The Framework To Landing Speaking Opportunities At The World Biggest Companies With Chris Baldwin. In just 5 months, Chris Baldwin was named the fastest growing speaker in 2018 and the #1 in the top 10 speakers in the Netherlands.
He now charges upwards of $15,000 for each keynote engagement and has been the speaker of choice for Google, Microsoft, and many other Fortune 500 companies. Chris shares the mindset and steps he took along this journey to become a top keynote speaker. The Framework To Landing Speaking Opportunities At The World Biggest Companies
Victor Ahipene: Speaking nation. Welcome to another episode of Public Speaking Secrets. I’m your host, Victor Ahipene. As always, super excited to have you here so you can take your speaking to a whole another level and make a bigger impact on the world. I’ve got somebody here who has been doing it.
He’s out on the beat, out on stages making a big impact. His name’s Chris Baldwin. He is a bit of everything. What I mean by that, he was born in Vanuatu, grew up in Australia where I am based and is now in the Netherlands. He was named one of the fastest growing speakers in 2018 and the number one speaker in the Netherlands.
He charges up to an excess of $15,000 for each key note engagement. We’re going to delve into that and a whole lot more because he’s been the speaker of course for places like Google and Microsoft and a lot of other fortune 500 companies. We’re going to also have an insight into the mindset that it takes to be able to grow that fast and also be an effective speaker to your audience. With all that being said, welcome to the show, Chris.
Chris Baldwin: Thanks, Victor. Thanks for having me.
Victor Ahipene: Let’s get a bit of a slight background. You’ve obviously grown massively in your speaking at space last year and this year. What are you speaking about? What gives you the credibility to speak to different audiences?
Chris Baldwin: Speaking as being something that I took on recently. I’ve only really been speaking professionally for a year and speaking for two years. The first year was actually within my organization. It was within IPG, which is one of the big five media companies in the world, IPG Mediabrands specifically.
Where it all started was I was tasked as a strategy director. I was tasked with actually building the new mission, vision for the agency, like the next chapter. I had to communicate this internally so I started speaking internally. One of the requirements I gave to people is that they needed to present this themselves. A lot of people had trouble presenting it.
I started to train people to speak internally within my organization to present the mission, vision themselves so that they could bring this up in pitches, client pitches, and then just one thing led to another. All of a sudden, I started being tagged as the speaker within my agency. I started being asked to go into industry podiums and actually present on digital marketing. That’s how it all started.
What I did was I built a model, Cool Meaningful Connections. I literally made it up. I woke up at 3:00 AM on a Sunday morning and within 40 minutes I had this model written out. It’s basically the steps on how to build customer happiness. It’s a four step process. It’s a model that describes sort of the digital ecosystem we’re in and how to build relationships through the [inaudible 00:03:46] digital ecosystem. I call it meaningful connections. In a hyper connected world, people would seek out the meaningful connections. What I did, I actually made something up that nobody else had.
That actually was a ticket to the podium because all of a sudden companies like Facebook who are all about meaningful social interactions, they don’t want to put in the word connections in there because they don’t want to be responsible for you connecting. They bring you closer together.
Also Google and Microsoft, Microsoft played a big role in getting me to the stage because the first one I did for Microsoft back in 2016 where I talked about meaningful connections, I made them look good from the stage without being salesy and they loved it. Since then I’ve got invited back at least 15 times by Microsoft to speak on stages. That’s how it’s all it all started from within my organization
Victor Ahipene: You’ve obviously hit a record growths side of your speaking over the last 18 months. How did you, I guess Microsoft as awesome name to have presented to them and they’ve given me rave reviews. How were you able to leverage and how have you been able to grow yourself as a speaker and a brand?
Chris Baldwin: There’s a lot of different things I can say on this question. I think looking back at the last couple of years, especially the last year and what helped me to grow so quickly. At the core of it, it’s the ability to communicate through digital, the ability to leverage video. Literally, when you give content from the stage, unless you record it in some form, it disappears.
