Thomas Green here with Ethical Marketing Service. On the podcast today, we have Dave Bricker. Dave, welcome.
Good to be here, Thomas. Thanks for having me.
It’s good to have you. Would you like to take a moment and tell the audience a little bit about yourself and what you do?
All right, well, I’ll give you the nutshell version so that we don’t burn the whole time talking about me, which isn’t fun for anybody. So as a young man, I met these wacky people who lived on sailboats and they travelled the world, some of them on almost no money. They just decided that you didn’t have to have a movie or a book to have an adventure. I got inspired, and I fell in love with stories. I finished college and by the time I finished college, I was already living on a small fixer upper sailboat that I purchased. And about six months after, I took off with $40 in my pocket, the locker full of food and dreams. It’s been six months boat bumming around the Bahamas came back to the land of clocks and calendars, went back sailing again, jumped on a friend’s boat crossed the Atlantic to Gibraltar and ended up coming back with the stories I’d gone in search of.
Flash forward a few years and a number of books later and things like that and I am a speaker, a presentation coach and a business storytelling expert and I work mostly with professionals and organisations on the art of what to say and how to say it. Well, if I didn’t, I think that that’s fairly obvious from your introduction because it’s I’ve done a lot of prep and you’re very, very competent man at doing that. One thing I did want to ask you about was the books. So, I think that you are a person who has done the most books of all the people I’ve spoken to have you got a secret? My secret is you have if you want to write, first of all, just right, don’t edit while you write because you’ll end up not writing. The second thing is if you want to write you have to steal the hours from the moon, which means you either have to get up very early as I do or you have to stay up very late because there are certain hours of the day where the phone rings and people want your attention and then there are other hours of the day, we’re normal people sleep.
And those are the times that you need to reserve for yourself to be creative. So whether I’m working on a book or like right now, I’m writing a screenplay just because I’ve never done it before and I want the experience, will it go anywhere who cares? I’m having fun. Find that time to be creative and write your book and every book is written one page at a time. If you write a page a day by the end of a year, you’re going to have a pretty fat first draft. Yeah, I did want to ask you about the influence that fiction has had on you? Would you say it’s been a big inspiration regarding the storytelling? Well, absolutely. I mean, I’ve read I’ve read a lot of fiction and I’ve read a lot of nonfiction and in a way it’s all fiction. Because if someone were to ask us three months from now to describe what happened in this interview, we would both come up with very different accounts of what we discussed, depending on our own biases and priorities and just the things that affect what we remember and what we discard.
There’s no absolute universal truth. And I’ve learned a lot about language from reading, Oh Herman, Melville and Conrad and Dickens and classics where you get the real wordsmiths putting things together as well as contemporary writers. I mean, Bill Bryson’s a hoot, but then also fiction books, you a nonfiction books. I love Chris Voss is negotiating as if your life depended. Never split the difference negotiating as if your life depended on it. And that book is full of true stories, how much he embellished or modify them, I don’t know, But it’s all about stories of hostage negotiations and dealing with bank robbers and things as a negotiator and it’s a great way to illustrate the points in the book. So stories come I think most stories are rooted in reality and the ones that are most rooted in reality are very often the least believable ones.
Why do you think stories are such a powerful way of communicating? Wonderful question. Stories are powerful because, well, for a number of reasons we stepped out of the wilderness, What, years ago as a as a civilisation? I mean, we were hunting mammoths and sabre-toothed tigers 10,000 years ago and in evolutionary terms nothing blink of an eye. And of course now we’ve got cell phones and computers and video conferencing in all of this stuff, huge, huge development. But we’re still hunter gatherers at heart. And as such, we’re scanning our environment, We’re looking for threats and we’re looking for opportunities. So if you stand on a street corner and you look up what’s going to happen, someone’s going to come along and say, oh Thomas is looking at something, is something going to fall on my head and hurt me or something going to fall in my hands and make me rich, what is it? So we stopped scanning and we pay attention and when you bring somebody into your story by provoking them to pay attention, they are now scanning for threats and opportunities inside your story.
