Behind the Scenes of My Recent Keynote with Carol Cox: Podcast Ep. 244

Behind the Scenes of My Recent Keynote with Carol Cox | Speaking Your Brand

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I’m taking you behind the scenes to talk about the recent keynote I delivered, including how the event organizer found me, how I created and prepared for the speech, and how it went the day of. 

It was my first in-person speaking engagement since before the pandemic and it felt so good to be back at an event!

It was in Orlando, where I live, so I was able to invite my mom and sister along with Diane Diaz and some of our clients who also live here.

You can see event photos and a video clip on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/p/CUDEF8ZLdLb/ 

Video I posted on LinkedIn of how I used our Signature Talk Canvas® framework to create my speech: https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6843913809497772032/ 

 

About Us: The Speaking Your Brand podcast is hosted by Carol Cox. At Speaking Your Brand, we help women entrepreneurs and professionals clarify their brand message and story, create their signature talks, and develop their thought leadership platforms. Our mission is to get more women in positions of influence and power because it’s through women’s stories and visibility that we challenge the status quo and change existing systems. Check out our coaching programs at https://www.speakingyourbrand.com

 

Links:

Show notes at https://www.speakingyourbrand.com/244

Apply for our Thought Leader Academy: https://www.speakingyourbrand.com/academy/

Schedule a consult call with us to talk about creating your signature talk and thought leadership platform: https://www.speakingyourbrand.com/contact

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244-SYB-My-Keynote.mp3: Audio automatically transcribed by Sonix

244-SYB-My-Keynote.mp3: this mp3 audio file was automatically transcribed by Sonix with the best speech-to-text algorithms. This transcript may contain errors.

Carol Cox:
I'm taking you behind the scenes of my recent keynote, how I created it and how it went the day of on this episode of the Speaking Your Brand podcast.

Carol Cox:
More and more women are making an impact by starting businesses, running for office and speaking up for what matters. With my background as a political analyst, entrepreneur and speaker, I interview and coach purpose driven women to shape their brands, grow their companies and become recognized as influencers in their field. This is speaking your brand, your place to learn how to persuasively communicate your message to your audience.

Hi there and welcome to the Speaking Your Brand podcast. I'm your host, Carol Cox. I'm excited because this past weekend I had an in-person speaking engagement where I delivered a keynote for the first time since before the pandemic. So it's been definitely well over a year and a half since being in person at an event, doing a speaking engagement. So it was really good to get back out there. We had all of the Covid precautions there and it was really just a lovely event. And because it happened to be here in Orlando, Florida, where I live, I was able to invite my mom and my sister, Diane Diaz, our lead speaking coach here at Speaking Your Brand, as well as several of our clients who happen to live in the area, including Betsy Jordyn, Usha Tewari, Emily Rogers, Teri Reuter, Leslie Hielema and Cyndi Shifrel. And a number of them have been through our Thought Leader Academy as well.

Carol Cox:
And so it was just so nice to see them in person. Some of them I've met in person before, some of them I've only met on Zoom. So that was so much fun. We shared a table together and as they said, they got to see me in action. Speaking in this episode, I'm going to take you behind the scenes to share with you how the speaking engagement came about, the topic of my speech, how I approach creating it, and how it went the day of. I'm also going to share with you towards the end a realization that I had in the moment. I was literally delivering my speech there and I had not made this connection previously, even when I was working on writing the speech and creating it. But I had a realization in the moment that I articulated out loud about the connection between the personal story that I was sharing and about speaking your brand. And I was so surprised that it came out. And I'll share with you that at the end, if you're new to the Speaking Your Brand podcast, welcome here at Speaking Your Brand, our mission is to help more women become speakers and thought leaders because we know through women's voices and stories that change happens. And so we do this in our coaching programs, primarily our Thought Leader Academy. If you're interested in getting details about that and joining us, go to speaking your brand.com/academy. Again, that's speaking your brand.com/academy.

Carol Cox:
Now let's get into how the speaking engagement came about. If you're like many of our clients, you want to get paid to speak and you want to be a keynote speaker and you would love to have speaking invitations come to you. So of course, there's always a place for what we call outbound speaking, which means that you are submitting speaking proposals, you're building relationships with event organizers, you're pitching them to speak at events and conferences and to their groups. So there's definitely always a place for outbound speaking proposals. But then you also want inbound speaking invitations to come to you. And inbound is when event organizers, companies come to you and ask you to speak or ask you to do a workshop or training for them. So I'll I'll share how this particular keynote speaking engagement came about. It's for a non-profit organization in Orlando called Time for Tea, founded by a woman named Tracy Phipps. And I received an email. This was back in It must have been late July and the speaking engagement just happened on September 18th. So she sent me an email and said, Hi, Carol, you know I found you and I'm hosting our annual fundraising event. Here are the details and I would love to have you be our keynote speaker. So literally just an email out of the blue. So I responded and said, Oh, that sounds lovely. You know, would love to be a part of this.