As soon as you put it into a video or into an audio and you share it on your social profiles like LinkedIn and Facebook and Instagram, people start to recognize you as a speaker. They might not care too much for the keynote, but it builds your brand as a speaker. It tags you as a speaker and all these people, your followers, your friends, your colleagues are within organizations. These organizations, they organize events, they sponsor events.
So when you can sort of brand yourself as a speaker, then all of a sudden you become top of mind for them when the question pops up, who should we invite to speak at this event? Bam. Then they reach out to you on social media. I think at the core, the ability to put it into video and to share it with your social following that is at the core of how to grow quickly in this ecosystem now. We’re all hyper connected. We’re all consuming from social media. You have to create opportunities for yourself.
Victor Ahipene: Yeah. At times it’s an invisible ROI. You’re putting these out here and then you’re not necessarily cold calling or cold reaching out to these different organizations to speak. I’m sure there’s times that you may or may not. With that, have you been able to pinpoint a few other 80, 20 you as social media platform that you were getting the best results on? Is that LinkedIn because there’s the professionals? Is it Instagram because videos getting eaten up? Is it YouTube? Is it just get them out to all of them?
Chris Baldwin: In the beginning I had no idea. Now I do know. I can tell you that it’s Linkedin, Facebook and Instagram. Those are the three platforms and they perform equally well. LinkedIn is much more a professional platform. All the people from my past organizations are there. With Facebook, the difference is that there are a lot of people there that don’t know you and a lot of family and friends are there so they’ll support you as well.
The funny thing is with Instagram is that I have the people that look at stuff and likes stuff and comment on stuff. They are sometimes the exact people I need to be communicating with. It’s top of funnel. They might not invite you for a gig then, but they know what you’re doing. You’re inspiring them. It’s top of feed top of mind.
This is what I call it. You need to be engaging with them, chatting with them. As soon as you chat with someone on any of these platforms, you’re in their feet for the next three days or seven days depending. You need to be engaging with them in a valuable way and appearing in their feet’s. I think they’re all good. The only one that’s really dying is Twitter. Unless you’re in an event and you’re using the Hashtag. Twitter’s only relevant when you’re in the event. I haven’t been able to leverage Twitter successfully outside of events.
Victor Ahipene: Yeah, I agree. It’s that seven minutes and then it’s never to be seen again. It’s a horrible place. We’ll leave that in the burning heat. When it comes to your speaking events, you’re obviously spoken at Google and Microsoft and these large companies. A lot of the guests that we’ve had on here, some of them are running the awards and speaking at stage after stage.
Then I feel like the ones that have best leveraged themselves, they found a way to be able to transform keynote presentations into customers or into something off the back of it, whether that be some sort of consulting to their organization after the fact, whether it be high level training to this c level executives, licensing courses, whatever it may be. Have you managed to find a way with these larger corporations? Have you gained any insights if you have?
Chris Baldwin: Absolutely. I always work my way backwards when I’m designing a keynote, I start with the end in mind. What’s my strategic objectives? What do I want to get out of this? It’s not just about turning up and checking the box I’ve spoken. It’s about why am I speaking in the first place? What is the goal? What do I want to achieve from the hour that I’m going to be on stage?
On the one side, it’s a message you’re delivering. I speak a lot on digital transformation. It’s a very relevant topic now. A lot of organizations need to transform and really gain the ability to communicate more effectively through a digital ecosystem. That’s the meaningful connection story. That’s fine. I’ll inspire them with that, but that’s one of the reasons I’m there.
It’s not the only reason I’m there. The other reason I’m there is that maybe I want to be rebooked for another event. Maybe I want to speak at their global summit for that particular company. Maybe I want to be a trainer in communication for them. Maybe I want to help them craft and deliver better pitchers. Maybe I want them to buy my book because I’m writing a book which is going to come out later this year.
All these things, these are all goals and ambitions that you have. When you work your way backwards, you start with his strategic objectives. Then when you’re crafting your keynote, which is basically just a bunch of stories, a bunch of stories that are making points. These stories and points add up to the message or the messages you’ll be sending to the audience.
