Office Tools for Speakers
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There are some basic tools that you must have at your office as a speaker.
Pick up a phone that has some key features. First and foremost you need a good speaker phone attached. Not that you will use the speaker phone to speak to people, but so that when you are on hold you will be able to put the phone down and go about your other work until the other party picks up. This saves you a lot of time and neck pain.
Also, have a headset that you can attach to the phone. I like the ones that have a portable phone and a headset attachment. That way you can walk all over the place without getting tangled in cords and still make use of a headset.
I highly recommend that you take a look at the Panasonic phones. They are the only large phone vendor who I can recommend.
A fax machine is an essential element of your office tools. You need one because it is still one of the primary means of communication. Some people will claim that you don’t need to have a fax machine because we have email and all sorts of other web related items.
Baloney. You need to have a fax machine to both send and receive faxes. If you can’t get a real fancy one to start don’t worry, get a cheap one. It will cost you no more than $150.
You should have an email address specifically for your speaking business. I still use AOL. Yes, for you computer geeks, I know they suck. BUT, many people are still using them. I like the idea of having an AOL address and another address. I also recommend that you separate your business correspondence from your personal correspondence.
Consider using one of the free email providers. Your chances of getting a virus are significantly reduced.
If you are dealing with multiple niche markets like I do, you may want to have separate email addresses for each one so you know which market they are inquiring about.
You need a web site as a speaker. If you don’t want to spend a lot of money initially, you can go to bigyellow.com and put together a free site.
Eventually you will want to get and establish your own domain name with your web site. As a minimum, go to ultracheapdomains.com and reserve yourname.com. This will make it so that you will always have one place where people can find you. Make sure to reserve some of the standard Mis-spellings as well.
In addition to fredgleeck.com, I have numerous other specific web domains for each of my market niches like selfstoragesuccess.com.
There is nothing worse than having a potential client call and not knowing whether or not you are booked on a given day. The best way to make sure this doesn’t happen is to use a large wall calendar.
This way you can quickly and easily see if a given date is available. Depending on how far along you are in your career, you may need to have multiple years up on the wall. I have the current year, the last year and next year’s calendar on the wall in my office. For dates any further into the future I keep a book that is marked “Future Dates.” This is for all dates that are past the end of next year for which I don’t have a wall calendar up.
Master Calendar/Assistant Calendar
You need to have a master calendar that you carry around with you as well. I keep it in my Franklin Planner. If you get any bookings while you are out of the office, make sure to transfer them from your planner onto the wall calendar at your office.
If you work with an assistant, be certain that your calendars are in sync. There is nothing worse than agreeing to an engagement and finding out that you are double booked. I have made myself look like a knucklehead on numerous occasions. Don’t make the mistakes I did.
There are many people out there who are bigger experts than I am on organization. My filing system is simple. Any active file is placed on top of my desk in a file holder. By active file I mean anything that I am working on right now.
For any speaking event, I have a file in the office which contains all files of speaking events that are at any stage other than completed.
If they call and I send out a contract, a file is created and put in this area. In the front of each folder is a checklist and the files are put in alphabetical order.
If a client with an upcoming speaking engagement calls, I look through this filing area and will quickly find them by their name.
The only problem with this system is that the checklist is inside each of the folders. I review each folder every morning to see if anything needs to be done that day or week that is on the checklist within a folder. This may seem like a lot of work, but it only takes ten minutes each day. It also serves as a great review for me.
Looking through the files everyday will make it so I know, almost without looking, who needs what and when.
Whether you follow this system or one that you create for yourself, have a system of some sort or you’ll go completely insane.
Everyone these days either uses an answering machine or some form of voice mail. It is very unusual that you can actually speak to a physical human being these days when you call anywhere. People accept this fact. What they don’t accept is not getting their phone calls returned in a timely manner. This is, and should be, unacceptable.
Make yourself a promise to return all calls within 24 hours after you receive them. Preferably, the same day. I remember waiting 48 hours to return a phone call a number of years back. It cost me a very lucrative speaking engagement.
If you can’t return the call yourself and you have an assistant, have them call the person back to let them know you are traveling or otherwise indisposed. This is just common courtesy as well as good business practice.
Also, if you can get in the habit (I haven’t been able to), change your message on your machine every day. This lets people know you are very voice mail conscious and will make them even more confident of leaving a message. If you start this practice, you have to keep doing it. There is nothing worse than getting someone’s voice mail which refers to a vacation that they are supposedly on over Memorial Day when you are calling after Labor Day.
As it relates to leaving your own messages on other people’s voice mail, remember, you are a speaker and the way you leave a message will count.
Make it clear and well spoken. Keep it short and concise, explaining exactly who you are, why you are calling and what you would like them to do. Never expect them to have your number, always leave it as part of your message when you call.