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Ep 60: Deeper Audience Engagement through Unscripted Keynotes with Connie Podesta

Many of the best speakers use slides or a personal success story as tools to help them leave a lasting impression on audiences. However, there is a certain type of intimate chemistry enabled by a level playing field and a sense of spontaneity that this method fails to accomplish. Connie Podesta, our guest for today, falls into a more niched group of speakers, one that prefers to ditch the crutches and approach their keynotes as full-blown conversations. Connie is perhaps the queen of this method, and as a Hall of Fame speaker who has written seven books and worked with clients like Microsoft and Harley Davidson, her lengthy career stands as testimony to its effectiveness.

In our conversation with Connie, we get into the nuts and bolts of the method of planned spontaneity she practices, where it came from, and how she teaches it to her students. Connie has no big personal story. Rather, her approach finds its uniqueness by making it all about the audience’s brilliance or aiming to give listeners a transformed perspective of themselves by the end of the delivery. We hear how Connie structures her conversations with audience members on stage using decision trees, humor, and her background in psychology to help her stay in control while keeping up the illusion of spontaneity. She also gets into how her best material has arrived through these types of in the moment interactions with audience members. In this interview, Connie permits listeners to use what works for them but also the freedom to try something completely different if that is what they feel they need. Make sure you don’t miss it.

WATCH THE INTERVIEW:

LISTEN TO THE EPISODE BELOW:

KEY POINTS FROM THIS EPISODE:

  • Connie’s fame, as attributed to her skills, not some grand story she rides off of. 
  • How Connie sells her ability to tell an audience’s stories rather than her own. 
  • Connie’s wish to leave her audience thinking they, not her, are amazing. 
  • Knock-on effects in audience members’ lives for the better after hearing Connie speak. 
  • How Connie found her style that involves interacting with the audience and humor. 
  • Three things Connie removes from her students: their story, slides, and lavalier mic. 
  • Where Connie’s best material comes from: interacting with her audience. 
  • How Connie learned audiences weren’t fans of slides after leaving her’s on a plane. 
  • The idea that unstructured presentations engage more deeply with audiences. 
  • How Connie handles an interaction that might not be representative of the audience. 
  • Making yourself look foolish rather than the audience. 
  • The use of a decision tree in Connie’s approach to steering conversations to a main point. 
  • How Connie’s psychological knowledge allows her to deal with unusual outcomes. 
  • The place of humor in allowing Connie to convey certain kinds of messages. 
  • How a story and PowerPoint keeps speakers from being their authentic selves. 
  • Connie’s strategy of learning what not to do, not vice versa, when watching speakers. 
  • A caveat: Connie’s advice worked for her; people need to find their own method. 
  • The voice control and interactive components of using a hand-held mic. 

TWEETABLES:

Someone called me a legend a while back and I said, ‘I think most legends are dead but I’ll take it,’ because I think I have been speaking longer than almost anybody still out in the circuit.”  — @Connie_Podesta [0:02:37]

“My goal has never been for an audience to think I’m amazing. My goal has always been for them to leave thinking they are amazing.”  — @Connie_Podesta [0:07:01]

“I have the ability to hand you back an audience that is not the same.”  — @Connie_Podesta [0:09:25]

“Most of my great material came from somebody on stage saying something so out of the blue that I never expected, forcing me to have to think on my feet and improvise.”  — @Connie_Podesta [0:15:05]

About Connie Podesta

Connie is a game-changing, revenue-building, sales-generating ball of fire whose rare blend of laugh-out-loud comedy, killer take-away strategies, and interactive, no-power-point delivery style have made her one of the most unique and memorable speakers on the stage today. 25 years. Two million people. 1,000 organizations. Hall of Fame speaker. Award-winning author.  Seven books. Former Radio/TV personality. Therapist. Expert on the psychology of sales, leadership, change, accountability, and engagement.  Amazing ROI.  Plus (what we all could probably use in today’s crazy world )… a Comedienne.

