Founded, in 1984, TED stands for “Technology, Entertainment, and Design”. Anyone can speak at a TED event and anyone can put on one. The licenses are free but you have to apply for them. TED speakers and TEDx speakers are different in that TED speakers are invited. Anyone can be a TEDx speaker and they are everywhere.

You don’t get paid for a TEDx talk. So why would a speaker do them? Giving a TED talk can provide several benefits for individuals. Here are some of the key advantages:

Global Exposure

TED talks have a vast audience worldwide. Learn to give a great TED talk, you have the opportunity to reach millions of viewers who are interested in your ideas, experiences, or expertise. This exposure can lead to increased recognition, visibility, and influence.

Thought Leadership

TED talks are known for showcasing innovative and thought-provoking ideas. Being invited to give a TED talk positions you as a thought leader in your field. It can help establish your credibility and expertise, leading to new opportunities, collaborations, and invitations for further speaking engagements.

Networking Opportunities

TED events attract a diverse range of attendees, including influential individuals, experts, and professionals from various domains. Giving a TED talk allows you to connect and network with like-minded individuals, potentially leading to valuable connections, partnerships, and collaborations.

Personal and Professional Development

Preparing and delivering a TED talk requires careful thought, research, and practice. The process challenges you to distill complex ideas into concise, engaging presentations. Through this preparation, you can enhance your communication skills, storytelling abilities, and overall presentation effectiveness.

Impact and Inspiration

TED talks are known for their ability to inspire and motivate people. By sharing your unique perspective, experiences, or ideas, you can potentially create a positive impact on the lives of others. Your talk may spark discussions, challenge conventional thinking, or empower individuals to take action, making a meaningful difference in their lives.

Content Creation and Distribution

TED talks are typically recorded and shared online, allowing your message to be accessible beyond the live event. This content can be shared on social media platforms, websites, and other channels, extending the reach of your talk and allowing it to have a lasting impact on a global scale.

Personal Fulfillment

Many speakers find giving a TED talk to be a personally rewarding experience. It provides a platform to share their passions, stories, or ideas with a receptive audience. The process of crafting and delivering a compelling talk can be deeply fulfilling and gratifying.

How to give a great TED talk

Giving a great TED talk requires careful preparation and effective delivery. Here are some key steps and tips to help you deliver an impactful and memorable TED talk:

Choose an engaging and compelling topic

Select a topic you are passionate about and that aligns with the TED talk format of “ideas worth spreading.” Ensure your topic is unique, interesting, and relevant to the audience.

Craft a clear and concise message

Distill your main message into a concise and powerful idea. Focus on delivering a clear takeaway that your audience can remember and act upon.

Structure your talk effectively

Organize your talk into a logical structure with a clear introduction, main body, and conclusion. Use storytelling techniques to engage the audience emotionally and make your ideas more relatable.

Develop a compelling opening

Begin your talk with a strong opening that captures the audience’s attention. You can use a surprising fact, a personal anecdote, a provocative question, or a powerful quote to create intrigue and draw the audience in.

Use visuals effectively

TED talks often include visuals to enhance the audience’s understanding and engagement. Utilize slides or other visual aids sparingly, ensuring they are visually appealing, easy to comprehend, and support your main points.

Be authentic and passionate

Connect with your audience by being yourself and sharing your genuine passion for the topic. Show enthusiasm and energy throughout your talk to inspire and engage the listeners.

Use storytelling and personal anecdotes

Weave relevant stories and personal experiences into your talk to make it more relatable and memorable. Stories have the power to connect emotionally with the audience and convey complex ideas in a compelling way.

Keep it simple and accessible

Avoid jargon, complex language, or overly technical details that might alienate your audience. Strive for simplicity and clarity, making your talk accessible to a broad range of listeners.

Practice and refine your delivery

Rehearse your talk multiple times to familiarize yourself with the content, timing, and flow. Pay attention to your body language, voice modulation, and pacing. Practice in front of a mirror, record yourself, or seek feedback from others to improve your delivery.

Respect the time limit

TED talks are typically limited to 18 minutes or less. Ensure that you respect the allocated time and practice delivering your talk within that timeframe. Being concise and focused will help maintain the audience’s attention.

Engage the audience

Incorporate interactive elements or moments of audience participation to create a more engaging experience. This can involve asking thought-provoking questions, using rhetorical devices, or sharing relatable examples that encourage the audience to reflect and participate mentally.

