World of Speakers E.61: Ty Bennett | Humor, storytelling, and 14 ways to get more bookings


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World of Speakers E.61: Ty Bennett | Humor, storytelling, and 14 ways to get more bookings

In this episode of World of Speakers, our host Ryan Foland talks to Ty Bennett, the founder of Leadership Inc., a speaking and training company, and writer of four best-selling books on leadership. Ty gives roughly a hundred talks a year, and was one of the youngest speakers ever to receive the CSP Designation from the National Association of Speakers – less than 5% of the world’s speakers earn this honor.

Ryan and Ty explore key topics like how to use humor and storytelling to connect with audiences. Ty offers a lot of great advice on how to market yourself as a speaker, and explains the 14 things he does to make sure his booking calendar stays brimming. 

Listen to this podcast to find out: 

  1. The 14 things Ty does to get more bookings (he gets booked roughly 100x a year) 
  2. The importance of humor and how to use it on stage
  3. How to use the “struggle to solution” storytelling model to help your audiences. 
  4. The long-game of getting booked, and why repeat bookings are essential. 
  5. Why, as a speaker, you need to be making the most of video and podcasts to market your ideas and build your brand. 



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


Ty Bennett: Hey, this is Ty Bennett. I just had a wonderful chat with Ryan. 

We talked about how to get more speeches and how to be better on stage. 

I hope you enjoy it, take a listen. 

Ryan Foland: Welcome to another episode here on World of Speakers. 

Today we have Ty Bennett. He is not only a speaker, not only an author, he is also an entrepreneur. 

And today we're going to learn about him, we're going to learn from him and what he does in order to get more stage time for his speaking business. 

Ty, are you there and are you okay?

Ty Bennett: I am, thanks for having me. 

Ryan Foland: Sometimes when I talk I'm just not sure if people are there, but you are there, this is good news and we're here for the next, I don't know, 30, 40, 50 hours to figure out how we can pull everything out of you. 

But before we do that, I want to start with getting to know you a little bit more. Imagine that you walked into a Sam Goody or your favorite record store and instantly when you walked in, every single piece of content and CD and disc and record player and whatever it is, is a story from your life. 

So you get to take the time to walk through the store and pick up the CD or the beta track or the vinyl that has a story from your life that if that's the only thing I had, it was something that I could take and I could share with somebody and be like, 

"Wow, you got to meet this guy Ty. This one time, oh wait, here, listen to this story—"

Ty Bennett: I love the reference to Sam Goody, I have probably not heard that name in many years, so I like it. 

So the story that came to mind when you were saying that, I've always been pretty ambitious, somebody who wants to go after things, and I was thinking about kind of where that came from for me. 

I think it was probably somewhat natural, but I remember being eight or nine years old, I was running in a race, it was a 5K, and it was kind of through this neighborhood where we lived. 

I was battling for first place with this other kid, going back and forth, he's in the lead, then I'm in the lead. 

And the end of the race was this big, long hill and as we were coming up to the hill, I was beaten.

I think I had kind of mentally started to give up because he was pulling ahead, I was struggling to keep going. 

All the parents that were watching were kind of flanking this hill and they were cheering us on. 

Just as this kid started to pull away and I kind of mentally said, "I can't do it," all of a sudden I felt someone next to me. 

I look up and my dad is running next to me. And my dad, just being the dad that he is, goes, "You can catch this kid." 

I probably said something dumb like, "I can't do it, I don't know," and he goes, "Just do it, give it everything you can." 

It just energized me. I pushed up this hill and I ended up winning the race — just barely. 

That was fun, but what stood out to me about that day, and I think it served me so well, is we were, my dad and I walked home from there, it was probably a mile to our house, and somewhere in that walk— 

Actually, I can remember the exact spot, you know how there are certain pieces of memories that you can hold onto?

Ryan Foland: Yeah.

Ty Bennett: I know exactly where we were standing and he said, "Ty, you will be successful in whatever you do because you've learned how to push through the pain."

Every time, like for me, as an entrepreneur, as a speaker, as an author, as all the things that I've done, there are times that you want to quit, there are times that it gets painful, and that's the memory that pops in my head. 

It just keeps me going, and it just causes me to push through, I think, when some people might quit, or when some people feel like it's too hard or it's not working. I think it served me very well.

Ryan Foland: Interesting. It is interesting how you have those pinpoint moments in the exact location. 

It's almost like I zoomed in on that memory. And I would assume that that has had a long-lasting impact on your life and on your speaking career?

Ty Bennett: For sure.

Ryan Foland: Now is your dad full of these -isms, is he like the “Yoda Dad” where he's always got these momentous moments to share?