And you become the guide. So if I take you out in a storm at sea with me, I can engage you and engrossed you in that story and I can give you all sorts of visual cues and audio cues and all of a sudden you’re in that movie but unless you’ve been on a small boat in a storm at sea, there’s another subconscious part of you that’s saying gee I hope Dave gets us out of this situation and you become the guide. So storytelling is where influence comes from and once you’re in a story you’ve got to find out how it ends. How many books have you? Have you gotten Two chapters in all of his books tanks? But you finished it because you had to find out how it ends or movies that this is a terrible movie and 90 minutes later I’m glad that’s over. We can’t pull ourselves away from the story. Well I think the much more modern version of that is like I’m six season in six seasons into a 10 season TV show and I have to finish it even though I don’t want to I have to invest another 100 20 hours of my life on this or whatever it might be happens to me too.
Occasionally the new writers come in and they’ll mess it up so badly that I’ll finally abandon it because they’ve insulted me in the storyline and the characters to a degree that I just don’t want to see them humiliated anymore. We had that happened with some of the series with the writer’s strike years ago in the US where some of the people who came in just butchered the narrative and that was it. I didn’t finish the last couple of seasons, but yeah, I’ll binge watch a good TV series. I took it off in an unfortunate direction though because I think the point was profound. I thought of storytelling very much as this one person is sharing this story with lots of other people. But what you’re saying is actually you’re pulling the audience into your story essentially. Yeah. Although the audience, I mean, you’re engaged, right? I mean, even in the sense of a relationship, who are you engaged to write your connected deeply to somebody?
And when you tell a story, as long as your journey is a metaphor for the audience’s journey, then they’ll continue to pay attention if you get up and you just talk about yourself after a while, like okay another narcissist let him have his fun on the stage or let him do his therapy on the stage. I’m going to go back to checking my email. But if your journey, whether it’s climbing mount Everest or running a marathon or crossing the ocean is a metaphor for the challenges that your audience has to meet, they’re going to pay attention because you’re telling your story about them, Do you make a distinction between a parable and a story or do you think that they are the same thing? I think a parable is a type of story. I make a distinction between what I call an anecdote and a story. So an anecdote is your, it’s kind of a news article? It’s journalism. So yesterday in town ex a bank was robbed, and they got away with $200,000.
Okay, there’s no story there. It’s simply I told you that something happened, then you might be concerned about that. And if you live near that town, you might want to stay away from your bank until they apprehend the thief. But there’s no, there’s no story there because there is no conflict and there’s no transformation and therefore there’s no journey. So I think of an anecdote is journalism and storytelling. His journey is interesting just to pull it back to what we discussed beforehand, which is the audiences business owners when you became a more effective speaker. What did that allow you to do? How has that changed things for you? A lot of different things because presentation skills, you know, we talk there’s a lot of focus on what to say about how to say. It is so critical and So I know for me, look, I’m an introvert and it surprises people to find out that I’m an introvert.
But look, I lived on a sailboat for 15 years. I invented introvert and one of my worst nightmares is going to one of those networking meetings where I’m scanning the room trying to find someone who’s not already engaged in a conversation with someone else and I’m trying to think of some way to start the convo, so what do you do? Hi, I’m Dave, it’s like, okay, I don’t really care what they do. It’s not, I mean this, this idea that I’m going to qualify. Oh, you’re a realtor, your financial advisor. Well, that’s great. Maybe you’re not my target, nice talking to you. I mean, it’s difficult to just get into those for a lot of people. Some people thrive. They love being running around the room networking, not for me, but if I can get on the stage, if I can be the presenter and I can offer value to everybody in the room and give people skills ideas, concepts that they can take away and put to work in their business the next day, then the people who are great prospects for me are going to come up to me on the stage after my presentation and say let’s talk, do you offer this, where can I get more?
So it’s incredibly efficient to network from a platform and have those skills. Another thing is it really teaches you to be people focused and audience focused because in sales, so many of us end up talking about prices, processes ingredients data and the number one rule of storytelling, the golden rule is that stories are always about people. So if you’re not talking about people, you’re not telling stories and if you’re not telling stories, you’re not connecting and if you’re not connecting, you’re not selling. So there are some business concepts for you. And let’s examine that Word selling a little bit too because there’s a lot of confusion around it and some people are even uncomfortable with it because we all hate feeling sold to. But anyone who’s asked someone for a gate is selling, Anyone who’s asked for a race or tried to get a job is selling, selling is not the process of getting people to part with their money selling is getting people to listen to you and value what you have to say or what you have to offer and the transaction is a by-product of that.
