In today’s episode of The Speakers Life I talk with Pravin Shekar, keynote speaker on referral marketing about using virtual summits to get more speaking gigs.
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Hey, there is James Taylor and I’m delighted to have here today Pravin Shekar. Pravin is a startup specialist and parallel entrepreneur and speaker on agile entrepreneurship, guerrilla marketing, and business networking. He has KREA, which is India’s leading Healthcare Research panel, and is an angel and social invested in entities like INS eight, which is agile research, candy, which is a BPO. By and for the physically challenged, and KSE, which is a fresh cheese making entity and what I’m going to learn about this, he’s the recipient of the emerging leader in market research, the 440 Award from the American Marketing Association, and as president of the Market Research Society of India, and a trustee of the Japan stem cell research center. He described speaking as his alternative career, but one has taken him so far to four continents. Outside of speaking he is a keen photographer and images have been published in National Geographic traveler, and Lonely Planet. India’s my great pleasure have been with us today. So welcome, Pravin. Thank you very much, James, I look forward to it. So it’s fantastic having you here. I know you and I’ve been working there. But your speakers you remember, and I’ve been kind of coaching you. But But before we kind of get into I think you’re doing really cool things when it comes to online summits. Before we get into that. Tell me how did you get started in this world of speaking with the begin for you.
I’ve been speaking quite a bit. But on stage internationally, it was 2006 in Rome, when I did my first biggest speaking. And this was based on synopsis and ideas that you have to send across the dimensions before. None of this was paid until 2009. But I had my point of inflection, the talk that I gave in Switzerland catapulted me to another league. And that was possible, due to couple of mentors that I had. But that was when it started my speaking career, not the professional speaking. But the speaking part of it internationally started in 2006. Who, as you were getting started as a speaker, who were those early role models for you who are the speakers that you looked at. And so I like to be either have that type of career speaker, or you just really admired the craft. And now the way they spoke. I’ve been inspired by a lot of people. So I can’t name one role model. But I can name a couple of mentors. Now in the business sector, I have a business mentor called the G Krishna. When I was the beginning of my speaking career, he was there in all the talks. There was another gentleman Ray pointer, who was also instrumental in my 2009 talk. And these are people who might admired the way they captivated the audience. None of these are professional speakers, but they are speakers and entrepreneurs in their own right. So those are the two really big ones that I can name. But other than that, James, I love listening to talks and getting inspired because you never know these small bits that spark. Something has a little bit that grows on you. Absolutely. And united spent a lot of time together in Singapore, and also the the professional Speakers Association India that you’re heavily involved in as well. And you’re obviously a speakers you member and one of the things I was really impressed with what you did is one of the things we teach our speakers you about creating online summits or virtual summits. And and so a number of our members have created their own virtual summits. But you took it a few steps further. So first of all, tell us what what was it that interested you about the idea of doing virtual online summits?
I’m a crazy networker, James, I love meeting people, but then you meet with a purpose, the connections from them. So last year at the APSS Singapore summit, you did a pre convention workshop, and you blew our minds away from what a virtual summit is. That caught on, we then started the coaching part of it and us so free and giving the information I decided to continue on when I launched my first summit for the global reference summit, because as speakers as an entrepreneur, bulk of the business comes through word of mouth, and that’s the most economical way to grow your business, but there’s no strategy around it. So that was how the global reference summit came about. Because there is a need and not too many people know about the need. We followed your guidelines to the tee. But what we decided is, can we do a summit to raise awareness about blood cancer, that it is curable, that there is a particular need for people to be aware, because also in movies and TV serials here in India, James, if you’ve got blood cancer, you’re dead. But in specific cases, there is a possibility to reverse it. And that is why we tied up with G one, which is a nonprofit, to raise awareness that there is a cost like this that goes ahead and and does. So that was our first step, which is the global reference summit, 30 Global referral and word of mouth experts that was launched a couple of months ago, phenomenal success, and that’s setting the stage for the further science.