Ty Bennett: I don't know, he's a great dad, I don't know that I would look at him that way like he's always had those one-liners, but that one really stood out. 

I mean, he was always there for things. He traveled a lot so it's interesting that he happened to be there on the day of that race, like that I remember that specifically. 

So yeah, I think whether it's by example or actual advice, he helped me a lot. 

Ryan Foland: Nice, do you have brothers and sisters?

Ty Bennett: I have one brother and one sister.

Ryan Foland: Now were you competitive with them as well? 

How did that work out in the household? 

If your dad is jumping into the race to help you finish, I would assume that maybe there's more opportunity for competitiveness amongst the family?

Ty Bennett: Good question. 

Yes, so my brother and I were always very competitive, he's 20 months older than me, almost 2 years. 

He and I actually started a business together in our 20s that we built to about $25 million a year in revenue, so he's a very successful entrepreneur. 

But we had our struggles, to be honest, there is some competitiveness in that process. 

I since have sold my half of the business to him and just speak full time and write books, and so that's actually helped our relationship quite a bit because of that competitiveness. 

My sister is six years younger, so it wasn't the same competitive nature. She actually works for me now, so it's all kind of rounded itself out. 

For sure over the years, that was a driver in our household. 

Ryan Foland: Do you remember as a kid being somebody who's super introverted or super extroverted? 

Did you know that you would take to the stage, was that even on your radar? 

If you look at your past, are there some early indications for others who are like, "Well, yeah that maybe kind of was me too." 

How did you associate your ability to speak as one of your sharpest tools? When did that come about? What sidewalk were you on and who were you talking to then?

Ty Bennett: I definitely have been very extroverted my whole life. I like people, I get energy from people, I love to communicate. 

My mom would always tell stories, I don't remember this but even when I was really young and had a speech impediment and you couldn't understand anything, I would just talk a mile a minute. 

So I've never shied away from it. 

A couple of things from a stage perspective that I never really — like until you go back and you connect the dots, you're like, "Oh yeah, that makes sense."

When I was, I don't know, 12, 13, I really got into magic, for whatever reason.

Ryan Foland: Well, for whatever reason, because it's super cool, I mean, come on!

Ty Bennett: Yeah. 

The way that my ambitious entrepreneur mind works, it was like the minute I learned a trick, I was like, "How can I charge someone to show them this trick."

I started doing shows, I did some big shows, I built it up to where I performed at the county fair and I did birthday parties, and I did different things.

 That's probably like my first kind of stage time if you will. And the magic did not stick, that was not like a passion. 

In high school, I was involved in some different leadership programs and things, and there was some speaking involved there. 

But then as we built our business, like I mentioned with my brother in my 20s, because I had a passion for speaking, and because I had a natural talent there, more and more of that turned into my role. 

I would present a lot, I would do a lot of training and development. 

It became a functionality of what I did on a regular basis, and I did it at a high level as we built our business. 

That's really where I went, "Okay, this is what I want to do."

Ryan Foland: Right, it's like that reflection like, "Well, I tend to be doing a lot of this and it seems to be going well. So let's continue to double down," say?

Ty Bennett: Yeah, exactly.

Ryan Foland: Now, in your sort of path of discovering that you have these talents for speaking, was it always tied to financial connectivity with your business? 

Or was this something that you just kind of wanted to do for fun or as an offshoot? At what point did it become something that you were monetizing? 

Because I know a lot of speakers in their journey, they might realize that they have the talent, they might realize that they have the passion, but it still might be years until that connects with actual dollars. 

Is it truly an offshoot of the business? I'm curious how you developed it into an actual business?

Ty Bennett: It was an offshoot of the business. 

There have been times in my life that I've spoken a lot of things that had nothing to do with financial gains, like in our church and different things. 

I've taken opportunities to speak and participate in different things where I could present just because I enjoyed doing it and I wasn't afraid to do it. 

Ryan Foland with Ty Bennett - Quote on taking opportunities to speak - World of Speakers Podcast (Navy) Powered by SpeakerHub

But as our business, within our business, I mean obviously there was a benefit to that, but yeah, about 2006/2007/2008 I really started to study the speaking industry. 

I started to write my first book and pick brains — we brought in some different speakers to speak to our organization, so we hired John Maxwell, Peter Vidmar, Les Brown, and Harv Eker, and some others.

I would take them out to lunch and I'd pick their brains and say, "How does this work? How did you get started?" 

I'll have this conversation on a regular basis just to try and find my way of, "Okay, how am I going to go about this?" 

My first book came out in 2010, and that's when I really kind of launched into the speaking realm.

Ryan Foland: Which book was that, because I am looking, you've got a bunch of them.

