🀄️Top 3 Mistakes of My ~6 Year Speaking Career [S02E02]

Top 3 Speaking Mistakes - SIA Business Podcast S02E02

While I have enjoyed speaking locally and internationally over the years, I have made mistakes.

Learn from them before embarking on your speaking journey.

Sometimes hardships are blessings in disguise

It turned out that not only did I enjoy speaking, but it was a good way to position myself as an expert and authority which contributed to a decent flow of inbound leads.

While I’ve had the pleasure of speaking and events small and large in multiple countries, there were several mistakes that I’ve made.

Here in this episode, I the biggest 3 which I hope no one else makes.





INTRO: (00:01) You’re the average of the five podcast shows you listen to the most. Learn to run your business well with the SIA Business Show, where our host, Sayed Irfan Ajmal, interviews entrepreneurs, marketers, and speakers of all colors and creeds, revealing their biggest secrets and lousiest mistakes.

Irfan: (00:24) Hi everyone. This is your host, Sayed Irfan Ajmal, with Season 2, Episode 2 of the SIA Business Podcast. And today, I would like to speak about the top 3 biggest mistakes of my speaking career. So, I started speaking way back in 2013 and I have spoken on various marketing topics in Pakistan, UAE, Malaysia, and Indonesia.

(00:58) I have spoken at small workshop events. I have spoken at large conferences. I have spoken in universities, maybe a couple of colleges. I have spoken at co-working spaces, business accelerators, business incubators, and some webinars and podcasts as well.

(01:25) In this episode, I want to talk about non-digital events, as in events where I’m not speaking at an online podcast or an online webinar. So, I’m going to speak about the top 3 mistakes I have made when I attended an event in person, and the key things that I did wrong.

(01:46) I thought of speaking about this after recently speaking at an event, about one month ago, in Kuala Lumpur. So, the mistakes I have made are number one, “One-way Traffic”. So, what I mean by that is when someone like me who is usually very talkative and is a bit of a chatterbox, is asked to speak on a topic like, personal branding, or content marketing, or digital PR, or media relations.

(02:41) So, I want to make sure that in future, I conduct my speaking sessions in a manner which are more interactive, where I can ask more questions. Questions which make people think, which make people pay attention, but more importantly, which help them learn things about themselves, and their campaigns, and their own milestones that they have achieved, or lessons that they have learned, or mistakes that they have made when it comes to marketing or whatever it is that I’m speaking about.​

(03:11) So, more questions, more encouragement to the audience to speak up and to even question me. I have noticed that sometimes, I can get a bit defensive. And usually, it is more when, like recently, I actually got a bit offended in this workshop that I was conducting in Malaysia.

(03:29) But I think, the reason for me getting offended was also the fact that the question that was asked was in a very harsh manner. It came across as very insulting as if I am being told that I’m wrong and all that. So, I want to make sure that if someone is asking any questions, I don’t react negatively. And that I always encourage questions. Even if, at times the manner in which the question is asked or the tone which is used is not too good.

(03:57) In the case of the workshop, I should definitely try to come up with more activities. I know that in some cases, it’s hard to do an activity. Especially, when it’s just like about 30 minutes of a mini-workshop or something. But still, I should try to come up with more activities that the audience can participate in and where they can learn what I’m talking about by implementing some of the suggestions or some of the tips that I’m sharing.

(04:23) So yeah, that’s number one, to avoid being a one-way channel. Number two would be… the second mistake that I have made quite often is depending on others when it comes to having my speaking session getting recorded. So, based on what I have learned so far, and maybe I took a very long time to learn this, but I guess there were some other factors in play as well. But now, I’m really keen on eradicating this mistake.

(04:52) So, basically at events, even when they… often they don’t have a video recording team or if they do have a video recording team, which is actually very… I mean, they do have a video recording team and it’s a larger event, but in case of smaller events, they don’t have that.​

(05:08) And even when they do have a video recording team, it becomes too hard to access that video, to get possession of that video. So, at an event that I spoke few months ago, I kept on sending them emails, asking them if they can share the video that they have recorded, but they never got back in touch.

(05:26) And then after seven months, I discovered on my own that my video session is available on their YouTube channel and they didn’t bother letting me know. So, still, I’m thankful that they recorded and uploaded it. I’m sure they’re busy people and all that. And at least in one case, I was assured that the session will be recorded.

(05:47) But when I attended the event, I was told, “Oh, our DSLR guy is not here,” or something like that. And then I was told that “Okay, we will borrow someone else’s DSLR to record your session.” And then in the end, what happened was that there was no DSLR, so the guy basically recorded my session using his Mac book and the video was terrible. Right?​

(06:09) So from now on, I want to make sure that whenever I’m speaking at any event, I will take my own equipment, my own gear. That means taking my own lavalier mic, which I have already, my own cameras, which I need to buy in maybe the next four weeks or something.

