The Message of You: Turn Your Life Story Into a Money-Making Speaking Career

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Macmillan, Feb 19, 2013 - Business & Economics - 336 pages
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A step-by-step handbook that teaches readers to find the extraordinary stories tucked deep within them to make a difference in the lives of others—and to get paid—as a motivational speaker

THE MESSAGE OF YOU begins with a simple belief - that your greatest speech already exists and that it has already been delivered in front of a live audience masterfully and powerfully by you. Best-selling author and international comic, Judy Carter sets out to prove that THE MESSAGE OF YOU is in the advice you give to your friends; in the lessons you teach your children; in the stories you tell your family. It's expressed through the volunteer work you do, the way you run your business, the way you turned your messes into successes. THE MESSAGE OF YOU is a distillation of all of your experiences, both personal and professional, that form the narrative meaning of your life. A meaning that you can develop into a well-written, funny speech to inspire audiences, enhance your current profession, and launch a successful money making career as a professional speaker.

In Part One of the book, Judy leads you through a series of in-depth exercises meant to mine your personal and professional experiences for stories that establish your qualifications, your problem/solutions, your action steps and your methodology. In Part Two, Judy has created a six-step structure for writing an entertaining and informative speech, guiding you through each step in detail. But the real bonus of THE MESSAGE OF YOU is that Judy is a comic. Her "Comedy Pass" chapter takes you through simple but effective comedy writing techniques that will transform even a flat PowerPoint snoozer into a knee-slapping showstopper of a keynote. Once your speech is well-written and funny, Judy takes you through Part Three, teaching you how to take your message to the masses with inexpensive but essential marketing tips.

The Message of You offers an accessible approach, big picture guidance, and nitty-gritty nuts and bolts of sound advice.

Judy has been a comedy and speaking coach for over twenty years. She's a firm believer that how you present your ideas is just as important as the ideas themselves. She knows that humor and strong content are the missing ingredients in most speeches and her book, THE MESSAGE OF YOU helps you discover both your message and your comedic voice by taking you through the same process she uses to coach her private clients.

 

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About the author (2013)

