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public speaking

In Conversation with Dex Hunter-Torricke 1024 1024 Lisa

In Conversation with Dex Hunter-Torricke

In Conversation with Dex Hunter-Torricke

LW: Today’s guest is Dex Hunter-Torricke, he is the head of communications for the oversight board, the independent body established in 2020 to make binding decisions on Facebook and Instagram’s most challenging content issues. During his career Dex has served in a string of high-profile roles across the tech and policy worlds, including as head of communications for SpaceX, head of executive Communications for Facebook including four years as a speechwriter for Mark Zuckerberg and as Google’s first executive speechwriter where he supported Eric Schmidt, and Larry Page Dex is a New York Times bestselling Ghostwriter and frequent public speaker on technology issues. Welcome.

DEX: Hi Lisa, good to be here.

LW: My first question here, can you run us through your process of developing content for someone else?

Dex: Sure. And I like that, we started with that because I find whenever speech writers, get together, what’s your process? is sort of the code for saying hello, every speech writer…you know, recognizes just how important the process is and, you know, how integral that is to, you know, be able to do your job. Well, you know, it’s the old cliche. I don’t think there is one set process. There are things that I like to do and I think, you know, lend themselves to a good process. And I think, you know, the most important one is starting by listening deeply. And, you know, listening not just to the person you’re writing for but also, you know, being attuned, to the organization and the context in which that speech is going to be delivered.
But, you know, there’s not one right way to go about doing this. And, every speaker, every organization, every industry has very, very different processes and, speechwriters have to be able to adapt to changing circumstances. I do think that the one universal truth really is, you know, if you can listen deeply and, start by listening more than talking, gathering all the pieces of string you need to weave the speech together that often leads to a better outcome and it’s something that isn’t always done. Well, I find in a communications context, you know, a lot of speech writers, find themselves in the role somewhat accidentally, you know, they tend to come up through public relations or they come up through, government service, and they might do speech writing as 10% of their job which or 15% of their job and in the other parts of their job in the other 80% of the job, they might often find. They need to talk a lot and actually it’s knowing when to shut up. That’s often very, very important to being able to give a good speech.

LW: So, it sounds like what you’re saying is you’re in the room, you must have been listening, the listening part to the company, the organization and what not, and you’re really listening to what from the speaker? listening to what they want to say? what is their objective? What is the goal of this particular speech? What are the things you’re listening for?

Dex: Yeah, I mean you hit the nail on the head.

If you want to write for a thought leader and you want to meet them before the debate you have to really being able to understand the intellectual world view of the person you’re writing for. But what are the things that really drive the person that you’re writing for of? How do they see the world? You know, how do they see the issues that you’re going to be presenting your speech? You know, incredibly deeply? That’s the core…I’m making a good speech, the actual combination of words. That’s the easy part. That’s the piece that, you know, you can develop, I think much faster than actually coming up with great ideas, which then inform the content.

So, when I’m listening, I’m trying to get a sense of who’s this person and trying to build a relationship with that person. So that when they want to talk I at least have a starting point for understanding how they might see that.

LW: And then for those people that you have been working with or had worked with for years? I assume that there’s a beginning and then at a certain point you get into maybe a groove with them because you do get to know somebody.

Dex: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, you know, that’s the example, I would give is Eric Schmidt, you know, Eric was the first person I wrote for when I came to Silicon Valley, you know, the beginning of 2011 and you know, I had previously been at the United Nations. I was writing for folks who were heads of state and heads of government your ambassadors, UN officials and the style of speaking, you know, in the Diplomatic World utterly unlike you know the tech industry, of course. One set of folks here, talks in very stilted language, you know, which is literally ripped from a diplomatic code. And, you know, the other is trying to come up with, thoughts that move the world and things that, you know, are more proactive, agendas about society. And with Eric, I wrote my first speech, much more informed by where I have come from here from my, um, experience. And he took one look at this and, you know, he was like, what the hell is this? And yeah, it was a complete disaster. I got incredibly embarrassed; I was very nervous. I was like, “oh my God, he hates my writing” and it took me two or three speeches before I got into the groove.

LW: That’s relatable to so many different Industries though, right? When we come into a space where we might be a little intimidated by the person. I’m not saying that you articulated that you were intimidated but you said you were nervous. When the person is a very well-established person or just somebody you don’t yet have rapport with it can make you nervous.

But everything is a journey. I mean, with Eric Schmidt, maybe you went home that day. After you felt. Oh God. He said this is terrible and you looked up his video of the first time he has a video of him public speaking. You thought? Well, at least it wasn’t that terrible.

