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Michael Light: Welcome back to the show, I'm here with Marjorie Saulson and she is an expert at public speaking and communication and she has a history of singing and helping entrepreneurs and other business leaders get their message out and have great presentation skills and overcome their fears. I'm very excited to talk about that because I will tell you, listeners, that all of us do public speaking, and we'll explain what we mean by that little later, not just getting up and doing a presentation. Coming up we're going to look at why powerful verbal communication is key to business success today. How Marjorie defines public speaking because it is not just presentations? Why great speakers use more than just their mouth?
The instant intuitive read of your audience that happens in that critical first two seconds and what you can do about it. What about public speaking makes people so afraid and what can we do about that? And, what is it costing you that you have fears about speaking in public? We'll look at some strategies to reduce that and finally, don't panic, what to do if someone asks you a question that you cannot answer when you're giving your talk? Welcome Marjorie.
Marjorie S.: I'm delighted to be here, Michael, thank you so much for inviting me.
Michael Light: You're welcome. So, why is perfect powerful verbal communication … If I can say it right, the key to being successful in business?
Marjorie S.: Because the only way that you can illicit people to be excited about what you are excited about, and the only way that you can clarify what the mission and the goals are and have a discussion about the best way to strategize and reach them is by talking. You need to be able to communicate clearly. If you can't do that then the people with whom you are working, or who are working for you, are confused and a confused mind always says, “No, that's a kind of a sales mantra,” but a confused person doesn't know what action steps to take, so when you communiclate … Oo! Excuse me. When you communicate, let me get that word out clearly. When you can communicate clearly, you are much more likely to reach the goals that are important to you in your business or in any area of your life.
Michael Light: Successful entrepreneurs and business leaders are able to communicate powerfully?
Marjorie S.: Absolutely, because if you do not communicate why the work you want people to do is important and how you value their work, and if you do not communicate that you are interested in hearing their ideas on how to improve how it's being done, you hamstring yourself; you constrict your possible success.
Michael Light: When you say, “Public speaking,” you mean far more than just standing up on stage with the presentation. What else do you mean by that?
Marjorie S.: I have a very broad definition of public speaking. I think, frankly, that public speaking is anytime you talk to somebody other than yourself. Think about it. You're in a meeting and you need to make a presentation, or you need to answer some questions, or after the meeting we're on a break, you need to talk to some people and find out some information or introduce yourself, or you need to call potential customers on the phone, or confirm orders with people. There are so many different situations. Or you need to go a networking event, say you're in a chamber and you want to connect with other business leaders and other people in your field and promote yourself. All of these situations are speaking in public.
We just tend to think of it as getting up on a stage, but the truth of the matter is that there are some people who are perfectly comfortable getting up on a stage and speaking to a huge audience, and yet, if you ask them to go to a networking event, they have such social anxiety. They're not sure what to say and they don't how to … They're afraid of coming across as sales-y or boring, or their afraid to walk up to people, or they'll never pick up the phone. All of these are public speaking situations and we all have varying degrees of comfort level with these different types of situations. Somebody has no problem with speaking on stage might need help with making phone calls or networking or making presentations.
All of these things are some form of public speaking and it affects it, by the way, Michael, not only in our business life but in our personal life. If we can't communicate well with our family and friends, that negatively affects our personal relationships as well as our business relationships.
Michael Light: This isn't, you know also might include if you're recording YouTube videos or podcasts or anything else, that's speaking to other people too. There's not the interaction element typically there? Though if you're doing webinars, there certainly can be. This really applies to pretty much any business situation where you're not writing or thinking to yourself any time you're interacting with other people.
Marjorie S.: The thing about doing podcasts and videos and stuff is that people record themselves and almost universally decide they don't like how they sound. If you think about it, first of all you don't sound like yourself when you listen to a recording of yourself because when you are listening to your voice as you are speaking, you are hearing yourself from within your head. When you are listening to a recording of yourself, that comes from outside of you and so your voice sounds different.
That's one of the reasons people have a hard time making videos and audios. The other thing is that they don't know certain basic skills of how to make their voice sound more pleasing and resonate, which is another thing I help people with based on my training both as a professionally trained singer and voice actor.
Michael Light: I think there's a lot of skills to take from singing classes or acting classes that can really help in communicating effectively.
Marjorie S.: Absolutely.
Michael Light: We'll look at those a bit later, what people could quickly learn to really improve their speaking. Let's slide into that by looking at why great speakers use more than just their mouth, right? Because you think of speaking and it's like, “Oh, well they're just using their mouth,” but that's not true of great speakers.
