Charles Phoenix – “I Love Americana”

Charles Phoenix doesn’t consider himself a speaker. Go to one of his Retro Slide Show performances and you’ll find out why. He’s an entertainer first and foremost. It all began in 1982, when Charles was working as a fashion designer in Los Angeles. He discovered old Kodachrome slides in a thrift shop, and was immediately hooked.

Since his first performance in 1998, Charles has been offering up classic and kitschy Americana, along with a healthy dose of enthusiastic commentary, about 40 times a year. Equally entertaining, but less frequently, Charles also hosts ‘school bus field trips’ tours of downtown Los Angeles. His website, www.CharlesPhoenix.com, features a ‘Slide of the Week’ for e-mail subscribers. Phoenix is a recurring guest on NPR and The Martha Stewart Show. His latest book is Americana The Beautiful: Mid-Century Culture in Kodachrome.

We hope you enjoy the excerpt below from our interview with Charles Phoenix.  He is one of the 26 speakers featured in Vol. 1 of Finding Speaking Success, available now on Amazon.

Charles Phoenix doesn’t consider himself a speaker. Go to one of his Retro Slide Show performances and you’ll find out why. He’s an entertainer first and foremost. It all began in 1982, when Charles was working as a fashion designer in Los Angeles. He discovered old Kodachrome slides in a thrift shop, and was immediately hooked.

Since his first performance in 1998, Charles has been offering up classic and kitschy Americana, along with a healthy dose of enthusiastic commentary, about 40 times a year. Equally entertaining, but less frequently, Charles also hosts ‘school bus field trips’ tours of downtown Los Angeles. His website, www.CharlesPhoenix.com, features a ‘Slide of the Week’ for e-mail subscribers. Phoenix is a recurring guest on NPR and The Martha Stewart Show. His latest book is Americana The Beautiful: Mid-Century Culture in Kodachrome.

After seeing Charles perform in 2009 at the Denver Modernism Art Show, I knew he would bring some incredible insights to Finding Speaking Success: Mentoring Tips from the Masters. Below is sneak peak of my exclusive one-on-one interview with the amazing performer who speaks to sold out crowds on a regular basis.

Q. Can you share some details about your business model?

A. Last year 80% of my income was from slide show engagements.  Perhaps 5% of my income is from book sales. I also do tours and that is about 10%. The tours are just like watching the slideshow, except the audience gets to actually go to the places. The tours are great because they don’t require a lot of information upfront.

Q. What are the biggest mistakes you see new speakers make?

A. Not speaking loud enough.  That’s the number one rule: speak up! Double your normal volume, at least.

Q. What are you doing now in your business that you should have started doing sooner?

A.  Facebook. I have what is called a fan page now. Your website is your network, like having your own NBC or ABC, so I’m constantly trying to get people to know what I do by making my website more user-friendly. I don’t consider myself a success in that area yet. If you live 10,000 miles away from everybody, then it is a great way to communicate. But, I just like to go out and be with people instead of being in front of the computer. To answer your original question: it comes down to more networking via the internet.

You can visit Charles’ website at: www.charlesphoenix.com

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