Carol Cox:
Let's go ahead and jump on a Zoom call. So then we had a zoom conversation. I found out more about the event. So I asked her, Well, how did you find me online? And she said that she found me because I was featured in Orlando magazine earlier this year in May as one of Orlando's Women of the Year in 2021. So she saw that feature. And I was one of 20 women who had been listed as a Orlando's Women of the Year. And of those she liked my my bio. She liked what I talked about in there. And so she thought I would be a great person to have as the keynote speaker. How this award came about was that back in 2020 I had been putting out a lot of content kind of related to things that were going on with everything from the pandemic to the racial reckoning to choosing women's voices. And one of my podcast listeners ended up applying to speak at our very first Brave Bull Beyond Live Virtual summit that we held in October of 2020. And she's someone that I know here in Orlando through my days in local politics because she's also involved in. Her name is Usha Tiwari. And so she ended up becoming a summit speaker. And then she joined our Thought Leader Academy. From there. So she really appreciated everything that I did with the summit and with podcast content and the thought leadership output that she ended up nominating me for this Woman of the Year award.

Carol Cox:
And so that's how that award came about. And so here's the thing, and I talked about this a few episodes ago and Episode 241 on The Expert Trap is that I didn't get invited to speak at this particular event because I'm an expert on the events theme. I got invited to speak because of my thought leadership output and because of the positioning that that led to. And so I want you to really think about this for yourself, that, yes, we're experts in our industry. We're experts in the work that we do. But this is that shift from just being an expert to just being a thought leader that creates that in-demand speaker that you want to be. So if you haven't yet listened to episode 241 from a few weeks ago called The Expert Trap, what holds Women Back from Thought leadership? I highly recommend going to listen to listening to that one after you finish listening to this episode. So the theme of this particular event was Our City's beauty. That's because the city of Orlando's tagline is the city beautiful? And so Tracy, the organizer, wanted to kind of tap into this idea of the city of Orlando. What makes it unique and what makes it beautiful. And then she wanted me to talk about finding your purpose, you know, finding your uniqueness. Now, this is not a go to keynote topic for me.

Carol Cox:
I mean, I talk a lot about women's leadership. I talk a lot about business storytelling, talk about women's voices and women's voices in politics and in leadership positions. But I figured, of course, I can find a way to wrap my story around this idea of finding your purpose. And so then so the first thing that I did when I thought about creating my speech was I brainstormed ideas related to finding your purpose. So what does it mean to find your purpose? Like, what are people think about when they think about finding their purpose? So I kind of brainstormed all those usual things that you would probably come up with. And then I stopped and thought to myself, Well, what's a unique angle that I can take? Because after all, this is a keynote address. This wasn't a here are five steps to find your purpose. So it wasn't like a conference breakout session or a workshop for people to sit down and work on worksheets to find your purpose. So as a keynote, it's supposed to be inspirational, it's supposed to be motivational, and it's supposed to give the audience a different perspective, a unique perspective, and give them an experience during the talk. So I started thinking about what's an angle that I can take around this idea of finding your purpose. And then I started thinking about one of the stories that I could share regarding how I had found my purpose while living here in Orlando.

Carol Cox:
I moved here to Orlando about 18 years ago and I have found my purpose. But then I had lost it and then I had found it again. So I kind of had this journey that I could take the audience on related to my own personal experience, and then I could tie Orlando into it because the event still wanted to highlight the city of Orlando. So I had to kind of weave all of these different threads together. So I started thinking, okay, so I was I moved to Orlando, I got involved in local politics. I became chairperson of the Democratic Party in our county here. And I had found my purpose by doing that. But then a backlash occurred from that. And so then I had lost my purpose. And then it took me many, many years to find it again. And I really what happened when I had lost that, as I had lost my voice and I had lost my confidence because of this experience that I had. So I started thinking about this angle around finding your purpose is around resistance. So when we're in our purpose, when we're acting our purpose, when we're living our purpose, a lot of times we think it should be easy, like rainbows and hearts and unicorns, and we should just go with the flow and everyone's going to love what we're doing. Everyone's going to get behind our purpose. But that's not always the case.

