An Interview with Grant Baldwin (Video Podcast)

Arek Dvornechuck
11 min readJan 16, 2023

In the 59th episode of the On Branding Podcast, Arek Dvornechuck interviews Grant Baldwin, and they talk about how you can become a successful speaker.

Follow Grant on social media: Website, LinkedIn.

Check out his book here 👉 The Successful Speaker

You can also watch this interview on my YouTube Channel

Table of Contents

  1. Selecting a Problem to Solve
  2. Preparing and Deliver Your Talk
  3. Common Mistakes of a Speaker

*PS. Below you will find an auto-generated transcript of this episode.


Arek Dvornechuck: Hey, what’s up, Branding experts? Arek here at Ebaqdesigns and welcome to On Branding Podcast, and my guest today is Grant Baldwin. And Grant is the founder and the CEO of The Speaker Lab, which is his coaching business. That also doubles as a podcast as well. So Grant basically helps people become successful at public speaking.

So he has trained over 2000 speakers during his career and he also published this book, The Successful Speaker. Five Steps for Booking Gigs, Getting Paid and Building Your Platform. Hello, Grant, thanks for joining us today.

Grant Baldwin: Thanks, Arek. I appreciate you letting me be here man.

Arek Dvornechuck: Thank you, man. I love the book very practical information, you tell a lot of great stories and give us specific exercises.

So basically in your book, you present us with five steps. To become a good speaker. And I really like the acronym that you created which is speak, which, each letter stands for one of those tests. Just, so just starting with the s which stands for selector problem.

Selecting a Problem to Solve

Arek Dvornechuck: Because when we think about public speaking, we often wonder what am I going to speak about? But you suggest to Start first, we’re selecting a problem to solve, so can you elaborate on that?

Grant Baldwin: Yeah, absolutely. And so we teach kinda what you alluded to there, what we call the speaker success roadmap. It makes that acronym speak, S P E A K. So that first part of the process is I think the most foundational and the most important part of the process. And if you get that part right, if you get clarity on that, then everything else becomes a lot.

Simpler and easier to be able to implement and execute on. So that first part of the process, the s is to select a problem to solve. Now, there’s a couple things that are involved in this. Number one we always ask speakers like, number one, who do you speak to? And number two, what problem do you solve for that audience?

Now, the danger and the mistake that a lot of speakers make here, and not just for speakers, this is for entrepreneurs and business owners in general. is, we tend to wanna spread the net as far and wide as possible. And so who do you speak to? A lot of times people say I don’t know. I speak to humans, I speak to people.

My message is for everybody, right? And sometimes I’ll ask them tell me more about what do you speak about? And they’re like what do you want me to speak about? I can speak about anything, right? I can speak about. Business or relationships or family or health or nutrition or like on and on the list goes.

And even if you know something about those different topics or if you’re passionate or their hobbies or whatever, it doesn’t mean that you should try to speak on all of these different things. And so one thing we always tell speakers is that you want to be the steakhouse and not the buffet. The steakhouse.

And not the buffet. Meaning, let’s imagine we’re going out to eat, we’re looking for a good. We have a choice. We could go to a buffet where steak is one of a hundred different things that they offer and they’re all mediocre. Or you could go to a steakhouse where they do one thing, but they do that one thing really well.

They don’t do tacos, they don’t do pasta, they don’t do cupcakes, they don’t do seafood. They do steak, and that’s it. And again, it’s counterintuitive because we think. The more types of food that we can offer, the more types of things that we could speak on, the more different things that we could do, the more opportunities we will have.

But people are not looking for a generalist. They’re looking for a specialist, someone that can solve, again, one specific problem for one specific audience. And again, it’s difficult for most speakers because we wanna do all the different things, but that first part of the process, select a problem to solve.

Be really clear on who you speak to, what problem you solve. You do that part right, and again, everything else becomes a lot simpler.

Arek Dvornechuck: No, that’s a good point. Definitely. And I like the exercises that you give us. For example, , there is this template which I tried. For example, for selecting a problem, we can define it in using your template like, it goes like this. I help group to do topic so they can solution.

