AskPat 504 Episode Transcript
Pat Flynn: What's up, everybody? Welcome to Episode 504 of AskPat and, if you celebrate Christmas, merry Christmas. I know this is a holiday and some of you don't do work and maybe you're listening to this later and that's totally fine, but I know some of you who, especially on holidays, that's your time to kind of catch up and do things like that. If you're listening to this when it comes out, merry Christmas, happy holidays to everybody, happy Hanukkah, happy Kwanzaa, happy everything. I just hope you're enjoying time with your family and doing what you love.
We have a great question today actually from Rick, but before we get to that I do want to thank you because you're awesome. Thank you because Christmas is a time to be thankful and be with your family. I feel like you guys are a part of my family too. I know a lot of us have met before in person, a lot of us have talked and conversed on social media or via email, and even if we haven't I just wanted you to know that I appreciate you. I'm thankful for you. I'm just thankful for all of your support so thank you.
Here's today's question from Rick.
Rick: Hi, Pat. This is Rick. My website is called rickzullo.com and it's a travel blog. A travel blog that's devoted exclusively to travel within the country of Italy. I've been a fan of yours for a while and I know that in addition to your blog and to your podcast you also do quite a bit of public speaking. I have an opportunity myself to do a couple of speeches, I guess you'd say presentations, in the next couple of months. The first one being in just a few weeks. I was wondering if you could give me any pointers. Just maybe a few takeaways that you got from your experience with a speaking coach and your time up on stage. Maybe some things that I could do beforehand to help prepare or even during the presentation to calm down a little bit and make sure that things flow as good as possible. Listen, again, I've been a fan for a while and I appreciate everything you do for us online, all the value you create for your community. Thanks, Pat. Hope to hear from you. Bye.
Pat Flynn: Hey, Rick, what's up? Thank you so much for the question. I hope my answer gets to you in time or, if not, it prepares you for some of the other presentations you have. First of all, congratulations on getting asked to speak or actually making an effort to go and speak at different places. It's one of the best things I've done.
As I said earlier in many episodes, I've fallen in love with the craft of public speaking. It's a great way to deliver a message. Focusing on public speaking and delivering presentations has allowed me to increase my communication skills and just become a better presenter in life and when I'm sharing things. I think this is a great skill that a lot of us could benefit from and, just so you know where I came from for everybody else out there listening, I was definitely not a natural public speaker. I, like Rick said, hired a coach and I did a lot of practice.
In the beginning I just never wanted to do it, but seeing the impact that it's had in my business I just continue to want to do it. I still get scared. I still get nervous sometimes. Especially when there's large crowds I get as nervous as I almost want to throw up before I go on stage. That's common. I know a lot of celebrities and singers who do that. I think Adele, who's super popular right now because she just came out with her new song “Hello,” she does the same thing before she gets on stage. She gets really sick and ill, but then she goes on stage and crushes it because she's obviously very talented, but also puts in a lot of practice.
That's where I would start, Rick. You just want to make sure that you give yourself enough lead time to practice. Practice, practice, practice, practice because the more you practice the more you will better understand the information, the more opportunities you will go through iterations of your presentation. What's cool is every time I go though my presentation because I don't script it out, that's actually what I used to do and I would not recommend that, because I don't script it out and I'm kind of just going based off of an outline and trying to support this transformation I'm trying to share with my audience, cool things come out during those practice sessions.
Things that I'm like, “Whoa, that was really cool. I got to make sure I add that into my actual presentation.” If you don't give yourself an opportunity to discover those cools moments, you're never going to have any, so practice as much as possible. That doesn't necessarily mean you have to run through the whole thing 100 times beforehand.
Although I have done that and that was probably overload. I actually ended up, for one presentation, this was 2013 in Saint Louis at the Financial Blogger Conference, I put in 250 hours of work into prepping for that keynote. The reason I did that was because this was the conference that helped me get my start 2 years prior in terms of getting on stage so I wanted to give back because they gave me an opportunity and I wanted to blow them away and I think I did that because people are still talking about that presentation. I actually ended up tripping on stage on purpose in the beginning. I ran from the back of the room, fell right on stage, people gasping, people oh my gosh.