I think when people give these data dumps, sales pitches or they talk about all the features, but no benefits. They’re not talking about people and they wonder, wow gave them all the information they needed to make a decision how come they didn’t buy because they disengaged because you weren’t talking about them and their needs and their journey. It’s a great point. So if there were to be someone out there and they like their data for example, they like dealing in that type of thing when they quote unquote cell, what would you say to them? So let’s take an example and I’m just going to improvise this, so it’s not going to be perfectly smooth. But a lot of people are familiar with WordPress as a platform for building websites, I forget how many hundreds of millions people are currently using WordPress for website. And I could say something like the techie thing. WordPress is this wonderful piece of open source software which means that there’s a huge developer community involved with creating it and advancing it.
It is written in PHP with is a free scripting language and it uses my SQL database format, which is also free and open to the public. Now, most people who know nothing about technology are pretty bored by this. They don’t care about my SQL and PHP and all of this technobabble. But if I was talking to a group of business people about the merits of WordPress as a platform, I would say something like, have you ever wanted to design and edit your own content? Let me introduce you to a free platform that will help you accomplish just that. WordPress as a hue is free. It’s got a massive developer community and there are endless add-ons to WordPress that let you create a mailing list, a shopping cart, a photo gallery, pretty much anything but scratch and sniff. So if you’re looking for a way to create your next website without spending a lot of money and becoming dependent on your developers give WordPress to try.
So what I’ve done is I’ve appealed I’ve sold WordPress as a solution because people are afraid of technology and when they hire a web designer, they feel like, oh now every time I want to make a change, I’m gonna a have to write a check to these geeks and I want control. So you offer this as a solution and you let them know that you identify with their fears and that you have a solution to their problem. Not a bunch of data, of technology that they can be even more afraid of by the time they’ve heard your pitch would you say it’s another way of focusing on them? Yeah, it’s really look you’re either talking about your customer or you’re talking about yourself and if you’re talking about yourself, nobody’s going to listen for very long. I heard a speaker talk about his ascent to the top of Mount Everest and he was a very dynamic speaker and it was fascinating.
I mean Mount Everest, that’s a big deal, right? Well, notwithstanding the fact that 4000 people have been to the top of Mount Everest, I mean I guess that maybe diminishes it a little bit, but he had a great story. But after a while I looked around the room and people were starting to check their cell phones because it’s a guy climbing a mountain but he never brought it home to the audience. What about the mountains we have to climb as we develop our businesses as we pursue new clients as we deal with tough customers. We climbed so many mountains. I can see mountain climbers on Netflix. I don’t need to sit in an auditorium and share air with a bunch of people. So it’s so important to I call it, vote yourself off the I land and explore the world in a U boat. I like that. What would you say that he did wrong as a speaker? He talked about himself without making his journey up the mountain metaphor for the audience’s journeys. He could have hit that frustrating, you know, God I was 500 ft from the top and that storm was coming in and I knew that the smart thing to do was to turn around and try it again another day and lived to tell the tale.
Have you ever felt like that in your business? Like you are right on the cusp of success and then something happens and you’ve got to make that tough decision. You either count your losses and go back and try again or you take the big risk because you’ve got so much invested and you just go for it. Now all of a sudden there listening because the speaker is talking about the audience and a situation that they can relate to emotionally. We’re coming back to your story. I wanted to ask you about when you went sailing. How old were you when, When I started, I was 24 years old when I actually took off and went from Miami to the Bahamas and for people who don’t know the geography actually the initial crossing between Florida and the Bahamas is only 45 miles now. It’s 45 miles over some deep and dangerous water with a current, but it’s an overnight passage. But even so it’s a different country and it’s a different world.