Ty Bennett: I've written four.

Ryan Foland: Okay, that's a bunch. 

Ty Bennett: Yeah, so the first book was called "The Power of Influence." 

That was the first real kind of keynote message that I took out to the world. 

Ryan Foland: What came first, the keynote or the book? This is like the new chicken and egg question, this is the new speaker chicken and egg. 

Ty Bennett: Yeah. It kind of is. 

A little bit of both, and the fact that I spoke several times and shared a lot of the stories in speaking engagements as I was writing the book. 

But then it got really fine-tuned and defined once the book came out, if that makes sense?

Ryan Foland: Yeah, totally. 

Just like the chicken and the egg, it's hard to answer that question. 

It's a little bit of both sometimes, but that's interesting. 

Now, when you became a speaker author, did you get that bug and like go, "This is awesome, I just have to get to my next book and my next book and my next book."

What was the transition between them, because as speakers who become authors, it's always interesting, not as much their first, but their second, their third, their fourth. 

Did you just get on fire with that, or what?

Ty Bennett: As I studied the speaking industry, and I'm not saying this is the way that has to be for everybody, but for me, the model that seemed to stand out — I do primarily keynote speeches, I speak about 100 times a year, it's very rare that I'm doing longer trainings, it's mostly 45 to 60 minute keynotes. 

The model that seemed to resonate to me was that you write a book and you speak, you give a speech by the same title. 

That book is kind of that platform piece that you can build off of and build a brand around. 

There are obviously exceptions to this, but a lot of those exceptions are in the name of celebrity: you played in the NBA, or there's another reason that you're out there on that stage. 

I knew that coming into this. I recognized that if I wanted to stay relevant long term, I would probably need to write a book every few years.

Ryan Foland: Gotcha. 

Ty Bennett: I knew that coming into it. 

My first book came out in 2010. 

My second book didn't come out until 2013, so it's about 3 years. 

I did a book in 2014 and 2016, and I'm working on my next book now.

Ryan Foland: Gotcha, so you're milking as much as you can and I like that you have this product as a platform, a book that is the talk and as a model that you had a chance to talk with others to see and kind of pick and choose. 

We talk on one side which is these practicalities, having a book, having the talk. 

But if we were to dive into, for a few minutes, beyond that, like if you had some of your most sage advice for speakers, not only just new speakers but those who have a learning mentality and they've been doing this for years but just want to up their game. 

What are some of the things that you would advise from a practical, tactical, speaking aspect of what you do?

Ty Bennett: I think for any speaker, in whatever realm that is, the two biggest skill sets that stand out to me are storytelling and humor. 

Specifically work on those two things because if you can tell great stories and if you can make an audience laugh, you can engage them and captivate them around whatever it is that you want to share. 

My natural skill set is more in storytelling. I wrote a book called "The Power of Storytelling" it's something that I teach, it's something that I really enjoy, I believe in it. 

I work on it but it's more natural for me, and so where I've really spent a lot of time in the last couple of years, and even hired coaches and really delved in, was in continuing to work on adding humor to my repertoire and being funnier in how I presented ideas and information. 

So those would be, I mean, that's kind of high-level concepts, but I think if you look across the board if you get better in those two areas, you can be very effective.

Ryan Foland: Alright, so let's do a crash course in storytelling and then a crash course in humor, and you don't have to necessarily be funny with the storytelling, and we'll even let you not be funny with the humor, how's that?

Ty Bennett: Perfect. 

Couple thoughts on the storytelling — one, I believe that stories should follow a model "struggle to solution". 

The way it works in my mind is you hook people with the struggle, then you help them with the solution.

Ryan Foland with Ty Bennett - Quote on helping people find a solution - World of Speakers Podcast (Grey) Powered by SpeakerHub

I think a lot of times, especially our own stories, we approach certain stories where we don't want to. We want to come from like a power position and so we tell "solution to solution" stories. 

Like in business, for example, you hear these stories that they kind of sound like, "You know what, we're great and we've always been great, we'll always be great, and if you work with us, that would be great."

There's just nothing engaging or captivating about it. 

It requires a level of vulnerability, it requires a willingness to share some mistakes, but then it's "struggle to solution" so there's a learning experience that you get from it, there's something that comes out of it, there's a lesson to be learned from it. 

But I think just from a model standpoint that in and of itself really helps to shape the stories that you tell.

Ryan Foland: Now, just quickly on the authenticity and vulnerability, it's easy to say, but sometimes it's hard to actually do you. 

When you're talking about authenticity in storytelling are there any things that are maybe, underneath the surface more intricate, that are actually tactics to do it? 