LINKS MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:

RV: (00:00) Hey brand builder, Rory Vaden here. Thank you so much for tuning in to listen to this interview. We are so excited to bring you this information and wanted to let you know that Hey, there’s no sales pitch coming from anything that we do with. This is all our value add to you and the community. However, if you are somebody who is looking for specific strategies on how to build and monetize your personal brand, we would love to talk to you and we offer a free call to everyone that’s interested in getting to know us and is willing to give us a chance to get to know them and share a little bit about what we do. So if you’re interested in taking us up on a free strategy call, you can do [email protected]om slash summit call to talk to you soon on with the show. You are honestly so lucky to be listening to this right now because you’re, you’re about to learn from one of the best keynote speakers in the world. RV: (01:12) And when I say that I really mean it. And here’s how you know, I mean it, Connie Podesta you know, she’s a hall of fame speaker. She’s written seven books. She’s been in the business for a long time, but she is one of the people that I actually refer to my speaking clients. So after someone has had me and you know, there’s a certain expectation level they have of what they’re going to experience it over time. It really becomes hard to find people well who you feel like, man, I really trust someone to come behind and do a great job for my clients. And that is Connie, she will make you laugh, your face off and then kick you in the pants. And you know, she’s spoken for all the, you know, the big companies, Microsoft, Harley Davidson, blue cross, blue shield, Cisco. She’s also something that I very much am not, she is a great MC and that’s something I tried to avoid at all costs. But she is just so anyways, so Connie thank you for making some time here and I’m just so excited to pick your brain a little bit about, you know, kind of the keynote speaking career. CP: (02:26) Yeah. Someone called me a legend a while back and I said, I think most legends are dead, but I’ll take it. I’ll take that. Cause I think I’ve been speaking longer than almost anybody still out in the circuit. So I do have tons of things and I always say that everything I’m going to tell you about speaking is totally true for me. Okay. Doesn’t mean it’s true for everybody else, but I will be very transparent and authentically honest about what over the past 30 years has worked for me to keep me in the game for 30 years. RV: (02:59) Yeah. And that’s what I want to hear. And I, and I hope you don’t mind me saying this. I mean, this is a compliment and not in a, not offensive in any way, but as a speaker, I view myself as pretty like normal, right? Like I didn’t win a Superbowl. I never climbed Mount Everest. I wasn’t a Navy seal. Like I’ve never been a CEO of a fortune. Yeah. Yeah. I mean it’s like, you know, I have stories of course, like my, you know, I have some parts of my life and things that I shared in that, but, but it’s, I’m not the guy that people go, Oh my gosh, she landed the airplane on the Hudson. I got to hear that story. And I feel like you’re kind of the same way. It’s, it’s really based on like thought leadership expertise, delivery on stage and not so much like your celebrity yet you’re, you’ve gotten to a place where you’re earning fee, you know, you’re in a in a higher, a very high fee range and have had those, a wonderful career. And so I think a lot of people listening, you know, I think that’s inspiring as much as it’s inspiring to hear those people as well. It’s kind of going, if you’re just sort of like a normal person, how do you be, how do you get to your level in this business without, you know, having one of those amazing stories? CP: (04:22) Well, first of all, I think that’s kind of one of the problems is the people for example, that come to me for just coaching. Not I don’t charge for coaching, but just comes to me for mentorship or coaching, you know, they’re always like, Oh, okay, I’m trying to figure out my story. And I go, well just stop. I’ve never had a story in my life. I’ve never done anything unbelievably outstanding, like you said, scaled a mountain or landed the plane. And, and the way I explained it to my clients, because I’m often up against a speaker who has this amazing [inaudible] RV: (04:53) Right in your fee range. CP: (04:56) Yes. And my fee range. And they’re trying to decide between the two. And the way I always explain it to both my mentorees and the people I’m talking to people now in your audience is, there’s two ways to look at this. One is you can have your story and, and it becomes mostly about you. You may kind of connect it to leadership or to sales, but you have done something so traumatic, so adversarial, so impressive that your goal is to tell that story. Hopefully that other people will be motivated. But I always tell my clients when I’m up against someone, well, what’s your end game? Do you want their story or do you want me and I will make it about your audience’s story. I have no story. So because I’m not focused on myself, it’s not about what I did great or horrible and I want them to learn. CP: (05:51) My entire focus is on the audience and my goal is to dig into their story and help them take that