And what was the catalyst for that? Why did you decide to do it? Well, I had met all of these wacky boat hippies, these characters And they all talked about, Oh, the Bahamas is wonderful. And many of our listeners may have been in the Bahamas on a cruise ship or flown a paradise island and stayed in the hotel and casino. But there are over 700 islands in the Bahamas and it’s. the water is crystal clear and it’s like landing in this gigantic impressionist watercolour painting with, with saturated colours and it’s an amazing magical landscape and it’s one that most tourists maybe get a glimpse of. And I was enchanted by the idea of this and I had to see it for myself and it did not disappoint when you were starting off. What was, what was going through your mind at that point? I mean when I first left. Yeah, well, I think a lot of the things that would go through anybody’s mind. Wow, I’m out in a tiny boat in the gulf stream.
What if something happens? Oh my God, I’m gonna, tomorrow morning I’m gonna be in a foreign country and I don’t have a lot of money. How are things gonna work out? Are my navigating skills up to stuff? I mean, look, this is the human condition, right? We all battle the voices of self-doubt every day. Unless we’re narcissists. I mean, most people I know we’re always questioning ourselves. So I think, I think it was, and the other thing was going through my head was men and my seasick. It was, it wasn’t a fun crossing that first crossing. But you make it to the other side in the morning and the trees come up over the horizon where they’re supposed to be. This is in the days before GPS and navigating was kind of fun because you’re trusting your compass and your, your chart dividers and your paper chart and you’re hoping you’re on course. And then About 5:00 AM, there’s a little red light, that’s the radio tower at West End.
And I mean, Hey, this worked. I found my way out of out of sight of land and there’s a joy that comes with doing that. Do you encourage other people to do it? I think I encourage people to do it in their own way. There are a lot of people who hate the water, don’t do this. Don’t make yourself miserable. There are and it’s also not something you just get a boat and do, I spent, I spent some time sailing up and down Biscayne Bay in Miami and running aground and breaking the boat and getting into trouble. It wasn’t like I just bought a boat and took off. So learn the ropes. But for some people maybe they’ve never spent the night sleeping under the stars. So go camping with the family or whatever and experience that go to a campsite and put up a tent and cook on a barbecue and go, hey, this isn’t any big deal. But hey, I survived a night without air conditioning in a couch. Some people are, they want to go see the desert, hike the canyons and some people want to um, okay, some people want to go ice climbing, whatever your thing is, find what calls to you and do that.
I don’t think everybody should repeat the, the exact same voyage that was meaningful to me. But I do think people should find a time to get off the grid, leave the land of clocks and calendars for a day or two and go experience the world in its natural state. Was there a point where you decided enough was enough and you didn’t want to do it anymore. Yeah, I think after that first six months I kind of just felt like, okay, I’m here, but I’m not really feeling the urge to go for example, to the Caribbean. So I went to The Abacos, which is the northern Bahamas and I hung out there for a while and kind of got the lay of the land and built my confidence. I sailed down to the Exumas, which is a chain of islands, you know through past Nassau, down to the islands that are south of Nassau. And then at a certain point I thought I’m just not feeling the urge to go on down to the Caribbean or anything, I’m feeling the urge to go home, make a little bit of money, regroup.
And so I sailed back to Miami, and I ended up working in Washington DC for six months and after six months in the big city, I thought boy was I stupid, I could have been in the Bahamas. So I went back to Miami, jumped back on the boat, went back over, spent I guess eight months in The Abacos and then jumped on my friend’s boat and off we went to Europe. And so I think you can, you can plan a journey where you say, okay, I’m going to go away for 2.5 weeks or 2.5 months or you can plan a journey and all roads lead home at a certain point. You wake up in the morning and say this is great, I want to keep going or have had enough for now. Time to take a break. There’re no rules. You ever see yourself going back out there like that. Oh, I’d love to go back out there like that. I just don’t want to do it now on a tiny little boat and be a boat bum and of course that was great for that time of my life for my 20’s and now there’s so much, there was no internet, there was no Wi-Fi back then.