Then the music started to rewind, the intro music, and I rewound and went back to my seat. Then ran back up again. It kind of just was rewinding and going back into real time. Why did I do that? Because the first words that came out of my mouth were, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” Which is what that presentation was about. I always try to start in a big grand way like that to create something memorable, to capture people's attention and whatnot. The practice that goes along with all the presentations you do is going to be really important. That's where I would start.
I would also recommend checking out episode 16, I believe it's Episode 16 of SPI TV. Actually you could look up in Google. Go to Google and type in '33 public speaking tips' because this is what I do in this video. I share 33 different public speaking tips. It's a video of me actually crashing an empty room at a conference. I had Caleb come and film me sharing these tips with you and a lot of people, over 7,000 people at this point, have viewed this. A lot of people have said this is one of the best videos out there for just getting a whole brain dump of different tips that you can use.
I'm going to share a few tips that I have with you as you move forward into your presentation which overlap with this video, but I would recommend checking it out. Again, go to Google, type in '33 public speaking tips' and you'll see SPI TV episode 16. It's about a half hour video of me teaching you all the different things that I've learned that have helped me that I picked up from my speaking coach, through the experience that I have on stage, and watching thousands of presentations.
That's another thing you could do. That's another great tip, Rick. Sort of just giving you a brain dump here too and it's a little bit more organized in that video. One thing that I would do is I would watch as many presentations as possible because then you can start to develop your own style. You can see what you like from different presenters and what you don't like from different presenters. When you see other people do those things you get to kind of incorporate what you like and don't like into your presentation or keep those things out that you don't like. I would start with TED Talks. TED Talks are great. People are fine tuned presenters there and they all have different styles. Some of them I don't like and some of them I absolutely enjoy and I've incorporated a lot of those things into the way I speak and my approach to speaking too.
Speaking of approach to speaking, there's a lot of things you can do before you go up on stage that can help you. Practicing beyond the outlining and that sort of thing, there's a few things you can do to help give yourself an edge.
The first thing I like to do is actually get to know who's going to be in my audience first. Discovering what kind of person is going to be in the audience is important. Even before the event that I speak at, especially if it's one that I haven't gone to before and I don't know what that crowd is like, I'll email the person I'm contacting or I have contact with from that event just to get an idea of who's in the crowd, what are they like, what are their goals, what do they do. I also try to get access to other videos from the past so I can see who else, for example, has spoken at those events. Just to get a feel for what the audience is like and what they like, what they dislike. When I'm at the event, before I speak, I always try to shake hands, and talk to, and meet as many people as possible before I go on stage.
There are two reasons you want to do that. For me, at least, I do that because it just makes me more comfortable knowing who's in the audience. If I know that there's somebody in the audience that I've met and I see them, I try to meet, again, as many people as possible. It just makes me feel more comfortable on stage so I'm not just speaking to a whole bunch of strangers. Even though I just met them, the fact that I actually even said hi, shook their hand, makes me feel more comfortable because it's kind of breathing a little bit.
The second thing, the reason why I do this, is because it helps that crowd. Even though I'm not able to shake hands with everyone typically. It just helps the crowd know that I'm there and I'm focused on them and that I'm friendly and nice. It just makes a great first impression when you see the presenter going up and shaking hands with everybody, smiling, getting to know different people in the front row, everybody sees that especially when you can hear it on the microphone which isn't always possible. It's kind of cool because you can hear that person interact with the crowd and just makes you feel like okay you're in a friendly environment, you're open to hearing to what this person says. That's the first thing.
The second thing I want to do, and even before that point when you are there presenting, go to that room beforehand and just scope it out. Get up on stage if you can. Talk to the tech guy. That's another tip. Talk to the tech guy who's going to be running your microphone, potentially filming what you're doing. Get to know that person. What is their name? Introduce yourself so that when that time comes to present, they're going to be there to help you out. You've already developed a relationship with them and that's very important too.
