be interested in hopping on the phone (or just replying to this email) with your recommendations?  

Thanks again for your support and belief in me; it means more than you know.



Step 4 – Search for local stages

If you live in or near any large cities, look for local events that you can participate in. Local stages can be more accessible since you don’t need to travel long distances or spend money on hotels to participate. Plus, it’s more likely that you’ll have contact or champion who could connect you with a local stage.

Start to build out a spreadsheet where you can record the names of events, locations, dates and contact information for the meeting planners.

  • Conferences in [your city] – A few simple searches in Google can turn up dozens of conferences and events that could be a good fit for you. Try searching “conferences for [your niche/industry/customer] in [your city]”
  • Event Centers – Search for event centers in your city, and then look up their calendars. See if you can find any events coming up that could be a good fit for you.
  • Associations – Look for associations that serve your target customer. It’s likely they have some local chapters in your city or region that are often looking for fresh speakers and ideas for their audience.
  • Meetups – Go to and search for meetups related to your audience. Meetup hosts are usually very easy to contact and may be open to having you speak.
  • 1 Million Cups – 1Million Cups is an organization for entrepreneurs to present and share their ideas. They have meetups in most cities across the U.S. and are always looking for more speakers.

If you want to land 10 stages, you’re going to need to research at least 30 or 40.

Step 5 – Look for online stages

Remember that stages don’t have to be physical locations. There’s a wealth of opportunity for getting on online stages. You can speak on an online stage from the comfort of your own home while reaching thousands of your ideal customers. There’s also usually a much lower barrier to entry to get onto online stages.

Podcasts – Podcasts are constantly looking for new guests who can speak to their audience. To find good podcasts for you, go to iTunes and search for podcasts related to your niche. iTunes won’t directly link to their website, but once you find the name of the podcast you can search it online and usually find the contact information for the host in a few simple clicks.

Webinars – Many associations, businesses, and online communities host regular webinars for their audiences. Check for opportunities on websites of the associations you researched in the previous step. Also, look for businesses or brands that serve your audience and reach out to see if they would be interested in co-hosting a webinar with you.

Online Summits – Online summits are powerful “digital conferences” that give many people an opportunity to speak. Sometimes summits take an interview format where one host speaks to many different people, while others act more like a collection of webinars.

Try to find another 30 or 40 online stages in this process.

Step 6 – Prepare your pitch

Once you have a big list of stages ready, it’s time to start preparing your pitch for them. This is where many people go wrong. Most just point-blank ask meeting planners for a stage or talk about how much a stage will help their business. This is the opposite of what you want to do.

Your pitch needs to address the wants and needs of the meeting planner and the audience they serve.

Create a signature sentence

A signature sentence is your entire story and signature talk distilled into one crisp sentence. It makes for a perfect opener that explains what you do and catches the attention of the meeting planner from the beginning.

Here’s the basic formula for a signature sentence:

I [action] [who] to experience [what] so they can get [result].

Here are a few examples of signature sentences put together by attendees of Reach Academy Live.

How can you solve the meeting planner’s problems?

Be sensitive to the meeting planner’s situation. They have to sift through hundreds of different speakers interested in what they are doing to put together something that’s a big hit for their audience. Their biggest fears are inviting someone who is a “dud,” difficult to work with or tries to sell a bad product to their audience. Make sure you can address these fears in your pitch.

How can you solve the audience’s problem?

Make sure you can clearly articulate the problems that your audience faces and the value you can add to them.

Collect social proof

Even if you’ve never spoken before, you can get some social proof together to help build trust with the meeting planner.

  • Business stats – How many customers have you helped? What kind of results can you get?
  • Credentials – What have you studied or achieved that makes you an expert?
  • As seen on – Have you been featured on any big websites, media outlets or events that could lend to your credibility?

Set up a speaker page/website

You’ll want to have a speaker page set up so that, when you start your outreach, people will begin to research you. Make sure you have a page to send them to that will present you well.

If you want to learn more about what makes a great speaker page, check out: The Anatomy Of A Great Speaker Page

Step 7 – Introduce yourself

It’s time to reach out to meeting planners and start landing your stages. Most people go straight for the stage with the first contact. That’s like asking someone you just met to marry you. For this introduction, you just want to make a good first impression and open up the doors for more conversation. There are two ways you can do this: with video email or a speaker box.