and add strategies and tools and all of this thing. And because I’m a psychology person, dig kinda deep inside their brain. So I really teach the speakers that come to me. Forget your story. Forget thinking. You have to have a story. Forget that you need a story. In fact, there’s it don’t even try because there’s people out there with stories far bigger Roy than you and I are ever, ever go. So for us to even try to do that, and instead just say, be honest, I don’t have a story. However, your audience has a story. So you can either get somebody with their own story or you can get someone that makes it about your audience. What would you like RV: (06:43) And would you, is kind of that like the positioning of that too is like, it’s not so much about me, it’s about what can I share that’s really useful for your audience and being direct direct to them. CP: (06:56) I just said yesterday too, where it was me and another type of speaker and I, and they said, well what would you say you’ve done? That’s really amazing. And I said, my goal is never been for an audience to think I’m amazing. My goal’s always been for them to leave that King, they’re amazing. And there’s two different, you know, that’s two different points of view. So do we make it about us or do we make it about the audience? And there’s no right or wrong. It’s great to have people up there that have a story. But I would like the people watching this to realize most of us don’t. But most of us can deliver the tools and strategies about sales or leadership or whatever it is that when they go, their brains are on fire. Like what am I going to do next? CP: (07:44) Where am I going to go? And I love it when my audiences, they leave and someone might say, what was the name of your speaker? And they go, I don’t remember. That’s okay. That’s fine with me because they’re leaving texting and if you ask them what they’re texting, like I’m texting my boss cause we have to have a meeting and I’m texting my wife cause it made me think of this discussion we had and I’m texting one of my other departments because I think I know how to close a deal. I don’t care if they remember my name. Okay. If they want to hire me, they’ll go get it off of Google. I want them brains to be so on fire with what they can do. What they can accomplish, what they can go back and change and behaviors and attitudes and mindsets that I’m irrelevant to them. I that’s fine if I’m irrelevant to them because watching them believe what their text and and calling people on the phone, that’s all the feedback I need. RV: (08:31) Like you’re irrelevant as a person. But it’s the information that has been super duper relevant to them, CP: (08:38) Not the information is so, and I do some things interactive that they will be talking about. I tell my clients, I said I’m going to do some things with them that will create an energy in your audience that will not stop. I mean it is going to change the next two or three days. How they approach every breakout, how they respond, how they react, whether they’re open and more engaged. So I don’t just see me as an opening keynote either. I see. And I tell my clients one of my goals and one of my responsibilities is to hand you back. And I’ve said this, people call me what they say an audience Turner. And what that means is not only am I delivering a presentation, but my endgame is to turn the minds and mindsets of the audience a bit to a place where I can hand my client back. CP: (09:32) And that’s what I say to them. I have the ability to hand you back an audience that’s not the same. And that’s why when people say, you know, we want you for a closing, I go, well what a waste. You know, mostly Chris wanted to be the closing cause they’re thinking of them. Most speakers are kind of thinking of them a lot. So if you’re thinking of yourself and marketing them, being a closing is great because everyone’s leaving with me on their mind. I don’t want to be at a closing, I don’t care about that. I want to be the one that starts it. And I want to be known for handing the client back an audience that will never be the same. So then every breakout, every session, every lunch, every networking opportunity has been altered for the better as a result of hearing me. And if you’re good at doing that, then they aren’t just talking about you. When they leave. They’re talking about you for three days and they’re talking about your material and they’re applying it and the event planners see them talking about it, applying it, using a calling, texting, raising their hand and breakout, asking questions. And by the end of three days, that’s the event planners fees, how valuable and viable all the things you offered were. Then it comes back to you. RV: (10:46) I love that. That’s a great, what a, what a great mindset to approach it. So I, I want to shift to you. You brought this up, the indirect Tivity because that’s another thing, you know, I think that you do so well. It’s like you don’t have the story, but you’re really, really dynamic on stage. And I kinda think of humor as a part of it. But another thing is the, is the interactivity. So can you talk to me about working the audience? Like how important is it to work with the audience? Cause it, it, it terrifies me. I personally have never done a lot of it, but it’s like, you know, you never know what’s going to happen. You kind of