Is it just as easy as just sharing, "Okay, this actually happened to me in getting out there?" 

I just think those two words have so much room for interpretation. 

I love this "hook to help" as opposed to "solution to solution" but is it just in this story or in the way that you tell it, or in the details? Like how do you translate that authenticity to create that engagement?

Ty Bennett: There are several things that come to mind. I'll give you a couple. 

One, some people might look at this differently, but I think that the more you practice, the more you script out, the more you role play, the more you internalize your stories, the more authentic you can tell them. 

Now, some people would say, "No, no, no, it's the opposite, you become more robotic." 

But here's the thing — I don't think you do those things to memorize. 

I think you do those things to internalize. That story needs to become part of you. 

Ryan Foland with Ty Bennett - Quote on making the story a part of you - World of Speakers Podcast (Navy) Powered by SpeakerHub

I promise you, if you're working at it like a craft, the 100th time you tell that story will be better than the first or second time you tell that story. 

If you record yourself, if you go back and listen to it, if you watch yourself on video, if you learn how to pause at the right place…all of those intricate things make a huge difference in how that story is received.

Part of it for me is just the prep work, is just putting in the time to really hone those stories. 

I also think that there are some things you can do to be more conversational in how you speak, which I think feels more authentic. 

Now there's a difference in speaking styles, but a couple of things that I think you can learn from an authenticity standpoint, for example, instead of just diving into a story, I could just dive in and go, "It was a cold November night," like that feels so weird to me, just the way that some people lead in to certain stories.

What I always like to do is I ask a you-focused question on the front end of a story. 

As an example, we're talking about the part of influence in my speech, I tell a story about when I met Stephen Covey for the first time. He was a mentor of mine. 

When I lead into that story I say, "How many of you have ever read ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’?" 

I raise my hand as I do that, which gives an indication to the audience that that's how they should respond, and I get every hand that goes up, right? 

That creates a commonality for that story to have relevance in their life. 

In my mind, you tap into their world with a question, then you bring them into your world with a story. It makes it feel conversational. 

Another little technique you can use is where you reinforce relatability, you throw it back on the audience. So there are places in the story where you're going to say, "Have you ever felt before? Don't you hate people like that?" 

Or whatever it is, you're just kind of throwing it back on the audience, but it's like you're having this dialogue, this conversation, this back and forth. 

Ryan Foland with Ty Bennett - Quote on teaching or learning authenticity - World of Speakers Podcast (Black) Powered by SpeakerHub

Those are techniques that you develop over time, but they also take a lot of practice and rehearsal, but it makes you. It sounds funny to say that the more you rehearse the more authentic you can be because that seems so counter-intuitive, that you can teach or learn authenticity.

But I think that's really the case because the more I know my content and it is part of me, the more I can just be me on stage and I can be authentic, and be engaged and present with the audience. 

It allows me to connect better.

Ryan Foland with Ty Bennett - Quote on connecting better - World of Speakers Podcast (Blue) Powered by SpeakerHub

Ryan Foland: Yeah, one of the things I talk about is, or I've drawn it on a stick figure — I draw stick figures daily. 

Actually, I really like this reinforced relatability, I might have to draw that and give you the stick figure credit for it. 

Ty Bennett: Nice.

Ryan Foland: But I say, "Don't memorize: prepare and improvise." Is that kind of what you're saying?

Ty Bennett: Yeah, for sure. 

You're going to adjust to the audience, but if you know your stuff then you can improvise, right? 

You can roll with something, somebody asks a question and it takes it in a little bit of a different direction, but you know your content so you can flow it and come back to it, however it goes. 

It gives you more flexibility then. If you were not prepared, which I think is what most people push away from and their argument is the exact opposite, but I just don't think it's true.

Ryan Foland: Gotcha. I like that. 

Alright, you've heard it here first, to be more authentic practice your stories. 

But it is funny, there are counterintuitive things that you wouldn't think, and I think that's really what can make a huge difference, because there's this idea of authenticity, that it's kind of off the cuff and there's this like, "Wow, I'm actually here in this story and how it comes out." 

But the more crafted you are in that delivery, from your gestures to your movements to the tone, to the pauses, to the place you are on the stage, that's when it just gets meta and that's when Obi-Wan comes out and you really can defeat the dark force with your words.

Ty Bennett: Well I'll give you an example of where this stands out to me. I wrote "The Power of Influence" in 2010, I've given that keynote like a couple thousand times, probably. 

I wrote my book "Partnership is The New Leadership" in 2016, so right after "Partnership is The New Leadership" came out, this group hired me and they had me do a keynote on "The Power of Influence" and then a couple hours later do another keynote on "Partnership is The New Leadership." 

