"Make $10,000 in Your First Month - While You Sleep!"
"Regain Your Full Head of Hair - With Just a Few Drops a Day!"
Promises, promises. Overstated promises are the staple of bad advertising, and, as speakers, can be our downfall.
The concept of 'Motivational Speaking' already comes with some bad press - whether it be promises to change your life and income level in a late-night infomercial, the idea of 'attracting success' by simply envisioning it happening to you, in movies such as The Secret, or the salespeople masquerading as speakers ready to take your $10,000 on the credit card they told you to raise your limit on for their latest get rich quick scheme.
The 4.5 Promise Don'ts (with apologies to Jeffrey Gitomer)
1. Don't Promise What You Can't Deliver. As a speaker, you can give advice, you can walk through processes you know to be effective, but if you aren't personally delivering the specific results you're offering, change your offering.
2. Don't Be Too Specific. Guaranteeing the number of pounds lost or amounts of money to be made is a recipe for disaster. Everyone is different, and even if they follow your instructions to the letter, their results will not necessarily mirror your results.
3. Don't Promise Something in the Control of Others. Whether it is success in a lawsuit, winning a judged competition like Olympic Figure Skating, or, as stated earlier, specific financial gains.
4. Don't Promise What You Haven't Done. I'm not a millionaire speaker, nor to I ever promise you that you will be. I'm an effective speaker, an entertaining speaker, an inspirational speaker - or so I'm told - so that's what I stick to in this blog. Selling results you haven't experienced is bad business. UNLESS....
4.5. ...UNLESS, You are Sharing Other Peoples Processes. If you haven't done it, but have interviewed many who have and want to build a platform based on THEIR success, go for it. None of us is an island, after all, and all of our successes are built in one way or another on the shoulders of those who have gone before. WARNING - building your speaking career solely on other people's ideas and experiences may make you obsolete. If it's all about them, who needs YOU?
What CAN You Promise?
You certainly have to promise something as a speaker - some reason they are going to listen to you. Talk about what you know, what you've done. There are veiled or overt promises in every type of speaking. A promise of new information, of entertainment, of inspiration. You can promise a new approach, a new perspective, a new method. Use concrete examples, from your own life, from the real world, showing how your ideas and techniques have worked for you and others.
You can even promise improvement, with the caveat that improvement only comes through implementation, and, as the commercials say, 'results may vary'.
As speakers, we have a responsibility to our audiences, each other, and ourselves to watch how we market our programs, books, classes and anything else we offer. Our most important promise is unwritten - that we are being honest, transparent, and accountable to our listeners.
Getting too caught up in our marketing, and making our promises too grand, not embedding the inherent conditions required for success (ie: personal responsibility from your audience to act), and providing the proper perspective will eventually backfire. Whether it's bad feelings or Federal lawsuits, you don't want to put yourself in the line of fire.
I can promise you that.