Do you want to get paid to speak? Do you want to speak internationally? If your desire is to be the best speaker, Monique Blokzyl, the Founder of the Business Launch Portal, can surely help you achieve this dream. Growing up in the communist system of East Germany and taking inspiration from the likes of Nelson Mandela, Monique learned how to express herself. She later found her voice and then transformed to become one of the best professional speakers and speaker trainers. Join Elizabeth Bachman and European expert Monique as they trade tips and secrets for how to speak up, scale up, and truly make a bigger difference when you present.
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Speak Up, Scale Up, Make A Bigger Difference With Monique Blokzyl
Building a Solid Foundation for Your Speaking
My guest is an international speaker, Monique Blokzyl. Monique speaks in Europe, the US and she’s spoken in twenty countries around the world. She is a Speaker Trainer, the Founder of the Business Launch Portal, which helps entrepreneurs around the globe build scalable businesses so that they stop selling their time, earn a six-figure income and have a bigger impact. The impact is important. She’s an awarded international speaker, published author, podcaster and pitching expert. Monique also runs a vibrant global community to uplift professional speakers. Bringing her passion for business together with her love for speaking, she helps entrepreneurs turn their message into a golden key to success. Her business mantra is, “Speak up, scale-up, make a bigger difference.” We’re going to know about how Monique grew up in the communist system of East Germany and learned how to value expressing herself. How she found her voice before the Berlin Wall came down, how she has then transitioned into being a professional speaker and another fellow speaker trainer. I always love interviewing other people who are speaker trainers because I learn from everybody.
Here is Monique Blokzyl. I’m happy to have you. Thank you for joining us.
It’s great to be here. Thanks for having me. I love these interviews you’re doing.
Monique, since you are a speaker who gets results, I’m going to be asking you about international speaking. Are you originally German or Dutch?
I am originally German, although I have some Dutch roots.
Where are you talking to us from?
I’m talking to you from Hanover, Germany, although I’m spending more time in Vienna. To be honest, I’m all over the world all the time.
As am I. That’s one of these things being a digital nomad. I’m working from a borrowed office so my nice friend is letting me use her office. Monique, I want to start with the question I ask everybody, which is if you could interview somebody from history, someone who’s no longer with us, who would it be? What would you ask them? Who should be in the audience?
There are many inspiring people out there. You might be surprised that even though I work a lot with speakers and professionals that want to step up with their speaking and also my core business is helping people to grow and scale their business. Also source speaking, by the way, I chose another entirely different figure from the past, which is he’s still present. He has nothing to do with business or not so much but he’s been known as a speaker in the great base and it’s Nelson Mandela.When speaking internationally, greet them in their own language. Click To Tweet
He was a speaker. That was a huge part of what he did. Why Nelson Mandela?
For many reasons. One is I feel like he spoke from his heart. He had a mission. He had a pure intention. He wanted to unite. This man stands for forgiveness. You reunite or unite this nation, South Africa. I feel that there are many speakers out there these days that promote themselves, promote products, or promote something else. I find it refreshing to know that there’s people out there, speakers out there that want to make a difference that comes from the heart that creates an incredible impact. Because you’re clear on your intention and their mission, consistent with their message no matter where they speak or what they say or who they speak to. It’s an incredible consistency. Being crystal clear about what they stand for, what they care about, what the intention is, it’s spreading their message. That’s inspiring me in many ways because besides running my business, I’m also launching Voice for Love.
It’s like a movement. I have this mission, which is called Voice For Love. I realized that a lot of people when they speak, no matter if they speak on stage or if they speak one-on-one to people. If we speak, we can either create or have two impacts. One impact is we uplift relationships, we uplift people, we put bridges, or we do the opposite. I realize that many people on stage in normal life don’t speak to truth. They say what they think others want to hear. They don’t speak from their heart. We speak from our minds. We’ve been trained hundreds of years to speak from our minds.
My goal is first to think then speak. You all heard that. We haven’t learned how to speak from our hearts, but I feel that when we speak from our hearts, we made a connection. Speak the truth, speak from your heart, speak to uplift others. Don’t speak to manipulate people. This is what I care about. This is why I chose Nelson Mandela because I feel like he spoke his truth against the odds, against what anyone else was saying. They thought he was nuts at the beginning. How could he have such a big heart? How could he want to bring people together?
