We are all communicators. We communicate daily, whether as a mom to her kid, a student or a professional making a presentation, a businessman making a pitch, or as a doctor to colleagues or patients. Communicating is as natural as breathing. Yet, so many people still struggle to communicate effectively.
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In this episode, we are privileged to sit down with expert public speaking coach Brenden Kumarasamy. According to Brenden, “The best way to speak is to speak,” and he encourages everyone to practice speaking a lot to master the art of communication. Listen now to learn about his coaching process and communication exercises and get tips and expert strategies so you can be the Top 1% Communicator in your field!
Key Points From This Episode:
- A brief background about Brenden Kumarasamy and how he founded Master Talk.
- Why Brenden likes to coach people on their communication skills.
- What to expect from Brenden’s coaching process and strategies.
- Brenden’s three simple communication exercises that are guaranteed to bring results.
- How to emphasize key points of your message and remove the filler words from your vocabulary.
- Three examples of Brenden’s communication exercises.
- Brenden’s definition of communication.
- Tips on how to effectively communicate with people from different professions like science, tech, medicine, or engineering.
- How much technical information to put on your presentations.
- Tips on communication for negotiation.
- The biggest mistake that people commonly make in a business pitch.
- How to communicate effectively as a podcast host or guest.
- How to effectively communicate with kids.
- How to connect to a stranger quickly.
- How to effectively communicate in virtual meetings.
- Three questions to ask yourself to prepare for a virtual meeting.
“A lot of them (clients), their struggle is they already have the right ideas but it doesn’t come off in a way that people are gravitated towards their ideas.” [00:05:54]
“The best way to speak is to speak.” [00:10:16]
“We don’t get points for doing the exercise well, we get points for doing the exercise a lot.” [00:10:45]“Communication is contextual.” [00:22:08]
Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:
Brenden Kumarasamy on LinkedIn
Brenden Kumarasamy on Instagram
It’s Not Rocket Science Show website
About Brenden Kumarasamy
Brenden is the founder of MasterTalk, he coaches ambitious executives and entrepreneurs to become top 1% communicators in their industry. He also has a popular YouTube channel called MasterTalk, with the goal of providing free access to communication tools for everyone in the world.
About Ann Tsung, MD
Ann Tsung, MD, MPH is a physician who is triple board-certified in emergency, critical care, and preventive/aerospace medicine. She is the podcast show host of It’s Not Rocket Science Show, and a real estate investor. Her mission is to help people create time, vitality, and deep relationships so people can achieve peak performance and fulfillment in life. Her passions include mind-body medicine, functional nutrition, longevity, productivity, and human optimization. She firmly believes that everything we need is within us now.
Please note the views, thoughts, and opinions expressed herein belong solely to the speaker, and not necessarily those of the speaker’s employer, organization, government institution, or medical program. This show is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute the practice of medicine, nursing, or other professional health care services, including the giving of medical advice, and no doctor/patient relationship is formed. The use of information on this show or materials linked from here is at the user’s own risk. The content of this show is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Users should not disregard, or delay in obtaining, medical advice for any medical condition they may have and should seek the assistance of their health care professionals for any such conditions. Please assume that any links leading you to products or services are affiliate links that I will receive compensation from. I only mention products or services that I have used and believe would add value for you. Please note that I have not been given any free products, services, or anything else by these companies in exchange for mentioning them on the site.
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Brenden Kumarasamy (BK): 00:00
The biggest challenge a lot of people think with communication is fear. I think that’s number two. I’ve always believed number one is motivation. And the reason is because there’s so many things in our life that we’ve been scared of that we did anyways, think about all the successes you had in your life. I’m sure a lot of those were scary. We’re scared through that journey, but we do it because it matters.
If you’re struggling with your vitality, energy, mood, focus, or sleep, this podcast is for you. Your host, Dr. Ann Tsung, ER doctor, and aerospace flight surgeon, will help you reach for the stars and remove the barriers or blockades that have been holding you back from living your best life. If you’ve been challenged by your health, relationships, or productivity, then it’s time for a breakthrough. So, here’s your host, Dr. Ann Tsung.