Plus that time on stage that you have, even if the room is completely empty, it just helps you feel like you know what it's going to be like when you're actually doing it. Again, just giving you a little bit of an edge to make you feel a little bit more comfortable when you actually go and do the real thing.
If there is somebody that's going to introduce you, Rick, on stage which often happens. Somebody will have some script that they read off about you and what you're presenting about and that sort of thing. Get to know that person too and actually see what they're going to say first. Actually make sure that they know who you are, that they know what they're going to say. A lot of times they just make things up on the spot based off of a script. It's nice if they know who you are and it just becomes a little bit more friendly. This is a first impression people have about you even before you go on stage so it's really important that you try to control that as much as possible. Get to know who that person is, who's going to be introducing you, introduce yourself, and just ask what they're going to say to see if there's anything you can add or anything that should be changed. There's been a few incidences where I've caught that person saying incorrect data or facts about me or there's something that I can add to those things to make it even better before I go up on stage.
The other thing I want to talk about really quick before I finish up, because we're already 10 minutes into this and, again, I have a whole video about all these types of things. 33 different public speaking tips. Actually just look that up in Google. 33 public speaking tips and you'll see my face there in a YouTube video SPI TV episode 16. That's going to help you out.
The last thing I want to share is that first minute and a half on stage, that is the most nerve wracking portion of a presentation for me because it's just like you're there and everybody's looking at you and they're waiting. The other thing that I want to say is that they want you to succeed. Nobody wants to sit in a presentation and have you just not give them good advice, not be entertaining, that sort of thing. Nobody wants you to fail. When I learned that I was like, “Yeah, they want me to succeed so I have to do it for them as much as I want to do it for me.” It just made me feel more comfortable because I didn't feel like they were out to get me. This crowd becomes this entity that we often feel like is just out to get you because it's so scary, but they all want you to succeed as much as you do. Just keep that in mind.
That first minute and a half, it's going to be very difficult. That's why, out of all the rehearsal that I do beforehand, out of all the practice, that first minute and a half to 2 minutes, that's what I rehearse the most. I go over it, over, and over, and over again. Although I said you shouldn't script the whole thing, I do script that part because I want to make sure that I get that first two minutes right because that will help you get into the flow. Once you get into the flow things just start to take over, you're on auto pilot and, because you've practiced and you know your material, you're just going to go through it and do an awesome job. That first minute and a half, that's where your brain is trying to stop you from doing this awesome thing. If you've practiced it so much and you got it fine tuned to a point where you could do it in your sleep with your eyes closed, I guess it wouldn't matter if your eyes were closed or not but you know what I mean, then you're going to get through those first crucial couple minutes. Then you're just going to take it from there and everything will be great.
Practice those first two minutes more than anything, your introduction. If you need some help—a couple things that I've mentioned in the video is I actually share a video in a lot of my openings in my presentations. Something that actually helps ease the tension a little bit. I'll often start with a story too. Stories are easy to tell and they're a great way to make a connection with an audience. If it's something that ties into the presentation, which hopefully it will, is a great way to start too. The last thing you want to do is just go up on stage and say, “Thank you. I'm so excited to be here. Did you know that this fact and this fact?” No. Go up there. Be confident. Take a few minutes and pause even because people's attention are going to be right on you. Then you start out with that story, that video, or that question, getting people to raise their hand, those are all good things you can do.
Again check out that video—33 public speaking tips—just look that up in Google. SPI TV episode 16.
Rick, I hope this helps you out and I wish you all the best of luck. Yeah. We're going to send you an AskPat t-shirt for having your question featured here on the show. I also want to thank everybody else out there who has been asking questions because this show wouldn't exist without you. I appreciate you. You can just ask your question right now at AskPat.com. You can go there and check that out.
I want to thank you again so much for listening in. I appreciate you. Merry Christmas to you all. Happy holidays. Here's a quote to finish off the day by Seth Godin, he said, “Are you a serial idea starting person? The goal is to be an idea shipping person.”
Cheers. Take care. Again, as a reminder, check out my book Will It Fly? at WillItFlyBook.com coming soon.
Cheers. I'll see you in the next episode of AskPat. Bye.