End with a strong conclusion

Wrap up your talk with a powerful and memorable conclusion. Restate your main message and leave the audience with a clear call-to-action or a thought-provoking idea that encourages further reflection or action.

Remember, giving a great TED talk is not only about delivering a polished performance but also about sharing a meaningful and impactful idea that resonates with the audience. Be yourself, speak from the heart, and strive to inspire, educate, or entertain your listeners.


As we’ve come out of the post-pandemic meeting industry it’s nice to be out and speaking in person for the past year. But what does the 2023 meeting industry forecast hold as we go forward?

Meeting industry forecast 2023

According to the 12th annual Global Meetings & Events Forecast, meeting professionals expect there to be more in person meetings. They also expect budgets to increase. But that also means they plan to do more with less, thanks to high inflation.

Planners dealing with rising costs and tight budgets are becoming more creative when it comes to finding budget-friendly options. According to Conventions South “this includes hosting fewer meetings, shortening meeting times, using less expensive venues and food options, choosing destinations close to their members, and negotiating everything.”

The cost of hotels and food is impacting the bottom line for meeting planners and they are finding ways to work around that.

Optimistic about the meeting industry

77% of respondents feel that the meeting industry will be strong in 2023. 67% think the number of in-person meetings and events will return to pre-pandemic levels in a year or two. I’m surprised that number is so low actually. From what I’ve seen most people are anxious to get out and network again. Airports have always been crowded lately as I’ve started traveling again for speaking work and for pleasure.

Face to face meetings

The good news is that most meeting and event planners expect 87% of meetings to have an in-person element. And virtual fatigue is a real thing. I, for one, am glad to hear that virtual is fading out. Part of the reason I like being a speaker is for the face to face, one on one with the audience. You can never get that same feeling from a virtual event no matter how well you do it. You can’t break bread over a virtual event or get instant feedback from an audience. Apparently, I’m not the only one that feels that way.

Meeting size

Covid is no longer a concern for most people. So meeting size is continuing to increase. Over 70% of events last year had attendance at or above 80% of 2019 levels. Two thirds of meeting professionals don’t expect the number of meetings to decrease.

Using industry speakers

One thing I’ve been seeing more of is that meeting planners are using more industry related speakers instead of general outside ones. I’ve asked if that is because of budget or if that’s what the attendees want and most of the time I hear that it’s what attendees want. There’s not much we can do as speakers to change that. Hopefully it’s a trend and will change, as things tend to do in this industry.

Overall the news is good. At least it’s way better than the past few years and there’s light at the end of the tunnel.











A Speaker Sponsor member recently asked why we send out opportunities for free speaking jobs. There are several reasons for that:

Should you speak for free?

You’re a beginner

When you’re just starting out as a speaker you may want to speak for free to get the practice. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it the same amount of time and professionalism you would give a paid job. But if you’re brand new you simply won’t have the same polish that speakers have who have been doing it for years have. Like a comedian who has to work out the bugs in a routine. It takes time to figure out what gets a laugh and what makes the audience cringe. Sometimes you stumble on something that gets a laugh that you didn’t expect. Each time you get in front of a new audience you learn something that you can add to your speech.

Speaking isn’t something you can learn by reading a book. You have to learn through experience. Students pay huge tuition fees to go to college. Think of this as your college education. Speak anywhere and everywhere you can. Try new things. Experiment. Be bold. When you’re speaking for free you can do more of that. Get in front of as many people as possible and as many different audiences as possible. Get feedback and keep improving.

A free speaking job can turn into a paid speaking job

Recently I’ve booked 2 paid speaking jobs because I filled out the online forms for free speaking jobs. Speaker Sponsor sends out free speaking leads, along with paid ones. It may seem like a waste of time when you want to get paid. But you never know when someone will be looking for speakers for a different conference. Or they secretly have the budget for speaker topics they really, really need. This is how I ended up with 2 paid speaking jobs.

Also, meeting planners will keep things on file for years. And when they need your topic they will search through them. I’ve booked jobs for things I filled out as long as 8 years ago. It was a free speaking job that I didn’t get at the time. I ended up getting my full speaking fee. So, I would say that it was definitely worth my time to fill out the free form.

If you have a book or other things to sell, speaking for free can often be a good deal. If you do speak for free ask for as many things in return as possible. Opportunity to sell books, etc. A free booth at their trade show. A list of attendees. All expenses paid. Mentions in their newsletter and social media. Opportunity to sell your coaching and consultant services. Your own sponsor, who they will help you promote.

