Job Dreams: Inspirational Speaker
As part of our Job Dreams series, we speak to professionals from different careers and share their advice with you. Last month, we learned what it's like to be a Creative Director. This month, we met Anthony, who told us all about what it’s like to be an Inspirational Speaker!
Tell us a brief summary about you, and your background, and how you got to where you are today:
When I was 16 years old, my life changed dramatically after returning from a school trip to Disneyland Paris. I fell ill with what I thought was the flu but my symptoms worsened. Within a couple of days I was rushed to Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital where I spent seven weeks, three of which were on a life support machine. I was given a 10% chance to survive and needed to be brought back to life 12 times. After relearning how to walk, talk and breathe again for myself, I went on to play a major role in helping to secure a £7.5m charity partnership for the hospital’s charity.
What do you do?
I’m an Inspirational Speaker. I share parts of my life journey with audiences in a way that makes them think about their lives from new perspectives and want to start saying yes to opportunities in life.
Can you tell us what your day-to-day is like?
When I have a speaking engagement in the diary, the work starts weeks before the event. Communicating with event organisers, tying down the logistical details such as where the event will be, timings of my session, having my speaker fee negotiated and contract in place. All this is done so the day can run as smoothly as possible with no hidden surprises. When I arrive at an event, I check my presentation is working okay on the system and introduce myself to the AV (audio/visual) team who help get me mic’d up before it is time to go on stage. On the days I am not speaking, I am working on other areas of my business, such as creating content for social media posts, making sure my accountancy paperwork is up to date, updating my website and communicating with potential new clients.
What do you love most about your job?
What I love most about my job is that it continuously opens up my world. It’s allowed me to travel to parts of the world I never thought I would ever see. It’s allowed me to meet the most interesting people with incredible stories and it’s allowed me to overcome what was my biggest fear in life…talking in front of large groups of people!
What do you find most challenging?
The most challenging part of my job is during my busy months when I can sometimes have multiple speaking engagements in different parts of the country, on the same day. I once travelled to a speaking job in Manchester and then had to get a train to Liverpool to do another talk straight after, and then make my way back to London. By the time I got home I was completely shattered and had a talk booked for the very next morning! I now understand the importance of looking after my physical and mental wellbeing, as it’s better to be well rested and have 90% - 100% energy for the following day, rather than overdoing my days and trying to push through the next day with just 10% - 30% energy in the tank.
What did you see yourself doing when you were a kid?
Growing up I was constantly curious about the world and spent a lot of time in my imagination. I was quite a dreamer. I was not the greatest at maths, English or science and was diagnosed with dyslexia in my later teen years. One area I thrived in was media studies. I was fascinated with taking ideas from my head and making them visually enjoyable for people to see. I saw myself being a cameraman or a movie director as a kid. But even though I do speaking work, I always have my cameras with me everywhere I go and enjoy making YouTube vlogs as a hobby.
What challenges did you face in reaching where you are today?
The biggest challenge for me was other people’s opinions. Inspirational speaking is quite a niche job role and when I first got started on this journey I had a fair few people asking when I would get a ‘real job’, how I would be able to pay my bills and telling me that I should have a back-up plan. When you have a passion and people around you say these kinds of things it has the power to wobble you and fill you with self-doubt. I had to dig deep and not let anyone steer me away from my dreams, and I’m glad I didn’t listen to the negative comments.
Where do you see yourself going next?
When reflecting on my journey, I still find it mind-boggling that I get the opportunity to travel around meeting and inspiring people. After my speaking sessions I have beautiful conversations with audience members who have inspiring stories about overcoming adversity. During these conversations I often hear ‘But I could never do what you do!’ and this used to get to me, as I too once thought I could never get on a stage and speak. So I’m now working on creating a digital course to help people who have amazing stories within learn how to create and share their stories in an engaging way to motivate and inspire others.
What do you know now that you wish you’d known when you first left school?
Asking for help is a sign of strength and not weakness. I used to be a person who tried to do everything by myself, as I felt I would be taking up too much of a person’s time if I asked them to help me. When I started my business I decided to turn this way of thinking on its head and I began to reach out to people who were amazing at speaking and sent them DMs asking for advice and support. This extra support and guidance has helped me grow my business at triple the speed with half the energy. Work smarter, not harder.
What advice would you give to someone interested in joining your industry?
The best advice I could give anyone that is interested in any form of public speaking is the value of time and repetition. When we start anything new, it is difficult because it is so new to us. The more we practice, the more our nerves relax, the more we can stay calm internally, which allows us to absorb more from our surroundings and learn. Focus on what connects with people and what doesn’t. Focus on areas you think you can improve on. Do you say ‘erm’ a lot? Do you look around at the audience when you speak, or are you reserved? Do you rock back and forth when you speak? Analyse yourself and work on improving yourself bit by bit….over time.
What’s the best piece of professional advice you’ve been given?
Whatever you do, do not cut corners along the way. If you cut corners or try to rush or jump to ‘the top’, you can fall just as fast. When we start anything in life, we start at ground level. As we learn more, we will eventually hit a ceiling and this is when we become comfortable, as we know all there is to know. Once we hit this ceiling, doors of opportunities will appear in-front of us and we will have options to choose which direction we go next. Once we choose a door to walk through next, that’s right, we start at ground level and need to keep learning to work towards hitting the next ceiling. If you can apply this way of thinking to an area of interest to you, you can begin to enjoy your personal development and will be one step closer to being a master in your field.
What quote do you live by?
When you help others, it feels good. When others help you, it feels good. It’s a win-win. There’s no need for negativity. Create positive ripples in your life and it will come back to you.