Marjorie S.: Absolutely not. I call verbal communication … My metaphor for effective communication is a three-legged stool. If you're thinking of a three-legged stool, if you take away one leg, the stool falls over, it can't do its job. To be an effective communicator you need three things that I call, “What, how, and allow,” and the ‘what' is the message. That comes out of your heart and your mind and your intentions. What is it that you want to communicate? What is important? What do you need to share with people who need to hear what you have to say? That's the ‘what'. The ‘how' is how you present it? Do you read a speech like this and everybody's falling asleep after three seconds and after four seconds they're looking at their watch and saying, “How long is this going to go on?”
Michael Light: After 10 seconds their slitting their wrists, you know?
Marjorie S.: Or snoring. The presentation, and by the way, that's both verbal and written. My joke about ineffective, written communication is if you've … Have you ever gotten an email, Michael, that follows what I call, “The big blob of text in a small font, graphic school of design?”
Michael Light: I haven't read one of those recently, I must be ignoring them.
Marjorie S.: Because everybody does, and so how you communicate, whether in written or spoken language, really effects how well you can get that wonderful message that comes out of your body, heart, and mind, how you use your body to share it but how you can get that message across. The ‘allow' is allowing yourself to do it because on the list of fears in most surveys public speaking is number one. As a matter of fact there's a funny YouTube video of Jerry Seinfeld talking about that and he points out that most people fear public speaking more than death. Then he goes out to say that, “That means at a funeral most people would rather be the body in the box than the person delivering the eulogy.”
That's the ‘allow' part, and that's one of the things that I help people overcome is that fear As long as you are constricted by that fear you cannot share that message, you cannot serve those whom you are meant to serve, you cannot accomplish your own goals, and you keep to yourself and your results small, and people who need your message don't get it. That's the other piece.
Michael Light: When you talked about there's more to successful speaking than just moving your mouth. What other aspects are there? Is the breathing, tonality, body posture, what-
Marjorie S.: Absolutely. Absolutely, the one of the [crosstalk 00:10:39]-
Michael Light: Tell us more about those and any others than you think are important.
Marjorie S.: Okay, sure. One of the first things that I learned from one of my singing teachers is that whether you speak or you sing, your body is your instrument. If you think of your body as your instrument then you better tune it up, so how do you tune up your body so that when you speak you speak … You have a good voice to use? Some of this sounds just like what you were told when you were a kid, “Get enough sleep. You need to be well-rested.” It's like if you were going to get ready to play a sport or big game, you need to be well-rested if you're going to speak. The second thing is hydration. As a rule, practically everyone that I know of is dehydrated and that old [saw 00:11:40] about drink eight glasses of water a day, and my question to you is, “Does this work as well for Pee Wee Herman as Michael Jordan?”
Michael Light: [Crosstalk 00:11:51].
Marjorie S.: No.
Michael Light: No?
Marjorie S.: No, no, no.
Michael Light: If you're Michael Jordan you better drink more because you're bigger.
Marjorie S.: Right, and there is a general rule of thumb that's really hard to accomplish but it is what's necessary for truly adequate hydration, and that is to drink half of your body weight in ounces of water a day. That means if you weight 150 pounds you need to drink 75 ounces of water. The other thing to do is avoid things that dehydrate you. Smoking is really bad for your voice. Forget the lungs and the bad breath and smelly hair and clothes and the wrinkles, it's really bad for your voice. Long before you get any kind of horrible disease you sound terrible, and we all have heard of smoker's cough because smoking definitely affects your lungs. Then the other thing is that you need to think of your voice as if, in a way, it were a pipe organ. A pipe organ, one that is not electronic, needs air. Well, air get pushed through electronically as well I suppose.
The only way you get good sound from a pipe organ is when you push air through the pipes. If you think of your vocal chords, more technically vocal folds, but if you think of your vocal chords as pipes and we very often say of a great singer, “Oh, he's got great pipes.” “So, she's got the pipes.” If you think of your vocal chords as pipes, and you want them to sound as resonant as possible, you need to support the sound with your breath. A lot of people start talking and they take a breath and they don't have resonance in their voice, and you can really hear the difference, can't you?
Michael Light: Oh, absolutely, and that's part of speaking from the stomach that I've learned from singing or acting and-
Marjorie S.: Right, absolutely. The other piece of it, though, is that because we are able to speak without properly supporting the sound with a breath, we end up misusing and abusing our vocal folds. If you are somebody who is continually having a sore throat or continually getting laryngitis, the chances are, number one, you're not getting enough rest, number two, you're not hydrated enough, and number three, you're not supporting the sound with your breath.
