How to Get Clients from Speaking
with Sharla Jacobs
For many people, the hardest part about speaking isn’t how to speak or what they should say. It is actually turning that talking opportunity into clients!
They either don’t have a specific strategy in place, are afraid of being too salesy when making an offer, or are embarrassed by their fear of rejection and inability to connect with others. Believe it or not though, this can be easier than you think as long as you have a strategy in place.
And my dear friend Sharla Jacobs has some pretty amazing strategies when it comes to bringing in more clients with speaking opportunities.
- Four steps to earning six figures speaking to clients
- Three most important things to include in any talk
- How to tell stories that draw in your ideal clients
- Five reasons most people don’t get clients from speaking
Introduction to Sharla
We met back in 2016, and it was love at first sight. Our dear friend Dana Corey invited me to an event that Sharla and her awesome husband Jesse Koren hosted at the time for transformational leaders of conscious entrepreneurship. I’ve also attended speaking events that Sharla hosted, and what I learned there still impacts my speaking today.
People call Sharla an OG in the coaching community. I never know whether or not people actually like being called OGs, but Sharla embraces it. She has been in the coaching business for over 16 years now; Jesse and Sharla did their coaching calls out of a garage of a tiny apartment. Things were so much harder back then. Most of their early success started because they were speaking to groups.
They were teaching their Five Elements of a Heart Selling System. Sharla was a coach and licensed acupuncturist, hence why they specialize in coaches and healing practitioners because she gets them. She built her practice and fell flat on her face, so she needed a new thing to do. She divinely downloaded this system of Five Elements of Heart Selling, based in her background in Chinese medicine. It was a holistic model for how to have a sales conversation.
I shout Sharla out all the time, including her wooshes. Sharla and Jessie were at a seminar back in 2006, listening to a woman named Sarah speak. She was teaching what she called accelerated learning. They adapted this principle into embodied learning. We are not designed to sit and listen without being active for hours at a time; we have to keep moving our body. The actual movement integrates the learning in our brain. A woosh is a woosh from your heart. Instead of applause at Thrive events, we do kisses and wooshes. They feel silly at first, but it’s actually so fun. Don’t worry about looking silly when you’re speaking; you have to get over yourself.
- Oftentimes, on my mastermind calls with coaches, I will sometimes turn my video off because I make the weirdest faces when I am learning or thinking. People will screenshot me sometimes if I leave my camera on…
Business is a spiritual path. You will have to grow yourself in order to step up the game.” You have to do the inner work, even if you have all the information in the world. This is why Thrive does both the inner and outer work at their events, templates and transformation. It’s all about shifting your mindset, and there may be some deeper healing in order to allow you to speak in front of people with an open heart. Let’s dive deep into the four-step system to earning six figures as a speaker.
Step One: Create Your Speaking Event
This is a relatively simple system. The first step is create your speaking event. When we are creating a speaking event, there are three main sections to every workshop. Sharla likes that term because a workshop is her style; it’s all about the experience. They do six days live with their members typically, showing them the templates for the inspiring introduction, the hot content, and the generous invitation.
If you already speak, you may have an intro, or perhaps you’re winging it. Can you accomplish these two things in your intro? Can you build trust, and can you increase excitement? Do your people trust you, and are they excited to learn from you? There are 16 steps of an intro to build trust and increase excitement in Sharla’s system. If you have been trying to deconstruct someone’s talk, 16 steps to the intro. You will likely miss something. And obviously intros are not 16 minutes long. It’s all about the nuance.
One nuance in the template is the hero’s journey story. It’s a personal story that people can see themselves in and recognize that if you have overcome a certain challenge, so can they. Which story do you tell? We all have so many stories. One of the biggest mistake is people tell too much in their stories. It’s a specifically designed arc that you want people to experience. There is a low point, a turning point, and a high point. There are details in your life that are extremely relevant to you but wouldn’t be relevant to your potential clients. You craft the story in a way that moves and inspires them. You don’t embellish or lie, but you tell this story in a very specific way. And this is why getting feedback from other people is so important. Join a group training program or present this speech to others to understand how it reads to others who haven’t experienced your story.
Here is an example with a trigger warning. Bobbi Carroll came to their summit several years ago; she is a successful image consultant in Minnesota. She moved to the Bay Area and did everything for an entire year that she could think of. She pounded the pavement and would talk to anybody who would listen to her, but didn’t get one client after a year. She joined their six-figure speaker program and learned how to tell her story. The story she chose is when she was born, her aunt was raped and almost murdered. Her mom told her that when the family would go see the aunt in the ICU, they would come see the mom and hold the baby to soothe themselves during this time. Bobbi grew up with this message that it wasn’t safe to be a beautiful woman, hearing this over and over again as she grew up. Her aunt survived and is still alive. But Bobbi hid her beauty and became sick from that. As an adult, she realized that beauty was really important to her, and hiding was making her sick. Her turning point was that she was no longer willing to hide her beauty. This started her spiritual journey to becoming a psychologist and image consultant. She combines those two things to discover how to feel safe in your beauty. When she made her first on stage offer, she only had 12 minutes to speak, and she earned $4,000. Her ideal client as an image consultant are healers, holistic practitioners, people who are wanting to embrace authenticity. Her story is very relatable to her ideal audience.
