Motivational Speakers, is it time to cut the crap?

Sometimes the client knows what time it is

Sometimes the client knows what time it is

For 20 years, I've been a motivational speaker offering 60-minute keynotes and 90-minute workshops.  Recently I had a client insist on hiring me to do my 90-minute workshop on dealing with change, but for only 30 minutes.  I thought they were confused, and sent them my powerpoint for my keynote – a slimmed down 30-minute version of it. They, correctly, insisted that they wanted me to do my change workshop and do it in a keynote format in front of a sales team and I only had 30 minutes!

What do I cut out? What do I leave in? Can I pull this off for 30 minutes?  I gotta be honest, I was nervous about this one.  But, the client told me what their issues were, they told me what was holding most of them back and then assured me that some sales people were crushing it.  That's all I needed.  I cut out the crap, and delivered a message, had them do an interactive activity that blew them away.  After some final comments, I was happy to get a standing ovation.  I actually believe it was the best 30-minutes I've ever delivered.  Here's the thing – it took a client with a limited amount of available time to have me totally look at the format of what I deliver. Wow – this is the first time in 20 years I am looking at what I do and how much time do I need to do it in to be most effective.  

No, the client is not always right, but this circumstance the client was right on time.

From your glad to be flexible to change the time of my message motivational speaker, Marilyn Sherman


Marilyn Sherman, CSP is a Front-Row Leadership Expert helping people get out of the balcony and get a front-row seat in life. For over 20 years she has inspired audiences with topics on Visioning, Goal Achievement and having a No More Excuses attitude! Check out her fun, dynamic style at

Marilyn Sherman, Owner UpFront Presentations - Helping people get a Front-Row seat in their life!
9030 W. Sahara Ave #444
Las Vegas, NV 89117

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  1. Bravo, Marilyn!  Sometimes us motivational speakers have so many great stories, great info, great interactive moments that it's good to be forced to come back to the core of our message and revisit how to deliver it in 20-30 minutes.  Sounds like you did that beautifully!  Congratulations!

  2. Yes, it does take more work to streamline our messages but the payoff is worth it. Mark Twain (or maybe Blaise Pascal) once wrote, "I would have sent you a shorter letter, but I didn't have time." Good reminder that the end result can be fantastic. Thanks for the example!

  3. Thanks very much for sharing your extremely timely post Marilyn! I've been asked to do a 20-minute keynote… and am sitting here trying to figure out how to do it. The meeting planners asked "We'd like you to produce the effect and the impact that you do with your hour-long program in 20 minutes…" 

    Your note has helped me to shift both my mood and the story I was buying into… from an unproductive "I don't think I can do it… I need more time to produce the desired result 'cause (a little bit of righteous indignation creeping in) I know what works…." to an ambitious "Wow, how can I make this work?"    Your post is a timely reminder that all day long we get to choose which stories we're going to buy into and those stories define how we're going to live our lives… I'm smiling because I can see clearly that if I choose to "cut the crap" and to buy into the story that anything's possible… it is. Thanks!

    • Hey Paul – trust me, I had righteous indignation all the way up until the end!  So – it did work and I'm glad I had that change in mindset.  I trust that you can rock it – and just think,  you'll leave them wanting more!!!


  4. Wow! The TED talk structure is becoming epidemic. First off, congrats Marilyn for pulling it off and ending up with a standing ovation! Ironically, I just delivered my Stress Less in 20 minutes last week as the general session opener at Genentech. Linda got to listen to me STRESS during her visit about this, but in the end it forced me to edit down to the essential truths. Painful three days of decisions, and also the best thing that happened to me. Opened my eyes to new possibilities. Bravo to you.

  5. I think it's ironic that you were fighting this new change in your program – and the topic was change. Great post Marilyn!  I do think shorter always has more impact. That's my theory on why the TED talks are so awesome. People are forced to get their brilliant thoughts down to 15 minutes.

  6. Great stuff Marilyn!  Congrats on distilling down to the core essence and rocking it out!

    Because I am a Maximizer on the Strengths Finders chart, this kind of distillation is especially challening, and therefore especially rewarding for me.  Well done!!!

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