World of Speakers E.31: Dorie Clark | Becoming a thought leader


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World of Speakers E.31 Dorie Clark  Becoming a thought leader

Ryan Foland speaks with Dorie Clark, a marketing strategy consultant and author, and frequent contributor to the Harvard Business Review. She is a branding expert who works with organizations and individuals on building a successful, thought-leading brand.

One of the most interesting parts of this dynamic interview is where Dorie and Ryan explore how to transition into being an influential thought leader who gets paid to share their ideas. As many novice and mid-level speakers struggle to break through to the keynote stage, the insights shared in this interview can inspire a boost to the next level.

Listen to this podcast to find out:

  1. Why starting with unpaid speaking gigs can help you build your business immensely in the future.
  2. Two tools you can use to improve your speaking and connect more deeply and effectively with audiences.
  3. How to mix up your presentation so that you can customize it to each audience you present to.
  4. The three things it takes to become a thought leader in your industry
  5. How to transition from free to paid speaking engagements



If you enjoy this interview we’d be honoured if you reviewed us on iTunes. Just follow this link.


Dorie Clark: Hey, this is Dorie Clark.

I just got done talking with Ryan from the World of Speakers.

We had an awesome conversation about how to transition from unpaid to paid speaking, how to build up your business, ways to improve and all the good stuff.

I hope you enjoy the conversation.

Ryan Foland: Welcome back everybody to another episode, where we interview speakers from around the world.

Today we have Dorie Clark, the author of a few books, but her most recent book is the “Entrepreneurial You”.

Today, she's going to share how she has used the stage to create this small empire helping entrepreneurs become more entrepreneurial and people reinventing themselves to become reinvented.

Dorie, welcome to the show, how are you?

DC: I'm great, Ryan. Thanks for having me.

RF: Let's just jump right into it and start by jumping backwards.

Where did this all begin?

You are definitely an authority in the space of branding, reinventing and finding that true entrepreneurial spirit.

Were you destined to find this path and how did it come about?

DC: I'm not sure if I was destined, if I was, it took me a while to discover my destiny.

I actually started writing and speaking about all these things. I was foiled in my early attempts at finding a professional career.

I started as a newspaper reporter and then I was laid off.

Then I went to work in politics as a spokesperson for multiple campaigns, governor's race, the presidential race—we always lost.

Finally, I ended up as a non-profit executive director. After about a year of doing that work, I had this sudden realization which kind of took me too long to get to, but it was,

"Oh, wait a minute, running a non-profit is exactly like running a business—I could run my own business?" And ever since then...

RF: As a kid, were you outspoken?

Were you on the front of the stage, were you in the back? What were you like as a kid?

Were you typically shy, introverted, extroverted? What would you call yourself?

DC: I did always like speaking, and a lot of people don't think that that is compatible with being an introvert, which I also am.

They, of course, just conflate public speaking with needing to be an extrovert, but I feel like they're really different things.

I would much rather be on stage at a large conference than be in the middle of the pack of people at a cocktail reception, at a large conference.

That part feels stressful to me in a way that being on stage does not.

RF: So you are an introvert who is comfortable being on stage and being on stage gives you almost more security than being lost in the crowds?

DC: Yeah, absolutely.

It makes relating to people a lot easier, because people will come up to you as a result of your talk and they will already know what they want to talk to you about, they will be like,

"Oh, I liked your talk, when you said [blah blah blah], I had a similar experience," or whatever it is, and the conversation is just very easy because they already have a lot of context about you.

Whereas, if you are kind of a random person in the audience, all the weight is on you. You have to find the commonalities. You have to sort of do that awkward scraping where you're like, "So, where are you from?" You are just looking for something that actually greases the conversation. If you are a speaker, it is very helpful for my kind of social anxiety as an introvert.

RF: I like this idea of scraping, right.

We typically talk about networking, but at the end of the day, it is creating the information to find the common ground in which you can carry on the conversation.