I want to recap just a little bit for those people out there who might be in the same situation. You are listening, well, actively listening to the person and to the org, and then nailing the thoughts and nailing what their worldview is, or at least really understanding it. And then you’re going to go into writing…. I know I’m making the simplistic but it’s a 30-minute show, so you know.

Dex: Another point I make for anybody who’s struggling with this, the actual mechanics of writing a speech, they’re relatively fast, I mean, if you wanted to just write a 20-minute talk, now it’s 3,000 words, you know, speaking for about 150 words a minute, which the average, you know, you could easily nail that, you know, in less than an hour, but it will be complete rubbish. Unless you’ve actually taken the time to build that intellectual foundation to come up with great ideas and coming up with those ideas that takes time.

So before you rush to get a draft out on paper. You know, you want to really spend as much of the time as you can on those ideas. You know, a lot of folks, you know, when they’re writing for executives because they do get nervous and there are hierarchies involved. And so on, they think I’ve got two weeks to do this speech, I should get them a first draft. You know, the next couple of days to show that I’m really on the ball and that always struck me as not a good way to work. You know, you’ve got two weeks. You know take as much time as you can out of that process to you know, do something quality. If you take three or four days or you take a week you might have something that’s way better. And you’re going to be in a much stronger starting point before you start having to iterate with the speaker.

LW: I just want to acknowledge that might be the easy part for somebody else. It might not and so we might not be on the same page here, we might, but I want to say that when I have to write a talk for myself, for instance, I see the blank page and nothing happens.

Now if you give me, if you give me Hamlet, I can cut Hamlet down to 35 minutes and make it a great production. If you give me a speech…which many people do who hire me, I can cut and reshape it and all that. That’s not a problem. But when I’m going to write for myself, suddenly my skills completely out of the window. I don’t know how I don’t have a process that works for me and so I want to speak a little bit about that, you know, maybe and again I’m asking not you can answer in a general way like well for most people, this is how they seem to do it but I also want to know for you when you’re writing for yourself. What is unique about it?

Dex: Yeah, I think you’re right. I think people often find it more difficult to write for themselves. I definitely don’t think it’s a question of words. I do think it’s ideas. Is, you know, views of the world that’s tough because you’re having to present things that are deeply personal to you. It’s always much easier to present other people’s ideas because those are necessarily as personal as at your own.

Full interview:


Caroline Goyder: London’s Most Sought After Public Speaking Coach 900 900 Lisa

Caroline Goyder: London’s Most Sought After Public Speaking Coach

In Conversation with Caroline Goyder: London’s Most Sought After Public Speaking Coach

LW: Today’s guest is Caroline Goyder. She is one of London’s most prestigious public speaking coach has she served as professor of voice and speech for over a decade at the Royal Central School of speech and drama. She is authored three books; Gravitas, Star Qualities and Find Your Voice released in January 2020. Her 2014 tedx talk “the surprising secret to speaking with confidence” has been viewed over 8.3 million times. She is often making media appearances and has been featured in dozens of national magazines. It is an honor to have you here today. Welcome Caroline!

CG: Oh, it’s an honor to be here Lisa. Thank you for having me. Absolutely. You know, this is a special treat.

LW: So I want to know right away what types of clients seek you out typically or is there a typical?

CG: Gosh, well, yes, it’s funny. So tiny bit of backstory. I fell into this work because when I left University and arrived at drama school, they said you’re in your head and I had to get out of my head and into my body, which is something we can probably unpick more. I tend to work with people who have done very well in their lives because they’re good at the thinking stuff. And suddenly find that they have to communicate on a bigger scale and often that means getting the more into their body. So I am the classic teach what you need teacher, that’s me.

LW: As far as getting I want to touch on what you just said getting out of your head and into your body just because that’s something that in drama school I heard as well not just towards me but other people and I’m wondering if it’s the same has the same meaning in London as it does in California for us. It means anticipating of the next thought you’re about to express or being too much in your head thinking things through and that kind of thing. Is that what you meant by that?

CG: Yes, I mean, I think it covers a multitude of sins. It means that to me and I think it also means which I think you said actually that thing of working out the world through your brain solely when we can kind of get stuck in a story that we tell ourselves. Whereas when we are reading the world through our senses kind of feeling our way through the world actually often we get true of feedback and for me, I think It really means being tuned in to my senses my breath. My body are not just me working out the world through the narrow confines of my brain. So I think we are broadly on the same page on that.

LW: And so when you have a client that comes to you and maybe you know with this type of work. Are you teaching them breathing technique resonance articulation techniques?