I've given "The Power of Influence" thousands more times, right. 

To be honest with you, I think the content for "Partnership is The New Leadership" is better, but the amount of laughs I got comparatively, I got so much more in "The Power of Influence." 

I got so much more engagement, interaction, not because of the content, it's because of my delivery. It's because I've just done it more times and so I know all the little places to make them laugh, I know how to insert humor, I know where to pause, like it just flows better because of the practice. 

Now fast forward a couple of years and Partnership is just that much better because of how I've delivered it and I figured out how to do it.

Ryan Foland: I like it. This a great transition into our mini-course in humor. 

Because if you were just taking those two talks alone, let's just assume that the content was exactly even from a value standpoint, the delivery was perfectly even statistically speaking, but it sounds like a huge determining factor is just to size up the fact that people laughed more. Sounds like it just made for an overall better experience.

Ty Bennett: For sure. 

Yes, so couple of thoughts when it comes to humor. 

One, there's a great book called "The Comedy Bible" that Judy Carter wrote. 

It lays out a lot of formulas for comedy. 

I would highly recommend it because there are comedic formulas that you can go through like the rule of three, where you say something small, something small and something big and because that third one throws it off, it's kind of funny in the way that you deliver it. 

If you learn some of those formulas, it starts to help. 

But I think the biggest piece for me is that you don't insert humor, you uncover humor. 

Ryan Foland with Ty Bennett - Quote on uncovering humor - World of Speakers Podcast (Grey) Powered by SpeakerHub

Humor is there, there are certain places that humor is funny. As an example, just take your last speech, record it. The next time you give a speech, record it, go back through and listen to it with a different lens and even invite some friends into it with the idea of, 

"Where is a place that I could add a funny line or bring out maybe more dialogue of a character that would be funny in this story." 

There are places in your speech that you could add a little piece, or uncover something that's there and it could be funny, but you're just not taking advantage of it. 

I think it's there all the time, and so again, it just takes the work to dive deep into some of those things and start to find it. 

The other thing that I do, I watch comedians constantly. I just go to Netflix and pull up any comedian, there are tons of programs out there.

I'm watching and I'm analyzing what they're doing, not to copy their content or their jokes or anything, but it’s interesting how he's built up this story and then has this huge punch line. Just watching the comedic timing and watching the set up and the punch line, the delivery, and some use way more big gestures and more body type humor with posture, and the way they move, and with some people it's just quick one-liners, and with some people it's more a story format. 

I’m looking for that comedic voice. I keep at the forefront of my mind as I watch comedians to really study that as a craft. 

Ryan Foland: Yeah, have you ever met or do you know David Nihil?

Ty Bennett: No. I don't think I do, no.

Ryan Foland: So, I just met him, I was speaking in Boston, he put on a workshop, he's got a book about comedy habits to become a better and funnier public speaker. 

A lot of this stuff very much is resonating with me, and like you said, you're sort of seeking and analyzing just because of this new awareness. I'm now looking and doing exactly that without thinking about it. 

When I find myself laughing, I'm like, "Wait, wait, what was funny about that?" 

I'll actually go back and rewind a couple of minutes and look for the setup, it's almost just like having that awareness of it. 

You start to see it, but when you don't look for it, you laugh and you don't really think about it. 

It's an interesting concept that you're actively watching, seeking, trying, and finding.

Ty Bennett: I'll have to check out David Nihil, I don't know him. 

Funny story, I went with a group of speakers to this comedy workshop thing in Vegas. 

And they sent us out that night, "Everybody, go to a comedy show and watch, and kind of analyze".

So I'm there with another speaker and we end up like right up front, and she pulls out a notepad to start to take notes because this was the assignment, and the comedian just had a heyday with her. 

He was like, "What are you doing, stealing my material?" It just went off, it was hilarious. But yeah, I think it's a good thing to start to watch and analyze that way. 

Ryan Foland: Yeah, interesting. 

Now, when it comes to humor, just as a disclaimer, there's probably a way to go too far, a way to say too much, a way that you're going to offend somebody. That thin line between being annoying, and funny, and whatnot.

Any guidance on things to absolutely avoid or stories of lessons learned so that we don't have to repeat?

Ty Bennett: I speak mostly to corporate audiences so it's also my style and my brand that I'm pretty tame. I don't use foul language, I'm not going to be a risk for that corporation, and they know that going into it. 

If there's ever any question, I'll ask certain people like the event group beforehand if there are certain things to avoid.

For instance, if I notice something that I think is funny while sitting in the room beforehand, and think maybe I could call back to in my talk, I'll usually run it by somebody just to make sure it's okay to use. Or if I'm going to poke fun at somebody who's there, I’ll ask, “Is that executive open to that?” or that kind of thing?  

