Alexa Bigwarfe interviews Jess Ekstrom, who shares insightful tips for aspiring speakers and entrepreneurs, highlighting the importance of focusing on the value you bring to your audience over just your personal story. Through this session, Jess provides tips around leveraging connections as starting points for speaking engagements, how to negotiate for assets beyond speaking fees, such as professional event photos, testimonials, and referrals. Jess also provides recommendations on structuring your talks and her formula to deliver concise, impactful messages. These strategies are aimed at empowering women writing nonfiction books who want to take the stage to make a bigger impact.

Jess Ekstrom is the founder of Headbands of Hope and Mic Drop Workshop, investor in women, 2x best selling author, Forbes Top Rated Speaker and new mom. Her first brush with success was selling all of her toys on eBay when she was twelve. Since then, Jess and her companies have been featured on Today and Good Morning America and in Seventeen, Vanity Fair, Forbes, and People. More importantly, they've helped millions of women and girls around the world. She’s the bestselling author of Chasing the Bright Side and Create Your Bright Ideas. Her hobbies include writing, hiking, board games with her husband, playing peekaboo with her baby, and searching for the best breakfast burrito in America.

“Speaking is a really great way to just humanize your writing. So, when people know your words, it's like, why people would read the book and then want to go watch the movie, like, they want to see you in human form, deliver it with the storytelling and the emotion and the humanness that they've read from your words.” – Jess Ekstrom

Key Takeaways

    • Ignite Your Speaking Career: Uncover the essential steps to kickstart a successful and impactful speaking career.
    • Mastering the Art of Women in Public Speaking: Empower yourself to seize public speaking opportunities and break barriers in the professional world.
    • Crafting a Captivating Keynote Speech: Learn the secrets to building a keynote speech that captivates and inspires audiences.
    • Maximizing Your Worth: Discover effective tips for negotiating speaking fees and securing the value you deserve as a speaker.
    • Unveiling the Mic Drop Workshop: Explore a comprehensive review of the Mic Drop Workshop and its potential to elevate your public speaking prowess.

Memorable Moments:

00:03:14 – Finding the Bright Side
Alexa and Jess discuss the impact of Jess's book “Chasing the Bright Side” and how it resonated with Alexa during a difficult time in her life. They emphasize the power of sharing personal stories and finding optimism in challenging situations.

00:06:48 – The Power of Speaking
Jess shares her experience of using speaking engagements to promote her company, Headbands of Hope, and how it became a source of funding without external investment. She emphasizes the importance of adding thought leadership to marketing plans for founders and entrepreneurs.

00:09:50 – Overcoming Fear of Public Speaking
Jess acknowledges the fear associated with public speaking and highlights the differences between writing and speaking. She encourages authors to consider speaking as a way to humanize their writing and connect with audiences in a more personal and impactful manner.

00:13:54 – Crafting a Compelling Speech
Jess Ekstrom shares the importance of breaking down a public speaking engagement into five mini talks, each focused on a key lesson. She introduces the “bump set Spike” method to make the talks concise and impactful.

00:16:39 – Overcoming Imposter Syndrome
Alexa Bigwarfe discusses the fear and imposter syndrome that can hinder people from becoming speakers. They emphasize the importance of learning the necessary steps and strategies to overcome these obstacles.

00:17:39 – Sharing Value Over Personal Story
Jess Ekstrom reflects on her initial mistake of pitching her story instead of her value. She highlights the importance of leading with how one can help the audience rather than focusing solely on personal achievements.

00:20:27 – Finding Speaking Opportunities
Jess Ekstrom provides insights on finding speaking opportunities, including alma maters, local chambers of commerce, and associations. She also emphasizes the value of negotiating for non-monetary benefits such as photos, videos, testimonials, and referrals.

00:25:57 – Negotiating Speaker Contracts
The conversation delves into the importance of formalizing agreements and contracts for speaking engagements. They discuss the significance of being assertive in negotiating non-monetary benefits and the value of putting everything in writing.

00:27:39 – Mic Drop Workshop Creation
Jess Ekstrom shares her motivation behind creating the Mic Drop Workshop in 2018, highlighting the need for more women in speaker lineups and the gender pay gap in the speaking industry.

00:28:44 – Community and Referral System
The Mic Drop Workshop not only provides speaking training for women but also fosters a strong community where women support and refer each other for speaking opportunities, creating a powerful network.

00:30:34 – Free Training and Newsletter
Jess Ekstrom discusses the free training available on the Mic Drop Workshop website and the value of signing up for the newsletter, which includes gig opportunities and tips for speakers.

00:31:47 – The Power of Community
The closed community of the Mic Drop Workshop is a significant draw, providing a platform for women to meet, share opportunities, and support each other as thought leaders, emphasizing the importance of community in professional growth.

00:33:24 – Goal Setting and Keynote Preparation
Jess Ekstrom encourages setting speaking goals and building digital assets to prepare for pitching bigger events, emphasizing the importance of laying the groundwork for future success in speaking engagements.

Learn more at:

  • Visit to sign up for a free training on how to get paid to speak. This is a great way to learn more about the workshop and get started on your speaking journey.
  • Sign up for the five-day speak on stage boot camp starting in April. This is a comprehensive program designed to help you refine your speaking skills and prepare for paid speaking engagements.
  • Join the mic drop workshop community by enrolling in the course. This community is a valuable resource for networking, sharing speaking opportunities, and receiving support from other women thought leaders.
  • Text the word hype to 704-228-9495 to receive a weekly hype text with an inspiring quote to kickstart your week. You can also use this number to connect with Jess Ekstrom directly and ask any questions you may have.
  • Subscribe to the mic drop workshop newsletter to receive gig opportunities, speaking tips, and updates on upcoming events. This is a great way to stay informed and engaged with the mic drop workshop community.

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