So for example, I thought for myself could be something like, I help business owners create strong brands so they can succeed in the marketplace or compete better the marketplace. So then you also go deep into, you give us details about things like, how to choose an industry, right?

You talk about misconception about being an expert, and I think this is really interesting because, you make a good point that, people might be afraid. Like, For example I call myself a branding expert, right? But it doesn’t mean that. I’m a scholar or a professor at university.

I just have experience in branding and design. So that’s why I’m expert. So you don’t really have to like you can be an expert just by having a lot of experience on the subject so that you can teach others how to do that. I thought that this is really interest.

okay, so once we have defined our problem, then naturally the next step would be to the talk, right? And here we can talk about a lot of things, but maybe we can since we are limited in terms of time here, so maybe we can talk about a few at least.

Preparing and Delivering Your Talk

Arek Dvornechuck: How to prepare for your first talk?

Can you talk about, selecting the type of talk, the structuring, the speech, organizing the talk, adding humor, and all those.

Grant Baldwin: Yeah. And so , that’s the kind of like you alluded to, that’s the second part of the process. So let so s select a problem to solve. P is to prepare your talk. Now, one of the great things about speaking is that there’s not necessarily a one size fits all, and that you have to do it this certain way.

There’s a lot of different. Types and formats of speaking. So whether that be a keynote or a workshop, or a breakout or a seminar or virtual versus in person, there’s a lot of different things that you could do. And so one thing , to start to think through is what do you prefer? What is interesting or appealing to you in terms of presenting information and speaking.

So for example, for. I al always jokingly say I feel really good in like a one hour block. So whether that’s a keynote or a workshop or a breakout, I’m pretty good for one hour. But I don’t really have any desire to do some type of all day session. Whereas I know for other people, I have a good friend who’s a speaker and he says, .

If you speak for an hour, like you can barely cover anything. You can’t really get into much, and you can’t really go deep with people. It’s like I would rather go, for three days with one audience and with, 20 people in the room and really go deep with them. That’s fine. It’s not that one’s better or worse than the other, but you gotta think through what makes sense for you?

What is it that you wanna do? And I also get that. Then some of that you may just not know right now. Maybe you like need to try some of those different things to determine what resonates with you. What do you enjoy? What is based on the the topic that you’re speaking about and the audience that you’re speaking to, what’s the format that they’re looking for?

What is it that they’re used to? What do they prefer? . And so there may be a couple different things , that you can trial and error there. So yeah, , that’d be one thing to be thinking through. Another thing to be thinking through is when you’re creating the talk I think that it’s really easy to overanalyze and overthink about the the presentation itself.

And yeah, you absolutely wanna spend the time to work on and craft a talk. I do not recommend that you just like scribble some notes on a napkin and then you just hop up on stage and wing it and hope that it all works out. That does not work. That’s a horribly ineffective way to approach it.

A very unprofessional way to approach it. So you really want to take the time to to develop and create your talk, but also remember that when you’re creating a talk, you’re making an educated guess. I think this is. I think this will resonate. I think this’ll make sense, but you really don’t know until you get up in front of an audience and you get that real time feedback of what worked, what doesn’t work, what made sense, what resonated, what didn’t resonate.

And so one thing I definitely would not recommend that I think is a mistake that a lot of newer speakers do is they feel the need to create a new talk. each time they give a speech, right? And so assuming that you’re going to be speaking on a regular basis or speaking to different audiences on a consistent basis then I would recommend that you’re using largely the same material each time that you’re not creating a talk from scratch every time.

Now, again, this is assuming that you’re speaking to different audiences, whereas if you’re speaking to the same audience on a regular basis, you gotta come up with some new things to say. But if you’re speaking to different audiences, which is gonna be the case for most speaker. Then it’s important to use the material that’s working.

So a way to think about this. As if you go to a restaurant, when you sit down at a restaurant they don’t just say, Hey, we can cook anything you want, whatever dish you want. You just let us know and we’re gonna go in the back and make it. No, No. They have a list, a menu of Hey, here’s the items that we can make.

