I’m obviously a big believer in the power of speaking to drive business, both to and for your business. If you’re in a business (or represent one), there are few opportunities better than a conference stage to get in front of the people you want to hear your message.
When it comes to that kind of speaking, I see three kinds of people:
- Those who LOVE to speak, and will take any chance they get, and want to make it their life’s work
- Those who HATE to speak, and would rather be in a room of people saying the word “moist” all day (sub in whatever your personal idea of hell is…)
- Everyone in between (I’ll come back to this in a minute)
It’s best, I think, to leave the Hate-to-Speakers alone. Sure, I can give you all the reasons why the Love-to-Speakers love it (and they’ll usually happily tell you… often at keynote length… in a wonderfully entertaining way, as they do). But the Hate-to-Speakers don’t love it, and no amount of reason-giving — or forced presentation skills training — will remove their visceral dislike, or fear.
The Love-to-Speakers already get a lot of love. There are entire industries built up around helping people become full-time paid keynote speakers. Books, podcasts, online courses, live events. If you have a dream of being the Sage on the Stage, or the Darling on the Dais, or… whatever… there are plenty of people willing to help you, at every price point from free to one-day-of-coaching-exceeds-some-people’s-gross-income.
But you know who doesn’t really get the love? Everyone In Between. They’re not the Keynoters (though they may sometimes play that role). They may or may not want to even BE Keynoters (though some may aspire to it).
No, they’re the ones who enjoy speaking enough — and see it’s potential to help their business enough — to speak for free.
These, my friends, are The Freenoters. While the mechanics of successful speaking are always the same — craft great content and deliver it well — the function of speaking is often drastically different for the Keynoter and the Freenoter. While both need to “sell,” each need that great content and delivery to sell some fundamentally different things. The Keynoter is selling an idea, sure. To survive as a full-time (or most-time) Keynoter, though, they have to sell themselves as someone other companies and conferences want to hire, or whose book people want to buy and read.
The Freenoter is selling an idea, too. They’re selling the adoption of the idea… and the tools and services their business offers to help. The challenge is that a Freenoter (a good one, at least) can’t sell the “tools and services” part from the stage… or conference organizers won’t ever put them out there again. (We’ve all been in those sessions… it looks like it’s going to be an awesome, useful session, and it turns into a 45-minute sales pitch you didn’t ask for. Yeah. That sucks.)
That happens, I think, because there just aren’t a lot of resources out there on how to “freenote” successfully — on how to sell from the stage without pitching from the stage, on how to profit from speaking for free.
I was a Freenoter for about 15 years. I built my reputation as a speaker and as a strategist almost entirely through Freenoting, and I still “T&E-note” (speak for travel and expenses) when it makes business sense to do so. I’ve had a single talk generate six figures of business. It’s still my primary form of large-scale marketing for what I do.
My husband, Tom Webster, speaks 50-60+ times a year, almost entirely as a Freenoter, on behalf of the company he works for, Edison Research. And he’s driven millions of dollars of business to his company — and Keynoted some really big events — as a result. Edison, using speaking as a primary marketing strategy (multiple folks there Freenote on behalf of the company), has driven eight figures of business.
Which means, you know, we’ve learned a thing or two about Freenoting, and Keynoting, and how to be great at both (and how to grow from one to the other).
We decided to put that knowledge together in the form of a limited-series podcast. It’s called, as you’d expect, The Freenoter. Just like our conversations at home, it’s full of actionable takeaways. 😉 And really, it IS just like a conversation we have at home, adult beverage included.
While it’s aimed at the “official” Freenoters out there — those of you who speak to drive business, or who want to — the information is useful for the (actual or aspiring) Keynoters, too.
Whichever you are, we’re hoping it’s a fun and useful listen. If there’s a topic you particularly want us to cover, just email me here and let me know.You can grow your business from the stage, without “selling” from the stage. Click To Tweet
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