And from the stage, you are starting the conversation with a one-to-many, and then that leads to probably many one-to-ones.

DC: Yeah, that's exactly right, well put.

RF: Let's talk about how you developed this topic.

I've heard you on podcasts and I've seen you out there speaking on the personal branding, reinventing, and now sort of into this entrepreneurial realm.

How did that fabric seem to stitch itself?

Was it as a direct result of the experiences you are going through and reinventing yourself?

How did you lock down your core messaging?

DC: One of the misconceptions I think a lot of people have is about coming up with your big idea—and this is something that I talk about a lot and my book Stand Out, is that the cultural narrative around that is always,

"Okay, you need to just kind of go away and think and then come up with your big idea, and then you go out and speak about it."

The truth is, in writing Stand Out, I interviewed 50+ top thought leaders across a wide variety of fields, and precious few of them—almost nobody actually—came up with one breakthrough idea that made them famous through doing that.

Ryan Foland with Dorie Clark - Quote on being famous - World of Speakers Podcast (Blue) _ Powered by SpeakerHub

Instead, what is far more common is that you don't start out with nothing, you start out with something that is sort of vague.

You start out with an interest. You start out with, "Oh, I really like graphic design," or, "Oh, you know, Facebook advertising seems kind of cool, I want to learn more about that," whatever it is.

But it's not like you have a hypothesis. It's not like you have a definitive point you want to make. You just have something that you want to learn about, and so you keep going more and more in that direction.

It is through the process of doing that, just kind of one foot in front of the other, that you begin over time to formulate your point of view, and then be able to speak about that articulately.

Unpaid speaking can be a great way to just get better, to improve your skills, it can be a good way to do business development.

But if you are going to be a paid speaker (assuming you are not a celebrity) for other reasons, odds are, the way that you are going to "prove" to conference organizers or whoever is booking the speaker that you deserve money for your speaking, is that you need to raise your brand profile enough through content creation of some form.

A book is especially helpful here, although it doesn't have to be the only way.

And that will show them that you have the requisite gravitas to be a paid keynote speaker.

RF: Requisite gravitas. #RequisiteGravitas. These are great, I can tell that I'm talking with someone who knows her vocabulary, and it's fascinating.

DC: Thank you, I am glad that you are just coining the hashtags left and right. I say go for it.

RF: Are you pretty active on Twitter?

DC: I am. I have a pretty active Twitter account. If folks want to engage, I am @dorieclark.

RF: Alright, so you heard that, people. Hit up Dorie on Twitter and loop me in the conversation and find a way to use #RequisiteGravitas or #DispositionallyIncapable or something like that. And anything close, just throw a hashtag with that and loop us into the conversation. I think that sounds fun.

I love the fact that you are an introvert who is now on the stage.

I would assume during that process, there was a lot of learning, whether it's from mentors, whether it's from self-help speaking books to organizations.

Let's dive into maybe some of the places that you found resources and then we're going to put you on the spot—throw you under the love bus. It doesn't hurt.

We're going to ask you to come up with a number of really high-value tips for listeners on how they can improve their skills as a speaker.

Where did you find your information and how do you continuously look for the best practices when it comes to speaking?

DC: Well, when I was getting started doing speaking, I've never taken a specific speaking class.

Something that actually was very helpful for me are—probably 2 things. One was doing improv in college. I am a real big believer in the value of comedy.

Comedians have to work so much harder than regular business speakers.

I've started doing stand up comedy in the last 18 months or so, and what I've come to realize is that being a business speaker, it's not easy necessarily, but like the bar’s kind of lower, right.

If you’re a business speaker it's like, they want you to be interesting and not boring. That's about it. If they could be like, "Oh, I learned something and she was pretty good," like, “Yeey, win”.  

Meanwhile, for stand-up comedy, if they are not literally laughing aloud every 10 seconds they're like, "You f**king suck!"

RF: Yes, that's a great distinction.

