Saturday, May 04, 2013

How unique are you? Who says so?

To get regular bookings, we speakers need to stand out from the crowd. We need to be unique. As the US concert promoter Bill Graham used to say of rock band The Grateful Dead” “They’re not the best at what they do, they are the only ones who do what they do”.

It’s interesting to note how some speakers label themselves, presumably in the hope of drawing the interest of potential clients. “The UK’s leading..” or “Amazon best-selling author”. But hang on a minute. How rare are these hyperbolic appellations? I ran some Google searches to check. “The UK’s leading speaker” (28,400 results), “Amazon best-selling author” (697,000 results). Not in any sense unique, and makes it more difficult to stand out than Wally does.

Leaving aside the fact that self-given descriptions are simply opinions (and may just be based on getting people to buy your book on a given hour on a given day), do they really convince people? Why not use verifiable third-party information, such as “Listed as one of the top 100 social media experts to follow on Twitter by influential US blogger Evan Carmichael” or “Past President of the Global Speakers Federation” ? (Yes, those refer to me, but I’m making a point, not self-promoting).

The thing is, we all have stuff that makes us unique. That’s why people buy us. Of course, you can always add a touch of humour. The virtuoso violinist Yehudi Menuhin was widely recognised as being the world’s best. When he was asked how he regarded himself, he said “I’m the world’s second-best violinist”. The next question was obvious “Who is the best?” he was asked. “All my friends” he used to reply with a smile.

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