Leadership and Change Speaker
Leaders and leadership of all types know their teams are like the goose which lays the golden egg: whether you’re in the business of making money or making omelets, you want to keep them happy.
Why is this important? Simple: so they keep producing.
Sometimes that means hosting a year-end meeting or annual awards banquet to honor their accomplishments. Alternately, you may need a kick-off meeting to discuss goals and introduce changes, from shifts coming in the new year to pieces of a strategy overhaul.
Whatever the case, you want your event to set the right tone and get sales reps excited and talking.
Which means you need to find the right keynote speaker.
As a professional keynote speaker who as addressed many leadership organizations and groups, my role is to enhance any meeting by setting the right tone and motivating your audience.
While no speaker can guarantee your team will surpass quotas or hit record numbers as a result of a one-hour keynote, that’s not the reason you’re bringing in an outside speaker. It’s the meeting itself which gets your team moving. Keynotes are a function of the meeting to help get your reps to start talking and engaging with each other.
Whether you’re recognizing great performance, a good fiscal year, or regrouping after some tough challenges, your next event is an opportunity to show your personnel how much you value the work they do. Even if you’re just looking for a lighthearted after-dinner speaker to unify your team following a long day of meetings (or a particularly dry presentation on new regulations or business development, for example), the right speaker can change the atmosphere and make the whole conference more effective.
What Kind of Speaker Do You Need?
Let’s be honest—there are a LOT of motivational and leadership speakers. This isn’t a particularly specialized area.
Ironically, a lot of leadership speakers fall remarkably short of following their own advice. So, now you’re stuck combing through dozens of pages trying to find someone with the right experience, style, and message.
Should you spend the big bucks to bring in a celebrity speaker? What about someone with an incredible story of overcoming adversity or beating the odds (like an astronaut, a blind painter, or a World of Warcraft player who only has dial-up internet)?
These types of motivational speakers are common, but they aren’t always as effective as you might think.
First, an amazing story isn’t always relevant to ordinary, everyday people in the audience.
Sure, it’s incredibly inspiring to hear about someone who should have died alongside their friends in a life-threatening blizzard while climbing Mt. Everest yet persevered over insurmountable odds. But in a room full of 700 pharmaceutical reps or health insurance brokers, how relatable is that going to be to their challenges of working in the healthcare industry? In their daily routine of juggling regulations, getting dirty looks from patients in waiting room lobbies, and dealing with the egos of snarling physicians, when’s they next time they are going to find themselves on the side of a mountain peak in Nepal? Unless they’re visiting a family practice office which happens to be located on the Rongbuk Formation at the base of Mt. Everest, it’s probably not very likely.
And even when the speaker’s skills are just as incredible as their story, a particularly emotional or moving narrative could actually have the opposite effect and drain the energy in the room. More than once, I’ve heard meeting planners tell me, “The speaker last year was great, they were a (insert awful traumatic event/survivor characteristic here), but there was one problem: everyone was crying at the end! It was very moving, but it was the opposite of what we were going for. We wanted them to be revved up as a result of the keynote.”
And therein lies the dilemma. Your audience can’t focus on the next session of the meeting if they’re in tears, blowing into Kleenex, or rushing out of the ballroom to call their family to tell them they love them just in case their plane crashes in the Andes on the way home…
There’s also a difference between inspiration and motivation. Personally, I’m inspired by someone who went to space. But their story doesn’t make people want to sell more… it makes them want to watch Apollo 13.
Extraordinary circumstances can be inspiring, but they’re often hard to relate to. And the message doesn’t always apply to your team.
So, what most companies really need is a keynote speaker who can create a fun, engaging atmosphere which helps foster conversation and complements your message.
Tim O’Shea: The Agent of Change
I help motivate leaders and teams by providing insights on human behavior, and the thought habits and patterns which drive us.
Unlike many leadership speakers, I have experience not only as a leader and manager, but also as a human resources specialist who spent many years conducting behavioral assessments of candidates my organizations were looking to recruit. I’ve also received additional training and certifications in tactical, intelligence, and law enforcement techniques, including behavioral analysis and critical interviewing methods. (Asking the right questions is always a skill leadership professionals seek to refine.)
I know what methodologies are effective, and I understand the pressure and obstacles your team is dealing with (whether you’re a big pharmaceutical company or a small start-up).
I also know one of the biggest obstacles to getting things done is recognizing and moving past the little assumptions we make, both in daily interactions and during larger changes (to process, products, or personnel).
My presentation is designed to be entertaining and interactive. The content I share, the solutions I provide, the jokes I tell, and the clips I show all serve to engage the audience.
And when your team is energized and engaged, they’ll get more—not just from my presentation, but from each of the sessions which come before or after me.
Couldn’t we save money by having someone in-house speak?
You could. But do you really want to? It’s not my recommendation. And here’s why:
Your team is how you pay your bills! They’re the revenue producers of the organization. They are the one group in which you should invest the most!
Whether you’re celebrating a great year or trying to learn from a tough one, it’s natural to want to save money by filling a few speaking slots with people from in-house.
But if your team isn’t motivated to go out and produce, your business can’t grow. And no amount of back-end work managing inventory or staff can completely make up for poor numbers.
How do you get people to want to work for you? Simple: spend some money on them! Show your team you value their work by bringing in a smart, fun, and engaging speaker. You want to get them talking, not grumbling.
Do you provide specific leadership techniques?
Yes, but in a slightly different way. The way I see it, you can find specific leadership techniques (and the data that supports them) in a book or blog post, or from any number of speakers who claim to have found the best approach. Instead of trying to change your process in one hour, I offer tips to help your team key in on the behavior of their approaches.
Believe it or not, your pitch and presentation aren’t the most important factors in leading a team. In my experience, specific leadership techniques are less important than the human dynamic of the interaction.
What do I mean?
If you’re too focused on your own presentation—how you look, the script you follow, how you carry yourself—you’re more likely to misread or completely miss out on key indicators coming from the other person’s behavior. Even widely used sales strategies which incorporate attention to “body language” often misinterpret physical cues.
For example: in some of the training I received from U.S. Intelligence Officers, they conveyed very strongly the importance of analysis vs. speculation, and how “body language” falls into the latter category. This seems counterintuitive, because “body language” is such a popular topic in our society. In reality, it is not a reliable indicator of a person’s behavior or feelings, much less that of a potential buyer’s. In fact, many “signals” we’re taught to look for during a conversation are really just common, cross-cultural human behaviors which may or may not have anything to do with what we just said.
By learning to recognize people’s behaviors and explore them—instead of speculating or making assumptions—you can build rapport and increase likability. More than that, your team can be better equipped to continuously assess and improve their own conversational techniques.
How do you tailor your presentation to fit different industries?
Human behavior during a meeting or conversation is universal, irrespective of the specific product, circumstances, or changes taking place. And while the messaging and structure of my presentation are pretty consistent, I always do a pre-conference phone call to discuss relevant news, updates, and trends in your organization and industry.
In some cases, I may recommend one of my other keynotes as a way to address specific changes or groups within your organization. If numbers and morale are low, for example, a program like “License To Team!” could be just the program to uplift, motivate and unify your team.
- “Change Never Dies: Overcoming Resistance to Change”
- “Lead Another Day: Keys to Effective Leadership”
- “Licence To Team: Work Together To Achieve Success”
Booking Your Event
Do you need a funny, engaging keynote speaker to help motivate your audience and set the right tone at your event?
I’ve presented for audiences of all sizes, from small conferences of 100-200 people to large conventions with 1500-2000 in the crowd.