I don't think people understand how far the rabbit hole goes when it comes to comedy. You are being psychologically manipulated as an audience member and it takes a lot of talent to do that.

DC: Yeah, it's amazing. So comedy is one area that I think is really useful.  

The other is actually teaching.

For a number of years, I taught university classes. I still teach. I do part-time work for the Fuqua School of Business at Duke with these executive educational programs, a couple times a year.

That's intensive, in short bursts, but for a number of years I was teaching once a week, every Monday night or whatever it was, and it was long, it was like 6-9 usually. I just did this every single week for years, and it was painful.

But the good news is that you really become acutely aware of how the audience, meaning your students, are responding—when their attention is wandering, when they're engaged, how to snap them back if you need to, etc.

Ryan Foland with Dorie Clark - Quote on teaching and speaking - World of Speakers Podcast (Navy) _ Powered by SpeakerHub

That was a really good force for me to improve.

RF: What I like about both those examples, they are very audience-centric, at least the way that you described the learning experiences.

How are you, either more aware of your audience, or whether it's a consciousness of how they're taking the words and a certain rhythm to make it become more of a comic situation, to a classroom where this idea of like,

"You’ve got to know when to snap them back."

I heard in there a lot of that experience is based on you having a very big concern for the audience.

How big is the audience play when it comes to speaking?

Do you think people underestimate the value of really paying that close hyper-attention to the audience?

DC: I think so, in the sense that so much of what is written or talked about with speaking is about you as the performer. It's, what are you saying, what do your slides look like, what's the text essentially.

Then, you have the sort of platform skills discussion about, you're watching where your hands are, and are you swaying, and how are you modulating your voice.

All these things are really important of course, but it almost is presupposing that you're operating in a vacuum, like that would all be good if you were like on a sound stage and you're just filming it.

If you're doing a TEDx Talk, for instance, you kind of do care a little bit more about the camera in some ways. You want it to be a great experience for the people in the room, but the thing that's going to live on and be seen a bunch of times is the video of it.

In the vast majority of cases, really your concern is for the members of the audience, and no matter how polished you are, or whatever you're doing, it just matters a lot less if your audience is not connecting.

Ryan Foland with Dorie Clark - Quote on connection with the audience - World of Speakers Podcast (Blue-Grey) _ Powered by SpeakerHub

You could be doing the most evocative soliloquy in the world, but if they are rolling their eyes and they are bored, then you've lost.

RF: Ladies and the gentleman, next time you are doing an evocative soliloquy, hashtag that to Dorie and myself, we'd love to see how you do that.

Okay, so here's the challenge for you—I'm looking at the book titles that you have, you've got “Reinventing You”, “Stand Out” and then “Entrepreneurial You”.

Let's pretend that your next book is going to be called Speak Up and it's your insights on the best pieces of advice you can give to people, all things considered into a format that helps them become a better speaker.

Tell me about what that book would look like and what are some of the golden juicy nuggets that are leaking out of the pages?

DC: Amazing.

If we're trying to help people become better public speakers, some of the things that I think are really useful, and I'll just kind of jump all around the board here about stuff, but these are the things that are coming to my mind that I think are the most helpful.

Number 1, I think one of the most important things, actually, is being able to speak loudly, to project your voice.

Ryan Foland with Dorie Clark - Quote on why speak loudly - World of Speakers Podcast (Blue) _ Powered by SpeakerHub

Now obviously, if you are speaking in front of large crowds, they are going to mic you, okay.

The truth is, you're not going to start out speaking to large crowds. You're going to start out speaking to like 10 people at the chamber of commerce, that's the progression.

In order to be able to get to the point where you're allowed to speak to the large crowds and have a microphone and everything, you need to get over the hurdle of what it's like to speak successfully in small groups.

I hold a lot of dinner parties, and they'll be in a noisy restaurant, 8 or 10 people at the table and inevitably, there's going to be one person there that, they're like,

[speaking in a low voice] "Hi, I'm blah, blah, blah."

