May 29, 2017

Professional Speaker Interview Series: Neen James Talks About Creating Systems, Delegating Tasks, and Focusing on What’s Important

BY Caitlin Delohery IN Professional Speaking 0 Comment

Neen James

We sat down with some professional speakers and asked them about the challenges and keys to success in their profession. Neen James discusses creating systems, delegating tasks, and focusing on what’s important.  

Describe a day-in-the-life of a professional speaker.

There isn’t a typical day in the life of any professional speaker, and that’s one of the coolest parts of this career. Some days involve travel to the convention center or presentation space. Other days might involve research and customization of speeches. Other days might include writing/blogging/publishing intellectual property.

But hands down my favorite days are when I’m on the platform, sharing a message, serving that audience! It is such a privilege to do what we do and I love it.

What are your top day-to-day challenges?

It doesn’t matter how awesome you are on stage in this profession, if you can’t run a business, you will go out of business. The challenge is balancing the delivery of speeches and building the business. Every day is a hustle, meaning constantly staying in business-development mode to make sales calls, prepare intellectual property, build relationships, and do everything that is required to run a business well.

What unique strategies do you use to tackle these challenges?

We have created a practice model with the most awesome virtual team — I outsource many activities so I can focus on my strengths.

Our team consists of:

  • A brilliant business manager, who we affectionately call the Queen of Neen. She manages our operations and logistics (I could never run this business without her).
  • An accountant who assists with reporting, taxes, cash flow, and bookkeeping.
  • A social media maven responsible for collating and distributing content.
  • A phenomenal editor who proofreads, writes, and keeps messages consistent.
  • A stylist who assists with outfits for travel and the stage.
  • A talented designer for marketing materials.
  • A rockstar keynote slide designer for customization of slide decks.
  • A web genius that keeps our site current and relevant.
  • A speech coach to help with speech creation.
  • A performance coach to help with the delivery of speeches
  • An accountability partner who I report to weekly on my progress toward my goals.

And there are others — you get the idea! I outsource as much as I can so that I can focus.

We also have the most powerful mastermind group — they’re a group of peers who I admire. We bounce ideas off each other and brainstorm and share strategies.

We are also mindful about how my time and attention is invested.

  • Meetings are rarely more than 15 minutes and preferably by phone.
  • Blogs are written in defined time blocks.
  • Videos are scripted and recorded in sections.
  • Templates, automation, and documentation help us remain systematized. Systems create freedom.

What’s the secret to your success as a professional speaker?

This business is a combination of many factors. Success is all about rocking the platform.  A great speech is the best marketing tool you will ever create. The more you speak, the more you speak.

This business requires huge investment of time, attention and money to ensure you can create a quality offering for your client and audiences. There is no secret. It’s about a combination of talent, grit, determination, and connections.

What’s your biggest career accomplishment?

It’s challenging to answer this question! I have speeches I have loved, spoken at conferences on my bucket list, and met some of the coolest people in the world. I haven’t achieved my biggest accomplishment… yet.

What are your predictions for the biggest trends in professional speaking in 2017?

  • Increased requests for shorter talks, i.e., TED-style talks.
  • Requests for more integration of technology in speeches to drive audience interaction and share content.
  • Demands on keynoters to provide additional offerings before and after the event.
  • Livestreaming and more video integration to allow wider distribution of content.
  • Requests for more audience interaction and conversational approach, regardless of audience size.
  • Demands to make content more actionable and measurable, with more regular follow-up throughout the year.

Looking for more on professional speakers? Check out our entire interview series.

Caitlin got her roots in inbound marketing before it got its name. As a teenager in the 90s, she promoted her independently published magazines by writing about the importance of indie publishing all over AOL. Now, Caitlin is passionate about moving people and society forward. She follows thought leaders in the National Speakers Association, the staffing industry, and all human rights movements. She loves learning and helping people learn.

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