Carol Cox:
A lot of times when we're in our purpose, we face resistance and that resistance can come externally. It can come from other people. It also can come internally from imposter syndrome, perfectionism, people pleasing so things, obstacles that we put in front of ourselves. So I said, okay, this is a unique angle that I can take around. Finding your purpose is to help the audience see that if you're facing resistance in your purpose, that could actually be a good indicator that you're, you're pushing paradigms. You're, you're, you're pushing people to think about things in a different way. And if you're not facing any resistance in your purpose or you've never faced any resistance in your purpose, it could be that you're not digging deep enough internally within yourself or you're not pushing for change in a broad enough way. And so then so that was kind of like the through line of my talk, this idea of that define your purpose, look for resistance, embrace any resistance that comes about because that can. Help you to either recommit your purpose to refine your purpose or to redirect your purpose. And I ended up redirecting my purpose after that experience that I had had back. Now it's been 15 years since that had happened. So once I kind of brainstormed literally these ideas on a piece of paper and a pen, because that's how I like to do it when I start brainstorming different ideas, then what I did was I took our signature talk canvas framework, which is a white poster board, and then we have four different color Post-it notes that we use when we work with our clients to create their signature talk.

Carol Cox:
And this is also what we train them how to do for themselves in the Thought Leader Academy. And so the four different color post-it notes are pink for stories and examples, orange for audience engagement, either show of hands, questions, rhetorical questions, reflective questions, activities, things like that. So orange for audience engagement. We have yellow for key points and then blue for supporting points. So I have my white poster board, I have my four colored post-it notes. And then I started putting into our three Act framework. That's how the poster board is divided up into three acts started putting all the different pieces that I wanted to talk about in my talk. And the great thing about doing it on the poster board with the Post-it notes is that you can easily move different points around. And then also the idea behind the colors is that you get to see, am I missing audience engagement? So do I have an entire section of the board where there's no orange post-it notes? That means I need to go back and add some audience engagement? Or am I missing pink? Am I missing some stories and some examples in a section? And do I need to go back and add that? So that's what I did.

Carol Cox:
So I took my central story, this experience that I had as chairperson of the Democratic Party here and the backlash that occurred as a woman with a very public presence and a very public voice and kind of how devastating that ended up being for me and how isolated and alone that I felt after this experience and then losing my voice and losing my confidence and losing my purpose from that. So I kind of weave that in. So that's the story of self. And then I transitioned into the story of us, which is you may not have had this exact experience that I had, but perhaps you've had a time when you were living your purpose and something that ended up happening and you faced resistance and then you felt isolated or you felt alone or you felt like you weren't able to continue with it. And so then I went in from there about this idea of resistance and embracing the resistance that I can actually be a great indicator that you're on the right track or a great indicator that it may be time to redirect. So that was the premise of the talk. And then as far as audience engagement, so at the very beginning of the talk, I had some show of hands, questions I'd like to start with show of Hands questions, especially in a format like this, where women are seated at round tables and they're beings. They had finished lunch already, but they were being served tea and refills of water and things like that.

Carol Cox:
So there's a little bit of kind of ambient noise going around the room and people are kind of getting up to go to the restroom and things like that. So I like to start with some audience questions to kind of just get people focused back on the front of the room. So I asked some of that and oh, here's one thing. So I normally wear heels when I'm doing speaking engagements and they're not big heels. I don't know, two, 2.5in. Like I'm definitely don't wear a super high heels, but I've worn them, you know, for speaking engagements and TV appearances for years and they've been fine. Like my feet don't love them, but they've been tolerable. Well, as we know, I haven't been wearing heels for over a year and a half because no need to since I haven't gone anywhere. So I wore my flat sandals to the event and then I was going to put the heels on when it came time for me to do my my speaking. Well, they had us some of the VIP guests and they had me kind of walk into the room to read our bios and to announce this towards the beginning of the event. So I put my heels on for that and I walk through the room, like through the center of the room, right as they're announcing my bio and like know get to the front and turn around and wave and my feet are killing me.

Carol Cox:
Like they hurt so bad, so uncomfortable. So I decided in that moment that I would not be able to wear the heels for the actual speaking part because I was going to be speaking for about 25 to 30 minutes and I just knew that it was going to be such a distraction for me and I was not going to be feel comfortable. And side note, there are more male keynote speakers than women keynote speakers, and the men definitely get tend to get paid more on an aggregate than women do. And one of the reasons I think so is that men are able to use the stage so much easier and to use their body and kind of take up space and like move around the stage because they get to wear regular shoes, like flat shoes that are probably much more comfortable. And I see so many women keynote speakers who are in super high heels and perhaps is comfortable for them. I don't know. Certainly not comfortable for me. But I think I'm really going to ditch the heels from now on so that I can move around the stage and feel so much more comfortable doing so. Okay, so that's the side note on that. So the heels were gone. So what I did and okay. And so for this particular event, there was no stage. It was.