And we're like, "Hey, can you speak up!"

And they will be like, [speaking in a low voice] "Hi, I'm blah, blah, blah."

And they are like, "I'm sorry, I can't."

It's like, "What are you doing?"

I think if that is you, and you want to be a speaker, you need to learn how to speak up.

Specifically what I mean by that is you should take singing lessons and learn about diaphragm breathing so that you can project better.

Ryan Foland with Dorie Clark - Quote on learning how to speak up - World of Speakers Podcast (Navy) _ Powered by SpeakerHub

I think that that is really important. For everything, even just like if you're at a meeting at work. People cannot take your idea seriously if they can't even hear your idea.

So that's a little hobby-horse, but I think it's an important one.

Another one, I just want to go back to something we were talking about earlier, about content creation.

It is never too early to start on content creation, because in order to get the really plum assignments for speaking, paid assignments, you need people to want you. You need people to ask you and to seek you out. You are never going to get a $20,000 keynote by sending a cold email pitch to someone and saying,

"Hey I'm a speaker, do you want to hire me?" Never!

They are only giving the expensive keynotes to people that they have heard of, and that they have vetted themselves.

In order to be the person that they're thinking of, you have to make yourself findable, and you do that through your breadcrumb trail of content creation.

Ryan Foland with Dorie Clark - Quote on making yourself findable - World of Speakers Podcast (Blue) _ Powered by SpeakerHub

That… that is really essential.

RF: I like that.

Again, I'm just thinking of like Hansel and Gretel as little content creators dropping their little tweets and their Instagram posts along in the forest on their way to try to find some sweets. I like it.

DC: Thank you, that's what I'm going for exactly, you are not going to get eaten by nasty wolves or whatever if you've been live-tweeting your location, everybody knows that.

RF: If you think about it, tweets are kind of breadcrumbs that could get lost, so it's about having enough breadcrumbs but continuously putting them out there, because I find sometimes people think that a certain post or, "I'm going to tweet."

Well, it is a breadcrumb if you leave it overnight or 18 minutes later, it is sort of lost in the bush.

This idea of significant breadcrumb so that people can find you in a consistent dropping of these different technological breadcrumbs.

DC: Yes, totally.

RF: That's your next book, it's called “Breadcrumbs”, just so you know.

DC: Good, that makes it easier, thanks.

RF: Actually, I like that, dropping breadcrumbs in the digital age, I can see that.

DC: This idea is fleshing out, I like it.

RF: Okay, so back to your next book which is “Speak Up”. I like this. Your idea falls flat if no one hears you, which is very obvious but important.

My favorite pieces of it are the advice—are the ones that are so blatantly obvious that most people are passing over because they don't think that it is important, because it's just obvious, but those are sometimes the most important.

DC: Yeah, totally.

RF: Also this idea of the digital breadcrumbs to create content sooner than you even think that you could.

What else for people that are getting on? Let's say that you've got the content creation started. You sort of have honed in this larger message. You're comfortable at the dinner parties with your volume.

What about some of the things that you've learned when you're actually on stage?

How do you start? Do you have any good advice for the intros? Usually things are made or broken very quickly?

DC: Yeah, absolutely.

You want to make sure you are grabbing people pretty well.

Certainly, I'm a big fan of picture based slides, meaning I try to never have more than 3 words on a slide, period.

Basically, in my speeches I tell a lot of stories. In all my books including the latest one, “Entrepreneurial You”, I have interviewed 50+ people, and I kind of create this pastiche of their stories in order to create a narrative.

I will typically just put together a powerpoint that is essentially just their pictures, and I will then use that as kind of a cue card for myself, where I then just click through and tell their story and how it applies to the overall theme.

I think it's nice for the audience because it's always cool to visualize the person as you're hearing about them. So I think that that's one thing.

Another thing that I like to do early on is to just have a little reality setting thing. I like to start my talks generally by meeting the audience where they are. In my case I talk about personal branding.