Video email

Video email is our favorite form of outreach. Using video in your emails is the next best thing to a face-to-face conversation. It gives you the power to convey that extra meaning and emotion in the messages you send and to put a face to your name.

There are a lot of different apps and services out there that can help you add a video to your emails. Our favorite is BombBomb. It’s an incredible tool that makes recording a video from your computer or phone a snap.

Send them a video email introducing yourself, praising the event and asking about opportunities to help out with the event (sponsorship, help with promotion, etc.). Keep the key elements of your pitch in mind with how you can help the meeting planner and the audience in your messaging.

Speaker Box

Instead of doing what 99% of people are doing and trying to reach out via email to meeting planners, you can target the least crowded inbox of your meeting planners: their mailbox.

The speaker box is one of the signature elements of our Unstoppable Stage Campaign. We send it to meeting planners who we want to build relationships with. It includes a few different materials to introduce who we are and what we’re about.

Here are a few things to include in your speaker box:

  • A problem solving letter – This letter is all about how you can add value to the meeting planner and solve their problems.
  • A promo sheet – This is essentially a printable version of your speaker page. (Pro tip: Make the sheet fit the dimensions of the box you use so you don’t need to fold it.)
  • A small gift – Add a small gift that will delight the meeting planner and make a good impression.
  • A USB drive – Include video footage of you speaking, and any other information that is better presented digitally.
  • A book or other materials – If you have a book or any other materials to share, be sure to include them.

The speaker box can be expensive to send, especially early on in your speaking career, so you may want to be selective in who you send a speaker box to. If you can’t afford to send a box to every person you reach out to, at least send out a problem-solving letter. Don’t ignore the power direct mail can have on getting you noticed.

For more outreach strategies and details on our speaker box, check out: Unstoppable outreach strategies that cut through the noise.

Step 8 – Get on the phone

Once you’re sure your video email or speaker box has arrived, reach out to the meeting planner and try to book a call. Getting the meeting planner on the phone to talk to you will be crucial to landing their stage.

We developed the “Win-win script” as part of The Unstoppable Stage Campaign to make this call a breeze. You don’t just talk about speaking, but opportunities for exhibiting, breakouts or sponsorships that will help the meeting planner be more successful. The core idea of the script is to always be positioning what you do and what you want as a win for the meeting planner.

Immediately after your phone call, make sure to follow up via email and thank the meeting planner for their time. In this email, include the next steps, like your booking process.

Step 9 – Send them a small gift

Also after the call, immediately send them a personalized note in the mail with a small gift or a treat. We recommend Send Out Cards for this. Thank them for their time and reiterate how excited you are to be collaborating with them. Include a small treat like popcorn to make it more memorable for them.

If you want to learn more about the art and power of gift giving, check out Giftology by John Ruhlin.

Step 10 – Deliver your talk and get feedback

With enough outreach, you’ll be landing stages in no time.

With these first 10, you need to be sure you’re collecting good feedback from the audience and the meeting planners so you can not only improve your talk but also collect better social proof to help you land more stages in the future.

Meeting planner testimonials – Ask the meeting planner to do a testimonial for you. You can collect some written testimonials but, if possible, get a good video of the meeting planner enthusing about you and your talk.

Video from your talk – You’re going to want to collect a lot of footage of you speaking for your promotional videos.

Audience ratings – Many events will have surveys where their audience can rate the different speakers and give feedback on their presentations. Most speakers never ask for this information, but it can be a gold mine for social proof and ideas for how to improve your talk.

Bonus Step – Rebound the ones who said “no”

You’re not going to land every stage you reach out to, but you should not lose hope at the first “no” you get. Most people, after getting a “no,” will go quiet and never reach out again, even if it was just a matter of timing that kept them from landing that stage.

Instead, attend the event and introduce yourself in person. This will help the meeting planner to put a face to your name and will show that you support what they are doing. By attending the event you can get a better feel for it and how to position yourself as a good fit for the next one.

Mark the dates of the events even if they say “no,” and follow up once the event is over with a gift and some encouragement. Send them an email or mail them a small treat and acknowledge the hard work they put into the event. This will make a big impression on the meeting planner, and they’ll be more open to letting you speak at the next event.


Stages are everywhere, and they’re easier to win than you think. By following these simple action steps, you should be able to get some quick wins in 30 days or less. This will jumpstart your speaking career and get you on track to landing your dream stages.

If you’re ready to take your stage outreach to the next level check out the Unstoppable Stage Campaign.