Michael Light: Mm? Those are great tips. Does it matter what body posture you have when you're speaking, Marjorie?
Marjorie S.: The short answer is, “Yes.” The thing is that when you are bent over and you are not standing or sitting straight, what you are doing is you are compressing your internal organs and you're compressing your lungs. It's more difficult to take a deep breath that truly goes, you know, pushes your lungs right down into your stomach if that whole area of your body is compressed, so posture definitely has an important part of the physical part of speaking. The other part of it is, is that when you are speaking in pubic, when somebody's looking at you, an erect posture is a posture of authority.
Somebody who is bent over, you're sacrificing visually, your aura of any kind of expert status or authority. If you look at people … The authority posture, and that isn't the kind where you're beating people over the head saying, “I'm the boss,” but when you're sitting up straight or standing up straight, that's an authority position and it helps you breath more effectively.
Michael Light: Posture is important, and we're not trying to have one of those military chest out postures because that would be a bit stiff, I think. You've got to be upright but relaxed at the same time, signifying that you're in authority in the meeting.
Marjorie S.: Actually, I learned a little trick recently that can immediately help you get your shoulders back without anybody knowing what you're doing.
Michael Light: Mm? Do tell.
Marjorie S.: Okay, well your shoulder blades go all the way into your back and if you think about just kind of contracting them a little bit, it immediately pulls your shoulders back.
Michael Light: Oh, yeah.
Marjorie S.: Try it.
Michael Light: Oh, that's cool, so you just push the shoulder blades together on your back and that pulls your shoulders back.
Marjorie S.: Yeah, and I'll tell you something, this is so important for everybody because most of us spend so much of our day at either a desk or in front of a computer or we're writing, and our arms and our shoulders are always forward, so we get into this kind of slump habit which is really bad. It's really bad for your body in many ways and especially if you're going to be giving any kind of presentation, you don't want to be slumped over. You lose an aura of creditability when you do that.
Michael Light: You look afraid, that would be the-
Marjorie S.: Yeah, that's the other piece.
Michael Light: Yeah, so when you go talk to an audience, whether it's in a public, a presentation it it's in a meeting, they're intuitively reading all of this stuff about you from your body posture and your energy.
Marjorie S.: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Absolutely.
Michael Light: Within the first few seconds of you appearing to them, so tell us more about that and what we can do about it, because otherwise we're going to be screwed right? We have a great presentation and we've got done all the breathing and hydration and sleep and all of that, but if we give a bad impression in the first few seconds then I'm going to change their mind about how good a speaker we are, no matter how good a speech we give.
Marjorie S.: The first thing to do is if you are going to speaking somewhere is to avoid what I call speaking land minds. What are speaking land minds? You get there at the last minute, you're frazzled, your stuff is all disorganized. You get up to speak and the microphone doesn't work properly. When you're going to be giving and important talk, anywhere, it's really important to get there minimum, a half hour ahead of time. Ideally an hour so that you can check out the whole venue, check out the mic. Have somebody else stand in different parts of the room to make sure that you are heard everywhere, the bigger the room, the more important this is, and so that you can see exactly where everything is.
When you first arrive, you need to be all put together. There was a recent study showing that … There's this whole thing about making a good first impression and the study was how long does it take for people to get a first impression of you? What really shocked me, Michael, about the results is that in the first two seconds.
Michael Light: Wow.
Marjorie S.: One of things that when you get there early and you meet the organizer, whoever's arranged it, and you have everything arranged, then as people are arriving you can be greeting them at the door.
Michael Light: Mm?
Marjorie S.: When you've reached-
Michael Light: They get that first impression ahead of time.
Marjorie S.: Of you, yeah, and if you are greeting everybody at the door, warmly and with a smile, and if you're not a smiling type at least with a pleasant countenance, not with a grimace that, that really is a very powerful way of giving people a very powerful first impression of you. Now, sometimes that's not possible and you need to be in an audience and you are, say you're a second or third speaker, you're a part of a whole day, that's when it's really important to read the audience and see where they are physically. My husband, Saul, says that, “The mind can only absorb what the tush can endure.”
