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Is Your Personal Story Worth $$$ When You Tell It?

My DNA profile is storytelling. I attended Northwestern University in the early ’90s to become a documentary film-maker because other people’s stories fascinate me and I believe stories dictate our inevitable history. I went on to attend Boston University to get a degree in directing because perfecting the delivery of a story is a passion. Whether it is a TV infomercial, a bestselling book, a rap video, a podcast, a Fox News appearance, a live event, or a social media campaign (which I’ve done all of), I believe the right stories create movements. I love this quote:

People ask me, “What do you do for a living?” The answer is simple. I tell other people’s stories better than anyone. As much as I believe in the power of a story to change the world, there are some stories that will never be heard by the world. 

You might have a great story that has the potential to make a huge impact on people, BUT if you are telling it for free you may be limiting that impact. Let me say this again. If you are speaking on live stages for free - or close to it - then you are limiting your impact.

The point of this article is to give you a mental checklist as a speaker so you can do a self-assessment on if you are limiting your impact potential. If you want to get paid more than $5K an hour to speak, there are many things you need to do. But let’s take a big-picture view before we focus on the details.

If speaking on live stages is something you do or want to do, ask yourself these questions:

  • Does your story have a strong, branded message?

  • What tools have you developed to tell your story?

  • At the end of hearing your story, does the audience have a clear action plan or mental directive?

  • Is your story delivering enough benefit to the audience to buy a ticket to hear you speak?

  • Does your story create a social conversation?

  • If people want to go deeper into your story, can they via your website, blogs, videos, or other products?

  • When you tell your story, are the people you are hoping to impact responding to it?

  • Does the media respond to your story in 2 min, 5 min, 30 min segments?

  • Can your story be retold by others and have a similar impact?

I work with very accomplished personal brands to increase their global reach and impact. My clients are CEOs, Influencers, and Celebrities who all have a story to tell with a movement behind it. What all my clients have in common is that they want to be able to tell their story:

  • in an omnichannel environment

  • to a global audience

  • in a way that advances their mission

  • and to leave a meaningful legacy

To become a part of “conversational history,” (meaning people talk about you at the dinner table), a deliberate execution is key.

  • Your story must emotionally connect with your audience. Your goal is to relate to your audience on a level that goes beyond just proving your authority. The audience needs to know you’ve been through their problems before, and that as a result, you have the answers they need.

  • Be very intentional in designing your brand story. In order to gain confidence as an industry expert, you need to strike a good balance between emotion, facts, statistics, and demonstrable actions. 

  • Your audience has to be able to speak back to you. Have you made this easy via email, Facebook, LinkedIn, or other methods? 

  • You need to focus on creating a body of work that guides your audience back through your story with actionable items.

  • How your website looks and feels makes your audience feel connected to you. Is your website reflective of your story?

  • Have you made your story downloadable? This helps create the ‘campfire effect’ so that others can retell your story.

  • Is your story timely and relevant?

I can go on… but I think this is a good start to your mental checklist. If you are destined to make an impact, then live events are one avenue, and media coaching, content refinement, and productization should be a focus for you. 

If you aren’t getting paid at least $5K per hour-long speaking engagement OR if you think you have a story worth paying for, I’d love to hear about it.

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