Taking a Risk Paid Off – Playing it safe is the most dangerous place to be!

Sometimes motivational speakers have to take a risk on stage by using all of themselves-by tapping into their own passion, their humor, knowledge, energy, style and making unconventional choices.  All it takes is courage, and a great audience.  Here’s what happened to me.

A few weeks ago I opened the 2013 Connect Marketplace Sports conference in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with my keynote, Change is Good-YOU Go First. In this keynote I touch on  how conferences are using social media to engage and interact with their attendees. Many of those attending work in sports related industries and because I always try and customize my programs, I wanted to add a sports reference to the keynote…

which was a challenge, because I’m just not that into sports.

Several weeks before the event in Milwaukee, I was home watching The Twitter Revolution on CNBC.  And as luck would have it, the program had on a segment “How Twitter has changed the way NBA fans watch basketball.”  I learned a lot including, two-thirds of the NBA players are on Twitter making the NBA the No. 1 sports league on social media.

Was I lucky or what?

Immediately a light bulb went off… and I remembered a Jimmy Kimmel show about Tweets and the NBA… I Googled it, watched the video, got a little scared, took a risk, and put the piece in my keynote.

I was so nervous that they wouldn’t get it… They got it! They were the best audience! They were in it! They were laughing so hard and I felt the energy  in the room go  higher  and higher. We speakers dream of moments like this one!

Energy is an amazing thing when it spreads and becomes contagious.  We started having fun together. By the time I got to the closing ( Name that Generation game) we were in the zone-together.

It’s amazing how even after 12 years of professional speaking I continue to learn, grow and push myself to try new things and take some risks.  Not everyone is going to like you, but today staying in the middle and playing it safe is the most dangerous place to be.

If you are a speaker or you are giving a presentation, remember tap into your own passion, your strengths, knowledge and content, your style, and even your quirkiness. The more aspects you show of yourself, the easier the audience will connect with you and your message.

5 Steps to Mastering Your Pitch – Rachel Parker’s Pitch that Won!

Last November  I created a workshop called Killer Keynote and miraculously it filled itself with some pretty talented emerging speakers.  Each month many of the “Killers” gather for a group coaching day. Watching them grow into speakers/thought leaders has become the highlight of my year. It is a joy when students graciously take in what you give them, do the work, and reap the rewards!

Let me give you an example.  A few sessions back we had a full day of learning how to do “The Pitch”.  The Killers were working on and completing their presentation and now they had to sell it or PITCH it!   I gave them the 5 steps in pitching (above) gave some examples, and had them do a little role playing. Then it was up to them…

Here’s what Rachel Parker created

She created this and sent the video pitch to the speaker selection at the Houston AMA 2013 EDGE conference.  She is now speaking at the conference! Rachel Rocks!!

Let’s examine what she did:

1. She got their attention with the statistic that blew her mind…that you are more likely to complete a Navy Seal training than you re to click on a banner ad. OUCH!!!!

2.  They felt the need to listen when she said that the Mad Men Marketing approach doesn’t work today. We don’t trust advertising and we go out of our way to avoid it. Sorry Don Draper, you still are very handsome.

3. Her solution is that there is a better way… stop talking at the customer and start talking with them.

4.  Great visualization when she said the magic word IMAGINE having customers look forward to hearing from you.

5.  Then she throws you into action telling you that you are going to get her 6-step process… WE want more! We want her… she got the gig!

You can hear Rachel Parker along with the other great speakers at the AMA Houston Marketing Edge – Read all About it and go see Rachel!

BTW the next Killer Keynote Workshop will have a guest appearance from Houston’s very own comic and master of thinking on her feet… Rice University’s  Kim McGaw… the entire day will focus on Humor. Wanna get funnier??? then save the date – Sat. November 23 and send me an email – I’ll get you on the LIST!

Houston’s Killer Keynote II Workshop The Power of Stories March 8th

Want to give  knock-out performance? The first thing you learn as a professional speaker is that facts tell and stories sell.  The second thing you learn is don’t tell us…show us. This Killer Keynote Workshop is going to focus on how to make your stories come alive with a  killer delivery. Details

The Killer Keynote Workshop in November was a huge hit and many have asked that they continue.  The workshops are a great place for speakers, authors, small business owners, executives and everyone else who finds themselves in front of an audience giving a presentation.