I'll talk a little bit about just how frenzied people are, how they're being pulled in so many directions and it's become more and more stressful even just to keep up with the basics.

That might seem like it doesn't have anything to do with personal branding, but the point that I make is that if you're that busy, everyone else is that busy, and that means essentially that your personal brand meaning like,

"Who are you, what are you capable of, what should be your next career assignment," that is the last goddamn thing they care about.

And so if you are going to actually get people to care about that, you can't just be assuming like, "Oh, they'll get it," you have to take a very specific strategic action in order for that to happen.

I think one I present that context then people are like, "Oh right, yeah, that makes sense."

So starting out with a kind of context setting I think is helpful.

RF: You said literally, setting the stage, it has kind of a dual meaning that you're actually setting everyone up in order for them to have this frame of context to then get the most impact.

I like what you said about this consciousness of whether or not they will care.

That comes back down to this audience-centric idea, but if you're not focused on your audience caring about you, then you just end up being one of those speakers who is just speaking to hear the sound of their own voice.

And as a business speaker goes, that's definitely going to be a fail at the end of the day.

DC: Totally, yeah.

RF: I can see Speak Up being a lot of simple tips when it comes to speaking. Everything from volume to whatnot.

Then you've got this sort of content creation trail early, but also at the same time, when you're actually on stage and starting using images and visuals to help people visualize what's happening, and setting that stage.

Do you have any structure from the content and the way that you put things together?

For the main body, is there a method you use?

DC: I think that in terms of structuring my talks, there are 2 main ways that I do it, and I'll say that pretty much no two talks that I give are ever exactly the same.

I have a lot of what I call modules, particular stories that I like to tell and I will fit them together in different configurations based on the audience and based on what the needs are that the organizer has expressed—what they would most like their attendees to get out of the presentation.

Ryan Foland with Dorie Clark - Quote on having several modules - World of Speakers Podcast (Black) _ Powered by SpeakerHub

I'll often mix and match themes from my books “Stand Out”, “Reinventing You” and “Entrepreneurial You” as needed.

But typically, I will break it up into thirds so that there are 3 main sections kind of walking people through a concept.

An example of this is, I had an engagement that I did for Deloitte a couple years ago, where they brought me in to speak multiple times over the course of the year for some of their auditors, and it was this big training session that they did for them on a lot of audit subjects.

One of the elements of this kind of workshop, this conference that they put people through, was that they had this networking reception one evening where they really wanted people from the different offices to get to meet each other and connect etc.

They wanted me to be the speaker right before that.

Appropriately, they were like, "Hey, could you do something about networking? We sort of want people to be in that headspace right before the reception."

And I said, "How about this—how about a talk called, ‘Eight ways to become a better networker in the next 30 minutes’." And they were like, "Yeah."

So basically, I did this very quick, 30-minute talk where I gave a series of 8 news you can use. Tips that literally were things about how to be a better networker in a cocktail party, so that they could employ those techniques the minute afterwards, when they entered into the reception.

RF: So literally, again, back to this audience focus, but finding out what the goals are of the organizer and crafting it exactly to that.

I also like the whole 3’s, because you know how many little pigs there were?

DC: I'm thinking 3.

RF: How many little blind mice?

DC: Also 3.

RF: Yeah, there are also 3 bears, and there are 3’s throughout the history of time and I love that.

My numerology number is 3, so I'm destined to be obsessed with the number 3. I think that's a great strategy to break people down into something that they can remember.

And when you're giving them information that they need to know for their current lives at the right time, giving them news that they can use is maybe your 6th book title. I like it.

DC: Yeah. Here we go.

RF: I want to transition into how you would help somebody monetize their message.

It could be sharing how you have grown to a spot from free speaking to a spot that's become paid or how you help people leverage their message on stage as part of their brand development.

You have an inside view because you are really helping individuals craft their own brand story and brand message.

How do you help people incorporate stage time and speaking and sharing the message that is something that they can monetize into the whole scheme of things?

