I meet so many people – peers and clients alike – who have started writing a book, then grind to a halt because they run into a common obstacle. They realize that they're unsure if the book will really be helpful, even if the message of the book is something that's helped them and their clients many times before.
Often, this is because they haven't asked themselves (and gotten a really clear answer to) two critical questions: who is this book for? And what are my goals for this book? If you answer these two questions early in the writing process, you'll probably find the entire journey a bit easier. And I have a really good strategy to share with you today that will help you answer these questions and write the best book possible.
In this episode, I talk about why you should use speaking as a testing ground for the message, content, and goals of your book. I give several examples of how your message might change based on your ideal audience and your goals, and talk about why it's so critical to know exactly who you're writing for. I also share why speaking is such a powerful way to test and distill your message before you invest all the time and effort it takes to write a really stellar book.
What You’ll Learn from this Episode:
- Why so many people start writing a book, only to stop halfway through because they're confused about their message and their audience.
- How to think about your goals for your book.
- How to tell if you're on track to meet the goals for your book.
- A surefire strategy for testing and refining the core message of your book before you ever write it.
- Why speaking is such a useful way to test your framework, create bonus materials for readers, and give you confidence about your book's message and impact.
Listen to the Full Episode:
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Full Episode Transcript:
I am continually surprised by the number of new clients who come to me who have been sitting on a book that has largely written maybe thirty thousand forty thousand fifty thousand words and counting already on the page. And when I ask them why they haven't published this book, there's often this underlying feeling, this fear, this uncertainty that what they've written while they know it's been valuable in their own lives and even in the lives of their clients, they're not sure really sure in a way that makes them confidently, excitedly proactive about getting their book out there. They're not sure that it will have that kind of impact on the larger, broader world, or at least the world of their ideal clients or ideal audience members. So we're going to talk about today is the best way I know of to actually test out your model, your idea, that content of your book so that you can feel amazing and so excited to get it into the hands of your ideal readers. Welcome to . If you're on a mission to make a difference in the world with your message, you are in the right place. I'm Michelle Barry Franco and I'm thrilled that you're here.
Hello, hello. My thought leadership friends, it is super silent in my house because my family is all asleep. It's almost midnight and I'm recording this podcast because it's due by midnight to my podcasting team. This is especially remarkable because I often fall asleep around 9:00 PM that's my preferred bedtime. I'm a super early riser, but it was my daughter's birthday and I had a lot of client calls today and I'm committed to being here with you each week, even when there's a lot to get done, so it feels really good. You know, I love this, right? It's like we're sitting here together drinking this over infused strawberry water that I have in my hand right now that my daughter made, and we're just drinking this, the strawberry water together, chatting about work and life and the delights of finally writing and publishing and getting out into the world.
Your beautiful book. I can't wait to talk about today's topic. Before we do that though, would you do me a favor? Would you head on over to iTunes or your favorite listening app and write up a review if you like , if it's serving you, if you write up a review for us, it really helps our podcast to show up when people search for podcasts on topics and the thought leadership speaking book riding arena. So I'd greatly appreciate if you would head on over and write up a review for us. And if you do that and you let me know about it, I am going to send you as sweet little surprise via email. So this means you need to email me at Michelle, at Michelle Barry franco.com to let me know that your review is there so I can rush on over there and enjoy reading it and then you'll get a little sweet surprise in your email.
All right, so let's dive in. I cannot wait to talk with you about getting your book done, getting it written, whether you're at word zero or word 50,000 and you can't figure out why you're not getting it out there. I want to dive in. I was on the phone with a new client recently who's written more than 20,000 words of a book that she plans to publish. She's a deep expert on the topic, so writing this book hasn't been hard for her at all. She's in flow when she's writing many words every time she sits down to write it. The only struggle really for her, it's just finding time in her super busy schedule and I imagine that you can relate to this. It's actually not uncommon that a client has a half written or even almost complete manuscript book. It's such a natural thing to do to start this book gathering all of your expertise into one place so that you can ultimately hand it to a new or potential client.