lose control of whether or not it’ll be funny or staying on task. But how important do you think it is to like interact with the audience? What do you do with the audience? How do you prepare for it? Like just talk a little bit about your strategy for like the actual interaction with the [inaudible]. CP: (11:48) In terms of how important I think next to being a professional person that does a good job, it is the absolute most important to, to see a speaker that’s not interacting with the audience. Absolutely drives me crazy. And I think it goes back to my background. You know, a lot of speakers started in corporate and training and HR and all that, but I didn’t, I w I taught high school and I taught behavior problem kids. And then I became a therapist because my students were so in trouble and well, to be honest, their parents were needed therapy a lot more than students. So taking this site ICology. And I’ve always been funny, thank goodness. I mean that just I was born with. And so when you look back on my training, you know, whether I had students in my class or I had clients in my therapy office, it could never be about me. CP: (12:42) The students don’t care about me. They don’t care about my life. They don’t care what I did. Amazing. And my clients don’t care if, if you came to me for marriage counseling, you don’t want to sit and hear my amazing signature story about my marriage and how we were down in the depths and went bankrupt. And now look at what all you want me all students want and all clients want in therapy. Is it to be 100% about them? But I also learned in teaching high school that I can’t lecture. I could not stand in front of the class for 45 minutes and write or use overheads or use slides and expect to keep the attention of a young person. So I learned early on that I hardly ever wrote anything or ever used back then overheads or slides. I just, I would talk and then I would go to a student and then I would bring them up in front of the class and then we would tell a story and then we would do a role play. CP: (13:37) And then we would add, I mean, I had to, in order to survive in a high school in South side of Chicago, I had to become full of change and full of variety. And I learned to act out different voices. And if I was teaching English or history, I would, I got them into acting things out. And so when I became a speaker and people started, you know, and I started speaking just to promote my private counseling practice, but I would do the same thing in the beginning days when you’re in the rotary club. I would bring guys up and I do this. And before you know it, everyone’s like, she’s amazing. And now, you know, if someone comes to me for coaching, I take away their slides and I take away their signature store and I take away their level or Mike and give him my hand till those are the three things I do. CP: (14:27) And I tell them, I’m not saying you can’t go back to your lava Leer slide show, you know, stand on stage and talk and don’t involve the audience. I want you to experience what it’s like to not do what all the other millions of speakers do. And it’s amazing worry because once they let go of the mind, the lava Lear, once they let go of all the slides, once they let go of just standing there and and vomiting information and you know, 67 steps, here’s what we do. Once they get into the audience and start bringing people up, it’s like now I say, okay, well now you can go back to your signal. Oh no, no. Oh my God, this is more fun than I’ve ever had in my whole life. And it’s one of the reasons why I don’t do slides because slides means that I’ve already decided months ago what I’m going to teach this audience. CP: (15:22) Okay. Or yesterday or two weeks, I never know in, you’re right. I love the fact that when I bring people on stage, I have no idea what they’re going to say. Most of my great material came from somebody on stage saying something so out of the blue that I never expected forcing me to have to think on my feet and improvise and come back. And then all of a sudden I’d leave and it’s like, that was amazing material. Oh my God, I can’t believe I’ve never done that. But I would never have thought of it had I not been pushed into being outside of my comfort zone and having to react in front of 2000 people. RV: (16:04) So how do you prepare for that? Like do you, and and like how much do you, but like do, you said you literally walk on stage with no plan of what I mean, surely you have a plan of some type. CP: (16:17) I do. I do a thing with personalities. I kind of know how I’m going to start. I kinda know how I’m going to end. Yes, I have a plan, but I’m not seeing what I didn’t like for me. And don’t get me wrong, all of you watching that use PowerPoint, bless your heart. There’s no good or right or wrong and speaking, it’s what works for you. So again, I’m just sharing what works for me. I used to have slides. RV: (16:41) Yeah. Cause I’m a, I’m a PowerPoint guy and I’m sitting here going, this is terrified. Like the idea of doing what you’re talking about to me is absolutely terrifying. I’m going to teach you how to do one role play. And you never ever teach me CP: (16:59) Slides. I had slides and I left them on the plane. This was like 20 years ago. Okay. When we had the slide deck, the carousel, that’s how old I am. And I get in front of 2000 people and here I am. I’m