Jan. 10, 2013, Vol. 11, Issue 1
I don’t know about you, but my In-Box was so full of Seasons Greetings that I decided not to clutter up your In-Box with more of the same.
We had lovely holidays with family and friends, and now that I have all of the decorations stashed, and can see daffodil shoots pushing through the soil, I’m geared up for all that’s fresh and new. And that’s what I intend to bring you throughout the year — fresh and new. I’ve been adding lots of fabulous speakers to my roster and am hearing interesting stories from the meeting front that I’ll be sharing as well.
Today I’d like to tackle an issue that may come up, but we don’t talk about it. At least nobody has brought it up with me before this week. And that’s size – plus size. Perhaps you’ve considered a speaker for your women’s health event but hesitated because she was a plus-sized woman. After all, many events that we book speakers for are about eating healthy, keeping weight in check and engaging in regular exercise and other healthy practices.
Certainly it makes sense to have someone fit talk about fitness – and someone at a normal weight to talk about good nutrition. Yet perhaps there is another perspective with just as much weight (if you’ll excuse the pun). So in this issue I’ll ask what we might learn if we listened from that alternative perspective.
The Power of (Hilarious) Imperfection
Motivational speaker and comedian Kelly Swanson is a plus-sized woman. At 170 pounds, she’s a real size 14. There, we said it. No, that is not where she wants to be on the scales but she refuses to let her size stand in the way of going after her dreams. “I will love who I am while I am working towards the woman I want to be,” she declares.
The topic came up in discussion when I recommended her to keynote a women’s heart health event. I felt she fit all the criteria the client was asking for: they wanted a funny motivational speaker who would inspire the women and promote their facility. I knew that Kelly is very client-oriented; that is, she totally customizes her program to maximize the results each client wants. She and I had recently discussed the messaging she could bring to women’s events, but the weight issue had never surfaced. Until that client brought it up. She wanted to be sure that the message Kelly would be delivering, both consciously and subliminally, would be congruent with the event’s values and the theme of the program. So we got very clear about it.
“No, I don’t think it’s okay to be overweight,” Kelly said. “I do think it’s unhealthy. But I don’t think that being overweight means you should hate yourself. In fact, I think that hating yourself will keep you from becoming healthy, as poor self-esteem leads to bad choices.”
Kelly, who is the author of Who Hijacked My Fairytale?, says the issue is not about looking like a princess, but about feeling like one. “Stop thinking you have to be a size zero so you can look better than your neighbor – and start seeing good health as a ticket to a better life,” she advises.
“Motivation comes from within. You have to see, believe, do, and trust the cape. See where you want to go – believe that you can get there – and take action. So what’s trusting the cape mean? It means that you have to trust that your work will pay off even if you don’t see results immediately.”
“Reaching your dreams doesn’t happen in one giant step, but in a lot of tiny ones. So make your goal tiny – one day at a time – one step at a time, and you will stay focused,” she says. Her own life bears that attitude out; she used to weigh 220 pounds, and she has taken those hundreds of tiny steps to reach her present state while, as she puts it, trusting the cape.
Obviously women’s health is a big issue in our society, as so many people are overweight, unhealthy, and leading lifestyles that can encourage diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer that are preventable. Her programs, however, are not about weight loss. She talks, rather, about self-esteem, inspiration and encouragement — with huge doses of humor and levity.
“I believe that the problem is not a lack of information, but a lack of motivation,” Kelly says. “We all have a pretty good idea of what we are supposed to be doing. The problem usually comes in taking action. That’s what I do. I encourage women to take action, to put themselves first, and to LOVE themselves at every stage – because I believe that shaming a woman does not help, but that a woman empowered will make better decisions. And I have seen over and over that most women in that audience are like me, and will connect to my message.”
Kelly helps women see that they are put on Earth to do something GREAT, that they are a great contribution to this world, and that they should be valued and appreciated. And she makes clear that they will need energy and good health to do the things they were put here to do. She helps them look at health as a means of reaching their dreams rather than as a competition to be in the “Pretty Girls Club.”
“I will tell them that I want to make better choices, too – to move more, to eat better, to take better care of myself. And I will in effect make a “pinkie swear” with the audience to do this together – to help each other get motivated and stay motivated to make a change – I’ll even go so far as to offer to stay in touch after the event to encourage each other.”
