Beth Stoller, Author at At The Podium
It’s amazing to think that such a tiny word could possess so much power, but that’s how it is with the word “no.”
The challenge for us as speakers is that our first instinct is to think of every “no” we hear as a rejection.
So let’s take a step back and unpack this, because the “no’s” we get as speakers—like when an event planner doesn’t return our calls—might not be a real no at all. As a matter of fact, if we address them right from the start, we just might end up turning someone’s reason for saying “no” into a reason to say, “Yes! I’d love for you to speak to my audience!”
First, we need to look at a very common but dangerous “no” that’s not even a real no! It’s an “assumed” no. It’s the “no” we think we got after reaching out to an event planner, group, or organization a few different times and not hearing back from them. It’s easy to make the assumption that their silence means no.
We could check back with them one more time, but no one wants to run the risk of being rejected to their face. After all, if they were going to say yes, they would have already said it. Right? So it’s easier to wimp out.
But there are lots of reasons why someone might not have responded yet. Especially these days, it takes a lot more touches for someone to accept you as the real deal. Or they might be super busy.
Of course, there are also legit reasons why someone might say no. Fortunately, some of them are within our control. For example….
We haven’t made it about them enough yet. Every time you reach out to a planner, etc., you want to make sure the content you’re sharing with them is relevant to their peeps. But don’t try to do this by coming up with new ways to sing your own praises. Instead, stay current with what’s going to matter to that audience and send up-to-date and relevant information to the planner. This will remind them that your focus is directed specifically to their audience.
Everyone likes choices, even event planners. Have you given them 2-3 choices of how they can work with you so they can tailor what you have to offer to their audience? Can you offer them a breakout session? A follow-up session? A one hour open Q&A?
So no… the word “no” isn’t the end of the world—unless you think it is. In fact, viewed from a different perspective, it’s pretty much an invitation to come up with creative and audience focused ways to reach out again! So let’s dig in and figure out the questions we need to ask ourselves to have a better opportunity for getting a “YES” before we even say hello.

‘Til we speak again,

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