If I am going to be speaking to a group of people who've been sitting there for an hour or so, whatever, before I even start, I tell people my husband's quote, and then I invite everybody to enjoy a 7th-inning stretch. Get up and stretch. If people are physically uncomfortable, I don't care if you have the skill of the late Winston Churchill, they're going to be … Especially if the chairs aren't too comfortable by the way, Michael, that's the other piece, if they're on some kind of uncomfortable chairs. You need to keep in mind that you want people to be physically comfortable or else they're not going to be able to hear a thing you're saying, they're just …
I was at a concert at a symphony hall. I will not mention the name of the hall, but it had, bar-none, the most uncomfortable seats I have ever been in, in my life. Although it's a world … I was listening to a world-class orchestra in hall with world-class acoustics, it just so happened the program was a miler that went with no intermission for like an hour and half. I have to tell you, the longer it went the less I could appreciate the music because I was physically uncomfortable.
Michael Light: Let's just invite all our audience to have a good stretch now so they can listen to the second half of this podcast, if they're able to stand up where they are, have a stand up and stretch and if you're driving a car or something, obviously, don't stand up because that might cause excitement, but you can still stretch.
Marjorie S.: Be sure of that.
Michael Light: Take a deep breath, you know? The other thing I've noticed in that critical two seconds is if you're being introduced and you're walking on stage, how you walk towards the podium is part of that initial intuitive read people make of you.
Marjorie S.: Absolutely.
Michael Light: Walking relaxed and versus looking like you're about to be executed by a firing squad, makes a big difference.
Marjorie S.: It makes a big difference and the other reality is that before you open your mouth, people have already decided whether they like you or not, so what you're saying is absolutely true. The other thing it helps to think about is that when you are speaking to an audience, you are not giving a talk, per se, you are giving a performance. You need to think of any presentation you make, any talk, as a performance. A performance needs to be interesting, right?
Michael Light: Yep.
Marjorie S.: And, the performer needs to act in concert, or in alignment, with the information that the performer is presenting. Actually, if you think about how people read your body, the best example I can give of that is the most intriguing piece of stage business I have ever seen in any performance in my life. I'm talking about the stage play, not the movie, but the stage play of Amadeus. Have you ever seen that stage play, Michael?
Michael Light: No, I haven't.
Marjorie S.: It was amazing because Salieri is wheeled on to the stage in this very old fashioned wheelchair, totally covered up in a blanket and bent over, you're talking about a [posture 00:24:53], and talking like an old man and complaining about Mozart. Then all of a sudden the actor playing Salieri stands up, throws off the blanket and in a nano-second transforms himself into the young Salieri. It was one of those moments where you, honestly, couldn't believe your eyes. It was such an amazing change of posture and voice and demeanor and his whole aura shifted from this wizened, bent over, complaining, wining, old man into this vibrant young man, you know, testosterone personified. In a nano-second. To me, that was the most powerful example I've ever seen of how much our posture and our demeanor affects how people perceive us and the effectiveness of our performance.
Michael Light: When we say, “Performance,” this could be in meeting or you're talking to someone on the phone.
Marjorie S.: Absolutely.
Michael Light: When you're going to make a sales phone call, sit up straight, change your posture, and I was always taught to smile before making a sales phone call.
Marjorie S.: Absolutely, yeah.
Michael Light: They can feel those things on the phone even though you don't see you smiling, they can feel it.
Marjorie S.: Yeah, and the other thing by the way, and it's nothing that you and I had discussed beforehand, but it is absolutely fatal to read a speech. If you want to bore yourself as well as your audience, take up a script and read it verbatim. I am a trained voice actor, that means that … Voice actors are those people who do commercials and when in the airport, tell you not to package, all of those phantom places that you hear those places. Even though voice actors are professionally trained, when I would go into the studio, and I don't do the voice acting anymore, but anyway, there would be a producer there giving me direction.
I would have a commercial, or whatever, that I would have to read and even with my training I would have to have somebody help me to do it in such a way that it came across as natural conversation. If people who are trained voice actors have to have a producer then don't think that if you don't have the training that you can read a speech effectively. Professional actors who know their script, that is a whole level of skill that most of us don't have and so one of the things I do when I work with people is help them figure out, how can they prepare notes and their talk in such a way that they can get all their points across effectively and sound conversational and not like they're reading a speech and boring everybody to death.
Michael Light: Yeah, so you can write it out but you don't want to read it. You can have-
Marjorie S.: You can write it out but then you need to extrapolate from there the key points you want to get across and not ever take the written version with you because if you use that as a crutch, you will sound boring and you will not be anywhere near as effective as you could be.
Michael Light: Yeah, I would agree with that and I'd even say having the points in a Power Point is less interesting than talking without slides.