How could he forgive?
This is why I chose him.
I would love to have met him. That would be a high point. How did you get into speaking? How did you learn that speaking from the heart is important?
I feel like I’ve always been a speaker even as a kid, being out there I always loved to share my message, I always loved to speak up for things. Elizabeth, I don’t know if you’re aware, but I grew up in Eastern Germany, which I know you have a lot of readers and audiences in the US. Whenever I speak to my US friends, they’re interested and excited and I say, “I grew up in the communist system.” I found out back then that I was eighteen years old and the war came down and I was on the streets to make it happen. Quite a long time before the wall came down, we started to speak up in one-on-one conversations about freedom, about what we cared about, then in small communities, then on streets and it will be resolved.
When you did that, were there restrictions? Was the government angry? Did you get punished for it?
You might not know but there was a security system. There were a lot of spies in your own population. For example, I was signing a petition that I had to sign with my name and my address. I was on their blacklist already at an early age. Why I share that with you is I feel like back then, growing up in a system like that, knowing that your neighbor, your teacher, your best friend could work for the state security, we were never safe to express your voice. You always had to think there were potential consequences. That is one thing. The second thing I learned was that it’s still valuable to speak up for what we care about because as we did one person, one community, and one nation at a time, we created a big shift. The wall came down, Germany got reunited. I understood that when we do speak our truth, you can make a difference.
I’m curious as there’s the before and the after. What was it like to transition? The wall came down, you weren’t instantly in the western system. How did you follow your truth and keep to what you wanted during the transition years?
We were not overnight in the western system. When you grew up in a certain society, in a certain country, you don’t transition like this. You have a certain way of thinking. You have a certain value said, you cherish things more than in other societies. In Eastern Germany, for example, we cared a lot about the community. Materialistic things were not that important, but we are more dependent on each other because in one house with eight apartments, you only had one telephone. You depended on each other more. You have different value systems. You have a different way of doing things. Because the wall comes down, you don’t have that switch overnight.
I was young enough to be adaptable and take the best of both worlds. Even now, I’m grateful I grew up in that system because it taught me the life lessons and it made me who I am. It had a big impact on my speaking because I grew up in a society where sharing your voice, sharing your message openly was not necessarily without consequences and you needed to be aware of that. I realized that I care about speaking my truth because it can create a bigger shift in individuals, in societies, in countries. What I learned was that looking back now it’s inside. As I spoke at the United Nations at a leadership conference in New York, I gave a speech and suddenly, I heard me say something where I shared my experience of back then.
I said, “I realized that most boundaries sit in our own head. If you let go of these boundaries, we can be anything, do anything, create anything, or make any impact we want to make.” That is also true for speakers because I know. If you read this blog on a regular basis and you think about stepping out there more and be more courageous to share your voice in more powerful ways. Remember, any kind of boundaries is only sitting in your own head. You have a voice. Every one of us has a voice. We’ve all gone through life already. We have messages to share, we have the experience to share. Every one of us received a precious gift, so share your gift and share what you learned with others because it’s powerful and valuable.
I know that now you help people speak up, scale-up and grow their business through speaking. You mentioned the phrase when we were emailing back and forth. You talked about how to go professional with your speaking. What do you mean by that?
That is a big conversation to have. What does professional mean? As many speakers and as many people there are on this planet, everyone has their own opinion about what it means to be a professional speaker. Some people say you’re only a speaker if you make whatever amount of money, $50,000 to $100,000 a year speaking or other people would say you’re only a speaker if you’re giving keynote speeches, everything else is not a speaker. Other people would say you’re only a speaker if you’re live on stage. If you do online speaking, you are not a speaker. Other people would say you’re only a professional speaker if you are making money only directly your paid speaker.Do not speak to manipulate, but instead speak from the heart to create a connection. Click To Tweet
I say this is all not my definition of being a professional speaker. My definition is a much wider one which means that you can call yourself a professional speaker when you’re making money with your speaking, directly or indirectly. If you’re making money, if you’re speaking directly or indirectly, you are a professional speaker. That’s my personal definition, don’t quote me on that. Don’t argue with me. Everyone has their own. Even the National Speakers Association, even the Global Speakers Federation, I haven’t seen a concrete definition of what it means to be professional.
