The Power of Your Voice with Blair Bryant Nichols

Reading Time: 12 Minutes

In this episode with Blair Bryant Nichols, learn how to empower yourself and your organization with creative coaching, speaking, product development, and go-to-market strategies.

Takeaways We Learned from Blair…

Speak to Serve

Blair emphasizes that speaking is not just about showcasing yourself, but about offering a gift to your audience. When you reframe speaking as sharing your knowledge and expertise to benefit others, it transforms from a nerve-wracking performance to a meaningful exchange that can have a profound impact.

Authenticity Over Perfection

While honing your speaking skills is crucial, Blair reminds us that audiences value authenticity over flawless delivery. By speaking from the heart and aligning with a genuine purpose or mission, you can create a connection that transcends any imperfections, making your message more compelling and relatable.

Start Small, Speak Often

Building speaking prowess doesn’t happen overnight. Blair advises starting small by seeking opportunities to speak wherever you can, whether it’s at local events, community organizations, or even within your own workplace. The more you speak, the more confidence you’ll gain, paving the way for larger opportunities down the road.

Position Yourself Strategically

When aiming to make speaking a lucrative part of your platform, it’s essential to strategically position yourself as an expert in your field. Focus on defining your unique message, honing in on your specific value proposition, and articulating how you can solve your audience’s problems. By aligning your speaking topics with market needs and speaking your audience’s language, you increase your appeal and attract more speaking engagements.

Diversify Your Speaking Portfolio

To safeguard against uncertainties like the pandemic, Blair advocates for diversifying your speaking portfolio. While aiming for paid speaking gigs is a common goal, it’s essential to explore additional avenues for revenue generation, such as consulting, workshops, or digital courses. By leveraging your speaking engagements to drive further business opportunities, you create multiple streams of income and enhance your financial resilience.

Craft Your Message with Purpose

Your speaking journey begins with clarifying your message and purpose. Blair underscores the importance of identifying your unique value and passion, as well as crafting a message that resonates with your audience. By focusing on delivering a concise, impactful message that inspires action, you empower yourself to make a meaningful impact through your speaking engagements.

About Blair Bryant Nichols

Meet Blair Bryant Nichols, owner of BBN Creative Management for Diverse and Mission-Driven Talent. An expert in strategic speaking platforms, Blair guides speakers and business leaders through the nuances of public and corporate speaking. With a background representing top authors and managing diverse projects, he highlights the need for a varied portfolio for effective competition. Join us as Blair advocates for diverse and purpose-driven success in the speaking industry.

Read the Transcript

Allison:  Welcome to the Deliberate Leaders podcast. I am your host and executive business coach Allison Dunn. Our topic today is the power of your voice. Our guest is Blair Bryant Nichols. Blair owns BBN Creative Management, and is an expert in strategic speaking platforms. Blair guides business leaders through the nuance of public and corporate speaking with diverse and purpose driven messages. Blair, thank you very much for being here with us today.

Blair: Thank you so much for having me. It’s my pleasure. Fine, too.

Allison: I love to kick these off with a deliberate conversation, what would be your number one leadership tip for our listeners today?

Blair: Well, I know that we’re here to talk about the topic of speaking.

The usual advice that I give most often is more the more you speak, the more you’ll speak. And speaking begets more speaking, and, and why that’s important is because if you’re a leader, or if you’re a business owner, or if you’re someone that’s trying to reach and connect with an audience more directly, whether they’re potential customers, or clients, or just different people that you’re impacting with your message, then speaking is the best way to do it.

And it’s such an important skill that I think can be overlooked by different leaders and something that people are very afraid of often, especially, you know, the idea of public speaking, quote, unquote, but I think as we’ve all gotten a little more used to looking at ourselves on camera and communicating over digital platforms. You know, it’s important to practice and really hone your skill of being in person and connecting that way to

Allison: That is such a good point. And I think one that’s really important that people take advantage of the fact that these zoom meetings are a way to see how you speak publicly, totally, to read how you show up in that way, because often from a stage, the only person who you can’t see is yourself, right? So taking the moment to do that, I’ll share I got over public speaking by doing radio, and then I did public speaking and saw a video of myself and I was like, Oh, my goodness, I have so many tics and nuances and things that I do that were funny to watch and quick to improve upon. 

Blair: Yeah, you know, and we’re going to be our harshest critics when it comes to things like that.

The truth is that audiences, you know, if you’re speaking authentically, and from the heart, you know, they’re going to excuse the little normal tics and, and things like that, but those can be distracting, too. So it’s important to Yeah, continue to identify areas where you can improve and, and just sharpen your skills and just make you that much more effective of a communicator.