Now there’s a lot that I could actually do from a boat. I love the idea of having a boat with a small green screen studio that I could put together quickly and keep on creating content. And because I love my work and even working with individuals and teams and things like that, I think being on a boat would have the novelty. Right now. I’ve got other fish to fry in my business and my family life and it’s not time for that, but eventually, I think it would be fun to have that option. Again, if you could take one lesson from your time at sea, one parable, if you will, what would you say? It would be? I would say that if you’re not afraid in some way, you’re not living life and that too many of us keep asking what if what if and we fall into this paralysis through analysis thing where we’re so afraid that something is going to happen, something bad is going to happen, that we basically don’t live our lives fully. We don’t get out in the world, we don’t take risks.
We don’t take chances and we don’t end up being very fulfilled. And ironically, some of the people who, oh, I would never sail across an ocean. Uh, you could sink, you could hit a storm. You could this, you could that And these are the people spending two hours a day driving on the expressway and statistically there in far more danger than I ever was crossing the ocean And look, something’s going to get you one day. The odds of death are 100% right. But you know, which, what I was more afraid of getting old and looking back and regretting the things that I hadn’t done because I was too afraid to do them. Well, thank you for sharing a bit about your story. Anyway, oh, happy to, I was just coming back to the business side of things. what would you say are the, the things which the best speakers all have in common with each other? The best speakers know what to say and they also know how to say it. So apart from storytelling skill and having a good message that really serves the audience.
They understand. For example, just openers, here’s a bad opener. Today, I want to talk to you about presentation skills. I already referenced myself and what I want and at this point the audience doesn’t care. But instead, if I were to ask a question, have you ever considered the impact of presentation skills on your business? Now there’s a long pause after that question for a reason because a good speaker knows not to step on the answer. If I leave the space, if I create a vacuum, then my audience is thinking no, I’ve never thought about that, I wonder what that impact is. So asking a question, Have you ever wondered, fill in the blank? Have you ever wished? Have you ever wanted to imagine a world where fill in the blank all of a sudden you’re engaging people by asking them to think by asking them to wonder, you’re engaging their curiosity and you’re leaving a pause and sometimes it’s a very long pause that really makes them lean over in their chair.
The other part thing that speakers learn to do well if so many speakers put on their radio voice and they talk like this and they say, here’s what you gotta do and then I did this and then I did that and you could do this and you could do that, but there’s no dynamics, there are mono dynamic and instead you could take a line, this is a line I use in coaching. Have you ever wanted to speak out? But we’re afraid to say anything. Now there’s two actions in this right there speaking out and there’s being afraid so you could coach somebody, for example, to make the first line big. The first part big speaking out and then that long pause followed by feeling that fear. So it ends up sounding something like, have you ever wanted to speak out, but we’re afraid to say anything. And all of a sudden you’ve engaged same words. But when I read the words the first time, when I spoke in the first time, like, okay, those are great words.
They might work in a speech. But when you deliver those words with the big and the small, the high and the low, the mild in the wild and you add contour. It’s like taking a rectangular building, which is boring and you’re adding a carport awning and maybe some little window shutters on it or awnings over the windows or maybe a back porch. Let’s take that, put a second story on it. But let’s make it cover half the first story. So there’s a little deck up there all of a sudden this building becomes interesting. So dynamics of your intensity, your pauses, your volume and then, and then just the timing and being sincere about what you say. Do you have any mentors? I’ve got some wonderful mentors, this is not stuff I figured out on my own. Bruce Turkel is a good friend of mine, he’s a Hall of Fame speaker. He’s taught me a lot Kelly Swanson is a masterful storyteller and I’ve learned by watching speakers like Bill Stanton and others who just be, they’ve been doing the stage thing for a long time, they really, really Jason.
Hewlett, some of them are naturally talented. They’re just Savants, Some of them have really studied the art of connecting from a stage and look the beauty of this is what I’m talking about, people being on stage. But this can work if you’re a realtor presenting a house to someone, you’re driving around the neighbourhood to show properties too. This can work in a conference room and obviously you don’t want to get too theatrical in a conference room because it looks kind of weird right there. There are different levels of intensity here. But business people are people and they don’t like to be bored and nobody, so many people subscribe to this mythology that corporate means you’ve got to be boring and look, business people go out drinking on Friday night. They like, they like sports, they like sex, they’re human beings, they like to be engaged and entertained. They don’t like to be bored their people and if you want to get your message across to them, make them laugh, make them think, make them feel because otherwise they’re gonna be sneaking a look at their cell phone to see if there’s a better opportunity coming their way, a lot of people sneak a look at their cell phones, even when they are interested in doing things, right, if there’s something important.
