I heard Rory Vaden speak at a conference in 2014. I have heard him speak several more times since then. Each time, his words resonate with me. His message ‘Take The Stairs’ has become a metaphor that I adopted as I was taking my first steps in  a new career as a professional speaker. 

When I first decided that I wanted to become a speaker, I was working full time in a government department. The job was stable and well paid, yet predictable and unfulfilling. I enjoyed much of the work, but I knew there was more. I felt compelled to teach, inspire and serve others, and I decided that speaking was the medium to allow me to do so. 

There are no shortcuts. Focus and determination will set you on the right path. 

Just over a week ago, I got to stand on stage with 11 others at the Professional Speakers Australia conference and received the Certified Speaking Professional recognition. This conference was one of the last to be held in Australia, before all large public events were cancelled due to COVID-19. 

As a novice in a new field there is so much choice. It is overwhelming. 

When I made the decision to become a Professional Speaker. I knew it would be hard. Having a story to tell and some public speaking skills was not enough. I knew nothing about being a business owner or the world of professional speaking. 

 In October 2017 I exited the workforce with a one page plan and a commitment to give it my best shot. 

As a novice to the world of professional speaking it can be overwhelming working out what’s next, who to turn to for help, and what professional and personal development is required. I was that speaker. 

My 20+ year career taught me many things that I am grateful for,  but I was ill-equipped to run a small business. 

In the early days I made some mistakes that cost me time and money. However, these became some very important lessons that have served me well.

Things began to fall into place when I decided that 2020 was the year that  I would become a Certified Speaking Professional.

Slow and steady wins the race

According to Rory Vaden successful people achieve results the old fashioned way, with focus and self discipline. By ‘taking the stairs’ we are resisting the temptation of ‘quick fixes’, eliminating distractions, and overcoming personal setbacks to achieve our goals. 

So what is a Certified Speaking Professional?

The Certified Speaking Professional accreditation is an international designation awarded to only a small percentage of professional speakers globally. 

The CSP has gained global recognition as an indicator of dedication to excellence in the field of speaking. 

I am aware that there are less than 150 active CSP’s in Australia. 

When I got serious I found clarity, and the rest fell quickly into place. With a personal manifesto and a one page plan I got to work. 

The five most important elements which led to success

When I got serious I found clarity, and the rest fell quickly into place. With a personal manifesto and a one page plan I got to work. 

1. Clarity

In the first year of business, I lacked clarity. I was trying to serve a wide market and I was targeting a market segment that did not feel right for me. I decided to follow the age old advice of ‘picking a lane and sticking to it’. This felt like a weight off my shoulders. 

This included becoming really clear on who I want to serve, what services I will offer, when to walk away, and why I am doing this in the first place. I revisit exercises and activities on clarity every 90 days. 

More important than the quest for certainty is the quest for clarity.  

2. Focus

I have always been a planner and a detail person, and I love any tools that assist me with the process of planning and organising.  This year I made the decision to work a four day week. This meant even more focus and self -discipline. My productivity increased and I now get more done in less time. I practice Deep Work. According to Cal Newport, deep work is the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task. It’s a skill that allows you to quickly master complicated information and produce better results in less time. I always do the hardest tasks when I am at my sharpest mentally and physically which is early morning, and after coffee. 

3. Consistency

I have built a brand that I am proud of, and I continue to show up true to that brand. If an opportunity comes along that is not aligned with my brand, I am happy to let it go. Yes, I do still get FOMO at times, but I now fully embrace the thinking that when you say no to something it paves the way for something that is better aligned. I believe that by showing up consistently and true to my brand it builds a higher level of trust. 

During the current crisis I will strive to stay on brand, even though change will be inevitable if my business is to thrive. 

4. Values

When I began working with a new coach last year, I took a closer look at my values and did some values exercises. I have five values that guide me in both my personal and business life. I like the compass analogy, as my values guide me to navigate my way. What became apparent to me is that once I got clarity on my values, I began to attract more clients with similar values. Staying true to my values has also helped making it easier to say know and when to walk away. 

5. Support

I lost some friends along the way! This is a tough one and something I never anticipated. I have a wonderful family and I must admit it took them a while to fully understand that I was serious and it was not a sabbatical from my previous career. I am a member of many virtual groups and I love the fact that I can connect with so many people around the world and they are so supportive. I have a core group of close friends and business associates. 

So what’s next?

I am approaching this next chapter of uncertainty with an open mind. Like any small business in Australia I have been affected by the situation. 

Fortunately my programs and coaching are all able to be delivered online. I have a range of interactive live webinars and virtual presentations to help leaders communicate with confidence. 

How I can help you

Virtual Masterclass – This live masterclass Communicating with Influence or Business Storytelling for Leaders can be delivered as a 30 minute session x 3 or a 90 minute session. 

Virtual/Online Training – A live class (not pre-recorded) This session is 4 hours duration, with 90 minutes of interactive content, a 30-minute break, followed by another 90 minutes. This session is ideal for small to medium teams. Topics include Communication for emerging Leaders, Communicate with Influence, Public Speaking for Business Success, Presenting Online for Leaders Managing Virtual Teams

Virtual/Online Coaching – Public Speaking and Storytelling Coaching via Zoom at concession rates during this challenging time 

Virtual Presentation – Now is the time that event planners can access speakers to present virtually from anywhere in the world.