Carol Cox:
Of a room with a front and it had a nice backdrop and everything. And so I was and this is one of the reasons I wanted to wear heels because I'm short. I'm only five foot three, so it's easier for people to see me. But again, it just wasn't going to happen. So I'm at the front of the room and so I decided to make a joke about the heels. So I had, I think, the host when I came when she introduced me as the keynote speaker and I was coming on to start my talk, she said, All right, everyone, stand up and give Carol a, you know, a round of applause. And so they all stood up. And so then when they sat down, I said, All right, everyone, how are your feet feeling? And everyone's like, Good. I'm like, great. Mine are not. So hence my heels are not going to be on for this. I'm going to be wearing my flats instead. So I kind of just made a joke about that. The other thing that I did as I was working on my talk, so I had the poster board and had my Post-it notes was that I wanted to find a way to incorporate a prop. So I really like to have something tangible like a prop because it just makes it fun. It gives people a visual, gives them a metaphor or something to kind of remember and take home. So I thought about this idea of resistance, and I thought of those resistance bands that you use when you exercise, you know, different types of resistance bands.

Carol Cox:
And this idea that if you don't increase resistance or if you don't increase your weights when you're working out, you're going to plateau, your muscles aren't going to grow and change anymore. So the same thing if you're not facing resistance in your purpose, then you're also not going to grow and change personally. So then I so then I found some rubber bands to purchase and the colors of this event were dual tone colors. So they asked all the people who were attending to wear dual tone colors. It looks so beautiful with so nice. If you go to the show notes for this episode as speaking your brand.com/244, I'll have a clue to link to some pictures that I posted on Instagram as well as some short video clips so you can see those there. So I found these rubber bands that were kind of in these dual tone colors so that they would match the other things that were on the table. And I put a rubber band at each person's place setting before they got there. So because I had gotten to the venue early and so then when I got to that point, towards the beginning of my talk where I talked about this idea of resistance and share this idea of the resistance bands and weightlifting and all of that, that I shared the rubber bands and I said, okay, go ahead and put the rubber band on your wrist.

Carol Cox:
If you've ever faced resistance from your purpose, kind of just like a fun thing to do. The other thing that I did with my talk, so once I kind of had like the basic points that I wanted to make because I kind of go back through and add these layers. So layer of audience engagement, a layer of a prop and then a layer of cultural references. I like cultural references because they kind of people can relate to them. Again, kind of makes it memorable and have and have them give them a point of reference. And so in this case, because we're in Orlando, I wanted to reference some things related to Disney. So in towards the beginning I mentioned Cruella the movie and that how she faces resistance in her desire to be a fashion designer. And then so I talked a little bit about that. And then at the very end of my talk, I ended by referencing Hamilton the Musical, because of course, as you know, I am obsessed with that. I love it. And so I mentioned the very last song called Who Lives Who Dies? Who Tells Your Story and How? Eliza Hamilton, Alexander's widow, talks about how she is writing herself back in the narrative and that her purpose became to found an orphanage to help hundreds of children who needed that because, of course, Alexander had been an orphan himself.

Carol Cox:
So I mentioned that. And it was so nice because they had a live pianist there at the event. And so when I started, when I mentioned Hamilton at the very end, he started playing the song Who Lives, Who Dies? Who tells Your story? So you could hear the music, the notes in the background as he was playing, as I was talking about it. Oh, it was so. It was so magical. It was so lovely and such a nice way to kind of like add that experiential element to it. And here's the other thing that was really telling about this talk. So as I mentioned, you know, people are kind of finishing up their lunch, having tea served to them, you know, having their water glasses refilled, getting up to go to the restroom, things like that. So there definitely was movement and kind of that ambient noise in the room as I was talking, which is fine. Like I'm used to that. And you know, and I totally understand people still like to kind of chit chat quietly and things like that. But here's what happened. I got to the point of my personal story where kind of like the heartbreaking part happened. And I got really quiet. And I paused. And I shared. How much does that hurt me, this experience? And I paused and I let it sink in. And in that moment you could hear a pin drop.

