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    Posted March 17, 2014 by
    Austin, Texas

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    Professional Speaking as an Art: Rob Jolles

    When attending the average career fair, you will likely end up with an insulated water bottle from PwC, a keychain flashlight from GE, and perhaps one of those squishy stress release balls from IBM. It is, however, quite unlikely that you would end up with any swag in your bag from more unfamiliar corners of the professional world. One of these uncommon careers is professional speaking, an overarching service industry that remains relatively unknown to most people.

    The career path of a speaker is a bit of a mystery, but it really shouldn’t be. The road to becoming a professional speaker is no clear-cut trail, and it can be a dangerous road to travel without the proper attributes. Of course, it takes a certain type of person; performing for strangers while getting baked by a spotlight doesn’t exactly tickle every man’s fancy. Therefore the role often attracts theatrical types, people that have an actor’s mentality and have the ability to put on a one-man show. Sometimes it attracts an odd bird, the interesting type that people will pay to see dance and scamper about a stage. There is unquestionably a considerable amount of subject matter knowledge and expertise involved in the job, but it is the performance element that often separates the good from the great.

    Often times, the best speakers are the ones that will let you have it with both barrels. I spoke with a speaker by the name of Rob Jolles to hear about what it’s like to be under the bright lights. He proclaims, as I think is common for those successful in the profession, that every time he takes the stage, he doesn’t leave anything left in the tank. Whether it’s a corporate event for thousands or a salesmanship seminar for 20, Rob tells me that his purpose is to teaching people and companies how to change minds.

    When I spoke with him, I began by asking him about life as a “motivational” speaker. I was quick to learn that he is more than a motivator. Throughout his career as a salesman, he learned the difference between manipulating and influencing, between which he draws a dark line. He has written books about the ability to mutually benefit clients and customers. He believes that, whether in selling or speaking, the most successful consultants are ones that have a real desire to see their clients thrive. Jolles has the charisma and personability to make it in any public space, but it is his pure intentions, as backwards as it may seem, that give him a competitive edge.

    I was interested to learn about the value of publishing books. Jolles has published a number of books, including Customer Centered Selling, How to Run Seminars & Workshops, and How to Change Minds. He let me in on a little secret; as soon as you publish, a speaker becomes recognized as an expert and your value increases exponentially. Obviously the better the book the more powerful your knowledge and presence is, but the simple fact that one has a book at all is a huge value-add.

    Professional speaking is a unique profession that requires a unique persona. While there may not be a table for it at your next career fair, it’s a safe bet that many individuals are looking to enter this rewarding field and capitalize on the opportunities present.
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