When companies bring you in to speak, they don’t want a cookie-cutter presentation. They want you to customize the message and the experience just for their staff. Doing so means the difference between being re-hired time and time again (and building a lucrative business without much marketing cost) or doing “one-off” speeches, burning that bridge, and constantly struggling to find the next client.
Here are 3 Keys to Customizing Your Speech for Great Results
Customizing Key #1: Uncover a Story about them
Chances are, during your conversations with the client long before the presentation, you can uncover some stories about at least one person on their staff. In fact, many times you can use the conversations you have with them as the story. For example, I was hired to do a speech to all the staff at a School District in Virginia. Because I was referred to the Superintendent, he didn’t know me and he’d never seen me speak. So he grilled me to try to ascertain whether or not I would be as good as the speaker they’d used over the past few years.
As a speaker, what did I do? I used this grilling to my advantage by turning it into a story. Listen to this 1-minute audio that occurred towards the beginning of my presentation:[audio:https://craigvalentine.com/wp-content/uploads/CustomizeTurner.mp3|titles=Uncover a Client’s Story ]
The Mr. Turner story and other customization I did for this District deepened my connection with them. In fact, Mr. Turner pulled me aside after the speech and said with a laugh and in a good natured manner, “I have to call our old speaker and tell him we’ve found someone new!”
Customization Key #2: Speak their language
One of the other ways to customize is to speak the language your client shares with you. For example, one of the large corporations I spoke to this year gave me a breakdown of how they expected their staff to develop. They felt that 70% of their development would come from on-the-job training, 20% would come from relationships and feedback, and the other 10% would come from self-study. Well, I studied these numbers and used them in the following way (1-minute audio clip):[audio:https://craigvalentine.com/wp-content/uploads/CustomizeDevelopment.mp3|titles=Speak their Language ]
Speaking their language and applying my formulas helped this audience see that I was on their side and it deepened the connection. In fact, they are rapidly becoming my biggest client as they continue to re-hire me. It has nothing to do with me and everything to do with customization.
Important point: Keep in mind you don’t have to change the structure to your speech. My 4 R’s to Remarkable Results message stays the same. It’s just that some of the content within the 4 R’s speaks my client’s language and includes at least one of their stories (or a story about them).
Customizing Key #3: Stress the Right Messages with your Stories
As I’m sure you know, every story you tell has the possibility of making several points. The key to customization is to make sure you tell your story and make the right point for that particular audience. That’s why I keep not only a story file but also a Foundational Phrase File so I’ll know the various points my stories can make.
For example, when I speak to entrepreneurs and speakers, one of my points is “Your Dream is not for sale.” However, when I speak to corporate audiences, I can’t make that point. Why? Because, in most corporate situations, most of the staff are dreaming about working somewhere else!
In fact, early in my career I made the mistake of speaking to a corporation and using the story about “Your dream is not for sale,” and emphasizing that message. Later that week the meeting planner called me and said,
One of our Vice-Presidents was so fired up about your message that he…left the company
Whoops. Do you think I was ever asked to speak there again? Make sure your message adds value and doesn’t subtract employees.
Critical Tool for Customization:
Where do you get all this information about the client’s stories and competencies and wants, needs, topics to avoid, etc.? Well, there’s a tool that most successful speakers use and I call it my Pre-Program Customization Questionnaire. Click below for an example of the Questionnaire.
Pre-Program Customization Questionnaire
This is a questionnaire you want your clients to complete preferably at least 30 days before the event. But don’t stop there.
You should also have some conversations with your client because they’ll tell you some things on the phone (or in person) that they won’t dare write down on paper. The conversations and the completed Pre-Program Customization Questionnaire will give you the information you need to put the 3 customizing keys to work for you.
Using the tools above will empower you to benefit your audience in many wonderful ways. By the way, have you ever studied the word “benefit?” Well, “bene” has its origin in Latin and it means “well” or “good.” So, basically what benefit means is you are a “good fit.” Customizing will make you a great fit for your client. And once you become a great fit, they want to try you on time and time again.
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