So what what did you learn about doing that very first time because often when, when I coach people on virtual summits, the first one I always tell is the most difficult because your learning curve is going to be the fastest. And you have you’re doing all these things in the technology and in this interviews, marketing, and what were some of the key learning points, you sent me some of the things that you really struggled with it first, yet to really develop learning on and what were those things that you found, actually, I really enjoy doing when creating a summit. So I’m an entrepreneur. And the first thing that comes to me is I have to do it myself. And I tried doing it myself in between my other professional speaking gigs. And a month after month after month, suddenly I had committed a summit because you have to 100 day challenge and hundred today and there was no summit inside. So first thing I did is form a team around. And I had a couple of really good guys. One guy is a rock star KP for the party, my colleague who became the Falcon. And once the team got set, James it was that much more easier for me to focus on strategy while the team took care of scheduling, the pre interviews the actual interview and taking care of the entire studio setup and having everything ready. The first three, four interviews, we made sure we brought in some big guns, we got celebrities, I had Bob bird, Ivan Meisner, and it was also that the HPC, Singapore, and that set the stage for the other speakers, because the first question that came up was is there. And the minute they heard these names, they said, Yes, I am legit, the conference is legit. Therefore we can go ahead and do. But for me, the biggest learning is former team. And it was the team, now you are watching me, but through me the team is getting pushed by you. Because we all have to read and have the standards of the template. And now as a thank you to the team, each one is running their own summit, which is going to be launched in August, November and early next year. So that’s from a company perspective, a thank you to each of them that I’m going to do the support role. And each one of them is going to host them on summit, one on remote sales slash inside sales, and other one on LinkedIn marketing. And we are also assisting a couple of other Indian speakers, the members of the professional Speakers Association of India to launch their own songs.
I love that model, what you’ve what you’ve done there. And and this is one of the things I was I think I mentioned it probably at that event in Singapore, I think the second or third summit I ever created. I did it with I mean, I’ve already got a team. But then I also brought in a co host, as well. And suddenly, when you have when you have a team, the two interesting things always happen, I think, first of all, is you have accountability instantly, because it’s asking, you know what’s happening, what stage is at. The other thing I think is very interesting from doing that is it brings in a diversity of ideas and views. And it allows you to just you almost like market testing in a very small way with a group of six people on a concept. There’s a danger, sometimes if you just do all try and do it all on your own, that you can do something and people when you launch, it wouldn’t work. And someone might say, Well, you know, think about doing this, if I don’t need so. So I love that model that you’ve done now. So you’re doing all these other summits and I love this and the LinkedIn summit, I’m definitely sign up for that one as well. And what So you mentioned this idea about networking with a with a person carpets. For you Where do you see these summits? Is it is it primarily around just word of mouth about raising your profile and the profile of the other people you’re working? Or is it generating leads? Or is it about bringing in sponsorship or something else? I could have said all three before the summit, but having run the summit, James, my biggest advantage of the summit is learning I get to speak and learn from 30 experts forget the 2400 subscribers who came in, I have to prepare for the meeting. And then during the discussion, they throw nuggets that I probably wouldn’t have considered. So to me, the number one reason why I’m going to be involved in all these summits is learning. Yeah, networking, of course will happen. Because if you and I don’t know, but we’ve spent half an hour talking that is spatial recognition that is top of mind and the minute you say outlier marketing, my name comes in the virtual summits are total than James Taylor comes in through. And that is my main reason is that I learned my subscribers and my followers will learn automatically. Yeah. And to, if I may, yes, what we have to guess from the 30 interviews, we have picked up eight to 10 points per speech, and are launching the key learning ebook from the 30 speakers. As a thank you a delight, thank you. But then every week, there is a gift that goes out to the deli and each of the speakers as a book as a program has something that they would like to offer. And that’s obby to thank you and also stay in touch with all the subscribers.
