Kristin’s Top Ten

David Letterman has his top ten and so do I.  Here are my top ten insights while serving as your NSA President.

1.  Never check email after dinner or 7pm, whichever comes first.  Even the slightest nuance, idea, or member concern will rattle around in your head throughout the night.

2.  It’s the People.  I am often asked, “What’s the best part of being president? Hands down, it’s the people I have met.  Learning from and leaning on people who have been there before you, who are going through the same trials and tribulations, and helping those who are traveling the road you just traveled.  It is that spirit of caring and sharing – the love of speaking that holds our NSA community together.

3.  Speaking is just a part of your expertise empire.  I don’t know of too many speakers who simply give a speech – and that’s it.  Maybe a humorist or pure motivational keynoter.  But most of us share our expertise or inspiration in various forms: a traditional “speech” otherwise known as a keynote, general session or even break out session, training, coaching, consulting, and my own personal favorite, facilitation.

Many of us provide complementary products and services that allow our clients to access the depth and breadth of our expertise at their leisure and at their own pace.  Theoretically, all of your offerings should line up to support your expertise empire. Start out with one modality.  Become really proficient in that distribution channel.  Then, as you become more confident, and more of an expert, you can branch out at your own pace.  NSA is really all about helping you monetize that expertise through the spoken word, either face to face or virtually.

4.  Go Get Yourself Some Experience.  I was chatting with a speaker who said his area of expertise was on leadership.  I innocently asked, “So what have you led?” and he told me it was none of my business.  I then discovered he had never managed nor led any organization!  Nothing beats experience when talking about your area of expertise.  Some call it practice what you preach.  I call it “eat your own dog food.”  If you talk about it, you should not only practice those same principles on and off the platform, but it should be so ingrained in your MO, your DNA, or tattooed on your rear end like one of my clients who manages assets.  You think I’m kidding, she actually got a tattoo on her ass…ets!  And I went and got myself a heap of experience at NSA when it comes to strategic planning, facilitating our board meetings and building a team!

5.  We are in a deceptively complex business.  Want to speak more? Be an expert in your field.  Go get yourself some experience.  Reach out to prospects and clients.  Have a brilliant solution to their problem. Deliver on your promises.  Be amazing on the platform.  All of this means you have to bring your A Game each and every time you are in front of your client. That’s all.  Sounds simple, doesn’t it?  While it is easy to get into this business, it is becoming harder and harder to stay in this business.  I don’t think we are ever going to be able to wind the clock back to the good old days.  We are living in the new normal and the NSA community is here to support you as you grow your business.

6.  Don’t drink the NSA Kool Aid.  I am often puzzled when people say “NSA says to do it this way” or “Everyone at NSA says you must do so and so”.  Who do you think NSA is?  Go ahead, point to “NSA”.  NSA isn’t one person.  NSA is a community of volunteers who all have opinions – and will be happy to share those opinions with you.  I don’t think there is a formulaic right or wrong way to be successful in this business.  Okay, there are some legal and ethical standards we have in place, but for goodness sake, find your own voice and your own path to success!  Don’t adopt everything you hear at NSA as the gosh honest truth.  That’s drinking the Kool Aid.  Sift through the ideas that really resonate with you and adapt them your own business model.  Throw out the rest!   Better yet, be a thought leader and create your own unique path that is congruent with who you are, your DNA, and your brand promise.

7.  We are living in the Era of Engagement.  People want to contribute – to provide input, to comment on what’s happening in their world.  As professional speakers, the more we can ask for the audience’s contributions and comments up front, the better we can create an event that really connects with our audiences – and that they will want to keep the conversation flowing long after the presentation through blogs, listservs and discussion groups.

Social networking is all about starting and keeping communities connected and the conversation flowing.  We haven’t even begun to tap into the possibilities to connect with our clients, prospects, and with the entire world.  As professional speakers, we must not only dip our toe into the water, but dive right on in – not only to connect with our audiences, but to show our clients connect with their audiences as well .  NSA has also jumped into social networking.  We are active on Facebook, Linked In, YouTube.  We have a presidential blog and a new email called “speaker line” that distributes online, real-time information that helps you build your business.  And we are continuing to look at new ways to keep our members engaged and connected with each other.

8.  Keep It Small, Focused and F2F.  So here’s the curious thing.  When 9/11 hit in 2001 and then when the global economy crashed and burned in 2008, the prognosis for the meetings industry was well, not so great.   Theoretically, all of the meetings were going to shift to the virtual world.  But that has NOT the case.  What has happened is a global trend toward fewer meetings, smaller meetings and with the content more tightly focused.  The value on these face-to-face meetings has become much higher as people are investing their time specifically in order to meet face to face.  Meetings are also becoming smaller in number of attendees physically present, with an extended reach beyond the four walls of the meeting.  These hybrid meetings include streaming video and content discussions running at the same time as the actual event so people outside the room can participate in real time. You can see this trend play out at NSA, our chapters, and in the Global Speakers Federation.

9.  The world is indeed flat.  We are living in a global economy and NSA-US is the 800 pound gorilla in the professional speaking community.  We are the world’s largest and oldest association dedicated to the art and business of professional speaking.  Our sister associations in the Global Speakers Federation look to us for Leadership and often times they look to us to set the standards.  It is imperative that the GSF continues to be a leader in this global community and that we are proactive and supportive in their efforts to raise the bar around the world.  As a side note, I also ask each of you to be a gracious host to our international colleagues during Influence ’11 – our annual convention in Anaheim that is just days away.

10.  Leadership is not about immediate gratification.  Especially with a volunteer association steeped in tradition, suffice it to say that you won’t see immediate results.  It is the long term progress to our strategic plan that keeps us focused and motivated.  I am deeply honored by your faith and trust in me as we steer this big ship called NSA toward greater value to our members.

I thank you for the tremendous opportunity to serve you and represent you throughout the United States as and world.  See you in Anaheim soon!

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2 Comments on “Kristin’s Top Ten”


  1. Great Top 10. That ‘expert’ on leadership without any experience reminds me of all of those social media ‘experts’ online that have like 10 followers on twitter. A desire and a label do not equal reality but hard work day in and day out over the long haul is what makes an ‘expert’.

    • nsaspeakerpresident Says:

      Thanks for the comments and I agree wholeheartedly about what it takes to be an expert in your field. You have to completely immerse yourself in the literature AND have some experience to be qualified to speak about it.


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