Speaker Tip: Be More Than A Speaker

I grew up in some of the toughest neighborhoods in New York City. Completed my undergraduate degree in Harlem, long before gentrification, Starbucks and teacup puppies were in vogue.

When I was in 3rd grade, attending school for only a half day was my normal. My school was so overcrowded that students were split into two sessions. One group attended classes from 8:00am –noon, the other from noon until 4:00pm.

The odds were not in my favor to graduate high school, never mind become a college graduate and a successful career woman.

Nevertheless, I persevered and did just that.

This little black girl was not supposed to service client accounts of a Fortune 500 financial institution right out of college; or oversee a training and development initiative for one of NYC’s largest retailers; or facilitate IT training and installation processes for major corporations across the U.S. and Canada; or co-create the first human resources division for a company that at the time was <100 employees, and is now a subsidiary of a global leader in business and technology services.

I am certainly not supposed to be an award-winning CEO of my own company.

When I tell the many stories of my life on stages, I don’t choose to do so for the sheer purpose of sharing them. I do so, to make a difference. I share them to paint the picture of what was once my life and to divulge openly how I’ve accomplished the things that I have to date.

Your “what” and your “why” are nice to know, but those hiring you to make a difference in their company, those seeking to follow in your footsteps, to uplevel their lives and the lives of their children want to know about the “how.” Being the highly accomplished, “best kept secret” serves no one.

There’s more to making an appearance. More to hearing the praises from the “amen corner.” So much more. Your presence fulfills the purpose, has its greatest impact, when you are able to impart knowledge and make a difference in someone else’s business, in someone else’s life.

In others words, bring value to those you are speaking to.

When your audience exits the room and can genuinely say, “Because of her, I now can do XYZ and at a minimum, I have clear direction on how to begin to make things happen,” then and only then have you served more than just your own agenda to be seen, heard and compensated.