That’s fantastic. I love that idea. I remember seeing when mutual friend of ours, Shelly Taylor, who’s also a speakers, you remember when she did her summit, because she comes from being an author, primarily, it would be natural for her to create that book and a nine, I’ve never done with any of my summit shit. So I applaud you for doing I think it’s such a natural thing when you’ve taken in all that information. And and some people, frankly, they don’t have the time to go watch all the videos. And they just said, Can I just buy and some people like to read that’s how they they like learning. And if you’re able to create that piece of content for them, that provides it, you know, great value for them. So now, so now you’re starting to build, obviously, you’re speaking what what are some of your goals for the next year or so when it comes to the speaker part of proving right, just to take it to the next stage, which is why I signed up for this because you and your coaching James, I started my speaking career in 2006. But the professional speaking happened really about three to four years ago. And every stage is an inflection point. Now I’m at a particular stage. And one of the things that I learned from the business, Singapore this time is can I create multiple streams of revenue for me as a speaker? And to can my speaking business run without me actually speaking? Yeah. So if you ask my key goals, that is what I’m working towards. And that also means increasing my team expanding and investing a little bit more on creating IDs. And that’s where my thought processes headed towards right now. Because you’ve had this experience, obviously, coming from the business community and entrepreneurial community, you’re, you’re you’re thinking about those multiple streams of income. And I encourage you, any speaker, to have those different, you don’t have to have lots but just to have those different forms of income, because we don’t know what happens. Sometimes you might get sick, or maybe the market the economy crashes in the country, you speak a lot in and there’s no law, the word dries up there. And to have these different income streams just gives you more options. But I’m intrigued when you said that idea, the idea of building a speaking business where it doesn’t actually require for all the time for you to be speaking on stage, what is your thinking about that?
Book books, online training programs that go on consulting, as a protein shake a brand, a whole lot of my colleagues coming into the play, because my horizontal is marketing and my vertical is outbound marketing, which is non traditional marketing, especially when people are stuck doing traditional work, but they still want to grow, you’ve got to do different things to get on. And that is the area that for me Chico’s a brand as a speaker, and trying to be able to work towards. It’s an it’s an exercise I always do with, with companies on creativity, I do creativity training with different organizations, and it’s called the out exercise outrageous ideas. So for example, outrageous law firms have no lawyers, or what I actually use all the time I’ve mentioned people is mutual friend of ours, Frederick Heron, outrageous books have no words, he actually created a book which didn’t really have any words in it, which is so very, very well, a quarter million copies or something. But that’s actually quite useful thought experiment to do, outrageous speakers who don’t speak. And there was one I was talking about a conversation with someone the other day, who’s building a business, based upon initially that idea outrageous speakers that don’t speak. And what he’s been doing is he’s say his fee level is this amount. But he gets a lot of inquiries where clients, they can’t necessarily pay that. And in the past, what he’s done is he’s either given it to another speaker that he knows all or he’s given it to a speaker Bureau, for example. But what he’s doing now is he’s building in training, two other speakers, one that will be a little bit lower than him when it’s a lot price lower than him. That means now, when the client comes in and say, you know, we’d love your topic, we love the fact you speak on, you know, influencer marketing, for example, I would love to have you speak our event. But it turns out, they don’t have the budget, then it gives it will I tell you what, I can speak at it. But I’ve had this other speaker, who’s you actually can give my speech, I’ve had to give my speech on influencer marketing, and you can bring her in, and it’s for X X amount as well. So this idea, this idea of speakers who don’t speak using it as a thought experiment can be quite useful thing.
I’m an experiment, James, I’m an entrepreneur, experimenter. And all it takes is just a spark for me to try things out. And you never know that it goes exactly as you try it out. Now, for example, the first virtual summit for me is a video setup in the professional setup, using the tools and tricks that you mentioned. Now that the setup is there, I have started a new video interview series called em fail, where I talked to speakers, leaders, entrepreneurs, on their marketing failures, because nobody wants to talk about failures. everybody’s ready to talk about successes. But nobody talks about failures. And when I said this is going to be a weekly interview series, a lot of the entrepreneurs said, hey, I’ve got a story. Because my view as an entrepreneur, James, and you will relate to it as a coach is I would rather Learn from your mistakes and repeat that I can go and make new mistakes and share them with you. So I’m currently compiling a bunch of stories on marketing failures, which will become my stump speech in 2020. So So on that note, then I’m going to ask you the question of all the speaking, you’ve been doing, like speaking more professionals in 2009. Can you tell us about some a time when you worked on something, maybe a speech where you going and doing an event? And you gave it your all but something didn’t quite work out like you’d hoped? And what did you learn from that experience? You all have that don’t be my first talk in Jakarta. I was invited, flown over. Everything was because the the convention had had heard me speak in Berlin. And I had to go and repeat the same job markets adopted was my shtick for that year. And I went there, there was just zero audience participation. The faces were just playing. It was one of my first in that country. I was like, you’re almost halfway through as to what is happening is the audience even understanding, I slowed down my English, the only person nodding was the convention head, and one colleague of hers was when he speak, I went through the motion, finished the talk, got the claps, but I still had the confusion didn’t work. Until the I had to confront the organizer. At the end of the summit, she took me out to drink some popi lock, which is the most expensive, what did you get out there? And I asked her look, I have this nagging feeling that the audience just did not read, I did not relate to the audience. And I’d like to hear the feedback. They said, that’s how it is here that people have, do not show emotion.
