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From Old-School Cassettes To A Modern-Day Podcast

9 mins read

Sometimes, when I hit “play” on a podcast, I have to admit I am left wondering if the host ever considered learning a bit more about how to speak and communicate effectively. After all, most of us aren’t born with a microphone in hand and natural talent for it.

But when I sat down to interview the National Speakers Association’s Rhette Baughman (CRO) and Thom Singer (Podcast Host), I knew I’d be talking with pros. They didn’t disappoint.

The Future Is Here—and They Got an “Earful”

The NSA’s audio-publishing journey started out with a series on cassette tape. Every month, members of the National Speakers Association waited with anticipation for the new tape to arrive. Then, it evolved into a CD… and eventually, into Speakernomics with host Thom Singer!

But the move was strangely controversial. With an audience that skews older, the NSA “got an earful” about their move, as my grandmother would say.

The pushback didn’t discourage Rhette at all. He went all in, adding Clubhouse to the plan, too!

Growing Beyond the Membership

As the NSA looked to shift into podcasting and reach a younger demographic (because who’s even got a CD player in their car these days?), their goal was to develop a show that would be a resource for more than just their members. 

Speakernomics is for anyone who uses the spoken word for business:

  • speakers,
  • trainers,
  • podcasters,
  • consultants,
  • coaches,
  • event planners,
  • schools and teachers,
  • and, of course, professional speakers!

They moved from monthly content releases to weekly (it’s obviously a little bit easier to publish an mp3 than ship a CD in the mail), utilizing a model that allows them to quickly address trends, news, and anything affecting the world of professional speaking.

This creation and innovation moved them toward expanding the audience the NSA can reach, so they can share their decades of knowledge and experience with even more people.

The Art and Business of Speaking

Speaking requires a balance of art and business to succeed. For so many who want to be speakers, NSA is the go-to resource.

And that’s the approach Thom keeps in mind with every episode. 

No industry jargon. No insider ‘baseball’ that outsiders don’t understand. Everything is broken down into plain English and distilled into actionable, implementable steps for listeners.

Am I Interested in This? (Got Two Tips?)

As Thom planned out the structure for the podcast, he wondered, “What if we give our guests an opportunity to ‘wow’ the audience from the start?”

How could they grab the listener’s attention and help each listener know for sure whether the episode was something they were interested in?

Thom had a great solution. The first question he asks, before the interview begins: “What are your two tips?”

The interviewee then gets to shine by revealing his or her best strategies or tactics, and the audience members can figure out right away if the episode is a good one for them or if they should skip to the next.

Speakernomic’s schedule is packed full of interviews with working speakers (translation: they aren’t just teaching you how to do it—they’ve actually done it!) who share a gold mine of their best, real-world speaking experience and wisdom.

Looking for Crazier Things

Usually, when I ask about the types of guests a podcast host is looking for, the answer is a list of big names. But I laughed when Thom and Rhette shared their guest goals with me:

Yes, they want Tony Robbins (someone make an intro—and tell them you read about this in Podcast Magazine®).

But they’re also looking for “people doing crazy things on social media.” Or crazy things in the speaking world. Or crazy things in the event world (hello Covid-inspired creativity!).

You can’t help but love an association that isn’t taking itself too seriously, while still delivering seriously valuable content.

No suits required for an interview here. Just crazy effective strategies and ideas to share. It’s no wonder the podcast’s reach is growing so quickly!

What’s Coming in 2021?

I had to ask the question no one in the speaking space is excited to discuss: “It’s been a weird year or two here. What do you see as the future for professional speakers, when events aren’t happening, and we don’t know when they’ll be back?”

And Thom and Rhette were candid:

  • It may be another year or two before we see in-person events come back strong again.
  • 2019 set records for the business of live meetings. It will bounce back.
  • The opportunities are still out there, if you know where to find them (consider virtual opportunities, too).

But what was more interesting to me was their advice for speakers: 

  • Diversify your revenue streams–add coaching, training, or consulting.

And if you’re already listening to Speakernomics, you know that’s exactly what they’re sharing—tips around:

  • Adding multiple streams of revenue to your speaking business.
  • Repurposing your content and streamlining your marketing.
  • Improving your sales skills and conversations.
  • Developing your own coaching business around your expertise.
  • Creating an online course.
  • Licensing your content to others.
  • Building mastermind groups and peer support.
  • Getting paid for every “stage” you step on—in more ways than you can imagine!

Did I mention the show’s tagline is “Speak, Get Paid, Repeat”? It fits.

Clearly Professionals

And then, Rhette and Thom took the fifth: 

“I refuse to say.”

I had asked them an easy question—what is their favorite episode so far? They were clearly prepared for it and took a diplomatic approach… in fact, they changed the question! 

(I remember being taught this strategy in public speaking classes—answer the question you wish the interviewer had asked, if you don’t like the one actually asked. I just don’t usually get that flipped on me! Pros, right there.)

Their most downloaded episode so far is “Your Worst Critic with Denise Jacobs – Episode 7.” (I suspect their favorite might be “Focus Your Business with Sylvia Henderson – Episode 1,” but that’s just a guess from our discussion. Go listen to both.)

And It Flows Back into Everything

Rhette shared that they’ve been surprised how much the podcast, and Thom himself, have influenced the way NSA approaches other aspects of their business.

They’ve taken Thom’s “two quick tips” idea and now use it to introduce stage speakers during their conferences. They’ve also shifted their descriptions to incorporate podcast-style summaries that spotlight the valuable content they’re sharing through all their channels.

If there’s one big takeaway from the moves the National Speaker Association is making, it’s that leveraging new technologies and moving into new channels is more than a marketing and visibility play. 

Podcasting can grow your business in more ways that you realize.


July 2021 Issue

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