But if you really engage somebody, if I’m telling you my story about dodging freighters and cruise ships in a storm in the middle of the gulf stream. I’ve seen people look visibly seasick, they are so deep in that story and nobody’s touching their cell phone if you’re an engaging speaker Unless, unless the phone vibrates and it says 911 and it’s from your kid, you’re not touching that cell phone. It can wait because you are fully in the story. Think, think about being in a movie, a really exciting movie. You don’t check your email in the middle of the movie if the movie is exciting. No way. Uh, okay, somebody call, I’ll get back to that. I want to see what happens to so and so, and we’re engaged and we don’t like being pulled out of that space. I agree in terms of being in the mind of the person watching, I’m thinking, you know, they’re sold on the concept like I think Dave is an amazing speaker. I’d love to do what Dave does, but I’m just like right at the beginning of this process, what would, what would the first few steps be for that person?
Well, first of all, we were all born not knowing how to speak a word. Right? And yes, some of us develop more facility with language. I would say your first step is to find a local Toastmasters chapter Toastmasters is a wonderful organisation. It’s got 360,000 members around the world. There’s a chapter near you. It’s the most affordable professional development in the world and start going every week. Most of the chapters are virtual these days because of Covid. But I expect we’ll see some in person meetings opening up next summer and just go listen to speeches and you’ll get a lot of coaching and mentoring there and there’s a good online program called pathways that goes with it. The second thing is, especially if you are speaking as an executive and you need to address your team or even a manager where you’re trying to run productive meetings or especially if you’re pitching large projects.
I’m amazed at the number. For example, big construction companies will pitch these 789 figure project products, projects, big buildings, things like that and they won’t get a presentation coach and they all end up going in and doing lookalike presentations that have slides full of all the stuff that the customers already read on their website. So get a coach when the stakes are high, get a coach, work with a coach and then use your Toastmasters club as a way to practice that stuff in front of an audience. Now. Coming back to what you said about Covid, how has your business changed as a result of what’s been happening? Well back last March, I saw the writing on the wall and I was kind of surprised that a lot of people didn’t, I’m not clairvoyant, I’m not all that insightful, but I said, look, this disease is spreading and I kept watching as people refused to take effective safety measures because we don’t want to shut down the economy.
Look if we sent everybody home for four weeks back in March, this thing would have been over last year. Right Back when there were, I mean, I’m here in the US and I remember when there were 36 cases in the country and then they tested the people on the cruise ship and then they let them off the cruise ship before they had the test results. I mean, so the mismanagement of this thing and the denial around it is just off the chart. So I thought, okay, I’m gonna be home for a while. And I watched my speaker colleagues, everybody’s calendar dried up as events were cancelled. And so I thought I’m going to use this time to develop my virtual, my on screen presentation skills. So I set up my green screen studio. It’s all very homemade. It’s not high tech, it’s not high cost but updated my cameras, my microphones, learned a little bit about lighting, spent some time at YouTube University getting educated about how green screens and chroma keys and lights and all of this stuff works and started developing content from here and being able to present from here in a way that goes beyond talking heads.
Well, I complimented you originally on the background. I think it’s very professional. Thank you. So we do a lot of training in our business with new people. How would you say storytelling impacts the concept of training. I think storytelling and training of course there’s the idea of training people to tell stories, but it’s the same thing, so many people come in and there’s, let’s face it, if you’re in corporate development, professional development or hr there are things that you need your employees to learn and a lot of its OSHA stuff, they probably you got to tick the box, they’ve got to have sexual harassment training, They probably need ethics training and you already know that the employees are walking into the meeting saying, I don’t need this. I know how to do the right thing, I know not how to touch people, how to not touch people inappropriately. Why are you making me do this training? And of course there are other kinds of training that I’m not saying people don’t need training and the other things, but they don’t think they do.
