Public speaking can change your career. As a natural-born introvert, I am not one for big crowds. In fact, when I speak the only thing I want to do after getting off the stage is go back to my hotel room.
To get on stage and bring the right energy is very exhausting for me because I have to force myself to be extroverted. It has nothing to do with the people in the room it’s just the way I’m built.
However, public speaking has done more for growing my business than any single thing I have ever done. There is no other prospecting strategy that can turn a cold suspect into a hot prospect as fast as a good keynote talk. Back in 2016, I made the decision to go all in using the stage to scale my business and I’ve never regretted a second of it.
In this week’s Bullpen Sessions podcast episode I’m going to help you do the same. Two weeks ago I had the fortunate opportunity to speak to NAIFA California and in Episode 258 I’m going to share my experience.
- Connect with me on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/andyneary/
- Connect with me on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/andy_neary/
This transcript was auto-generated. Please excuse any typos or grammatical errors.
Hey, Hey, Andy. NEARY here. Before we dive into today’s podcast episode, think back to how you came upon this podcast. Maybe it was through a post, a share, or one of your own peers shared this podcast with you. I don’t take any ads. I don’t take any sponsorships. The only way this podcast grows is through word of mouth.
So if you would be so kind to share this with a peer where with a teammate, with a friend, a family member, I would be forever grateful to you. This is how we impact more business professionals and this is how this podcast grows. Right. Let’s dive in to today’s episode. Hey. Hey. Welcome back to the bullpen sessions podcast.
My name is Andy NEARY, and this is episode 258. Today, I’m going to share some reflections on a recent speaking engagement that I gave in California so that you can learn how to use the power of the public speaking stage to grow your business. I was once taught by a mentor of mine all, not all that long ago that public speaking is one of the quickest paths to cash, and I believe that to be very true.
Public speaking has done wonders for my business. It has allowed me to open doors whether I was a health insurance advisor or an insurance coach. Today, it’s helped me open doors to opportunities that I did not think were possible. And I know if you take and apply a couple of the lessons I’m going to teach you today, you can do the same for your book of business.
And I’ll start by sharing a quick story. I’m going to share my reflections on a recent talk I gave to a Navy, a chapter in California. I’m unfamiliar with Napa. It is a kind of an industry association for those who are in the benefits world, the insurance world, financial planning. And so I’m going to share some reflections on that talk I gave a couple of weeks ago.
I’m excited to share with you. I got my first standing ovation. And so I look back and reflect on that talk and what happened that allowed me to earn that standing ovation and a standing ovation in, you know, vainly speaking is something I think a lot of speakers forget. It’s kind of that one, that first baptism of becoming what you might believe to be a good speaker.
Maybe I am. Maybe I’m not. But I want to reflect on my thoughts of what happened during that talk that led to people wanting to stand up and clap, because I know it can do the same for you. That’s why I want to talk about this. But let me take you back seven years before I dive into my reflections on this recent keynote speech in 2016.
I made it a conscious. I made a conscientious decision that I was going to use public speaking to grow my business and instead of thinking I was good enough to just go up on stage and lean on a PowerPoint, I made two investments that changed my career. The first investment I made was investing in a Speakers Academy hosted by the National Speakers Association.
So I was a member of the Denver chapter, and then I invested in my own speaking coach who helped me put together my very first keynote talk because I wanted to go all in on using the channel of public speaking to go win prospecting opportunities. And fast forward Q1 2017, I had one of my first real shots, big chances to take the stage and open some very, very high quality doors.
And I can remember this conference like it was yesterday. It was a benefits conference and it requires you to fill out an RFP. And truth be told, I didn’t really do that much research on the conference. I just saw that it was a benefits conference in Denver. I wanted to speak, so I put my name in the ring and lo and behold, I got picked.
So on a cold winter, January morning, I drove down to Denver, south side of Denver, and I get to the event and I am ushered into a breakout room which are where I’ll be speaking. And I can remember putting my stuff together, setting up my PowerPoint. And as people started to come in the room to take a seat, I started introducing myself.