You have your own sponsors 

I’ve taken several free jobs as a speaker, especially in the beginning. But I have never, ever spoken for free. I’ve always had a sponsor who paid me to get them in front of their target audience. I learned about sponsorship completely by accident. I was living in NYC and working on a TV pilot. It was a variety show with writers from Saturday Night Live, Broadway dancers, and celebrity guest stars. In addition to raising half of the money for the show, I was also one of the reporters. Behind the scenes my boss asked me one day to go out and get sponsors. I had no idea how to do it, but I put together a proposal and went door to door looking for sponsors for the show. This was my trial by fire into the world of sponsorship.

Once I learned out to do it I started using sponsorship to produce plays. When I became a speaker I realized about half of all speaking jobs are free ones. So I saw a huge opportunity to fill those free jobs with sponsorship to get paid. I practice what I preach and am constantly finding new ways to supplement speaking with sponsorship. Having a portfolio of sponsors helped me earn a living as a speaker during the shutdowns of Covid when events were being cancelled. Sponsorship means never having to hold your hand out for a paid speaking job. You have a much better chance of getting a free speaking job and getting paid for it.

Many Speaker Sponsor members have their own sponsors and welcome the chance to find any speaking opportunities. Paid or free speaking. They know they can monetize them and get paid for the free speaking jobs.

You need to be seen

The very best way to get booked as a paid speaker is for someone to see you speak live. I have a saying. “If you want to be in the right place at the right time you have to be everywhere all the time”. That means you have to speak every single chance you get. If you only wait for paid speaking jobs you miss out on opportunities to get in front of people who can hire you. Have a portfolio of sponsors and things to sell and you have a guarantee of being paid.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten full fee speaking jobs because someone saw me speak live at an event. And I’ve also lost jobs because I was in the running with someone who was seen live by a decision maker. Speakers who are constantly working will get more work. And be seen by more people who can hire them. If you’re booked solid all year long with paid speaking work, this probably doesn’t apply to you. But if you’re new or not solidly booked, think about all the ways you can get in front of more decision makers. Even if you speak for free.

If you want more speaking jobs you need to do everything you can. This includes adding free speaking to your strategy. But always make sure you monetize everything to get the most out of those opportunities.








I haven’t posted a whole lot lately. Because frankly, the speaking industry in 2020 sucked! Sure, there are speakers who are still working, and even some who are making decent money right now. There were people who made a fortune during the Great Depression. But most people were just barely scraping by. Most of the best speakers I know are not working. Obviously, Covid has put a huge damper on the live event industry in general and speakers are having a hard time right now.

Speakers are having a hard time right now

Many people will tell you that everything is simply going virtual for now and in the future. But this is a simple explanation that I’ve found is not true. Many people will tell you that the speaking industry is booming and the best it’s ever been. Also, not true. After interviewing hundreds of planners and others involved in the speaking industry, I’ve discovered that there is no one reason why speakers are having a hard time right now. It’s a deeper issue. Here are some of the things they’ve told me:

Live events up in the air

With Covid still hanging over us and variants popping up, meeting planners are hesitant to book a live event. Where they used to plan 6 months to a year in advance, now committee meetings are being put on hold. That’s just to discuss the dates and locations. Attendees are hesitant to make reservations, and the meeting planners need to have a certain number of attendees just to put on the event. Some are ready to travel and go to a live event and some aren’t.

Can’t you just go virtual?

So, if everything is so tentative, why not just go virtual? Zoom fatigue is real! Maybe in the beginning it was a necessary novelty, but not everyone wants to pay good money to watch speakers on a Zoom call. It doesn’t matter how interesting they are. Sure, conferences can charge less because it’s online, but then they also want to pay speakers less also. And, because watching speakers online is tiring, they tend to spread the conferences out for several days or even longer. I just attended a conference myself that went on every day for 2 weeks. The information was incredible. The speakers were interesting. I still couldn’t handle it for more than 15 minutes at a time. I can’t tell you the number of classes and webinars I have sitting in the que that I haven’t gotten to yet. Many people are simply Zoomed out.

So, the idea that we are only going to be speaking virtually from now on is not true. What could be true is that conferences will have other options besides just live events. They’ve been doing a combination of live and streaming for a while now. I remember several years ago speaking to a group of scientists in New York, but they wanted to have their employees in Denmark see it. So it was also live-streamed to them.

