The advantage, he explains, is
that his clients know he’s not just
tap dancing, but that he is a businessman who shares many of their
experiences. Like the members of his
audience, he too is navigating a constantly evolving environment.
“It’s what makes me a successful
speaker,” says Sheahan, who does about
120 presentations a year. “Running a
company today is very different than
running a company even in 2005. Clients
want real and recent experience.”
2. ALIGN, ALIGN, ALIGN.
For speakers who are trying to hold
down the fort as owner and chief
executive of a business, plus write books and do speaking engagements (which often means traveling), finding balance can be a challenge. Sheahan, who set up his U.S. base in Colorado, acknowledges that he doesn’t have it all figured out. “It’s bloody hard,” he says. “It’s my wife’s birthday, and I’m in an airport.” But there are ways to balance the various aspects of your professional life. “One of the ways you can balance it all is to try to find alignment with what
you do as a speaker and what you do as a
CEO,” Sheahan says.
The work he does with clients and
the research that goes into his speaking
engagements give him ideas for his books,
And while he says 80 percent
of his speaking clients have no need
for ChangeLabs, some speaking
engagements can turn into long-term
When an audience member saw him
speak as one panelist in a group, Sheahan
was asked to do a short video.
“What started as a video became a
keynote, and the keynote became a rede-
sign of a global program to develop the
careers of their high-potential staff,” he
says. “Now I work with them on every
continent. That is alignment.”
Because his speaking, his writing and
his company all revolve around behav-
ior change, Sheahan is able to continually
build his knowledge base and experience
and use it for the next big project.
“Having a strong alignment between
my company and my speaking makes
things a lot simpler,” he says.
3. CHOOSE YOUR OBJECTIVES
While some speakers may consider their
speaking as an opportunity to sell books
or drive future business, Sheahan says
that’s never the objective of a speech.
“My objectives are whatever the client’s objectives are—which might not
“ONE OF THE WAYS YOU CAN BALANCE
IT ALL IS TO TRY TO FIND ALIGNMENT
WITH WHAT YOU DO AS A SPEAKER
AND WHAT YOU DO AS A CEO.”
be what the audience’s objectives are,”
He focuses his time and attention
on understanding each client’s individual needs.
“I hate signature stories,” he says.
“First of all, if you’re telling a story
so often that it becomes your signa-
ture story, you need to get a new story.
Plus, to try to shoehorn my ‘signature’
stories or content into a speech would
be about serving my own needs, rather
than the client’s.”
That doesn’t mean you can’t be funny
or entertaining, Sheahan says—after all,
that’s often the expectation and objec-
tive too. But anecdotes and jokes should
be in the context of your topic.
Once he secures a meeting with a prospect, Sheahan estimates he’s able to close
the deal 90 to 95 percent of the time.
“It’s because I’m not saying, ‘Here’s
my view of the world.’ Instead, I’m
asking, ‘What’s your view of the world?’”
He recalls a sales call where he lis-
tened for 28 minutes—and spoke for