It probably seems a little strange given I chose to start a podcast to admit that I used to be terrified of public speaking.

I remember having to stand up in front of my English class when I was 16 to present on a topic of my choice. I’d spend hours researching and writing this presentation that was going to last a total of 3 minutes if I was lucky.

As I stood in front of the class I completely froze up and stood there for what felt like forever, thankfully my teacher asked me to sit down and that was the end of that.

The same thing happened a few years later at university and then again when I moved to Australia. I was running a conference and my MC went MIA so up I went to introduce the next speakers. I was heckled because of my accent. It was in jest but it was enough to quickly put me behind the scenes again.

That was me for about 4 years after that. I avoided speaking at all costs. I could write up the best speech notes for my Presidents & CEOs but you couldn’t get me up on stage for love nor money!

Things changed when I started taking my career seriously and I was fed up being behind the scenes. I didn’t want to keep feeding my ideas to others to run with, I wanted to be part of something bigger.

So I started saying yes. I started to speak at events because I knew that it was going to play a critical part in building my personal brand and positioning me for my next move and the one after that and the ones I haven’t even considered yet.

For me it was 100% a mindset shift that got me. I had two choices.

  1. Continue to plod along behind the scenes. It was comfortable. I enjoyed it. I wasn’t quite satisfied but it was okay.
  2. Get uncomfortable in order to grow and start creating the career and life I wanted.

So when I made the decision that my business, Relevant, was going to specialise in personal branding above all other forms of marketing I decided I was going to use podcasting to grow and position myself as an expert.

When I was looking for guests for the podcast, I wrote down a number of areas that I felt were important to cover.

Public speaking was at the very top of that list and write next to it was the name – Grant Baldwin.

Who is Grant Baldwin?

Grant Baldwin is a veteran public speaker with his own company dedicated to helping people master the art of public speaking (and do it for money) called “Speaker Lab”, he has also written books on the subject.

In our talk, we explored how public speaking works when it comes to personal branding and positioning yourself as a leader in your specific field. Here’s how that went down.

An Early Passion

Our chat kicked off with Grant telling me about how he found his passion in public speaking, where he began, and what the influences were that lead him through this path. In his case, it happened through his admiration for his church’s youth pastor:

 “In high school, I was really involved in my local church and my youth pastor had a really big impact on my life. I was like, “I want to do that. That seems cool”. So I eventually worked at a different church as a youth pastor. I had a lot of opportunities to speak and I just kinda felt like I was decent at it and wanted to do more of it.

Be the Steakhouse

If you are a dedicated listener of our podcast you know I’m always talking about how you need to pick a niche, and Grant actually put that idea in a wonderful way:

One of the things that we talk a lot about is that you want to make sure that you’re positioning yourself as the steakhouse and not the buffet meaning that, if you’re looking for a good steak, you could go to a buffet where steak is one of a hundred different things that they offer, and they’re all mediocre, or you could go to a steakhouse, where they do one thing, but they do that one thing, really well.

You Don’t have to be an Extrovert

A curious thing I noticed about Grant that might give some of you a ray of hope, being a veteran public speaker, he actually self-identifies as an introvert, and signals that you don’t really have to be the life of the party to give public speaking a try:

In fact, I think a lot of times this is kind of a misconception that people assume in order to be a speaker, you have to be this big extrovert. You have to be this life of the party. In fact, most speakers that I know are actually relatively introverted. I enjoy being around people, but it can be tiring and draining.

This rings true to me too. My friends and family would class me as an extrovert. I love being the center of attention (some say I reek of only child – thanks, Kristin) but only when I am comfortable with my surroundings. I’m a true extrovert at heart and my nearest and dearest couldn’t quite understand why I struggled with speaking in public.

Fear and Excitement

Raise your hand if you ever felt any of the following symptoms in a public speaking situation:

  1. Faster Heart Rate
  2. Sweaty Hands
  3. Dry Mouth

The truth is that everybody does, leading many people to think that they are afraid of public speaking, in fact, 75% of people describe it as their worst fear. But Grant shone a different light on this subject for us.

 “Some speakers still feel nervous before they speak, you know, and I’m that same way. Like a lot of speakers feel that, does that mean that speaking is a bad thing or it’s a negative thing or that they should do? No, not at all. It’s just, that’s kind of the, the body’s reaction that what you’re doing matters, that this is significant.”

The Future of Public Speaking

Recording in the wake of Coronavirus, I wondered about the future of public speaking in a time when people are afraid of leaving the house, let alone gathering in large numbers, but Grant seemed to be very optimistic about it:

The speaking industry is one that has been around literally for decades. It’s gone through recessions, 9/11 and other, you know, crazy situations. And again, obviously, this is unlike anything we’ve really ever seen before, but the speaking industry has a lot of resilience, especially on the other side of this, where we all have all been quarantined. I think people even more sure going to be looking for that human connection, where we’re looking forward to giving someone a hug, we’re looking forward to giving someone a high five or live events and speakers will really serve a real need that people have right now.

What next?

Of course, there were actually a lot more subjects that I and Grant were able to explore on our chat and you are really missing out by not giving it a listen (it’s just 30 minutes!).

Now if you are looking for some tips to either become a professional speaker like our esteemed guest or just don’t want to get embarrassed on a presentation, you should check out the speaker’s lab.

On the other hand, if you are looking to build the absolute best personal brand and dominate your niche, you can always contact me. Let’s chat. 

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