Resources  >> The dark side of hope

About Vickie Sullivan

Vickie Sullivan is internationally recognized as the top market strategist for thought leaders, professional speakers and B2B professional service firms. Specializing in brand and message strategies in crowded markets, she has helped thousands of talented people outsmart their competition since 1987.

Written by: Vickie Sullivan  |  April 23, 2009

The dark side of hope

My favorite thing about speaking: what I learn from the audience. A speech in Dallas last month showed me what happens when hope runs amok.

The audience was filled with professional speakers and trainers. They were justifiably concerned about the budget cuts and canceled meetings. But when I told them how to out-compete the celebrity speakers, well…my words created more confidence than I meant to give.

What I said: budget cuts hurt celebrity speakers the most. Buyers are willing to consider non-famous but credible folks with a strong educational meassage. What many in the audience heard: I am a free speaker with cool educational content, a great story and a unique perspective…so high-fee buyers will hire me in an instant. I’m good to go.

Turbo-charge client motivational speaker Dr. Steve Bedwell was in the audience and saw the train wreck coming. He explains it best: “The gap between what you would consider cool, counterintuitive content and what most speakers consider cool, counterintuitive content is vast…”

Busted. I got so excited about giving good news, that I didn’t emphasize the perceptions between buyer and speaker. I let the audience assume that all of them are ready to roll. And that’s why, when presented with an opportunity to get a market reality check, many of them felt they didn’t need it. My omission created false hope that buyers will quickly correct.

Moral of the story: hope is not an assumption that your work is done. It’s motivational fuel to do what it takes for a market that awaits you. This is a mistake I won’t make again.


About Vickie Sullivan

Vickie Sullivan is internationally recognized as the top market strategist for thought leaders, professional speakers and B2B professional service firms. Specializing in brand and message strategies in crowded markets, she has helped thousands of talented people outsmart their competition since 1987.