DC: When it comes to transitioning into paid speaking, I realized in the course of doing my research for “Entrepreneurial You” and also thinking back to my own experience, that there's really a clear progression that everybody goes through.

And so, in “Entrepreneurial You” I actually call this “Clark’s Law of professional speaking”.

RF: Nice.

DC: Yeah, thank you.

It goes like this, step 1 is no one is interested in hearing you speak, period.

Step number 2 is they are glad to have you speak for free.

Step 3 is they are glad to have you speak and they might even give you a small honorarium—a little bit of money.

And finally, step 4 is where you become a coveted enough speaker and they are actually willing to pay you a real and legitimate fee.

Everybody pretty much has to work through those steps. Unless there's some extenuating circumstance where you become famous overnight, you're pretty much going to have to go through each of these stages and recognize how they come.

Ryan Foland with Dorie Clark - Quote on free speaking - World of Speakers Podcast (Blue-Grey) _ Powered by SpeakerHub

So early on, pretty much everybody has to do a lot of free speaking.

It's unfortunate and annoying, but it is how you train yourself and it is that process of "getting your name out there" etc.

The key is making sure that you are not exploited in the course of doing that, which means getting strategic about ways that you can extract value in different ways from it.

Ryan Foland with Dorie Clark - Quote on getting strategic - World of Speakers Podcast (Blue) _ Powered by SpeakerHub

So that value might be just your practicing that can help sometimes, it might be getting testimonial quotes, which is very useful to a new speaker.

It could be that you ask if they will videotape it or if they are already videotaping it, if you can have a copy and then that would give you sample footage for a speaker reel. That can be very useful.

Maybe they won't pay you, but they'll pay expenses and it's somewhere nice that you want to go. That could be a reason.

Just getting your value out of the experience when you're still speaking for free, and then slowly understanding when is the moment to raise your rates and getting comfortable doing it.

Ryan Foland with Dorie Clark - Quote on getting value on experience - World of Speakers Podcast (Black) _ Powered by SpeakerHub

RF: I love number 1 to be honest, which is nobody cares about what you're talking about.

DC: Yes.

RF: Sometimes I think that's the biggest barrier, because how do you find someone else to pay you for the value that you feel like you're providing, when it's maybe not directly correlated with the value that they see.

And this is aside from your lack of experience and the tactical ability if you're on stage.

How do you get past that number 1?

How do you break through to getting people to care?

And is the answer just speaking for free enough until you have that traction?

DC: Yeah, I think that part of the challenge is making sure that you understand what the goals of the organizer really are.

And they may be slightly different than what you imagine them to be.

For instance, it seems wildly unjust that the person who is getting paid to speak, and is being paid a lot, they might be a celebrity but they're actually a terrible speaker.

And you look at that and you're like, "Oh my god, that's ridiculous, I am such a better speaker than this person. It's so unfair."

It is. It's terrible. But there's a reason for that, and the reason is that if it is a kind of an "open enrollment event", if it's something where people are buying tickets, they need to have a celebrity headliner.

Because even though most of the value of people attending the conference, in reality, is going to come not at all from who they hear speak, but who they meet at the conference, like the networking or whatever, people register for conferences because like, "Oh, that seems like such a cool speaker, I want to go."

And so they know that paying such and such celebrity $35,000 dollars to speak is a good investment, because it'll sell $100,000 worth of tickets.

So in order for you to get to the point where you are a highly paid keynote speaker, you need to make yourself as famous as that person.

So yes, it's important to improve your platform skills and how you speak, but it's really important to improve your fame and your visibility.

Ryan Foland with Dorie Clark - Quote on improving your fame - World of Speakers Podcast (Blue) _ Powered by SpeakerHub

So understanding where you need to move the dial to make yourself more desirable is really important.

There are other things to think about too. If you are a breakout session speaker or something like that, for those, it often is a specific informational goal that people will have, for whatever conference.