Ann Tsung (AT): 01:01
Hello, welcome to It’s not Rocket Science Show. I am your host, Dr. Ann Tsung. And today we have Brenden Kumarasamy here with me. He is an expert public speaking coach. And the reason why I wanted to have Brenden on the show today is because we are all communicators. Every day in our lives, we’re communicating to children, to other adults in our professional lives. As you know, a professional educator, perhaps you’re doing presentations, perhaps you’re speaking to a medical community or somebody in tech or business, or we’re always negotiating and trying to convince somebody of, say a real estate deal or pitching to an investor. So, I thought that it would be an amazing idea to invite Brenden to the show. So, thank you so much. Brenden, please tell us a little bit about yourself.
Of course, Ann. The pleasure is absolutely mine. Thanks for having me. So for me the story started when I was in college, I went to business school. And I did these things called case competitions. So I never really wanted to be an entrepreneur or Communication Coach through these competitions. Think of it like professional sports for nerds, other guys major on playing rugby, or baseball or basketball. I wasn’t one of those guys. So, I did presentations competitively. That’s how I learned how to speak. But then as I got older, Ann, I started coaching a lot of the students in college so they could win competitions. And that’s what led to MasterTalk, the YouTube channel. All the information that I was sharing with them, frankly, wasn’t available for free on the internet. So, I wanted to do something about that.
Awesome, awesome. And so, so far, what have you been doing? Like in terms of coaching?
Yeah, for sure. So after I started the YouTube channel, I developed a Rolodex of clients, primarily executives and tech CEOs. And the reason a lot of them work with me is because many of them are PhDs, let’s say in a very deep technical field, but they aren’t able to communicate that idea in a way that the general public or investors or other stakeholders are able to understand them. And the reason I have that expertise, because I grew up being a venture capitalist. So, I looked at a lot of deals. And it was through that experience, I was able to help them pitch better.
Awesome. And what would you say is the reason why you do what you do?
Yeah, for me, I believe the next Elon Musk is a seven-year-old girl who can’t afford a Communication Coach. And I think it’s crazy that as a society, we aren’t teaching the most brilliant minds on the planet, how to be really, really strong communicators. Because at the end of the day, the smartest people need to be visionaries, they need to be able to hold a vision and projected into the future. And I just thought that a lot of the geniuses are coming up. A) we don’t know who they are and B) we need to we need to create a Rolodex of information for those people so that they can all grow up being great speakers. That’s the dream.
And do you coach or, you know, children? Or do you have experience with children too? Is that what you’re talking about?
I did at the beginning of my career, but the way that my impact is going to play out is it’s really through my free information. So, YouTube, Tik Tok, all those different platforms. And then as I mature my career, I’ll teach other people how to coach like I do.
Okay, sounds good. Yeah, you want to teach somebody how to fish, essentially. And, you know, for those of you guys who are watching on YouTube, and just not listening, Brenden has amazing eye contact directly at the camera, instead of looking at the person like the image on the screen, because there is a difference. If you’re looking at the camera that you’re actually, you know, able to connect with your audience, virtually, versus looking at yourself talking or your guest talking. So that’s awesome Brenden. That’s tip number one already.
So moving forward, we usually follow the “why” and then the “what” and then the “how” format on this podcast. So I would like to, you kind of already talked about your end goal, kind of your vision of what that might look like. And I want to kind of switch gears to what it might look like for somebody who wants to improve their public speaking skills like what is some of the, most people you coach, maybe they already think that they’re pretty good speakers, and after they get coached by you and go through your tips and strategies, what are some of the things they can expect? The end results they can expect that they may not realize?
Yeah, for sure. And so the way that I think about this is communication is like juggling 18 balls at the same time. So, one of those balls is eye contact. One of them is body language, storytelling, knowing how to do the right facial expressions, knowing how to smile. But the problem is most of us don’t know how to juggle all 18. Or if we’re getting started in our journey to be great communicators, it’s really intimidating, frankly, to try and juggle all 18 balls at the same time. So for me, the question always begins with what are the three easiest balls to juggle in the year, because if we can work on those three things, it helps to build momentum and our skill set really quickly.
Much like when we go to a gym, and we sign up for a membership, sure, we could do calorie counting and look at the diet plans and be picky about those things. But if we’re not waking up in the morning, and walking 15 minutes a day, we have a problem. We’re not doing the basics first. So, what does that look like in my field? Let’s start with ball number one, I’ll throw it back to you. So, ball number one is the random word exercise, pick a random word like nuts like pistachio, like trophy case, like light bulb random words, and create presentations around those words out of thin air. Two reasons why you want to do this. One, because life is filled with uncertainty.