Houston’s Killer Keynote Workshop

Friday March 8th   9:00 – 3:00

303 Jackson Hill , Houston, Texas 77008

$98.00(register now)    –  $129 after March 1st

What am I going to learn?

  • The Killer Keynote 1 Recap- the opener and closing techniques.
  • Quality Work- Experiencing some great stories- what makes it work?
  • Getting to the CORE – your message!
  • Three types of stories
  • Finding the “Oh Crap” moment
  • How to create the story line
  • Ways to make it funnier – humor helps your audiences relate to what you are trying to communicate.
  • How to add on the extras -video, music and interactive pieces
  • Techniques to conquer the fear of performing

Each participant (who chooses to do so) will end the day with performing their story. This workshop is great for speakers, authors, small business owners, corporate execs, and anyone who wants to give better presentations.

What Killer Keynote I folks had to say about the workshop in November

                                 The Marketing Stylist™, consultant, speaker, author, and trainer

I’m glad I was at my desk, on Facebook at the moment Crystal posted the invite for Karen’s workshop. I’m glad I didn’t talk myself out of signing up. I’m so glad that I didn’t listen to that insane voice that said stay home and avoid the commute.

Karen’s workshop was one of those events that alters your trajectory and equips you for great things to come…if you apply them. Karen is knowledgeable, personable and an excellent instructor.

I learned so much from this one-day workshop; it was well worth the price of admission and I’m glad I went. Thanks Karen


Adjunct Professor in Communications at Jones Graduate School of Business

I attended Karen McCullough’s Killer Keynote all-day seminar, and it was packed with helpful tips and information. She shared lots of data to help all of us who create and/or improve upon a keynote talk we’ve been presenting. This seminar was of great value to me, and I have already begun to use the information Karen generously shared. I highly recommend this to anyone interested in delivering a killer keynote. Thank you, Karen!

President at Joe Serio Enterprises, LLC

Karen’s Writing and Delivering a Killer Keynote delivered more value per dollar than I thought possible. I recouped my investment in the first hour of the program. Karen’s awesome program is going to take my keynote addresses to the next level. Thanks, Karen!



Want to be a great marketer? Become a great presenter. My 6 Tips

This summer I’ve been coaching entrepreneurs and business owners who want to use “public speaking” as a marketing tool to attract clients and customers to use their services.

Initially we focus our time on writing the speech. After the speech is crafted we design a “speaker’s marketing piece” that will get the attention of meeting planners, and event program directors.


They get booked to speak at a networking luncheon or even a local conference…terrific!

Things are going great- they are up in front of sixty or so people giving their presentation and they start to stray off the prepared speech and dive into making sales pitch (yuck!)

The hard truth is that no one comes to a networking luncheon or a conference to hear a speaker market to them. If your talk is really a “HIRE ME” to solve your problems, sprinkled here and there with a few tips, you are going to turn off your audience and never be asked to speak.

Here are some of my secrets that will help you get what you want! For me it’s to get booked to speak again and again, for you it might be to sell your services, your book, or your products.

Just Remember- Don’t Sell or Marker from the Platform!

1. Know your audience and make your program relevant to their needs. One speech doesn’t fit all audiences. Change it up! If you are talking to realtors find examples that reflect their challenges.  Present your material as though you were one of them. That works better in these situations opposed to you telling them the 10 things they need to be doing.

2. Give-Give- Give. Give away some of your best information (I give them my slides) and stop worrying that they are going to go off and DIY or steal your talk.  Here’s a little secret-very few people actually go and do what you suggest.  Eventually, if you made a great impression, they will hire you to help them get where they need to be.

3. Get Good! Just because you wrote a great presentation doesn’t mean you can deliver a great presentation.  Speaking is an art and practice is a huge part of the deal. Today audiences want to hear presentations where the speaker is comfortable and as ease rather than someone reading scripted materials or delivering memorized speech. Practice so that your words flow, have some animation, and remember that your energy (good or bad)  is contagious.

4. Leave Time for a Q and A. Here’s where we separate the novice from the pro.  How you sound in the Q and A quickly establishes your expertise- or not. Do your homework and keep on reading and doing research on your topic.

5. Make it fun and make it easy for the audience to connect with you. After I warm the audience up I say, “Here are the rules, Open your phone or laptop and Tweet about this presentation. And I hope you tweet good things about me.” (hopefully I get a laugh!)   Everyone starts to buzz!  Then on the screen is a slide with my Twitter handle K_McCullough and my email address [email protected] ! Again on my last slide I say, “Stay connected and I again give my email, Twitter handle and my Facebook and Linkedin name.  It works!  Some connect immediately while others drop an email when they need me.

