Travels from United Kingdom
Debra Searle's speaking fee falls
within range: $25,000 to $30,000
Debra Searle is an honest, open, warm and funny businesswoman, TV presenter and proud owner of a mental strength and determination that inspires and motivates all who meet her. Debra′s overwhelming positivity and ′go for it′ attitude are contagious, while her modesty is endearing. She regularly delivers both motivational presentations and after dinner speeches using her story to powerfully but subtly draw out key business and personal lessons.
“I was considered the weakest competitor in the Atlantic Rowing Race. I couldn′t row before signing up for the event, I was the smallest competitor by far, and I was scared of deep water, the dark and sharks.”
– Debra Searle
When Debra′s partner left her alone at sea the sceptics gave her two days tops. Some would say the odds were stacked skyscraper high against Debra rowing the Atlantic solo. Yet she dared to believe and 111 days later she rowed into Port St Charles, Barbados, to a rapturous welcome from friends, family, supporters and the world′s media.
Not just a woman with an interesting story, Debra Searle is a successful businesswoman in her own right. Debra became Managing Director of her first company at the age of 23 with the launch of The Well Hung Art Company. Today she successfully runs two companies alongside a developing TV presenting career with the BBC.
Debra powerfully illustrates with slides and stunning video footage and leaves her audience in no doubt of their own ability to achieve the extraordinary. Furthermore, Debra sets herself apart from other speakers by her level of commitment to each project. Taking the time to ensure she fully understands the audience, conference themes and gathering company and industry specific information allows her to tailor her presentation to your exact requirements. This same level of commitment is carried through to the event where she makes every effort to speak to delegates on a one-to-one basis.
In 2019 Debra will be making frequent trips to Hollywood as the movie telling the story of her Atlantic row is currently in development.
Debra is a lively and proficient conference host/facilitator, drawing on the skills she gained working under a talent manager at the BBC. A recent engagement involved hosting a three day conference in Prague for BT Global Services, including leading panel discussions, interviewing key directors and linking presentations.
Not just a woman with an interesting story, Debra Searle walks the talk in the business world having started her first company aged 24 and her second aged 27. She is a managing director, the youngest Trustee of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, is a published author and has presented over 40 programmes for the BBC.
Debra′s overwhelming positivity and ′go for it′ attitude are contagious, while her modesty is endearing. Often very emotive, she shares her highs and lows, personal battles and victories, to help illustrate in a very human way what we are all capable of. She is not a motivational speaker reliant on buzz words, hype and jargon. Every speech is written to help enforce the conference themes and will provide real world ideas and tools to help your people:
SPEAKING.COM: What do you want people to learn / take away from your presentations?
SEARLE: I want people to know that they are capable of so much more than they have ever dreamed. I have rowed the Altantic single-handed, founded 3 businesses and sat on the board of a charity with members of the Royal Family. None of that would have been possible had I always stayed within my comfort zones.
SPEAKING.COM: What kind of special prep work do you do prior to an event? How to you prepare for your speaking engagements?
SEARLE: Before each event, I ask my client to fill out a pre-event questionnaire online. This covers lots of the basics about the event, but also goes into a bit of detail about what the business’s biggest challenges are and how I can help their team to embrace the current challenges.
I’ve been fortunate enough to speak to all kinds of industries over the past ten years – from finance, to healthcare, to education and retail. I’ve even spoken to the National Association of Funeral Directors! Once I’ve read through the questionnaire, I do lots of Googling to make sure I am up to date on the latest industry news, and it’s normally then that I start tailoring my speech, figuring out what anecdotes resonate most with that particular audience.
A couple of weeks before the event, I then have a call with my client just to ensure that my speech is completely en-pointe with the conference message.
Finally, I try to arrive on the day as early as possible. It’s often during those introductory speeches by the CEO or MD that I really get a feel for the organization, and sometimes I even pick up the industry-specific language and acronyms which I use in my own speech to ensure that my message resonates as much as possible with my audience.
I’m a stickler for detail, but I love to know that I’ve done a good job. I want to leave the stage knowing that the audience is inspired and equipped for their return to the office.
SPEAKING.COM: Have you had any particularly memorable speaking engagements / unusual situations arise while on the road?
SEARLE: So many! I’ve also been fortunate enough to be invited to Buckingham Palace numerous times, and thanks to my position on the Board for The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (a youth awards program), I know a few members of the Royal Family quite well. My sister and I even have a selfie in the Buckingham Palace toilets!