I think it's always good to check beforehand unless it's your brand and your style because I think there has to be consistency. 

If you go to my website and you look at my videos and you talk to me and we book the speech, you know what you're getting. 

The same way it's like if I go to look up Gary Vaynerchuk and I see what he is, I'm not surprised when he drops the F-bomb on my stage because that's who he is, right. 

I think there just needs to be transparency and consistency with it. 

Ryan Foland: I dig it. All right, so there we have our mini-crash-course in humor, as well as storytelling. 

I think the combination between the two is something that is valuable because I think, I forget who actually said it, but it's that, 

"If you can get people to laugh, you can get them to learn." 

Ryan Foland with Ty Bennett - Quote on getting people to laugh - World of Speakers Podcast (Black) Powered by SpeakerHub

There's really something that I think builds trust when you create laughter and I think that, especially in the corporate environments, there's such a need for things to be fun. 

If you're in an all-day workshop/seminar/conference, like it can be sleep medicine, right? So getting people engaged and laughing, I think, is something that is highly valuable, and when you put it into a story sandwich, why not?

Ty Bennett: Yeah, I agree. It makes a big difference, for sure. You become much more memorable, much more engaging, and therefore people get more out of it.

Ryan Foland: Yeah, less boring. 

Let's talk about how you find yourself on more stages, more often, into somewhat of the speaking side or the business side of speaking. Forgive me, but are there any tips that you have for our listeners? 

I know that it sounds like your speaking was initially an offshoot of the business, then you got the book to create the platform for the business, but any words of wisdom? 

Imagine that you're running next to a speaker who's about to head up a hill on their final run as they're trying to get more stage time, and you were their proverbial dad, and you in the middle of running, give them some motivational tips and tricks to attack that hill?

Ty Bennett: Yes, so I don't think it's just one thing, and I think that's one of the issues that a lot of speakers have, is like, “what's the one thing you're doing that's working?”

And my answer would be, "Well, it's the 14 things that we're doing that are working." 

I think with speaking especially, I think in any real business, if you treat it casually, you become a casualty of that business. 

Ryan Foland with Ty Bennett - Quote on becoming a casualty of your business - World of Speakers Podcast (Black) Powered by SpeakerHub

Ryan Foland: Oh, that's good. 

Ty Bennett: It's hard to take this as a hobby and get a lot of stage time and do more with it. 

That doesn't mean that you have to be doing this full time. That just means you have to be engaged, and you have to look at it that way, and be strategic and market yourself. 

So there's a bunch of things that we do that gets me booked with different groups. 

Ryan Foland: So I actually just started writing this down. I'm in the Comedy Show in the front row here, and I've got my big yellow post-it. 

But you said 14, so I'm going to pull 14 things out of you, we've got 3 so far.

Ty Bennett: Okay, I don't know that I'll get to 14, it was just an arbitrary number I threw out, but we can get there, we'll see. 

Ryan Foland: I know, I know, but it was great, it just sounded so good, like, "Alright, you're right, it's not 1, it's 14." 

So number one is: If you treat it casually you will become a casualty. 

Number two: Be engaged 

Number three: You have to be strategic.

I'll even give you the number four: You have to market yourself. 

Ty Bennett: Yeah. 

Ryan Foland: So we're going to have fun. 

Ty Bennett: Yeah, you're on a roll. Let's talk about the different ways that you market yourself. 

So I am constantly networking with people, with friends, with people who are connected to organizations and reaching out to them very directly in many cases, and saying, 

"Hey, you work at this company, do you guys ever bring in outside speakers? I'd love to connect and give my information?" 

So just specifically reaching out to networks of people that you know. 

Two, we are trying to leverage every speech that I have and in multiple ways. I'll give you like a bunch of different ways: 

If you can get any kind of video from any speech that you gave, you can repurpose that, use it to book more speeches. That's a great way. 

If you can get testimonials from the people who hire you, you can use those in your marketing efforts. 

If you can get good pictures that you can share via social media etc., so that people see you're out speaking, and you can promote what you're doing. That's another way you can leverage that speech.

If you can strategically invite other people who could possibly hire you to speak, to see you speak at that event, that's a great way to leverage that event. 

So we try and showcase every speech that I have, where I will invite potential clients who may be in that city, or bureaus that work in that city, and sometimes it's not even that they come and they show up, but the simple fact that we're reaching out and they hear that I am being booked and busy, that in and of itself is marketing.

It's better if they see me speak, but if they hear, "Oh wow! Ty is in our city, he's speaking." 

