R. Shawn McBride Live

Posts for for February, 2018

What If You Got Your Speaker Out of a Box?

Posted on: February 2nd, 2018 by R. Shawn McBride No Comments

What if?  What if you tried something different?

You have pressures.  You have to get your conference right.  Big things are at sake.

So you do what is “safe.”  And you end up with the same results as everyone else.  AVERAGE.

Average isn’t good.  Average doesn’t get you in the media.  Average doesn’t get people coming back.  Don’t be average.

Do you really want to be average?

Don’t you really want to stand out?

But how to do you get above average?  How do you get better when everyone is working so hard just to meet the minimum standards?

Well, my business partner, Shannon J. Gregg, has a simple answer for us.

Remember when you were a kid and you kept asking the adults “why?”  Why, why, why?  Every why lead to another why.

As adults this has been immortalized as the “Five Why’s.”  Shannon just loves it.  She had us add a section to our book “It’s About Time” on it.

And it’s masterful.

So, let’s play as a conference organizer (this is generic – play at your office with your conference’s facts):

Why 1: Why are we doing what every other conference does?

A:  Traditions and norms, it’s what people expect.

Why 2:  Why is this a tradition/norm?  Why do people expect it?

A:  Well it’s been this way for years and years.

Why 3:  Why has it been this way for years and years?

A:  Someone in ancient history ran a bunch of conferences and this is what is expected.

Why 4:  Why is this expected?

A:  Because everyone else does it.

Why 5: Am I happy getting the same results as everyone else?

A:  I hope you aren’t.


I am not a conference organizer, but…

Now I am a business strategist and speaker, not a conference organizer.  But in my line of work I work with a lot of great folks given this amazingly hard task. And they often confide in me about their pain.

“This deadline.” “That hotel charge.”  “This speaker wants blue M&M’s in their suite.”

OK, maybe most speakers don’t need blue M&M’s…but I’ve heard horror stories.


Your job isn’t easy.  Getting better results isn’t easy.

When I work with my clients I encourage them to Do Business Differently(TM).  Maybe a dose of different is in order for a conference too?


I am a speaker.  Let me show you something new.

I can tell you very well what things look like from a speaker’s side.

As a speaker we often are put into a box by a conference – and sometimes the box isn’t a great fit.

But I am a professional.  I deliver the best results I can for my clients with the cards I have been dealt.  Just like when a corporate client walks into my office and has signed something they should have never signed. I make the best of it. And it happens all too often in speaking.

Our materials are sent it to a mystery committee or decision making group and there is little conversation. Just materials in, and “yes/no” back.  Maybe sometimes a bit more dialog.

What’s missing here in most cases (some conferences are doing this differently) is a conversation between the conference, the speaker and (implicitly) the audience.

I am a speaker that is very concerned about the audience. I want to know what the audience needs. And almost every conference has the same goal – to give their audience valuable, in some cases career/business changing, information.

How is a speaker supposed to know that? I’ve gotten to be a good guesser. But that shouldn’t be the way.

How many conferences handle it.

Issue a call for speakers. Collect a bunch of names from your committee. Ask around a bit.

What else are you going to do?

While I will sometimes fill out a call for speakers I do so less and less. Just by starting that process the conference is, to some extent, saying “we have all of these square holes, and what squares can we get to fill them.” Do you really want your stage full of squares?

Since I’ve embraced the Do Business Differently(TM) method in my speaking I wake up and engage audiences. That’s something that a conference needs to understand. A recent conference that booked me said “I need your energy at this time in my program to wake my audience up.”

They know what I do any why. And they use every ounce of me.  More for their money.  More impact. More satisfaction for the audience.  And it’s that what it should be about?

Try something new!

How about trying something radical?  Call up a speaker that knows their stuff in an area you need to cover for your audience and see if they can be a team player. Ask them how you can do something amazing. Co-create. Be partners.

Build your program around the talent and the best ways to connect with the audience.

Amaze the audience with that takeaways and impacts.

Your audience will thank you.  They’ll come back next year.  And they’ll tell their friends.


Your Thoughts

What are your thoughts?  Join the conversation below.


About the author

R. Shawn McBride is a long-time attorney and licensed CPA. He spends his time as guide to effective execution helping his clients achieve the results they care about with a dose of Do Business Differently(TM). You can visit him at www.yourbusinessspeaker.com.