And what caught me off guard right away was after the ninth or 10th person entered the room, they shut the door. I can remember standing up in the room feeling a bit awkward, like, really? I drove all the way down here to speak to ten people. And so I walked over to the corner of the room and no one could see me.
And I gave myself a little pep talk saying, Dude, this is what you want to do. I don’t care how many people are in the room, show up. So I went on to give a presentation about how you could build a better health plan for less money. And I’ll never forget what happened after the talk. I’m cleaning up, packing up my stuff, and one of the attendees comes up and says, Hey, man, I got to be honest with you, I’ve never heard anybody talk about health insurance that way.
That was pretty good, he said. In fact, this is the discussion I’m having with my team right now. Would you be willing to jump on a call with my team? I said, Sure, give me your business card now. I’ll switch an email, we’ll get something on the calendar. So he handed me the business card and the name on the card really wouldn’t mean anything if you’re listening.
His name was Duncan Micallef. Duncan, if you’re listening, thank you for listening to the podcast. But his name is Duncan Micallef and he was the director of Total Rewards. However, the name of his company is very recognizable because that name is PepsiCo. And what I realized in that moment on a cold January morning, 2017, was public speaking can open doors.
You could never imagine possible, because I took that stage that morning as Andy NEARY, a health insurance advisor representing a small independent agency in Longmont, Colorado. And I just grabbed the attention of a Fortune 50 company. And what I realized there is, if I can do that in a small room with nine or ten people, what else can I do by leveraging the power of public speaking?
And that’s really what I want to share with you today is some lessons I learned recently that have really hit home as to why I decided to make such an investment in public speaking seven years ago. And I’m going to share some advice with you. If you’re a little afraid to take the stage right now, I think this advice is going to help you get over that fear that you have, and it’s going to set you on a path to leveraging public speaking like I have done myself for the last seven years.
But let’s talk about why public speaking is important. As mentor Rory Vaden said, it is one of the quickest paths to cash. There is no other prospecting channel that will take a cold prospect who doesn’t know who you are and turn them into a hot one as fast as public speaking. People can literally walk in the room not knowing who you are, and by the time they walk out 30, 45, 60 minutes later, they need to talk to you.
They need to set up a meeting with you. They are sitting there going, We need to talk to her. We need to talk to him. Nothing else can do that. Now, why don’t more people leverage public speaking? Very simple number one, you’re afraid. People fear speaking. It’s been said people fear speaking more than death itself. And it’s true.
But here’s some other reasons why I think people are afraid to take the stage. Number one, when you know that you’ve got to speak in front of a roomful of people, especially people who may not know who you are. Heck, this actually might be more of a concern if it’s people, you know, imposter syndrome is going to set in right away.
That fear of will they discover? I actually don’t know as much as I think I do is one thing that keeps so many people from public speaking. The other fear or hesitation is I don’t know what I’m going to talk about. If I were on stage, what the heck would I want to talk about? Now, let me give you some some some positive reinforcement as to why public speaking in the insurance industry can be a huge advantage to you when it comes to speakers in the insurance industry.
I’m just going to say it. I know it’s my opinion that most speakers are bad and it’s b it’s not because they lack the talent, they’re knowledgeable, they’re bad speakers because they don’t put the work in to be good speakers. You see, they think they can get on stage and just share their knowledge. So they go at public speaking with, I’m just going to wing it attitude.
You can’t do that. Number two, most speakers in the insurance industry are too reliant on a PowerPoint slides, so they spend 90% of their time putting together a slide and 10% actually preparing a talk. And so when they take the stage, guess what? They’re sitting there reading a PowerPoint presentation. And I know if I’m an attendee in that room, I’m sitting and going, you can actually sit down.
You’re reading right off your slides, so you might as well sit down. So I can just read the slides myself and number three, they’re not good storytellers. So the bar in the insurance industry is very low when it comes to good public speakers. So if you’re willing to put in the work and make the investment to become better, this can become a career changer.