Carol Cox:
The entire audience was 100% focused back on the front of the room and back on me and even my mom and my clients and things who had been at the table. They said the same thing to me afterwards. They said, Wow, Carol, when you shared that part of your story and you got quiet and you had those pauses, it was it was incredible how just everything went silent. And that is the power, number one, of sharing personal, vulnerable stories. And number two, of using strategic pauses and silence to emphasize a point. And I had several women come up to me afterwards and say that they really appreciated me sharing my story and being vulnerable because as I say all the time on this podcast, they put themselves in that story for something that had happened to them. So when people listen to your story, yes, they're listening to the details of what happened to you, but really they're thinking about it for themselves. What's a similar situation that they've been in? So that was extremely powerful. So as far as let's get back to creating the keynote. So I put all these different layers in and then once it was on the full poster board with the Post-it notes, then I transcribed it into an outline in a Google doc, printed that out and started practicing it. So I started saying it out loud. I would move some things around like Chiarella was originally towards the end of the talk, but I moved it into Act one, so kind of as I said things out loud, I moved things around or added some other points.

Carol Cox:
So then as we got closer, a couple days before the event, I put together my packing list. So I printed out the detailed agenda. I had my one page outline of my talk. I brought business cards with me because I was excited to be an in person, so I wanted to bring my business cards. I brought the rubber bands that were the props I bought, brought my selfie stick for my phone, which is like a tripod. So when I was speaking, I had the my phone on a the little tripod on the table just to capture me even from a side angle so that I had that video available to me right away. I also hired a video production company, Solomon Productions, who I've used before so that their video crew could come and get professional video of me. So I have that professional video of my talk, plus a bunch of B-roll that they filmed there as well. So that is that is in progress coming soon. And Sarah Solomon, who is the founder and CEO of Solomon Productions, she is lovely and she's going to be on a podcast episode coming up very soon talking about what event organizers look for in speakers because she has she hosts and she puts together tons of events and she has seen tons of speakers.

Carol Cox:
So she shares really great insight about that. So stay tuned for that episode. I had put all my packing list together, so I had my tripod, I had my water, my my favorite cookies, you know, all those kinds of things. I had my flat sandals. I have the heels, but the heels didn't last very long. I got there early to kind of get settled in to put those props on the table to meet with the video crew, you know, all those kinds of things. So that was good because I like to get there early just to not feel rushed and to kind of get a sense of the venue, what everything looks like, you know, where where I'm going to be standing, where the tables are, like all that kind of stuff. And of course, then to to say hi to and to meet and greet everyone who was coming in. Now, as I mentioned in the intro, I had a realization as I was delivering my speech about the connection between that story that I shared that had happened back now is around 15 years ago. And what I do now is speaking your brand. And I had never made this connection before. And this is the power, number one, of saying things out loud. But the power of really putting together a speech and putting together your thought leadership message as you start making connections that you didn't realize before.

Carol Cox:
And here's the realization I had that experience that I had 15 years ago that caused me to lose my confidence, lose my voice, kind of lose my purpose for the time being. What I recognize was that why it was so devastating to me at the time was I did not have a strong support system. So that's why I felt so isolated and alone. I just didn't really feel like I could handle what was going on. So I just kind of withdrew and got quiet and decided to kind of just I didn't run for chair for another term and I decided not to run for Congress. You know, a bunch of things happened. I kind of closed off that career opportunity in politics because of that, because I didn't have that strong support system that would have helped me out a lot. And also facing the sexist backlash that I did as a woman with a public presence and a public voice. And so when I started speaking your brand in 2015, so this is now ten years, almost ten years after that situation happened. I originally started it as I like being an entrepreneur with another business that I can start. That's not technology related. People said I was always good at speaking and presentation, so I decided I would create a business around that. But what I realized, what I've done, especially in the past couple of years, was that I've created the business, the community, the programs, the coaching, the support system that I wish I had had back 15 years ago that I needed that could have helped me so much.

Carol Cox:
And because our mission as speaking your brand is to elevate Amplify champion women's voices and visibility. That's so much of where that came from, from that experience and needing that community. So it seems obvious now what what that connection is, but I literally had to put those two things together until I was delivering my speech. So I just want to say a huge kudos to Tracy Phipps, the founder of Time for Tea and her amazing team that put together that event. It was one of the best events I've ever attended. It was it was such a diverse group of women. It was just the Tea Service was lovely. Like the whole thing was so nice and it was so great to get back in person, especially to be there with my mom and my sister and with Diane and with some of our clients as well. So if you would like to work with us to join us, you I invite you to check out our Thought Leader Academy. You can get all of the details and you can apply by going to speaking your brand. Slash academy. Again not speaking your brand.com/academy. The next couple episodes, we're going to be talking more about in-person speaking. As fingers crossed, more in-person events and conferences are able to come back later this year, 2021, but hopefully definitely into 2022. So until next time, thanks for listening.

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