Next time they think about who they're going to hire, I'm top of mind. 

We're doing that on a regular basis. 

We do a lot of work with speakers bureaus, so developing relationships there and booking a lot of speeches through them, we're constantly trying to continue developing those relationships. 

We try and keep ongoing relationships with clients by reaching out and adding value on a regular basis, and specifically going back as I come out with a new book. 

So for example, when "The Power of Influence" came out, I spoke to a couple of hundred people before "The Power of Storytelling" came out. 

So when "The Power of Storytelling" came out, we would go back to those same clients and say, "Hey, Ty has a new book, this is a new topic and we'd love to come back and share this information with your sales team or with your leadership team," or whatever the case was from that standpoint. 

At any speech that I’m giving I try and seed the idea that I speak for other people. 

So as an example, you might share a story where the lead-in to that story is, "I speak for a lot of different organizations and recently I was speaking at GE," just saying that little line puts in the mind of everyone in the audience, "Oh, we should hire him for our event, this is what he or she does." 

So I don't know how many we're at now, are you making a list?

Ryan Foland: That was actually — do you want to know legitimately? That was number 14. I was about to stop you, that's it, like there we go. 

So here's a high-level recap for people and we're blasting through this, but maybe if one of these sticks out then we can do a little deeper dive. 

But we literally just got you 14. 

  1. If you treat the business casually you will be a casualty. 

  1. You have to be engaged, and I am going to add you have to be an engaged storyteller who is funny. I am just adding that there because you don't want to get more than 14. 

  1. You've got to be strategic. 

  1. You have to market yourself.

  1. You have to constantly network.

  1. You have to leverage every speech.

  1. You have to repurpose videos.

  1. You have to collect testimonials.

  1. You have to take pictures to prove that you were there.

  1. You have to invite potential clients, customers or bureaus to your talks. 

  1. You have to be booked and be seen as busy.

  1. You have to work the speaker bureaus.

  1. You have to keep ongoing value and stay in front of them with your new content.

  2. You've got to see the idea that you speak for others, think of it as a ninja named job.

Ty Bennett: Hey, that's a good list. I like it.

Ryan Foland: It is, that's probably your sixth book.

Ty Bennett: There we go. 

Ryan Foland: 14 habits of highly successful speakers. 

Ty Bennett: Perfect. 

Ryan Foland: Talk about being on brand!

Ty Bennett: I already bought the domain.

Ryan Foland:  I think the main point is the fact that there's not just one thing that is so crucial, because I get that question all the time too. You know when people send a DM, they'll be like, 

"Hey I've been following you, I love your work and it sounds like you're speaking a lot. Can you tell me how to become a professional speaker?”

It's like, "Well, I have 14 different things to talk about." 

Ty Bennett: Yeah, like I can but you need to listen to the last 32 podcasts. 

That's the truth, because now here's the thing — to get started you don't need to do all those things right at once, you need to grab a few. 

The honest truth is you need to have an idea of what it is you speak about, who you speak for, you probably need a video or a website, something you can show people. 

Then you need to start calling all the people you know. Just start there and say, "Hey, this is something I'm doing, I'd love to share this message," and just start getting stage time, get in front of people. 

I always tell speakers that you're going to be told that you're good, like people are going to tell you “good job” mostly because they are glad they're not standing on that stage and you are. 

But that doesn't mean anything. It's when people see you speak and they start hiring you, that's when you're actually good. 

Ryan Foland with Ty Bennett - Quote on being hired - World of Speakers Podcast (Black) Powered by SpeakHub

When people see you and it turns into other speeches — and here's the truth, long-term, for this to work: you have to get to the point where the majority of your speeches are coming from other speeches, because to go and find 100 new stages to speak on every year, that would be a tough deal for my team. 

That's not an easy thing. 

But when 40 or 50 of them come just because somebody calls us out of the blue and says, "Hey, we saw Ty speak at this event," or, "We had him two years ago, we want to have him back," or whatever, then it becomes kind of that snowball effect.

Ryan Foland: Yeah, it totally does. 

And the other thing too is, I'll have a middle ground, so people are like, "Yeah, that was good, that was amazing," and then you don't hear anything.

Then later on you'll get, "Oh my gosh, that was amazing. I'd love to have you come speak in my company." 

Then you get a card or they take your card, and then they don't call you. 

Later on, you get better and then people actually ask you for your info, and then they get it and they call. 

So I find that there's this transitional period where people will come up and say not only that you are good but that they want to hire you, but then they don't hire you. Still that's a step in that process, right?

Ty Bennett: For sure, it's a step in the right direction. 

The honest truth is some of them may not be the decision maker, so they're going to pass your name along, or they're part of a committee, and so your name gets thrown in the hat. 