Let's say there's a leadership conference and okay, there's breakout sessions. This is the place where if the keynoter is this kind of celebrity, that's just like, "Oh well, what they bring to the table is they are famous," they're usually for most conferences learning goals.

Because if a company is paying to send people to attend the conference, the boss, who may or may not be going, wants to make sure that if he's signing off on something, that his people will get a good education from the experience.

And so it is part of the mandate of the conference organizer to be like, "Okay, educational experience, got it." So it's often the breakout speakers.

So what's a good way to get yourself hired as a breakout speaker?

Again, it's great, it's important, it's necessary to be good as a speaker, but it's especially important for you to think about how you can establish your expertise in a particular niche, so that they are able to look at you and be like,

"Oh, clearly, this woman knows a ton about bitcoin, she's been published in such and such and such and such, we're going to just make her a speaker on our bitcoin track."

Credibility really pays a big dividend here as well.

RF: It sounds like this whole “getting famous” concept is at the end of the day an investment into clarifying, recognizing, creating content around what you want to be known for, which is really your brand, right?

DC: Yeah, that's exactly right.

I actually teach an online course called "Recognized Expert" where I really help people think through these processes, how to build that.

What I have come to realize in the course of teaching the course, and in the course of interviewing literally hundreds of top thought leaders over the past decade, is that fundamentally, when it comes to becoming a recognized expert, which is basically the kind of person that can command the big fees, there are 3 things, you need all 3 really to be fully effective.

And that is content creation, so that people know what your ideas are.

Social proof, meaning your credibility, so that people understand through your credentials that you are someone that should be taken seriously and listened to.

And number 3, your network, because you need people on your side to be recommending you for things, like let's say speaking engagements.

Ryan Foland with Dorie Clark - Quote on becoming a thought leader - World of Speakers Podcast (Blue) _ Powered by SpeakerHub

RF: Again, look at the number 3 popping up in our lives, very simple steps.

But this “known as an expert” is a certain amount of fame that's going to help you bring in the money, because they'll see the value as a result of the network that either you bring or the network that's supporting and validating you, as well as the social proof.

And I would assume you're referring to if I were to google someone— what happens, correct?

DC: Yeah, absolutely, that's certainly a piece of it.

The term social proof comes from psychology and it's basically just what is it that would make somebody listen to you. It's a signaling question more than anything.

The way that I like to think about it is: what are brands that people have already heard of that you can associate yourself with.

Because it makes it that much easier for them to say, "Oh, okay, he's credible, I'll pay attention now."

RF: So being featured in Forbes or Entrepreneur, Huffington Post or Ink or something like that, you basically have someone else that is saying,

"I spent my time and effort in interviewing, spending time with this person. Here is where they are seen as a thought leader."

And it lifts that visibility or that social proof of someone else’s trusting based on that essential recommendation by being featured, right?

DC: Yeah, that's exactly it.

If you look at most people's websites, for instance, you can see that they're doing this consciously or subconsciously,

"Oh this person, they've been on MSNBC and CNN. They have been featured in the New York Times."

"Oh look, they've consulted for Apple and LinkedIn and Morgan Stanley."

"Oh look they wrote a book and Adam Grant endorsed it."

It's all these things, it's just like, "Oh okay, if these people think that this person is good enough, then clearly I should."

You're saving the cognitive effort of the reader.

RF: Yeah, you're really kind of tapping into the mental mind maps that they already have and you're sort of sneaking a nice halo effect or drafting alongside them.

DC: Yes that's right.

Okay, well I think we've got enough for a couple of books here. Any final thoughts?

If you were someone who is listening to this podcast and you're at that middle stage—you've been speaking for free, you've been working on your brand, you haven't been getting those big paid gigs yet, maybe people have covered expenses, maybe you have some amount of inbound leads, but at the same time you're at this transition, you're trying to hit that tipping point.

What would you tell that person, or how would you encourage them to keep pushing, to push beyond, to get to that tipping point?