But make no doubt about it, there is a lot of pent-up demand for travel. Speakers and others who work in the live event industry do it for a reason. They are social people who like to travel and meet new people. Otherwise they would have a desk job. The speaking industry is not going to remain virtual forever.

Discontinued conference

A number of conferences are folding completely. Not all of this is due to Covid. Some have mentioned that their attendance was dwindling even before. Since this is a sponsorship site, I’ll mention that sponsorship is dependent on ears and eyeballs in the audience. The fewer people you have in the audience, the less you will be able to attract a sponsor. Or the less that sponsor will be willing to pay. At some point conferences have just decided to cancel for now. That means no jobs for speakers.


Some conferences have decided, even before Covid, that they need to partner with their competition in order to have enough attendees to make it worthwhile. I spoke at one of those a few years ago. Several competitors just got together and had one big conference. They split the expenses and marketing. With 3 of them it was a pretty decent crowd. But, this also means they need fewer speakers. One more reason speakers are having a hard time right now.

Using industry speakers only

Part of this has to do with budget cuts, but this trend has been going on for a while now. Some conferences simply don’t hire outside speakers. And even ones that have in the past are turning to industry speakers this time around. I’ve even heard from sponsors that they want their own people to speak. Nothing you can do about that. But that doesn’t mean they are good speakers. It means they are footing the bill. And money talks. That’s why you need to find sponsors who are not looking to speak and would love to sponsor you to do that for them.

Carried over speakers from 2020

Since so many conferences were cancelled in 2020, most who had hired speakers simply rolled them over to 2021. Now if they don’t have the conference in 2021, that rolls them over to 2022. This means that fewer speakers have opportunities right now. That’s not going to last forever, and things will go back to some normalcy fairly soon.

Budget cuts

It sucks that we were finally at a point where meeting planner budgets were increasing. But, that has taken a nosedive. If you’ve been a speaker for any length of time you know that economies wax and wane all the time. I’m being told that even the budgets for big sponsors has gone down. But I’ve always made sure to line up more than one sponsor anyway. About half of all speaking jobs out there, even before Covid, are free ones. If you are able to come in with a sponsor for a free job you have a much, much better chance of getting that job and getting paid. Meeting planners need good speakers. But if they can’t pay for them, the next best thing is getting a free speaker with their own sponsor. This is how I’ve managed to make money for years as a speaker, even when the economy was bad. There are always ways to work around the free speaking thing by using sponsorship and multiple streams of speaker income. When times are tough you can prosper when everyone else is running around clucking like a chicken. This is how clever entrepreneurs became successful during the Depression. I hate to use the hack terminology of pivot, but that’s what you have to do.

Speaking industry goes in cycles

But it’s not all bad news. Everything in the speaking industry goes in cycles. Yes, speakers are having a hard time right now. But that will change.

This is a time for you to step back and figure out where you fit in in the speaking industry. Figure out other ways to make a living at it. Figure out if you are still really committed to it. And if you are, commit to learning, growing, and being the best speaker you can be. So that when things turn around (and they will), you will be ready.


Aristotle once said “Man is, by nature, a social animal”. Humans are most comfortable when we’re connected and sharing our emotions. When we’re face to face we’re able to match each others emotions instantly, without even realizing we’re doing it. That is something you can’t completely get on a Zoom call.

Digital Meetings

In a survey from the Professional Convention Management Association, 62% of meeting planners said they did not feel that digital meetings would cannibalize live meetings and events, but would exist with them side by side.

I was just reading over a post I published in January regarding the insight of live meetings and events in 2020. It said that 70% of meeting planners had a very positive feeling about the state of meetings in 2020. What a difference 3 months makes!

That goes to show that you simply can’t predict the future based on statistics and surveys. Because the future will always change, and life is very unpredictable.

Popular Speech Topics

There were a few things that still are relevant in the post. Health and wellness were predicted to be a big topic. That is even more important today than it was 3 months ago. Another thing that was listed is that most planners believed that technology would play a bigger role. That has literally been forced on meeting planners as many events have had to go online.

Just 3 months ago I was being hired by corporations to help companies recruit and retain employees. Unemployment was the lowest it had been in 50 years and even companies that were paying great salaries and had wonderful benefits were having a very hard time finding employees. Management was complaining that applicants would come in and demand everything for the highest salary possible. That literally changed overnight as 26 million people lost their jobs.