Let’s take small talk, when you have a conversation with somebody new, you have no clue how that conversation is going to go. So if you do the random word exercise, and you talk about avocados for 30 seconds, everything else becomes really easy in the real world. And then finally, the second reason that I tell my clients is if you can make sense out of nonsense, then you can make sense out of anything. And that’s the power of the random word.
Okay. So from your clients in terms of like the results that you’ve seen, or progressions that you’ve seen, can you give us some examples?
Yep, for sure. So how does that look like from a client transition perspective? How do they progress? So, a lot of them their struggle is they already have the right ideas, but it doesn’t come off in a way that people are gravitated towards their ideas. Scientists, PhDs are a good example of this where they have a deep technical prowess, when they talk, people don’t really understand what they’re saying, or they don’t value them as high-level. So what does that look like if you do the random word exercise 300 times you get really comfortable with uncertainty, and you become a lot more confident in the technical expertise you’re delivering. Because you’ve already done what’s harder outside of the boardroom. That’s one piece.
The second piece is the question drill, which is an exercise where you write down a list of questions that you feel somebody’s going to ask you about your expertise. And you predict the answer and the question ahead of time, so that when you get bulleted with questions in the boardroom, for you it’s a joke, because you just do a couple of them already. So that’s why I’ve been able to build the expertise really fast, because I just asked one question about communication every single day for a year. But if you do that for a year you’ll have answered 365 questions about your field, like it’s going to be a joke to answer any questions that your audience will ask you.
And then the third one is video messages, sending video messages to clients, sending video messages to family members, Just 20 seconds just to how grateful you are for them. These are three simple ideas that if you implement on a consistent basis, you’ll start to see results really quickly. Because most people in any industry, don’t do any of the three or have never heard of any of the three.
So, the first one you have mentioned so well, video messaging you said. So, predicting some of the questions for your presentation, your field, right? And then the first one was random questions?
So let me recap. So, the first one is the random word exercise, pick a random word like cup like phone, like Jack. Create random presentation at dinner. This is great to do with kids by the way, for those who are listening to this and have children. This is great to integrate into your life because the kids don’t overthink this, they just do the exercise and you go well, I wish I was able to do it as confidently as them. So, they teach us a lesson there.
The second exercise is the question drill, where we make a list of questions that our audience is asking us about our expertise. Audience could be boardroom people, it could be people in our companies, just questions and answering them every day. And the third exercise is just sending video messages when it’s people’s birthday, just to show people appreciation for having them in your life.
Are you down to do exercise number one, just to show the audience what that’s like?
Absolutely. Before I do, I’ll tell the audience, Ann does not give me the word prior to the conversation. I’m literally making this up on the spot. So, guys, Ann, give me any word.
Yeah, this was totally unplanned. We’re just going with the flow here. So, what about this astronaut behind me here?
Sure. So, here’s the story. Every kid’s dream you would think is to be an astronaut, Ann. But the truth is, if you survey them, they actually say YouTube which is fascinating. When Elon Musk was younger and he was reading science fiction books from Isaac Asimov, he always dreamed about going to space and the reason is because that is where the frontier of the unknown exists. So, he spent his whole life, as many astronauts do, to try to get to space because they get to see something, they get to experience life in a way that the majority of humans never get to. And the beauty of being an astronaut is I believe all of us can be astronauts, not in the literal sense, where we can all go to space. I mean, maybe in our lifetime, that’s possible. But I see it more in the sense that we can all be explorers of our own destiny, and be the astronauts that we always wanted to be. And maybe that’s being a cook, maybe that’s going to the beach a little bit more times a week, maybe that’s being a better mother for our children. Once we figure out what that astronaut-like experiences in our lives, we can embrace that much more. So, I encourage you to pursue it. That’s it.
Wow, that’s amazing. So inspiring, just from one word. I love it. I love it. Tell me, what did you use in terms of your tone, your speed, there’s probably different aspects. I know like tonality, volume, speed, because it completely changed as you’re telling the story. S,o tell us and silences. So, tell us a little bit more about those techniques.
For sure. So let’s start with the most important technique, Ann, which is the best way to speak is to speak. I’ve done this exercise, and I’m not exaggerating 3000 times in my career. So, what does that mean? That means for those of you listening to this, don’t compare yourself to me. Instead, the first 100 times it’s not about pausing. It’s not about projection. It’s not about tone. It’s not about getting all those 18 balls, right, like we talked about, it’s about saying, Are we willing to do it a hundred times? Period. That’s it.