an actress, I’m a comedian, I know all this. But you know, slides were in and everyone had their slide deck and I announced the 2000 people. Oh by the way, I left my slides on the plane and they all just started cheering like yay. And I was like, wow, you know, I’ve never asked myself. I know I thought it was cool to have slides, but I never once asked my audience, what do you think about it? So now I’m getting the feedback and that was an amazing day. I had no slides, I didn’t have structure C PowerPoint to is like being in a cage because now I’m structured, I have to do this slide, next slide and this slide. CP: (17:55) And if you do go off track, God forbid now you have to click through five slides and say, Oh, I don’t have time for those with no slides and PowerPoint. You can be whoever you want. The audience can be whoever they are. And so I’m very in tune to the audience. So if I’m starting a path that I had outlined and planned in my mind and I can see the looks on their face and they’re not quite there yet, I just dig a little deeper. If I try something and I can tell by the looks on her face, they got it, it’s in there. I just skip it and I don’t do another story on it and I move on. So when you have no structure, you are forced to have to look at them and look at their eyes and see the looks on their face and read their interaction and read their feedback and you’re forced to go with the audience, let them direct you rather than you directing them. So it’s very much forces you to give up control. RV: (18:59) So totally. Yeah. And I see that so, so I see that on the macro level. And, and it’s like this fun thing and you’re reading the audience on a micro level. How do you interact with one person in a way that doesn’t become a waste of time for the other 2000 people? Like how do you, CP: (19:21) Because that for me is the structured part. I know exactly through trial and error because I had lots of things happen on stage that I was like, Ooh, I don’t need to ask that question that way. Because then, so now I know and it does come through practice. I know exactly how to word it and a couple of things. Number one, a lot of speakers to do role plays on stage. The audience is the one that looks foolish or silly or dumb or doesn’t, I don’t do that. I’m the one, they audience person is always the one in control. I set it up like that. Like Rory, you’re so and so you’re doing this. I am the employee. I came in late, I have no idea what I’m doing. Let’s take it from here. So that’s a really big key is to never make the audience look stupid or foolish. CP: (20:11) Always have it be me. I’m the one that came late. I ask questions very directly. Like if I were five minutes late and I didn’t even come to you and say anything and you came to my desk, what would you say? So you have to ask questions that are very narrowly focused. And I have people say things that I never expected and then I’ll turn to the audience and say, how many of you would have said that? None. Okay. Where did you get that from? And then it just takes off from there. And then we just, we explore that. But no, you’re right. I never know what anyone’s going to say. They absolutely love the fact that their peers are involved in something and engaged. I go into the audience, that’s why I use the handheld. I use a hand tote. I, when I see a speaker as a lavalier, I’m like, they’re not interacting at all because they can’t be having people talking into their chest. CP: (21:08) When I see a speaker with a lot with a handheld, I’m like, they’re going to do it because you never want to hand the microphone to a client. Never. You keep the microphone. So if I had brought you up on stage and I asked you a question, I would hold out my microphone and you answered, you start to answer in a way. I don’t want, I just take it back and go, Oh, no, no, no, no. I don’t buy that at all. So with a handheld, you keep control of what’s going on. But I would say they they are interacting about 80% of the time. RV: (21:39) So, so you know what questions you’re gonna ask a person, like you kind of know, okay, this is the point I want to talk. Let’s talk about how do we treat people who come to work late as a leadership principle. And so, you know, there’s some principle you want to draw out that’s related, CP: (21:57) But I do, I would bring you up on stage. I would say, Rory, you’re the boss. I’m the employee. I came in 35 minutes late. You have two choices and I always do that if you have kids. Okay? So we’ve learned as parents, right? You don’t say what you want for dinner, you say, or snack, you say, would you like an Apple with peanut butter or would you like we learned early on and that’s what I do with my audience when I’m asking for their feedback. They always have a couple of choices. RV: (22:27) Oh, are you going to finite? A finite list. A finite list of options. Yeah. CP: (22:32) So are you going to come up to me and talk about it or do you think you’re just going to ignore it? Because I’ve never been late before. And then you’ll answer one of those two. I know where to go no matter which of those two you answer. RV: (22:43) Yeah. So this is really a choose your own adventure game. This is really a choose your own adventure game. CP: (22:49) Yes. So I’m always asking questions where there’s a couple of answers. When they answer that, then I ask something