Spotlight on Dietitian Speaker Sally Kuzemchak
Wouldn’t you like to be such an AMAZING speaker that people just hand over their money??? Sally Kuzemchak tells DietitianSpeakers how it’s done.
DS: Tell us how you got your start as a Dietitian Speaker and what’s changed since then.
SK: My evolution as a presenter has been very steady. My first speaking invitations were informal – local moms’ groups asking about feeding kids and how to handle picky eating.
Then I worked with a brand to speak about the same topics but in front of larger groups. It was scary at first but definitely boosted my confidence.
Then I was invited by a blogging conference to present about writing, and was invited back two more times. I found that I enjoyed speaking about the business of blogging, writing, and social media so much that I wanted to focus more on it.
In the past few years I’ve mostly been speaking to other dietitians and bloggers about content creation and social media: how to create more compelling content, how to connect with your audience online, and how to handle ethical situations that come up in social media.
I recently joined a speakers’ bureau and will be presenting with them around content creation for a state Academy meeting.
DS: Amazing! At what point in that process did you cross the bridge into getting paid to speak? Was it an easy transition? And do you have any advice for someone feeling awkward about making the switch?
SK: I was invited to speak at my son’s preschool about feeding kids, and I was fully intending to do it for free as a promotion for a new book I had. And then they just handed me a check! I was surprised and flattered, but then I thought, “Well of course!” – I earned it, and my time and expertise are valuable.
After that it became more natural to ask for a fee. I definitely understand feeling insecure about it, but it’s key to remember your worth. Realize that it may feel awkward the first time you say “Here is my rate for speaking,” but it will feel more natural over time. And you can always do occasional pro bono speaking for organizations and causes you care about.
DS: What are the aspects that make an excellent speaker when you’re in the audience?
SK: Telling stories instead of lecturing, being natural instead of scripted, and creating slides with very little text on them so your audience is listening to you instead of reading your slide.
DS: It’s such a common mistake to put too many words on slides. We need to hear that message over and over and over. Have you ever made a rookie mistake?
SK: I was asked to speak about healthy eating by the local Heart Association, and we must’ve gotten our signals crossed because I assumed it would be in front of a few dozen people. When I arrived, I realized the program was being held on stage in an enormous hotel ballroom with hundreds of people. I was so terrified, I excused myself to the bathroom and promptly got sick! Then I pulled myself together and made it through (with shaking knees!).
DS: A great reminder to ask a LOT of questions in advance! Any other lessons learned the hard way that you’re willing to share with newer dietitian speakers?
SK: One lesson I learned is to find a way to collect email addresses from attendees so you can connect with them later. I once spoke to a group of young moms who lined up at the end of my program to ask questions. They all wanted to hear and learn more. It was only later that I regretted not having a way to collect their information in some way so I could invite them into my subscriber community and stay in touch. Another lesson: Have someone take photos of you while speaking. I realized while looking for photos for this, that I never thought to do that!
DS: Thanks Sally!
For more info about Sally, check out her books: The 101 Healthiest Foods for Kids & Cooking Light Dinnertime Survival Guide and follow her here: Twitter @RMNutrition, LinkedIn @SallyKuzemchak, Facebook @realmomnutrition, and Instagram @realmomnutrition.
To hire Sally for your next speaking event, visit her website at realmomnutrition.com.
Have you heard Sally present? Share your comments below!