When you select your stories and when you drop your points, you’re actually in line with your strategic objectives. One nice example is Accenture. One of the biggest management consulting companies in the world, 500,000 people globally. They invited me to do a keynote for them at one of their QBR (Quarterly Business Reviews).
There were about 70 high level consultants in the Netherlands. The managing director of Accenture was in the room. It was in the room watching. I delivered a 30 minute keynote. Of those 70 people, 40 people came up to me afterwards saying thank you, shaking my hand. I got to spend the last two hours at the event with the managing director because he liked the keynote. It was meaningful connections. At the end, they invited me to present at the global summit because that’s one of the things I wanted.
They have a global seminar AI later this year. What was really interesting is that I built in two or three very personal stories into my keynote, which got people quite emotional. Two months later, what did they do? They reached out to me asking me would I be their storytelling trainer. It was a strategic objective. I want to try and Accenture and their clients in being able to pitch through effective storytelling and compelling storytelling.
Because through stories you’re able to arouse emotion. That’s how people remember through emotions. That’s one of the things just work your way backwards, figure out what do you want out of this event, what do you want out of this organization? Build those strategic objectives into your keynote. Then you can’t control the outcome.
All you can control is the process. So deliver, if you don’t like the outcome you get, we’ll change the process. Just iterate for the next time. What you’ll see is very quickly after a few iterations, you’ll start to get what you want. These things that you’re trying to achieve will start to come back to you because you’re building them into your keynotes.
Victor Ahipene: Yeah, I think the biggest message I personally took out of that as if you’re not getting the result that you want. It’s all right. Start with the end in mind. It makes perfect sense. You can see how many other avenues you can potentially go down.
Particularly with these big companies that do have these. It doesn’t have to be a big company. You can still be a small one. Hey, I’ve been invited to personally speak at an insurance company in New Zealand to their team. Again, my outcome, my objective is so then be invited back to all the hubs to train their teams on how they can present to groups rather than one-to-one sales.
That’s the end outcome that I intend to make off this [inaudible 00:14:11]. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. If it doesn’t, I’m going to be going, “Okay, what could I have done potentially differently to bring that outcome?” I appreciate that from a learning perspective.
Chris Baldwin: Let me go a little bit deeper there because I’ve got a couple of tips that really will make the difference for most speakers speaking within corporations. It’s something that generally you don’t think about. When you’re negotiating a deal with a corporate, sometimes they’ll pay you, sometimes they won’t.
Sometimes they’ll say, “This is an opportunity for us to get to hear your message. Come and deliver it. If we like it, well, we may work together.” You would say, “Yes, we’ll, I’ll gladly give it for free.” Or you’ll say, “Well, listen, I’m a professional speaker. Generally I speak for 6,000, 7,000 a podium. In this particular case, I want to build a relationship with you. I’m willing to discount and come in a cost $1500. However-”
Then so if they agree, “Oh, we’ll take you in at $1500, that’s okay. We have a budget for that.” They’re getting you at a severe discount. Now, you’ve got leverage. You’ve got leverage and what you need to do is always building value for that leverage.
For example, understand so what do you want out of that organization? Who are the key stakeholders? Who are the decision makers within the organization? Ask to have coffee with them. Ask to have lunch with them. Ask to have dinner with them.
Literally go in for the ass. He say, “I’ll speak for 1500 if I can have lunch with the head of HR, if I can have lunch with the head of learning and development, if I can have a dinner with your head of innovation.” These are all things that I’ve done. Tomorrow for example, I’m flying to Luxembourg and I’m the speaker coach for 200 people in Luxembourg for the largest law firm in the [inaudible 00:16:09].
I did a keynote for them last year. I was the planner, keynote speaker, mainstays 1200 people. It was a global summit in Amsterdam, rock star podium. I happened to come across the head of HR during the event. I sat next to her and we had lunch together and in French because I’m also French.
We’ve got a really special bond. Then within four weeks she reached out to me saying, “Hey, let’s talk. We’re wanting to upgrade our learning and development program for presentation skills. Will you help us with that?” Now, I build learning and development programs for this law firm, both for presentation skills and client communications. Identify the key stakeholders that you need to influence and make sure that when you’re talking to the event manager, make sure you build those into the contracts that you have.
