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KF #7. Communicates Effectively Archives - How to be Awesome at Your Job

676: How to Craft and Deliver Compelling Presentations with Dr. Ethan Becker

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Dr. Ethan Becker offers a practical guide to communicating more effectively in the workplace.

You’ll Learn:

  1. The two ways we process information 
  2. The four-step structure of compelling communication
  3. The simplest way to sound more engaging 

About Ethan

Ethan F. Becker, PhD is president and senior coach/trainer for the Speech Improvement Company, the oldest communication coaching and training firm in America. He has worked with Apple, IBM, Bain Capital, Sony Music, and the New York Giants, the F.B.I., Harvard University, YouTube, and other clients across the globe.

Resources mentioned in the show:

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Ethan Becker Interview Transcript

Pete Mockaitis
Ethan, thanks so much for joining us here on the How to be Awesome at Your Job podcast.

Ethan Becker
All right. I’m psyched to be here. I’ve been waiting. This is great.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. Well, I’m psyched too. And so, I want to hear, so you’ve spent a long time working with folks, helping them communicate all the better. Is there a particularly surprising or fascinating discovery you’ve made along the way?

Ethan Becker
I think what surprised me is the similarities that people have around the world. We travel all over the world. Well, this year, nobody’s traveling, but like normally we’re on airplanes.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, working buddy.

Ethan Becker
And the various cultures around the planet, mostly what we see on television, on the media, and on the internet highlights differences, and it’s designed for division because that’s like divide people because it sells ads. But in the work that we do as speech coaches, we see the similarities almost identical in some cases, culture after culture after culture. That surprises me, which I think is profound actually.

Pete Mockaitis
Intriguing. And so, what are a few universals that cut across everything?

Ethan Becker
Well, for instance, people get nervous when they have to speak in front of a group, not everybody does. Not everybody does. But the psychology around it and the reasons behind it are often similar. People get uncomfortable in the business world, when they need to give feedback, for instance. And, again, not everybody. I’m generalizing. But the kinds of things that we hear and see are almost identical.

Like, I’ll hear somebody tell me that, “My manager just doesn’t understand me. He’s putting too much stuff on my plate.” Like, I might hear something like that here in Massachusetts or when I’m in Malaysia, it’s like the same things. Once you get through the culture, the obvious cultural uniqueness of a different environment, there are very, very common similarities in all cultures.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Well, good to know for the world travelers or future returning travelers amongst us. Well, let’s chat a bit about your book Mastering Communication at Work. So, it’s been a while since the previous edition was published. Tell us, you say that everything and nothing has changed in the interim. What do you mean by that?

Ethan Becker
Yeah, there’s not a whole lot that’s changed. Much of what we know in human communication and psychology comes from Aristotle over centuries ago but there have been some things we’ve seen get updated. We updated the book. We did a second edition. We added a section for gender equity and a section for virtual communication, not because of COVID but just, in general, the technology curve has increased so there were some changes there. But a lot of how we think and process and connect and how we get good and develop skill in communication hasn’t changed too much. So, yeah.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. Well, so let’s talk a little bit about how that’s done but, first, maybe a little bit of the why. Just what kind of an impact does having excellent communication skills make for a professional?

Ethan Becker
The answer varies, really. In most cases, the impact is going to be pretty significant because when you can get your ideas and thoughts out in a way where another human can hear it, decode it, and understand it, usually things tend to go well. And when that doesn’t happen, it can be highly frustrating. So, in most cases, it’s a pretty positive experience.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. And can you share maybe a story of someone who saw a transformation and what impact that made for them?

Ethan Becker
Sure. One client of ours who enjoys sharing his story with us, Jon Platt. He’s the chairman at Sony Music. So, when Jon first came to us, he was executive vice president, and this is the fellow who was a producer for like Jay Z and Beyonce and so forth, but he was looking to move up in his career. And one of the things he was saying, “So, look, I need to strengthen my ability to articulate my ideas in these senior executive levels,” which is a different kind of communication than he was able to do with artists.

Jon has a real talent, a real ear for talent, and he was able to negotiate very effective deals with artists, and he needed to update the language he was using and the approach he was using to communicate internally with those who would be in a position to put him in a position of leadership, and he did. He did. He did the work. It was very difficult at times because he had to learn to behave in ways that were new for him.

But, as he did that, he moved up the ladder pretty quickly throughout. He was at EMI at the time, and then he moved over to Sony, and he’s doing very well these days. But a great example of someone who put the time and effort into strengthening the quality of his communication skills and now he’s benefitting from that.

We see these examples all the time. Not everything is high profile. We’ll see this, sometimes, it could just be a typical manager or somebody maybe they have no interest in being a manager. Not everyone wants to move up in organization, that’s just one example. Sometimes it’s just a matter of somebody feeling comfortable on their own team, or learning how to communicate with peers comfortably, or it might be a presentation, anything like that. We see these kinds of things happen all the time with folks.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, I’m curious to hear about that notion about certain behaviors needed to change when you’re communicating in a more senior level. What are some of the key difference-makers when we are communicating like a leader? How does that differ from just kind of typical, normal everyday patterns in behaviors you may have around communication?

Ethan Becker
One way of looking at this, I’ve heard some other discussion around some Aristotle, and this would be a good idea to maybe sort of clarify some ideas around it. Aristotle, one of the reasons that speech coaches look at Aristotle is because he was one of the early philosophers to look at how we think, how we process information. And so, some of the terms we hear tossed around a little bit are a little bit sometimes not always clear. But he was saying people tend to think and process in one of two different ways, either inductive or deductive. These are the terms that are used.

And here’s what it means. If I’m an inductive thinker, it’s just who I am. What that means is that I need to have specific pieces of information that lead to me a general conclusion, it’s called going from the specific details to the general conclusion, what you want happens at the end. That’s inductive.

For instance, if I were to say to you, “Hey, listen, last weekend, I was at a family barbecue, and my mother-in-law was there. And she said, ‘Ethan, I think you should lose a little weight.’ Well, I think that was kind of rude of her but she’s the mother-in-law so she can say anything she wants to say. So, I thought I would take up jogging and I went to the mall to get a new pair of sneakers. And it was really frustrating that day because it was Sunday and it was really crowded.”

“There was a lot of sales on Sundays, by the way. So, I got into the parking lot and I couldn’t find a place to park, and this other guy came and cut me off. And I was going to get out and confront him but I was really just here for the sneakers so I had to park in the remote parking lot which was really frustrating because I had to walk to the front of the mall and I had this old pair of shoes. And if it gets too sore, the shoes get a little sore in the back of my foot, and thenI have to see my doctor, which is a nightmare because the lady at the desk hates me. She hates everybody.”

“You’re with me still? Good. You see, because I went into the shoe store and they didn’t have sneakers. I thought that was interesting so I asked if I could talk to the manager, and they sent me down to the sports shop. And at the sports shop, they didn’t have white sneakers. And I like the white ones because if they get dirty, you can bleach them. They’re just like new. So, that leads me to what I’m going to ask you today because, see, now I’m going to go jogging this afternoon, and I don’t want to get my new pair of sneakers dirty. So, could you tell me is it going to rain?”

“Is it going to rain? That was my point. That is what I needed to know.” But, you see, if I think and process in an inductive way, I can’t just ask that, “I think you need to know about the mother-in-law, and the parking lot, and the doctor, and all that.” And if you’re hearing my example right now, and you’re thinking, “Oh, the guy is just rambling about random stuff,” “Hold on a second. It’s not random inside of my mind. Somehow these things are all connected to each other.”

Now, this is an inductive pattern. Now, you don’t have to be that inductive. That’s an extreme example. I could be slightly inductive and it’s less frustrating. I could say, “Hey, listen, Pete, I just got a new pair of sneakers and I don’t want to get them dirty as I go jogging. Do you know if it’s going to rain?” So, I’m giving you the background information first and then the point, then what I want. That is known as an inductive pattern.

The deductive pattern is different. It is the exact opposite. You start with the point and then you give your details. So, for instance, somebody who is extremely deductive, they might sound like this, “Rain?” That’s it. Now, I don’t have to be that deductive. I could say, “Do you know if it’s going to rain? I just got a new pair of sneakers and I don’t want to get them dirty as I go jogging.” “Hey, I just got a new pair of sneakers and I don’t want to get them dirty as I go jogging. Do you know if it’s going to…?”

Can you hear the difference between the two patterns?

Pete Mockaitis
Absolutely. And when you said, it’s interesting that you say some people just are inductive. So, when in your first rambling example, I guess I found that very frustrating and thought, “Oh, I hate this.” Like, as I imagine that person talking to me, like, this is like, “Oh, I hate this. When are they going to shut up?” And I say, “Pete, be compassionate. And I’ll be patient with them. That’s kind of what was going on in my mind. But if someone is inductive, and they’re hearing that, might they be like, “Oh, this is really interesting and engaging”? That seems hard for me to believe.

Ethan Becker
Yeah, spoken like a true deductive listener. See, one of the reasons these matters is because one of these two people meet each other, look out, there’s a level of frustration that just breaks the communication down. If I’m a deductive thinker, it’s just who I am. I process in a deductive way. And this inductive person comes to talk to me? What I look like is frustrated, you know, “Uh-huh. Uh-huh,” I’m like nodding my head, “Uh-huh,” waving my hand, “Mm-hmm, yup. What do you want? Get to the point.” I get so frustrated to the point that I’m not even listening anymore. I might be looking at you and I might not be talking but the comprehension is very low. I would need you to do it in a deductive way for me.

And the reverse is true, by the way, also. If I’m an inductive thinker, and this deductive person comes to talk to me, what I would look like is very frustrated, “What? Whoa, wait a minute. Hold on. Slow down. How did you get to the…? Back up just a minute here.” So, this isn’t about right or wrong. The language we like to use here, this is about what’s effective versus ineffective. Therefore, the skill is to, number one, know which way you tend to lean. And, number two, probably more importantly, is, what does your listener, or listeners, need you to be? What do they need you to be in order to make it as easy as possible for them to receive the information, comprehend the information, and see what you’re trying to communicate? That’s the skill around here.

And where sometimes there’s a confusion is there are folks who will say, “You should always be deductive. Tell them the point up front.” It’s, like, well, that’s not bad advice for deductive thinkers. “Well, senior executives are always deductive.” Oh, that is not true. That is not true. I coach CEOs all over the world, and I know many who are inductive in the way they think. However, we know it is a trend that the more senior we become, there is a trend to become more deductive, so it’s not a bad way to plan but you always want to be ready to pivot.

Just like in the game of soccer, if I were to say to you, “Only kick the ball with your right foot. Never kick with your left,” that’s really poor advice. It doesn’t help you. The skill is to learn both. And that’s easy to understand, hard to do, because one of these is our comfort zone, and the other one is, Pete, you did a great job of explaining a second ago, kind of annoying. It’s like, “Will you just shut up and get to the point?”

In Jon’s case, what he did really, really well is he was very deductive in the way he thought because he knows a lot about the music business. And as he grew, and people would come to him with deals, he was listening deductively but they were talking inductively. He trained himself how to listen in an inductive way. And when he did, he says two things happened.

Number one is the quality of the relationships with those around him strengthened. And, number two, he actually learned stuff. It was like, “I could learn things.” So, it’s a good skill to look at. I know it’s old but the reason we’ve never decided to give cute names to it, or get into the psychometric, a lot of the psychometric tests have come from some of the Aristotle stuff, is that we just found that in the business world, when you teach it in its raw form, it’s much easier for people to hear it, comprehend it, and, most importantly, apply it in their daily life without us there coaching and so.

Pete Mockaitis
And that’s an interesting point with the deductive-listening approach. Like, on the one hand, we stay focused on the point, what really matters. But, on the other hand, when it comes to deal-making, you could very well be missing opportunities in terms of like, “Oh, that thing that you were just kind of rambling on about actually contained some kernels of stuff that’s useful clues about what really matters to you, or what really frustrates you, or if I could get incorporated in this deal for you, you’d be willing to make a concession elsewhere that is of more benefit to me. And if I were just like laser-focused about what just sort what just washed passed me, I’d miss out on it.”

Ethan Becker
Yeah. In the world of selling, we do a lot of this kind of work with sales professionals. And if you look at traditional selling, it’s been around for a while, the inductive approach is pretty much what’s trained, like, “Don’t tell them the price until you have presented the value proposition,” and it is drilled into people.

Pete Mockaitis
And I guess I haven’t thought about it in these terms but I guess I am super deductive because when I’m talking to a sales person, I guess, I want them to prove that they’ve got the goods. And so, they’re like, “Let me tell you a little bit about the history of our company. So, we were founded in 1974 by a couple who had some frustration with their…” and I was like, “I don’t care at all.” Like, “Show me some compelling data, tests, experiments, case studies, that reveal that you’re the real deal and you can do what you claim to be able to do supremely well such that I can trust that you can do it for me.”

And then I do get frustrated when they don’t do that. And sometimes I even tell them, it’s like, “Hey, heads up, here’s what I find very persuasive.” It’s like I’m giving you a roadmap to selling me, and sometimes it just doesn’t matter at all, they do their scripts.

Ethan Becker
Well, funny you bring that up, if you look at different sales methodologies that are out there, whether it’s Sandler or SPIN, or many of them are challengers, some of these things have been around for a very long time, these sort of older models that were, for the most part, what are they trying to do? They’re trying to teach the salesperson to learn something about the listener, understand their situation, and the problems, and the implications, and then go back and present what they need.

And those who are really skilled at it have very high-quality listening ability, and they’re listening for a lot of different things. Those who are brand-new are reading a script of questions, and people hate them, they want to smack them. But what are they listening for? Does this person need a more inductive or deductive approach? And when that’s not taught, when it is said, “Don’t tell them the price, tell the value,” that’s nice if, in some cases, that may be the case. But, in other cases, oh, my goodness.

It’s not just selling a product, like, let’s say, you’re trying to sell your idea to senior management, and you’re asking for, I don’t know, half a million dollars for your project, and you inductively lead up to that. And if that particular team are deductive, if it’s a deductive group of listeners, here’s what they hear. As you go through your value and the data and all of the details, what they hear is this, “[muffled sounds] half a million dollars.” Like, they missed it. Why? Because in their mind, all they’re thinking is, “What do you want? Where are you going with this?”

Now, that doesn’t mean start out by showing up and saying, “Hey, I need half a million dollars.” Some teams you might, but it means know your listener. The real thing is you can’t get too far on one way or the other.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. And I’m thinking right now in terms of like best practices and how to kind of, as best as you can, be all things to all people in terms of, hey, we have an executive summary on the handout, and then we go into some of the details, or whatever, or just a little bit of a preview, “I’ve got an exciting investment opportunity I think it can give us 8X ROI that will cost about half a million dollars, and here are some of the details.”

Ethan Becker
Yeah, “What do you want?” and, “What do you want?” And so, from you, I’m going to ask you for approval. I’m going to ask, “What do you want from them?” Sometimes it’s nothing, “I’m just giving you an update.” The main point that you need might be at the beginning, and when we do that, for instance, like what you’re talking about in an executive summary, or when we look at, for instance, structure, there’s a structure that we introduced to the world back in 1964. It was actually ’63. The firm started in 1964, but in 1963, my mom and dad, both were on ABC television and they were interviewed about communication. It was sort of the year they were just starting the company.

And they were asked about this, and they talked about this, what we today we’ve referred to, and in my book, I talk about this, is we refer to it as the four-step outline.

Step number one has three words, “Tell what tell,” is the way we put it. And this is when you tell your listeners what you’re going to be talking about, how long you’ll be talking for, and how many particular topics. This might be your deductive point if it’s a deductive presentation. You might say what you want from them here. If it’s an inductive presentation, you might not. You might save that till later. But “Tell what tell” is when you set the expectation of what’s going to happen.

Step number two, this one kind of get dropped in some places but we still teach it, three words, “Tell why listen.” And this is a brief statement as to why they should listen to this presentation. It’s not necessarily why they should agree with you, or buy what you’re selling, or the why of the idea, or any of that jazz. It’s, “So, you’re going to talk about your department’s update. So, what? Why? Is this a good time for me to check my email? Like, why should I pay attention right now?” And we can talk about that in a bit, but that’s basically what it is; it’s brief commentary, and sometimes you have more than one if you have a group of people. If you got multiple people in the room, you might have to have more than one reason why they’re listening to this.

Step three, “Tell,” that’s the body of your presentation where most of your time is spent. Step four, “Tell what told,” and it’s a summarization, summaries of two parts to them. The first part is you repeat your most important points, not everything, but you go back and what it is those points are. And in some meetings, some business meetings, those points may have evolved over the course of the meeting, but you repeat, you come back, meaning if they’ve turned into discussion. But what are your most important points?

And then the second part is an action statement. What do you want your listeners to do? Now that they know this, do they go somewhere, call somebody? Maybe it’s just a soft action, like to consider or think about, things like that. But that’s it, tell them what you can tell them, tell them what they should listen, tell them what you told them.

And in some talks, we’ll reverse steps one and two, or repeat it, or if it’s a conference talk, or like a TED Talk, we might start out with a story, which is one big fat step number two that leads up to what we’re going to do. But when we look with inductive and deductive, well, that outline could apply either way. It depends who your listeners are.

Pete Mockaitis
And for the telling them why they should listen, you said that’s distinct from why they should buy or do the thing. So, could you give us some examples of statements or articulations of why to listen?

Ethan Becker
Sure. And sometimes they overlap so that’s fine. And when I’m coaching clients, sometimes the reason to buy is also a reason to listen. I just don’t think it’s that as strong.

So, let’s take the example of I’m a product manager and I’m presenting at a national sales meeting to the salesforce. And my job was to go up and do a 20-minute presentation on the new product, and my boss needs me to get the sales team all jazzed up about this because they’re going to be selling it for the next year.

All right, I’ll make this a little harder on me. It’s not even a new product. It’s the same product. We hear this all the time, it’s like, “There’s not even anything new but I still have to get them all excited about it.” So, step one and step two, “All right. Well, thanks, everybody. Over the next 20 minutes, I’m going to be talking to you about the product and all of the changes,” there’s step one.

“This is important because, for those of you who are not familiar with what’s different, this is going to help you feel very confident out in the field, that you know what is and what isn’t different about this so that you don’t accidentally say the wrong thing.” In that example, it’s not profound. This is where we get tripped up. Sometimes people feel like step number two needs to be this profound sale, “This will save your life.” It’s like, well, sure, that is a reason to listen but, in most business meetings, it’s usually something, “Who are your listeners? And why do they care about the particular topic?”

Let say, in that exact same example I just gave, there’s another targeted group, maybe they’re in that same group at the sales meeting, I also have people from finance at the meeting and I want to target them as well. So, it might sound something like this, “So, over the next 20 minutes, I’ll be taking you through the new product and so you can see all of the changes. And for those in sales, this is going to help you understand exactly what is and what isn’t different so that when you’re out in front of your customers, you have all the knowledge you need and you’re not going to look bad in front of them.” You’re not going to look bad in front of them, that’s the reason.

“For those of you in finance, I’m glad you’re here today. While this isn’t specific for you, this is going to give you some very good insight as to why we have been asking for what we have been, and where the money that you’ve been allocating to the team has gone. Okay,” and then they get into it, blah, blah, blah.

Now, I’m making up examples here. When we have real topics, it’s actually you can think about, “Who are these people? Who are my listeners? And why do they care?” And sometimes it’s hard because we’re so close to this, we just assume they know why. If you’re presenting to senior management just an update on your department, “Why?” “Well, because they told me to come,” but you can’t say that. I mean, you could say that but that’s not going to be very helpful. So, you might say, “So, this is going to give you the most up-to-date information on my team,” or something like that.

Sometimes folks will say, “But, Ethan, that sounds obvious.” Yeah. Well, we found in our research on this is that even when the listener knows why the speaker is talking, that when the speaker says it out loud, it just confirms in the back of their mind, “Why I’m here, why I am listening,” even if it’s not about them. They now understand who the speaker is talking to. It’s all part of setting the expectations.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, certainly. And it may seem obvious but that’s one of my top pet peeves when talking about communication because when people use the vocal pause “Obviously,” when it’s not obvious, and me as the recipient, it’s like, “Oh, actually, I didn’t know that but, apparently, it was obvious so I must be an idiot.” So, I just think that’s a great word to purge from one’s vocabulary.

Ethan Becker
I love it. I love it.

Pete Mockaitis
So, one, it may not be so obvious. You may have a different set of assumptions coming in, and you clarify that right up front, which is great, and then folks might reorient and say, “Oh, wait a second. I thought this was about this.” And if they’ve got the right kind of culture, “Hey, actually, I guess I don’t need to be here. Thank you for letting me know up front. I’m going to spend my time on this other thing because I had a different impression.”

Or, they can know that, “Hey, given that we’re moving in a slightly different direction than I had imagined, I’m going to formulate some different questions.” It’s just helpful. And I like the way you said it in terms of, “This is important for you because…” and then the way you arrived there is just by really putting yourself in their shoes in terms of, “I’m a salesperson, why do I care about this? Oh, because if I don’t have the info, I’m going to sound dumb. I may commit to something we can’t deliver, then we’re really going to be in a bigger pickle because we’ve disappointed somebody or we’ve blown a sale that could’ve been saved had we just sort of gotten it right the first time.”

Ethan Becker
Yeah, in that example, in the “Hey, we got to present to the sales team…“ example, this is an important one because sometimes marketing, product marketing, there’s sort of this fear of saying something that could possibly be perceived as negative. And when you look at inductive and deductive, we were sort of joking a little bit that all salespeople are trained to be inductive, right? Yes, as talkers. However, when it is time to listen, what we found in the work that we do is they tend to be deductive when they’re listening.

So, if you’re at a conference, and you’re trying to do a “Tell why listen,” step two, “Tell why listen,” first is you got to say at the beginning of your talk, can’t save it till the end. In general, we have found folks who are in the profession of selling, they tend to care about two things, and if you can tap into one of those, you have their undivided attention. Any guesses on what they are, two things salespeople care about? Listeners right now could think about it, say it out loud in your car.

Pete Mockaitis
I’ll say commissions and delighting their customers.

Ethan Becker
Very, very close. Commissions, yes, it falls into the category of money. Money, how much? And I don’t mean that in a mean-spirited way. There’s nothing wrong with that at all. Look, folks who are in the profession of selling are typically hired with a particular…that’s a desirable thing. There’s nothing wrong with that, “How much will I make?”

So, if I’m at the conference, I’m at the company conference, and you’re talking to me about the same product, or a new product, or a plan, or a program, in my mind, I’m thinking, “How much will I make?” is one, or, “How will this help me get to my number or my goal?” something related to that. Fine. The second one is, “Is what you’re talking about going to make it easier or harder for me to make that number? Are you going to make my world easier or harder?”

There’s a big focus on that because they know the amount of work that they already need to do. And now they’re at the conference, “And if your product is going to make my life easy, you have my eye. I’m excited. If it’s going to be hard, I might not be excited but don’t BS me. Don’t try to tell me that this is wonderful when I can see it’s the exact same product with a different brochure color. Just be up front. I’ll respect you more.”

Because if I’m that rep, I’m out there in the field by myself representing, I need to know what I have to work with, so deductively say that near the beginning. You don’t have to say it in a gloom-and-doom way but just be straight up, “I’ll know how to take it out there. I might be upset about it but that’s a different story.” So, if you can be deductive about it, and you can connect to one of those two things in your step two, you’re going to do really, really well in that kind of a meeting.

Pete Mockaitis
Cool. Thank you.

Ethan Becker
Quite frankly, others, too. If you’re presenting to senior management, you got bad news, you don’t have to pretend it’s not there. They’ll respect you. You don’t have to say, “I have bad news.” No, not like that. But you don’t have to be nervous about it. These are business meetings, and if there’s something that’s not great, you can say it.

Pete Mockaitis
Sure thing. Okay, I like it.

Ethan Becker
I’m going on and on on this stuff.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, you’ve also got a concept called The Four Horsemen of Delivery. So, I’m curious, what are those horsemen and how do we master that?

Ethan Becker
All right. Deductively, they are speed, volume, stress, and inflection. Now these are delivery-specific things. And delivery, is not an effective presentation all by itself. Some folks could argue that it could be.

Pete Mockaitis
I think I’ve seen some keynoters who’ve managed to make a living out of good delivery without a lot of substance.

Ethan Becker
We see it a lot. This is not theater. That’s something I want to be very, very clear about. In fact, you’ll never hear somebody like me use words like rehearse, for instance. It’s a theater term. And in the business world, we ain’t acting.

And when we try to teach it in that way, folks tend to do well in training, but then they get there live and the anxiety can be very high. I think a more helpful way to look at it isn’t so much rehearse and so forth, but practice is a much more accurate term because speech is a behavior just like kicking a ball is a behavior, so we practice. You don’t go to basketball rehearsal. You go to basketball practice so that you can learn how to do things.

And in our delivery, we look at things like speed, and volume, and stressing of words, and inflection changing the word, things like that. These are tools that can help us enhance the intent of any sentence. Together, all of these things, we call it adding color to a word. And this is a technique, many of us do this normally, in our normal natural communication when we’re talking with friends. And the variety in our speech patterns are just there, for many of us.

But when we get into a formal presentation, all of a sudden, the speech pattern is almost identical, things change. So, the Four Horsemen of speed, and volume, and stress, and inflection are four things that you can look at specifically.

Speed is broken into two parts. We have what’s called the rate of speech and the pace of speech. I’ll say it again because you can think about it, for you listeners, your own speaking. Rate is the speed at which we put words together. We speak, on average, at approximately 183 words per minute, is the average rate of speech. If you were to go to a meeting today and start counting words, you’ll get to it, in general American, which is what we speak in the United States. We don’t speak English, we speak American. But, in general American, we speak at approximately 183, a little more, a little less depending on who you are.

If I start talking at a faster rate right now, right now my rate of speech has just increased. I’m probably, I don’t know, maybe more like 213 words per minute right now. That’s rate. Pace is the speed at which we put thoughts together. So, I can actually be a faster talking like this, and as long as I pause every so often, you’ll actually be able to follow and process the things that I’m talking about. But if I start talking at a faster rate like this and I don’t pause for pacing, and I start talking about technical things, and I’m expecting you to understand and follow and process the things that I’m saying, you’re going to be begging for me to just take a breath. That’s just what they are, rate and pace.

And, often, what happens is, in a presentation, as speech coaches, these are coachable things. We listen and hear that. Many people are pretty good with rate, not always. Sometimes you got to learn to slow the rate. but pacing is often off. It’s thought, thought, thought, thought, topic, topic, topic. It just keeps going and it is very difficult for listeners to comprehend.

When we don’t change the speech pattern, the speaker can lull listeners into a trance, literally, which is why, for folks who have been in a presentation, and you just sort of zone a little bit, sometimes that is because the speech pattern just does not vary. Speed is one thing we can look at to do that. The other ones, such as volume, that doesn’t work for everybody. We look at volume or stress or inflection. Volume, volume. Stress, we stretch a word out somehow. Or the inflection, the tone, somehow, we make a change, and that draws attention.

Let me give you an example. If I were to say to you, “Good speech is good business,” every word has about the same stress and same volume and same meaning, so it’s up to you, the listener, to hear the words, process that, and understand my meaning, and for the most part you can do that. That’s actually pretty profound.

As a species, we have figured out how to take thought and then control these articulators here, the vocal folds, or our breathing where sound comes from, and then the articulators, the teeth, the tongue, the lips, things like that, and shape the sound and the noises we make so another human can hear those sounds, decode it, and now they have the same thought that we had. I mean, it’s pretty profound when you think about that. No wonder there’s so much room for miscommunication, misunderstanding.

When I say, “Good speech is good business,” I’m making you work a little harder. A moment ago, I told you we speak at about 183 words per minute. We can think at like 600 words per minute so, therefore, there’s like 400 or so words a minute doing other stuff all the time. Even right now while I’m talking, people can hear me but in the back of their minds, they may be thinking, “Oh, I got to get that email out. He’s a second-generation coach, what is that? Oh, my goodness.” There are all sorts of dialogue happening in our minds while people are talking.

So, when I say, “Good speech is good business,” I am making you use that 400 words a minute to hear the words, decode the words, and understand the meaning. Okay, fine. Fine. Listen to how the meaning changes when I add color, one of the four horsemen, when I add color to one of the words, “Good speech is good business.” I’m going to change a few times. Let me do these three or four times. Listen to how the meaning changes, “Good speech is good business.” “Good speech is good business.” “Good speech is good business.” “Good speech is good business.”

Can you hear how the meanings slightly changes depending on where I’m adding the inflection or stress or changing?

Pete Mockaitis
You know, it’s fun how that works because sometimes I play around with that just for fun in terms of like a given sentence or a joke, and see how it feels different. And I think, as you discussed these principles, the speaker that comes to mind for me is the late Jim Rohn. His voice has such music in it. And I think he’s a master in that it’s like it’s almost too much, but not. And so, I just think it’s a great example of this is what it sounds like when you bring a lot of that color into it in terms of it does feel musical. It’s like I wish I could give a great quote but I actually think about how Jim Rohn might say it, it’s like, “Good speech is good business,” in terms of it’s like, “Ooh, we’ve got a lot of kind of flair on that.”

Ethan Becker
So, interestingly, here’s where sort of like in the world of theater, a director might work with an actor or actress on this, but that’s their profession doing this. So, this is one reason why we’re not big fans of bringing theater ideas into the business world because, in many cases, the folks we’re working with, they don’t have that level of time, understanding, background, history. There are many, many people that we work with who, maybe they are a scientist, for instance, and they were trained, in fact, graded poorly if they added emphasis as they did a report.

A classic example, so we work with a lot of life science companies, as an example. These are companies that maybe they already have their first hundred million dollars, but now they’re looking to raise the next round of funding. They’re looking for 200 million or 300 million, and the senior leadership team are a collection of incredibly smart scientists who have come from the academic space, and they will present, “We have a drug that will cure cancer.” Aristotle would refer to that as a logos approach, a very sort of not a lot of variation in the voice. And in their world, that gives them credibility in the scientific world if they were at a conference, if they were speaking to academics. And if they took a TED Talk-style, forget it. they would be laughed out of the room.

This is why we say, “Don’t just talk like TED in the world of business place. There’s a time and a place for that style as incredibly effective, which is really just the conference style.” But you take that style to like a boardroom, no way. Or, for these scientists, the challenge for them is, “How do I, as a scientist, who was trained to not show any emotion when I am talking about even something that is significant?” They need to learn how to add emphasis in a way that is effective. And we all look different, we sound different, they don’t have to talk like Tony Robbins or something. They don’t have to do that. You don’t have to, to be incredible.

They can take and keep their current style and just learn how to adapt and amend certain words that emphasize the point, and, bam, it will pop. Their listeners will tune right in. And what makes this authentic is they are spending the time, saying, “Whoa, what do I actually mean in any given sentence? What is the point?” But then they got to actually do the practicing of it. Learning it is easy. Practicing it, it’s not hard, you just got to do the work. You just got to do it, that’s all. Anyway, it’s a lot of fun. All this stuff is a lot of fun.

There are other environments where you got to take a different approach but we’re not all the same. We look different, sound different. This is why it ain’t one size fits all. You just can’t do it that way.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Well, now could you share with us a favorite quote, something you find inspiring?

Ethan Becker
My mom always used to say, “Be sure that your brain is engaged before putting your mouth into gear.”

Pete Mockaitis
And a favorite book?

Ethan Becker
I like Getting to Yes by Fisher and Ury. I like Good to Great, excellent book, Jim Collins. The third one would be, oh, The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense by Suzette Haden. Elgin, she changed her name, but that’s a great one.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. And a favorite tool, something you use to be awesome at your job?

Ethan Becker
A favorite tool would be taking a time out to practice.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. And is there a particular nugget you share that really seems to connect and resonate with readers; they tend to quote it back to you frequently?

Ethan Becker
Yeah, getting good at step number two. That’s probably one of the things we get a lot of feedback on. Most folks have not thought about step two, “Tell why listen,” and they will…As you get good at that, the quality of their presentations really change. Not just the quality of the presentation, the attention span of the listener changes significantly when you get good at it and it feels authentic. None of this stuff is like gimmick stuff. This is all real. This is all how you do it.

Pete Mockaitis
And if folks want to learn more or get in touch, where would you point them?

Ethan Becker
Well, you can go to SpeechImprovement.com is the website. You can find me on LinkedIn, Dr. Ethan Becker. We do have an app that’s pretty cool. This is a free app. It’s called Speech Companion that has a great summary of the four-step outline, inductive, deductive, ethos, pathos, logos, with examples of phrases and language. It’s a tool we developed a while back. We actually wrote the code from scratch in-house here, which was a lot of fun to do.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, cool. And do you have a final challenge or call to action for folks looking to be awesome at their jobs?

Ethan Becker
Yeah, as you’re listening to people, begin to notice how other people are communicating. Do they like their general information up front or at the end? And as you start to do that, you’re going to start to find that’s just one area you’ll be able to connect with them much more effectively.

Pete Mockaitis
Ethan, thank you. This has been a treat. I wish you much luck in all of your communications.

Ethan Becker
Thanks, Pete. I appreciate it.

648: How to Turn Stage Presence into Screen Presence with Diane DiResta

By | Podcasts | No Comments

 

 

Diane DiResta shares expert tips to up your presence in remote meetings.

You’ll Learn:

  1. The simple change that dramatically improves your presence 
  2. Cost-efficient tips for improving your audio
  3. Expert tips for engaging your virtual audience 

About Diane

Diane DiResta, CSP, is Founder and CEO of DiResta Communications, Inc., a New York City consultancy that serves business leaders who deliver high-stakes presentations—whether one-to-one, in front of a crowd, or from an electronic platform. A Certified Speaking Professional, DiResta is one of only 12% of speakers to hold that designation. She was President of the New York City chapter of the National Speakers Association and former media trainer for the NBA and WNBA. 

 

Resources mentioned in the show:

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Diane DiResta Interview Transcript

Pete Mockaitis
Diane, thanks for joining us here on the How to be Awesome at Your Job podcast.

Diane DiResta
It’s great to be back.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah. Well, it’s great to have you back. And, boy, yeah, a lot of things have evolved since our last conversation.
Well, so much of your business has now shifted to a whole boatload of virtual meetings, presentations, trainings, interactions. Tell us, how has that shift in experience gone for you?

Diane DiResta
I love the virtual world. Now, what’s interesting is I’d already started virtual coaching before COVID hit because I had some people who were from North Carolina, Canada, Texas. So, what I was doing ideally when I could is either they were coming to New York for the first visit or I was going to them. And then it worked really well virtually. But once COVID hit, it was all virtual.

And I didn’t get any pushback from people. I had one client who I started with in-person, he had one session left, and he didn’t want to do it virtually. And then, finally, he realized this might be a year or so, and he said, “Let me do it.” And so, he realized it’s working really well. So, I’ve done training sessions, speaking engagements, and coaching virtually. I really like it.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Cool. Well, so you’re a pro and you have made the transition like a pro. Can you share with us any surprises in your own personal experience as you’ve made the transition?

Diane DiResta
Well, the first thing I did immediately is I went for certification so I’m now a certified virtual presenter.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, interesting.

Diane DiResta
Yeah.

Pete Mockaitis
Where does one do that?

Diane DiResta
Through eSpeakers.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Oh, that’s right. I have seen that little icon there. Sometimes we recruit guests from eSpeakers because they have a huge database of experts. Pro tip, podcasters.

Diane DiResta
Yes. And so, well, it was important for my credibility. And a big surprise to me was how bad some of these presentations are from people at higher levels. So, the first surprise was I was watching TV and I saw this senator that I had seen many times on the news, who was a spokesperson, who was very media savvy, very good, and I witnessed her first Zoom presentation, and it was like this – side of a face, looking down. She didn’t even know where the camera was, and I’m shocked. Like, how could this happen?

[03:31]

And then someone explained to me, “Well, when you’re in the media at that level, people are doing things for you. You’re talking into a teleprompter, there’s a producer, so they don’t really learn this.” So, I realized there is a market here and people need me. So, I start to rant when I see these kinds of things happening.

I was working with a physician, I was a facilitator or an interviewer for a health summit, a virtual summit. We had a conversation beforehand, we met five minutes before the meeting, and I was shocked, once again, because here he was, in his office, with a ceiling fan, a rotating fan. So, I got rid of that through manipulation of the laptop. But then his backdrop was so messy, there were tons and piles of books and papers and files, and there was nothing I could do.

So, here’s what people need to realize. You are communicating a message, and that messy background interferes. Number one, it’s a distraction to the message but, secondly, it’s communicating another message about your presence. So, there are some people who feel or believe that if they have really good credentials and they have very good content that that’s what counts.

But, no, if you have a mess behind you, you’re communicating sloppiness. So, what does that mean? Is your research sloppy? Is your presentation sloppy? So, it’s really important.

Pete Mockaitis
Wow, boy, there’s so much there in terms of, one, those associations. And I’m reminded of, well, I’ve got that book in my background, Pre-Suasion by Bob Cialdini talking about how we have associations. Like, if a resume is on a heavy clipboard, we sort of associate some weight to it. If you’re given a warm cup of tea, you might have some warmth toward the person who shared that. And so, there are some studies that point to that, and so then how much more so when it’s your entire background, that which is in my field of view as I’m beholding you, is messy. Like, that association will pop up all the more so.

Diane DiResta
Absolutely. So, this is what’s different and this is why I’m helping people translate stage presence into screen presence because the 3D world is very different from the virtual platform. So, one of the things people have to realize is they need to stage themselves. When you go into a meeting in a 3D world, the meeting room is there. You go into a conference room, the overhead lighting is there, the table is there, you don’t do any of that. But when you’re recording from your home or office, home office, you need to change the way that looks, you need to take control, so you become a producer. And the staging is very important, it’s the backdrop, the background.

And so, when I talk about staging, it’s what’s your backdrop. So, you have a few options. One is a screen. I have a room divider and what that allows me to do is hide any mess so that I can be camera-ready in a pinch. And we just had this experience a moment ago. You saw the mess behind me and there was no dial to change the backdrop so I took my screen up. So, that’s the first thing, it’s a physical screen.

Secondly, you can change your backdrop. I use Zoom a lot, and so you can upload your own backdrop. Now, here are some choices. One is, if you want to promote, if you want to communicate your brand, you can create your own. So, what I have is my logo on one side and my book and my Certified Virtual Presenter on the other side, so it’s speaking for me.

But you can have a nice scene, a beach scene, or a mountain scene, and that’s very calming. Or you can have a regular real-world backdrop. So, for instance, if you have a lovely living room or a very calm soothing office, and that’s real, use it, but make sure that it is supporting you, that it supports your brand. So, I would say be mindful and be strategic. What is it that you want to communicate?

Now, let me explain why this can impact you on your job. People take this lightly. When we first came to the virtual platform, post-COVID, people were very casual, they were showing up in their hoodies. But then we got over that because we realized this is here to stay. Well, I had a client who said to me, “Listen, Diane, full disclosure. In the beginning, we hired a vendor and they did four hours of virtual training, and I still don’t like how my team is showing up. They’re too casual. They’re too lax.”

So, I came in and I did a two-hour workshop, and one of the things we did is staging. And so, they learned how to center, they learned about lighting, they learned about backdrops, they learned about anything that would distract. So, what was fun is I had them look at still pictures of people in a frame and they had to critique it.

And then I had them do it on each other. So, I’d call on someone, I say, “All right, Pete, we’re going to have someone else look at you. So, Joe, take a look at Pete right now. What would you say about him if you were coaching him on his backdrop, on his staging?” and it was very enlightening for them, and they realized that, “Oh, this is about presence.” It affects your executive presence, so your screen presence can’t be lax.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah, absolutely. And I feel that in many regards in terms of visually as well as auditorily. Before I go there, since that’s a whole other ball of wax, I love that technique there associated with having peers review each other because they…and sometimes they may have something they’ve been wanting to say for months, “That thing has been annoying me…”

Diane DiResta
Well, we don’t do it that way.

Pete Mockaitis
Certainly. I’m sure it’s constructive and uplifting and positive and useful and so forth. So, that’s great right there in terms of a great way to get feedback because I think, a lot of times, we don’t even see that stuff because we’re just so accustomed to it. Sometimes I don’t even see my own mess in the house if it’s been there for a long time, it’s like, “Oh, yeah, I guess there’s no reason whatsoever for that thing to be hanging out there.” But someone else coming in will say, if we’re good friends, like, “What’s up with that random thing shoved in the corner?”

Diane DiResta
Exactly. Well, I had another client and I had done a similar workshop for them, and then they got a new CEO, and the HR person contacted me and said, “Listen, I want you to talk to his assistant because the way he’s showing up, he really needs your training.” So, I worked with him and he said, “You talk away. Tell me what I need. I don’t have the equipment. I don’t know about my backdrop.” And he had a backdrop that he created, and I said, “No, that doesn’t work for you. Let’s come up with something else.” And, afterwards, the next day, or the next week, his assistant called me and said, “Wow, I really see a difference.” So, it really is skill-based. People don’t know, a lot of times, what they need to do and they don’t know how they’re coming across. And so, that’s where I come in.

Pete Mockaitis
Absolutely. And, actually, to also follow up on the point you brought up at the beginning, it’s skill-based. And if you are senior, you may very well have people that are handling all things for you, and so you need that skill and it could really be a blind spot. So, great that we’re shining a spotlight on that right now. But, now, I got to hear, if this person made the time to construct their own background but it wasn’t working for them, what makes a background bad?

Diane DiResta
Well, here’s the thing. He didn’t construct it, it was one of those backgrounds that you can download, and it looked like it had flipcharts on the floor, and I said, “It doesn’t look right. Let’s take it out.” In fact, when he had no backdrop and he was in a regular office, that actually looked better. So, he just needed the feedback.

Pete Mockaitis
Sure. Okay. So, yes, there could be any number of reasons why something doesn’t fit. And maybe flipcharts on the floor, I don’t know, if you’re a design-thinking coach, it might be perfect, like, “Oh, that really gives me a creative space.”

Diane DiResta
Yes, but not for CEO.

Pete Mockaitis
Right.

Diane DiResta
It did not communicate his brand and his level. So, again, I tell people, “Be strategic. How do you want to be perceived? Because you have the power, you have the control over how people are going to perceive you by how you show up.” And we all know the studies about the visual and the impact and it takes seven seconds or less to make a first impression. And, boom, as soon as you turn on the camera, they see that and that’s their first impression, so make it positive. Make it powerful.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, we talked about sort of the visual components here. I’d love to talk about audio, and I’m going to try not to dork out too hard here because I’m pretty intense about this. Well, Diane, you’ve seen the booking process. The choices are, “Are you going to be in a professional studio or should I send you a headset?” Those are the only two choices.

And you can debate what constitutes professional in terms of audio, but that is my experience, that if something is unpleasant to hear, well, one, there’s those associations again. It’s like, “Hmm, I just don’t like the feeling of you talking.” Like, you don’t want that associated with you just because of a bad microphone.

Diane DiResta
True.

Pete Mockaitis
And, two, I’ve got hard data from podcast listeners. Bad or even a little bit worse than mediocre, so like maybe slightly disappointing audio quality, results in lower engagement. People just tune out and stop listening earlier – I’ve got hard numbers on this – when the sound is lame. So, tell us, how do we make sound not lame?

Diane DiResta
Well, you’re exactly right. If you have to air, people will forgive you, let’s say, on YouTube if your lighting isn’t great but not the audio. The audio is really key. So, how do you make your sound good? The first thing is the worst kind of sound is when you talk directly to the computer because it sounds tinny. And I know when I see these new shows and they bring in experts and they’re talking to their computers; it’s irritating for me to listen to.

Pete Mockaitis
Now, do you mean the computer’s internal microphone, talking to the computer?

Diane DiResta
Yes. In other words, you don’t have any external mic. You’re just talking to the internal mic and it’s tinny. It’s not the best quality. So, at the very lowest level, put in some earbuds. I’ve used them, they work really well. Get an external mic. The Yeti is one of the top-level mics. And, again, when you have microphones and you test them, it’ll be much more effective. You can also use a headset, and Logitech is a good brand. I actually was on a very high-level podcast, and this podcast host required a certain headset.

Pete Mockaitis
John Lee Dumas, the Logitech H390.

Diane DiResta
Yes. Yes. Yes. Entrepreneurs on Fire. It’s John Lee Dumas, yes, and he actually tells you which one to get. And I got it. And I don’t use it that often because, it was interesting, in my network group today, a question came up, “What about headsets and executive presence?” And I thought about it and said, “You know, it depends on your level. I would not recommend someone at a high level, at the senior level, to be wearing a headset. It just doesn’t look like an executive. But, at other levels, it’s appropriate. It really depends on the venue, the culture of your company.” But headsets are good because they have the built-in mic, you don’t have to worry about anything. It’s all there. So, it depends on what you like. If you’re a podcaster, headsets are the best. Usually the best choice.

[15:50]

Pete Mockaitis
Well, yeah, it’s sort of like, in our world, so we send headsets to guests because, it’s like, “Hey, we’re only recording the audio so it doesn’t matter to listeners what you look like and it doesn’t matter to me.” You look great with your backdrop there. That’s really lovely.

Diane DiResta
Thank you.

Pete Mockaitis
So, I think that’s great. I will make a shoutout. We’ve spent dozens of hours testing many, many headsets and we love the Sennheiser or IMPACT EPOS SC30 or 60 in terms of bang for the buck, in terms of mic quality. Not the most comfortable or durable or best headphones, but, darn it, for a great-sounding mic at a great price, that’s, I think, the best game in town.

And I got to comment on the Yeti, and I think the key to using that well, and please chime in, Diane, if you’ve got some perspectives on this, is that you want to set it to the cardioid pickup pattern and speak pretty close to it and have enough stuff in the room so it’s not super echoey because I’ve seen a Yeti in a closet is a dream come true, a yeti in an empty room is echoey and unpleasant.

Diane DiResta
Yes, there is the acoustics factor and there are certain microphones that are unidimensional or multidimensional, and you need to know which they are so that you can speak differently. So, there are certain microphones where you speak right to the head, and there are others that are standup and you speak to the side of the mic, depending on which kind of microphone it is.

Pete Mockaitis
Totally. So, I think that’s great. And that notion of just stepping into your thought process is excellent in terms of thinking about the headset and the presence and the impression that that gives. I can totally see what you’re saying with regard to if you are a CEO or a senior executive, a headset kind of makes you think call center, like, “Wait a minute. That doesn’t feel quite right.”

But then, again, if you are an analyst, I’m thinking about like with Jack Bauer, CTU, the 24 TV series, like CIA analysts who are like fighting terrorism and using computers and being brilliant at them. That can kind of fit in terms of, “Oh, look at you. You’re a hardcore and you don’t have time to waste. You’re going to be clear and get right back to coming up with brilliant insights from your analysis.”

Diane DiResta
It goes back to your style, the culture, what you’re trying to communicate.

Pete Mockaitis
Totally. That’s cool. Okay. Well, we’ve got a lot of great tips here. Let’s talk more about maybe sort of like mindset or thought process or key questions to go through because we can get the particulars in terms of what’s a great background and what’s a great meeting platform, software, and what’s a great microphone. I just want to hear about how we should go about thinking through these questions to make the perfect choices for ourselves.

Diane DiResta
Well, the first thing, is people are not familiar with the technology, and there are so many different platforms. There’s Zoom, there’s Teams, there’s Google Meet, there’s WebEx, and so you need to know which one you’re on and get familiar with it. And, in fact, I went to a seminar that was virtual court, yeah, the virtual courtroom. It was for lawyers but I thought it’d be very interesting.

And one of the things that they said, the judge said, is, “We offer jurors, or people coming for hearings, the day before, to meet with a court officer who will train them and take them through the process.” That’s really important because, too often, people are on mute, and people don’t know it. And, in fact, there’s a coffee mug I’ve seen, it says, “You’re on mute,” and I think that is brilliant because it happens on every call. So, you need to get familiar with the technology. You need some help.

One of the worse situations, there was a professor recently, and he was giving a lecture and it was really interesting, but he started out and he didn’t even know he was on mute. And because there was no video, they were trying to let him know, and it took a while. And then, finally, “Oh, the wife is coming. She knows technology.” And then he said, “Well, you know, I’m a technophobe.” You’ve got to be prepared. You can’t let that kind of thing happen. So, that’s really key.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s true. Either you got to have the skills or you have to have a team immediately available whenever the situation calls for it.

Diane DiResta
And even then, things can go wrong.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, sure. You’re talking about virtual court, we’re just going to have to link to this because it’s the funniest thing I think I’ve seen this year. Have you seen the cat?

Diane DiResta
Are you talking about, “I’m not a cat”? Yes.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, my gosh.

Diane DiResta
I blogged about that and I said the same thing, it’s like, “Get there early. Test it out.” Because that so embarrassing and it was funny but it was embarrassing. So, we don’t ever want to be at a position. For those of you who don’t know what we’re talking about, there was a viral video, there was a lawyer in court, and he couldn’t get his video to work except for an animated cat. So, every time he spoke, it was his voice through this cat. And the judge was saying, “Well, check your filters,” and he still couldn’t get it to stop. And that’s an embarrassment, you don’t want that to happen on the job.

Pete Mockaitis
“Oh, I’m here live, judge. I’m not a cat.” And it’s the funniest thing I have seen, thus far, in 2021, so do yourself some favor and pull that up.

Diane DiResta
I will tell you, one of the things that people don’t realize is, and this is my rant, the talking head is dead. Truly, the talking head is dead. So, if you think you’re going to come online and lecture, you’re not going to be successful. People will tune you out. So, I talk about the two Es which are very different in the virtual world, and that’s eye contact and engagement.

Eye contact, when I coach people in the 3D world, I tell them, “Look at one person at a time and spread it around so you’re looking at the whole audience.” The reverse is true online. You want to look directly at the lens of your camera. Now this is hard because it’s like having a satellite interview. So, here’s what I do.

When I’m speaking, I look at the lens. When you’re speaking, I look at you so I can catch the nonverbals. But if I don’t look at the lens when I’m speaking, I’m not making a direct eye connection. The second thing is I always encourage people to start out with interaction. A poll is great or a question where they respond in the chat.

Because if you don’t do that and if you don’t engage them immediately, they’re on their phones, they’re going through their papers, they’re doing other things because they think they can just flip you on and listen as if it was on an ongoing webinar. So, don’t do a slide show where you’re just a voiceover slides because you will not have an audience paying attention. So, those are key.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah, that is big. And that’s a great point on the eye contact with regards to just getting into that habit in terms of, “Now, I’m looking at the lens, and now I’m looking at you.” And I’m sure, someday, one of these tech people are going to make a lens inside a screen so that…

Diane DiResta
It’s happening. I think it might be Invidia. It’s already happening but it’s not going to be available for us, but, eventually, it will.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah. So, here we are and I think that’s a good point with regard to conscientiously choosing that because it makes an impact in terms of, like, “I have a different feeling when you are looking right at the lens and I’m seeing you do that than the reverse, even though it’s so weird that we are not actually able to both make eye contact with each other at the same time.”

Diane DiResta
I know. And that’s one of the downfalls of the virtual world. But just think of yourself almost as a broadcaster or an actor, and you’re talking to the camera, and I can see you, I cannot see your face but I see you there in my peripheral vision. But, now, when you talk, I’m going to look at you.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah, that’s great.

Diane DiResta
And that’s what I do these days.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s great. Well, let’s talk about the engagement piece in terms of interactive, a poll. I would love for you to just rapid-fire share your favorite tips, tactics, tricks, brainstorms on how to engage virtually. I think a poll is great. What are some other ways you can do that?

Diane DiResta
Well, it depends on your platform. Some are more robust than others. I have the enterprise version of Zoom, and you can do a lot of things. So, polls are great. It can be a question-and-answer, a one-word or a sentence response, or it could be multiple choice. What’s great about polls is they’re fun because we can see them in the moment.

One of the things I do after a presentation is I raffle off a digital copy of my book Knockout Presentations. And the way I do that is there’s a virtual wheel, and I input everybody’s name before the presentation, and then I go to that wheel and spin it so they can see it and they can see their name, the spindle landing on their name, and it’s a lot of fun. It keeps people engaged and it also keeps them engaged to the end because they know that they’re going to get a prize. So, you have to have something at the end that they’re looking forward to.

There are some other ways that you can engage people. And, of course, we have breakout rooms, in that way people are getting into small pods and they’re talking to each other which is great. I love some of the icons, the hand raising. Now, you can do this a couple of ways. One with the icon or you can just have people raise their hand for a visual aid.

Sometimes when you need an icebreaker, if you see there’s a lull in the conversation, what you can do, I have a friend who does fabulous footwear, she’ll say, “All right, everybody, take off your shoe and hold it up and let’s see who has the most interesting shoe.” And, again, that can be something fun. You can use music. And I like to do something called square dancing when I want to get energy going. And so, you put on the music, you crank it up, and then people start dancing in their squares. And, again, people are moving to the music.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah, that’s kind of fun to watch in the gallery view, everyone moving at the same time. Okay.

Diane DiResta
Yes. Now, of course, if you’re talking to an investor, you’re not going to use that technique, but it depends. Now, here’s something that is a lot of fun. It’s an investment because you have to pay for this. But you can go online and download software games such as Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune, and Let’s Make a Deal, whatever those are. And then you can use them as part of your learning.

So, let’s say you’re doing sales training. Instead of the typical lecture and who has the answer, you can have two teams and you can input different answers beforehand and then you call in the team, they give you an answer, and either they get it or they don’t. So, it’s a lot of fun and it’s very engaging.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, that is cool.

Diane DiResta
So, some of the software games are fun.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, I love to zoom in on a couple of these in particular. So, software games, there’s a training company that does this. Is there one in particular that you can mention here?

Diane DiResta
The Training Arcade.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, The Training Arcade. Okay. So, they have like a Jeopardy piece over there. Okay. Excellent.

Diane DiResta
You can download them. You’re going to pay for them but it’s worth it if you have a lot of people. So, I would say, if your goal is to train or to have fun or to motivate, if you’re in a sales culture, a training culture, you might want to do that.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Excellent. And then your little spinney piece.

Diane DiResta
The spinning wheel?

Pete Mockaitis
What was that?

Diane DiResta
That is called WheelofNames.com.

Pete Mockaitis
Wheel of Names. Okay. Very cool.

Diane DiResta
And what you do is you input the names in advance. So, let’s say I have 20 people who are coming, I would put those 20 names in. And then, when I was ready, I would go to that page online and I would start spinning. It’s so much fun.

Pete Mockaitis
And I think that’s so cool, it’s that just the ability to share your screen enables tons of things to be possible. And this is very rudimentary, but I remember when I have my mastermind meetings with my fellow podcasters, who are awesome, everyone has been on the show and vice versa as it should be with the mastermind, we have…even just someone having the notes and the timer, and then sharing that screen so we’re looking at the notes and the timer, makes it more engaging than, hey, we’re just kind of talking.

So, those little things can make a world of difference even when it’s nothing fancy at all.

Diane DiResta
Using a whiteboard and actually drawing in real time. You see, here’s the thing with the brain. Every time you do something different, it stimulates attention. So, even the act of going to share your screen to show a document, people are, “It’s something new.” They’re going to go and look.

Pete Mockaitis
Great point. It just feels good to task-switch or multitask, even though that has its perils, which we’ve discussed several times. So, too, the switching it up feels good in that way. And I’m thinking about, I think, Miro – hey, they were a sponsor once, they’re awesome – has a lot of cool ways to like whiteboard and engage interactively there.

And I’m also thinking about even just like a Google Sheets. We’ve had some moments where it’s like, “Okay, guys. We’ve all talked about these options and now it’s time for us to, each on our sheet, rank or rate how well we think each of these options hits each of these criteria.” And then there’s sort of a top-level sheet that summarizes.

And, sure enough, I find that supremely engaging because my heart is stomping and I’m kind of wondering, “What number are they putting? What number am I putting? Should I check what number they’re putting? No, Pete, don’t be like the Olympic judge. Stand by your own opinions. Don’t sneak a peek.” It’s like, “I wonder if the one I’m supporting is going to be the winner.” Anyways.

Diane DiResta
Yeah. And, also, video clips. You can show a quick video clip that everybody watches and then can comment on. So, there are a number of ways you can do this. You can actually have people write their responses in the chat or you can open up the mics. Call on someone and say, “Let’s hear your voice,” because people want to talk. They want to hear their own voice. So, a number of techniques help to engage.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s good.

Diane DiResta
So, the more variety, the better.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s good. Well, Diane, tell me, anything else you want to make sure to mention before we shift gears and hear about some of your favorite things?

Diane DiResta
I would say a couple of things. People don’t realize that this is a skill. And I always say that gifted speakers are born but effective speakers are made. So, make a commitment to learn these skills because, years ago, I used to say that tomorrow’s speakers would need broadcasting skills, and we are here. We are way beyond that. So, you need to start thinking of yourself as a broadcaster, not just a speaker presenter.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. Thank you. Diane, now, could you share with us a favorite quote, something you find inspiring?

Diane DiResta
The quote that I put in my high school yearbook, which is, “A quitter never wins. A winner never quits.”

Pete Mockaitis
Thank you. And a favorite study or a piece of research?

Diane DiResta
I like some of the research that’s coming out about women. The one I read recently was, you know, the belief that women are talkers, and yet when they show research, I believe it was Harvard or Stanford, women actually talk less than men do in meetings. So, it really blew away a stereotype.

Pete Mockaitis
And a favorite book?

Diane DiResta
The Science of Mind and Think and Grow Rich. The Science of Mind is a huge textbook-like book by Ernest Holmes but it’s all about spiritual, mental training which really helps people understand the power they have when they use the power of their mind.

Pete Mockaitis
And a favorite tool, something you use to be awesome at your job?

Diane DiResta
A favorite tool. I love Zoom. I use Zoom all the time.

Pete Mockaitis
And a favorite habit?

Diane DiResta
I don’t know if it’s a favorite habit but I have a habit of getting up early now, and that makes a big difference in my productivity. I get up at 5:30 in the morning. To me, that’s early. And that allows me to create certain rituals, so prayers, affirmation, and I read one page of something spiritual before I look at my phone.

Pete Mockaitis
And is there a particular nugget you share that seems to connect and resonate and get quoted back to you frequently?

Diane DiResta
What I said earlier, that gifted speakers are born and effective speakers are made.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. And if folks want to learn more or get in touch, where would you point them?

Diane DiResta
The best place is my website DiResta.com. And I want to tell people that I’m going to be starting a group coaching for women, for women business professionals so that they can feel more confident and have the support of a group as well as work with me in a coaching capacity. So, that’s coming up. If you would like to learn more about that, send me an email through DiResta.com. And you can also get my book Knockout Presentations on Amazon or any of the online stores.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. And do you have a final challenge or call to action for folks looking to be awesome at their jobs?

Diane DiResta
The final challenge is commit to being a good communicator. I don’t think there’s any skill that’s more impactful or important than communication. It doesn’t matter how technically proficient you are or how smart you are, you need to be able to be a good communicator. So, make a commitment. And make a commitment to be able to do that on a virtual platform because this is not going away.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. Diane, this has been a treat. Thank you and I wish you lots of luck with all presentations, virtual and in person.

Diane DiResta
Thank you. And I wish you success on the platform of life and may all your presentations be a knockout.

592: How to Speak with Effortless Confidence with Caroline Goyder

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Caroline Goyder shares exercises to help you feel more comfortable and confident with your voice.

You’ll Learn:

  1. The mindset shift that turns insecurity into confidence
  2. An easy way to make your voice more dynamic
  3. Quick ways to boost your confidence before a meeting

About Caroline

Caroline Goyder’s global reputation as a speaker and voice coach is built on her warm, engaging, relaxed and highly practical style, and her expertise honed by her work with actors, teachers, broadcasters and the corporate sector. She worked at the Central School of Speech and Drama as a voice coach for over 10 years before launching her own company. She is regularly sought after by the media as an expert in her field and her work has featured on television and in numerous national and international newspaper articles. Her extremely successful Ted Talk has over 7.5 million views. Caroline has written three books, her most recent Find Your Voice was released in January 2020.

Caroline was named by Red magazine as one of Britain’s top coaches.

Resources mentioned in the show:

Thank you Sponsors!

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Caroline Goyder Interview Transcript

Pete Mockaitis
Caroline, thanks for joining us here on the How to be Awesome at Your Job podcast.

Caroline Goyder
My pleasure, Pete. Looking forward to it.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, I’m looking forward to getting into it as well. And I understand you’ve been in my shoes many times interviewing over 40 A-list actors. Any noteworthy stories that come to mind from that?

Caroline Goyder
Ooh, gosh. That book I wrote a few years back, and it was fascinating. And the thing that was so interesting was just how nervous all of them got about auditions and new gigs and new jobs. It was just a revelation that people like Helen Mirren get shaky hands when they have to make a speech, because it made me feel, “Well, if that’s okay for them, then it’s okay for me, too.” It released me to be nervous in lots of ways.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, you know, it’s funny. That’s exactly how I feel as you share that, it’s like, “Huh, okay then. It’s okay. It doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you. That’s how all of us, even the greats, are feeling.” So, that is handy. Thank you. Well, could you share then, so you’ve done a lot of work and research and hands-on experience in this space. Could you maybe tell us what’s maybe the most surprising and fascinating discovery you’ve made about confidence and having it and finding it, and not having it?

Caroline Goyder
So, when I started out, I definitely thought that confidence was something kind of out there that some people had. And when I was training as an actor, I would look at people and you’d see that he had it and she had it, and I knew that I didn’t. But 20 years on, I know when I see those people that they’re just really present, they’re just really in their bodies, they’re just able to center themselves when they have to. And I know that everybody can learn that skill, and that’s been the big revelation for me, that confidence is not a birthright. It’s a set of habits. And I wish I’d known that at 23, 21, when I started work. Even at 30 I wish I’d known that.

Pete Mockaitis
Confidence, ooh, that is good, not a birthright, it’s a set of habits. Okay. And then maybe for people who think that they’re doing it, they’re fine when it comes to speaking or being confident and having gravitas or voice. Could you just really lay it out for us in terms of what’s at stake there in terms of when you’ve got those habits sort of well-developed and are rocking and rolling and cruising and firing on those cylinders versus when you’re kind of stumbling and you haven’t found your voice? Why does it matter for the average professional?

Caroline Goyder
Gosh. Well, I’ve known those two zones. I’ve known the zone of not feeling confident really well as a person, and I know that when I didn’t feel confident in myself, I wasted a lot of energy worrying what people thought about me. I would worry that I was speaking too fast. I was worried that my voice was too thin. I would worry that I didn’t have enough presence. And that takes your attention away from other people. You stop listening. And, of course, what makes people effective in their jobs is that they are present and listening and able to tune in and be empathetic to others. Pretty much in any job that you do, that’s the success factor. And when you’re worried about yourself, you don’t have bandwidth to pay attention to other people.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah. Ooh, there’s a lot there. you’re saying that your focus, instead of being on, “Oh, my gosh, what’s everybody thinking. How am I doing?” you should be redirecting it toward serving and being present. How does that work inside your head?

So, let’s say you have the stage. Can you get really clear in terms of, “Let’s turn away from these sorts of thoughts running in our brain, that voice, and shift toward these other kinds of better thoughts and focus areas”?

Caroline Goyder
So, that’s really interesting, and I think what I would say to that is it’s an actor’s training, and I learned a lot from actors even though this is the theater of life we’re talking about. An actor’s training would say, “Actually, the thoughts are for rehearsal, the moment when you step out on stage…” and your stage could be a meeting or it could be a presentation, “…almost let go of your thoughts and get into a flow state where you’re really tuned into your body, your breath, what you can see in the room, someone’s tone of voice, so it becomes a very sensory experience.” And I think that’s what performers are taught. There’s a moment where you prepare, and then when you get into the stage, you just get present and you pay attention. And so, it becomes…it goes beyond thinking, and it becomes about flowing into the space. It’s almost like diving into something.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. So, it’s not about thoughts at all but rather sort of experience. it sounds like you’re saying, ideally, there wouldn’t be much of an internal monologue, like, “Okay, now I’m about to say this. Now I should walk over here. Now I need to be really angry or powerful or pause.” But rather your attention is pointed towards, “Oh, that person seems interesting.”

Caroline Goyder
Exactly.

Pete Mockaitis
Or, “That person is looking away. And, ooh, I’m feeling there’s excitement here,” as opposed to internal conversation.

Caroline Goyder
Yes. And, of course, there are moments where you might need to tweak it and someone might not get what you’ve just said about Q3 or your budget for next year or whatever it is. And you might have to talk to yourself to tweak it. But when things are going well, just be in it. There’s a lovely Greek word which is Kairos, and it means it’s the place in the armor where you can pierce it, and it’s a bit of a kind of battle-heavy metaphor, in a way, but it’s the idea that it’s being able to spot the moment. And whether you’re pitching a big idea at work, or trying to influence a new client, or whether you’ve got to get the boss on your side, your ability to see that moment is everything.

Pete Mockaitis
So, now I’m imagining, in the context of pitching, I was just talking to someone about how I might kind of automate the process of getting headsets to my guests. I’m glad our audio is working out. Thank you. And then he said something like, “Oh, yeah, we have a program where we send headsets. We call that our ‘Agent In A Box’ program where we do this, this, this.” And then I think I was very explicit, it’s like, “Oh, I love that. So, you’ve done this thing before in which you send individuals all the gear they need with some explanatory stuff, so that’s just handled forever, and I don’t have to think about it anymore, or keep making purchases on Amazon one at a time.”

And so, in a way, I guess you don’t need to be too observant there, because I said, “Oh, I love that.” But I guess I’m imagining, if I’m reading it like that, you’re saying we can observe and witness those sorts of moments of openness or interest or intrigue from the people we’re communicating with, and we should seize that.

Caroline Goyder
Exactly. And we’re basically nervous systems meeting each other. And the people who have the most success at work are ninjas at reading other people’s nervous systems. When they get excited about a new product that’s going to help them with their podcast, or when they hold their breath because they think they haven’t got enough budget, or when they lean in because they’re curious. Your ability to notice moment by moment what’s happening in someone else’s nervous system is what makes you good.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Well, there we have it. How do we do that?

Caroline Goyder
The first rule is get present to yourself because until you are present to the shifts in your own nervous system, “What’s my diaphragm doing? How am I breathing? Oh, my heart rate is going up,” you’re not going to be able to notice it in someone else. So, get to know your own instrument, get to know, become self-aware, tune into your own emotions, and then you’re going to be able to tune in to someone else.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. And so then, in a daily life kind of way, I’m just sort of doing my thing, is there a particular process you recommend that we do that to check in? Because I think it’s quite possible to go hours or days at a time and not actually really do that at all, to say, “How do I really feel about this? Or what’s really going on here?” So, how do you recommend we stop and make that happen?

Caroline Goyder
Well, I’ve been the person who couldn’t do this right. So, when I left Oxford where I studied English, and I went to drama school. And when I got to drama school, here I was, this girl who had spent a lot of time reading Shakespeare, I mean a lot, and I turn up in drama school and they go, “You’re in your head,” and I think, “What on earth are they talking about?” And what they meant is that I was trying to process everything through my brain, through the internal dialogue.

And the learning for me, which was quite a hard one, I have to say, is that in order for me to be good on stage, in order for me to have presence, I have to learn more about my body and not my brain. And I agree with you that most people at work, we’re all in Zoom jail at the moment, we’ll get back to the real office jail eventually, we sit a lot, we tense our shoulders, we lean forward into our laptops, we lose our breathing, our hips get tight, we have too much coffee, we don’t drink enough water, and then we kind of get into meetings, and we wonder why it’s not working.

And the simple thing that you can do to become more self-aware is to just notice your body. Notice that it’s not just carrying you around. Notice how you’re breathing. Notice how you’re standing. Adjust yourself. Go for a walk. Maybe do some yoga. Maybe go for a run. But just embody your whole self not just your brain. And I wish I’d learnt that in my first week at drama school rather than struggling through the five years.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. So, notice your body, and it sounds like we’re getting real precise, I guess, like in terms of, I could say, “My right elbow itches right now.”

Caroline Goyder
Yes.

Pete Mockaitis
“And my neck is tensed.” So, I’m just sort of internally noticing and articulating these things. And is that it? It’s like, “Well, noted. Moving on.” Or what’s the next step?

Caroline Goyder
There’s a yoga teacher called John Stokes who talks about…it all gets quite easy, but he talks about sensation rises from the ground up. So, you can notice all the sensation from your feet upwards, and it meets consciousness which comes down. And then somewhere in the middle is thinking. And so, we spent a lot of time thinking, probably not very much time in consciousness and very little time in sensation. And, for me, it was the fact becoming more present to sensation. And then I’ve also learnt to meditate and do yoga stuff, and consciousness is something I’m only in the foothills of, but that’s an interesting one too.

Pete Mockaitis
And that is intriguing in terms of splitting that into three segments because those are quite distinct from each other, as I’m thinking. It’s like, okay, sensation? “Boom! There’s warmth in this cup.” Thinking is like, “Okay, what’s my expression here?” And so then, what is consciousness?

Caroline Goyder
I would probably pass you to John Stokes on that one. What is consciousness?

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah, man, just making small talk over there.

Caroline Goyder
I mean, we could start a Ph.D. on this question. I’ll tell you in about 10 years when I’ve done some more meditation.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, I mean, I suppose I have a pretty succinct definition for consciousness. But I guess, maybe, one’s experience of consciousness in this narrow context of that thing which is distinct from thinking and sensation, what is it kind of like when you’re in the consciousness mode? Because I know what it’s like when I’m in the thinking mode and when I’m in the sensation mode, but what’s it like when I’m in the consciousness mode?

Caroline Goyder
Well, I was thinking, this is one of your earlier podcasts, and it gets into the Csikszentmihalyi flow state for me. I know when I’m present to consciousness because it becomes more, the field opens up. I’m tuned into the room in a bigger way. I’m not locked into my own, “Oh, you’re in it. This is…” that I’m open to something bigger, something more connected. So, that’s my experience of consciousness, but there are people who are way further down the path than me on this one.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, yeah, I think that mission accomplished in terms of clarifying that question for me there because in terms of, yeah, I know what that experience is like, and it is distinct from, “Okay, I’m thinking about some things now,” and it is distinct from, “Ooh, there’s a tickle in my throat.” It’s sort of like you are conscious of what is going on and you’re flowing in it but it’s kind of like…boy, gosh, I’m almost thinking about sort of like levels of abstraction there. Like they say, oh, man, I’m thinking about my professor.

So, they say, hey, there’s data, there’s information, and there’s knowledge, or something like that in terms of we could say that, “Data would suggest like sales are $5 million and costs are $4 million.” Information would be, “Oh, we have a gross profit margin percentage of 20% with one million profit over five million sales.” And then knowledge would be like, “Oh, and that’s good based on my experience and my industry and comparables, yadda, yadda, yadda.”

And so, these are sort of three different layers of, I guess, wisdom maybe, you might say, just as these are three different layers of experience. And consciousness is higher in a way in that it’s abstracting and encapsulating broad stuff underneath them. Caroline, I’m just thinking through this real time. Comments or thoughts.

Caroline Goyder
I refer you to John Stokes and his new book. It’s fascinating because it made me think how much I had to learn sensation in order to dissolve my thinking and in order to access a bigger field to be in the room, not just locked away in my head. And, for me, coming through the body through sensation was the way to dissolve the thinking.

Pete Mockaitis
Wow, you know, it’s funny because, in a way, what we’re talking about is a smidge abstract and, yet, I think, experientially, I maybe feel, as opposed to just thinking, exactly what you’re saying there in that…

Caroline Goyder
And there’s a really simple way, there’s a really specific, to make it not abstract, actors will say when they get on stage, “Feel your feet on the floor. Feel the air on your face. Feel the clothes on your skin. See something across the space that you haven’t noticed before.” So, although it is quite abstract in some ways, in other ways it’s just incredibly practical.

Pete Mockaitis
And in doing those things, you are exiting your thinking mode. And, as a result of having exited it, you may well be on your way to the consciousness flow mode.

Caroline Goyder
Exactly. Exactly.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. Cool. Well, I mean, that’s huge right there, is that we’re going to take some moments throughout the day and just before big performance times to check in and sort of get the sensation going. What else do you recommend we do in terms of getting those confidence habits working for us?

Caroline Goyder
The thing I’m noticing a lot at the moment with people in busy work lives is that they’re saying to me, “My voice is tired at the end of the day. I feel really flat. I feel really compressed.” And so much of our lives right now, whether we’re working at home or back in the office, that takes us into a bit of a hunch, and it closes our breathing down, and it compresses us. And then when we try and show up in a meeting, we’re all small and closed.

And so, one of the things that people can really do to help them at work is to open up their breath and open up their voices. And I’m saying to people a lot at the moment, “Just sing. Put some music on in the morning and sing for five minutes and just enjoy it, and it doesn’t have to be tuneful, and you will show up in your meetings with a different kind of resonant frequency because your voice isn’t stuck in your throat. It’s moving, it’s fluid, it has tone, it has resonance. And people will be attracted to that because it makes them feel good.”

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. So, in a world in which we’re kind of hunched over and we don’t have ergonomically an optimal setup and we’re just sort of moving from thing to thing to thing, and maybe even trying to watch our volumes, you’re saying we can sort of shift a gear by doing some singing when we’re alone, and that’s just going to kind of follow us into having resonance when we’re with people.

Caroline Goyder
The thing about voices, voice is the expression of your aliveness because voice is breath. It’s exhaled air. And when we get really tensed and compressed, we express a real fight or flight adrenal reaction to people in our voices and our breathing. And singing, humming, chanting, long outbreaths, all of those things take us into good vagal tone. And in good vagal tone, where the vagus nerve is firing on all cylinders, we show up, we smile when others smile, we laugh when others laugh. Our voices reflect and mirror each other.

And the experience of speaking, when we’ve warmed up just by singing, it’s completely different for people. They feel at ease with you. And I think there’s nothing more important in a tensed stressed-out world than making people feel at ease with you.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, let’s dig into some of these terms which I’m somewhat familiar in terms of resonance and vagal nerve. Are these sorts of anatomical experiences that we can sort of check in for ourselves? Like, “Oh, I can feel my vagal nerve rocking and rolling,” or, “Ooh, I can feel resonance,” or, “Ooh, I’m feeling an absence of resonance.” How do we kind of…? You mentioned those are some exercises to activate it. How can we sort of check in and say, “Yup, that’s going,” or, “Ooh, that’s not going”?

Caroline Goyder
Well, the way that people often test this is when they hear themselves on audio, and people will often say, “Oh, I really hate my voice.” And what that tells me is that someone hears their own voice through their ears. They really don’t have an accurate sense of it. But when you’re tuned into your resonance, you’re tuned into the buzz of your voice.

People who are tuned into how their voices feel, back to the sensation thing, are much more in control. Now, how do you do that? You just put a hand on your chest and just hum. Just do me a little, “Hmmm…” then you can feel the bones kind of buzzing in your body. And you can do a low note, you could go, “Hmmm…” maybe put a hand on your tummy, “Hmmm…” And you might do a higher note, “Hmmm…” that’s going to be higher up in your head, in your nose.

And so, you can just play. You can even do a pitch play. And the sound, the high notes resonate in your head, the low notes resonate in your gut, the middle notes resonate in your chest. We know this from altos and tenors and basses. We know that some people have chest voice. And if you start to tune into the sensations of where your voice buzzes in your body, A, you’re much more in your body, less in your head, and, B, you’re going to have more control. And when you hear your voice on a recording, it’s not going to be such a shock because you can feel it. So, that’s resonance.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. And so, resonance, we want it, and so a humming can activate it, and so we might even just check in as we’re talking. And maybe could you give us a demo? I mean, in terms of audio style, what’s a voice sounding like with resonance and without resonance?

Caroline Goyder
So, I can tell you how I used to sound.

Pete Mockaitis
All right.

Caroline Goyder
If I stick my head forward, and if I breathe into my upper chest, and if I tense my jaw, and if I talk to you and it all becomes a bit flat, and I can really feel it. I can feel it in my teeth, and I can feel it in my pharynx and in my throat. And it’s an experience of being a talking head. Okay? So, I spent a long time doing a version of that.

And I’m no Brian Blessed. I don’t know if you know the actor. He’s got the most incredible bass voice. I’m no Barry White, but when I speak now, what’s different is that I can feel my voice kind of buzzing in my chest and my shoulders. It feels more open in my throat. I can feel it a bit in the back of my head. And I know if I have to do a play, which I wouldn’t anymore, I would spend half an hour warming it up so that my fingers buzzed with sound when I spoke. So, it’s just the physics of it. It’s the bone conduction. It’s feeling the effect of sound buzzing through your bones, really, that’s what resonance is.

Pete Mockaitis
And what’s so interesting is, and we’ll see what the listeners feel in terms of their own speaker setup after we do the audio processing, etc. I guess my experience though of listening to both of those voices is that when you were non-resonant, I felt a little bit, I guess, I don’t know, was it nervous, uncomfortable. It wasn’t a big deal but there was a slight unpleasantness that I’m picking up from the emotional atmosphere when you were doing that. Is that normal? Tell me about this.

Caroline Goyder
I think it is because, as humans, we’re wired for trust, aren’t we? We are constantly filtering, “Can I trust this person? Will they eat me? Will they rob me? Will they attack me? Am I safe with them?” So, if we talk about the vagus nerve now, because this is when we get onto the polyvagal theory, there’s a scientist called Stephen Porges who talks about something called polyvagal theory. And it sounds really complicated but it’s actually really simple.

What he says is when we’re tensed and nervous, it’s like we’re closed behind a wrapper. And that voice that I used to live in is the voice of someone who’s tensed and hiding behind a wrapper, and we feel uncertain about that because we don’t know if we can trust them. And he said when we have what’s called good vagal tone, where we’re in the parasympathetic nervous system, the rest and digest happy part of the system, then we take the wrapper off, and that’s when our voices have music, that’s when we smile, that’s when things are easy, and that’s when someone gets a sense of “Can I trust you?” And I think, as humans, we’re wired to notice those things, and we don’t know maybe why we get worried by the first voice, but we do. I think it’s universal.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s cool in so many ways. One, that’s just sort of the experience we had right here points to a body of research. Well, now, I’m curious about all of the studies and experiments and numbers that may exist in terms of describing this phenomenon.

So, with the research associated with good vagal tone and the impact that makes, have there been any noteworthy sort of studies or experiments that put these results on full display?

Caroline Goyder
I would point listeners to Stephen Porges’ website and his book The Polyvagal Theory because there’s an enormous and emerging body of research that backs up his theory, and it’s all on his site. So, just have a look at it, just put Stephen Porges into Google and have a look. They’re constantly reporting these studies. And it’s being picked up in psychology and psychiatry and trauma therapy. It’s becoming quite a big body of work with lots of attached research.

Pete Mockaitis
And what’s so fascinating, I’m sure there can be many variables, but it sounds like we’ve uncovered one potential hidden variable for all kinds of things, like, “Why does everybody like that person and they don’t like the other person? Why does everyone seem to respond and nod their heads when one person says something at a meeting, and when someone else says the same thing, it doesn’t seem to be connecting and resonating?” This could be one of those hidden mystery variables that can shed some light on it.

Now, you mentioned the phrase good vagal tone. Is that the same thing as having resonance or is there a distinction? And how do we get it?

Caroline Goyder
So, I only ever really knew about resonance and the importance of the diaphragm and the importance of breathing, and it was when I discovered polyvagal theory and how much Stephen Porges talks about voice that I joined the dots on it. And, in a sense, it really all comes back to what our bodies do when they’re safe. And when our bodies are safe, our breathing opens up, our diaphragm moves freely, our shoulders relax, our jaw untenses, our tongues relax, our sole and muscle in the hips relax, and we show up as easy and fluid and present. That’s what good voice is, that’s what actors are taught to do on stage, and it just so happens that Stephen Porges’ polyvagal theory backs up why it works for voices because when we’re safe, our voices have music.

Pete Mockaitis
Wow, so many implications there. I’m reminded of we had a previous guest, Alex Banayan, who interviewed a lot of people including Larry King. And so, one thing that Larry King told him about interviewing, which is really connecting here, is that he said, “The reason that I get good results with my interviewees is that I am very comfortable in my seat, and the person I’m interviewing then kind of picks up on that, and then they are comfortable in their seat.” So, in a way, it matters less about what style and specific approach, and tactics, and questions you choose so much as you get in that groove of, “Hey, I’m really comfortable and safe and having fun and rolling with this,” and then the person that you’re interacting with feels that too, and then you naturally just have a pretty cool, fun, insightful conversation flowing from that.

Caroline Goyder
Exactly. It’s massive, isn’t it? And what it takes is the awareness to take yourself into safety. When he’s got people shouting in his ear and people telling him they’re running out of time and some of the lights have gone, he’s got all sorts of reasons to feel stressed and unsafe, and the professional is able to switch that on. That’s the success factor.

Pete Mockaitis
Well said. Okay. Well, boy, Caroline, this is so much good stuff. So, we’ve got some key things to do in terms of finding that safety, returning into sensation, doing some humming or some singing, connecting to that resonance. Are there some things that you recommend we stop doing, things that we should cut out of our speaking, of our lives before we get into the speaking that make a world of difference in terms of this confidence?

Caroline Goyder
I’m thinking of what I’ve cut out. What have I cut out? I’ve really cut out the things that make me too speedy because it’s hard to project a sense of safety when you’ve had three cups of coffee, when you’re slightly late for a meeting, when you’re rushing, when you’re not making time. And so, the thing that I now know is that if I want to show up centered and able to make people feel safe and able to connect, I need to just carve out, ideally, half an hour, 15 minutes is good, five will do it, where I turn off my phone, where I switch off the Googling and switch off the thinking about other things, and I just come back to my feet are on the floor, my bum is on the chair, the air is on my face. What does this person want from me today? How can I help?

And if I take myself through that, that is a protocol, get present, quieten down, “How can I help?” I have good meetings. If I don’t make time for that, I don’t have good meetings.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah, I like that. It’s funny as I’m reminded of a time. I had a meeting with somebody who, you know, I’d done a lot of work for him but almost never interacted with him personally, so it was kind of a big deal, if you will, that I was having this meeting. It was a phone call, because we were going to pursue maybe some new projects, initiatives, which would have revenue potential for both of us. So, it was exciting because the stakes were up there.

And I remember when, at the beginning of the meeting, we were talking, and he said something like, “Okay, so, let’s see, what are we talking about here? Ah, yes, we’re discussing dah, dah, dah.” And what was intriguing was, in a way, I somehow felt comforted by that as opposed to pissed off, like, “Dude, you’re totally unprepared? Are you ready to like rock and roll and jump in and do this? Time is ticking. We got a short…” In a way, I could have had that kind of a reaction but, instead, what was clear to me is that he was totally comfortable just being himself and talking his mind and not sort of withholding anything from me, and I actually felt more comfortable and safe and positive about him in the meeting than if he would’ve gone hard charging like, “Okay, there are six key points we need to cover, and this, this, this.”

Caroline Goyder
Yes. It’s the meta state that matters more, isn’t it? It was his ease that was more important than his perfect deck of slides.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah.

Caroline Goyder
And we forget that. When we get nervous, and we’ve all done it, we think, “I have to prepare. I have to get all of my collateral looking perfect,” and to some people, that does matter, but for most people, it’s back to the meta state of “Do you make them feel comfortable? Can they trust you? Do they get a sense that you trust yourself?” Because confidence means to trust yourself, faith in yourself. And so, this is always the thing that we forget about but it’s the thing that matters most.

Pete Mockaitis
Excellent. Well, Caroline, tell me, anything else you want to make sure to mention before we shift gears and hear quickly about a few of your favorite things?

Caroline Goyder
The thing I’m saying to people all the time is stand up. If you are doing a presentation currently in video conference land, which is going to be here for a few years, if you’re nervous, stand up. Stand up.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Perfect. All right. Stand up. I’m at a desk that I’m currently sitting so that’s why I’m a little bit ashamed. You can see me sitting.

Caroline Goyder
But it’ll be more for the big pitch or the big presentation or talking to the executive committee. The thing is that this is your sweet spot, you’re at ease doing this. If you suddenly have to go and pitch to a big film company or something, then I would say, “Stand up,” because you will feel more confident.

Pete Mockaitis
And I think I tend to stand when it’s just sort of like my body is in a standing mood, like having that option, or it’s like, “Oh, I’m getting a little sleepy. I should not get comfy. I should stand up and have a little bounce.” So, yeah, today, right now, I’m in sitting mode. Maybe next interview standing. But, certainly, when sort of high-stakes situations and you want to project those good things, great tip to do the standing.

So, now, can you share with a favorite quote, something you find inspiring?

Caroline Goyder
I love the Fritz Perls quote “Fear is excitement without the breath.” I think that sums up pretty much what I’ve learnt over the last 20 years, that you can flip fear into excitement if you become self-aware of breath and body.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, thank you. And how about a favorite book?

Caroline Goyder
I mean, a voice coach in the UK has to mention Cisely Berry because she is, was, she died last year, the goddess of voice work, so any of Cisely Berry’s books I recommend. She’s brilliant.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, thank you.

Caroline Goyder
I’m talking about her in the present tense because she hasn’t really gone in my mind.

Pete Mockaitis
And how about a favorite tool, something you use to be awesome at your job?

Caroline Goyder
For a long time, neuro-linguistic programming was really, really fundamentally useful, and in the last few years, Alexander Technique has replaced it. I love Alexander Technique.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. And is there a particular nugget you share that really seems to connect and resonate with folks; they quote it back to you often?

Caroline Goyder
The “How can I help?” principle as a way to walk into a meeting and switch off your nerves and turn them into excitement is powerful. Not worrying, “How do I look? Is this any good? What do they think about me?” but “How can I help these people get what they need?” That’s a game changer. And I was taught it by the actor Bill Nighy.

Pete Mockaitis
The Science Guy?

Caroline Goyder
He’s the guy in Love Actually with the glasses.

Pete Mockaitis
Bill Nye, The Science Guy?

Caroline Goyder
No, no, there’s two Bill Nighys. Yes, I wish it was that Bill Nye, but it’s not. Bill Nighy is a British actor who’s in Love Actually and all sorts of…he’s in Pirates of the Caribbean. Google him, but it’s N-I-G-H-Y.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Okay.

Caroline Goyder
And he said, “When I get nervous, and I go into an audition or I go into a film set on the first day, I can either be paranoid or I can think ‘How can I help? How can I help these people do the job?’” It’s a game changer. Just try it when you get nervous. It flips everything.

Pete Mockaitis
And if folks want to learn more or get in touch, where would you point them?

Caroline Goyder
My website CarolineGoyder.com.

Pete Mockaitis
And do you have a final challenge or call to action for folks looking to be awesome at their jobs?

Caroline Goyder
You may never have thought about your voice at work apart from maybe sometimes when it shakes or it squeaks or it doesn’t sound like you want it to, but my invitation to you would be to start to notice your voice, and to start to notice when you are at your best, and to start to be curious about how you can bring that ease and that power to moments where you feel nervous. Because I promise you, that if you find that ease and power in moments where you feel nervous, you will skyrocket your career.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, Caroline, this has been a treat. Thank you. I wish you much luck and inspiration in all of your adventures.

Caroline Goyder
Thank you so much, Pete. It’s been a great chat. It’s made me think as well, which is always good.

590: Forming Strong Connections through Authority, Warmth, and Energy with Steve Herz

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Steve Hertz discusses why we need to change our relationship with feedback and how to develop the three skills that advance our careers.

You’ll Learn:

  1. Why you shouldn’t take yes for an answer
  2. The small things that make us more authoritative
  3. How to keep conversations energizing and engaging

 

About Steve

Steve Herz is President of The Montag Group, a sports and entertainment talent and marketing consultancy. He is also a career advisor to CEOs, lawyers, entrepreneurs, and young professionals. Prior to joining TMG, Steve was the President and Founding Partner of IF Management, an industry leader whose broadcasting division became one of the largest in the space, representing over 200 television and radio personalities.

Herz received his bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Michigan and his J.D. from Vanderbilt University Law School. Steve is involved with several charities, including serving on the local leadership council at Birthright Israel. Steve is married with two children and lives on the Upper West Side of New York City.

Resources mentioned in the show:

 

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Steve Herz Interview Transcript

Pete Mockaitis
Steve, thanks for joining us here on the How to be Awesome at Your Job podcast.

Steve Herz
Thank you for having me, Pete.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, I’m excited to dig into your wisdom. And, for starters, when I hear about folks being agents for sports and media stars, I can’t help but think of Jerry Maguire and dramatic experiences of negotiation and high-stakes deal-making. Can you tell us an exciting story from behind the scenes?

Steve Herz
Well, yeah, there’s quite a few. I would say that, for me, personally, I don’t know, I’ve actually enjoyed seeing a client get a job from a small market and move into a big market. That’s been exciting for me. So, just thinking back early in my career, there’s a guy named Greg Amsinger who’s now the main talent on the MLB Network, and he moved to New York from Terra Haute, Indiana. And when he got here, he didn’t have a place to live, and he was out on the street, and there was a whole controversy of whether or not we had gotten him temporary housing. And the network, CSTV said, “No, you didn’t.”

And I was on a business trip in Seattle so I said to someone in my office, “Send him to my apartment with his wife and newborn.” And that’s where he stayed for an entire week. And so, the first time I ever met Greg Amsinger was when I knocked on my own door, coming off from red-eye from Seattle, and he opened the door with his wife Erica, this was about 18 years ago, and there he was in my apartment.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, that’s cool. And that’s what someone wants from an agent, they’re really in your corner and do whatever it takes. So, very cool. Well, you’ve got a fresh book here called Don’t Take Yes for an Answer. Intriguing title. What’s the story here?

Steve Herz
So, the story is this, that I have been an agent, as you know, for almost 30 years now, and I think I’ve had almost a test tube that I was able to look at over all this time to notice and pay careful attention to what types of people moved ahead in the world and what types of people didn’t. And, over time, I found that there were two common links that determine the very successful from the people that often just plateaued.

And those two qualities were, one, they really wanted to get better at their craft, whatever that might be. They were always looking to improve. And they were looking for feedback all the time, and it wasn’t just lip service. And the second part of it is that they actually did improve, and they really improved the way they came across on television whether it was their authority in terms of their voice, whether it was their energy of how they called the game or did a particular story, and how compelling they became, and how the audience was able to relate to them.

And so, the book really is about this thought that I had is that if a broadcaster could take these skills and hone for, what I would call, public speaking, why can’t anybody, a dentist, a doctor, a lawyer, hone their own communication skills and move ahead in the same way? And that’s how the book came to be.

Pete Mockaitis
And so then, what is it precisely that we’re not taking yes for an answer about?

Steve Herz
So, basically, kind of everything. You think about maybe your job is different, but most of us will go through a week, a month, a year, and we will hear nothing from our colleagues or from our bosses or clients, even clients that might be dissatisfied with you, in my particular business, and you think everything is going great. And, often, somebody will terminate their relationship with you, or quit, or fire you, and many of us don’t know what hit us.

And so, I believe that a lot of us have gotten caught up in this, what I call the echo chamber of yes. And part of that is because we’ve had great inflation, we’ve had this participation trophy, and now a lot of HR departments in American businesses, they don’t want to fire people. They’d rather use euphemisms like downsizing, or reorgs, or riffs. And that person on the other end of it, gets caught up in what I call the vortex of mediocrity and they don’t know. And so, that’s a long answer to your question, but everybody and everything can hear yes if you don’t look out for it.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah. Boy, you know, that reminds me as I’ve got a friend who’s an executive of a shall we say mature business line.
And so a part of that is that, boy, every few months there’s another round of people that they lay off. And so, and he tries to really be kind and diplomatic and proactive and even breaks the rules a little bit, tells them before he’s supposed to tell them. He’s like, “Hey, just so you know, your position is not going to exist in a few months, so you probably want to start looking around and see if you can land somewhere else within the organization.”
And so, he says that when he has these conversations with people, what he’s always scared of them asking him is, “Well, why are you firing me and not the other guy?” but they never do. And I think that really speaks to kind of what you’ve called the echo chamber of yes, is that we can get kind of comfortable and maybe don’t want to ask that hard question when we probably should.

Steve Herz
Right. And I would also say that by the time that person has asked that question, even though, like you said, they don’t normally ask it, it’s too late. You’ve already been downsized or laid off or reorg-ed, and it’s too late. So, that’s why I’m hoping that if people pick up my book and read it and reorient themselves towards a different mindset, that they don’t take yes for an answer on a daily basis, or at least a weekly basis, or a monthly basis, and then they’ll really start seeking out that constructive feedback that is the difference between, often, not every time, but often, the person who got laid off and the one that didn’t.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, so maybe let’s think about this chronologically. First, how do we psychologically, mentally brace ourselves so that we can handle it, we can handle hearing the tough stuff? Any reframes or perspectives you would share?

Steve Herz
Yeah, I would. And the easiest one, I think, to understand is the idea of going to the doctor. Particularly, my family, I have a history of colon cancer in my family, so I’m only 54 but I’ve had four or five colonoscopies already, and I started getting them in my late 30s, and I’ve had a few tiny little scares—luckily nothing, but those little tiny things could grow into big things if you don’t take care of them.

And the thing is that you would never, in a million years, if you’re a reasonably sane person who knows you have a history of whatever, in this case, this colon cancer, you would never not get a colonoscopy. You wouldn’t say, “Oh, well, maybe I won’t get it,” and at the last minute, someone tells you, you have stage four colon cancer, God forbid. Nobody would take that chance. And that’s, I think, literally, what happens to some people in their career. They never stop and ask, “How am I doing? How does my ‘colon’ look or my career look? How does my performance look?” And ask that question and get that X-ray from their boss or from their friends or colleagues.

And if you reframe it in a way to understand that so much of what bad could happen to you and your career is very preventative. It’s completely preventative in so many cases, that if you reframe it that way, you’ll see not only will that be a benefit but, also, you’re not going to get better unless you’re this one in a million person who just gets better on your way. You’re not going to get better at your job or in anything if you’re not targeting and really trying to understand what your weaknesses are and how you can minimize them or improve upon them.

And you think about an athlete or a musician, how is anybody going to get better if they don’t practice the things they need to practice? But if we’re not being told what to practice, and we’re not being able to identify them, there’s no way. So, hopefully, that’s a really positive reframing for people.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, that really is good in terms of those proactive checks-in for feedback are a means of preventative maintenance. Like, for the doctor, we go to the dentist, we get our car’s oil changed, and when we find out, “Oh, there’s a cavity,” or there’s a problem with the vehicle, well, in a way, it’s a bummer, like, “Ahh, I got to spend some time with the dentist,” or some money with the mechanic. But it’s like, “Oh, I’m glad I caught it early as opposed to late.”

I guess one distinction I’d put there is that there’s less of an emotional charge there in terms of if, Steve, you told me, “Pete, you’re completely unprofessional. Yeah, I don’t know if you and your show were legit,” or kind of whatever. Whatever the tough feedback might be, I think it’s natural that we would sort of take that much more personally or emotionally than we would if we got the news that our spark plugs need to be replaced or there’s a cavity. How do you think about the emotional dimensions here?

Steve Herz
Well, first of all, I agree with you. I wouldn’t really want to hear from anybody that, “You’re unprofessional.” I’d want to know why I was unprofessional. And one of the things I talk about is the book is called Don’t Take Yes for an Answer. It’s not Don’t Give Yes for an Answer. So, I’m trying to also change the mindset of, “It’s not my place to tell Pete, after the show, what he needs to do better. He’s not asked me. He’s doing really well. He’s got a great show. Why is he interested in my opinion for?”

If you came to decide on your own that I had a particular value to you, and you thought you wanted to improve, and you first reached out to me, and said, “Steve, thank you for coming on my show. What do you think I could do better?” then you’ve opened up the door to a conversation. But it’s not my place to be your coach so I think it’s, first and foremost, the individual’s job to seek out the feedback. And, also, just like it’s your job to go to the doctor or get your car inspected, but, also, find the right people to do it.

You want to find people who you trust and, also, who actually care about you, and you feel have an interest in your growth, because a lot of people will just say, “Oh, Pete, your show stinks,” or, “Pete, you’re unprofessional.” That’s not valuable. That’s not helpful. And a lot of people might just honestly be on the ego trip because they get to tell a big podcast host how he’s not that great and why they can take him down a peg. But that’s not at all valuable and it’s not actionable.

So, in my book, the second half of my book, it’s all about what are the action steps you can take. And what I really think is that a lot of us, in terms of the blind spots of what we could be improving upon, it’s the impression that we’re making on people on an everyday basis, and it falls into one of these three categories. Do you have the right authority? Do you have the right warmth? Are you connecting with people and are you energizing somebody? And that’s where it really comes down to.

Pete Mockaitis
Boy, this reminds me, when you talked about getting the right people, we had a guest on the show, Steve Ritter, who mentioned that there’s some research that suggest a startlingly large proportion of the variance of when an intervention is successful, whether when it’s like with a coach or a trainer or a consultant or a therapist or a counselor, it just boils down to sort of the chemistry between those two people, and in terms of like, “Do I think Steve is a good guy who cares about me and knows some stuff? Or do I think he’s just a jerk and I’m just not really able to receive what you have to offer even if it’s great stuff?”

So, I found that intriguing. I think that really resonates in terms of you’ve got to find those right people. Could you share, is there any intriguing research or studies that you’ve come across when it comes to this zone of feedback and not getting enough of it? What have you discovered there as you’re putting this together?

Steve Herz
Well, the most interesting study that I came across was probably…well, there’s really two but they’re very related so I’ll share them both with you. One is that there was a study done in 1918 by the Carnegie Foundation as a seminal study that shows that the correlation and the causal relationship between how successful you are professionally and how good you are at the technical part of your job, even amongst like an engineer, is only 15%. So, I interpret that data to be you have to be good at your job but there’s going to be a lot of other people that are also good at the technical part, and that’s not going to be the differentiator between how you go from just getting a seat at the table, to getting to higher reaches of your company, or having influence and having clients, or a popular show like you do.

So, what is that 85%? That’s one very important study. And the way I see it is that that 85% is the difference between the hard skills and the soft skills. But it kind of goes back to your original question earlier, your kind of funny remark about, “Well, I think you’re unprofessional,” whatever. This whole idea of soft skills is so misunderstood by people, and there are not a lot of languages around it, there’s not a lot of metrics around it. And you talk about that guy Steve Ritter who says, “Well, if I don’t like you or connect with you, I’m not going to really take feedback from you.” The reason why is because there’s something granular about how you’re coming across other people. And that can be broken down into smaller parts.

And so, the second study, kind of very consistent with the first one, is that Google has a thing called Project Oxygen by which they hire software engineers, and they hire them based on eight criteria. One of them being how good you are as a software engineer. But of those eight criteria, they only count that eighth among eight. Everything else is a soft skill, even at Google.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, I’m now intrigued. When you said Google project, I thought you were saying Aristotle. But here you went and surprised me. What are those eight components?

Steve Herz
Well, it’s a question of, “Can you lead a team? Can you be a follower? Can you be a fellow? Can you collaborate? Can you take ideas from other people? Are you timely in getting your projects done? Do you take feedback?” All the things that I think go into, ironically, you’re awesome at your job, my book is about awe. So, it’s all about what that goes into, “Do you have that A-W-E?”

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Well, let’s dig right into it. So, authority, warmth, energy. How do we develop those things? Or maybe what are some common ways that we’re just squandering or failing to develop authority, warmth, and energy? Because I think most of us would say, “Oh, yeah, I’m fairly authoritative. I know my stuff. Yeah, I’m a pretty warm nice guy. Yeah, I’m energetic enough.” What are some of the ways that people are really differentiated in terms of like fine with their authority, warmth, and energy, and outstanding? How do we become outstanding?

Steve Herz
Okay. So, I think there’s two really small but very significant things that people do to differentiate themselves. One is the person who finishes his or her sentences strongly and believes in what they’re saying, as opposed to speaking in singsong way or that kind of glottal fry and trailing off in your words, and belying to yourself and to your audience that you’re really not convinced in what you’re saying in the first place, right? So, that’s one thing.

And the second thing is people who believe in their message have a certain natural inflection to their voice. And the reason why they have that inflection is because their cadence becomes almost lyrical in nature because they’re believing and there’s like a real natural variance to their voice in terms of their pitch, their pace, their volume, they’re moving around, their energy, you know it when you see it. And they’re also pausing very well for effect, and that’s where the inflection comes in. And what they’re not doing. The most important thing they’re not doing, versus the other group is, they’re not using any filler words. People who use filler words – uhm, like, you know, so, – they really compromise their authority.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Well, that’s pretty clear there. And could you give us an example of the intonation picture of good authority versus not-so-great authority?

Steve Herz
Like I said, it’s someone who says, “Pete, I’m going to come on your show and I am going to tell you the most important thing your audiences ever heard. It’s going to change their life. It’s going to be actionable. It’s going to be memorable. It’s an acronym. And after they listen to it, there’s going to be infinite change by your audience.”

Pete Mockaitis
All right.

Steve Herz
And the next person is going to say, “Pete, you know, I would really like, you know, to have you on…I’d like to really come on your show. I’ve worked, you know, really hard on this idea. And, you know, I think it has a lot of value. Uhm, I’m hoping, like, you’d feel the same way. And if they listen, you know, I think… I do think they’ll get something out of it.”

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. So, the pauses are the most noticeable in terms of that illustration. But then, yes, also the…I guess it’s…what’s the perfect adjective here? It’s a little timid, like you’re just…it’s almost like you’re a little bit scared. Like, if I were to say, “Steve, I think you’re completely wrong,” you’d be like, “Okay, I’m sorry.” And I guess that’s the impression that it delivers there.

Well, that’s the authority part because I think, in a way, you could be super authoritative but not warm, and that would be unappealing. So, that’s the authority piece. Let’s hear the warmth piece in terms of what do professionals need to do and not do to have that warmth come across.

Steve Herz
Well, first of all, any communication, as you well know, it’s irrelevant except for how the listener is hearing you, right? And if the listener hears it in a certain way, and that’s different from the way that you mean it, then the only thing that matters is how they hear it. So, from the perspective of warmth, you want to tailor your message in a way that you make the other person feel known that this is valuable and important to them either by speaking from their perspective or, like I tried to do earlier, “Pete, I want to come on your show, I want to tell you this because it’s going to be actionable and it’s going to change your audience’s life.” Everything is about them, the listener, what you’re getting out of it, not about me, right? So, hopefully, that connotes a level of warmth.

And then we can also connote warmth in many different subtle ways. One thing that connotes warmth is when you’re talking to me, part of life is listening and also making you feel attentive, I’m going to make eye contact with you, I’m going to answer your question in a way that demonstrates that I listen to what you had to say, that I cared enough to hear what you wanted to tell me, and I’m going to follow up with something that’s consistent, not a non sequitur, for example.

And, also, I’m going to smile at you when appropriate. I’m going to have open-body language. And, as much as possible, I’m going to try to turn the conversation in a way so that it’s going to be about you. And all that contributes to warmth among many other things. And then, also, as you pointed out earlier, part of it is in your vocal tone. If you’re coming out strong like a bulldog with every aspect of your communication, you’re going to blow people away and not connect with them.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Let’s hear about energy now.

Steve Herz
So, that’s a tricky one. That’s probably the trickiest one of all. I’d say energy is really, again, just from the perspective of combining it with warmth, is the only thing that matters about your energy is, “How am I making you feel?” And so, for example, I can be a very high-energy guy, and it just might be, Pete, if I got to know you really well, I might learn that you don’t really respond well to high energy. And every time I get too high energy, it actually deflates you. So, it would be incumbent upon me to know that when I’m talking to Pete, I got to really modulate that energy.

And then I might have another colleague who really responds very well to high energy, and I can modulate my energy a little bit differently. Also, by listening to you, and by really keying myself into what you have you to say, and by being very attentive to you, that’s going to energize you as well because you know I care about you.

Pete Mockaitis
And it seems in terms of like that matching and connecting in terms of high energy or low energy, I almost sort of imagine there could be even more nuances and flavors in terms of the high energy or the low energy. Like, you could be high energy in the sense that you’re talking really fast and you’re fired up and whoa. Or, you could be high energy at a lower pace just like I’ve seen some people who, it’s clear they’re really enthusiastic about what they’re saying just because of like the way they’re moving eyebrows and smiling. Even if they’re not talking a mile a minute, it’s like, “Oh, okay. This guy is pretty fired up about this. Okay.”

And so, that’s intriguing that within the high and low is one way to think about sort of like the matching and how you’re being received. Are there any other kind of nuances or hues or flavors that you’d put on the energy for us to consider?

Steve Herz
I think it’s really just about trying to develop a little bit more self-awareness about yourself, and really keying into how is the person you’re talking to or the people you’re talking to, how are they responding to you. And trying to make those adjustments in the moment, and eventually getting to a point where you have such good habits about the way you communicate, and you’re reading someone’s face or their eye contact or their lack of eye contact, or what have you, or their lack of nodding, lack of responsiveness, that you can make those adjustments in the moment. One of the things I say is it’s not just important to read the room, it’s also important to read how the room is reading you.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah. And are there any sort of telltale indicators you recommend that we be on the lookout for in terms of, “Ooh, this is a thumbs up or a thumbs down indicator based on what I’m seeing with some body language or facial expressions or tone”?

Steve Herz
One of the best indicators is a lack of responsiveness. So, if you’re talking to someone, and I could see you right now, this is a great example of it, is that you’re just blinking barely, and you’re not nodding at all, so if this was a real conversation in person, I’ll just stop.

Pete Mockaitis
Sorry.

Steve Herz
No, no, no. It’s a great example actually. It’s a great example because if I’m not getting a response from you, then I know that it can quickly go from a dialogue to a monologue, and that is something that would often deflate people. Nobody wants to be in a monologue especially in a long conversation. Not for long.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s intriguing. And I guess, in that moment as I was blinking, I was just waiting for the goods in terms of it’s like, “One of the things…” I think that’s what you said, “One of the things that you should be on the lookout for…” I was like, “Okay, I’m listening. What is the thing?”

Steve Herz
You’re one of the things I was on the lookout for though.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Well, so just non-responsiveness. And so then, if you’re just blinking, that’s kind of nothing. Part of it is, and I guess this is also a context associated, if people crossed their arms, maybe they’re uncomfortable and maybe they’re cold. In some ways, like I’m constrained to not move more than an inch away from this microphone which limits me a bit. But, okay, so non-responsiveness is one thing to be on the lookout for, like they’re just sort of doing nothing but blinking. What are some other thumbs down or thumbs up indicators?

Steve Herz
I think you just put your head on a really good one. Body language is really important, not just the arms folded, but if you’re talking to someone and you noticed that your hips or your shoulders are parallel to theirs, and they start moving their shoulders or their hips away from you, that’s an indication that you’re not someone that is particularly interesting to them and/or energizing them. And I think those are kind of the telltale signs. And, in addition to when I talk about non-responsiveness, I mean non-responsiveness from facial-nodding perspective, but also from a conversational point of view. If they’re not responding, and saying, “Hey, you know what, I agree with that,” or, “I don’t agree with that,” and there’s not really a dialogue, that’s all the signs you would need, hopefully, to prevent yourself from overstaying your welcome or not soliciting or listening someone to have a dialogue with you.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. And so, those are the three things we’re going for with that authority, that warmth, that energy, and we talked at the beginning about how it’s very important to ensure that you’re getting that feedback and you’re asking for it. And so, now that we know sort of what we’re shooting for, how would you recommend we specifically ask for what we need in the feedback department?

Steve Herz
Well, I think, as I said earlier, I think, first and foremost, try to find people that will give you what I call tough love. And when I say tough love, I mean love not just the tough. You want to find people that are really invested in you and your future and your growth. And even if they’re going to be tough on you, you know it’s coming from a place of goodness and really operating in your best interest. And then I think it’s just a question of trying to find someone that can analyze you in a way that is really accurate so it shouldn’t be hard to find objective qualities about yourself.

For example, in the book, we talk about, I talked about earlier, these filler words. That’s not something that’s very subjective. Either you’re using a lot of filler words or you’re not. So, now, in this time of the pandemic and we’re all home with Zoom and everything is being recorded a lot more than it used to be, you can record yourself and try to be on the lookout for some of these things. And you can look out for, “Are you someone that is responding well to another person? Are you showing that kind of warmth? Are you smiling? Are you energetic in your communication?” And once you can pinpoint those things, then I think you have the basis of the beginnings of some helpful growth.

Pete Mockaitis
Certainly. And those ideas associated with recording yourself or maybe using an app like Speako…!! which will automatically transcribe and record those is huge. And I think it’s so fun to be able to – I’d work out on this – being able to quantify the results in terms of, “Oh, hey, I had these many filler words per minute last week, and now it’s lower this week.” So, that’s exciting.

Steve Herz
Exactly. No, no, I was going to say you’re exactly right. And the other thing I offer people, and I think this is a really good trick or hack, if you will, in the book is that instead of trying to develop all this self-awareness once you’ve figured out, okay, let’s say you use too many filler words, hypothetically, of course. Let’s say that’s the case. I don’t want you to go trying to automatically stop using filler words. What I want you to do is try to create an environment in your life where you become very sensitive and aware of filler words. Because, often, we’re not really aware of how we’re using filler words but we can become very aware of other people using them.

So, I talk about this thing called hyper external awareness. So, whether it’s bad body language, or filler words, or not finishing your sentences, or any of the myriad things we all do that kind of compromise our own communication, start noticing it first in others after someone has pointed it out to you.

Pete Mockaitis
Great. Thank you. Well, tell me, anything else you want to make sure to mention before we shift gears and hear about some of your favorite things?

Steve Herz
I’ll say one last thing about authority because we didn’t talk about it. It really fits in well right here. I think some of the most authoritative people and persuasive people I met along the way in this process are people that are huge at what they call, and I would also agree with them, is kind of a detached authority. They believe what they believe, they own it internally, their whole communication belies it, but they don’t try to sell you on them. And so, I guess, hopefully, I’m going to be a little detached about my own authority about this concept, and people have heard enough.

Pete Mockaitis
Wait. That’s really a great point because, I guess, if I perceive that you need me to believe you or to buy the product or whatever, then that just… I don’t know what the word is. It’s not reverse psychology or alpha stuff but…

Steve Herz
It’s needy.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah.

Steve Herz
It’s needy. If your product is so good, why do you need me to have it? Like, why are you desperate for me to buy it? There must be something weak about it that you have to have me get this.

Pete Mockaitis
It’s kind of like playing hard to get, seriously. If you’re such a person…what’s that?

Steve Herz
No, but if you don’t mind me saying, well, I did meet a few people along the way who do play hard to get but they have every reason to play hard to get. They have something so special that you really should want it, and they don’t try to sell it at all, and it’s very powerful.

Pete Mockaitis
Cool. All right. Well, now, could you share with us a favorite quote, something you find inspiring?

Steve Herz
I love the Oscar Wilde quote, “Be yourself, everyone else is taken.” So, it’s just a reminder to try to be authentic to you every day.

Pete Mockaitis
And how about a favorite book?

Steve Herz
I’d say my favorite book, believe it or not, is How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. It probably had a lot to do with everything I’m doing here from seeing life from another person’s perspective.

Pete Mockaitis
And a favorite tool, something you use to be awesome at your job?

Steve Herz
I would just say, it’s a weak answer, but the iPhone. It allows me to not be behind a desk 24/7 even way before this pandemic. And I think I’ve been one of these people who’ve worked remotely for probably the last 20 years to a large extent.

Pete Mockaitis
And a favorite habit?

Steve Herz
Just every day, I’d say, for the past 10 years, I have flossed my teeth after having horrible, horrible gum issues. And that habit that I took in 10 years ago has helped me build a lot of other habits. But that’s a keystone habit for my whole life.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, that’s an intriguing story right there. So, you started flossing. And how did that end up turning into additional habits?

Steve Herz
So, like I said, 10 plus years ago, I was told by my dentist that I needed gum surgery, and I had been a terrible flosser, and just horrible at it, and I begged him to give me one last chance. And, at the same time, I had read this book called Willpower by a guy named John Tierney, and he had this tip about how to build habits. So, I took all the tips in the book and just tried to build this habit for three weeks, 21 days, that was the trick in the book. And I set an alarm on my phone for 9:55 every night that I would have to floss at 9:55.

So, what ended up happening is I flossed that first night, and the second, and the third, and now, like I said, for probably thousands of nights so much. But after doing it at 9:55, first of all, I’d stop eating at that point. If ever I would eat late, I’d stop doing that. Secondly, I started going to bed earlier because the alarm went off at 9:55 and I would get to bed. And then I started getting up earlier, I started working out more regularly, so it had this cascading effect of all these really good things happening in my life. And, by the way, to this day, I still never needed the gum surgery.

Pete Mockaitis
Excellent. And are you still flossing at 9:55 or is it just whenever the time comes?

Steve Herz
No, 9:55. The alarm still goes off.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. That’s great.

Steve Herz
I can’t even figure out how to take the alarm off the phone, which probably is a good thing.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, I’m not going to tell you because it’s working for you. And is there a particular nugget you share that really seems to connect and resonate with folks, they quote it back to you often?

Steve Herz
Well, now, it’s “Don’t take yes for an answer,” which is kind of funny. People use this on me as a tool. It’s become a retort from all my friends. If I’m doing something that they don’t want to agree with me, “Don’t take yes for an answer.” Even my kids are using it on me now.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s good. And if folks want to learn more or get in touch, where would you point them?

Steve Herz
Just at my website www.StevenHerz.com and they can download a free eight-page guide about the book, and all social media and everything I’ve done, writing, podcast, etc.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. And do you have a final challenge or call to action for folks looking to be awesome at their jobs?

Steve Herz
I would say just don’t take yes for an answer in your own life, however that manifests for you. Have what I would call aggressive humility about yourself. Realize that all of us, and by the way, I wrote the book and there’s a million things I need to improve upon. So, have that level of aggressive humility and know that if you really want to reach your potential, every day you should be striving to get better. And the best way to do it is to seek feedback.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. Steve, this has been a treat. I wish you lots of luck in all the ways you’re not taking yes for an answer.

Steve Herz
Thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate it.

560: How to Resolve Conflict and Boost Productivity through Deep Listening with Oscar Trimboli

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Oscar Trimboli says: "The most important thing to listen to is what's not said."

Oscar Trimboli explains how to increase your impact through sharpening your listening.

You’ll Learn:

  1. The magic phrases powerful listeners use
  2. How to expertly listen for what’s unsaid
  3. One question to ask the people you disagree with

About Oscar:

Oscar Trimboli is an author, host of the Apple award-winning podcast Deep Listening and a sought-after keynote speaker. He is passionate about using the gift of listening to bring positive change in homes, workplaces and cultures around the world. He is a marketing and technology industry veteran with over 30 years’ experience across general management, sales, marketing and operations for Microsoft, PeopleSoft, Polycom, Professional Advantage and Vodafone.

Oscar lives in Sydney with his wife Jennie, where he helps first-time runners and ocean swimmers conquer their fears and contributes to the cure for cancer as part of Can Too, a cancer research charity.

Resources mentioned in the show:

Thank you Sponsors!

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Oscar Trimboli Interview Transcript

Pete Mockaitis
Oscar, thanks for joining us here on the How to be Awesome at Your Job podcast.

Oscar Trimboli
Good day, Pete. I’m really looking forward to listening to your questions today.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, I’m looking forward to listening to what you have to say. So, we’re talking listening and I want to sort of start off with a real strong why. Could you give us sort of like the case or a study or an example that reveals really what’s at stake when we listen well and what can be possible, and when we don’t listen well and how we’re suffering?

Oscar Trimboli
30th of December, Wuhan, China, Dr. Li has said to a group of his medical professionals, he’s an ophthalmologist, that he’s worried that the patients he’s seeing at the moment have SARS-like symptoms showing but it’s worse. And he publishes that on the local social media app that they use, and that gets seen by the Chinese government. And the next day, he’s visited by the Chinese government officials and told to recount what he said and everything he said is wrong.

And everybody ignored him, nobody was listening to him. And, as a result, we have the coronavirus that’s completely changed the world in 2020. That’s one of the costs of not listening. So, the costs of not listening can be quite significant. And in a lot of workplaces, Peter, people whose opinions are different, who may be seen as far out or different, they’re ignored, whether it was on the Deepwater Horizon’s oil rig in 2012 where a whole bunch of people, 11 got killed because engineers weren’t listened to.

But, also, the global financial crisis. Dr. Rajan was presenting a paper at Jackson Hole, Wyoming in 2005 and actually predicted where the global financial crisis would play out but, again, he was ignored. He wasn’t listened to. Millions of jobs, billions of dollars of savings, and all of that variety. They are some of the big costs of not listening. In our workplaces, it creates confusion, it creates chaos, it creates conflict, it creates projects that go overtime, it creates lost customers, and it creates great employees who leave because their managers don’t pay attention to them. So, they are just a couple of the costs of not listening.

Pete Mockaitis
Wow! Oscar, you are nailing it. Yeah, those are huge costs. And so, we’re looking at listening then in a pretty broad perspective in terms of not just you and I in a conversation, and me absorbing what you’re saying, but the extent to which I am even accepting, adopting, choosing to acknowledge your views as valid, true, and possible.

Oscar Trimboli
Yeah, listening is the willingness to have your mind changed. Listening is the openness to hear what’s unsaid. Listening is making sure you’re listening with your head as well as your heart. And I think a lot of us think of listening as one-dimensional. We think of it as monochrome. We think of it as a very, very simple thing, but listening has got lots of nuance to it.

And, for many people, one of the exercises we always talk about in our workshops is go and listen to and consume media, it’s a podcast, it’s a TV show, go and read a blogpost from somebody you fiercely disagree with, and notice what’s happening in your mind while you’re fiercely disagreeing with them, because for a lot of us we get blocked by our own assumption filters.

My daughter-in law, when she was 21, she’s a Judo player, and Judo players have this incredibly high tolerance for pain, Peter, in a way I can never understand, that you would literally have to choke them before they would stop fighting on the mat. And Jen got hit by a car while she was riding her bike to training, and she was completely devastated because she had spent a lot of money saving for that bike, and that bike was her means of transport in an Olympic year. And she literally picked up the bike, put it on her shoulder, with a broken ankle, by the way, and went to a local emergency room and was treated by a doctor.

And the doctor was confused why Jen brought the bike into the ER because that bike was more important to her than her ankle at that moment. But what I’m curious about right now, Peter, is in your head, describe the doctor.

Pete Mockaitis
Describe the doctor. Well, I guess I was really visualizing the scene of your daughter with the bike and kind of limping, and so I’ve got very little on the doctor. The doctor, I guess, is inquisitive, it’s like, “Hey, why did you bring your bike?”

Oscar Trimboli
Yeah. But, physically, gender-wise, height, weight, what sort of doctor are you visualizing right now?

Pete Mockaitis
Well, boy, not much. He’s kind of faceless, I saw just more sort of like the white robe. But I guess if I were to kind get more into the picture, well, I kind of see my buddy, shoutout to Johnny, he’s a doctor, and so he looks like my buddy Johnny, who’s in his late 30s. He looks a little bit like the Property Brothers if you’ve ever seen that TV show, so that’s what I’m picturing.

Oscar Trimboli
Yeah. And the doctor that saw Jen was 5’4” and an Indian woman. And, again, so the point of the story is, yeah, the bike and all of that, but a lot of us go into conversations where we have our own assumptions from our own experience base that filter how we listen, and we’re not even conscious of these things that are getting in our way when it comes to listening. And a lot of that is really initially caused by our internal distractions as well as our external distractions. A lot of us have our cellphone going, or a laptop, or some kind of tablet, something like that. So, we got all these external distractions but we’ve also got these internal distractions as well.

And, for a lot of us, we don’t even know it’s happening. We just aren’t even at that point of consciousness because we’re so distracted coming into the conversation. So, for most of you listening right now, it’s happening now. You’re distracted while you’re listening to Peter and myself. You might be commuting. You might be preparing a meal. But your mind is wandering in a completely different direction.

So, I wanted to give a commercial break to the neuroscience of listening, if that’s okay, Peter. Right now, I speak at about 125 words a minute. You’re a little quicker, about 150, and if you’re auctioning cattle, you’re at about 200 words per minute. But you can listen at 400 words per minute so you fill in the gaps because your mind gets bored and your mind is distracted. So, this is the 125/400 rule that says, “I speak at 125 words a minute, you listen at 400.” And if you don’t notice this gap, you’re going to drift away.

Now, it’s okay. I do it myself when I spend all day training people on how to listen, but the big difference between me and anybody else is I know when I’m distracted before you do, so I come back into the conversation much faster. So, it’s really, really important if you understand the neuroscience of listening, that I speak at 125-words a minute, you listen at 400, you’re going to get bored and distracted. It’s okay. You just come back in. And we’ll talk about some tips later on about how to notice and what to do about it when you drift away.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, that’s intriguing. And I heard another stat about how we can think even faster than the 400 words per minute. And I guess when we’re thinking, we’re not even thinking in subvocalized words there.

Oscar Trimboli
No. You’re absolutely right.

Pete Mockaitis
Because I’ve tried that in prayer, like I would think the Rosary prayer as fast as I can think the words, and it’s quick. It’s quicker than like a talk, yeah. But it’s still maybe it is around 400. It’s not much beyond that.

Oscar Trimboli
On average, it’s 900 words a minute you can think at. That’s nearly double your listening speed. Some people can do up to 1600 words a minute think, and right down at the other end of the Bell curve is about 600 that, welcome to the speaker’s problem. And this is why it’s critical that everybody understand the most important thing you need to listen to is what’s not said. I know it feels like Yoda just stepped onto the podcast. How do you listen to what’s not said? But it’s really critical.

If you understand the neuroscience of speaking, you speak at 125 to 150 words a minute, you’ve got 900 stuck in your head, that means the likelihood that the first thing that comes out of your mouth is what you mean, that’s 11%. One in nine chance that what you say as a speaker is what you mean. Therefore, if you want to have a powerful conversation with somebody, you want to get the next 125 words out, and the next 125 words out. And if you can get to about 300 words out of their thoughts, you’re probably getting closer to what they mean.

And this is another distinction, Peter, when it comes to listening. As a listener, it’s not your job to make sense of what they say. It’s your job to help them make sense of what they’re trying to say. Now that’s a really big difference, and what that means is most of us, our mind is like a closed washing machine. We’re in wash mode when we’re thinking, and it’s sudsy, and it’s agitated, and it’s like the water is dirty, and we’re moving but we’re not making progress. And the minute the rinse cycle comes on in a washing machine, out flushes all that wonderful clear water, and that’s exactly what it’s like when you speak.

Your mind is wired differently while you speak, while you think, and you make much more sense of what you say by saying it aloud than saying it inside your own head. So, powerful listeners will use these magic phrases. Michael Bungay Stanier did a wonderful job of talking about a couple of these on past two episodes ago for you. And he talked about the phrase “tell me more,” “what else,” and, “use silence.” These are three powerful techniques in that moment where you ask somebody “What else?” Something magic happens to the human mind.

And, Peter, tell me if it’s happened for you. People kind of tilt their head, they’ll breathe out, and they’ll say, “Well, actually, you know what we should talk about?” or, “Peter, you know what’s really important for us right now? Not what we’re talking about. I need to talk about this.” And for a lot of people, they’re out there nodding because it’s a real-life experience. But most of us just talk to the first thing they say rather than trying to understand what they really want to mean.

And if you’re in your role, whether you’re a manager or you’re working with your manager, making sense of what people mean, not what they say, makes work quicker. You work on the important things that have impact, not the transactional things, and listening helps you get to the result in a much quicker way, with a much bigger impact.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah, that’s powerful. And so then, the points you’re making with those numbers associated with the first 125 word in the first minute, there’s 11% chance that that’s what I really want to say, you’re saying it’s so important to not just respond to that and we’re off to the races. “You’ve spoken for a minute therefore I know what we’re talking about and I’m going,” but rather draw it out for a few more minutes, and then we’re going to get at the good stuff. And we save time because instead of spending, I’m just going to make up numbers, instead of spending 15 minutes talking about the thing that’s not the thing, we can spend five minutes listening to get the real thing, and then go from there.

Oscar Trimboli
Yeah. And in a lot of modern workplaces, we’re dealing with issues that are really complex, that don’t have just single or binary responses that are possible. Whether you’re in a creative role, or you’re in software development, or you’re in professional consulting, it doesn’t matter what profession you’re in, if you’re in the medical profession right now, there’s so much complexity and multiple and exponential vectors that you’re dealing with on a topic.

The likelihood that the very first thing that either of you talk about is the result or the possibilities. Whenever you’re stuck in these binaries, if you’re arguing A versus B, or one versus two, or red versus blue, the critical thing to ask yourself the question is, “What’s the third possibility? And what’s the fourth possibility?” And that’s only going to come about by listening.

On the days where we’re just doing tasks that require us to think one step ahead, we have to anticipate many things today in the imagination economy, because we’ve kind of moved from the information economy to the imagination economy, and our imagination can open up so many more possibilities. And that’s why one of my favorite quotes from Peter Drucker is, “The most important part of communication is listening to what’s not said.” And if we spent some more time there, the confusion, the conflict, the chaos in our workplace would go away.

Pete Mockaitis
So, let’s get after a little bit more how one does that effectively. So, there’s not jumping at the first minute, there’s kind of more encouragement of “tell me more” and “what else.” What are some of the other best practices that can get us to identifying and listening for what’s not said?

Oscar Trimboli
Yeah, I think we have to wind this way back, Peter, and start at the very foundational part of listening. And you can’t listen to anybody else till you listen to yourself. So, the very first part of listening is listening to yourself. Most of us turn up to a conversation with a radio station playing in our head that’s a completely different frequency to the conversation we’re just about to go into. We’re going from a meeting to a meeting, we’re going from a phone call to a phone call, and we’re still processing the last thing that was in our head.

So, getting ready to listen is more important than actually listening. In our database, we do proprietary research ourselves, 1410 people who are listeners, who have put up their hands, and said, “Help! Help! We need help in improving our listening.” We’ve been tracking them for two and a half years. And 86% of them say the thing that gets in the way of listening is not how they’re having a conversation with the speaker. Eighty-six percent of them say what’s getting in the way is the distractions before the conversation commences.

And some of those distractions are a story that they might have in their head about, “Oh, well, the last time I had a conversation with Peter was really wacky and the conversation didn’t go so well. And what’s he going to show up here because he’s a really unpredictable character?” or, “The last time I had a conversation with Peter, it was really, he is really dense and detailed, and I really didn’t make sense of it.” And you’re turning up to that conversation in that posture, and that’s your internal distraction, let alone your external distractions.

Most people walk in with their electronic devices of some sort, whether it’s a phone call, whether it’s a meeting, whether it’s a team meeting, we’re distracted internally and externally. So, I would always encourage people to do three things to get ready, to get that foundation right, when it comes to listening.

Step number one. Remove the electronic devices. And if that sounds like cold turkey, then put them in flight mode, that’s my big request. Just put them in flight mode so you remove the dings, the bings, the buzzes, the beeps, all those notification things that are going to come across your devices. Tip number two, drink water. Most of us turn up to a conversation with a cup of coffee only. I’m not anti-coffee, I’m not pro-coffee. I don’t have a position on coffee. Drink water. A hydrated brain is a listening brain. Or Red Bull, I don’t have a position on Red Bull either, Peter.

A hydrated brain is a listening brain. Now, why does it matter? The brain is only 5% of the body mass, yet it consumes 26% of the blood sugars. The best way to get your brain operating in a place that’s optimal for listening is to drink a glass of water every half an hour. So, a hydrated brain is…

Pete Mockaitis
Is it 8 ounces, 16 ounces, or how big is this glass of water we’re drinking every half hour?

Oscar Trimboli
However big your glass is. Most people don’t even drink water, Peter, so I’m not really worried about the size of the glass.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, I’m thinking if you’re awake for 16 hours, are we talking about 32 glasses of water?

Oscar Trimboli
Yeah, so a properly hydrated high-performing corporate athlete should be drinking about two liters of water a day.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay.

Oscar Trimboli
So, most people go, “Wow, that’s quite a lot of water.” But if you’re exercising effectively and you’re moving through the day, two liters of water is enough. So, a standard can of whatever your favorite soda is about the size of the glass I’d be thinking about right now for anybody there. So, hydration is really critical because a lot of people say when they concentrate during the process of listening, their brain hurts. They walk out of a conversation, they literally hold their head, and that’s got nothing to do with the act of listening. It’s got to do with the fact that they’re dehydrated. So, if we’re hydrated, we’re going to be in a better position.

And the third thing is just it sounds so basic. Take three deep breaths. And I’m not talking yoga pose kind of breaths. I’m just saying, in through your nose, down the back of your throat, all the way down to the bottom of your diaphragm, and then back out through your mouth. And for me, the way I make this practice simple for me, if I’m going to see a client, Peter, when I cross the lobby in a building, I’m going to switch off my phone the minute I cross the lobby, put it in my bag, go into the elevator, put my back against the elevator wall, take three deep breaths. And by the time I come out, I’m going to reception, they offer me a refreshment, so I always ask for a glass of water for me and the guest.

And in that moment, my mind is ready to start to listen. We’re going to get onto the techniques of what happens during the dialogue shortly. But it’s so critical that we all understand you need to be ready to listen. Most of us aren’t.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. So, some hydration, some deep breaths, and you’re sort of prepping the…I’m kind of imagining like if you’re painting a wall, it’s like there’s the prep, and then there’s the application of the paint. So, in the prepping, you support or else you’re not going to get a great end result there. All right. So, let’s say we’ve done that. Good news, we’re ahead of the game. What do we go forward with in the actual conversation?

Oscar Trimboli
Yeah, a lot of us spend too much time in the first kind of conversation thinking about what we’re discussing. And one of the things that sets up a great conversation is how.

Pete Mockaitis
How we’re discussing it?

Oscar Trimboli
How we’re discussing it. What would make a great conversation for us today? By the time we’re finished, what would you like to do? Now, all the research we’ve done, Peter, is on the workplace. I always put this by “Beware” announcement, “Please do not try this at home with your loved ones. They’ll see right through it.” It’s really critical. When I speak, most people come up to me or ask me questions from stage, saying, “Oscar, how do I get my wife, my husband, my partner, my loved one, to listen to me?” And men tend to listen to fix, and women tend to listen to feel.

Pete Mockaitis
Fix? I’m going to fix this?

Oscar Trimboli
Yes. So, men are very solution-orientated. So, a “how” question is, if you come home during the day, like this is a thing that transformed my relationship with my wife. In the early days, she’d go, “Oh, this is what happened in my day,” and I’d go, “Oh, yeah. Did you try this?” And she’s like she would get so furious because I was trying to fix it. She just wants to be listened to. And what I do now is I simply say, “Is this a conversation where you want me to listen or is this a conversation where you want some suggestions?” And 99 out of a 100, it’s just to listen, but in the odd case, she goes, “Yeah, I’d like some alternatives.”

And the same is true in the workplace. Most of us don’t agree out front how the conversation should be orientated. Is it a brainstorming conversation? Is it a conversation where we’re looking to make progress? That context is always king. But most of us don’t take the time to create the context at the beginning. What would make this a great meeting for you? What’s an outcome you would like to achieve from this meeting? Then we can actually get into the dialogue and explore the five levels of listening that we can kind of sequence as we go into that conversation, around listening for context, and listening for content, listening for the unsaid, and, ultimately, listening for meaning.

I would say this, there’s a lot of big people out there saying really important things about it’s crucial to understand the why. And when it comes to listening, why can feel judgmental. When you ask a lot of why-based questions at the beginning of a dialogue where you have low trust or low relationship with somebody, please be careful. Whether it’s FBI hostage negotiators I’ve spoken to, or telephone-based suicide counselors, why questions are loaded with judgment where when you ask somebody, “So, why do you do that at your company?”

You can achieve exactly the same result by simply asking them, “How does the approval process work at your organization?” as opposed to, “Oh, why does your company do approvals that way?” Same question, very different orientation. And I think, for a lot of us, what we’re not listening to is the actual way we’re dialoguing ourselves, and we need to be asking more how- and what-based questions, and a lot less why-based questions as well, Peter.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. You know, it’s so funny, as we were talking, my phone is sort of buzzing, and it’s like, “What? I’ve got it on Do Not Disturb,” but it was an emergency notification about fixing clothes with the coronavirus. So, anyway, even when I’ve set it to Do Not Disturb, distractions, interruptions can emerge. But point well-taken with the why question puts you on the defensive, it’s like, “Well,” you feel like you need to justify it, and you’re more likely, you kind of dig into it, so excellent. Well, then, can you bring us deeper, then, into these five levels of listening?

Oscar Trimboli
Well, a lot of us are taught to listen to content level two. So, level one is listen to yourself. Level two is listening to the content, and that’s interesting. Most of us are listening for words and, occasionally, body language, but a lot of time we’re not listening for state, we’re not listening for where people’s energy is at. And I’m not doing that from a woohoo perspective, but I was working with Peter who was…complex merger he was undertaking about two and a half years ago, and he was just going on and on about how frustrating it was, how unfair it was, that he shouldn’t be running the integration. The company being acquired, why are they asking him to do that?

And something just shifted in his head, and his shoulders moved a little bit more upright, and he just kept going on and on and on and on. And I went back, and I said, “You know, Peter, when we’re talking about that, you did this with your body.” And he looked at me, and he went, “Wow, I didn’t think you noticed.” And I said, “Well, when you shifted, your whole body moved.” And he said, “What I did in that moment, Oscar, was I realized I was listening to myself, and I couldn’t stand what I was saying, and I made a decision that I have to take responsibility for the merger.” And I said, “So, what decision have you made?” And he said, “I’m completely responsible for everything going forward.” I said, “But you spent the next seven minutes still complaining.” And he said, “Yeah, I guess I’m habituated into that right now.”

But for most us, our heads are buried in our laptop, or our cellphone, we wouldn’t have noticed that. So, looking at somebody from pretty much from the shoulders up is really critical when it comes to listening to content. When I talk about listening for context, this is really critical. Most of us don’t understand the backstory to any conversation. We turn up like we walked into a movie theater 35 minutes into the movie, and we’re trying to figure out, “Who are these characters? And what’s the plot? And when they’re all laughing, what am I missing out on?” And most of us don’t take the time to simply say, “Can we get back to the beginning? When did this all start?”

And, slowly, by putting those pieces of context into place, it’s not important for you. Yes, you’ll make sense of it, but it’s more important for them. So, one of the powerful questions that you always want to ask is, “When did this start?” But for a lot of people, whether you’re in sales, or professional consulting, and all of that, most of the time you’ll take a brief, but you only take the brief at that point in time, “What we’re looking to do in the future is X, Y, Z.” That’s interesting. But what’s really important is, “How did they get there?” And if you just take one moment to ask that question, that context will create a beautiful landscape for you guys to dialogue on that makes sense for everybody. You know all the actors in the movie now, and you can make sense and laugh at the punchlines like everybody else does.

We spent a bit of time at level four talking about what’s unsaid. And then level five is listening for meaning. What’s the meaning that they’re making from the conversation? I was working with a pharmaceutical company about four years ago. Have you ever walked into a building, Peter, where you feel the tension dripping out of the elevator ducts, out of the air-conditioning ducts? It’s like there’s just this tension in the room. So, that’s the organization I was walking into. I was asked to speak to the people leader community in this organization, and 20 minutes in, I just felt the room. There was this tension. And I turned to the managing director of this manufacturing pharmaceutical plant, and I said, “Look, with your permission, I’d just like to try something different.” And he gave me the most dismissive look, and said, “Well, if you must.”

Pete Mockaitis
If you must.

Oscar Trimboli
Now, I said, “I’d prefer to do it with your permission,” and he said, “Oh, go ahead.” And all of this is going through my head as well, “I’m not getting paid for this.” And I said to the room, “Hey, look, just turn to the person next to you and tell the person next to you what movie is going on in this manufacturing plant right now.” And the room explodes into laughter, and they’re all chatting away, and the tension is completely broken.

And the CEO steps up on stage next to me, puts his hand behind my back and switches off my lapel mic, and basically looks me straight in the eye, and said, “This is not on brief.” And I said, “Mark, can’t you feel what’s going on in this room?” And he says, “I’ve got no idea what you’re talking about.” I said, “Look, just give me five minutes. We’re going to bring the room back and we’ll try to make sense of what’s going on because something is going on here. There’s a lot of tension in this room. And if not, just kick me offstage.” And he goes, “All right. Look, I’ll trust you.” And he went back down and sat down.

Now, what you’re going to imagine, it’s like popcorn in the room, everybody is bouncing off each other. And every time somebody announces what movie is going on, the room explodes into laughter like popcorn in a stove. And the movies they were coming back with was like Die Hard and Titanic and Towering Inferno. You imagine the disaster movie that we’re talking about. And what happened next was amazing. That CEO, who looked at me with disdain and disgust, came up, pointed at me, and told me to go and sit down in the chair in the corner, and I thought, “Oh, wow. This is a bit of a moment. I’ve never been told to get offstage.”

He stood up there in front of the room and did something that completely changed my perspective on leadership. He stood up and said, “I’m really sorry that coming to work feels like a disaster movie for everybody here. We’ve been trying to solve this problem for three weeks. I need your help. I don’t know all the answers. What I’ve learnt today is something that changed my mind. And for the balance of our time together, I’m going to invite Oscar back up on stage to see if he can help us navigate through this issue.”

And I was stunned in the humility, I was amazed in the eloquence, and the invitation for me to come back was exciting, and I simply said to the room, “Who aren’t we listening to right now?” Peter, honestly, I didn’t even know what the issue was. All I knew is they thought it was a disaster. And it was that permission slip to say, “What movie is going on?” that helped the room create meaning for what was going on.

Now what they discovered was there was a pipe that a frontline worker had told the business about six months ago that required maintenance but he was ignored. And in our discussion about “Who aren’t we listening to?” they said, “People in the production line,” because these were all pansy-pants, Six Sigma, chemical engineers, Masters, PhDs, and they were all trying to solve a problem that was seemingly solved within a couple of days, and then it would come back a couple of days later. But it was a 35-year old line veteran who had worked on exactly the same line for 35 years who had pointed out six months ago, “This pipe needed maintenance,” and he got frustrated because he got shot down, and said, “We can’t afford to slow production down for just that pipe.” That was costing them tens of millions of dollars in backed-up stock because they couldn’t go through quality assurance because of impurities there.

So, I think, ultimately, for all of us, every conversation is not going to be a $10-million conversation, Peter, every conversation is not going to be the coronavirus, every conversation is not going to be the global financial crisis. But if we go in with a willingness to have our mind changed, there’ll be less conflict, chaos, and confusion in our personal lives and in our work lives. And that’s something worth fighting for.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, yeah, there’s a lot of great stuff there. And I love those particular questions in terms of “Who aren’t we listening to?” and “What movie is playing right here?” because then I think that can, you’re right, that is like a lighthearted way to get after…

Oscar Trimboli
Tell the truth.

Pete Mockaitis
What do you see? Is it a disaster? Is it a romantic comedy? Is it Office Space? Like none of us are really doing anything. Is it Up in the Air? It’s funny because that can spark a lot of things. And so, I’m curious, and I wanted to ask this at the beginning, but I’m glad you brought it up again. When listening is the willingness to have our minds changed, and you’d say read something from someone you completely disagree with and notice what’s happening in your brain. Well, so, let’s say we do conduct that exercise, or we are just talking in real time with a real person saying something we wildly disagree with, what’s the right way to run our brains to manage it in terms of it’s like, “Oscar is full of malarkey. That’s ridiculous. Has he been to my workplace?”

Oscar Trimboli
It’s even simpler. We’ve all got an uncle or an aunt at Thanksgiving table that we know we’re going to disagree with. Every year they say the same things, and we all think they’re crazy, and they all think we’re crazy too. And simply asking them this question, “When did you   form this perspective? When did you first form this opinion? When did you first…?” whatever it is. It will short-circuit their mind because their mind is literally on a rotating play. It’s that list in your music play that just is on repeat over and over and over again, and nothing is going to break that circuitry unless you go, “When was the first time that happened to you?”

So, I was talking to a family officer. So, a family officer works in very large private companies, typically with the founders, and they were very frustrated with the founder around the way they thought about cost control. To say they counted the pennies would be wrong. They want to make sure that we’ve not only counted the pennies, but we’ve stored the pennies. That was the kind of description we’re getting about the founder. And I simply said to the family officer, “Go back and ask them when they first formed this opinion.” And they went back to the story and explained that in the ‘50s there was a rationing in the UK, petrol wasn’t easy to find, there was no fresh fruit, and there was this whole story.

And the founder, in that moment, said, “Times are very different now.” And then he smiled, and he said, “Times are very different now. Maybe it’s time for me to loosen up a bit.” And in that moment, that family officer was able to change his mind by going back and asking him the question, “When did you first form this perspective?” Because in helping people go back in time, they can notice the distance between that event and now, because a lot of those events that create that play track, Peter, they’re very seminal, they’re very foundational, they’re very emotional. They’re in the part of the brain that’s in the primitive part of the brain and they’re stored really deeply.

And us arguing with somebody about why they’re wrong on that topic, you’ve got about as much chance as flying as a human without a plane as convincing somebody who’s got a deep-seated emotional experience that they’re wrong. You have to ask them the question when did they form that opinion, and it will take them back to that moment. And give them permission to pull that memory out and choose. They might choose to keep it, but in a lot of times they’ll throw it away and go, “Hey, time to change,” or, “This situation is different,” or, “Maybe we can explore something a little bit more.”

So, when you get frustrated with someone you deeply, deeply disagree with, and you’re lucky enough to have the opportunity to just speak to them, just ask them when did they first form this perspective. That will help change your perspective but, more importantly, theirs.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s beautiful. Thank you. Well, Oscar, tell me, anything else you want to make sure to mention before we shift gears and hear about some of your favorite things?

Oscar Trimboli
Look, I just always want to reinforce that if you just focus on removing the electronic devices, if you hydrate and drink a glass of water every 30 minutes, and if you breathe deeply, you’ll be ready to listen. And when you’re ready to listen, you’ll be able to make a big impact, and impact beyond words, because for most us, we’re trying desperately to listen to the other person while there’s a big, big radio station playing on in our head, Peter. So, devices off, drink water, take three deep breaths, and that’ll put you in an awesome position for the conversation.

Pete Mockaitis
Thank you. And now, how about a favorite quote, something you find inspiring?

Oscar Trimboli
Consistently, it would be Peter Drucker’s quote around communication is an illusion, and the most important thing we don’t listen to in communication is what’s unsaid. And that kind of triggered a whole bunch of research for me, and started the journey for 1410 people to go, “What am I not hearing?” when it comes to my research around listening. And he passed away about three years ago, but he was a prolific writer, he was a prolific person who led a lot of corporate thought, and he’s somebody who thought about things deeply.

Pete Mockaitis
And how about a favorite study or experiment or bit of research?

Oscar Trimboli
My favorite research was where in 1993 in Ottawa, Canada, they discovered that if you breathed and if you listened, they had 414 students paired off, and they had a little device connected to their fingers to measure their oxygen, their current O2 rate. And what they noticed is that people with a higher O2 rate were having more productive conversations, which was interesting. But what was the most interesting was, the most productive conversations, so they were self-rated by the students, the most productive conversations, the O2 level was synchronized. So, people were literally breathing at the same rate. So, that was something for me.

That’s why I always say to people, in one of our listening exercises, “Hey, how did you go with your breathing?” And they always go, “Oh, yeah, I did the three deep breaths and it was great.” And I said, “Did you notice the breathing of the speaker?” And most times they’ll say no, but those at a high-level of consciousness might say yes, and they go, “I realized I had to slow down the speaker’s breathing.” And I said, “How did you do that?” And most people will say, “Well, I just asked them to slow down.” But the really expert role model, great leaders, literally just slowed their speaking down, which slowed down the heartrate in the body, which got the oxygen up.

So, those kinds of studies where you’re integrating both the physiology of listening with the actual impact of listening from Canada in 1993, that research to me is just amazing.

Pete Mockaitis
And how about a favorite book?

Oscar Trimboli
I’m a big James Clear fanboy at the moment. I’ve been reading Atomic Habits probably once a month at the moment for the last 14 months.

Pete Mockaitis
A habit itself.

Oscar Trimboli
Yeah. And he’s got a quote in there that you don’t rise to the level of your goals. You’re pulled to the level of your systems. I’d say James’ book is a well-put together book, but it’s also, I’ve read a lot in 35 years, probably one of the best written nonfiction books I’ve read.

Pete Mockaitis
And how about a favorite tool, something you use to be awesome at your job?

Oscar Trimboli
It’s really a basic one, it’s one called TextExpander, Peter.

Pete Mockaitis
I love it. They’re our first sponsor, and I use it daily.

Oscar Trimboli
Oh, I would say eight to 12 times a day, TextExpander is saving me five to 10 minutes a day. And whether it’s a quick comment or reply to something, or just common phrases that I use, and things like that, it’s just a brilliant tool to kind of automate my brain. I love TextExpander.

Pete Mockaitis
And how about a favorite habit?

Oscar Trimboli
My favorite habit is really simple, and it’s changed dramatically in the last three weeks because of what’s happening. But on a Wednesday night, I swim or I run. I run in winter. I swim in summer. And Saturday morning, I run or I swim. I don’t meditate but I think running and swimming is my meditation. these physical habits are really important keystone habits to everything else that happens in my life.

Pete Mockaitis
And is there a particular nugget you share, that you’re known for, and people quote back to you often?

Oscar Trimboli
Yeah, but it’s a quote from Yoda, “Try not. Do or do not. There is no try.” and it’s something that can either set you free or frustrate you because sometimes I work really hard on the wrong things, and I have to realize later on that they weren’t the right things. And sometimes it’s the right thing to do and I just need to try a little harder to break through.

Pete Mockaitis
And if folks want to learn more or get in touch, where would you point them?

Oscar Trimboli
Just go to the ListeningQuiz.com where you can figure out what kind of listening villains get in your way, and a very personalized three-step plan what to do about it as well at ListeningQuiz.com.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. Oscar, it’s been a ton of fun. I wish you lots of luck and many enjoyable conversations.

Oscar Trimboli
Thanks for listening.