Marjorie S.: If you're going to use slides, there are two things to remember. Number one, don't put them in the middle of the stage or wherever, you be in the middle. You're the main person and if you're going to use slides … I like to use visuals, graphics. People like to see graphics and they use visuals and graphics that reinforce the points that you're going to make. If you use graphics that are basically following the outline of your talk, they are kind of visual notes for you to use.
Michael Light: You may still have the bullet points or the outline that you refer to, yourself, on cards or wherever.
Marjorie S.: Right. Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Michael Light: If you show any slides you have images that reflect them. Sometimes I've seen successful people, either they don't have any slides or they have some slides but then they turn off the projector in between those points, like tell a story or whatever else they're doing, or engage the audience.
Marjorie S.: It's a whole other different way of engaging the audience and we tend to be very visual because there's so much that we do that is visual, but people get information really three ways. There are three basic ways; visually, orally, and kinesthetically, and so the more ways we get information the more likely we are to remember it. If you want people to really remember things, one of the things that I learned because I had gotten training as an adult trainer, is if you hand out an outline and people write notes they are going to remember what you say a lot better than … Because there are all of these studies that orally-presented information, after a day we forget about 3/4 of them and by the end of the week, forget about it all together.
Michael Light: Yeah, having people remember and what the … I always think, “What's the most important thing? What's the one thing I want them to remember from this interaction?” They're never going to remember everything and also-
Marjorie S.: No.
Michael Light: As well as the factual thing, what emotion do I want them to feel? To be honest people remember their emotions much better than they remember any-
Marjorie S.: Absolutely.
Michael Light: Points I'm going to make. Yeah, a lot of interesting things there. Let's move on … We talked about how you can be better at speaking but why are people so afraid of speaking in public whether it's at a presentation or in a meeting or on the phone? What is it about speaking that makes people afraid?
Marjorie S.: First of all, it's really important, Michael, to understand what is the real purpose of fear? Because fear does have a purpose or else we wouldn't feel it. The basic purpose of fear is to keep us safe, and it's a very important facet of our lives. I mean fear prevents us from doing stupid things like driving 90 miles down the highway or walking down a dark alley in a bad neighborhood at night. I don't think I'd weak in any bad neighborhood at night let alone in alley, but it keeps us from doing things that are not safe. For people who are in the military or any type of security work or anything like that. They need a really, highly honed sense of what's safe and what's not to keep themselves safe and help them do their job properly, so fear does have a purpose.
The problem is, is that sometimes it over-functions, and it over-functions in situations that are not logically fearful. It doesn't do you any good to say, “Well, you know, there's really nothing to be afraid of. Nobody's going to eat me up or throw tomatoes,” something like that. What we fear in speaking, we fear feeling badly. We fear our feelings. There are three basic ones. You can think of some other ones but they more or less fall under these three. The first thing we fear is we fear judgment or criticism. That's a real old one. These fears basically go back to our childhood because I don't care how wonderful your parents were, at some point they criticized something you said, and teachers have done it and so forth.
We grew up, and part of it was to help us to grow up into civilized human beings but when we got criticized as kids it didn't feel good. That fear is still there because as children we certainly had no capacity to deal with it in any effective way except to feel badly. People are afraid if they put themselves out there and start talking, people will criticize either them or their ideas. There are all kinds of reasons people can fear criticism. The second one is rejection and that's really a primal fear because if we were kicked out of the cave or the tribe back in prehistoric days, that was end. People couldn't survive on their own. I don't know about you, Michael, but I was never exactly athletic and I was always the last one picked when they were picking teams for baseball or something as a kid.
We all grew up with various kinds of rejection, or we couldn't get into the group we wanted to be in, in high school, or we were best friends with somebody who suddenly blew us off and we don't want to feel those feelings again. Rejection or if we're making, say we're making a presentation to a client or we're calling up a prospect on the phone and the person says, “No,” it doesn't feel good. The third, which in a way encompasses the other two, is failure. We're simply afraid of putting ourselves out there and making a fool of ourselves or failing. Those are the fears that, basically, keep us small. Part of the process and the challenge for me is to help people get past those fears so that they can put themselves out there and become really the best people that they can be.
Michael Light: That's wonderful. I'm look at the three of those strategies in a moment but first, how much is fear of speaking, whether it's at a presentation or at meetings or making YouTube videos or whatever, how much is that costing our listeners in their business?