CG: Yes, I mean I think like you because I know you’ve got an Alexander Technique background. I think it all starts with finding a sense of ease and presence and fluidity in the body and my belief with voices that when you find that a lot of the other things start to untangle, so I tend to start with you know, say this I’m learning. I’m always learning this myself to I feel like I’m a perpetual student. But I’m always unpicking with students in my classes how they hold themselves how they breathe and then how that feeds into how they voice themselves.

LW: When you have a client come to you and you start to spot that they have some false beliefs about themselves. They come in and they might say “I’m a bad speaker” or “I know I can never be good at this” or things like that. I consider that a false belief. I don’t know how you would articulate those things. But do you get those clients? And if so, do you address it?

CG: Oh, yes and belief is huge, isn’t it? So when someone tells me I hate public speaking. I’m a terrible speaker. What I would want to model is where in their life they do feel confident. So I had a lovely client who actually works in the management side of theater. I won’t name him or where he works. And he was getting very nervous about a big Public Presentation. And so we looked at where he feels himself and confident and he feels himself and confident with his team. So we modeled the breadth of those meetings and the presence of those meetings and then kind of transferred the file to these big public visible presentations. I think when someone models out their own success in their own life, and they transfer it. Often those beliefs start to dissolve because they’re locked in a past you that isn’t really true anymore.

LW: because my background is also in Psychology… I don’t go into psychoanalysis heavy psychoanalysis or therapy with a client. I absolutely don’t want to do that but I come through that lens a little bit when I see somebody is really struggling and I also do try to get them into their body anything else that you use or advice you would like to give somebody who’s listening right now who is feeling a little bit stuck because “I’ll never be the speaker my brother is or my father was” or “my boss is” or these kinds of false beliefs … any piece of advice you’d like to send out to our listeners in this area?

CG: I would say to you that it is very habitual that you know, the patterns that we have around speaking are just learned behaviors. And if you want to learn to speak, well really the first thing to do is a bit Alexander in a way in that Alexander noticed that he had a pattern that wasn’t serving him and started to unpack it. I’d say to you if you can bear it get yourself on camera. Record your voice and with a really generous supportive spirit as if you were listening to a friend speaking. Give yourself a few things that you want to celebrate and then start to think what do I want to refine and often? It’s things like I’m speaking too fast or I’m saying I’m or my voice isn’t rich enough. And just start with the things that you can practice yourself and then seek out someone like Lisa seek out a drama school seek out an online course because there’s so much good stuff online now and start to unpick the habits that maybe you can’t unpick on your own and if you do that over a period of about, you know, six months to a year. It’s amazing how your voice your speech can change and I’m always really keen to say to people you can be your own coach.

Full Interview:

Public Speaking Coaching & Sales Enablement 1024 588 Lisa

Public Speaking Coaching & Sales Enablement

Why a Public Speaking Coach Is Essential to Sales Enablement

When we think of public speaking training, most of us imagine preparing for a conference, an all-hands meeting or TED Talk. And although training and preparation for these arenas are vital, these are not the only places public speaking skills can make or break your performance.

Here are a few areas a public speaking coach can help with, whether you are in front of a decision-maker, buyer, or board of directors:

Managing Nerves
A well-trained coach knows exactly how to help you identify the thoughts that trigger stage fright. Even in its most mild form, stage fright causes an adrenaline rush which makes appearing confident and on message very difficult. After identifying what thoughts cause your nerves to go haywire, you must have a system in place to eradicate this—before it takes hold and causes you to be thrown off your game.

When Natural Charisma Is Not Enough
Many salespeople rely too heavily on their natural charm and personable approach. What happens when you are faced with a decision-maker whose blank stares and impenetrable demeanor give you nothing to work off of to create the rapport you are so used to having? Are you thrown off and flustered? Do you give up? Your mindset is everything in these moments. A great public speaking coach likely has drama training under her belt and can help you enter any meeting with achievable goals and objectives you can meet regardless of whether or not you feel rapport is being built.

How To Be Clear and Concise
Even the most experienced sales teams I’ve worked with in San Francisco and Silicon Valley struggle with how much information to give in a presentation or pitch. I will ask my clients: “What does the buyer need to know to help them make their decision?” Stick to the bare bones and do not get bogged down with details. If they want you to elaborate, they will ask questions.

Use of Word Stress, Imagery and Pauses in Your Delivery
If you want a potential buyer to hang on your every word, be drawn in by your descriptions, and remember what you’ve said, these are the techniques you want to employ. A public speaking coach is used to creating, co-creating, editing, and directing scripts. We understand which words are the most impactful, where to pause to give the listener time to take in the message, and how use of imagery excites audiences. 