The next layer of your speaking is the hot content. People often do too much content, and other people underwhelm their group with content that is too basic. Either way, you are not making your desired income or impact. Your content is designed to provide value and move people to a yes who are a good match for your offer.
There is some structure we want to make sure we have in our content. It’s all about making the template unique to you without losing yourself in it, but the structure and the strategy are there for a reason. For each piece of content that you teach, there is the why, what, how, and next step. Why is it important? What is it called? Just a tiny bit of how to. Don’t give people too much, or they will be blown out. And then one next step.
Section three is your generous invitation, which we will discuss more in step four.
Step Two: Fill Your Speaking Event to Get Clients
There are lots of different types of events that are filled in different ways. If you are participating as a speaker, the event may be filled for you, or you may have to help fill it. You may also be hosting a workshop or event where you have to fill the audience. There is also online speaking where you can speak from your home.
The fastest way to grow your audience is to speak in front of other people’s audiences. Instant credibility and rapport because we can share stories that we have participated in together. Whenever we start talking about attracting clients, the biggest question people have is, “Where do I find my people?” Speaking is one of the fastest ways to create an audience.
As far as filling your own events, you can use social media and email content; JVs; referrals; or your own events to fill events, which sounds kind of funny but does work. Thrive teaches coaches and holistic practitioners how to get to 10,000 per month. A lot of Thrive’s members are doing that through speaking. If your invitation is to have a consultation with you, you could easily get 10 consults from one gig. That could become four to five clients. Boom. You doesn’t have to be a million people in the audience to bring in 10 consults. There are ways to bring in conversions that lead to a huge impact without those high vanity metrics.
- Sharla’s vanity metrics on Instagram, she’s been there for a while but barely uses it, so her Instagram numbers don’t reflect the successful multi-million-dollar business she runs.
You can also speak and get checks to speak. That is where heart selling comes in. The five elements of heart selling help you book speaking gigs and get clients. Check out Sharla’s book The Art of Attracting Clients to learn more about this! She wrote this when she was pregnant with her first son, who is now 13. It used to be a course, so it’s not a fluffy lead magnet.
If you just give people information, they won’t remember a damn thing. Stories solidify the learning. Think about traditions that have lasted thousands and thousands of years. Sharla loves to share success stories because they land the point, and they allow you to reorient your brain to what is possible for you. You have to believe something is possible before you actually get results. So here is a story about Roni Habib:
He was a full-time teacher who had a vision of teaching educators how to create a more positive and playful environment for their kids in which to thrive. He was so inspired that he took a loan to invest in his business and join Thrive Academy Platinum. He then took the five elements of heart selling to schools and spoke to principals. He filled his first conference with over 150 guests and made $50,000 from that one event. Talking to the principals, they used their budgets to pay for the teachers to attend his conference. They then invited him to speak, so he got $7-10,000 paid speaking gigs for him to speak at the school. Principals would refer him to other principals and administrators, and he got to multiple six figures really quickly from using the five elements of heart selling and speaking.
Step Three: Show Up and Change Lives to Get Clients
People make so many excuses as to why they won’t speak.
Reason #1 is some people get so nervous and feel like a hot mess when speaking in front of a group. It was Jesse’s dream to be a workshop leader, and Sharla went along with it. The first time Sharla spoke, she nervously stood behind Jesse and whispered into the microphone because she was so terrified of being judged. If you can acknowledge when you are nervous, it makes you an immediate inspiration to the group, and it can be incredibly relatable. Being in group programs allows you to get your nerves out in front of a group of people who love you and are rooting for you.
- Many years ago, Jesse was invited to speak at an event by their friend Evan Pagan. He invited some of the most amazing personal development authors, speakers, and marketers. Jesse was asked to speak about how to create community, and he was nervous as hell. He had to acknowledge his nerves. He brought in his credibility and authenticity at the same time, saying, “Even though I have spoken at over 250 of our own events, I feel nervous being in front of you today because some of you who are here have written books that have changed my life.” So good. Acknowledging it disappeared it. One piece of credibility could change everything for you. Humanity and credibility mixed together are like magic.
