I was coaching last week / weekend at the Public Speakers University, where I met some very smart, very switched on and very creative people.   I love coaching people on public speaking, because it is life changing, in so many ways.

What we teach people at the PSU, is not just about how to stand up on stage and look good.  Of course, this is part of it.  If you were there with me, you would see how we cover how to speak, how to stand, how to move on stage, how to hold an audience captive.  You would see people learning how to make their content come to life (as opposed to death by PowerPoint).  And you would see people by the end of the weekend standing up and doing a 30 minute key note speech with no notes and no AV. 

But actually, we give people far more than that.  In order to be able to do a keynote speech about your business you have to HAVE a business.  I know that sounds obvious, but many people either do not have a business or they have a ‘same old same old’ business.  Let me explain what I mean by that. 

Firstly – some people literally do not have a business. They are an employee – thinking about starting their own business.  Or they THINK they have a business.  What they really have is a job and the worst boss in the world (i.e. themselves), because they are totally and 100% necessary for the business.  If they weren’t there, the business would fold.

Or they have a ‘same old’ business.  What I mean by that is that they have a business that is undifferentiated from any other business.  They run an accountancy practice, and their ‘unique selling point’ is their customer service.  Purlease!!  Or they have an IT company and their selling pint is they do everything for anyone. Oh dear. 

If people want a recruitment company they can go anywhere – but they can only buy the D.R.IV.E. Recruit and Grow system from me.  If they want social media management they can go anywhere, but they can only get the SMART Social Media System from me.   And both of those systems are….well they are SYSTEMS.  Which means that, my businesses do not need me in them 24/7.  Once someone can operate the system, the system runs…..whoever is operating it.  Does that make sense?

So, what we teach on PSU is how to create your unique system that you package up and can talk about, scale up easily and ultimately sell (or franchise).  One of the key components to having a great key note is to have a great story.  The story serves 3 purposes.  Firstly it positions you as the expert in your field – so answering the unspoken question of why anybody should sit there and listen to you.  Secondly, it helps you to connect with your audience, since a great story will emotionally connect you with your audience.  The third purpose is to move people along to a place where they can see that perhaps for them (as well as for you in your story) change is possible. 

Without stories in your presentation no-one will ‘buy’ what you are selling.  You may not be selling from stage, but you are still ‘selling’, you are standing up on stage to connect with people for whatever reason, and unless you sell, you fail.   You may be selling an idea, a philosophy, a dream.  But you ARE selling. 

And how and why do people buy?   They buy on emotion, and then they justify the decision with reason and logic.  So, if your ‘death by powerpoint’ presesntation has just facts – just features, then you will never sell it.  You must connect with the emotion first. 

Let me repeat that.  YOU must connect with the emotion first.  You cannot expect people to buy from you, if you cannot connect with the emotion, whether from embarrassment or from hiding from yourself. 

Which brings me to why everybody needs a mentor.  Let me give you 2 examples of the benefits of having a mentor.

One of the people I met this weekend asked me to comment on the 3 main points he thought he would highlight in his story.  They were safe points.  They were OK points.  But they were not the crux of his story.  I told him that I did not believe that to be his true story and asked him what happened in his childhood that he didn’t want to talk about.  THAT was his story.  More on that another time.

There was another lady who has an amazing story of overcoming an awful experience.  She was hit by a car and seriously hurt and facially disfigured.  At 16 years old.  She has come through that experience and wants to help people to achieve their dreams.  I challenged her to define her audience, to which she replied – anyone who wants to achieve their dreams.  That of course, is truly her audience on one level.  Anyone could benefit from hearing her inspiring story.

However, from a marketing point of view – if you try to appeal to everyone you either become vanilla, or confusing, and therefore appeal to no-one. I asked her again who her audience were and she truly did not know.  I am sure it is as obvious to you as it was to me, that her audience are young people who have been injured by accident, by intent, by war, or by neglect – who feel emotionally and possibly physically disabled by their experience.  Of course this is her audience.  She has been there.  She knows exactly how they feel.  And therefore she can help them.  And they can see how. 

In both the above cases, the individuals may have come to those conclusions eventually.  Or they may not.  But the fact is that with a mentor, they got there almost instantly and much quicker than they would have figuring it out for themselves.  Because, remember what Anais Nin said “We see the world not as it is but as WE ARE”.  It sometimes takes a different perspective for us to see things differently.

I have a mentor.  I also have coaches.  For me the difference is that a coach is specific to a discipline – like you might have a coach for fitness, or for finance.  And they will make you do the work and coax the answers / performance out of you.  A mentor will try to do that but will also give you the answers or at least the possible answers. 

Everyone needs a mentor.  Someone who won’t judge you, who will support you, who acts with your best interests at heart and who can help you see what it is that you don’t see.  Someone who tells you when the light you see is the end of the tunnel and when it is a train coming in the other direction.

I am developing a mentoring program which will launch in the summer in beta format.  If you are interested in finding out more about that program when it launches, email me on [email protected] and until then – remember – successful people don’t make it alone.  As Benjamin Disreali said “The greatest good you can do for another is not just share your riches, but reveal to him, his own