Victor Ahipene: When it comes to outreach, so obviously sitting with these key stakeholders as is the best outcome you can possibly have rather than sending this cold email out to them going, “Hey, do you remember me from a few weeks ago when I spoke on a stage?” Or, “Hey, I spoke at a different company stage a few weeks ago. I’d love to share something to your team.” What does that look like for you now for reaching out to companies versus nurturing the current relationships from the stages that you’ve already spoken from?
Chris Baldwin: This may come as a surprise, but I’ve done no outreach. I don’t do it. I’ve done no outreach. Within in my fourth month of speaking, I was fully booked, booked over 20,000 in revenue. In the fifth month I was the fastest growing speaker in the Netherlands.
In month six, I was number one on the top 10 lists for the Netherlands. I never did any outreach. What I did was I did get an agent. My second mindset is make your speaker rate in a successful as possible. My whole goal was to actually make him as successful as possible. Everything I did was in his best interest. That build trust because what happens, so you’ve got to realize as a starting speaker, you might be a thought leader within an organization.
You have a powerful message, you have a mission to fulfill and you have a purpose to fulfill and it’s all ready. All you need is now the audience to deliver it to. You’re thinking about the stage as a platform to deliver that. Now, your organization can get you to the stage. Maybe if you recognize within your industry you’ll be able to speak within that industry. Not everyone has that fortune.
If you’re a good speaker, if you can get your speech on video, a speech good enough to inspire an agent to take you on. They have a network that is a hundred times bigger than yours. They have a network that actually— so speakers get sick, flights get delayed, speakers don’t turn up and the event managers need really quickly a speaker and often the next day. So they reached out to agents because agents have a repertoire of speakers, but the agent, will also have like 10 speakers to pick from.
Why should they pick you? This is a question you need to ask yourself. This second mindset I had as a speaker was make my speaker agent as successful as possible. I want it to always be top of mind for him so that when he’s presents three speakers, which is pretty well the maximum an agent will present, here’s your choice of three.
You need to be in that list. How are you going to make it to that list? I leveraged an agent in order to get to the podium, pay podiums. Agents will get you paid gigs. Your network, you’ll be speaking for free. In the beginning you’ll be speaking for free because it’s friends, its colleagues. It’s like, I’ll do you a favor.
You do me a favor. Until you become in high demand and then what you’ll find is even your friends and your colleagues and your network will say, “Chris, I’d love you to speak at our next event. We can’t pay the fees that you’re asking. Can you do something special for us?”
That is when you come in with, I’ll do it for 1500 for 2000 but I want lunch with this person. I want dinner with this person and I want coffee with this person. With an agent, they have no interest selling you in at 1500. They’ll sell you in at $7,000, $10,000 because they operate off commission. Let them do that work. I didn’t know outreach.
Victor Ahipene: It’s an awesome insight because you’re getting on these stages. You’re having great success. Again, I’d say 80 20, it’s how can you do what you’re best at, which is speaking and obviously creating these meaningful connections in person and leveraging off someone who’s already made a lot of these meaningful connections throughout as a speaking agency.
When you’re saying, and it really caught my interest, you want to say make your speaking agent as successful as possible. If there’s that last minute thing or that last minute event that needs a filling they’re going to put you forward. Have you had any situations where as a speaker has had been pulled or hasn’t been able to make it or whatever from any type of event?
Chris Baldwin: All the time. All the time. Most of my gigs have come because someone else couldn’t make it. My third mindset as a speaker— so I’ve got seven mindsets. This is a decision making framework for me. It helps me make decisions quickly and that helps me move quickly.
My third mindset is always have a no problems attitude. Because what happens, the event managers are full of problems. There’s problems all over the place. People complaining, speakers going over time, speakers not turning up, technology not working. When you can be the note problem speaker, you’re a pleasure to work with.