I think that there are many speakers out there. There would be a big fight as to who got to get out. Who gives the definition? With a lot of loud, talkative people calling them speakers, a lot of people would object to that.
However, I realize that when I shared that, my definition with people, a lot of people feel relieved and say, “That means it’s the definition. I am a professional speaker. I can present myself as a professional speaker. I can be one.” I said, “Sure.” The only person that can give you permission to call yourself a professional speaker is yourself, so don’t let anyone else talk you out of it.
You put it on your description and say, “Here I am. This is what I’m doing and I am a speaker.”
You also asked me how I got into speaking. Besides my background and my insights, already early in my life, I experienced how important and powerful it is to speak. It took me a few more years to start to get paid to speak. I know that you have a few business leaders here that read this as well. If you’re a business leader, I can encourage you, I’ve been a leader in the corporate world and I wasn’t an expert at that time. I was an expert on pricing in youth management, which is part of the marketing topic. I got invited by conference organizers, by big training firms and being an expert on my topic. I was invited to speak there on workshops, speak at conferences and I got paid. While I was in a job in alignment with my management and so on, even back then, I started to be a speaker.
To be honest, when I stepped out of the corporate world and I started to build my own business, which some of you are maybe in the process, consider or have done already, speaking can help you to give you businesses an extra boost. I have to say that the first couple of years of running my business, I get most of my clients almost exclusively through being on stage as a speaker, running workshops, and also getting recommended. What I realized is that when I stepped out of the corporate world and I built my own business, I made a commitment and I said, “I want to step up with my speaking. I want to be paid to speak. I want to attract clients to speak. I want you to step onto bigger stages and I want to speak internationally.”
Within a year or two, I have been speaking in twenty countries. I spoke in a German stadium, at a US conference center, in the Brussels European Parliament building and I spoke several times to hundreds of people, once to 3,500 people. All of that came out of that commitment to say, “I have something to share. I have something to give. Let me also serve as a speaker.” One more thing to add, there’s a difference in speaking if you are in a job in a corporate world or if you are an entrepreneur because in the corporate world often you’re invited to speak about our expertise, about technical things. When you step onto the stage as an entrepreneur, you have to be open up big time. You become vulnerable because we start sharing what we deeply, truly care about. That’s an entirely different way of speaking.
I was thinking that the way you’re talking about this, this is wonderful. Thank you, this is great. The way people make buying decisions on an emotional basis. Who are you? What do you sound like? Do they like you? Even if you are in a job and what you’re selling is an idea to your team within a meeting or you’re positioning yourself to uplift your personal brand as someone who should be promoted than followed, that’s still a sales speech. Getting people to buy in or buy. For those of us who are entrepreneurs, I too get most of my clients by speaking because when somebody watches you, either online or live, they have a much different feeling about you than they do from a website, a brochure or something. You get the live intuitive. That’s why I was thinking about that.
Coming back to what I said about Nelson Mandela, what I loved about him is he’s so known for what he stood for. If someone is all saying, “What did he speak about? Forgiveness. Uniting a nation.” Even when we speak in a writing way, like on brochures or on our website or in any other way, it’s important that we are consistent with our message. When we do online marketing which that’s what we are teaching our clients to grow their business by focusing more on how to get more heard, seen and visible online and offline, as a speaker in many other ways, online might take a little longer. People might want to see you more often. The shortcut has given people a real-life experience of you, which is one of the most powerful marketing tools ever. They see you, they smell you, they experience you, they take value away from you, they know what you stand for. They can also see, “Does our chemistry resonates? Do I like that person?”
I want to ask you about a couple of things. There are four critical questions to answer if you want to go professional with your speaking. Could you briefly go through those? What I want to say then is what are the concrete steps you take to boost your speaking?
I’ve got to be brief and if you want to go deeper into any of those, you let me know. There are four critical questions you want to ask yourself and the funny thing is I often realize that even established speakers, when I ask them these questions, sometimes are not easily finding an answer. This is a precious gift to you so if you consider stepping up in your speaking, get paid to speak or are you speaking to uplift your business, you always want to ask yourself these four questions. What are these questions? The first one is the question, “What is my message?” Coming back to the consistency, if people don’t know what you stand for, they didn’t know what to book you for. They don’t know what event you are a good fit at.