It's actually one of the things I love most about having written my books and I notice with clients that after years and years of creating things right, you have this expertise, you have these stories, you start to gather them because you need to because you need sort of this treasure chest is place to go back to even if it's just to reference stories and exercises and processes to share with clients. Well, it just starts to look so much like a book or the potential for a book that we begin that process in this really natural way. So back to the client that I'm on the phone with WHO's written these 20,000 words since we only started working together recently, I'm still getting to know the breadth of her experience and her body of work. So as I ask the zillion questions that I just can't seem to help but ask, I am a coach after hall, it started to become clear that while she'd written a book based on her very specific expertise, it wasn't clear who the book was for.
She didn't have an ideal reader or ideal audience member, ideal client. Often for us, they all swirled together, but since we're talking about a book, we're going to call this that her ideal reader, she didn't really know who the book was for. We also discovered through this conversation that she didn't know what she wanted from the book. She wasn't even clear why she was writing it and what her goals were for having this book. And I could tell us we were having this conversation that which she was starting to feel kind of embarrassed for not having all of this figured out before she wrote the book. Not knowing exactly who it was for or what her goals were for writing it. But here's the thing, most people don't know these things and unless they've worked with a speaking coach or a great book coach and especially a book coach or speaking coach who understands the business side of thought leadership, no one teaches us the staff thought leadership and making a difference with our amazing experience and expertise is the most incredible way to build a business or a mission and organization, a movement that matters.
And yet when we're deciding what we want to do and even as we move up in our career, so when we're deciding what we want to do in call hedge and in that whole process and then as we get out into the work world and we're moving up, it's literally never spoken of thought leadership and our own ideas, our best ideas, our own stories and our way of putting together our expertise. It's ignored in most schools, the vast majority of schools, graduate schools and companies. As you're rising up through you know, the ranks or climbing the ladder, however you want to think about moving up in your career, it's so wrong. It's so unfortunate that this isn't talked about because the truth is knowing what you take a stand for and being clear on your own powerful ideas. This is the way you stand out in any kind of career.
So I tend to talk about thought leadership as a business or as a support to a business that you're running. But the truth is when you step into thought leadership inside of an organization, it has that same impact. You become remarkable. You are recognized as an expert in your particular arena and it allows you to take on projects to move into leadership positions and a much, much, much faster pace. I've seen this happen over and over again with my clients. So here's the deal. We're going to fix this hole. No one teaches us this Steph thing today. I mean that's what we're doing really with , right? But today I want to share with you how to think about your goals for your book. I want to show you how to get intimately connected to your ideal reader and show you the best way I know of to make sure the book that you write is the one that will most excite and motivate, inspire, and magnetize.
If that's what you want, your ideal person, you know, ideal client, ideal reader or ideal audience member, all of those things. So let's set the stage clearly before we dive into the lesson for today. And yes, I mean lesson, I really, really want you to learn this and apply it to essential questions that you need to ask yourself before you write a book. Are Who is this book for and what are my goals for this book? And then of course the goal here is to answer those questions super clearly for yourself before you write that book or in those early stages of crafting that book. The book my client was writing was for everyone. That's how she thought about it and I hear this all the time and I know that we all really feel special in in that we've heard these conversations about niching and you know, needing to speak to one ideal client avatar and it often feels like that's too limiting and that that's actually going to, you know, not allow us to make the greatest impact with our work because everyone needs to know what we're teaching, right?
My client was sure that everyone needs to know what she's teaching and I'm saying this next thing with a straight face and a full heart because the truth is pretty much everyone needs to know how to eat healthy and potentially how to resolve food issues when they arise and even to know that food issues could arise. Everyone. Pretty much everyone needs to know how to budget their money and plan for their financial future. Pretty much everyone needs to know the impact of environmental toxins on their health and what they can do about it. Pretty much everyone needs to know how to create strong more genuine relationships. After all, the research is overwhelming. Relationships are essential to a long happy life. And I could go on and on with this list, right? So I know that you're not wrong. I know that if your thinking yeah but everyone needs to know this thing that I have to share.