Another highlight was when I was doing a keynote speech for Microsoft in the Maldives, and they asked if I would like to go scuba-diving with their team – amazing!
SPEAKING.COM: What types of audiences would most benefit from your message?
SEARLE: I’ve spoken to over 800 conferences worldwide, with audiences ranging from school children to royalty, from call-center workers to CEOs, so I can say with confidence that all kinds of people benefit from my message. Crucially, an audience has to be ready to make steps to change. My aim is that, through my story, people will be inspired to step outside of their comfort zones and go on to achieve amazing things.
SPEAKING.COM: Which of your keynote speaking topics are your favorites and why?
SEARLE: At the moment, I love talking about gender balance in the workplace and challenging the stereotypes that we have around what it means to be a man or a woman. In fact, the more I research the topic, the more determined I am to join with others to make a positive change. I love that it’s not seen as a “women’s issue” anymore.
SEARLE: At one speech I did for an engineering company, a huge hulk of a man who was covered in tattoos came up to me afterwards. My unconscious biases kicked in big time, and I assumed that he would have hated what he heard. Not so! He actually told me that he had been moved to tears and challenged to act – he didn’t want his daughters and nieces to grow up in a world where they had to face sexual harassment and discrimination because of their gender. I was blown away by his honesty, and it gave me a real appetite to speak to as many people as possible about how powerful it is when we speak out against prejudice.
I also still love talking about my Atlantic row. It truly was the adventure of a lifetime, and it’s formed who I am today. I love to see people inspired to achieve their dreams through my story. There’s no feeling like it.
SPEAKING.COM: What inspired you to start doing speaking engagements?
SEARLE: I entered the world of corporate speaking completely accidentally! While I was rowing the Atlantic alone, little did I know that my twin sister had been fielding phone calls from the press and TV stations all over the world.
I was still celebrating with my family in Barbados when Vodafone invited me to their annual conference as the keynote speaker. When the lights first went up on the stage, blinding me so that I couldn’t even see the audience, I was so scared! I mentally pushed myself – ‘Come on Debra, you’ve just rowed the Atlantic, you can do this!’ – and I did.
From there, it just snowballed, and I have been on the speaking circuit ever since. I love the huge variety of people I get to meet doing my job, and it’s such an honor to be a part of each company’s community for a day or two.
SPEAKING.COM: How much do case studies, personal stories and/or humor factor into your keynote speech content?
SEARLE: I think being able to laugh at yourself is the key to enjoying life! Songs such as “You Get What You Give” by the New Radicals were a key part of my motivation strategy while on the Atlantic, so during my speeches I will often be found leaping around the stage dancing or sharing anecdotes about my Christmas dinner, which comprised of a chicken flavored Cup-A-Soup (it was the closest I could get to turkey!)
I’m so interested in the science and psychology of motivation, but as human beings, we engage so much better with stories rather than dry information. All of my “mind tricks for success” are linked to psychological theory in some way, but by applying practical strategies to real-life situations, audiences are far more likely to remember and use the strategies in their own lives.
SPEAKING.COM: What are some of the successes you’ve helped clients make?
SEARLE: I’ve had HEAPS of encouraging feedback over the years, and I’m often touched when delegates email me in the months and years following my speech to tell me how applying some of my “mind tricks for success” have helped them to achieve something great. The success I’m most proud of is the Arctic Challenge, which I mentioned earlier. Tens of thousands of people followed our team’s social media campaign, and 62% of those stated that the Arctic Challenge project had caused them to have a conversation about gender equality.
It’s so encouraging to know that I am speaking to the business leaders of today and tomorrow. A recent client from the financial services industry wrote to me and said,
“The feedback, both last night and today, has been incredibly positive and has inspired much reflection on both the enormity of your achievements and the relentlessly positive attitude you portrayed….I now have 60 or so leaders choosing their attitude!”
What more could I ask for?!
“We provided feedback forms to all participants and asked for a rating between 1 (poor) and 5 (excellent). We received 170 completed forms and Debra scored a ′5′ from every single respondent. This is unheard of! The comments were all super, for example – ′ Best speaker I′ve heard at an IBM event – outstanding!′”
IBM UK Ltd.
(IBM have re-booked Debra a further 8 times to date.)
“Very many thanks for your fantastic after dinner speech. Aside from the laughter, for the majority of the time that you were speaking you could have heard a pin drop! To get insurance brokers and insurer company salesman to keep quiet is no mean feat! The feedback I got on the evening was extremely positive and many felt that the move away from our traditional type of male speakers was a vast improvement.””
Insurance Institute of Reading
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