Marjorie S.: It's costing … You can't even count the cost because you don't know how many people you are not reaching and you are not serving when you're not putting yourself out there. The cost is … It can't be counted. It can't be counted. You know, for example, if you don't call any people who are potential clients and, say, you set yourself a goal of calling 10 people a day. Say you get better and better at it and you find your rate of people saying, “Yes” goes up from 1 out of 10 to 2 out of 10 to 3 out of 10. If you've actually tracked your results, and then you stop doing it, then you know. Most people don't even get that far in the process and so people don't know. If you keep yourself the world's best kept secret then all those people who need what you have to offer, they can't take advantage of it, so the loss to me is three-fold, Michael.
First of all, when you don't say or share what you know you have to share, you feel really badly about yourself. We all have had situations, I think, where we wanted to share something or say something and we didn't and whatever the result may have been, for sure, we beat ourselves up afterward. “Oh, I should have said that. I'm so … Oh, I'm so mad at myself. I could have said it, I could have done that. Maybe I could have gotten that job or maybe I could have gotten that sale.” That's the number one loss, here, is that we beat ourselves up emotionally and we lose, in business, potential income besides and new customers and clients and whatever. Then the second layer of loss is the people we could have served who need what we have to offer.
If you think about it, it's really selfish to keep a secret, what you can do to help people because there are people who need you and they need what you have to offer. If you are so scared of sharing that on the possibility that maybe they don't want it right now or need it right now or maybe you're not talking to the right person, then the right people who do need it, they're not served. To me, there's also a third level and layer of loss and that comes out of my tradition, which is the Jewish tradition, which teaches that we are all God's partners in the repair of the world. It's not our job to do the whole job but we all have our little piece of the world that we could make better. One of the ways we make the world better is by coming more into our own strength and power and helping other people when we do that.
Michael Light: I think that's a wonderful thing to do, sharing our light with the world. What unique gifts do we have and how can we help other people with them?
Marjorie S.: Absolutely.
Michael Light: Being able to speak effectively is a key to having that happen in our businesses.
Marjorie S.: Right.
Michael Light: If we have fears about speaking with other people, whether it's a presentation of a phone call or in meetings, what are some strategies we can use to reduce that fear?
Marjorie S.: First of all one of the … The way I feel we deal with criticism is the … Remember I referred to, “What, how, and allow, and what is the message?” Knowing that what you have to share is of real value. Having faith and belief in your message is a wonderful way to inoculate yourself against criticism. If somebody says something that feels like criticism try and reframe it into your minds as a suggestion. Maybe there's something to learn from what this person is saying. Maybe there's a way to improve your message. The other thing you can do, of course, is what my husband calls, “Consider the source.”
You know there are some people who are always critical. There are the carping, bullying, nasty people in this world who are always trying to shoot other people down. If one of those people comes up to you and starts giving you a hard time, ask yourself, “Do I really respect this person's opinion?”
Michael Light: [Crosstalk 00:41:24].
Marjorie S.: If you don't respect the person's opinion then let it go. That person is not worth one iota of your time or your … There are just people, and you know Michael, who spew negative energy so you need to just get away from these people and really understand that they are very unhappy people who go around doing this, of course, and poor them. You don't be the object of their ire and take a look at the people whose opinion you do respect and say, “What can I learn from this? How can I make my message even better?” As far as rejection is concerned, number one, it's important to pick the right audience insofar as you can. I would never go and talk to somebody, some audience, who wanted to know about how to fix computers and try and teach them about public speaking.
That's not the skill they're interested in. Now, if they want to know how to sell their expertise and share their expertise effectively with other people, I could help them with that. If they're not interested in that and they're just geeks who are only geeking and not speaking, they're not the right people for me. Number one is to understand that not everybody needs what you have to share. When people say, “No,” to what you are sharing there's a couple of reasons. Number one, they're not the right people. This is not for them. They don't need whatever it is you're offering. It has nothing to do with you. Your offer may be wonderful but it really has nothing to do with you.
Maybe they need it, and you know they need, it but they don't need it or want it now, or, you need to improve how you present it so that they can really understand what it is you're offering and how it will benefit them. Rejection is a … When people say, “No,” that's another way of learning, “What can I do better? Can I choose better people to share this with who are more likely to need it, or can I get more effective at sharing it, or can I figure out better ways of doing things?” Every time you speak or share something is another opportunity, not only for people to benefit from whatever you're sharing, but another opportunity for you to learn how to do it better and to be of better service to people. At the … Yes, go ahead.
Michael Light: No, you had another one you wanted to mention?