Now, don’t get me wrong, you need to put the reps in. Speaking is about practicing just like any other skill you have learned, whether it be in sports, in business, you’ve got to put the reps and you got to practice. When I was going through the Speakers Academy, the National Association Speakers Academy, I can remember a professional speakers used to call it the Perkins tour.
You know, if you want to get good at presentations, at public speaking, you got to go give a lot of them. And sometimes you might give a public speaking talk in front of six people in a Perkins restaurant, Rory Vaden says, You want to be good at speaking, do a thousand presentations. Now, the good news for you is you’re already public speaking today and you just don’t know it.
Why, any time you’re in front of a prospect in a discovery meeting or a proposal, you’re public speaking. Believe it or not, you’re preparing a talk. So you’re already putting in the reps, but you don’t I don’t want to undersell the fact that to be good at public speaking, you have to respect it as a craft because that’s exactly what it is.
Now, I say all of this to share the experience I had two weeks ago when I earned my first standing ovation. Hi, it’s Andy NEARY and thank you for listening to the Bullpen Sessions podcast. Did you know the ideas shared on this show are things we actually specialize in helping to implement? If you’re an insurance professional and you want to turn your credibility into consistent client acquisition, visit complete game consulting dot com and schedule a free strategy call again that’s complete game consulting dot com to request your free strategy call.
All right. Let’s jump back in to today’s podcast episode. It’s your mindset again. It’s not to tell you that I earned it. I want to tell you what happened that I believe led to the standing ovation. Now, up until this point, I had been speaking for seven years, and when I first took the stage, I had all the fears you had.
Are people going to laugh at me? What happens if I screw up? What do I talk about when all of those hesitations come up that is just your ego getting in the way. You’re making it all about you and not the audience. And what you’re going to learn today is you can just shift that perspective a little bit.
Everything will change for you when it comes to taking the stage. So here I am. I was hired a couple of weeks ago to speak to a naif, a chapter in Southern California. The talk I was giving is called the Insurance Agent Sales Playbook. The Three Steps to Go From Unknown to Unstoppable. It is a talk I have practiced.
It is a talk I have given numerous times. In fact, it is our number one talk I give as part of our business development. And I was hired to speak back in April. So the business the event was booked in April, first week of October. I traveled down to San Diego to give this talk. So to set the stage of what happened during the talk, let me share with you the moments, the day or two leading up to the talk.
I have been very busy, focused on building complete game consulting. So with that being said, I had not dedicated a lot of time to practicing this talk leading up to this engagement on October 5th. Now, the good news is I have put a lot of time in practicing this talk over the last couple of years. So fortunately, this talk has come to me more naturally over the recent months than it used to.
However, I am very conscientious that I need to put in the practice so that I can hit a home run on the stage. And truth be told, even if you’re giving a talk repeatedly, the same talk over and over and over again, you still need to make sure you are customizing that specific talk for that specific audience. So even though I have given this talk dozens of times, this audience in Southern California is going to be different than the audience I just spoke to in Nebraska or Mississippi.
And I just have not and had not had a ton of time to get prepared. So I was nervous. I woke up that morning and I knew I had a couple of coaching calls on the calendar before I even took the stage, and I was nervous that I was not prepared enough. On the flight out to California, I had made some adjustments to my slide deck slides I’ve never used before, and I have to be honest with you, I woke up Thursday morning feeling a little nervous because I was going to be going through this new slide deck for the first time in an order that I had not used before and I had not
had a chance to put a lot of practice in. And so as the time drew near that, I was to take the stage, which was at 9:15 a.m. Pacific, I had to have some real conversation with myself. And this is where my lessons I want to share with you kick in. As I was getting ready to walk over from my hotel room to the event center where I would be speaking, I sat down and I said to myself, Listen, you know, you’ve put the work in.
You only have three priorities today with this talk. You need to encourage this audience. You need to entertain this audience and you need to educate this audience. But most importantly, you need to engage with them. There’s a lot of ease there, right? We’ve got encourage, entertain, educate, but most importantly, engage. You see, when I first started speaking years ago, I really leaned heavily on my knowledge.
