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Marcus Sheridan talks about making speeches more social


When I went to BlogWorld Los Angeles, I had one overwhelming thought. I LOVE that Marcus Sheridan guy! I had never seen him speak before, nor even heard of him, yet after his session, I was an immediate fan. Seriously, I can’t gush enough about what an incredible speaker he is, how he engages the audience, and how many fantastic insights he has for the small business owner. (You can hear his session from the most recent conference in New York by purchasing the Virtual Ticket!)

Check out what Marcus has to say about presenting and what makes for a memorable session in this interview from Blogcast FM‘s Srinivas Rao. Also, think that you can just blog when you feel like it? Marcus has some thoughts on that, too.

What do you think? Should speakers interact with their audiences more? Do you like a monologue or would you rather interact with the speaker throughout the session?

6 Steps to Get Your Listeners To Stick Around

to do list

(photo by Cossac)

To keep your listener coming back for more, make her comfortable. It is like she is meeting an old friend again. Most people know what they like and like what they know. To get your listeners to stick with your show, build a solid structure. Then, be creative within it.

Think of your favorite talk show. Can you see the structure? Late night talk hosts like Jay Leno and David Letterman follow a structure with an opening monologue, a comedy segment, two guest interviews and a band performance. Radio call-in shows like “The Dave Ramsey Show” and “The Clark Howard Show” will structure their show with an opening and monologue followed by calls from listeners. Successful shows follow a format.

I often hear podcasters say, “We don’t have a format. We just talk about whatever is on our minds.” This is a mistake. Your listener expects quality and consistency. They want to be assured they are getting what they expect. Consistency makes your listener comfortable.

Structure doesn’t mean you can’t have fun and ad lib on your show. A structure simply means you have a well-defined plan. You need to know where you’re going and how you plan to get there. More importantly, your listener needs to know that you know. A consistent structure conveys that message.

Here are six elements you can add to your show to quickly build some structure:

1. Include an Intriguing introduction

New listeners will constantly join your podcast. You cannot assume every listener has heard the first episode or any episode that happened before this one. Tell your new listener what to expect from your show every time you record a new podcast.

Your introduction should be succinct and intriguing. You have about thirty seconds to convince your listener to stick around for the rest of the show. Tell them who you are and what you do in a general sense. Next, tell them what to expect from this specific show. Finally, tell them how to get involved with the podcast.

“Welcome to the Podcasters Podcast. My name is Erik K. Johnson. Over the next 30 minutes, we will answer your questions about transforming your podcast from average information into engaging entertainment and we will turn your relationships into cash.”

With that quick introduction, I told you exactly what to expect. You know the name of my fictitious podcast. You know the name of the host, exactly how long the podcast will run, and the goal for the show. I’ve also put you in the mix by referencing your dreams and how my podcast will help you. In those brief seconds, I’ve told you who, what, when and why.

Your introduction must be intriguing. On his show “48 Days Podcast,Dan Miller discusses the possibility of finding work you love. He hooks his listeners right from the start.

“Today we are going to talk about work” is not intriguing. That will not create any desire to stick around to hear what you have to say, especially for 30 minutes or an hour. For many, talking about work is like watching paint dry. Dan opens with “Do you love your work? Do you think it’s possible? Well, you’re about to find out.” Dan is intriguing.

“Today we are going to answer four e-mails to help these individuals escape their dreaded 9-to-5 and get into their dream jobs.” That is a statement that will stir some emotion and make people listen through to the end.

A great introduction welcomes new listeners to the group while making regular listeners feel comfortable.

2. Details That Delight

Details captivate the imagination of your listener. Your podcast should contain great stories that engage your audience. Put your listener in the story by adding delightful details.

“It was a muggy, hot lunchtime. We ducked into the cool, dark shade of the thick woods where the sun was barely visible through the dense leaves. My eyes hadn’t yet adjusted to the leaf-covered path when I lost my footing near the edge of an embankment. I ended up landing on my hip and rolling head-over-feet down the fairly steep, 10-foot drop where I promptly landed on my butt in the muddy mess below. My legs were completely covered in mud as if I had been rolling in it for hours.”

With the delightful details of that story, you can almost feel yourself in the woods. You can see the muddy mess in your mind. You can smell the thick, wooded area. Details help your listener experience the story rather than just hearing it.

3. Call To Action

Your podcast should encourage your listener to take action. The most common action we desire is listening again. Other possibilities include buying our product, visiting our website, or getting involved with our cause.

To get our listeners to act, we must include a call to action. It seems logical. However, many podcasters believe, “If I build it, they will come.” It simply doesn’t happen that way. Remember to always include a call to action. People won’t buy unless you ask them to buy.

4. Remove The Breaks

Be sure your show flows. Do not break the podcast into parts. When you make one segment sound like it ends, making a break appear, the listener has a chance to exit.

