14 Ways to Get What You Want Without Looking Like a Diva

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Motivational Speaker Kelly Swanson is an award-winning storyteller, author, and comedian who teaches you how to harness the power of your story to connect, engage, and get results. In this blog, Kelly focuses on the business of professional speaking. Kelly’s post day is Friday. If you aren't sure how to comment on this story, click here.

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Finding The Balance Between Diva and Doormat - Motivational speaker kelly swanson

You know you’re a motivational speaker when at Christmas your mother asks you to say the blessing, and you hand her a bio and an introduction.  ~ Kelly Swanson

The Day Of The Diva Is Over.

Being a motivational speaker,  and spending your career being announced and clapped for, can sometimes lead you down to the road to a big ego. I’ve seen it happen to the best of us.

Slowly over time we lose sight of the customer’s perspective in favor of our own.

I was speaking at a hospital event when a woman approached me before I even gave my speech. “I just wanted you to know,” she said, “that I love you already. I wanted to make sure I told you that before you ever said a word, that I already love you.”

“Wow! Thanks!” I said, with a confused expression. “Was it the hair?” I asked.

She laughed. “No. I’ve just been watching you. Ever since you got here, you’ve been helping. You helped set up chairs. You visited with vendors. You even sat with people in the audience and just talked. They had no idea you are the speaker. You’re just one of them. And I really appreciate it. Most speakers  just breeze in here, hide in the back room, speak, and then disappear. It really means a lot to me that you didn’t do that.”

“Cool!” I said. “It’s just what I do. I didn’t realize how few speakers do it. Thanks for letting me know how much it matters to you.”

“Yes,” she said. “I felt it particularly important that I tell you, because I was on the committee that booked you. Thanks for making me glad we chose you.”

If you are perceived as being hard to work with – you won’t get booked. Period.

I have heard this from meeting planners, bureaus, and clients, all over the United States. No matter how important you think you are, or how much of a celebrity, if you are hard to work with, they won’t book you.

While as speakers we see ourselves shining bright in the spotlight, our clients see as one of a thousand other things going on. They don’t have time to babysit.

And nobody likes a diva. Period.

Maybe you can get away with it if you’re J LO, but not in the business of motivational speaking.

Divas lose.

How To Find the Balance Between Diva and Door Mat

Sometimes we are perceived as being divas for simply having the confidence and assertiveness to ask for what we want. Sometimes there is a very valid reason for our requests – and the outcome will please the client.

But what we feel is not always how we come across.

Here are 14 ways to get what you want without looking like a royal diva–

• Look at everything through the lens of trying to make the client and their audience happy. If you enter the room thinking about what you need and if you are happy, then you’ve already lost.

Smile at everyone, all the time. Even if you don’t feel it. A smile makes you appear nicer and more approachable.

Be extremely respectful of their time and the fact that they are doing a million things that to them are as important as you, if not more so.

Respect your deadlines! Turn in your slides when they ask for them. Coming in at the last minute with unexpected demands is diva behavior.

• Thank them often. And be sincere about it.

• Look for ways to over deliver. This isn’t about them serving you. You are being paid to serve them.

Don’t ask for things that weren’t specified in the contract. The contract was your time for requests – not the day of the event.

Respect your speaking time. If you were asked to speak twenty minutes, make it twenty minutes. Period.

• Whatever unexpected happens, just roll with it. Be flexible and accommodating. This is their event and it’s not about you.

• Leave trivial matters for later follow up. Don’t bring up stupid things for discussion while they are trying to take down tables and chairs.

Be accessible to their audience before and after the event. They are paying you for the experience you give their people. So mingle with their people.

Don’t talk down to the audience or the client. Even if you think you’re the expert, it won’t make you friends.

• Verbalize all your suggestions in terms of what you think will be best for them and their audience. Stress that you are here to help them make this a wonderful super event, and your only concern is that the audience be pleased.

Treat everyone in the room the same, whether they are the client, the CEO, a volunteer, an audience member, or the waiter.

• Remember that people are watching you everywhere. Your character and reputation is on show even when you’re in the bathroom, the parking lot, or checking out. It’s never too early or too late to make a diva impression.