I Offended an Expert. Here’s The Story…

public speaking

I ran into a public speaking expert on LinkedIn last month who posted 12 principles speakers “must be adhering to.”

#7: “You don’t pitch your books, your online courses or anything!” 

Don’t pitch anything from stage!? EVER!? 

I had to push back on this one. So I replied: 

“…Doesn’t it depend on the event? Some events are designed for speakers to pitch. I agree, you should never pitch unless the organizers invite and expect you to. But it’s different if the event is designed to allow speakers to promote their products and services.” 

She shot back: “Well, that’s likely an unpaid event.” 

Really? If you’re PAID to speak at an event you can’t pitch? 

That’s right, she said. In fact, don’t even mention your products or services from stage. 

“I hate it when speakers on the platform who’ve been well-paid say things such as ‘Well, in Chapter 5 in my book, I say…’” she said.

And for good measure, she added,  “Now that’s offensive!”

Trigger warning: If you’re reading this and thinking, “Yeah! That IS offensive, I’m about to offend you.”

You’re still here? OK, then. Brace yourself. Here’s comes a reference to something I sell…

In my Story Power Profit Pack (pointer #18), I say: 

It’s OK to Sell — Almost Always(ish) 

Here’s the whole Profit Pack pointer…

Some people make a distinction between content that provides value and content that sells. They say send “value-only” emails some of the time and “sales” emails other times.

I don’t buy that. That fosters a business-crushing mindset — as if content without a pitch is valuable and content that sells is not. Don’t fall in that mindset trap.

Everything you do for your audience is valuable — including revealing how your products and services can serve them.

I’m not talking about hard-charging pitches every time (see Pointer #16). I’m talking about informative, entertaining content that inspires your audience to take a next step with you (and tells them how to take that step). You might be “selling” a free report, event, or email opt-in. Or you might be selling a product or service.

Whatever you’re selling, it is valuable to your audience. Don’t forget that.

The same principle applies to public speaking. And I said so to the easily-offended public speaking expert…

I’ve been to lots of paid events (where attendees pay and speakers are paid) where there’s a “back-of-the-room” sales table.

Every speaker pitches products or services. Again, that’s known in advance and allowed by the organizers.

When I attend a speaking event, I always assume I’m getting just a taste of what the expert has to offer. If the expert’s message resonates with me, I’ll naturally consider whether I want to dig deeper with this person — look up their website, follow them on social, and perhaps buy something they’re selling. 

I’m not offended if a speaker mentions their book. Maybe the point they reference from the book is very valuable to me. Maybe I want to buy the book. 

I understand that some speakers overdo it and turn their presentations into valueless pitch-fests. 

That said, I don’t think it crosses the line when a speaker mentions a book or product in the course of a valuable presentation. 

She didn’t respond. I think I offended her.

One last thing: If you offend someone because you mention your book, course, or Profit Pack, don’t worry about it. The one you offended wasn’t going to be a good prospect or client for you. Let it go. Let them go. 

p.s. I help coaches, consultants, and business leaders discover and deliver powerful stories that captivate prospects and inspire them to act. Whenever you're ready, here are several ways I can help you become a storytelling stand-out so you'll land more clients without pitching and prodding:

1) Connect with me on LinkedIn and Facebook and (if not subscribed already) join our email list.

2) Watch the free, 7-minute Micro-Training: “The 3 Most Important Storytelling Keys to Captivate Prospects and Inspire Them to Act -- Without Pitching and Prodding.”

3) Become a Story Power VIP in the Content Transformation Academy: Master how to discover, assemble, and deliver business-building stories. Weekly masterclasses. Members-only content. One-on-one feedback and consulting sessions. And more… If you'd like to learn more about our VIP program, just reply to this email and put "Story Power VIP" in the subject line. I’ll contact you with more details.

4) Work with me one-on-one: If you’re interested in working directly with me -- to discover, assemble, and deliver powerful, business-building stories -- simply reply to this email and change the subject line to "Private Client." Tell me a little about yourself, your business, and what you'd like to accomplish, and I'll reply to discuss options.

5) Invite me to speak at an event: I can tailor a presentation that meets the specific needs of your organization. Informative. Entertaining. Virtual or live. Potential for continuing education credits when applicable for your group. If interested, reply to this email and change the subject line to “Speaking Engagement.” I’ll circle back to discuss the possibilities.

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Tom Ruwitch

Tom Ruwitch is the founder and CEO of Story Power Marketing. For more than 30 years, he has helped businesses grow by delivering powerful stories using a variety of different media.