6. Stick around. This is something that I have learned from the top pros. I get more inquiries for my speaking services after I have presented.  Right after the speech there is usually a group of people that swarm wanted my card, asking questions and giving me their cards and information.  I try to stay a few hours after my presentation and talk with people in the halls and hotel lobby. My goal is not to nail a booking right then and there, but to created the space for a relationship to grow.

In Closing…

Want to be a great marketer? Become a great presenter. When people discover that you really know what you are talking about you will attract business.  Your are leaving your listeners with the thought that they should get your  card and check our you or your business.

Today your audience is savvy…they will find you on line. It’s not that hard.

As a speaker I would love your opinions-

What annoys you about speakers?

What makes you want to learn more about a speaker and give them your business?

Dreams Do Come True-Start Dreaming!

I have been a member of National Speakers Association for over 13 years and only missed one National Conference.  Every year I beg my Houston NSA friends to join me…it happened once 2008 in San Diego. My reoccurring dream over the years is to come to a National NSA convention with a group of girlfriends…have fun, learn a ton and then spend the rest of the year discussing a few of the concepts and  ideas learned at the conference.

Well this year it happened. Crystal Washington, Bambi McCullough and Cecilia Rose are not only now members of NSA National they are here at the Marriott Anaheim the Disneyland row, with me and 1500 other speakers.  For the next 4 days I will keep you posted on our adventure!

We miss you Danielle and know that you are here in our heats!

Lesson from Comedian Louis C.K. – When do you practice?

One of my favorite comics is a guy named Louis CK.  He’s very raw and very funny and I laugh really hard at his humor. I love his bit about technology and  Gen Y- Here’s a taste!

Back to the post…
When he’s not doing huge concerts he hangs out in comedy clubs. That’s where he tries out new material.  The comedy clubs are small and very intimate and he gets a more honest audience response.  He tries out new material and he is sure that being fresh and new is what fills the seats at his concerts.
Stage time is where he practices – in small comedy clubs that do not pay him. He drops in and gives his time away and practices!  He creates fresh and new material and that is what fills the house!

I love this information. I hear so many speakers say that they speak once a month or so…How do they stay sharp? Where are they practicing?  I have a lot of humor in my programs and I know that timing is everything. If I am not on stage I also get shaky and almost neurotic!  I have to create opportunities where I am continually getting in front of audiences some small and some for a small fee to PRACTICE and try out  new material. It’s part of the job.

I believe that no matter what business you are in there is a need to practice and sharpen your skills.
Where do you practice?
I would love to know? Please answer and start the conversation!

Live Your Dreams – Step One

I made the decision to Live My Dream and become a professional speaker in 1999.  I was doing some retail consulting work for an upscale fashion store in the Galleria area of Houston, and the store’s owner and my good friend Beverly asked me to do a few “in-store presentations.”  I did, and they were a big hit; and soon Beverly pushed me out the door encouraging me to start speaking…I went on a part-time contract with her and began a new career ~ as a public speaker.  (I say ‘public’ because  in the beginning I spoke for free.)

After typing that and reading the paragraph,  I realize that I made it sound so simple.
When you do what you love, it is simple.  Well, kind of….

And now here is the truth! I have never focused on the steps, the work or the money that it has required to become a national keynote speaker.  I just started. I started reading, taking seminars, workshops, attending conferences and lectures. I just started writing, developing an expertise, a point of view and a following.  If I sat down and added up all of the hours and money that I spent becoming a speaker and presented it to me back in 1999,  I might have made another career choice!

Living the Dream , for me, took what Malcolm Gladwell calculated as 10,000 hours;  it took sacrifice, and it took focus.  If you are starting a business or a new career, start with step one and keep on taking one step at a time. Every day do something big or small to help you get to your dream.  Every day read one article or blog post and every week read a new book and grow your expertise. Don’t look ahead to the whole picture…It might scare you and it will keep you from starting.


Top Quotes in 2010 (and a few others I added)

 A successful professional speaker (I hate to say motivational speaker because it has a negative feel to it ever since SNL’s Chris Farley and the van down by the river) understands the power of words. We speakers know that  a few choices words have the ability to connect, enrage, engage, inspire, and inform.  One of the best ways keynote speaker’s inspire others is by using quotes in there presentations.

