rom a strictly business per-
spective, it is perhaps the single
most important question faced
by anyone hoping for a career in
the speaking business: What, exactly,
are they selling?
Are they selling a product?
Are they selling a message?
Are they selling a service?
Or are they selling something else
entirely—perhaps even an amalgamation of all of the above?
It’s a difficult question to answer, of
course, and in the ever-complex, ever-diverse speaking industry—an industry
populated by speakers from myriad
backgrounds, telling myriad stories,
sharing myriad messages—there really
is no one, universal answer.
Even still, says Mark Sanborn,
much is clear: All speakers must ultimately ask themselves, and answer,
that oh-so-important question.
Because until a speaker knows what
he or she is selling, says Sanborn, they
don’t have a business.
And yes, even for those who have a
true passion for being on the podium,
speaking is a business—and so, it must
be treated as such.
“I don’t know why anyone would
think that starting a speaking business is
any different than starting any other
business,” Sanborn says.
For Sanborn, a longtime
speaking circuit veteran
and renowned expert in
business leadership, that
am I selling?”—was
answered in the earliest
days of his career, back
when he came to realize
that, for his speaking
career and for the audiences he wanted to serve,
he was selling solutions,
ideas, and problem-solving. Or, as he puts
it, he was selling “an
storytelling that leads
to actionable ideas.