“Oh my God, Chris spoke this morning, a speaker is not turning up this afternoon. Chris, could you do a second keynote and talk about something different.” I’ll say, “No problem.” I’ll get on stage. When you have this no problems attitude, what happens is that event managers start to reach out to you because they want to work with you again.
Same as your agent, when you have a no problems attitude, they contact you in the morning, “Can you do a keynote this afternoon?” Like someone’s like desperate, no problem. You just turn up and you deliver compelling keynote because you’re prepared for that. You already had these keynotes ready. So you become the no problem speaker and a lot of these, the beauty about stepping in at the last minute is that you can charge a premium.
So if you’re booking three months ahead of time, six months ahead of time, they are considering other speakers and they’ll often do a price consideration. But if you have to speak the next day, man, you can chose to three times as much and the agent knows that and the event manager hasn’t got a choice. It’s a great place to be, last minute speaker. It’s basically one of the reasons why we sold quickly last year. One of the examples is my TED talk.
I told my agent, I want to do a TED talk, a TEDx talk. Ultimately I want to do a TED talk, but that’s why I’m calling it TED talk instead of TEDx because it’s just a manifestation of what I will do later. It wasn’t TEDx. I just come back from a speaking trip in Miami and Vienna and I fell ill and I was sick dead on the Monday, on the Tuesday and on the Wednesday my agent calls me, “Would you like to do a TED talk?” I’ll go, “Yeah, great. When?” He goes, “Tomorrow”.
I had to move really quickly now because two speakers at the TEDx University of Amsterdam were sick. They had a speaker lineup, two speakers was sick and people buy tickets to these things. They needed to fill the spots otherwise people aren’t getting the value that they’re expecting. I was one of those considerations, but I had to move really quickly. So within 20 minutes I had to decide and say, “Yes.” Remember I was sick, my voice was at 60%. I had aches in my joints. I literally had the flu and a throat infection. I said, “No problem.” When I call the event manager, I’m just giving you the shorter version of this story.
They said the theme was crossing borders. I speak about technology and relationships. I went to bed without a story. I’m thinking, “Oh my God, how am I going to talk within the theme of crossing borders?” I set my alarm the next morning at 5:00 AM and by 7:00 AM I had my story. It was all crafted out in my speech map.
Basically I thought technology, what better topic to talk about than technology? I mean technology disrespects borders. It dematerializes them. It makes them irrelevant in most cases only to the level of the regulation you impose upon the technology or the rural you code into it. It was a perfect topic for crossing borders.
I delivered that keynote, I prepared it in the morning, I delivered it in the afternoon I went on YouTube. It went viral. That has been one of the catalysts for me. Most of my gigs now are coming through my TED talk. Sometimes you’re just one talk away from your next opportunity. You’re one talk away from changing everything in your speaking career.
However, if you don’t put it on video, no one’s going to remember. Then you’ve only reached a linear audience and that’s the people you spoke to on that day. When you put it on video, you keep speaking to other people forever as long as it’s online.
Victor Ahipene: It comes back to the first point you made today is video. It’s the way that you grew your speaking. If you’re not getting these engagements onto video, then— like you say, the linear audience. You’ve got this chance to even have these bite size snippets that people can relate to and go, “Oh well that was 15 seconds or 30 seconds out of what looks like a very long presentation. The 30, 60, 90 minute presentation. Wow, this person must know what they’re talking about. I’d be interested to hear more. I thoroughly enjoyed that.”
Chris, we’ve got to wrap up today, but I would love to jump on again and have a chat about these seven different mindsets because it’s something that we haven’t necessarily approached in the podcast. I think for a lot of people we’re looking to transition and live with Japanese speaking. It could be a super valuable.
I want to leave it there and for everybody who is hooked like I am today, then be sure to jump over to publicspeakingblueprint.com. Grab all of the show notes. Everything we’ve talked about. All these tips and tricks as well as some links where you can find Chris which we’ll discuss a bit more in the next episode.
You’re not going to miss it because we’re going to talk about the seven mindsets to become a successful and sought after speaker. Thanks for this and I’ll chat to you very, very shortly.
Chris Baldwin: Thanks, Victor. Thanks for having me on and speak to you next time.