else with a couple of answers. So I never know where there’s always a myriad of choices, but I’m in control and that’s what people, but you, if you’re going to interact well it has to appear that you’re not in control, but you are. RV: (23:14) Got it. Okay. So you have like almost like a decision tree. If you were going to be a nerd like me and map this out, it’s like a decision, right? CP: (23:21) Right, yes. RV: (23:23) Huh. But, and, and, and so, you know, and basically, you know, kind of like a Plinko board or something, you know, that all of those routes eventually lead back to the point that you want to make that’s related to your content. And then it’s just, it’s kind of like fun, CP: (23:38) Don’t, if they don’t lead, if they answer so weird or so strange. I just looked at the audience that go, do any of you even get this human being? And they’re like, no. And I, and I’ll say something silly like what? Birth order? And they’ll say a youngest and I go, what? Yeah, that’s what, RV: (23:54) Wow. CP: (23:57) Then mine, I’m also a therapist. I have all this psychology. So I also have the ability that if it’s not going bright to kind of bring it into psychology and why we do what we do. And the other thing it helps, Rory, is I am really funny and you know when you’re ready. RV: (24:13) Yeah. So, so I want CP: (24:16) You can get away with so much. RV: (24:18) I know. I know. And so I want to talk about that for a second. Cause that’s the other thing, right? Like people like me who are not naturally funny. The only way you are funny is when you have written jokes and you’ve got stories and slides that lead right into a, you know, a plan thing. CP: (24:34) Ever told a joke. RV: (24:36) How do you be funny in this like completely abstract like world, this is stressing me out. Speaker 4: (24:43) [Inaudible] CP: (24:43) Well that part is very structured. Like I do a part with personalities and I have this one group stand and I say, you know, let’s give him a hand. This is the absolutely psychologically the hardest working group right now in your company. Well, the people standing, I won’t even go into it, but no one in the audience is gonna think that. And so everyone’s kind of clapping and then I add according to them. RV: (25:15) Yeah. CP: (25:16) And then it’s, then it’s, then they’re all like, Oh yeah, okay, now. And I go, look, you all, you do work hard. But nobody knows it. You don’t tell anyone. You don’t share. If you don’t, you’re not great team players, you know? So if you’re going to work this hard, let’s get a little credit for. So those little one kind of liners like according to them, you know. But again that’s a funny line. According to them, everyone laughs. So it allows me to really get to the point that this group of people don’t share and they don’t open up and they’re sitting there nodding like you’re right, we don’t. But because I’m funny if that was somebody serious and they said, yeah this group thinks they work hard according to them. I mean they don’t do any, if you, if you were serious and no one was laughing, that could be very hurtful. RV: (26:12) [Inaudible] So that’s also kind of planned spontaneity though. Like just from experience and doing this and you kind of know like you have like a series, you have a series of little moments to pull from like this catalog in your head that you can draw on CP: (26:28) When the, when the slides and PowerPoint are gone. And the signature story of how you overcame amazing things is gone to me. And that’s why I do that with my speakers. At first I said, you can go back to it, but to, and this is just me, if you cannot engage an audience and get tons of word of mouth feedback without a signature story and without a PowerPoint presentation, then I think you haven’t truly come to grips with what your message really is. Because those two things, the signature story of what we did and the PowerPoint, which is all graphic and this and that, and those two things, I believe as a therapist is what keeps us from really being authentically who we are in front of an audience of people. If we strip away, that doesn’t mean you can’t come back to it, but I’d like to see my speakers, the old school standing with a handheld Mike, looking at a hundred or a hundred thousand people and having a conversation with them, not to them, with them watching their looks, watching their faces, walking into the audience, being accessible and, and again, for all of you watching, I’m not saying I hope, I hope to be honest, Rory, every other speaker uses slides. CP: (27:58) I hope every other speaker has a signature story. I hope every other speaker never wants to engage her. RV: (28:03) This is part of your uniqueness. CP: (28:07) Yes. I mean my number one selling book is how to stand out from the crowd. When my clients call me now, they start out with, first of all, they’re like, you called me back Connie. Yeah. I don’t have a gatekeeper. Don’t have an agent. Don’t have it. No one. RV: (28:22) Right. Can you talk to clients directly? CP: (28:25) You’re, you’re going to have my cell phone. Yeah. You and I are in a partnership. I’m not having somebody else out there but, but number two, you know, I, I, I want them to know that I want to model to the people in the audience how they want those people to be with their clients. How they want their salespeople to sell, how they want their