So for me, and what am I saying in my ecosystem, is we don’t get points for doing the exercise well, we get points for doing the exercise a lot. So I encourage all of you to do this five times a day, it only takes five minutes. And if you do that for three weeks, consistently, you’ll hit 100. And I guarantee you, your 101 is always better than your first one. So that’s the basic most important principle in terms of the breakdown for the random word exercise specifically. So I’ve gotten to a place in my career where I can do all 18 things at the same time, there’s still a lot more for me to learn. But I’ll break a few of those components down. But I’m not expecting anyone listening to this to do it right away.
So, one of those points is pausing. Where I take a pause to emphasize key points of by message. And knowing how to do that is important because it helps remove uhms and ahhs from your vocabulary, otherwise known as filler words. So notice that when I speak, I don’t say filler words. It’s not because I’m smarter than people. It’s because I’ve replaced it with pausing. But the trick here is to do one of those things at a time. So, it starts with do the random words a hundred times, don’t judge yourself on the results. Then for the 105th time, go, “I just want to work on my pauses,” and then get that right. And then once you get that right, then go to vocal projection, which is a whole different ballgame there. And then you practice varying your tone, and you do it one at a time until you get all of it.
What do you say number one thing is to work on silences and filler words?
I would say the number one thing to make sure we’re all on the same page here is really to do it 100 times. Period. That’s the most important thing. But if I were to break this down in more detail, so ball one is the random word exercise as how I teach it. Ball two is the question drill. Ball three, sending video messages. Ball four is an acknowledgment that if we’re not doing the first three balls, you couldn’t move forward. So if you’re not booking your calendar to the video messages, to do the question drills to do the random word, forget about the rest of the technique. And then ball five to nine is the five levels of speech, which is pausing, which I think is the first thing to focus on, then it’s smiling, getting that correctly and how we speak. Then after that its vocal tone variety – so high tones, low tones. Then after learning how to pace effectively – fast versus slow. And then ball number nine is all about putting it all together.
Ah, okay. So yeah, without the foundation, forget about the others. Right? Like you were saying before. So again, just to recap is random word exercises about three times, five times a day that you prefer, right? And then you also want to ask one question, maybe one is enough every day.
One is good to get the conversations. Obviously I don’t do this. I take this to an extreme, because I’ve done this a lot. So, I might do 50 questions in a day. Like on the podcast, I’m doing 25 questions in an hour, right? Technically, depending on the host and I’m doing a lot of these so I’ll get I’ll probably answer 100 questions a week. But for those of you listening or getting started definitely one question a day makes sense. And then yes, video messages, couple of days.
Are you just thinking about these questions yourself or to, say, time and medicine, I would just go for a look at a board exam question and try to respond vocally?
Great question. So there’s the different layers and how to do this exercise. I always like to emphasize whichever way is easiest for you. So, I’ll show what’s on the menu. So the first one to do is to come up to questions yourself. Right? So let’s say you’re super introverted, you read a bunch of questions, you just look at each question you’re done. The next layer is to get feedback from your audience, which is just ask people what questions they have for you make a list of what I do. So you have a list of hundreds of questions, and I just tackle one of them every day. I do it more on autopilot with podcasts, though. So it’s easier for me, but not for most people listening to this. And then the third layer, which you actually hinted on upon really well, is the idea of making it more collaborative. This doesn’t have to be an exercise, where we’re alone in our basement. And where we have, you know, we haven’t showered in three days, and we’re doing this exercise alone. That’s not what it looks like.
It’s more about saying, let’s use medicine as an example. Go to your colleagues at your hospital, in your facility in your college and your university. And just ask them, Hey, what questions did you get this week? And you will pull the questions together? And what’s better is you’re asking them, “How would you answer this question if you were me?” And you take their answers, and that’s actually the fastest way to practice, but it’s harder to implement. That’s why I always start with just write a question every day, and you’ll see progress.
Okay, it’s kind of like when I practice my oral board exam with my husband. And what would you say, you know, when I am in NASA, a lot of times the physicians have to work with engineers, and to relay the gray area of medicine, because we can’t really give like exact percentage like engineering, or physics, and vice versa, they need to communicate to us. There are restrictions in what they’re saying and how we can fit the human into that box. Any suggestions for people in science, in tech in medicine and how to communicate with each other?