Fred Shapiro, Associate Librarian for Yale Law School, just released his annual version of the most notable quotes. Each year, Shapiro picks quotes that are  reflective of the times we live in. The quotes aren’t necessarily the most intelligent or admirable but some of them are very telling .

Here are Fred’s 2010 selections…

1. “I’m not a witch”-Christine O’Donnell, the Republican candidate for the US Senate and Tea Party favorite in a campaign ad.

2. “I’d like my life back.” -BP CEO Tony Hayward, comment to reporters, May 30

3. “If you touch my junk, I’m gonna have you arrested.” -Airline passenger John Tyner to a Transportation Security Administration worker at San Diego airport, November 13, 2010

4. “Don’t retreat. Instead-reload!” -Sarah Palin, Twitter, March 23

5. “Chi! Chi! Chi! Le! Le! Le! Los  mineros de Chile!” -Chilean miners being rescued, emerging from their underground prison, October 13

6. “I hope that’s not where we’re going, but you know, if this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies. They’re saying: My goodness, what can we do to turn this country around?” -Sharron Angle, who ran unsuccessfully in the 2010 midtermsradio interview, January

7. “We have to pass the (health care) bill so you can find out what is in it.” -Nancy Pelosi, the outgoing speaker of the US House of Representatives speech to National Association of Counties, March 9

8. “I’m going to take my talents to South Beach.” -Basketball star LeBron James, who upset his hometown team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, to join the Miami Heat, during a TV broadcast, July 8

9. “You’re telling me that the separation of church and state is found in the First Amendment?” -Christine O’Donnell… again, this time in a debate ahead of her election race in Connecticut, October 19

10. “They should never have put me with that woman. … She was just a sort of bigoted woman who said she used to be Labour.” -Gordon Brown, moments after meeting Gillian Duffy, a 66-year-old widow who told him she was concerned about immigration from Eastern Europe.


Do you have any to add?

I chuckled  at these:

“You need to know how I learn.” As Kate Gosselin said to Tony Dovolani on Dancing with the Stars. (She was a horrible student!)

“People write to me and say, ‘I’m giving up, you’re not talking to me.’ I just write them a simple message like, ‘Never give up,’ you know? And it changes their life.” Justin Bieber (At 16 he has become a profit!)

“I have a lot of work to do and I intend to dedicate myself to doing it. Part of following this path for me is Buddism.” — Tiger Woods. (Om-mmmmmmmmmm)

“I’ve been in the business 28 years. I’ve had it. That’s it.” Steven Slater, exflight attendent at Jet Blue. (They are making a movie out of this one starring Will Farrell.)

“I’m terrified of therapy because I don’t want it to mess with my creativity.” Lady Gaga ( add a.d.d. meds to that too)

Put the Jingle Back in Your Mingle- 5 Tips to Enjoy Mingling this Holiday Season

From one public speaker to another. Lisa B. Marshall, The Public Speaker is a regular guest blogger  on the Karen McCullough blog. Enjoy

Put the Jingle Back in Your Mingle- 5 Tips to Enjoy Mingling this Holiday Season

by Guest Blogger, Lisa B. Marshall

With so many holiday parties coming up, this is the time of year when everyone could use a refresher on how to mingle. For some people, schmoozing comes naturally. For others, it requires a bit more practice and effort.

Mingling is the ultimate small talk test. For me, making small talk has always made me feel uneasy. Very early on my career, I remember saying: “Well, I don’t understand the point. Small talk, it’s phony and boring. I don’t want to have anything to do with it.” But as my career progressed, I realized the role and importance of small talk. It helps lie down a foundation for future interactions and helps you build a rapport which of course is an important networking skill.

Schmooze Tip #1: Pay Attention

The goal of any office party is to practice your mingling skills by paying attention, taking the lead, listening, sharing, and appreciating. First, before you go to the party, prepare by looking at the headlines.

Look at local and global news. You don’t have to be an expert, just be aware. At the event, pay attention to stuff around you–the traffic, the parking, the venue, the artwork, the theme, the food…everything. During the event, look around the room. The easiest thing to do is just talk to the person you came with or your friends. But instead, challenge yourselves to join the noisiest group–that one with people who appear to be enjoying themselves the most. Or, look for someone who is standing alone and who returns your eye contact with a smile. And don’t stick like glue to the first people you meet. Set a goal to meet a certain number of new people.

