Last November I was asked to be a keynote speaker at a 6-day conference in California in April 2019. The conference organiser advised me that the audience size would be 2,000+ people and that previous headline speakers had been Jessica Alba and Benedict Cumberbatch.
Wow! I thought. This will be taking my speaking career to the next level.
The only catch was that none of the 100 speakers that were invited to speak would be paid. It was positioned that no speakers would be paid because it was an honour to be invited to speak and that the exposure alone would be beneficial to the speakers.
I took a few days to consider invitation and ultimately decided it would be a good idea to speak at the event.
Fast forward to a few months later and I was beginning to feel perturbed about the whole thing. Poor communication and inadequate information from the conference organiser was becoming the norm, and the limited e-mail’s I was receiving was making me feel like the conference organisers were doing me a favour by having me speak at the conference. As a result, I was feeling decidedly uneasy, and, I had a feeling in my gut – a feeling I couldn’t quite place, which told me that something wasn’t quite right.
On the 3rd of March, on my 45th Birthday, and 3 weeks before the conference, I received an email from the conference organiser stating that they had decided it would be ‘fun’ to change each speakers keynote speech duration from 60 minutes to 15 minutes. The rational being that they wanted to do ‘speed dating’ type speeches.
My heart sunk.
I have in the past reduced my keynote speech down to 20 minutes for other events and it just doesn’t work – it doesn’t land. It’s impossible to tell a story about panic attacks, anxiety, depression and corporate burnout in 20 minutes plus offer tangible solutions for the audience.
Whilst my heart was sinking, the familiar feeling of something not being quite right, kicked in, but this time I was able to identify the feeling – the feeling was powerlessness. I had given my power away by allowing myself to be treated poorly by the conference organiser and I was feeling powerless.
Until I decided to take back control and take my power back.
I emailed the conference organiser and stated I would no longer be speaking at the event and that when dealing with speakers in the future they may wish to consider how they treat their speakers especially when they are expecting speakers to prepare, write and memorise speeches for free, when they themselves were making $3 million dollars through ticket sales.
Boom! Happy Birthday to me! I had taken my power back by saying no, and I felt like a million bucks for doing so.
Sure, there was a part of me saying ‘But what about Jessica Alba, Benedict Cumberbatch or one of the other headliners you could be associated with’? But the other side of me – the side of me with a strong sense of self-worth told me it didn’t matter even if the Queen herself was headlining with me. It wasn’t worth giving up my power and self-respect. Nor was it worth doing a disservice to the audience by cramming a comprehensive topic into 15 minutes.
So how did I have the self-confidence to put myself first? I'll be honest - I wasn't born with or raised to have self-confidence, it's a learned behaviour. Watch this weeks video to learn 3 ways you can start to build your own self confidence: https://youtu.be/NLgJ6XIHk7c
The key message I want you to take away from my story is this:
Until next week, I wish you all great health and happiness.