And then there are other things. If the training is not engaging or interesting, there’s no value in it. Maybe somebody can tick off the box and say, okay, we can get our certification this year because we exposed our employees to X, Y, Z training. But if the storytelling is good, then the employees engage and they get value out of the training. Well, I didn’t think of it from that perspective in the sense that if it’s boring training, you can make it actually interesting from the stories you tell. That’s an interesting perspective how many teachers in school and look if you got a master’s degree and whatever your topic is, I don’t care if it’s math or accounting or chemistry ideally you got that advanced degree in your topic because you had some passion for the topic and yet these teachers with expertise and knowledge compassion come in and bore generations of kids to death. We’ve all been in those classrooms and then we’ve had other teachers where gee I wish I wish Mr Smith taught plumbing, I take it I don’t care I just want more classes with Mr smith.
The stories are great, the information is great. I always leave inspired and teachers don’t think of themselves as professional speakers though they often do more hours on the platform so to speak in front of an audience than people who are professional keynote speakers do. I was a university professor for a long time and I tried not to be boring but I didn’t have these skills and I didn’t think of myself as a professional speaker, trainers, educators. You’ve got to get those presentation skills or all that knowledge is going to stay in your head and you’re going to burn up a lot of people’s valuable time. You said you’ve been doing a lot of podcasts lately. How’s that been for you? It’s been a lot of fun. It’s fun to get out and try to share value with a lot of people I find that different hosts. Some people are very informal and then some people they’ve got the music, the intro music and the whole bit and they’re just different levels and people are looking for different things, it’s always a fun challenge to engage and of course to try to serve the audience.
I know we’ve got a business audience today, we’ve talked about sailing adventures and things like that, but my real hope is that we’ve kept people engaged with the stories, but also made them think about their own stories and especially how those stories relate to their business. Well, on that note, is there something that you feel that would be valuable to the audience that we haven’t discussed? I mean, I could go deeper into storytelling, but I think that most, most of all I’d say repeat this idea, we all battle the demons of self-doubt and if you’re nervous about getting up and being a presenter, guess what? Your normal be nervous? Being nervous is not going to cause you physical pain and it’s a condition that can be gotten over with practice. I’m still nervous. I just turned that nervous in the service. I turned that nervous into energy and bring that out and it’s something that I wasn’t always able to do. And I’ve seen pathologically shy people three months after their, after they’ve been practicing this, they’re up in front of the room waving their arms and being dynamic and this is a person, but yep, it’s not that they’ve put on an affectation, it’s like they’ve let their true authentic self out.
That’s the part about coaching speakers that I like the most, it’s not teaching people how to be something. They’re not, it’s teaching people to be more of something they are. There is a think a negative connotation to the concept of a pitch. So in some cases some people are teaching how to tell story, a story at the beginning of a pitch and it’s getting a reputation for people who are perhaps not ethical. so I think you touched on something which is incredibly important, which is the being authentic. I think that’s paramount. I’m one of those people where if I start feeling sold to, if I start feeling like you gave me a bait and switch and you showed me some shiny object or gave me the really great come into the free workshop and like, okay, well how would you like to upgrade your participation to the next status or whatever? And I start the up cells and funnels. Now, I’m cynical about that stuff and some people just swallow the hook over and over.
But yeah, I think it’s very important to be ethical about things and there’s not a problem with up selling people as long as you deliver on your promise. That’s the difference between a salesperson and a con artist very often they use the same methods, but the salesperson delivers on their promises. Can I ask about what your business goals are? My business goals are to scale what I’m doing so that I can serve more people. And I love my coaching. Business events are opening back up so I’m going to regrow my key noting and workshop business, which has been largely on hiatus because of Covid, but it’s given me time to put the, The virtual presentation skills together and then I want to be able to serve more people cheaper. So I’ve launched something called 52 speaking blunders.com, which is weekly subscription training content. It’s $10 a month for a video once a week and I include a bunch of freebies with it up front so that people can cancel if they don’t like it.