Marjorie S.: Yeah, the other thing is overcoming your fear of doing it. There's all kinds of strategies for that, but the most important strategy, I think, is your mindset. If you come from a mindset of, “Oh, I got to sell this person,” you're just … First of all they're going to pick up on it. People don't like … People like to buy but they don't like to be sold. If you come from a kind of sales persona that, “I need this sale and I got to make my,” you know … That's a sure way to almost guarantee that you're going to fail to get the sale. If you come from a place of service … I learned this actually when I was doing a lot of volunteer work and I've done a lot of fundraising for many years for many organizations and I used to hate calling up and asking people for money.
Then I had to reframe how I thought about it and I thought, “You know, I'm offering these people an opportunity to do a good deed. That's my part. My part is to make that good deed as attractive as possible.” It's the other person's part to decide whether that good deed and that organization fits in with both their budget and their philanthropic interests. If I'm talking to somebody who has all their money going to … I spoke to a woman who, unfortunately, had lost a son and she had created a foundation in his memory and all of her donations went there, and you have to respect that. I have taken that same mindset and I bring it over into sharing opportunities for people to engage with me in my business.
Basically, what my job I feel, is I feel I have something worthwhile to share. I'm out there and I'm sharing it with some people, and for some people they're not interested. It's not something that is a priority for them. It's the other person's responsibility to decide whether or not what I have to offer is a good fit for them. It's my job to make that offer as attractive as possible and to try and find the people for whom I think my offer would be a good fit. If they say, “No,” then I have a fallback position. I just wrote about it, as a matter of fact, my last blog post which was How to Graciously Ask For Referrals Without Stepping on Anybody's Toes. Because if somebody doesn't need your services, doesn't mean that somewhere in their sphere of influence they don't know somebody who could need what you have to offer.
I've come up with a very simple phrase, “Do you happen to know of anybody who might need us?” I just do it as a very soft, conversational sentence and they'll either say, “Yes,” or “No,” and even if they say, “No,” I've planted a seed and maybe sometime down the road they'll run into somebody who needs my services and they say, “Well, you know, you better call Marjorie, I think she could help you.” Even if there's a “No,” it could be, “No,” or it could be, “No, no.” It could be, “No, not yet,” or, “No, but I know somebody else,” or, “Eventually I might know somebody else.” When you take that whole requirement, that's not getting the sale as it were.
If you stop thinking of not getting the sale as a failure, and think about it again as a learning opportunity, “Was I speaking to somebody who really wasn't the right fit from the get-go and I sort of really intuitive that and knew it?” On the other hand even if the person says, “No,” it's still practice.
Michael Light: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Marjorie S.: It's still practice and the more you put yourself out there, the more you share your message, the more comfortable you get with your message, the more you refine it so it's more effective. At the end of the day, the more people you can end up helping.
Michael Light: I think those are wonderful ways of dealing with stage fright or fear of speaking with other people on the phone. So let's … We got the final thing, don't panic. What if someone asks you a question you can't answer? I think everyone who speaks has that concern sometimes.
Marjorie S.: Okay, well let me tell you, Michael, the worst thing you can do is try to fake it.
Michael Light: Why is that?
Marjorie S.: As one of … Actually a couple of my former mentors have said, “Everybody's B.S. meter [is always on 00:49:41].” The people who … On an intuitive level people always know if you're trying to B.S. them, and pardon the vulgar term but that seems accurate. I have come up with a system that has the letters, A-C-E-D. Have you ever talked about, “Oh, I aced that test?” This is A-C-E-D. This is the system. First, the A is for [acknowledge 00:50:14]. “You know, that's a really great question. I never really thought of that.” If you watch people will often, whether or not they know the answer, when you say, “That's a really great question, you're buying your subcon- Because your subconscious will come up with an answer that you don't get right away.
You know how sometimes you think about something later? The other thing about acknowledging the question is it's a compliment to the person who asked it, so it helps grease the wheels of relationship so, “You know that's a really great question.” The C is for clarify because a lot of ties people ask questions that are either vague or really not clear in terms of what their direction is. You say, “Now, let me make sure I understand your question correctly. Do you mean this is so and thus is so, or this is so and thus is so, or something else? Please clarify your question for me.” So that's the C. Then if your subconscious hasn't given you a gift yet, you can … The E is elucidate.
See if you can elucidate and get other people to answer the question. If you're in a meeting, say, “You know, is there anybody else who has some ideas about this, because right now I have to tell, frankly, nothing's coming up for me right now. Anybody else can answer this question?” If there is nobody there then you just say, if there's nobody there, or you can ask more questions about the question as part of the clarifying. The D is for either deliver or delay. The deliver is if your subconscious is giving you the gift and you finally figured out how to answer the question. The delay is to say, “You know, that's a great question, I really understand it. I think it's really important. I need to do a little research on it. It's not something I've studied before, let me get back to you. Will it be alright if I get back to you?” Say, “Within two or three days,” give a specific time frame.