leaders to lead and manage. So I have to model being accessible and being accountable and being in the present and being authentic. And so I’ve got to show them that it’s possible to strip away all of the stuff and just literally have a thousand people think that your just talking to them and when people call me they’re like are you the one that doesn’t have any slides or PowerPoint? I go, yeah, and they go, okay, you called me back. CP: (29:20) No slides. Our audience of sickest so I’m getting calls where that’s their first question. You are the one without any slides and when no one was using slides I use them because that’s how I could stand out. Now that everybody’s using slides I’ve stopped using because that’s now what makes me stand out and I do think one message, whether it’s slides or comedy or all of you watching have to be your own unique person, but I go to watch other speakers to learn what I should not copy or not do. I don’t go to watch them to learn what to do. And I think if we’re going to stand out now we have to look at what almost all speakers are doing, which means that’s what audiences are used to. And all I use is word of mouth. I’ve never made a cold call. I don’t ask for referrals. I don’t ask for testimonials. I don’t collect business cards. It’s totally word of mouth, which means that I’m left with that. What I do on stage is my only marketing. It’s my only business card. It’s my only cold call. Everything is that moment on stage. So it has to be different than anyone else or no one’s going to remember it. RV: (30:37) [Inaudible] Well that is, I mean that is, it’s very, it’s very incredible. And, and it’s, you know, this has been super interesting to me because I’m trying to go, you know, how do you, how could you duplicate it and, and what’s, you know, the science behind this play in spontaneity and still being able to like, you know, cause it’s planting [inaudible] native cause they’re, they’re still paying you to deliver a lesson and a message and you’ve gotta you’ve gotta make sure you, it’s not just going up there and Jim or John for an hour about nothing. CP: (31:07) It’s a lot of you know, one of the things I say to them and I say the speakers, I can you talk about this, you know, if your goal is to connect with the audience and create this relationship, one-on-one relationship, every time you use a slide, Roy, just think of this. They have to stop that connection with you and they have to turn and look and you have to stop your connection with them and to everyone’s now looking okay and no one can psychologically read and hear at the same time. It’s impossible for a brain to do so. They can’t hear what you’re saying. They’re just reading this slide and then when you want the slide to be done and come back, you have to reestablish that connection. It takes 1520 seconds to do that and so that’s the problem. RV: (31:50) Okay. See there’s one that’s one of your clients calling you right now, Connie, because they’re going to talk to you directly. Okay. CP: (31:57) You know they’re going to say, you said you were accessible and now you didn’t even ask. RV: (32:01) Yeah, CP: (32:02) But, but I do want us to end up with, I want ever, I don’t want you to get any emails like I think slides are great. I have a story. Here’s how I want to end. All I shared with you is what works for me and I want everyone watching. If slides work for you and you love it, use them. If a signature story works for you. Oh my God, lucky you because I don’t have one. So I just want everyone to listen to an alternative option. There are all sorts of ways to be successful in speaking. You and I have very different delivery styles and both of us are very successful and our audience was love, both of the things we do. RV: (32:42) But and you know, I, I think I do think that very much that it’s like I am very much a slide and a plan joke and story after, you know, like everything leads. But the reason for doing that is so that I know that so well that I can depart because what we both have in common, even though it’s like I do a lot of, and I do slides and I do stories well, we both have in common is an absolute focus on the audience, not on ourselves. And, and an absolute focus on creating a meaningful connection in the moment, not just powering through some like preplanned set of information. And I, and I think that you really do that brilliantly. And this has been really empowering for me because you and I’ve never talked about this is to go, I think I could do some things that would be be be more lively and engaging with the audience because knowing like, okay, if I set this up right, there can be some structure to it that still allows for a lot of fun, playfulness CP: (33:45) And, and I met her and you don’t need a mentor and my God, you’re super successful. But yes, if I had someone like you, I would not take away slides. Not that you’re, you’re doing great, you’re doing awesome. Word of mouth, you’re doing amazing. But if you came to me and said, Oh, I would like to just explore. RV: (34:04) Yeah, do something fresh, do something fun. CP: (34:07) And I’ve done it with a lot of speakers they don’t want, they love their slides, they love everything and that’s great. I always hate it when people start emailing me and defending why use it and I go, no one has the fence. I’m, I think every way is amazing. However, if