Schmooze Tip #2: Take the Lead

One of my clients who had had significant issues with mingling took a different kind of approach to taking the lead. She was in a male dominated industry, so her solution (before she worked with me) was to find the prettiest woman at the party and strike up a conversation with her.  When I asked her how this helped, she responded by saying, “Oh, it works like a charm.  One time by accident, I was talking to a woman and I noticed how many men made an effort to come meet her.  She, in turn was introducing me, so I stuck by her side. I’ve used that strategy many times and it works great for me!”

I don’t recommend that strategy, but it was certainly a unique approach to mingling.

Like my client, most people want to have a pleasant conversation and consider that a difficult task. So get into the holiday spirit by taking the lead. Make a comment, ask a question, or give a sincere compliment

Of course, at holiday parties, you always have the holiday as a conversation starter.  “Do you have any special holiday plans?” “Are you all ready for your holidays?” or “What’s your favorite part of the holidays?”

Can’t think of a question? Try a sincere compliment. I emphasize sincere. If you don’t really mean it, don’t bother. Finally, avoid compliments about attire if you are mingling at a work event – the compliment could be misconstrued .

Schmooze Tip # 3: Listen

Once you start a conversation, don’t worry about what you are going to say next. Mingling is about starting with small, shared stuff and letting the conversation naturally grow. Just listen.

Let your natural curiosity and genuine interest guide the conversation.

Try avoiding talking about work and stay clear of potentially uncomfortable subjects such as:

·romance (particularly office romances)






·personal finance

Schmooze Tip #4: Share

Remember, it’s important that you not solely ask questions and listen–that will feel like an interrogation to your conversation partner.

The goal is to find common ground by sharing a few of your own stories too.

Schmooze Tip #5: Appreciate

Make sure you thank the appropriate people at the party. Make it a point to thank the party planners for their hard work. Also be sure to thank the high-ranking folks for the party. Tell them what a great time you had or comment on something you liked. It’s important to express your heartfelt appreciation.

It shows that you don’t take events like these for granted.  Finally, if you are talking to someone and another person is waiting, try to include them in the conversation.  Or excuse yourself and move on.

Finally, if at the last minute you’re tempted to blow off the social event, don’t. You could be missing the chance to talk with people you normally doesn’t interact with. And you would be giving up an opportunity to practice and master your mingling skills.

Lisa B. Marshall: The Public Speaker

Lisa B Marshall

Lisa B. Marshall is the host of The Public Speaker. For over a dozen years, Lisa has been helping organizations, and individuals to share, present, and discuss ideas in an engaging, persuasive and compelling manner.

Lisa is Passionate. Interactive. Expert. Funny. Practical. Authentic. Helping organizations and individuals to share, present, and discuss ideas in a compelling, concise, and productive manner.

I Love Podcasts

My daughter and co-author of The Seven Women ProjectMeredith, got me hooked on podcasts about a year ago.  Listening to podcasts makes my daily walks with my dog Wally really special. Not only am I getting some exercise, I am also enriching my content and I’m thinking a lot more about things…like;  How much can you jam into a human brain?

Meredith started me off with her favorite podcast Radiolab, with Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich. She knew I was a big fan of Malcolm Galdwell and she suggested I listen to Secrets of Success where Gladwell admits that he doesn’t like Gifted and Talented Education Programs. He shares that he doesn’t believe that innate ability can fully explain superstar hockey players or billionaire software giants. Listen yourself and see if you agree…

So, I soon started exploring podcasts and added Freakonomics, Planet Money, and This American Life to my playlist and I am totally engaged while flying around! (Great headphones help)

and then I stumbled up Lisa B. MarshallThe Public Speaker and I am now hooked on Lisa B. Not only does Lisa have great podcasts that relate to public speaking but she covers the gamut of communications.

The answer is no unless you ask!

Last week I was working on a presentation for HR Houston on building Better Business Relationships and got some great ideas from Lisa B. Marshall’s blog.  Then it hit me to connect with Lisa. So I did and I discovered that  Lisa is the real deal. She’s passionate. She’s an expert in communications. She’s funny, practical and she is authentic! She lives her brand. I asked her is she would be a guest blogger on my Shot on Energy and …

She agreed.

So…I have decided that Tuesday’s will be my official guest blogger day.

So look for Tomorrow’s Blog by none other than Lisa B. Marshall!