1000% Ann, a great question. So here’s the way to think about this. Let’s start with what is my definition of communication? Because that will layer on top of your awesome question here. So, what is my definition? Simple as this. How do we convey an idea in a way that achieves a specific outcome for a specific audience? I want to repeat that again, how do we convey an idea in a way that achieves a specific result for a specific audience? So that could be speaking on a stage and getting more sales in a business, that could be convincing our significant other that we should have Mexican food tonight, not Chinese food, that’s all public speaking in my, in my vantage point.
So now how do we apply that same layer in the context of technical fields like science, technology engineering? So what you need to do is, let’s say we’re a scientist, let’s play the role of the scientist. And we have to communicate something medical, scientific to the engineering community. So we need to start with that first layer, which is what is the result I’m trying to achieve? So from that result, we then ask ourself, is all of the jargon really necessary to achieve that specific result? Because the engineer doesn’t need to know 100% of our field or else what’s the point of hiring us? Because they, they already know what they know. So what we need to figure out is with the result that the engineering and the science team are achieving together, what are the bits of informations which is generally 20% of what you have not 100%. And that’s what really allows you to layer off all the non-essentials.
And then the last piece around this is taking a collaborative approach. Don’t do this in a silo, you should be having a lot of collaborative conversations around the engineers – and this is vice versa to an engineer to communicate to a scientist, it’s the same ballgame – where you’re just asking them open-ended questions. Like if you if you were me, what do you feel the information that I’ve shared today that you feel is not relevant for the project we’re trying to achieve or the result we’re trying to achieve? And these are the questions that are missing in those conversations. That’s why departments work in silos. And there’s a lot of inefficiencies in organizations, versus just creating a very open culture of saying, hey, Ann, you’re a lot smarter than me in this area so why don’t you tell me what you think is relevant for what I’m going to achieve. And you’re the smart person. So you’ll go, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, and then we have a thoughtful conversation. But what’s nice is it means you’re gonna work together in the same department for a long time. So, you don’t have to do this a lot. You did this a few times. And then we established a framework, and that we just use for the rest of our careers together.
So that’s fantastic. So essentially, it all starts with collaboration, finding out what each other needs instead of just assuming what they need. And then you’re wasting a lot of time, trying to get a lot of details in that are essentially going over each of our heads. Right?
Correct. And I can use a simple example it’s a little bit more fun to demonstrate this in my fields, I can speak on that. It’s very different coaching a child who’s five years old than a 50-year-old executive at a Fortune 500. Because when your coach and it’s still communication, but the way that the information is being parlayed is very different. So, let’s say I’m speaking to a five-year-old kid, they don’t want my advance to booklet on how to project my vocal tone stuff in different ways. They don’t care. What they’re looking for is a confidence boost, because the kid is looking at me indirectly and saying hey, Brenden, no one has ever told me I could be a great speaker, could you be the first one? That’s what Laurie is expecting, a 5-year-old Laurie. But if I talk to a 50-year-old, I don’t know John or Julia, they are still worried about communication. But the reasoning for them to get better changes, which is, hey, think about your next promotion, think about the way you can show up as a leader, whereas the five-year-old couldn’t care less about that. So, I’m still teaching the same information. But I’m communicating it in a way that changes the way the sender or the receiver of that information takes the info.
I see. Yeah, you really have to find out what their purpose is. And their why essentially, right. Yeah. And well, how would somebody implement that when they’re doing say, physicians presenting something to engineer in the slideshow format, in the virtual format? You know, of course, you have the conversations beforehand, you collaborate beforehand, so that you hopefully would have shown the information on there already. And I just wanted to get your thoughts on, like slideshow presentations, how much detail is on there, technical information versus like us speaking, because a lot of times, I do see a lot of, you know, very detailed technical information presented on the whole slide. And it’s almost like you’re it’s an eye chart that you’re trying to zoom in. And sometimes when that presenter is speaking, then it’s difficult to hear that presenter.
For sure Ann, great question. So the way that I think about this is there’s no silver bullet that solves for all I think the one principle that stands though, is that generally you want one key idea per slide, or else it’s really confusing for the person. So and usually, I like McKinsey’s way of doing this, which is the key takeaways at the top of the slide. And then the rest of the slides explains why that key takeaway makes sense. That’s a general idea that makes sense. But I think the one other principle that you should just implement as an iterative process in those types of organizations, is really just taking a step back and questioning it.