And I don’t know about you, but whenever I go to a restaurant like I, I. , I’d love to try, like whatever that signature item is, that main item of, we have made this dish hundreds and hundreds, if not thousands and thousands of times, and it is perfect, it’s flawless. And the same thing is true with your talk, with your presentation. , you don’t want to just constantly be doing something from scratch or something brand new, but knowing hey, when you tell a story that you’ve told that story a hundred times and you’ve gotta really polish and you know exactly what works. So that’s the way that you wanna think about developing your presentation over.

Arek Dvornechuck: That’s definitely a good point here. a great tip. So in general, you advise a lot, to practice to practice everything make sure that everything is taken care of. Again, there is a lot of things that how to use humor, how to engage people whether we should use slides or not.

Maybe you should use props what to wear, the lighting, the microphone, the room set up, all those things they need to be taken care of. And you give us specific tips in your book. But we just wanted to briefly. Talk about preparing a talk. Do you have any other general tips for, what’s next?

What happens next? , after starting your career with, your first talk and then what happens next? What kind of mistake? Speakers usually make.

Grant Baldwin: As far as like within the rest of that, that speak framework?

Common Mistakes of a Speaker

Arek Dvornechuck: Yeah, what are the common mistakes? Once you get on with that first talk and you start giving talks and then like, how to avoid making mistakes if you get what I’m saying, how to get there faster and become a successful at speaking faster.

Grant Baldwin: Yeah. One thing I think it’s important to note is speaking is a a momentum business. And especially early on where it feels like you’re pushing a boulder uphill where you’re trying to book speaking engagements. And it’s also important to remember that it’s a long sales site or it can be a long sales cycle, meaning that.

if you are wanting to speak at an event that let’s say is happening, six months from now , it’s not like they’re gonna be booking a speaker the week before. They’re probably gonna be thinking about reviewing speakers, on a consistent basis. But they will probably just be making a buying decision and booking that speaker, and of a one or two week window in the course of an entire year.

So it’s important, again, to have a long-term perspective and not assume that this is gonna be some type of overnight flash in the pan type of success cause. That just doesn’t work. I think doing the basics reaching out to people, following up with people, staying top of mind, doing that over a consistent period of time is ultimately what we see works and gets speakers results.

Versus having a website, having a demo video and or posting something on social media and then just hoping people magically find out about you. Like it just doesn’t work like that. I’d also say that it’s a really, I for speakers to take ownership of their own results and their own success.

And what I mean by that is a lot of times we work with speakers and they’re just wondering Hey, how do I get a bureau? How do I get an agent? How do I get someone else who’s going to book gigs for me? And again, that just does not work. And so you want to take ownership of your own results.

And so in terms of reaching out to potential events and event planners, decision makers that may be a good fit for what it is that you do.


Arek Dvornechuck: So we just briefly discussed just the first two couple of steps, right? But out of five, but then you go deeper into things like how to find gigs how to develop your speaker brand, which is super important. This is something that you touched upon, what’s your website should look like?

What your social media should look like. And then how to work with event planners also, and what to charge and so on. So you dive into all those things. As we are approaching the end of our episode, I just wanted to ask you where we can connect with you.

Grant Baldwin: Yeah, everything we do is over at You mentioned the book, The Successful Speaker, Five Steps for Booking Gigs, Getting Paid, Building Your Platform. If you go to, you can actually get a free copy of the book. Pay a couple bucks for shipping and we’ll send you a physical copy of the book.

Also as you alluded to, we’ve got a if you listen to this podcast, you probably listen to other podcasts. So I have a podcast by the same name, The Speaker Lab Podcast.

We’ve got over 400 episodes there of free content on any and all things related to speaking. So yeah, if there’s anything we can do to help support people as they pursue their their goals and ambitions and dreams for speaking, we’re uh, uh, we’re happy to help.

Arek Dvornechuck: Awesome. Thanks for your time. Thanks for coming on the show.

Grant Baldwin: thanks. I appreciate it.