That's probably true. And as I gave those lists, I know that you can probably think of one or two exceptions to each of these, but for the most part, this is all staff and probably what you're covering fits in there. That makes being a human way better, easier, more wonderful. So I know that you can feel that ideal client avatar and niching conversation coming on here, but that's not exactly where we're going to go. Nope. I want to talk about you, you, you, you, and I know I talk a lot about them and I say one of my mantras is it's not about you, it's about them and how you can serve them, how you can change their lives with your message, but really in order to do that in a way that's sustainable, that really taps that place in you, that knows you're meant to serve with your message, you have to look in on you and you want to ask yourself, what do you want from this book?
Why are you writing it? What outcomes are you looking for for your audience that also relate to your own business, your mission, the impact you want to make your own thought leadership goals? Because you will write a very different book depending on your goals, even if your topic is pretty much exactly the same. So let's say you're an expert on interior design and your goal is you want interior design clients, so you're going to write a book for those clients to show them how you can change their life with your expertise. You're going to share stories and examples that reflect their own desires and their own experience. So they see themselves in that potential transformation and they see you as the source, a resource for that transformation. But if you want to help other interior designers, let's say you're still an interior designer, but you want to write a book that helps other interior designers tap into their own intuition to be even more creative and bold in their design expression, well, that's a different book, right?
And if you don't think this through ahead of time, there's a chance that you're not going to hone in on that powerful message and speak to those designers and give examples from your own experience about times when you tapped your deepest intuition, when you did something that felt risky and like a client might think you were, you know, crazy to do it, but you did that and it had this amazing outcome, right? They're looking for those kinds of stories. But first you have to know who the book is for and what your goals are for the book. So if you want these interior designers to pay you to teach them these skills, these intuitive and bold creative skills, that book has a lot of examples of you working with people like them to help them get the skills they need to be successful. So you see how knowing who the book is for and then what your goals are dramatically changes the content of that book all while you're still an expert on interior design.
So let's do another example. And this example, you're an expert at budgeting and financial planning and your goal is that you want new financial planning clients. So you're going to write a book that shares stories of people very much like those clients that you want to work with who have built amazing financial plans and are enjoying the fruits of that planning with you, right? But if you want to get paid to speak, let's say, let's say you're a financial planning expert, but you actually want to get paid speaking gigs, you need to write a different book. This comes up all the time in my work with clients, a new person will come to me and say, okay, it's time I want to get out there and I want to get out there as a paid speaker. Here's the book that I wrote. I want to use this, you know, as my high end business card as people say, but the book is written for individual families, let's say for people inside of families to help them do their family budgeting, their retirement planning.
It doesn't mean it's not an awesome book. It's an excellent book, but that kind of a book is far less likely to get you paid speaking gigs. If you want to get paid a couple thousand dollars, $10,000 or more for a keynote speech, you have to deliver a message and information within your, your speeches that a company, Organization or association, if you're lucky, associations or you know, sort of not as reliable, but companies and organizations, you have to deliver a message that they're willing to pay for. They pay for messages that inspire and motivate their team inside their company or organization to create greater business outcomes. They want more revenue, right? They want more efficiency, they want better customer service. They want you to inspire and teach their sales team to make more sales. So the book that you want to write to support those speaking goals is a book about financial planning for leaders of teams or how to build a budget that leaves room for unexpected expenses and creates an exciting and bold plan for future growth.
