Lessons Learned From National Speakers Association Convention 2010

Joanna Penn with Dan Poynter, from Para Publishing, self-publishing guru

This year, I have committed to become a Member of National Speaker’s Association, which means I have to do a certain number of paid speaking engagements and also receive a number of testimonials. I believe that being able to speak publicly is a key skill for successful authors so focusing on improving speaking skills is high on my list of goals.

Last weekend, I went to the National Speaker’s Association Australia Convention on the Gold Coast. Here are some of the highlights from the lessons I learnt and also some of the people I met along the way. National Speaker’s is packed full of amazing and inspirational people, and you can learn a hell of a lot about business and marketing, as well as speaking skills. I highly recommend the organisation which has chapters all over the world.

  • From Mike Rayburn, virtuoso guitarist and humorist speaker. “Set goals that don’t exist. Don’t start with what’s possible. Start with what’s cool.” Mike played a lot of very cool guitar but also inspired with his talk about huge dreams and big goals. Ask ‘what if?’ and then give it a go and see what the Universe has in store for you. You don’t need to know the first step, or the next step – just shoot for the stars. Mike had a goal to have his own show in Vegas, which he now has. What are your big goals? I want to be the world’s #1 female thriller writer, selling more than Dan Brown in my niche. What about you? Check out videos of Mike here.
  • Rachael Bermingham, self-published author of over 3 million books

    Rachael Bermingham from ‘4 Ingredients’ talked about her journey from being rejected by every publishing house in Australia to selling over 3 million self-published books. Rachael’s key tip is: “80% of the business is marketing”. She basically hustled the same message through all the  Aussie media aiming at Mums who wanted to cook easy, fresh recipes for their families. She wrote the marketing plan, and stuck to it, cold calling multiple times a day to media outlets all over Australia. From this basic premise, she and co-author Kim McCosker now have 3 books (with more coming), cookware products, a TV show, an iPhone app and more. Major publishers have been chasing the pair for several years now, and they continue to self-publish in order to control the product and the income stream. You can listen to a podcast interview with Rachael here. Her message on the podcast is basically what she spoke about, even using the same words. She is a testament to the power of repeating a message to get it to a target market.

  • Janet Lapp, keynote on tips for public speaking. This was one of my favorite sessions because Janet came across as amazingly authentic and her message resonated with me. So often, the big speakers are larger than life, rock-star types who I could never be like (and I don’t want to be like). But Janet was not a performer so much as a confidante and friend who just had some lessons to share. I felt her style was what I would like to model. I want to speak authentically and with real heart. However, she is also a professional speaker and shared her tips. As a flight instructor she talked about “Plan the flight and fly the plan” as a rule for speaking. Know what you are doing, prepare and practice so you control the situation. Be skilled enough to manage if things go wrong, but if you are that well prepared, the plan can be executed and your talk will go swimmingly. Your talk is not about you, it’s about the audience. So forget about focussing on you or your achievements, and get your message across to help them. However, you also need to “get out and live a little, so that it shows on stage” – you still need to be an interesting person! Combine the science of speaking (technical skills, presentation, handouts, products) with the art of speaking to create a beautiful but effective message.
  • Matt Church on authenticity

    From Matt Church, I learnt about the different personas that we all need in our repertoire in order to perform in different ways. He gave examples to do with speaking, but it also rings true for authors these days. You need to be “Lonesome Writer” sitting alone at your computer, creating and writing, communing with the muse. You need to be “Author Entrepreneur” and make a business plan if you are actually to make a living as a writer. You need to be “Marketing Guru” to get the word out about your book.  You also need to be “Author Speaker” to perform at festivals, events and book groups as well as give webinars, interviews and do TV/radio, plus “Geek Author” in order to cope with the technology these days – ebooks, blogs, podcasts, youtube… and the rest! Matt also focused on authenticity, calling it “exposing your jiggly bits to the audience”. You need to be real to connect these days. These personas are all valid sides of ourselves that we can use to express facets of our personalities and also use practically to get into state quickly. Matt’s site is  ThoughtLeadersCentral.com

    I learned so much over the 3 days of the conference and will continue to share ideas from it in coming weeks. I would encourage you to check out your local National Speaker’s Association if you are at all interested in the speaking profession. They are an inspiring bunch of people!

    National Speaker’s Association USA

    National Speaker’s Association Australia

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  1. says

    This is just a wise,informative post. Thank you so much for sharing these bits of wisdom from those who are succeeding. I started singing in public in order to get more comfortable in front of an audience. I thought if I could sing, I could certainly talk. It worked. When I launched my book and spoke, it felt natural and was great fun.

  2. says

    Hi Joanna,

    I really enjoyed your summary of the NSAA conference. I couldn’t have expressed it better myself. It was indeed a wonderful occasion with so much to take home. Watching and listening to world class presenters weave their craft so expertly (and apparently effortlessly !) was amazing. But it was also so much more. It was the opportunity to meet and get to know so many other speakers and authors and to feel part of a community that really wants all of it’s members to succeed.

    Plus I got to meet you! How good is that.

    All the best.

  3. says

    Hi Jenny, yes, it was great to meet other speakers and be inspired for our own speaking careers. I hope to see you next year in Melbourne!
    Thanks, Joanna


  1. […] Dan’s business model as author-entrepreneur. Based on “Write what you love. Sell to your friends”. Create books in multiple versions. Sell other products like digital downloads of special reports and other information. Think globally and sell to everyone in the world digitally.You could also consider speaking as an option if you enjoy that as many people enjoy getting information at seminars and live events. (I met Dan at National Speaker’s Association Australia) […]

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