My friend Carla had never shared her natural hair in a LinkedIn profile; she always shared her straight hair trying to look more “professional.” She wrote this big post about how she has been afraid of all these different things, preventing herself from showing up how she actually is. All she did was change her profile picture on LinkedIn to show her natural hair and explain why she did this. LinkedIn even reached out to her because her numbers were so crazy. The virality of this post simply because she shared something a little nervewracking that was total BS. The post had 344,060 views.
- As so many of us white people have been waking up in the past year or so, it’s a real thing. You should be showing up and being who you are authentically. Several years ago, at an event Sharla hosted, someone spoke about having conversations on race and equity. It was the first event I had attended personally where there was a whole session on this.
Reason # 2 is being an introvert. Sharla identifies as an ambivert, meaning she has both extroverted and introverted tendencies. If you are an introvert, but you feel called to speaking, you are wondering how to go about this without pretending to be an extrovert.
- When Jesse was 23 years old, he was at a training where they were giving people a power animal to help bring out their unique strength. He was hoping they would give him a bear, lion, tiger, horse, or dog, but he was given a sea turtle. He was so embarrassed by his power animal that he asked the leader for a more powerful animal. A turtle goes inside when they want their safe space, and they stick their head out when they want to go do their thing. That is how introverts speak to groups. You stay out of your shell when you’re able to, and then you go hide again.
- At Thrive’s events, there is this man named Peter who is like a magical woodland creature, who is there to support Jesse and Sharla with body work at the event. If you’re smart, you can get on Peter’s schedule while you’re at the event. The best body work I have ever had done. It is all-encompassing to attend Thrive’s events. Love on yourself over and over again.
Reason #3 is being terrified to speak. Sharla was terrified of speaking. When she first started out, she was planning on being an acupuncturist and coach. She wanted to earn $60,000, twice what her parents had ever earned. Speaking to groups was never on her radar. Jerry Seinfeld said, “According to most studies, public speaking is people’s greatest fear. Death is the second-greatest fear. If you go to a funeral, you are better off in the casket than doing a eulogy.”
- Here’s the thing. A few years ago, a man came to their summit and stuttered a lot. His wife was standing next to him, head down, as if she was ashamed of him for having such a hard time communicating. Jesse was surprised when he raised his hand to get transformational coaching from Jesse the next day. In about 20 minutes, this guy went from stuttering like crazy to saying many sentences at a time without stuttering at all. It was miraculous. He was in front of a group who were rooting for him, so much so that he could feel the love and allow his passion to come out unimpeded.
You’re obviously taking risks when you’re putting yourself out there. Some people have deep unresolved trauma that will be brought to the surface when speaking like this, and it will reveal to you where you need to do your own personal and spiritual development work. We really raise others up as a community.
Reason #4 is that your content is not unique enough. Let’s say you and 10 other speakers all teach the same exact five-step system to finding your soulmate. Even if your steps are the same, your core message, stories, experiential exercise, and way of being is not the same. You are the right match for your people. There are a lot of image consultants in the world, but Bobbi is the only one who communicates her unique passion that moves people through her own unique story. Who you are, when you bring your unique experiences to the table, no one can tell the same stories as you. When you show up and speak, people will be leaning into you as opposed to just the system. It’s not your information that sells; it’s who you are. People want to be in your energy field.
Reason #5 is “I am not ____ enough.” We don’t need another polished, boring speaker. People are creating authenticity and connection. Expertise and systems are important, but you don’t have to be the world’s greatest expert. You only have to be two steps ahead of your people. There is a caveat to this.
- 16+ years ago, when Sharla first started teaching the heart selling system, they were lucky enough to figure out how to recruit clients who happened to be coaches and healers struggling with money. They wanted to make six figures, and they were on track to making six figures. They had figured out a few things about how to attract clients, but they did not know that much. Once Sharla and Jesse started on this path of this is what they were teaching, you don’t settle for being just two steps ahead of your clients. You study like crazy and become more masterful at what you do. They now have a template for everything that has to do with client attraction and retention. They started out with a two-hour workshop, and they built upon it to build Thrive Academy. Learning what your people want and adjusting as you go is so key. All of their templates came from questions from clients. You are doing things in the realm of unconscious competence, meaning you’re good at them, but you haven’t deconstructed what you’re doing. Now you can deconstruct what you’re doing and share, which allows you to become more of an expert at what you do, too.
Step Four: Create an Invitation to Get Clients
You don’t want people to think you’re salesy. Most people make an offer like this, “I have a group program called Dream Big and Live in Abundance. But if you can’t afford that, don’t worry, I have free sessions. If you don’t have a lot of time, just sign up for my email list. I promise I won’t email you a lot.” You don’t really invite them to take the next step because you are judging things about them. That is a lose-lose. You are robbing them of the value you can provide them, and you are losing thousands of dollars potentially.
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- The Art of Attracting Clients by Sharla Jacobs and Jesse Koren