All of that though, written for leaders inside of companies, and of course if you're going to do that, you need to have a new angle on these things since they've probably heard and read the mainstream stuff on budgeting and planning. So you want to come at this in a new fresh way, but that's how you can see the difference, right? You're still a financial planner in this example, and by the way, you don't have to write that book in order to get those paid speaking gigs. That's a thing that I hear people say, well, I've got to go write my book first. Really you there an interplay and that's actually what I'm going to talk about more here in a minute. Okay, so I said we wouldn't do another client Avatar niching conversation though it is a worthy conversation to have and I'm sure we will be having it soon here on because getting intimately connected with your ideal audience member is one of the most valuable and beautiful things that you do, but that is not the window through which we're looking at this today.
Once you get clear on your goals, speaking, how do you know if you're on the right track to reaching those goals without actually publishing the book and getting it out there? It's kind of this conundrum, right? You have this book, you think it's good, you've tested elements of it, but in the process of writing this book, often that very process has shown us maybe a model or a way of doing things that we didn't even realize we were doing before. This is where the magic comes in on so many levels because there is one way to test your ideas, your message, your framework, all of it before you invest all kinds of time and energy writing a book that doesn't actually end up leading to the outcomes that you're dreaming of. Let me share this magical strategy with you by telling you about my dear friend who just finished the first draft of her book.
We were on a walk a few months ago and we were just chatting about her new book and exploring her next steps in the process. She was, you know, wondering things like should she self-publish, should she go the traditional route. There's definitely timeframe differences between those control differences. It's a really interesting conversation to have and when we will have as well, but so we were just sort of having this conversation talking about where would she find a designer and the marketing support if she was going to go the self publishing route. Actually you'll also need publishing support if you're going to go the traditional route. So just all the book conversation things. So as we're talking about her book and she starts to share some of the content with me, I asked her where had she shared this model before? Where had she tried it out with audiences?
I was just getting curious about what they had said with the feedback had been like, and she said, well, it's basically just what I do with clients when I work with them. And it's, it's really the process I've used myself for years. So I haven't really tested it out as a model. It's just when I looked back on all of the things I've been saying and doing for years, this is the way it makes the most sense. So this made a lot of sense to me because it's actually how I wrote my first couple of books and it's how many of my clients have written their books. So I just started asking her more questions about, you know, the content of the book. Do you have clients stories? Like I'd love to hear some of those stories. You know, we're just walking along and I'm so intrigued and impressed by her expertise.
I adore her. She's my dear friend and she's a super amazing, brilliant person. And she said, well, I don't have very many stories in the book because I wasn't actually using this as a model. And since I wasn't using it as a model, I didn't, I don't have client stories that kind of go through the whole path of the model. It just doesn't seem to flow the way that it would need to for them to be good examples. So then I asked her what are using as examples and stories and she said, well I just don't have that many. I'm focusing on research and my experience mostly. I said, well how does that feel to you? Cause I didn't want to cause any disruption for her forward motion on the book. She's pretty close to having it done. But this was putting up like the little alarm antenna on in me knowing that stories are such a powerful way to, you know, captivate and engage her readers.
And she said, honestly, I really wish I could test this out the way I've written it, like test this model out, but I can't figure out how to do that with more than a few people that I'm working with right now. And then I said, and here's the big reveal, my friends, although I don't think it'll surprise you. I said, why don't you craft a talk or a workshop around this model and just see how it resonates? And she stopped in full, like walking arm swing and looked at me and said, wow, that's an amazing idea. That'd be awesome. Which is so funny, right? We're friends. I'm a speaking coach, but you know, these things don't always come to us super naturally. I wrote my book beyond applies. Do you know you can get my book for free by the way? You can get it at speak.
So it matters.com forward slash one zero one just the number one zero one anyway, I wrote my book beyond applause after speaking at a number of events and realizing that I kept saying the same thing. Honestly, the model wrote itself. I don't even remember how it happened. I just know that there was nothing else that I could think of to say to answer the question that everyone was asking me, and in case you're wondering, the question everyone asks me so often is how do I get great speaking gigs? I still sometimes try to come up with a different answer and every time I keep coming back to that same thing, but that started that model like knowing what I wanted to say and how I wanted to craft that model. It actually started from the tension of having a talk to deliver where I needed to encapsulate my own expertise.