Was I all that entertaining? Not really. That I engage with the audience, no. And I would deliver talks that were more or less an opportunity to puke my knowledge and I’d walk off stage and people would be impressed, but it really never led to anything. Fast forward October 2023. I’m telling myself just focus on encouraging them. Just focus on entertaining them and educate the living heck of So I go deliver the talk.
Remind you this is a talk I’ve given, but with a new slide deck, I’ve never used stories in an in an order that I never given them before. But I just kept saying to myself, focus on encouraging, entertain and educating. Now, 5 minutes into the talk, I have a slight hurdle you see at this resort. I was giving this talk too.
They had some wild animals and one of them or two of them were two wild parrots that they let freely fly around the event center. And they kept the back door of the event center to the outside open and just outside the door. These two parents decided to start squawking. So here I am trying to deliver this talk and I have got two parrots that sound like they are engaging in a domestic violence fight.
And I am trying to continue to stay focused and to deliver this presentation. But I kept going back to my core priorities for this talk. Encourage, educate, entertain, but most importantly, engage. And when I look back at this talk, despite having to use a new slide deck, despite not feeling completely comfortable about the order in which I’m delivering stories and delivering the content, because I just focused on keeping it positive, giving these people hope.
I focused on entertaining them with these stories, being energetic and lively in front of them. But most importantly, when it went into the content I was sharing the education I gave as much as I possibly could, and that is what earned that standing ovation. It was the focus on encouragement, entertainment and education, and I engaged them throughout the process by asking questions, by creating dialog with the audience, because they now felt like they were a part of the presentation.
They actually felt like they had created a part of the presentation. And if you want to get your prospects to buy in to wanting to work with you, let them buy into the story. Let them participate in the story. And that’s what I want to share with you today. Public speaking will do wonders for your business. It can open doors you never believed you could open before.
However, when it comes to delivering a good keynote presentation, a good public speaking talk, I’m here to tell you practice is important. What you talk about is important, but most important is you focus on encouragement, entertainment, and education. Why? Because if you just focus on those three things, you are going to leave the audience feeling good about themselves.
You are going to give them the opportunity to engage with you and have fun with you, and you’re not going to give them the opportunity to walk out of that room with tactical things they can do to change my career, change their change their career. You see, public speaking is not somebody something somebody was born to do. I truly believe that is not the case.
It’s how you put talks together and what you focus on during those talks that make you a good public speaker. And my goal today was to share these three steps with you, because if you just focus on encouraging them, entertaining them and educating them, here’s what happens. Those fears that you have about getting on stage, the fear of screwing up, the fear of forgetting what you’re going to say, they go away because you’re now going at it with the attitude that I am just here to serve.
If you just get up on stage to serve your audience, you will never deliver a bad keynote in your life. Because even if you screw up, even if you forget something, they’re forgetting because you’re there for them and they know you’re there for them. You’re not serving your ego, you’re serving their best interest. So that’s the advice I wanted to give you today is if you’re sitting out there and planning what 2024 is going to look like for you, planning how you’re going to hit sales goals you’ve never reached before, and how you’re going to prospect next year to get there.
I’m here to tell you how to make public speaking part of that game plan. But most important with that, put the practice in, invest in the time, and maybe if money to get better, have a good idea of what you want to talk about. Grab the attention from the right prospects. But I’m here to tell you the secret sauce is you just focus on encouraging them, entertaining them, and educating them as much as you can.
You’re always going to be able to leverage public speaking in your favor and you’re going to grow a book of business you’re damn proud of. Be good. Thank you for taking the time to listen to today’s podcast episode. Remember, if you find value in this episode, do me a favor. Give it a like, share it, post about it.
Go subscribe to make sure you get every episode from us every single week. And my only ask from you is that if you have anybody in your life, whether it be a teammate, a peer, family member or a friend, please share this podcast with them. That’s how we grow. We only grow through word of mouth and I would be forever grateful if you take the time to do that.
All right, now it’s time for you to take what you learned and it’s time for you to go out. Share your message with the world. Excuse in clarity and consistency is everything. Be well.