DonnaLyn Giegerich gives paid speeches nationally as well as locally, and is “one of Monmouth County’s most sought after speakers,” according to the president of the Eastern Monmouth Chamber of Commerce, Lynda Rose. She’s also a producing partner in two Monmouth County insurance agencies that generate more business than she can handle.
What do all these businesses and associations pay her to talk about? Hint: Not insurance.
“Nobody likes to be pitched insurance,” Giegerich says. “But everybody wants to know how to be empowered, how to be resilient in life.”
Glenn LeBoeuf, an investment advisor for Freedom Capital Management in Lincroft, gives about three speeches a month, and presented at the prestigious Civil War Institute. Frequently, people tell him he’s the “best speaker I’ve ever heard.”
Neither’s on the podium to hawk a product or service–what they are promoting is who they are and their ideas, or in marketing parlance, their brands. Both say what motivates them to speak is not to market their businesses, but to serve their audiences.
Albeit an unintended consequence, their businesses have benefited greatly from the public visibility that speaking provides.
“Although in your heart,” LeBoeuf says, “That’s not why you’re doing it, it puts you in contact with people who may be interested in you.”
“It’s all about trust and integrity,” explains Giegerich (donnalyn.org), who’s fighting a rare cancer, leiomyosarcoma, that doctors told her five years ago was incurable. (Husband Tom Zapcic also has a cancer diagnosis.) She survived a ten-hour surgery that saved her life, as well as her kidney.
“When people realize I’m serving a broader and deeper audience, later they’ll often ask, ‘by the way, can you talk to my partner about our insurance program?’ In this way I do cross-sell, but it’s subtle.”
Giegerich’s professional speaking topics are empowerment, leadership resilience and integrated wellness. I lack the space to list all her services, but she excels at coaching “emerging speakers.” (More on that next time). She’s decided that she’ll “die totally used up.”
LeBoeuf, pictured on the set of the film “Gettysburg” in which he was an extra, has a singular passion for telling stories from American history. His speeches, full of fascinating anecdotes that animate long-gone historical figures, interest women as much as men, unusual for an historian. Both seek the sweet spot between what they want to talk about and what others want to know about.
Put a creative spin on your topic, LeBoeuf advises. “Sell the sizzle. Only seven men may show up to hear about the Battle of Gettysburg. But if I call it ‘FDR and the Women Who Loved Him,’ that gets everyone wondering, ‘Whoa – how many women loved him?'”
“Speaking gives you a certain credibility,” the former history teacher adds. “If you have established expertise, and the intelligence that goes with that, and your other business is x, your listener will make the leap of faith that you know your own business.”
So, public speaking, regardless of the topic, serves as a proxy for intelligence and competence. It helps people get a sense of you as a person, which is what they want to do before buying from you.
Maybe you’re thinking that you just want to survive a conference presentation, not be a national spokesmodel like DonnaLyn Giegerich, who as Mrs. Red Bank, took first runner up in the Mrs. New Jersey pageant. Anyone can improve their public speaking, and next month I’ll provide tips on how to shine in front of an audience.