Speak for Free

Everything in life shifts back and forth from buyer to seller, then back again with each having the stronger position. Speakers, who were finally getting past the whole “speak for free” thing, are now thrown into a tailspin as meeting planners have their own issues to deal with in regards to cancellations and safety issues. As much as speakers may be stressed about the situation, meeting planners are also dealing with uncertainty and a never-ending process of putting out fires.

Virtual for Now

Zoom calls and live streaming are perfect for where we are now. That does not mean all meetings and events will be online forever.

Live meetings and events have been shut down before in history and they may be again. But human beings are social animals who crave the closeness of others. And that will never change.

I found out that you can get more speaking jobs by helping other speakers. Last week I got a call from a meeting planner regarding a keynote for their next conference. I spoke on the topics they were looking for and was available for the date of the event. She set up a time for me to have a 3-way call with the president of the company. And I had my list of questions to ask.

It quickly became clear that he was looking for something completely different. And I was met with a lot of resistance on the other end. At that point, I could have tried to push it in my direction but I got the impression if I had gotten the job they wouldn’t have been happy.

So after hanging up I called my competition. I knew that he was more what they were looking for and he was local. I’m not sure if he’s excepted the job or not but I felt much better knowing that the client will get what they want and get a great speaker and I won’t be miserable trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.

Sometimes your competition is a better fit

The point of the story is that sometimes it’s better to pass on a job than try to make it fit. Sometimes your competition is a better fit.

I had a friend who wanted to get on a TV writing staff, so she came up with a long term strategy that was kind of a gamble. She decided to spend a whole year helping other people in the industry get work. Not ignoring her own work, but always keeping an eye out for writing jobs that she could pass on to other writers.

For months, she networked like crazy and recommended good writers that she knew whenever a job would come up that they were right for. Many times the writers were direct competition. Sometimes they were better suited for that particular job than she was.

After several months she was starting to think maybe the strategy wasn’t going to work. She got a lot of grateful writers work, but she still wasn’t on a TV writing staff. And then one day she got a call that one of the writers she had helped had been promoted to showrunner of a new TV series. And that writer never forgot how she had helped her. She got the job as staff writer on a show that lasted a couple of years. Not only did she make a lot of money, but that led to other staff writing jobs.

Help the meeting planner

The bottom line is that there is a lot of work out there. If you’re the very best person for the job, you’ll get it. And if you don’t get it, you might as well be the one to help the meeting planner find the best person. That will make the meeting planner happy, so the next time they will remember you helped them out with a really good speaker. And the next job may be one you’re perfect for.

It will also make the speaker happy. Hopefully they will steer some business your way when the time is right. Sometimes they may be busy on the date of the event, or they could refer you the next year.

Speaker commission

You could do it just for the karma or you could do a reciprocal commission of 10 or 20%. But make sure you’re working with professional, ethical speakers who will do a good job for the meeting planner. Otherwise it’ll backfire on you. Get more speaking jobs by helping other speakers get speaking jobs.

This is why it’s a good idea to network with professional speakers who can hit it out of the park and pay it forward for you if possible. Even if it’s your competition.

Every performer knows the show must go on, no matter what. I learned very early on as an actor how to perform through pain. How to push the pain to the back of my mind to give the audience what they came to see. I was on my way to do a TV show in New York when I got the news that my dog died. I showed up to the studio with red, puffy eyes and struggled to sit in the makeup chair without crying. But when they called “action” I snapped into character with a smile on my face.

How to perform through pain

Last year I was in the hospital and had to fly out to do a speaking job that same day. I cut the hospital bracelet off on my way to the airport and put myself into a Zen mode. I was in no shape to be flying, but had no choice. It turned out to be one of the best speeches I had given and you would never guess from the video. The client had no idea what I was going through.

Last week I was scheduled to do a motivational speech and found out my mother died the day before I had to leave.  I had to put on a happy face and power through motivating the crowd, when I could barely motivate myself.

The show must go on!

Performers have to go through this all the time. If you work enough, you’ll probably eventually go through some kind of painful experience where you simply have to go on with the performance.

I know of a belly dancer who also juggled knives in her act. She said once she dropped the knife and it went straight into her foot, but she just pulled it out and kept on dancing. As soon as she got off stage she let out a scream. But while on stage she had to keep going.

Speaker who performed through pain

Here are some performers who prove the show must go on and how they do it:

“It was the day after the love of my life died of a brain tumor. The client had flown in his sales team from all across the U.S. And my job, was to educate and entertain them from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

There are two things that got me through this day and carry me through hardship to give it my best.