When I asked them to be interactive, they will not be interactive. So that was a talk, that was a personal failure for me, because I had not prepared I had not spoken, I have not studied that country or the people out there. So the next time when I have to give a talk in Japan, I work with the organizers a couple of months in advance, I sent them my speech, or written speech for them to translate. And then they also had a simultaneous translator, who I spent some time with the previous evening, to work things out. And I had to mix everything up and that I had a far better response than the one I had in Chicago. So if you ask me for one of our my personal talks that I did not get a resonance, that would be the talks that I would refer to just fantastic. There’s different color, those cultural differences you find in different places. And I remember I haven’t spoken yet, but Lloyd Luna, who we both know, he said, he said, You’ve got to come to the Philippines, because the Philippines audiences are the most ecstatic, most exciting audiences. So and and you know your words that you go to some countries where the audience is, they’re enjoying the speech that you mentioned there. But they might be sitting with their, their hands. And you think i think i’m is this working is what is what’s going on here. And it’s only at the end, and they go fantastic and getting people coming up to you after but in the moment, it feels like it’s not working. So I guess it’s getting to learn those different, different cultures. And so you’re obviously based you’re in, in southern India, and China July, you’re highly involved in the professional Speakers Association of India, which is a great Association just had your, your conference, your annual concert few months ago in July, What’s your feeling about the Indian speaking market specifically, because this is obviously a country has been on the rise for many, many years, I was just reading a book yesterday about the rise economic rise of of India, how you feeling just now but the Indian speaking market is evolving James for ears. There was no concept of being speakers at best LPA, the airfare and then you come over, I’ll take you out for a drink kind of mentality. But that is changing. But it’s a big ship, turning it is going to take time, which is where the professional Speakers Association is also evangelizing and educating the market market that you go watch a movie you pay for it. It’s a three hour movie. Here, it’s not just my one hour of talk, but the hours of preparation, the lead up to the talk. So I can add value to your organization or to your convention. So we are in the process of evangelizing it, you’re very confident it will work through. But as I said, it’s a big ship, it’s going to turn slowly, but on it will see so that movement from going from Brianna and other countries have gone through that same same challenge. And they’ve kind of come out now. And this year starts people who stopped paying a small amount and then gradually over time it comes out. And then inevitably, in any field, you’re going to obviously see it will see this in India as well, you have this superstar speakers there as well, who you know, will get the get the big bucks, but behind them, they bring a new generation of speakers that are coming through.
So I’m hugely optimistic about India, as a country for, for speaking. And I say this, especially anyone who’s watching or listening to this just now, the thing excites me a lot of India is because you have a large English speaking population. Obviously, there’s lots of languages spoken across India. But it’s one of those countries where you can go into business the same everywhere. Where if you’re a native English speaker, you can you know that there are already audiences. And obviously, you have a massive middle class and growing middle class. And other challenge in front of us is our members. Most of them are very good speakers, but they don’t know that they are delivering a value and they can actually go ahead and charge plans for it. So that’s a bit of training. And that’s a book that I’m writing. James, I reached out to you earlier for that, which came out of lunch conversation with the members of the better local chapter of the PCI, except for me, and I’ve been speaking for five years. But how can I go ahead and charge? How did you get your first speaking gig? So it was a wonderful two hour lunch. And I promised you write a note. And the note became longer longer. It’s now a 50 page ebook really quick, 25 minute read. But then I said that’s for our members. And I’m going to pass it across three, with comments from you, Frederick and a bunch of others as to how you got your first paid speaking gig, and how they can go ahead and charge how much to charge, how to ask without being sheepish is a note that that’s my wiki work. It came out in a couple of weeks. And that’s something that I’m sitting across.