And the funny thing is I was actually already writing a book at the time I was writing. It was in the very early stages of writing a different book, but because I started speaking and I needed to turn this to answer the question that I knew that they were coming to these talks to answer, it just made me write a totally different book. But I got to test out this model by speaking. So I started writing the book. I wrote out the model after this first, you know, I crafted a talk first just because that's what came up first was I needed to craft this talk, answering the question, how do I get great speaking gigs? And then I went, oh my gosh, this is so true. And tested it out against all kinds of different clients and, and it is absolutely true. So it was this process of crafting a talk and then you know, seeing this powerful model and, and way of sharing this information, starting to write that book and then revising the talk based on what I learned from the last talk and the book writing process, delivering that talk again, facilitating conversation within that talk, learning stories and examples and questions that people ask me in that room.
I took that directly back to the book and I shared those as examples. I answered the questions I was being asked in these talks within the book and that made it better and better and better. And that is how I used speaking to help me write the best book that I could possibly write. And I still am so proud of beyond applause. I love this book. I love it because I know from that process of iterating through speaking and writing together, I know that it answers the question. That's so many people that I know I'm on this earth to serve are asking, so that's what I want you to think about today as you're writing your book or if you're planning to write your book or you have it half written or even have one complete and you're wondering what's holding you back from getting it out there craft to talk using the model or the elements that you share in your book.
Bring it to groups of your ideal audience member, your ideal clients, and then learn from them, gathered stories from those exchanges. You can use those in your book, let their input and their interaction with your material. You make it even better, even more useful and more effective. One cool thing that naturally happens is you'll likely create additional resources to serve your audience that you can use as support materials for the book, like on a book resources page or that you'll add to the book to make it even more engaging so that they can engage with the book as they go. Especially if you're using the magic mix of content, which I talk about in my book that you can get at speak, so it matters.com forward slash one zero one you're going to want those audience engagement activities. Those are awesome in your talks and they can be really useful inside your book as well.
One final tip, as you craft your talk or your workshop based on the model in your book to help you make that book even more, awesome. Be sure to ask for feedback after the talk. Create a feedback form that asks for their main takeaway. Ask them what they would tell a friend who's considering taking your workshop or attending your talk and gather suggestions or questions that they have for you. These are juicy, juicy pieces of insight into ways that you can add texture richness and just create an even better book, a book that you cannot wait to finish, get published and get into the hands of your ideal reader. When you love your book and you know it will serve your audience super powerfully, you are going to be so excited to get it out there. Using speaking to hone the ideas in your book is one of the best ways that I know of.
That's actually the best way that I know of to help you write the kind of book that you can't wait to tell the world about. The truth is that speaking dramatically improves the book that you'll write and writing a book is a really powerful for your speaking adventures to your book and your talk. They go together like peanut butter and jelly or to speak to two of my favorite things in the whole world that go together like dark roast coffee and a 70% cacao chocolate bar. They just make two really great things, so much better. Now don't forget that you can get access to my book for free at speak. So it matters.com forward slash one on one. There are so many resources in there to help you get out there and share your message. They'll help you craft that talk based on the book that you have already written even. So grab that and use those resources. Use that book to guide you. Here's the bottom line, my friend, that story that you have to share, your beautiful expertise, it belongs in the hands and hearts of those you're meant to serve. You really were made for this, so please keep shining that beautiful light, get that book done. Our world needs it and I can't wait to be here with you next week and keep supporting you in this grand adventure. See you here next week. Take care.
Thanks so much for being here with me on . If you want specific and actionable guidance on how to become a recognized leader in your industry, you can download a free copy of my book beyond applause. Make a meaningful difference through transformational speaking at speak. So it matters.com forward slash free books.
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