What's really interesting about this is people think that people will think less of them if they don't know everything. It's impossible for people to know everything. When you can sit there or stand there in front of group of people and say, “I don't need the answer, I need to look it up. I need to find it out and I'll get back to you.” That is so powerful, it actually increases your authority and expert status because it tells everybody that when you answer a question you know you know the answer. You are not going to try and fake them out with some phony baloney answer. It's a sign of great maturity to be able to say, “I don't know. I need to look it up. I need to find out about it.”
It's a very powerful thing to do and it's so counterintuitive to us because we all have these delicate sensibilities that we don't want to look like we don't know something, but the reality is that none of us know everything. When you can do that, Michael, you'll give other people permission not to be perfect either. Especially when you're working in a group of people and you're part of a team or if you're the team leader, or you're the business owner, you want your people to feel that it's safe to say, “I'm not sure what the answer is, we need to do more research.” You're going to get much better results from people and they're going to respect you a lot more if you don't come across as the be-it-all/know-it-all smarty-pants.
Michael Light: Yeah, it gets much spaced in the meeting or the presentation doing that.
Marjorie S.: Absolutely.
Michael Light: I think there's a bigger point here which you mentioned which is, “Honesty in the talk.” If something goes wrong in a talk, speak to it, be honest. Everyone knows that something's gone wrong, the microphone isn't working or your laptop died or whatever. If you speak to it, it takes the energy of it away so you don't have to be freaked out about it.
Marjorie S.: Actually, I ran across a quote the other day, and I regret to say I don't remember who said it, but vulnerability equals relatability. I cannot tell you the number of times I have mucked up during a talk and if you can … First of all, if you misspeak, you say, “Oh, I can't believe that came out that way, this is what I meant.” If you can kind of laugh it off, sometimes all it takes is a shoulder shrug and a funny grimace. There's two things, first of all, I think everybody else in the audience is so glad it's you up there instead of them and they're rooting for you. They really are. When people are in the audience, because this is such a universal fear, and they're rooting for you.
Have you ever watched a … Let me give you the perfect example. I have a friend who is a professional juggler and he told me that the very first day in juggling school, one of the first things that the instructor taught them was that, “You will drop something. You will drop something.”
Michael Light: Oh?
Marjorie S.: “There may be performances where you don't drop something but there will be performances where you drop something. You need to be prepared for when you drop something.” What he had the students do, is come up with some type of way of handling it, some sentence, some way of appropriately handling it when they drop something. If you've ever watched a juggler and they drop something the whole audience goes, “Ahh!” Everybody feels so badly for the poor juggler. My friend who's got a lot of savoir faire and a lot of practice juggling by now, says that he periodically drops something and he uses one of his sentences. I went on to ask him, I said, “So what do people in the audience say to you when drop something and you say one of your sentences?”
He says, “Oh, invariably somebody comes up to him and says, ‘Oh, you did that on purpose so you could say that wonderful thing.'” You know, you don't have to be perfect and when you're not perfect you're more relatable and you actually, what's interesting when you goof, which inevitably we all do and if you handle it with some degree of grace and charm, you actually reach the audience on a much deeper level than if you delivered your remarks perfectly.
Michael Light: Mm-hmm (affirmative), I think that's a great thing. I really enjoyed talking with you about how to overcome our fears of public speaking and how that applies to all aspects of our business. If people wanted to learn more about you, how could they find you, Marjorie?
Marjorie S.: I invite anybody who is interested to go to my website, it's the name of my business and it's what I try and help everybody develop. It's vibrantvocalpower.com; vibrantvocalpower.com. When you go to my website you'll see there, there's some free reports. There's one that's right on the website and there's also a popup for my free report, which I really love and I think is a very useful report. It's 10 Powerful Pathways to Overcome Your Public Speaking Fears, even if you have struggled with them for years. You can find that on website, vibrantvocalpower.com. If you wanted to go directly, forget the website and, “Give me the report, I want the report,” I have a URL for that and I love this URL. It's overcomeyourspeakingfears.com; overcomeyourspeakingfears.com. That'll take you directly to a page where you can opt in for that free report.
Michael Light: Well, great. Thank so much for sharing all your tips on effective vocal communication and speaking.
Marjorie S.: It was my pleasure and honor to be a part of your show, Michael, and I truly appreciate your inviting me.