Allison: Where I’m hoping we can dive right into the gold on this one. So how can someone change stage fright, which I think we all have into a spotlight in the speaking?

Blair: Yeah, you know, when I’m working with a client, and they’re about to go on stage, and they’re nervous, you know, as I don’t always get to be on site with them. But when I’ve had the privilege to do that, I tell them, you know, you’re here to give a gift. So when you think about speaking and reframe it as like sharing your knowledge, sharing your expertise, when you are speaking from the heart, because it aligns with, you know, a mission or a purpose that you have, that’s where it really becomes magic, and where you don’t need to be the most polished, energetic, you know, stage presence type of speaker, if you can go out and just simply share your message, your topic, whatever it may be, it’s a gift for that audience.

I think a lot of us, you know, we feel like we’re performing and that means we’re being evaluated. And, and to a sense, of course, everyone’s always going to have opinions. But we’re in this context, most of the time, you have a very, you know, an audience that’s there, you know, because they want to be there or because they’re there for work. And so they’re not paying, you know, hundreds of dollars to go see you. They’re getting this, this is a bonus, this is a gift for them to even be in the room to begin with. And I, I think if people remember that, and also align themselves with the objectives of the event, and how they’re really there to serve in that way, it can take some of that fear away. It certainly still requires practice. But I think those are the big kind of getting underneath the fear and kind of changing it in your mind in that way, I think really could help.

Allison: Thank you. Can you give us some strategies for people who truly want to be able to build speaking as part of their platform and message how can we make it lucrative?

Blair: Definitely, definitely. Well, you know, you got to start by speaking and getting assets together to position yourself as a speaker.

So if you’re building your website, that might be look like having, you know, a couple speaking topics, you don’t need a laundry list of things that you speak about you really, you really want to hone in on your specific message? What makes you unique? What is the value that you are bringing to this audience? And how does that all align with really what the market is looking for? What problems are you solving. So if you have a topic where you might be talking about digital marketing strategies, but your topic, you know, is going to be something that might connect with people more broadly, you know, like how to connect with customers across digital platforms, or are you just, you want to be able to think about your topic and put it in your audience’s language.

So a lot of people have really clever terminology that they’ve come up with or their own phrases or words that they use. But if no one knows what that means, then it’s going to be a lot more difficult for someone to want to book you as a speaker, because they’re looking for someone that is, you know, speaks to their problem and is going to offer a solution for them. So your terminology might come later, that’s going to be revealed in the keynote as something that then you’re introducing, and then that becomes something really novel and unique for them to learn. But upfront, you’ve really got to make sure that you’re kind of positioning yourself in a way that people get it, they get why you’re the expert on this, they understand, you know, what you’re bringing to this conversation or in what you present on, and getting that out there. But even before you have, you know, even a website, or you’re labeling yourself as a speaker on across your social media platforms, just figure out where you can start speaking, you know, whether it’s your school, or your children’s school, or your church or another community organization, you know, through your work and your job, can you volunteer to be more of a speaker or presence at different events, you know, looking for those opportunities, because the more you do it, like we’re talking about, the better, you know, your, the Your skills will become, and the better you’ll be able to kind of polish and, and do that, but you’ll also be in front of people who now you know, might ask you to speak at their next event or be part of their next, you know, thing that they’re hosting.

So you’ll be surprised how quickly it can grow. But that’s why I said at the top of this conversation, you know, speaking begets more speaking, because it’s how people really obviously get to see you in action and want to see you again, and it has such a long tail. People will come you know, two years later, Oh, I saw her speak in an event. And I you know, my boss saw her three years ago, if you do a great job, like it can business that can keep coming back to you, you know, and different ways and might take time, but it really does have a lasting impact. So in all those ways you’re beginning to monetize, because once you’re building demand for your speaking, that’s really where you have a little bit more leverage to and to charge a fee and to you know, move that fee up. So the more that you can build out a platform that gives people a reason to come to your website that draws people in, then you’ve got more possible people that will book you for speaking. So now it kind of shifts from, I’ve got my speaker assets and my positioning. And I’ve got all of these things that if someone wanted to evaluate me as a speaker I can provide. But now, how am I going to get people to just even have interest in me as a speaker, one of those ways is things like this being on a podcast, being able to share your story and your knowledge in a way that you might be sharing it on stage just in a more informal context. But it’s a it’s a huge way for speakers to get their message out.