Is there anything that you could share with them as either inspiration or a tactic to help them through that?

DC: Well, if you want to get business, there are really only 2 ways to do it, period. I'm not a fan of cold calling, it can work, a caveat.

In my book “Entrepreneurial You”, I profile a guy named Grant Baldwin who really did manage to build up a good business, a successful business through cold calling for speeches.

But the caveat there is that he said that his hit-rate was about 1 in 100. Meaning one out of a 100 contacts, some of which he emailed once, some of which he contacted many times would turn into an actually paid engagement.

If speaking is the one thing you want to do in the world and you have all the time in the world to do it, then good, great, do it.

But for most people, for most professionals, that's just not a good use of your time, you have other things that you can do that would be paying you a lot more money than spending incomparable hours trying to scare up one gig.

The 2 things that are much easier in terms of their efficacy, there's a short term and the long term.

So the long term, as we talked about, is creating content and trying to publish it in the highest profile venues possible.

So if we're talking about blogging, it would be a well-known publication, let's say Forbes or something like that.  

You could do it with the video or audio or whatever, but it's creating content consistently and for high profile venues.

That is what is over the long term going to attract people to you.

What you can do in the short term, however, is highly targeted follow-up on warm leads.

You can pick certain conferences that you think would really be a fit for your message and then just research very meticulously.

LinkedIn is going to be very helpful here— who you know, who has spoken there before to see if they could recommend you. Possibly people that you might know, who are on the board, let's say it's an association, maybe it's somebody who is on the board, maybe it's somebody who's on the speaker committee, maybe you're interested in speaking at the national convention— somebody who runs the Las Vegas chapter, whatever it is.

It's reaching out to those people in a very targeted manner and saying,

"Hey, there's this very specific conference I'm interested in speaking at. Would you recommend me? Would you put me in touch with this key person."

And if you can do that, that is a way of kind of jumping the line in terms of your credibility and that could be helpful.

RF: Nice. I like that we've got simple, long-term and short-term goals.

Ladies and gentlemen, we're talking with Dorie Clark, and if you want to check her out, Dorie

I'm appreciative of the fact that you are so audience-centric. You are the introvert who prefers and is more comfortable on stage, which I think is amazing.

Your new book that is out is “Entrepreneurial You”, but the newest book after that is going to be “Speak Up”, and then the newest book after that is going to be “Dropping Digital Crumbs in the Digital Age”, or something.

I appreciate really at the end of the day, the foundational kind of tips that you're talking about. Because I really believe a successful speaker isn't necessarily doing what no one else can do, it's that they are doing what everybody else can do but nobody does.

And that could be leveraging your network, creating laser targeted focus to find and get more connections and really building up that social proof just one and 2 blogs at a time, and I think that there's no better time to start that than now.

Thank you Dorie, I enjoyed your content, this was fun and I am excited to continue to cyberstalk all the fun stuff you have going on.

DC: I love it Ryan, thank you so much for having me, it's great to talk with you about speaking, which is one of my favorite topics.

I should just mention briefly for your audience that if they're interested in this question of becoming a recognized expert and trying to figure out where they're strong in that and where they're a little bit weaker and could use some effort, I actually created an evaluation.

It's a very detailed scored self-evaluation, which I think is pretty cool that gives you a score and a rank based on these 3 areas about content creation, social proof and your network.

And if anyone would like to download that for free, they can get it at

RF: Very cool. I'm going to go check that out and self-assess, I'll let you know how it goes, and then I look forward to seeing you online and hopefully on the stage some time.

DC: Thanks so much Ryan, it was good talking with you.

RF: Alright, thanks Dorie.


A bit about World of Speakers

World of Speakers is  a bi-monthly podcast that helps people find their own voice, and teaches them how to use their voice to develop a speaking business.

We cover topics like: what works versus what doesn't, ideas on how to give memorable presentations, speaking tips, and ideas on how to build a speaking business.

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