I've had people who have hired me and I'm like, "Where did you see me?" They're like, "Well, we've been pushing your name for the last six years, and this year was the year that it worked." 

So it's just hard. Some of it's timing, that's the hard part about speaking. I could call your company today, but you may not be hiring a speaker for another eight months or a year or two years, and so it's just part of getting your name out there and trying to stay top of mind for a lot of people. 

Ryan Foland: Yeah, now there's a lot of buzzy-brandyness around personal brands, I kind of assume that everyone has a personal brand even if they don't think that they do, they're just really not taking control of that the narrative arc in their own story. 

But is there anything in particular a speaker would need to do, or some things that you see speakers doing from a personal branding perspective that either impresses you or stands out or they would be, like 

"Wow, I really like how that person is doing ________ to help really focus on them as a person outside of their company."

Ty Bennett: Well I think more and more, the two mediums that I think are getting the most play are video and podcasts. 

And so I think being involved in those two things, in whatever form or fashion that is, I would highly recommend. 

I guess I can just speak from my perspective about what we do. 

I host a podcast myself, it's called, "The Relevant Leadership Podcast," and I do interviews. 

I also share some podcasts that are just my contents and some that are more story-based, just cool people that I've met in different areas.

I'm on a lot of podcasts, like this conversation we're having. 

Video-wise we put out a weekly video on Monday mornings, I call "The Monday Morning Mantra," so if anybody's connected with me on any social media platform, you’ll see those, and then we put out other videos of me speaking at different events or of content ideas that we're sharing. 

Those two platforms are huge, and down the line there will probably be other platforms that gain momentum and speed, but it's just a way of being out there, adding value. 

As a speaker, a part of it is a balance of yes, your content, but also who you are as a person. 

So as an example, I'm a father of four kids, so if you follow me on social media or even in my speeches, I bring my kids into my talk at different times and bring up different things.

My eight-year-old son, Drew, has really gotten into American Ninja Warrior, if you've seen the show, they do competitions and stuff.

Ryan Foland: Yes, rightly so, I am an American Ninja and I am a warrior, so I am a fan, yeah. 

Ty Bennett: Nice. So Drew just qualified for nationals, which is in Minneapolis this summer and I’m just sharing that and sharing some of his videos and those kinds of things that come up daily with different people I run into. 

Just because it's like something kind of cool and different and unique and it's fun to see what's going on and people are curious about it and so I do think there's a balance of sharing both your content and who you are as a person, that people need to connect with you.

Ryan Foland: Right, because if all day every day was a video or a thought or a moment or podcast, podcast, podcast, podcast, it sounds like a broken record-cast and it basically is making you more of a machine than the human being that they really want to see up on stage.

Ty Bennett: Yeah. I think everybody's going to find their balance and what that looks like, but yeah, I think that's important for all of us to find.

Ryan Foland: Excellent. Well we have not only covered 14 necessary items to build into the one thing that you think you need to do, we've talked about the value of humor with some book references and some systems that you can leverage, and not forgetting to start to be a bit more inquisitive about what actually makes you laugh. 

Then backed up into the storytelling and really just about authenticity coming through practicing as much as you possibly can, which again is the best kind of counterintuitive advice, the stuff that's right there in front of you. 

Then all the way back to essentially whatever hill it is that you are facing, there's a good chance that you're already winded, there's a good chance that there's somebody in front of you and there's a good chance that there's somebody who's not only cheering you on, but would want to jump in the race and give you that last push. 

So Ty, this has been a lot of fun and I feel like we've sort of Tyed this all together, not that you ever heard that pun before... 

But the next time that I'm on a slightly inclined hill with people in front of me, I'm going to remember this, and the next time that I think I'm funny, I'm going to remember this, and the next time I need a list I'll probably go for the 14 because for some reason now that's just so cool.

Ty Bennett: Well I appreciate you recapping and bringing it together, but yeah fun conversation. Thanks for having me.

Ryan Foland: And if somebody wants to check out you and your plethora of books, where's the best way for them to find you if we were going to point them in that direction?

Ty Bennett: My website is, and we actually set up a specific page for your listeners at and they can go on there get some free stuff and take a look at everything there. 

Ryan Foland: Awesome. 

Alright, very cool. So if you liked this episode, which I'm sure you do if you're listening, definitely give Ty a follow, a like, a mention, tweet us up, share this podcast far and wide so you can help everybody else in this world of speakers be better speakers. 

Ty, thank you so much and good luck. Hopefully, we'll share the stage some time. 

Ty Bennett: Thank you, I look forward to it. 

Ryan Foland: Alright, take care.


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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