This past weekend I attended the National Speakers Association (NSA) Annual Convention in Orlando. Last week I shared here in my blog that this would be the first Annual Convention that I’d be attending since becoming a member of the NSA. I related the story of Fishing Where the Fishermen Fish from now Past-President Phil Van Hooser. The moral of that story was that if you want to learn to be the best, then hang out with the best … this past weekend I did indeed hang out with the very best!
To say that I learned would be an understatement. I’m still swirling with possibilities from everything I experienced and everyone I met. I accept that the results of my new learning and new friendships will take months, and possibly even years, to fully be measured and come to fruition. To acknowledge a few individuals will discount the contributions of the many others that I’ll forget to mention. So my intention today is to limit my observations to the global experience. Specifics will be revealed in time, and most likely with future dedicated blog posts that will highlight some of these remarkable individuals.
Here are the 5 key themes or lessons I brought home from the 2010 NSA Annual Convention.
- Be yourself … Use your own stories. The best speakers all use their own stories, materials and message. To use someone else’s story will come through to your audience as fake. You’ll also loose the respect of your peers. It’s easy to borrow and think it’s your own … but it’s a form of thievery. Avoiding this will require effort and diligence.
- Giving vs. Taking. We all need a cause to balance our career. It could be a charity to which you donate your time … or better yet your own special group (or cause). The most successful people have this dual purpose and they all acknowledge the acceleration of their career when the cause became an equal pursuit. A giving mindset produces both riches and fulfillment.
- If you want to be noticed, then be noticeable. This is my specialty … and I proved it to myself once more. I’m fortunate for the genetic luck and the character that I portray. I’m grateful for the receptive response I received from my fellow NSA members. The most memorable people I encountered had some brand or uniqueness that was obvious … whether physical or in style or in message.
- Message important: Authenticity more important. From the main session stage, I heard several of the keynoters point out that while the message and content that an individual speaker gives to his audience is important, being genuine and authentic is the difference between being average and being impactful. The message must be good, but without a genuineness of character the message will be average at best. How you behave offstage is a better character measurement than what you teach onstage.
- Follow Up. I made lots of friends and new contacts. Many offered assistance. Many said they have clients who could use my service. Several of my fellow speakers warned that the majority of speakers who fail … fail because they simply don’t follow up. I think I’ll keep this post short and sweet … I have a few hundred people to follow up within the next week.
Joining the NSA and attending the Annual Conference this past weekend will most likely be viewed retrospectively as a significant turning point in my career. It’s personally an exciting time. Learning from the masters and having a chance to be with so many fellow speakers is both energizing and a significant responsibility. I’m now fully responsible for representing the professionalism and integrity of my fellow speakers and the organization as a whole. It is a responsibility I accept with pride.
Bloggers Note: Arnold Sanow (pictured above) is my original coach and mentor who I worked regularly with during 2007. Seeing him in Orlando as a fellow NSA member was an important career milestone. Being considered a peer to Arnold and hundreds of other speakers with years of experience is an honor.
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Next Blog Date: July 26, 2010