They don’t know what difference you make to their audience. They don’t know if your topics are the right fit for them. If you, as a speaker, are a right fit to them, as event organizers, you want to be crystal clear. When you’re clear on your message, you stop building a reputation and instead of you running after stage time opportunities, people would start knocking on your door because you start getting known around that topic. People will come to me and they often say, “Monique, what if I have two topics that I’m passionate about it?” I’d say, “Combine them into one topic that is more connected to a certain niche that makes you stand out as a speaker.” Being clear on your message helps you stand out as a speaker.
For example, I had a client and she is running a property business. They buy, renovate and find and sell properties. She was passionate about that. She said, “Yes but I’m also passionate about women and having women to become financially independent. Which one should I talk about?” I said, “Why don’t you speak about you being a woman in the property business? You have women to invest in property in the right way, the female way and be successful with it.” Nowadays, a lot of people that speak about property investment, there’s a lot of people that speak about women empowerment, no one else that I know that speaks about that combination. With that message combined, she’s standing out and she becomes unique.
The second question you want to ask yourself and you’re clear on your message is, what your ideal audience is? You want to ask yourself, “Who needs to hear that message? Who is keen to hear more about that and why? What difference does it make to them?” For example, some of my first keynotes and workshops I gave exactly around the topic about how to convince with your message. I was in Investor Pitching Mantra, where we crafted speeches that were 2, 3 or 5 minutes long to invest investors to invest millions of dollars or euros. You need to be brief and you need to be laser-sharp.
I created that keynote and that workshop and I asked myself, “Who would need to hear more about that?” I realized that it is salespeople, entrepreneurs, marketing leaders, and a whole range of people that would need that. I asked myself, “Good but when I can speak to all these people that need that message. Who needs it the most?” For whom is it most important and urgent to learn more about that? I also ask myself who I love to speak to most because when you are out there as a speaker, it’s likely they want to continue working with you. It’s likely you’re going to spend more time with them.
You need to ask yourself, “Who do I love to speak to because as we are speaking, we build stronger connections, business opportunities, bridges and we start working together in other ways?” I asked myself, “Who I would love to speak to as well?” If you want to make money, you want to ask yourself the question, “Which from all of these target audiences has the money to pay my bill?” Once you have all these target audiences that you could speak to, you also ask, “Who do I love to speak to most? Whom do I stand out most with my expertise? Who needs it most? Who would be able to pay me in the best way?” When you find yourself in the middle, that’s your sweet spot on your target audience.The only person who can give you permission to call yourself a professional speaker is you. Don't let anyone else talk you out of it. Click To Tweet
The third question is now I know what is my topic, what do I stand out with, who’s my audience, but the next question is the question that everyone asks all the time, “Monique, I want to speak more. Where should I speak?” It’s the question about what’s your ideal stage? The question is what stages are out there? What events are out there? When we work with speakers, we met out for them. What are stage time opportunities available? Which ones are the best for them? To give you an idea, you can ask yourself, “Would I love to speak at educational institutions? Would I love to speak at schools, colleges or universities? Would I love to speak at conferences? Which type of conferences is a perfect match for my message and attract my audience? Do I want to speak in corporate executive meetings in big corporates?”
This is such a big list of potential stages where you could speak at. The important one for you is to find out which stage time opportunities are the best fit for my message and attract my audience. When you know, “I want to speak at universities,” you need to go a level deeper and ask a concrete question, “Which universities are the best fit for me?” You could ask yourself, “Which universities are in my neighborhood? Which university has a special education on my topic?” You want to identify the right places to the right stages.
The last question you want to ask yourself and you know your message, your ideal audience, and your best stage is, “How do I build the bridge from free speaking to paid speaking? How do I start getting paid to speak?” There’s a whole process behind that of what questions you need to ask, what you need to do to start getting paid and ideally upgrade your speaker fee as fast as possible. I have one comment on that. You’re a professional speaker when you’re getting paid directly or indirectly, there are many ways of how you can get paid to be a speaker. Sometimes, I’m speaking at conferences and I’m not getting paid a speaking fee but I make much more money than even a high-paid speaker would make by attracting clients.
You need to know how you speak to create impact. How do you speak to build that connection? Speaking from your heart is an important one because when you are open, honest, and authentic, and you speak your heart, people will feel it and people will connect with you in a much more powerful way. There are many ways of how you can make money with your speaking. These are the four questions. Let me summarize again, Elizabeth. Find out, what your message is. What is your ideal audience? What’s your ideal stage? How do you bridge to getting paid?