(06:27) And I think, I need maybe 2 or 3 cameras so that they can record the speaking session from different angles. And of course, I need extra batteries and stuff like that, extra SD cards and whatnot. And obviously, I need tripods for the cameras. I hope I’m not forgetting something, but these are the main things that I’ve thought about.

(06:48) I do need to do more extensive research to come up with a proper list of things that I need to purchase in order to make sure that in future I can record my sessions. And once I have acquired all of these items, what I will do is that I will record myself while I’m working at the office a few times in order to get some practice.​

(07:07) And then, I plan on speaking at some local co-working spaces or maybe universities and recording the sessions over there as well so that I can get enough practice before I can speak at a much larger event abroad or even locally. So yeah, that was mistake number two, which is basically depending on others for video recordings. So from now on, I want to make sure that I’m recording my own sessions.

(07:32) The third mistake is probably the biggest mistake, that would be not doing enough to get the email IDs of the participants. Now, the reason I’m saying this is that email marketing when it’s permission-based, and what that means is that you get the permission to have the email address of someone. As in, you get their email address with their consent and you get their consent or their permission to send them emails as well.​

(08:02) Now, the thing is that email marketing, as in   email marketing is still quite effective and it’s a great way to interact with your fans, your followers, your well-wishers, et cetera. So, when you meet a potential client, when you meet a potential customer or a potential partner and you don’t take their email address, that basically means that you have lost that deed when it comes to interaction via digital media.

(08:32) Because when you are interacting online, email is the most important way, the most important channel to keep that conversation going, to stay in touch, to build a relationship and whatnot. So, what I have done in the past is that I would just mention my email address on the last slide of my presentation and I would just say something like, “If you want the slides of this presentation, you can send me an email or you can sign up for our newsletter.”​

(09:01) So, even that wasn’t good enough. Of course, if someone just sent me an email, I wouldn’t just automatically sign them up to my newsletter. I would just send them slides and maybe invite them to join the newsletter. But going forward, what I want to do is that if I’m speaking at an event, there are a few steps that I will take to ensure that I can increase the number of subscribers to my newsletter.

(09:22) My newsletter, by the way, is at www.sayedirfanajmal.com/newsletter. I will include a link to the newsletter in the description of this episode as well. So, the steps that I want to take, number one is to have a good brochure type of… maybe not a brochure but like a one-page leaflet, I would say, which mentions why the participants need to join my newsletter.​

(09:51) So, it will explain what I share on my newsletter, the kind of tips and whatnot. It will share the resources that my audience will get access to when they sign up for my newsletter and things like that. And I will have those printed leaflets placed near the exit door of the room where I am speaking at or maybe I will have someone distribute those leaflets to each of the participants. So, that’s one of the things that I will do.

(10:21) Secondly, what I’m going to do is that when I finish my presentation, I will do a more detailed explanation of what my newsletter is, what are the benefits of joining it, and how they can join it. Another thing that I hope to accomplish in near future is to have some kind of an SMS code which people can send an SMS to and that will get them automatically subscribed to my newsletter.​

(10:47) Provided that, they have entered their email address or something. I think I’ve seen something like that, some kind of a service which can do that. So I think, I will get that done as well.

(10:57) So, these are the top 3 biggest mistakes that I have made in my 5.5 years of speaking career. And the first one, like I said, is “one-way traffic.” I have to make the speaking sessions more interactive, ask more questions, including more activities and whatnot.​

(11:17) Secondly, I should stop depending on others for video recording. I have to bring my own video recording gear. I have to be ready. Number 3… the third mistake would be not doing enough to take email IDs. So, I have to do more to ensure that I can get more subscribers to my a newsletter so that I can stay in touch with the participants and help them out, and build a relationship, which is mutually beneficial.

(11:45) So, that’s it for today. I hope you have learned a lot from my mistakes. I do regret making these mistakes and now you can avoid these mistakes from day 1 if you’re just starting out with your speaking career. So, thank you so much. If you like this episode, please do let me know, and I will speak to you in the next episode. Thank you. Bye-bye​.

OUTRO: (12:11) Thank you for listening. For show notes and other resources. Please refer to the description of the show.​

If you have any questions or if you would like me to interview any entrepreneurs or digital marketers, please contact me here


Syed Irfan Ajmal is an award-winning serial entrepreneur and a seasoned digital marketer. He is an international speaker, and speaks and conducts trainings at various organizations and events of Pakistan and UAE. Moreover, he also writes about entrepreneurship and digital marketing for various large publications of the USA, UK, Canada, and Pakistan including Forbes ME, the World Bank, Huff Post, Business.com, Virgin, and others.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *