Ep 61: Deeper Audience Engagement through Unscripted Keynotes with Connie Podesta | Recap Episode

RV: (00:00) Hey brand builder. Welcome to the special recap edition of the influential personal brand podcast. Connie Podesta is a hoot. I said she’s a hoot. Aj said that I was a hoot. I’m not sure what that is all about, but I said, isn’t, isn’t Connie a hoot? And AJ said you’re a hoot…because she was making fun of me. Why don’t you tell them why you were making fun of me? AJV: (00:23) Because Rory starts out this entire interview with this wonderful build up of Connie and then she’s awesome indeed, but then says, well, you know, here’s how you know she’s really awesome as that I’m willing to refer her to my clients. But here’s why that’s a big deal. Because my clients have come to be accustomed to a certain level of performance that’s alluring to his magical performance back to his clients have become accustomed to his incredible delivery. And RV: (00:58) Now some of that you added some of that you added. I’m not saying, I’m not saying that I didn’t think that that was true, but I didn’t say that. I’m not necessarily saying it now either. Well, I am. I’m awesome because, and Connie is too. AJV: (01:12) Do you do, I didn’t think it was hilarious that as you’re introducing someone else, you’re like, well, you know, they’re awesome because I’m awesome. Right? RV: (01:20) I’m also extremely humble as is Connie. But here’s what I, here’s what I, here’s what I love about, there’s so many things I love about Kanye. I talk about it in the interview, but when I think of myself as a speaker and her, I couldn’t think of our style, like our being more different, AJV: (01:40) Basically everything she said denote story as completely answered. RV: (01:46) Yeah. Like the most boring speaker. I’m irrelevant. I’m outdated now. She does speak more than I do like, so she speaks a ton. It’s actually a really good interview. Yeah. And I think, you know, here’s the thing that she really inspired me in this interview particular is just this, this concept of planned spontaneity. I think I have, I have a hard time, you know, like my logical brain is just freaking out with all the stuff she’s talking about, about just don’t have a plan and like just, yeah, go off the cuff and interview everybody. And I’m like, what are you insane? But Mmm, really, I actually think it’s brilliant. What she’s actually doing is she has set up like a giant, choose your own adventure and she, she knows where all the paths are going to lead. But [inaudible] it appears to the audience. And it is, I mean it’s, it’s very engaging and spontaneous, but she’s not up there just winging it with no plan. It’s what comedians called planned spontaneity. It’s, it’s allowing for the appearance of spontaneity and it is spontaneous, but it’s, it’s sort of like there’s this plan that you have, AJV: (02:53) But also I think one of the things that you’ll learn if you go listen to the full episode is that she is not relying on some huge adventurous, a story that she had. Right. And you guys talk a lot about this and one of the things that I really loved in the beginning of this interview is that you both called attention to that. Both of you don’t necessarily have that incredible story in terms of the framework of how you teach, right? Didn’t climb Mount Everest, you didn’t lay right. RV: (03:20) Like neither of us are actually that exception, AJV: (03:24) Do these things. And so I think what I really love is that both of you are great examples of truly successful speakers without these truly unique stories. Now of course you have unique stories, but it’s not the basis of your entire book ability as a speaker. And I think that’s really inspiring for everyone out there, including myself, is that you don’t have to go climb the seven top peaks in the world to be a incredibly successful speaker with high fees and book calendars. And I loved that what Connie talked about in the very beginning and she said that her sales pitch, which I think this is also really [good], RV: (04:02) She also talks to all the people herself. Yeah. But that, Whoa, Whoa, sorry, sorry. She says maintain control of the mix so that if they ever talk, you take the mic back AJV: (04:15) Listening to her advice. And but I think it’s really good because she said, when I’m talking to meeting planners or whoever’s booking the speakers, I go, well, do you want your entire meeting to be about the speaker or to be about your audience? Boom. Because I don’t make it about me. I make it about you. And I make it about them. And it’s like, all right, let’s, you know, turn the switch. Right. I think that’s really amazing in terms of like, just a quick change, a perspective, how so many people think, well what’s my story? What’s my uniqueness? And she goes, cares about you. Nobody cares about your story. Right. It’s what about the audience? RV: (04:53) Yeah. And I would say her and I are very aligned on that point, which was kind of my second big takeaway was that even though it’s interesting cause it’s like we’re very different from most, not most speakers, from a lot of speakers and that we don’t have like this amazing life story. But then we’re, Oh, thank you sweetheart. But then we’re, we’re very different in our delivery style and our preparation method. But then we’re also very aligned philosophically on the unmaking, the audience, the hero. And she said, you know, the goal is not to make yourself look good. The goal is to make the audience look good and feel good and feel inspired. And I, I couldn’t echo that that more. And I think that that is inherently one of the biggest things that speakers struggle with. And one of the things that personal brands struggle with. RV: (05:40) I know, because this was also me. There’s you, there’s a level of ego that is involved. And when you start, it’s like it’s all about you and I, you gotta, you gotta sort of get past that. In fact, it applies this this last week I was, I was doing a thing for Lewis Howes for his inner members and we were doing like a copywriting training for them. And I [inaudible] I said this thing that I’d never really said and people really latched onto it, which is that copywriting is not about telling people what you do. It’s about telling people what you can do for them. And that’s the same shift as a speaker. It’s like, it’s not about you or, or what you’ve done, it’s about what you’ve learned and how that can help them. And [inaudible] especially if you don’t have some incredibly compelling personal story, you gotta make it all about the audience and it’s just, you gotta be there in service and [inaudible] AJV: (06:31) So we share that perspective. Yeah. RV: (06:33) Hold on. I’m not done yet. It’s still my turn. Okay. Okay. Okay. Now AJV: (06:37) Fast off is complete. Well I think the second thing that really hit me as that she talks about how she doesn’t rely on this story and she really wings it and it’s like, yeah, I mean kind of. She does that kind of, she doesn’t really, and I think what she really relies on, what she’d give confidence to everyone who is listening to this episode is that what she really is relying on is her expertise and her knowledge and that is what you got to own. It’s like the reason she feels comfortable we need to get [inaudible] is because she has an idea of exactly what they’re going to say. I guess she’s done this enough times. If she’s seen this, she’s seen this enough times to know there’s only one or two or three outcomes from this question, so I know exactly how it’s going to go. AJV: (07:16) So it’s that scripted non-scripted approach in terms of like if you’ve done something enough and you’ve done enough research and you have enough personal results and experiences, you know kind of where it’s going, which allows you to be up on stage feeling like you’re winging it, which in turn is really just relying on the years and years of your personal experience and your personal results, which is why that’s so important from the beginning. That’s what we talk about in the foundation of building your personal brand and our phase one finding your brand DNA is, you know, what do you have to hang your head on? What do you have research in? What do you have results in? Where is your experience? Where’s your expertise in your designated lane? And that’s what she’s saying. She goes, you know, she talks about how she doesn’t really have a plan and to some degrees because she doesn’t need one because she has all of this years, years and years of experience, firsthand experience to know exactly how this is going to play out. There’s no question she knows where it’s going to go. And that’s allows for this feeling of on the fly, even though it’s RV: (08:22) Pretty expected. You know, as you were talking, it was making me think about how when you see, you know, if you watch a live, one of the late night shows, you know, Jimmy Fallon or whatever, Jimmy, you know, whatever the late night show, Jimmy Fallon is the best one. And but there is the comedians that’ll come on there and they’re so funny. So funny, so funny. And you go, gosh, they’re so funny. They’re coming up with jokes on the spot and it’s like, no, they have been on stage so many times. They have all these little bits and pieces and they’re just as the, as the interviewer asks them a question, they pull on something that they’ve done before, they, they weave together this kind of beautiful, seemingly spontaneous thing. But it’s, it’s actually very well, well rehearsed. So anyways, the last one for me, the, the, the last kind of point, which I think was sort of the obvious point of what she was talking about was asking myself, how can I create more interaction with the audience? RV: (09:16) Yeah. It’s not, should I, it’s not, do I do interaction or not? Like for me, I’m a slides guy. I’m not going to be abandoning all my slides and signature stories. Like I’m just not going to do it. But, but I, I also, it was so compelling to say, okay, how could I create more interaction? And then even deeper than that, like I don’t think that her point was so much, Hey, you should do interaction. I think what she was saying is she’s like, that’s who she is and she allowed herself to be who she is and an actress and an a teacher and on the fly. And she is funny. And so she, she