An Unplanned Day At Work Shaped This Speaker’s Future
Date: May 17, 2016
Once working as a recruitment assistant working and having to jump in last minute at presenting, Artell Cowell was faced with two choices: run off, or confront his fear head on.
Fortunately for him, that 20 minute speech changed his life and he now works all around the world doing what he loves.
How did you get started in public speaking?
On my first day as a recruitment assistant working at the Department for Work and Pensions, I had to shadow a colleague who had large presentations targeted to job applicants scheduled throughout the day.
I was already nervous just sitting there facing the audience and taking notes.
Just before the last session was due, my colleague who had been presenting said he wasn’t feeling well and I may have to run the final presentation without him.
At this point, I was really dreadful of the outcome. Fortunately for me, I chose.
The applicants were very receptive and I knew I’d made the right choice. I also learned more about myself in 20 minutes speaking than two hours of note taking.
What topics do you cover?
My main topics are based around digital marketing (social media, online advertising, email marketing, online branding).
What are mistakes you see businesses making on social media?
That’s a great question, because one of the major mistakes many businesses make is using social media as a distribution channel. Smaller businesses make this mistake the most and it’s largely based on a lack of knowledge around understanding each platform.
Once you start to use social media as a distribution channel you negate the “social” aspect and it just becomes “media”.
What you’ll find after a few weeks or months is a lack of engagement on your channels and either no growth or a decrease in followers.
Another mistake businesses make is creating social network platforms without a strategy or knowing who their target audience are.
If you don’t know who your target audience are, you could be wasting time, money and resources using the wrong platforms. This mistake has had many businesses lose faith with social media and give up when they don’t see any ROI.
Not having a strategy to implement for each platform will get you nowhere very fast. A strategy will help you understand what’s working and what isn’t which will enable you to adapt and improve.
Do you get to travel around the world with your work?
This is one of the main reasons why I love what I do.
I remember sitting on the beach in Hawaii in November 2006 and saying to myself “wouldn’t it be great to be able to work from anywhere in the world”.
I remember that day clearly, because I had to go back to my nine to five in cold London the following week and it played on my mind a little.
Today, all I need are my laptop and mobile phone. I’m in various places presenting keynotes arranging workshops and travelling around the world, meeting different people and observing the beauty of different cultures enhances my work tenfold.
I was recently invited to Dubai to present to start up companies and now I’m currently in the USA providing keynotes.
For those who don’t know you, how would you describe yourself?
I would have to say all the good stuff first.
I’m very right-brained and super creative. I’m a strategic thinker who truly believes in working hard when it’s time to put in work, but when it’s time to play, I’m playing just as hard.
I’m very focused on what I have to do and will go out of my way to ensure I achieve the best possible results.
Now for the bad stuff. Sometimes I can become my worst critic if I don’t achieve the results I desire. My creative mind can be a double edged sword sometimes.
The good thing about it all is that I learn with each mistake.
What does success mean to you?
The first thing that came to mind is financial freedom, great health and adding great value to my friends and family’s lives.
Success to me is to have a goal, plan the steps to achieve the goal, implement the plan, and finally achieve the goal. Whether for health, relationships or wealth, this is the model I use to measure my success.
What was your last speaking project and how was the experience for you and the audience?
I recently presented a social media masterclass to a hundred reiki (a healing technique to channel a person’s energy) practitioners and it was the most interesting speaking project I have had in years.
For three months, I had been researching reiki by attending various events and via Google and YouTube to get more perspective on how social media would be beneficial to their businesses.
What I found was many reiki practitioners had little to zero online presence on social media. The ones who did hardly used their platforms. So I had to create a presentation which was informative from a business perspective whilst ensuring the message wasn’t too deep, otherwise I could have lost them during the presentation.
The speaker before me was a reiki practitioner and he had us all, including me, perform reiki massages and stretches.
By the time I came on, everyone was in a super relaxed state (including me), so I had to up the anti and quickly rearrange my presentation by starting off with a loud rock and roll style social media statistic video. This woke everyone up!
The presentation was very interesting for the audience as they said that social media was a place people uploaded pictures of their food and cats. Others never realised the benefits of using Twitter search to find people who required a reiki practitioner in their area.
Once the audience understood that, I went from zero knowledge of their industry to having great knowledge just by researching. It encouraged them to apply the same template to their businesses with social media marketing.
How do you help clients create professional social media accounts and increase their followings?
Before working with a client, I like to have an understanding of who they are, why they do what they do and any other relevant information which would help us create a smooth working relationship.
This information also helps me discover their fear, strengths and mindset – especially when it comes to social media marketing.
Once we agree to work together, the next step is ALL about the client. What are their business goals and objectives? Their target audience?
Once we have the basics in place i’s then time to discuss the platforms they should be using and then ensuring these platforms are created to a high standard to reflect their business.
Increasing the followings for my clients is usually predicated on the value you offer to your target audience. Understanding the main needs and goals of your target audience is the perfect start to creating a content strategy to encourage engagement and increase your followers.
What’s your favourite aspect of public speaking?
I would have to say the engagement from the audience.
Knowing that your message is hitting home and people are choosing to be interactive is very satisfying.
Public speaking for me is all about giving value by weaving entertainment, educational and informative content to help inspire and motivate the audience to take action.
Having half the audience excited at the end of the speech and asking further questions about the presentation is a good indication of the value I have provided.
What things can and can’t you prepare for?
You can only prepare for the best that you can do. Practice, practice and practice.
This helps to negate some of the things that you can’t prepare for, such as issues with the projector, your PowerPoint presentation etc.
If you know your material inside out, you don’t have to worry about some of the things you can’t prepare for.
Now saying that, I am the sort of person who would still come prepared with backups of my presentation just in case the one I sent to the organiser had issues.
Recently, I presented to a school of teenagers and didn’t expect them all to be laughing in hysterics at the way I described a particular look my parents used to give me when I said something stupid.
In another situation, I planned a joke that I thought would bring the house down but instead I had a response of crickets and a dry cough.
You can’t plan everything and the unpredictable nature of an audience is what makes public speaking so exciting. As long as you have done everything you can possibly do, you can’t do any more than that.