So it’s risk free. But the idea is to put these principles into practice where it’s not just a video, here’s how you do this, here’s how you do that. Here’s what could go wrong. It’s, here’s a situation that I found myself in or another speaker found themselves in where There was a disaster or a potential disaster. Here’s what the problem was and here’s how we can fix it. And I love this model because people can watch for 3-5 minutes a week and they can grow no books to put on the nightstand in the stack and abandoned, no courses to buy and never open. It’s easy and it grows your skills over a period of time. So you mentioned you do 1-1 coaching as well though. Absolutely. Is that rewarding. I love it. I love it because I mean I used, I don’t know how many books I’ve edited, I used to do a lot of editing of books and as much as I enjoy that, it takes months to transform, sometimes years to transform a writer as you go through the rewrites and you go through this and you go through that when you work with speakers, the transformation happens in hours and there are speakers I’ve worked with for a long time, but from the beginning of the session to the end of the session, they become much better speakers because we work on those pauses, let’s just take this one line today and all of a sudden they leave feeling empowered and Then they rewrite the rest of it and it comes out better.
So as far as delivering fast transformation, I, I can’t imagine ever letting go of my 1-1 coaching business. Have you got a favourite example in particular? One of my favourite examples is a Lee Andre. This is a guy with natural talent and he’s a preacher. So he has some speaking experience from speaking in his church, but he’s just got presence and I was, this is through Toastmasters, He was the test speaker for an evaluation contest and he told this story of how he was a kid who stuttered and the coach put him in the football game and he couldn’t call the play but and he had such presence, he was such a big speaker and I said Errol, you need to remember to be a small speaker so that when you hang your head and the kids are making fun of you and you drop that helmet and you walk off the field that we can feel the depth of it because you’re big and you’re bold, but you’re not bringing it down.
Well, Errol and I became friends after that and I worked with Errol and I’m not taking any credit for Errol because he’s all talent but he studied hard, we worked on this, he finished in the top 28 out of 30,000 contestants in the World championship of public speaking and he’s climbing the ladder for next year’s presentation. He’s on his way up and he’s three levels up the contest. The next one is the district, which is Orlando south to Key west, including the Bahamas, it’s a lot of people and so he’s getting into the one more and we’re kind of in the big leagues, the top levels of the contest and he’s got a great speech and he works at it, he practices it and he’s willing to take apart every pause and every word and finesse it and repeat it and he does the work and the result is just magical and when we win the contest, who knows who the judges are. But he’s now making big steps into the world of professional speaking and uh, I couldn’t be prouder of him and more gratified to have worked with him.
It’s a great one. This next one’s a selfish one for me. Have you got any tips on eliminating the arms? It’s interesting. I’ll take you back to Toastmasters and it doesn’t work so well on the virtual level, but when you’re in a physical room with the Toastmasters, a Toastmasters meeting, when you use filler words. Um, so like, you know all these sounds that we make, usually there’s someone with a little pet trainer with a little clicker and you get tired of being clicked and then you become self-conscious and you start listening to yourself and all day long for about a week and a half. You’re running around clicking yourself in your head every time you speak and you’re driving yourself nuts and then that the filler words go away and it’s just that it’s kind of a painful process. It’s annoying but their habits and like any habit if you got a little electric shock, you’re going to unlearn that habit really quickly every time you do something and this isn’t as painful as that, but it’s, it’s annoying and I wouldn’t normally prescribe negative reinforcement for anything, but I’ll tell you it works an elastic band around the wrist maybe, yes, snap it something, but it’s, you know, it’s amazing how many people who are professional speakers and have no idea what’s coming out of their mouth and you have to become self-aware, you have to listen to your dynamics.
You have to even watch videos of yourself which none of us like the sound of our own voice. We don’t like watching ourselves on video. Right. Did I really look like that? Did I really sound like that and you get over it and you learn from it?
Well, considering I edit my own videos, it’s pretty difficult to avoid that, unfortunately. But yeah, Dave Bricker, where is the best place for people to find you?
Two places. One is storytelling.com, where you can find out more about me and my keynotes in my workshops and programs in general. And then the other one is 52speakingblunders.com, which is the training program.
Well, thank you very much for all the value today.
Hope you enjoyed it, Thomas. I had a great time. I enjoyed our visit.
Great stuff. And I will speak to you soon, Dave.
Great, thanks for having me.