there’s a little piece of you, Roy, that would just like to have a five minutes, just a little something different that you’ve never tried, then that’s where we would start. I would probably take one of your stories or one of the things that you do right now and you’ve always done it a certain way and show you how maybe going into the audience you could do that same content, that same material, but engage somebody in a way that would just be, you know, and just the fact that you might walk off the stage and talk to someone in the audience is a change of pace for you. And I think the more we can all change our pace, the more variety. We, one of the reasons why I use the handle is because I can talk really soft. I can do different voices. I mean the handheld gives you a lot of experiential advantage in terms of voices. RV: (35:17) The voice control. Yeah. The voice control component of a handheld is really, is really wonderful. CP: (35:22) Cause I do role-plays. They, they need to be heard and it’s not good. RV: (35:27) Yeah, for sure. But that holding you, holding you, holding the mic is, that’s a, that’s a super helpful tip is like you, you hold it out to them but still you still have it so that if you need to rein it back in then, CP: (35:42) Well, and I have lots of psychological sentences, things I do on stage when they’re going to end it. So I would say a sentence and not say the last line. And all I do is hold out my mic and the whole audience yells the word back. So the fact that I hold out my boss Mike, they know that’s there and they yell it out and they participate. So that’s participation too. Just having them be engaged. But I don’t do silly stuff. I mean they’re not dancing on stage. That’s one rule is if you’re going to participate with your audience, they have to look cool and professional. Cause I’m, I pull up a lot of leaders and these are their employees and they need to look really smart and really professional and really good. So we can’t ever use our interaction. Well sometimes I make fun of people, but that’s where the comedy, RV: (36:32) Well this is so helpful just to kind of get into the mind of, of how you’ve differentiated yourself and some of the things. And, and I, I really liked the way that you said that there’s a lot of things you’re talking about, which is an alternative view to maybe the things that you always hear about. And I think that’s super refreshing to be like, there’s multiple ways to make it in this business. CP: (36:55) I have so many speakers. No say, yeah, I don’t have a story so I can’t speak. Oh my God needed to do I or well, I just not comfortable with slide PowerPoint. Well that’s fine. I think speakers sometimes think that there’s a certain, RV: (37:10) It has to be a certain, yeah, CP: (37:12) No, here people, well, you have to like, I have never had a niche, every niche niche where there, I’ve never had one. I’ve never gone exclusive. You know, I don’t have an agent. I answer my own phone calls. I don’t Mark it. I mean, these are all things that the average person, you know, you have to stay on your lane. My lane is if they’re breathing and have my feet there, that’s my lane. Okay? RV: (37:34) Okay. CP: (37:35) I, I would never want to be in one industry, but that’s me. So I love taking what all the other people say speaker has to do. And this is my authoritarian rebellion authority issue person. I like listening to what other speakers say, you have to do this and then just do the opposite. I think that is so much fun. And it gets noticed. And thank God that there’s events time. There’s out there that are looking for the speaker that does it totally different. So for all of you listening that have that little rebellious streak, and you don’t want to just do it the way everyone tells you to, I just want you to know that’s okay. It’s fine. And there’s, there’s room for us in this crazy speaker world. RV: (38:23) Well, there it is. My friends. Connie, where do you want people to go? If they want to connect with you? We’ll put a link of course to Connie, pedesta.com and anything else you want CP: (38:31) Connie pedesta.com you’ll have mysel we’ll talk, we’ll become friends. The latte will speak. It’s no big deal. Just anything is fine. RV: (38:43) Well thank you for sharing your heart and I think given us permission to go an alternative route, giving us permission to ditch the things that are rigid, giving us permission to engage with people, focus on them, not ourselves. And just kind of the permission I think to have fun and, and also like as speakers to always be pushing ourselves outside of our comfort zone and not just telling everyone else to do that. So CP: (39:07) Hello. I also giving them permission that if rigid is comfortable and doing what they’ve always done feels right to them. That that’s okay too. Okay. RV: (39:19) Do your thing. [inaudible] CP: (39:21) Right. Do your thing. Do you be you? So RV: (39:24) I love it. All right. Thank you so much Connie. Always great to be with you and just awesome to get to get to a little bit of a look inside of your mind. So we appreciate it. And we’ll talk to you later. RV: (39:45) [Inaudible].

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25 of the World's Most Recognizable Influencers Share Their Tips on How to Build and Monetize a Personal Brand

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