Focus on the audience — not me

Although the client may be empathetic, caring, even compassionate, they don’t really care what my problems are. They care about how they are going to get the training and entertainment for their team, keep the program on track, and get a return on the investment. To get through the day, I focused totally on the audience and giving them the best program I could give them. Make them laugh, make them cry, help them learn, answer their questions. No thinking about myself. Solely serving them.

Remind myself that I’m the best they are going to get today — so I better be good

The client has contracted with me. It’s too late to get them a substitute. It’s unfair (unethical) for me to not give my very best. The information is important for this audience. Do the job.

That was the toughest day I’ve worked as a speaker. The client never knew what I was going through and has since had me back to work with his team repeatedly.”

Laurie Richards is an accomplished speaker, strategist, and organizational consultant who works with leaders, executives, entrepreneurs, and other professionals to improve communication at every level. Known for her practical, interactive, and entertaining approach. She helps clients strategically plan outcome-based presentations. Put power into a PowerPoint. Prepare for media interviews, manage crises (before, during, and after), grow morale, build stronger teams, and improve everyday communications to directly affect the bottom line (including new business pitches, state-of-the-organization addresses, sales presentations, and meetings. Many of Richards’ programs include personality profiling. She uses Myers-Briggs, DISC, Social Styles, and Fascination Advantage.  This helps clients work better as teams, improve efficiencies, select best candidates, and coach employees.

Laurie Richards holds degrees in communication and business management, and a variety of certifications in micro-expressions and psychological profiling. She is currently working toward her Ph.D. in industrial and organizational psychology.For more information, visit:

Long running play

“I am an actress is a very long running play in NY called Perfect Crime; I’ve gone onstage 8 times/week since April of 1987 and have only missed 4 performances in 31 years for my siblings’ weddings.

So I have literally performed through every life experience – break ups, death and illness of loved ones, sickness, the 9/11 attack, etc. My mother died on a Saturday between a matinee and an evening performance and I did the evening show. I am not crazy (well, maybe a little) but it was strangely comforting to do the show that night.

I have given this a lot of thought and I think performing has been enormously helpful to me in terms of dealing with hardship. It’s an appropriate emotional outlet. It’s distracting in times of trouble. Sometimes when I am onstage fully engaged, a small part of my brain is actually also problem solving so I end up having a solution to whatever is bothering me after the show. So performing allows me to be creative in multiple ways.”

Catherine Russell
General Manager
The Theater Center
1627 Broadway @ 50th St
212 921 7862 (theater)

Ballroom dancer

“I’m a competitive ballroom dancer and blogger. I’ve been training in ballroom dance since 2012, started competing in 2014, and most recently, have won a World Champion title in the style American Smooth. I blog as The Girl with the Tree Tattoo. I share the good, the bad, and the awkward of my journey while shedding light on the rarely addressed mental and emotional aspects of being a ballroom dancer.

Like so many of my fellow dancers, I’ve danced through physical injuries and illnesses. I’ve danced through anxiety and/or panic attacks. I danced through the end of my marriage.

When your passion for dance is so strong that it becomes something you must do, instead of just like to do, there is very little that will keep you from it. My teacher and dance partner even tried to dance with a severely broken wrist! No matter the style, dance requires a high level of discipline and commitment. I have to push through mental and physical hurdles every day just to train and practice. This trains me to push through them at performance time.

Dance is such a physically, emotionally and mentally taxing sport. You have to have a good amount of grit to survive and thrive in it, because otherwise it will chew you up and spit you out.

Preparation is key

As far as techniques for getting through specific hardships, preparation is key. Taking good care of my body throughout training reduces the risk of injury, and if I am injured, it reduces the severity. Preparation is key for my mental state as well. My warmup process at competitions includes a lot of mindset work to help me focus and be present in the moment. My best dance performance requires me to be fully present in the moment. Dance actually provides an escape. Everything else fades away as I move with my partner to the music. And if there is something that refuses to fade, I use it. I tap into the emotions I’m feeling and redirect them into my dancing.”

Katie Flashner, a.k.a. The Girl with the Tree Tattoo, is a ballroom dancer and blogger. Her mission is to inspire and motivate her fellow ballroom dancers to become the performers they are born to be instead of the ones that others want them to be.