Kelly knows how to promote a women’s event, too – or maybe more how to leverage normal promotional stuff – radio, mailers, social media, etc. – into dynamite attractors.
One women’s event she spoke for this year had 250 people the year before. This year they had 450 and turned away many more. Here is how Kelly describes the process in her own words – and her description gives you a little sense of her presence, her ability to attract and connect.
“I don’t think the client changed their promotion from one year to the next. They did the regular promotion stuff they do – radio, mailers, social media, etc. But when they promoted it, they made sure to let them know what was coming – a FUNNY ONE-WOMAN SHOW. A ‘you-don’t-want-to-miss-this’ experience. ‘Award-winning storyteller, comedian, motivational speaker, author of Who Hijacked My Fairy Tale?’
“The book title always gets attention. And that’s why I give the show the same name. Funny titles sell. I’ve had people come just because they thought the title was hilarious. And they listed my website in all their promotional stuff, so they could go check me out. I’m not sure if they used a funny video, but many clients have, and that works nicely too. People often go to my website, check out all the funny videos on YouTube, and say, ‘We want to see her!’
“So, while promotion is crucial, so is what you promote. And funny always wins. People LOVE to laugh. They love the idea that they are getting a show instead of a lecture. They also come knowing they need to be motivated. People are going through some really tough times, and they appreciate the chance to come and laugh and be inspired and feel good and hear that everything is going to be okay.
“They brought their friends, especially those who needed encouragement and humor and hope. MOST of the women in the audience were my size or bigger, and they connected to my message. It is my theory that these women would not have come out just to hear someone tell them how to eat better or exercise. They could have gotten that anywhere – on the internet, TV, or this month’s magazine. They came out instead to be entertained and motivated and feel good and be happy – not to be lectured to, or to hear a sad story. I think that in order to raise awareness, it is important to think about what gets people out of their houses. It is my hope that they come because they think I have something to offer – and then we share the important health message when they get there.”
Kelly is not the poster child for women’s health — and therein lies her power of influence. She is the poster child for a woman learning to find balance in life – who admits that at times she has let excuses stand in the way of her happily-ever-after – who is looking in the mirror and deciding every day that it’s time to make the change. And she invites her audience to look in that mirror with her and make the change that day. She comes to you hilariously broken – with a plus-sized dose of wacky Southern humor and an even bigger helping of encouragement. She wants to show you that it’s not about looking like a princess; it’s about feeling like one. For some laughs and a look deep into her gift, look at her page on our website and click on the videos.
If this speaks to you, you may want to book her for an inspirational – and well attended -presentation. For information, call me at 503-699-5031 or drop me an email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Holiday Time Warp
Our time with Jim’s daughter and the grandkids here was a whirlwind of activity the weekend (3 days) before Christmas, and I had the most amazing experience. Because they had to go back home on Christmas Eve, we planned our Christmas Day celebration for Sunday, Dec. 23. What was so amazing is that it seemed so much like the real holiday day that we even thought the stores were closed! We opened presents first thing in the morning, had a lovely breakfast, and the kids went off to do some things while I set the table with Great Aunt Mary’s Havilland china on a white tablecloth. My husband roasted the turkey and worked on the other holiday accompaniments, while I contributed the cranberry sauce and the pumpkin pie. It was such a complete success that Monday (actually Christmas Eve), felt like the day after Christmas to me. Do you think it was because we could have turkey sandwiches? Happy memories all around and a Christmas I will always remember.
Until next time, take care of yourself for your well being and those you love.
For Your Well Being is published bi-weekly. We bring you insider speaker reports, exclusive stories about special events around the country, meeting planner tips, and fun stuff from the worlds of health and well being. Be well and be in the know!
The Speak Well Being Group is a specialized speakers bureau, focusing on speakers for hospital-sponsored community events, healthcare organizations, conferences and women’s groups. Our speakers are hand-selected. They are not only experts in their fields, they know how to connect with women and give them life-changing information served on a silver platter of joy, camaraderie, with a side of sauce (spicy, of course).
Finding the perfect keynote speaker for your special event or conference is my personal passion, not just once, but year after year. It brings me endless joy to know that your audience was delighted and moved by the speaker we selected together. I’m committed to making the process easy, pleasant and fun.