CHAPTER ONE

YOU ARE THE MESSAGE


Okay, I’m going to say something shocking. Ready?
Your greatest speech has already been delivered in front of a live audience.
And that speech was delivered masterfully and powerfully by you.
You may be staring at this and wondering how you missed this great moment, or thinking I’ve lost my mind. Hold on one second and think about what I’ve just said:
Your greatest speech already exists, even though you don’t know it.
It’s in the advice you give to your friends; in the lessons you teach your children; in the stories you tell your family. You’ve given parts of your speech when you helped your sister build her Web site, or when you shared the story of your immigrant grandparents’ journey to America. The Message of You speech has expressed itself in the volunteer work you do, the way you run your business, the way you just know which color suits you, and which doesn’t. It’s in the stories you share that inspire others to tell the truth, conquer their fears, and lead happier, healthier, and wealthier lives. Your greatest speech is in the stories you tell every day because at the core of those stories is The Message of You.
The Message of You is a distillation of all of your experiences, both personal and professional, that have formed the narrative or meaning of your life. The wrinkle is, The Message of You is usually not obvious. Most of the time, the meaning of our lives is invisible to us. We can’t be objective about our own journey. We can’t see how our life influences others. We are so busy living we don’t take note of the steps we took to find success. Yet, these are the very things that make people want to listen and know more about us. The good news is, not only can you discover The Message of You, but you can also develop it to inspire audiences, enhance your current profession, and launch a successful moneymaking career as a professional speaker.
I can prove it.
Chastity Davis had a problem. It all started with a simple dinner in Vancouver, Canada. Chastity Davis, BC Hydro’s marketing manager joined her boss for a quick meal after work to talk about their upcoming convention. After a second round of drinks had been ordered, Chastity relaxed and opened up, sharing stories from her childhood. Chastity was a member of the Tla’amin Nation, one of the indigenous tribes of Canada. As she spoke about her passion for healing the earth and the words of wisdom she’d inherited from her ancestors, her boss looked her straight in the eye and said, “This is exactly what our convention attendees need to get inspired—you! I want you to be our closing keynote speaker.”
Chastity’s first thought was, “Absolutely not!” After all, it was one thing to share the dramatic and highly personal tales of the abuses suffered by her parents over dinner with her boss. It was quite another thing to stand on stage in front of five hundred of her colleagues and share those same intimate details. Chastity shook her head no, but her boss was persistent. “Chastity, it’s only thirty minutes and all you have to do is just tell your story. Your message is exactly what everyone needs to hear. You’ll be great.”
Maybe it was the feeling that she could really make a difference in the world, or maybe it was that second glass of wine, but Chastity said yes. Then she did what all speakers, professional and amateur, do: she procrastinated.
One week before she was scheduled to step on stage, she realized she’d better write something to say—and quick! She sat down with her laptop and started writing. She wrote about her life, her parents, and the history of her people. Hours passed and, exhausted, Chastity gave up. She now had twenty pages of single-spaced, disconnected anecdotes and passionate pleas that read more like a manifesto than a coherent speech. She absolutely could not get up on a stage and read from it. What was she going to do?
It sounded so simple when her boss said, “Just tell your story.” But what did that mean, exactly? Which story should she tell? The horror story about her mother’s childhood when she was forced to attend Government Residential Schools on a reservation? Her family’s battle with alcoholism? Her work with the First Nation families? How about her turbulent dating life? Or should she just focus on the warm and fuzzy stories of living with her grandparents? Her boss had said, “You have a great message.” What did that mean? What was the message that her boss heard in her stories? More important, why would anyone really care?
Making things even more difficult was the fact that her audience expected her to speak about environmental issues. Chastity was scheduled as the closing keynote speaker for BP Hydro’s annual convention, the topic this year being “The Green Initiative.” She would be speaking in front of an audience full of volunteers from various departments, just like herself, who had committed to making their company more sensitive to the environment and more sustainable. Chastity’s boss was, in fact, one of the co-chairs of the volunteer program, which was suffering through rough times. Volunteers were overwhelmed with the day-to-day responsibilities of their jobs. They didn’t have time to fulfill their volunteer commitment. Goals hadn’t been reached and the initial exuberance had all but shriveled up and died. How could her personal life story inspire others, and what in the world did it have to do with sustainability?
Chastity suddenly felt the full weight of this burden on her shoulders. Somehow, she had to convince a room full of stressed, fatigued, and already overworked volunteers to add even more work—without pay—to their hectic schedules. Who was she to show such bravado? She’d never been on television. She wasn’t a best-selling author. Her life was far from perfect. She wasn’t at her goal weight, she’d dated a few wackos, and all of her clothes were from Ross Dress for Less. She didn’t consider herself to be charismatic, funny, or gorgeous, and the vast majority of her colleagues in the audience came from very different backgrounds. Would they relate to her experience as a Native Canadian? Even if they did, how would it inspire them to strive for sustainability and give up their scarce free time to help the Earth? Chastity felt defeated. She had but one thought: “Get me out of this.” Unfortunately, it was too late to find another keynote speaker for the convention. Chastity was stuck and freaking out. She hopped online, found my Web site, and a few days before her keynote address we sat down via Skype to craft her speech.
Chastity’s stories were dramatic and interesting, but they had no frame or context and offered no solution to a problem. Her speech lacked a Core Promise, and Chastity was unclear about the larger message she wanted to convey, what I call The Message of You. She just needed a process, a structure, and a framework in which to discover and write these two important components. We weren’t starting from scratch—Chastity already had her topic and she knew her audience personally. As we examined her life, her message took shape. Chastity spoke about the time her alcoholic mother threw her out of the house when she was only seven years old. Seven years old and left to fend on her own! Revealing that story, Chastity found her Message, one handed down from her ancestors and a legacy of familial abuse. It was a Message that declared: no matter who we are, no matter how frightened we are, no matter how small and weak we feel, we can step into our power and succeed against seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Chastity stood on that stage, looked the volunteers in the audience square in the eye, and said, “If I can do it at seven years old, we can do it now. For the sake of my mother, for our people, for our children.”
The results? She got a standing ovation with people wiping their eyes. Her message hit home and revived the volunteer program. Three managers from other departments asked her to present to the other divisions of BC Hydro and within one month of her talk, Chastity was officially asked by BC Hydro to spearhead their diversity training. She was just named Vice President of the BC Aboriginal Women’s Leadership Association and she is now paid to speak across Canada on the role of women in leadership. Chastity then started her own business, working with the native community on leadership and sustainability and inspiring Native Canadians to “Step into Their Own Power,” to get healthy, get educated, and start businesses. Sometimes, she still freaks out, but knowing the importance of her message gets her over her fears.
That’s the power of The Message of You.
* * *
I could relate to Chastity’s journey because, just like Chastity, my career as a professional speaker also began as a fluke. I was a high school teacher and I was terrible at it. I was fired after my second year in the classroom. Apparently, being the class clown is no more acceptable for a teacher than it is for a student. But as they say, when one door closes another opens. Getting fired freed me to pursue my real dream. I had been doing magic shows since I was eight years old and had always wanted to be a professional magician. So, at twenty-four years old, I took my comedy magic act on the road.
Traveling was a huge pain. My magic act had a lot of heavy props. I was lugging around a Black & Decker saw to cut

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