That’s wonderful what you’re saying. You speak in twenty different countries. How do you adapt to what audiences from another country you want to hear? How do you adjust to speaking internationally?
When you are a speaker, everyone thinks you’re being paid high fees for the burden of work because you’re only on stage for an hour, not quite like that. There’s a lot of preparation going into this. I speak somewhere. I got as much information as possible upfront. I try to get to know the audience. I want to know who is listening? Why are they coming? What is the intention? What do they love to learn? What are the cultural specifics? My cultural specific is not only different from country to country, but also from organization to organization, from university to university. There’s do’s and don’ts with every audience. There are things you say and you better avoid. You need to be aware. As you know, different cultures are different. Some cultures are much more direct, others are much checking back and you need to speak sure what we call like in journey.
We have this expression saying you speak through flowers, you’re not expressing clearly what you want to say. It’s when you tiptoe around it until you build a strong enough connection to be able to speak up on certain things. How you’re addressing people is a big difference. Who do you speak to? Who you look at? Do you look at them directly in the eyes or not? All these things you want to pay attention to. Here’s a little bit of golden nugget. What I do and what I’ve seen other speakers do is when I go and speak in a different place, I try to greet them in their own language. They’re 1, 2 or 3 sentences, I say in their own language, no matter how I break my tongue. I’ve done it in Lebanon, Malaysia. I try to honor them in a way to earn a few things to say so I can greet them in the language because there’s also a perfect icebreaker.If people don't know what you stand for, they don't know what to book you for. Click To Tweet
They know you care enough to learn for them, with them and you honor them in this way. The humor is different from culture to culture. A lot of preparation goes into this. I love to adapt because every time I speak, I want to give the greatest service, the greatest value to everyone I speak to. No matter if I speak to 5 or 5,000 people, every single person in my audience counts. I love every single person in my audience and I know I’m giving a service. My intention is always to build bridges, build connections, inspire, open perspectives, motivate people to take action and serve them in the best possible way. That even a few years from now, they remember my speech because what I said and how I said it made a difference to their work and their life in a lasting way.
That is a wonderful thought to end on. I love that. How can we find out more, if there are people who want to go deeper into these four steps or concrete things they can do to boost their speaking? How can they find you?
The first thing is you can look up my name on LinkedIn and say I was in Elizabeth’s show, Speakers Who Get Results. Also, I have a website, MoniqueBlokzyl.com. You’re running a four-week intensive Professional Speaker Launch Program, where you can go with us through the four questions and get them answered or find the answers to them to get a community of speakers from all over the globe that also are keen to step up with their speaking.
Is this live or online?
It is an online call, but I’ll be there online. We bring people together from the whole world, men, women, any age, any background as long as you feel like you have a mission you want to share with the world in a greater way and you want to get paid directly or indirectly making it happen. We teach you the basic steps to get there. Our aim is that after these four weeks, exactly what you need to do is to step up with your speaking and doing it with a tribe and a community, what’s happened a lot of times is people open each other stage time opportunities.
Monique, it has been such an honor and a delight to have you. We might have to get back to you in a few months and go deep into how to get paid to speak and the techniques. We could talk for a long time about that. I too, as a presentation skills trainer, that’s one of the first things people ask me is, “How can I get paid?” We’ll have to do this again and talk about it.
I’d be delighted. Anytime, Elizabeth, let me know.
Monique, thank you for being with us. I want to remind you before you go, you can go to our free speaker assessment at www.SpeakForResultsQuiz.com, and there you can take a four-minute assessment where you can see where your speaking skills are strong and where you might need a little bit of support. It’s been great to have you with us. I’ll see you at the next one.
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About Monique Blokzyl
Monique Blokzyl is the founder of the Business Launch Portal, helping entrepreneurs around the globe to build scalable businesses, so they stop selling their time, earn a 6-figure income and more, and have a bigger impact. She is an awarded international speaker, published author, podcaster and pitching expert.
Monique also runs a vibrant global community to uplift professional speakers. Bringing her passion for business together with her love for speaking, she helps entrepreneurs turn their message into their golden key to success. Her business mantra is: Speak up – Scale up – Make a bigger difference!