Imagine the opposite occurring: You are the buyer and the seller of a complicated product is speeding through the description without pausing. Or perhaps they are leasing a building with a beautiful view but skip the description of the scenic view that would greatly improve your chances of buying it. Or a seller uses minimal word stress so their delivery becomes monotone and you begin thinking about your next appointment.

In my coaching practice, I have found these are common mistakes and the solutions are often overlooked by sales professionals. A simple road map of where to pause and what words to stress can quickly lift your delivery from average to master public speaker with maximum impact.

To Sum Up

Not only do we want to make a sale, but we also want to feel we are at our best when we do it. We want to be calm, fully present, and impactful. This requires the similar training and tools that actors and public speakers use. Taking the time to develop your speaking skills is a must if you want to hit it out of the park every time. These are just a few of the reasons why a public speaking coach is essential to sales enablement.

Public Speaking: a step by step program to get you started! 1024 576 Lisa

Public Speaking: a step by step program to get you started!

Public Speaking: a step by step program to get you started!

“I’ve always wanted to do this. I finally decided to not hold myself back” I often hear this statement and many others like it spoken within the first few minutes of my private coaching sessions.

Public speaking can intimidate even the most extroverted personalities. It’s no wonder given it’s not something we are trained in and not faced with until we are required to deliver a speech — sometimes without much notice. Speaking in public is a broad topic that is not limited to professional speakers, speaking at team meetings, to a board of directors or other professional engagements but also at weddings, graduations and other social events.

If you are stepping out of your comfort zone to take the stage for any reason, here are some proven tips you can apply to reduce nerves and deliver with impact:

Acknowledge Nervousness: Ever notice that pretending something isn’t there makes it worse? I have. First step to a great speech is to embrace the fact that you may be nervous. Think of this as a good thing. You are feeling a racing heartbeat, sweaty palms and so on because you care. If you didn’t care about the outcome, I’d question whether you should be speaking in the first place.

Reduce Nerves and Focus: The fastest and most effective way to reduce nervousness, shed excess tension and focus your thoughts on delivery, is to warm up with breathing exercises. I recommend using long deep breaths. Breathe in through your nose out through the mouth. When you breathe out, make the sound of a long, sustained S. Six to eight slow deep breaths 30 minutes before your speech is ideal.

Create Rapport: Start with a warm vocal tone, eye contact and slowing down the rhythm of your speech. This will let the audience know you are talking to them, not at them.

Insert Pauses: If you are someone who uses filler words, like “actually” “so” or “uhm” consider pausing in those moments. The pauses allow the audience time to digest the information in your speech. It also allows you time to breath and focus. You can also use pauses strategically to get a point across. For instance, pausing after asking a question gives the audience time to think, and shows you are about their mental involvement in your speech.

Consider your purpose and setting: Adapt your speech to your specific audience and the venue. This will help you decide on the level of complicated information you need to share or determine your choice of words. You may be able to use specific “ice breakers” or humor depending on who’s in the audience and where and when it’s taking place.

Match tone to content: You can use different tones within the same speech to keep the audience engaged. Start with a warm and welcoming tone. Then, if you are delivering great news your tone could be happy ore excited. When delivering a problem try a somber but resilient quality. Higher energy is a way to create excitement, while quieting your tone creates thoughtfulness.

Body language: Nonverbal communication can help emphasize your message. You can use your hands when delivering verbal bullet points, such as a list of problems you are tackling. Avoid pacing and replace it with deliberate movement such as walking a few steps after you finish one section to start another. Additionally, allowing yourself to freely move while matching your movement to your content is a great way to dissipate nervous energy.

Prepare and Practice: Prepare so you have a clear road map to follow as you deliver your speech. As part of this preparation I suggest assigning objectives to each section. Think through what you want the audience to take with them. Practice on your feet, out loud with an audio recorder. You’ll have a better sense of flow and what content can be cut or added to make the speech more effective.

There are many wonderful resources where you can see the above techniques applied. TED talks, such as Bryan Stevenson’s Let’s Talk About an Injustice, is an excellent example of changing tone to match content and using body language to emphasize a point. Any of Barak Obama’s or Caesar Chavez’ speeches drive home the power of pausing. As you watch, remind yourself not to fall into the “compare and despair” trap. While we can learn much from speakers who have crafted their delivery with years of practice, it’s your job to sound like you and find your own authentic style. Be fearlessly authentic and you will always be interesting to watch.

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Lisa Wentz is a public speaking expert who coaches executives and managers from Fortune 500 companies and the non-profit sector. Her new book, Grace Under Pressure: A master class in public speaking (LID Publishing) is available now in the US.