A common piece of wisdom often bestowed to aspiring professional speakers is to speak whenever you can. This piece of advice when taken literally is actually very bad advice. Although self-help guru Tony Robbins put himself on the map by giving several hundred seminars all over the world within a single year, often speaking more than once per day, it won’t work for everyone. In this article, I’ll go over some of the pros and cons of seizing every speaking opportunity.
The Physical Toll:
The first reason for not taking every single speaking opportunity is the toll that it can take on you. It takes a substantial amount of time and energy to prepare and practice a speech. If you have other things going on in your life such as a family and/or a job, the added stress of preparing a speech can take its toll on your attitude about speaking.
Additionally, the running around from speech to speech with stops in between to confirm dates, perform research and do other preparations, can wear you down. The bottom line is that if you find your life becoming hectic because you’re speaking so much, it’ll negatively affect your thoughts about your speaking career. Instead of being something you’re excited and passionate about, it becomes a chore.
There are two things that you can do to minimize this toll if you feel the need to get up in front of as many audiences as humanly possible. The first is to give the same speech over and over again at different events, thus drastically cutting down your preparation time. You can customize the talk to meet the needs of each audience or trim or expand the speech to meet different time limits, but don’t create a completely new speech for each audience you handle.
The second thing to do is to group your speeches to minimize travel. This is often difficult, but being able to give the same speech to several audiences in the same distant city within a couple days is much better than making separate trips. So keep a map handy as you plan your speeches.
The Wrong Audience:
Whenever we start out on any new endeavor, we’re especially sensitive to the way it is received. So when you’re starting out as speaker and face a non-responsive audience, it can kill your motivation. This happened to me when I was first starting out as a professional speaker, I gave a talk that bombed so I started to question whether I had what it takes to make it as a professional speaker, even though I gave a great speech two nights prior to it.
Other things that can frustrate you include tiny audiences (less than ten people), audiences with the wrong demographics (their situation doesn’t apply to what you’re speaking about) and audiences that are just plain hostile.
So the lesson here is to make sure that you give the right speech to the right audience. And sometimes, there’s no right speech for a particular audience and other times, there’s no wrong speech for a particular audience.
Strategies for Success:
Make sure you understand what benefits you expect to gain from frequent speaking. If you’re hoping to improve your speaking skills, focus on one speech at a time and give yourself ample time between talks to prepare. If your goal is to get in front of as many people as possible and you’re already comfortable speaking to groups, focus on getting yourself in front of larger audiences.
Your situation is unique so consider your goals and what you expect to gain and then create a plan for getting there.