I DON’T CARE HOW MUCH
YOU PRACTICE. YOU GET
GOOD, ULTIMATELY, BY BEING
ON THE PLATFORM.
because with each audience, and each
presentation, his name, his brand
and, yes, his business, had a chance to
He was also aware that, in order to
get better as a speaker and make more
money as a business, he was going to
have to keep on speaking. And the only
way to keep on speaking, he said, was
to keep getting more gigs.
The business of speaking and the
passion for speaking, he knew, were
“More often than not, the reality
is that, as a speaker, you’re just going
to have to be out there,” he says. “In
those early years, you need income, and
you need exposure. It’s through [doing
more speeches] that you get good at
this. I don’t care how much you practice. You get good, ultimately, by being
on the platform.”
WATCH YOUR DASHBOARD
The economy goes up, and the
economy goes down.
Sometimes, business is strong.
Sometimes, it’s awful.
Technology changes, and the
demands of corporate customers
change, and the whims of speaking
But, as a 25-year survivor of this
business, Sanborn is convinced: Once
speakers find their niche and understand
what they’re selling and how to sell it,
they can endure pretty much everything.
The marketing, sales and networking skills may not be the most desirable
part of the job. Sanborn understands
for some speakers, including those
who simply love to speak, the behind-the-scenes, day-to-day business chores
probably aren’t fun at all. But those
things are just as crucial to long-term
success as one’s performance on the
podium. They cannot be ignored.
“You may not be passionate about
marketing, but you’d better do it if
you want to be able to continue to be
passionate about speaking,” he says.
“That’s the business side of it, and it’s
important. In a way, speaking is an art,
and we all know people who are won-
derful artists who simply can’t make a
living. Well, there are plenty of people
out there who can make a good speech,
but they just can’t make a living off it,
Of course, the question that many
speakers struggle with is how much
time they should spend on their
speaking chops, and how much they
should spend on business. As with
that key central question—“What am
I selling?”—there is no simple answer,
Sanborn says, but over the years he’s
come up with a handy visual aid to
help people—both speakers and his
audiences—conceptualize that tricky
balance: A car dashboard.
On every dashboard, there is a series
of dials and indicator lights, each of
which offers a small window into the
internal workings of your car. None of
those dials can be ignored, of course,
because if they are ignored, the car will
eventually sputter, cough and die.
Tim Hyland’s work has appeared in numerous publications, including Fast Company, Philadelphia City Paper and Philadelphia Life.
Hyland lives in Flourtown, Pa., and can be
reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.