Build yourself a SpeakerHive

Whatever profession you are in, it is always helpful to have peers who “get” you. In our NSA Austin chapter, we have members at all stages of their speaking careers. The value of the NSA community is networking, friendship, education, and access to peers. 

One of the fabulous lessons I have learned is about masterminds. My first exposure to masterminds was when a speaker was explaining their involvement. They had a small group of four people who met three or four times a year – once in person, the rest online. The concept was to help each other in their speaking business – even to the point of suggesting that the mastermind group was like having a board of directors for a solepreneur.

Confusion then reigned when I was offered a “Mastermind” group – for a fee. It turns out, that under the name “Mastermind”, some coaches and consultants who sell services to speakers provide group coaching and classes. Instead of one-on-one instruction, the leader can get money from, and teach their offerings to many people at once. Other than a revenue stream for them, most people who tell me about their paid-mastermind experience tell me that it is rare that it fits them exactly. In a group, the topics will often be over your head or you are way past that point in 

I wanted to find a mastermind group, but I was reluctant because I wanted it to be closer to the “board of directors” concept than the “pay me money to learn with a bunch of people” model. Most of the people I thought would work well in my idea of a mastermind group were already finding guidance and networking in other various groups. My NSA chapter did not regularly cover all the challenges I was experiencing. Finding a mentor was an issue, because to respect that person’s time and commitment, I would need to pay them. I felt uncomfortable asking for “help” in my speaking business, and the idea of admitting that to other speakers triggered my imposter syndrome. 

What I found, with several conversations to new friends in NSA, was several people who were looking for a similar kind of group. I founded a group we call SpeakerHive. We started with four people and have now expanded to six. That is a manageable group, and we do not plan to grow our members in the future. We keep our SpeakerHive to ourselves, but mentioning it on occasion garners more requests to join. To help you with your own SpeakerHive, our model is laid out here for your benefit.

Our SpeakerHive is a group of like-minded speakers to connect and share. We are all at different stages of our speaking careers, and we all have expertise in differing areas of the speaking business. We are all committed to being in the speaking business.

We have complete trust in, and respect for, one another. What happens in the SpeakerHive stays in the SpeakerHive. We do not record our regular meetings. We bring what we can and need. There is no judgement.

Our purposes are multiple…

1. We aim to hold ourselves accountable with support from one another
2. We share our speaking and speaking business tips
3. We exchange and offer ideas for everyone in the SpeakerHive.
4. As we can, we swap connections and potential speaking gigs
5. We share resources that have helped us

Each week we have an online accountability session. Each of us has an opportunity to share. We attempt to cover these items.

– What we did last week – from our commitments
– Any current challenges/where we need support/feedback
– Review our goals
– What we commit to for the upcoming week

Each of us contributes to help each other as we can.

One of the challenges we have found as speakers has been recording videos. We have a weekly challenge with a seed topic. We offer our writing and collateral for review. As we need, we schedule additional sessions where one of our group would like a more concentrated review and advise session.

Every two weeks, following our accountability session, we run an online Zoom co-working session. We stay on our Zoom call and work independently. Each of us can ask questions, each of us can offer advice, each of us can enjoy the ability to work with a team – beyond our normal “lonely” office space.

Often we will find a coffee shop or library and coworker in person. This is easier given we are all close geographically to one another. Every time we co-work – online or in person, the sense of achievement is very high. These are productive sessions.

Occasionally, we will rent an event space – most often following our NSA chapter meeting. The purpose of this is for each of the SpeakerHive group to have an opportunity to speak, to practice, or to ask questions in person. We each offer critique and suggestions to help the topic, the slides, or even the stagecraft. Again, this requires trust and a lack of judging.

Our tools include a shared Google spreadsheet. We record our weekly commitments and more here. We have a shared Google Drive to store resources and share collateral. We have a Slack team with several channels – this has been extremely productive. All of this might work better for some people with a Discord server, however, the pushback is often “not ANOTHER application”… 

Future ideas we are floating is an annual SpeakerHive retreat. We can use that to rehearse, write, record, socialize – the options are open. We have a plan that is yet to come to fruition that will be a regular potluck dinner at one of our group’s houses. We’ll bring a +1, and this will mean we have a larger crowd to critique and – well, applause! We’ll eat, get to know one another more, and spend some time practicing our craft with that larger audience and wider perspectives.

Like us, you can build your own SpeakerHive. This model may not be exactly a fit for you, but you might get some ideas for yours. This approach is working well for our SpeakerHive. 

And the best part, we have a new group of close trusted friends. 

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Trevor Perry