said, I’m willing to leave the slides behind so that I can be who I am. And so I think, you know, there’s that really important permission and principle and power to say be who you are and then you know, at the same time like I’m a slides guy, I’m a logic guy, I’m like efficient. RV: (10:11) I’m going, Hey how many points? That’s who I am and I’m also going, what could I learn? What could I take away from this to make it more fun? Even though I’ll probably never be the guy up there with no, no plan and no, no slides because that’s being who you are, right? Yeah. That’s who I am. But I think some people listening, like you might be listening going, gosh I didn’t even know you could do this and not have slides. And that’s so empowering, right? Cause slides are free in pain. They also, they also create technical challenges and you know, glitches and things that do happen. But all of us go on, what can we do that’s more fun and how do we also not rely on slides and the plan, but go, let’s rely like what you were saying on the depth of our expertise. Let’s sit in the comfort of what we really know, not just the mechanics of a manufactured and rehearsed presentation to where it’s the same rote thing over and over time. Yeah. AJV: (11:09) And that’s kind of similar to my third and final point. And I really love the example that she gave ran. She talks about how Hmm her, her desire and her need for having audience interaction really came from her years as a teacher and a counselor. And it just hit me in the moment of like, yeah, imagine just for a second that you were a high school teacher for behaviorally challenged inner city kids in Chicago. Just for a second, pretend that’s your audience. Imagine how a slide deck would go. RV: (11:44) Okay. AJV: (11:44) Imagine how a 60 minute lecture would go. And the point is it wouldn’t. And so she said, from that experience I realized the depth and that came from audience interaction because I was in front of an audience every single day for years and years of people who didn’t want to be there. And let’s just be honest, many of your audiences didn’t select to be there. They were told to be there. They were mandated to RV: (12:09) Depending, I mean if you’re in the corporate for sure. I mean if you’re more entrepreneur, it’s a little bit different, but yeah, AJV: (12:14) Right. At some point you’re going to have someone in your audience who was like, how long can I check Facebook before someone notices? All right, this is a little bit of reality and I think what’s interesting is she said, that’s where I’m going to start as F as if I didn’t have an engaged audience, as if I had an audience who wasn’t going to pay attention and how can I change that to enforce that they are paying attention and they are engaged and they do leave with something. And I just love that approach. And that doesn’t mean your whole thing has to be around interaction, but it’s more positioning yourself. It’s not around just your information, it’s how do you get your information and across the way that people will actually use it. And it’s, for me, it’s like I tell her, wear this all the time. I’m not an audio learner. I have to see it and do it in order to learn it. And I have, I would say borderline photographic memory. And it’s like, but if I don’t see it, I don’t do well. So I was actually one of those kids that I never really went to class and high school or college. Actually. RV: (13:16) Hold on, let’s have an honest confession here. How did you become the CEO of brand builders group? Tell us, tell us what makes you qualified. AJ Vaden, AJV: (13:27) That’s for sure. But the point is is I didn’t learn anything from the lectures. If it, if I heard it audio, it just is like, there’s like too many things going on in my brain. So instead of going to class, I knew that if I just read this and did this, like that’s how I learned. Like I realized that very early on. It’s like I went at a pace faster than my classes, right? And I learned that and then I got really bored and for sure wasn’t paying attention. And so I think it’s like, you’ve got to just say, it’s like, all right, there’s all these different learning types out there, right? They’re visual learners, there’s audio learners, there’s application learners, there’s tactical learners. What am I doing to appeal to all of them? Because if you are just a stand and deliver speaker, then you’re missing at least a third, if not a fourth of your audience. Just by the simple way you deliver it, regardless of how good your content is. And I think that’s what I really took away from Connie was how do you engage people? So they don’t just see slides, they actually learn the information enough to actually do something with it. RV: (14:26) Love that. That’s so good. So good. So another great interview. Definitely worth a listen. And w one of the best keynoters on stage really in the world from a mechanics point of view. So go listen to Connie Pedesta hear what she’s got to say. It’s, it’s exciting and, and it’s a hoot. Let’s just say that. So, wow, that’s a hoot. Have a hoot yourself and we’ll catch you next time on the influential personal brand podcast.