A lot of speakers have their own podcast. So it’s a way for them to also connect with leaders and potentially corporate leaders or event planners that then might put them on their stage. So turning it around, and figuring out how you can grow your speaking through your own platform by you know, hosting the people that might have an influence on getting you on a stage or booking you for an event and building a relationship that way.

So it’s kind of Gen becomes where it’s about marketing and PR and how do you grow? Maybe you write a book, maybe you write your third book, maybe you’re, you know, going to do something that garners attention for you, but that’s why everyone’s different, everyone’s going to have a different strength. You might have a huge Instagram following or you might have a better LinkedIn following you might, you know, have a huge YouTube channel or you might have something and sometimes people will think well I have that but it doesn’t have anything to do with what I want to speak about that doesn’t matter, it’s still your audience, you can you can introduce new ideas and make a transition and move over people. And maybe we’ll lose some of those followers if they’re not interested in this, but, but that’s okay too, you got to be willing to kind of test in leverage the audience that you have to help clarify where you really should go with the speaking.

And then at the end of the day, it’s not just about speaking, it’s not just about getting paid to speak at an event. It’s not just about getting up on a stage, you know, for our own validation or just to grow, you know, you know, a bigger platform, a bigger presence.

I really coach my clients on what are you leveraging that speaking for? How are you converting that audience even though I said, every audience, you don’t have to think about as a client or customer, but, but maybe you should, especially if you’re a business owner, and offering them something you embed in your talk as a free resource, you know, driving them to a quiz or an assessment, all these different ways to just capture email, so that now you don’t need to rely on social media or wait for them to come find you.

And hope that they remember you after they see a dozen speakers over that weekend. Now, you’ve already guaranteed that you have a way to follow up with them, that you have a way to continue to market to them. And maybe that’s not just more speaking, maybe this is a way that you can push them towards your digital courses, or towards your workshops towards your webinars. This is where I’m helping my clients, you know, build both b2c and b2b models. Speaking at a corporation, yeah, I’ll let you jump in. I was just going to say, speaking of corporation, then you might think about, am I going to do more consulting with this company? Am I going to do workshops for them after this keynote? Is there other opportunities that can be a springboard for the speaking so a lot of people I know have a goal of getting to a place where they can be doing more paid speaking. But another pandemic comes along, and now it’s your chief form of revenue, and now you’ve gotten nothing. So I really encourage people to diversify their portfolio, even while they’re just building their speaking, you know, along the way,

Allison: There was quite a few nuggets in there. And I, I appreciate providing the structure of like, where to start by simply putting, you know, speaker on your LinkedIn bio, or wherever it is, or ticket, you know, starting it as a podcast to be able to express your message. I think that the stopper for a lot of people, even though they should be speaking is they don’t know what their messaging is. Do you have some guidance that we can leave people with as they end this podcast to go like, okay, that’s what I now need to be thinking about to have the competence because adding speaker to your bio is easy, but actually doing it, it’s hard.

Blair: Yeah, you know, and I talked about that’s kind of step one, like figuring out your topics, description, those takeaways, you know, a good place to start might be where I often hear people say, you know, I wrote a blog, because people kept asking me the same question, or I wrote a book because I, you know, I can’t mentor, an unlimited number of people, but I could put it all into a book, it’s kind of the same thing. You know, it’s what is my message is, what am I? What is my unique value? What is the thing that people come to me about? What is the thing I’m most passionate about speaking about? Because remember that this is just a 45 minute talk, on average, this is an introduction to a topic, one big idea, you are not building a course, you are not giving a lecture that’s supposed to give them a full, you know, every piece of information that someone might want to include. And then like I’m talking about this might be just the big opening of their eyes to the kind of work that you do.

So when you think about your message, think about like, how would you introduce yourself to someone new to a new client at an academic conference at a Yeah, at a work event? If you were networking, and you just really wanted to give? Now how do you unpack that? And unpack that. There’s storytelling and telling people and connecting through story, but then give giving that valuable information so that they can, you know, take action and in maybe even a single way, and wrapping it up again with a story. So I think your message again, it has to come back to really what is your purpose for being on that stage to begin with? What is the story you really want to tell? And what is the most important thing that’s going to help maybe move people to what’s next to that next step to that next thing that allows you to grow your business as a result of speak?

Allison: Fantastic, Blair, I appreciate the fact that you’ve helped people find the power of their voice and I truly appreciate your insights that you’ve provided here with us today. Thank you so much.

Blair: My pleasure. And if you want to learn more, you can go to BBN creative or find me on LinkedIn. That’s the best place probably but I’m also on Instagram as well.

Allison: Okay thank you so much Blair!

Blair: My pleasure.

I'm Allison Dunn,

Your Business Executive Coach

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