World Champion ballroom dancer

Katie has been studying ballroom dance since 2012 and has successfully competed as an amateur ballroom dancer since 2014. Most recently she won the World Champion title in American Smooth. Since starting her blog in 2015, Katie has welcomed over 1,600 followers who value her openness and willingness to share the good, the bad, and the awkward of her journey while shedding light on the rarely addressed mental and emotional aspects of being a ballroom dancer.

In addition to writing on her blog, Katie regularly contributes articles to FloDance and Sheer Dance magazine. She has also been featured on DanceBeat, Dancesport Place, Dance Comp Review, and Dance Advantage. Her best-selling digital book series, Dance Diaries, received over 4 stars in Amazon reviews.

Katie lives in Orange County, California with her two dogs and has just released her latest work, The Solo Practice Guide for Ballroom Dancing.

Professional musician and performer

“My name is Alissa Musto and I am a professional musician and performer based in Boston, MA.

Growing up in a family of professional musicians, the concept of the “show must go on” was instilled in me from a young age. There are certainly days where I feel absolutely terrible, either emotionally or physically, and don’t want to go on stage. I remind myself though that this may be somebody’s first and only impression of me. Whatever I’m going through is temporary and probably will be resolved in a week. The consequences of a bad performance, however, live on a lot longer.

Crunch moments

I like to refer to these instances as “crunch moments”; I’m totally overwhelmed, I’m tired, I’m upset, I’m stressed, I’m probably running behind and then on top of all that, something else unexpected happens. If I took the time to really think about and process everything going on in that moment, I’d probably break down. Instead, I just acknowledge that I’ve hit “crunch time” and that I indisputably have to move forward and figure everything else out later. At that point, there is no room for procrastination or self-doubt. I buy my favorite $7 Starbucks coffee drink and remind myself that “dealing with it” is what distinguishes me as a professional from millions of other aspiring performers.

Alissa Musto

What are your techniques for performing through pain?

As a professional speaker and someone who works to get paid work for speakers, I was happy to see the latest report from Meetings Outlook for the speaking industry forecast for 2018. The survey showed a majority of experts in the meeting and event industry said they predict 2018 will be a good one for growth.

One reason speakers have been struggling with free and low fee gigs is because supply has been greater than demand. But for the first time in years, demand is starting to curve slightly in favor of supply.

Over half predict favorable business conditions and slightly higher budgets in the new year. Live attendance is expected to grow approximately 1.6%. Still not enough to have full employment for speakers, but definitely a trend in the right direction. More demand than supply will also mean higher fees for speakers who are working.

According to IBTM World, the industry’s leading showcase of meetings, incentives, conferences and events, “there is significant optimism among meeting and event planners”. This is based on their Trends Watch Report, which was compiled using 25 key sources of industry data.

It seems diversity and inclusion will be on the minds of meeting planners in 2018 according to IMEX. “We at IMEX have experienced the rising importance of diversity in the industry, particularly around women in the workplace and career advancement.” The idea of having more women and minority speakers had been debated for years. Maybe it’s finally trending in that direction.

According to the 2018 SITE Index more than half of planners think their incentive travel budgets will increase. But that doesn’t mean they won’t still be watching their budget. Most will still remain frugal about unnecessary spending, especially as the costs of everything will be going up.

This means as a speaker you would be wise to continue giving meeting planners the best return possible on their investment. Even though demand is trending upward, they will still be looking for the best value for their audience.




As a speaker, it’s helpful to know what the person hiring you to speak is most concerned about. You never know. You may have skills that can help them in problem solving, and that will go a long way when it comes to hiring and rehiring you. Always help make their job a little easier.

In a recent study conducted by Development Counsellors International, who polled over 200 North American meeting planners, over half of them are struggling with limited budgets and felt they were being overworked on top of it.

An article in Meetings and Conventions Magazine listed 25 ways meeting planners could cut their budgets. Two things on the list are of particular concern to speakers. The first one said to look within the organization for talent, offering them a free ticket to the conference in exchange.

This is something I’ve been hearing a lot lately from meeting planners, so it backs up what the article says. This is why it’s so important to have a portfolio of your own sponsors, so you can offer that to a meeting planner as an option when they don’t have the money in the budget. It’s possible they may find a good speaker from within to do it for free, but my guess is they would prefer to have a professional speaker with outside knowledge if they could.

The other thing on the list was to get more from your speakers by getting them to add a breakout session to their keynote fee. Another way speakers can add value is by helping to promote the event. This is something you should do anyway if you are working with a sponsor.