When you say, “Now it’s time for…” you have just made one segment end and another begin. You’ve given the audience the signal that the portion of the show they were just enjoying is now over, and you’re moving on to something different. If they want to get out, now is the time.

Avoid giving them the chance to leave by keeping the show one continuous, smooth piece of work. Simply start the next element without setting it up with a qualifier.

5. Help Your Audience

If your entire product and marketing strategy is focused on you, it will be very difficult to retain listeners. People are interested in themselves. As good as you might be, your listener will still wonder what is in it for them.

As Zig Ziglar says, “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” Make it clear how your listener benefits by your content. Focus on helping your audience.

Your customer is not interested in your product. She is interested in what your product can do for her. The content of your podcast must relate to your listener at all times. Make sure you position your content from the point of view of your listener. Nobody wants to watch your home movies unless they are in them.

6. A Powerful Conclusion

When you reach the end, thank your audience. Give them a nice conclusion summarizing the show, and let them know where they can get more. You might send them to your website, invite them to join your group on a social media site, or simply remind them when the next podcast will be posted.

Just like speech class, your conclusion should restate your introduction almost word-for-word. It should also contain your call to action.

Put It In Place

Follow these six steps, and you will quickly add some solid structure to your show. Even if you don’t have the desire to grow your audience to huge levels, you will need to replace the natural attrition your podcast will experience. You will always have listeners who stop listening for various reasons, such as no need, replaced by another, no longer entertained, or replaced the computer/phone with the rss feed.

As you attract new listeners to continue to fill the funnel, you must immediately hook and welcome these people to the party. A structure will help you do that. Make your listener comfortable. Most people know what they like and like what they know. Build your structure. Then, be creative within it.

What have you added to your podcast to create structure? How has it helped your audience grow? Share it below, and help others learn.

Five Tips to Help You Land Your First Speaking Gig


One of the speaker sessions at BWENY 2011

In just over two weeks, I’ll be speaking at Marywood University about using social media after graduation (in addition to blogging here, I also run a career advice blog at After Graduation). It’s officially my first paid speaking gig, and I couldn’t be more excited! Speaking gigs are a great way to both build your brand and make some money with your blog. So how did I land a speaking engagement and how can you do the same? Here are five tips you can use to start speaking about your niche:

1. Look outside conferences and other events.

Of course we love receiving your speaker applications here at BlogWorld and other events (SXSW, BlogHer, etc.) are also great for people hoping to speak. However, for every one open session organizers are trying to fill, there are dozens or even hundreds of speakers who apply. Instead, think about other places where groups of people gather and would be interested in what you have to teach. For example, I’m speaking to a college class. You could speak at high schools, churches or religious meetings, events outside the social media industry, women’s groups, businesses, and more.

2. Don’t wait for people to come to you.

You’re going to be sitting at home waiting by the phone for a long time if you’re waiting for people to approach you about speaking. Yes, it happens, especially if you have speaker page on your blog. If you’ve never been a speaker before, though, you have to go out and actively find opportunities to speak, not just wait for people to contact you. I was proactive about contacting Marywood’s professors to land my first gig.

3. Have an “in” where you’d like to speak.

When you’re unproven as a speaker, it helps to have an in wherever you want to speak. My sister is a student at Marywood and I’ve also had interns at this school, so it just made sense. The professor who is allowing me to speak to her class knows me, so even though I don’t have prior experience, she’s willing to give me a chance. I can use this opportunity to record my talk, which will help in getting future gigs, even when I don’t have an in. Who do you know? Maybe your best friend’s company would benefit from a short session with you. Maybe your mom is the president of a business organization that is looking for speakers at their monthly meetings. Maybe your spouse is part of an alumni group who would love to hear you speak.

4. Be relevant.

If you blog about real estate but are looking for a speak about how to use Twitter, there’s going to be a disconnect for event organizers. Now, you might be more than capable of speaking about Twitter, and you might even be the best person to talk about Twitter, but unless you have some social proof in this area, it’s going to be a difficult sell. For your first speaking gig, try to find an opportunity that is extremely relevant and closely related to your experiences. I run a blog about career advice for 20-somethings and work for a new media conference. I’m speaking about new media to a group of students. That isn’t a coincidence.

5. Lower your expectations a little.

Sure, we all want to be keynoters for events in our industry, but you need to work up to that. You probably aren’t going to get paid $10,000 and speak to a room of thousands of people your first time. You may have to volunteer as a speaker and you may have a very small audience. That’s okay. You’re building a speaking resume so you can get paid more and speak to larger groups next time. Dream big…but start small.

Have you spoken to groups before? Tell us about your first gig and leave some tips for people who’ve not yet landed any speaking gigs!

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