Fascinating and, and actually I just saying that I was also thinking terms of going the other way, one of the best speakers in the world Minaj, my Sudan. And my knowledge is the Toastmasters. I think he’s the he’s won it twice, best speaker in the world. And I remember him and I having a conversation once about something he calls the alien advantage, where he always felt that in his home country, he was never, he wasn’t he was never given the fees appreciated as much as when he goes abroad. And he speaks abroad. So he and I find this as well. So I’m obviously from the UK. By really speaking my home country, most of the time, I’m speaking in Asia, Middle East, like South America as well. And it’s a funny thing. So I actually wanted to whether we’re the the Indian speaker superstars that are going to be coming through, they will become superstars not in India, but actually in other places as well. And who knows, let’s see, let’s see what happens. I mean, we think it I mean, I think just that the not a football fan, but there was a big match here recently. And it was the the, the Egyptian footballer for Liverpool. And you know, he’s probably one of the most famous, you know, if you want to go and give a speech, you give a speech on anything in in the UK just now as well. But how much you would get paid? If you give it an easier I’m also Sure. So as I think there’s a very interesting kind of inflection point at the moment and anyone that’s watching this or listening to this now highly encourage you try and get to the PSA. Professional Speakers Association of India is one of their annual conferences, I believe the next one’s happening in, in New Delhi. In Delhi, the first and second effect, fantastic dancer and we’ll put some links here to that as well. So just switching things up a little bit. I as a question, I always ask them any speakers that I interview is, what is in your speaker bag? What is it that bag that you carry with you to all of your various speaking engagements, whether you’re speaking in Japan or Jakarta, or in Jaipur zoom recording Because bookmarks and my books, and you mentioned your books, so how, because this is something I often think about for speakers you’re traveling, I do normally have them shipped in advance to the place that you’re speaking in? Or do you try and get the client to buy a certain number of books in advance, or you just you just have a big box that you take with you.
I’ve done drop shipping, my publisher takes care of that. And then certain cases I carry them through with me when it’s just a sampler. My experiment with getting the clients to buy it has not been too much of a success. And I don’t want to push that that much. And my is a hit. They buy the books themselves on Amazon. So that kind of works out. And do you have an online resource or an app or a tool that you use, you find very important for the work that you do. I love Evernote. And I fell in love with it three years ago was writing my first book. And that’s you never know when inspiration will strike your James so it could be for me. I love watching movies and TV series and I have an Evernote called dialogue diaries. So you never know when a dialogue inspires. And I quickly posit write that down. And at least two or three instances, I’ve had an entire speech come out of that one dialogue because it despise you so much. Fantastic. So just capturing when the idea idea comes to you. And let’s imagine proving you have to start again, you have to start from scratch. This time. No one knows who you are, you’ve you, you have no connections, but you haven’t the knowledge that you’ve acquired over the years of speakers, author and entrepreneur, what would you do? How would you start things, invest in a team invest in automation significantly to build the brand and give value before I sell myself as a speaker? Okay. So that is what I will do it the first thing? Well, I mean, it’s been an absolute pleasure speaking with you today. Thanks so much for coming on. I think what you’re doing just now with virtual summits, online summits now you’re building them and training other people and and I think it’s amazing. I really looking forward to seeing the success of these. And especially I know you’re doing a lot of them for nonprofits as well, which I see is a big area, that’s a lot of opportunity there. What’s the best place for people to go to learn more about you, maybe they want to refer you for a speaking opportunity, or they want to learn about your online summits, would be my personal website, pravinshekar.com. Fantastic. I’m going to put those links here as well, proving thank you so much today. I wish you all the best with all the summit’s you’re doing you’re speaking, and I’m looking forward to sharing a stage together at some point in the future. Oh, and thanks a lot James for seeding and sparking the creativity through speakers you it’s been a phenomenal learning the last one year, as I said, not just for me, but for my team as well. So heartfelt thanks for all of us here to you, James. keep rocking.
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