Here are other concerns from meeting planners:

“As an event and meeting planner with more than 25 years of professional experience, these are a few things that keep me up at night.

1) A speaker who manages to engage the attendees, but whose message provides no real teachable lessons — or the flip side — a speaker who  provides a plethora of good information, but goes too deep in the weeds and bores the attendees is a major consideration.

2) Attendees who pay a significant amount to attend a meeting or conference, but feel as though they didn’t get the value out of their investment is always a concern.

3) Equipment and tech failures with microphones, audio, etc., can keep one up at night. While you can test the equipment and conduct sound checks,it’s those phantom times when the PowerPoint and audio has a mind of its own and does not work properly.

4) Will the the meeting rooms be too cold or too hot? Will attendees be able to find their sessions? Will the meeting and seminars run on time? Will the speakers all show? There has been an occasion where there is a no-show.”

Greg Jenkins

PartnerBravo Productions


“My biggest concern: how to a leverage the event and how do I create an experience to get people excited to show up live.

 As far as an event, it’s never just the event. I have to consider if I live stream the live event, turn it into a podcast, transcribe it for blog post, turn into an article, pitch to media, create social media posts, and leverage every single second to justify the event cost. Some people just won’t attend a live event. I have many that will watch online so I have to make certain I’m on the platform and medium they desire and allow them to do so on their own time.

Experience. I definitely am more focused on creating unique events. How to I elevate the live event where people won’t want to miss it. Is it the mix of people in the room? Is it a special venue? Do attendees get something special? Is it going above and beyond to make people wowed?

Interesting example:

In 2011, I live streamed a four hour event via a rigged Go-To-Webinar trick. We had 100 in the audience, and we had 80 people show up from all over the country the entire time. After the event, I produced the video on our YouTube channel (with permission of all speakers). This one speaker, really used the video. She’s had almost 55k views on the video in five years. She still gets people that call her because of this event.

Aaron Norris,MBA, APR,CSPG

The Norris Group

Stephanie Chandler is the founder and CEO of the Nonfiction Authors Association and the Nonfiction Writers Conference (a 3 day virtual annual event). She is also the founder of, an educational blog for entrepreneurs. Stephanie is a frequent speaker at business events and has been featured in Entrepreneur, BusinessWeek, Inc., and Wired magazine.

If you’re a speaker or an up and coming speaker who is thinking about writing a nonfiction book to promote yourself as an expert in your field, I would highly recommend contacting Stephanie. A prolific writer herself, she is dedicated to mentoring nonfiction writers who want to benefit from her years of knowledge in the industry.

Do all speakers need to write a book?

Absolutely! I’ve never met a speaker who regretted publishing a book.

What are the advantages of having a nonfiction book as a speaker?

A book adds instant credibility and is a powerful tool for getting you in the door. Imagine sending a copy of your book out to prospects along with your marketing package? A book is powerful!

How do you establish yourself as an expert in your field?

A book is a quick way to claim your AUTHORity. There are many additional ways to establish yourself as an expert include blogging, hosting a podcast, producing videos, getting active with social media and writing for industry news sites and publications.

What is the biggest hurdle for beginning writers?

Some people struggle with the writing process or get overwhelmed by the idea of writing an entire book. But it doesn’t have to be as difficult as you think. Start with a solid outline. I use the storyboard method where I take a stack of index cards and write out every single topic I want to cover in my book, and then I start to organize those cards into a logical flow. That’s how I form chapters and the outline for the book.

Next, set a goal of writing 1,000 words per day—that’s just three typed pages. In 60 days you’ll have a 60,000-word manuscript!

Which comes first, the book or the speaking career?

For me the book came first, and then I started getting invited to speak (and consult!). But there are no hard rules. If you’re already speaking, then get to work on the book. If you’re working on a book, there’s no reason you can’t also begin speaking. Ideally, all of us should be doing both: writing and speaking. They just go hand-in-hand.

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned from putting on the Non Fiction Writers Conference?

Oh boy, lots of lessons! It’s a lot more work than people think. I suppose my biggest lesson, which applies to business in general, is to have a great team to help. There is no way I could do all of this on my own. I have great support from the people I’ve hired. Every speaker and author should have an experienced assistant!

Thanks, Stephanie, for taking time out of your busy schedule to speak to Speaker Sponsor. 

Stephanie can be reached at: