Alan Weiss’s Monday Morning Memo® – 01/04/2021
When I first began speaking professionally, it was to help market my consulting services. I often spoke for free. Then I “raised” my fee to $750. I remember watching the “big name” speakers who were in the Speakers Hall of Fame® and how they meticulously arranged a room’s seating, were insistent about lighting, and demanded certain types of music. They used all kinds of visuals, projections, and props. They were prima donnas.
It was all too “show biz” for me, and I found myself often speaking in basement classrooms, venues with paper-thin walls (and a Chicago Baptist choir competing with me next door, very successfully), lousy amplification, and ridiculous introductions (one idiot stole one of my own stories in his comments, not realizing he stole it from me).
What I learned is that there’s no such thing as a “motivational speaker.” Motivation is intrinsic. If it comes from hearing someone manipulate emotions or demand you trod hot coals, it evanesces within hours. People are motivated by agency, latitude of action, the application of their talents, and recognition of their work and initiative. No one learns to ski or ride a bike by listening to a self-proclaimed “motivational speaker.”
Years have gone by and now I’m in the Hall of Fame (reminding me of the famed Groucho Marx comment about not wanting to be in a club that would have him as a member) and my fee is 40 times my first stated fee. But I feel the exact same way. It’s not about sound and lights nor smoke and mirrors. It’s about providing people with tools and ideas they can put to use immediately, in an entertaining and interesting manner.
After that, it’s up to them.
Why should I listen to someone arrogantly demanding the perfect environment in order to speak or perform tell me that I must be flexible and “authentic”?
And by the way, why does a professional tennis player or golfer need absolute silence while a football quarterback or baseball pitcher is expected to be excellent amidst the roar of the crowd?—Alan Weiss