When You’re Not The Motivational Speaker They Pick
I am no stranger to rejection. I have been rejected far more than I have been accepted. But it still stings. And most of us as speakers take it WAY too personally. We lose the job and think it was because our fee was too low, or our website wasn’t good enough, or that our sales pitch wasn’t what it should be. We make crazy assumptions that simply are not true, simply because we weren’t the one they chose. So if you’re stinging from rejection, let me shine some reality on the situation by giving you a scenario you can relate to. Shoe shopping. Yes, we can find some similarities between shoe shopping and the speaking business.
You go into the department store to buy a pair of shoes. You have a wedding to go to, and you just bought a new silver tea-length dress. You need shoes to match. There are hundreds of shoes in this store – not counting the other stores in the mall and the ones in the shopping center down the street. There is no shortage of shoes.
You need a certain color, a certain size, and a certain look to go with this dress. You also only have a hundred dollars to spend. You are also limited to the stores in your area – so whatever you see is what you have to choose from. You find the shoes you want. They pinch your feet a little, but they were the best choice for the money and what you were looking for. You leave the store to go buy spandex.
You chose one pair of shoes out of hundreds – based on budget, style, the event, personal preference, and a couple of other reasons that apply to shoes and feet. Does that mean that the other shoes sucked? Of course not! Does it mean this was the pair you wanted most? Heck no, you really wanted the other pair but they were three times the price. Does it mean the shoes you didn’t pick weren’t good enough quality? Of course not. Would a different person walk in after you and choose the same shoe? No. Not even for the same event. Should the tennis shoe consider adding sequins in order to appeal to the wedding buyer? No. Crazy.
Same goes for speaking. Just because they chose another pair of shoes, does not mean you suck. It means that based on all their buying decisions, the other one fit better. Yet as speakers, we tend to think we are all the same and the client should want us. Not true. Clients are as diverse as shoe buyers. Just because they didn’t buy you for this event, doesn’t mean they won’t buy you for another, or someone else from the company might find that you are the perfect shoe.
When you’re rejected, don’t make it so black and white. Don’t assume that because you were not chosen it means you did something wrong. Don’t assume it means you charged the wrong price, or that your marketing materials aren’t good enough. The truth is that you don’t really know why they didn’t pick you, unless you ask. And even then, they may not be honest.
Think of the music industry and how we all like different music. Somebody is going to choose The Rolling Stones and somebody else is going to chose Bach. As speakers we are much like artists – and our value depends on the eyes of the beholder.
So where does this leave us? Making our own music – the best way we know how – and trusting that one day we will be the one they pick.
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