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Sheila Murray Bethel

Interview with Dr. Sheila Murray Bethel

In this interview with A-Speakers, Dr. Sheila Murray Bethel talks about her keynote presentations, storytelling and leadership. Read more below.

What is the message you hope people take away from your presentations?

When I wrote my best-selling book, Making A Difference, it was not just a book to give a speech about, it is my philosophy of life. It is what I hope all audiences will take away with them; that each person has special skills and talents that they can share with others that can make a difference. That is how we all combine our efforts across the globe to make the world a better place to live and work.


Do you have a favorite experience from your speaking career?

Back to the making a difference theme; there is no one special experience, rather the times when I receive a note, or letter, or email or a call from someone who tells me how they used my ideas or stories to improve their lives or those they care about. When they tell me that I made a difference to them, it is the most special thing that can ever happen. It is my mission!


How do you prepare for speaking engagements?

Whether it is a one hour keynote or a two day seminar I ALWAYS speak with the client and cover all the questions in my pre-program questionnaire. I want to make sure we are on the same page. I  want toclearly understand what the take- aways and calls-to-action they need to make the meeting or conference one of the best ever.


How do you define inspirational leadership?

With 25 years’ experience lecturing and training on Leadership in over 20 countries I have found that true inspirational leadership is about one thing, regardless of nationality. It is the ability to communicate and live a vision that brings people together with common goals and set of values that helps them be a part of something bigger than themselves. People everywhere want a leader who makes a difference and brings them along for the journey.


How much does humor factor into your keynotes and other speaking engagements?

Humor is vital! It is the best bridge between people that exists. A keynote will fall flat if there is no humor to keep people engaged and listening. Humor is the great equalizer. It helps make hard information easier to learn, and easy material more fun. If all a person does is use PowerPoint and give information they should just make a video and send it in. Well prepared and carefully timed humor is the difference between a pro and everyone else.


How are your keynote presentations unique?

I think you would need to ask my clients and audiences that question. I am a storyteller and use personal stories and antidotes with every main point in the speech or training to bring it to the personal level, making it understandable and usable by each person in their own way. This is what I am told is the big difference.


What are some of the important qualities successful leaders possess?

There are eight major qualities that a 21st century leader must possess. These are in my newest book “A New Breed Of Leader – 8 qualities That Matter Most in The Real World” – What works, What doesn’t and Why:

– Competence Matters…Building Purpose

– Accountability Matters…Fostering Trust

– Openness Matters…Generating Integrity

– Language Matters…Connecting Relationships

– Values Matter…Forging Community

– Perspective Matters…Establishing Balance

– Power Matters…Mastering Influence

– Humility Matters…Inspiring Authenticity


How can event planners help you make a great keynote and in turn create a successful event?

Event planners are always happy with the results when they help me do my homework. If they are willing to take a half hour (or more for anything longer than keynote) to answer my questions and give me a broad and narrow view of their concerns and goals for the event it is a win-win. My presentations are about them and their audiences, not about me. When someone asks me to do my standard presentation my answer is always the same, “There is no standard, one-size-fits-all speech or training.” Any event planner that takes the time and effort to collaborate with me on content increases the effectiveness of my presentation by 100%!


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