So let’s say the physician creates the presentation before we’re actually presenting to the engineers, the smartest one, the really good communicator is going to look at each slide, just question it. Why does that need to be there, why does that need to be there? Why does that teach you? Why do we need to share this? Why do we need to share this? And I do that with my own thought leadership. Like before, when I got the vocal tone question, I was five minutes explaining vocal tone variety and how to do this. But the problem is, no one listening to podcasts is going to do that. Right? So it’s more about saying, wait a second, if somebody isn’t doing the random word exercise, the question show in the video message, notice I’m repeating the same information like five times, they’re not doing this not gonna get the result, because the rest of the stuff doesn’t matter. So even I’m questioning my own thought leadership and delivering it in a way where the audience is listening to this goes, oh, like, I gotta ask more questions. I go to the random word exercise, and they get the results from listening to this episode.
Ah, okay. Okay, got it. So then, what would you say? I’m going to switch gears just a little bit in terms of like different fields, like if say, somebody who’s a real estate investor, that you want to negotiate with lenders? Or what if they’re pitching to investors, or they’re negotiating contracts with the seller versus buyer? Just curious what your thoughts are on business contracts, deals, negotiation with business relationships and investors.
For sure, Ann. So here’s what I would say to that, communication is contextual. So example, negotiations is very, very different than the front end pitch to raise funding. Right. So let me give an example here to layer that. So when we’re raising for a presentation, let’s say in real estate, that’s already going to be very different than tech. Because in real estate, you’re really selling the investor. And you’re selecting the right investors for the right property. So let’s say you’re raising for multifamily, you’re not going to go to someone who’s flipping single homes, because they won’t work like that you’re not talking to the right audience. That’s one piece.
But then the other piece is, let’s say you’re talking to multifamily you’re racing around, you got to make sure that you’re really selling the dream of that property and why that property is a better investment than any other property in the same area that that investor is focalized on, that investor was focused on. So that’s the piece around that.
Whereas when you’re raising for venture capital, which is more on the tech side, it’s a completely different pitch. That pitch is more layered in the sense of showing the market opportunity, talking about competition, why they’re going to stand out, what’s the unique USP. And it’s a completely different format. So I think it’s all about context. But the way that I think about it, is you got to order it in what’s priority for you personally. That’s why I always think about this question, “How would your life change if you’re an exceptional communicator?” So from that question, you go, Okay, well, I need to do X. Okay, so let’s say x is building a startup pitch. That story about the negotiations a bit too much, because you haven’t gotten the deal closed. So just focus on getting that pitch. And then once they’re interested, then they’ll start to negotiate because no one’s ever going to negotiate with you until the deal is closed until they’re actually interested. So it’s all about just learning the right steps.
So I said, you’re talking about picking the ones that matters to you the most right now that’s gonna get you to your end goal first and then work on that specific context.
1,000% That’s why I was like using the 10 Balls analogy because it’s visual for people. They go okay, like raising capital for me might be Ball One. But for Ann, might be Ball 17. Because you might be looking to raise capital at all or maybe it’s the opposite. And that’s what helps us build communication strategy around there.
Is there a common mistake, let’s say an example of a real estate syndicator, or investor looking to partner with other people? Is there a mistake in communication that people commonly make?
Love that. I would say the biggest mistake by far for anyone who messages pitch decks and raises capital is they don’t bulletproof their deck. So what does that mean? That means literally being in a room with for three hours with people that are vicious, like not people that are nice people that are vicious that are friends, and will poke every little hole in your idea and your investment, whether it’s ROIC and return on invested capital, whether it’s ROI, like all the metrics, until you have an answer for everything. And the reason people don’t do this enough is because they don’t understand the urgency of it.
The investing community is very, very small. So if you mess up one of the pitches, it doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it is because they all talk to each other. So I would highly recommend that whether it’s through a coach or just your friends, pick people that are going to braid everything in your deck until you have an answer for everything. In other words, it’s the question drill on steroids. So the question drill for someone who’s getting started is once a day, but for someone who’s raising hundreds of thousands billions of dollars, no, no, this is not a once-a-day exercise. This is 100 questions in a day. So that when you get into that boardroom and you’re investing and you’re pitching for investment, you’re perfect.
And what would you say for people who are presenting? How many times should they practice beforehand? Because for me, I usually have to practice about three to five times for me to be comfortable, because I don’t like to look, I don’t like to look at my slides when I’m presenting, what would you say is the correct amount?
For sure. So what I like about the way I teach communication, is what the three balls do the random word exercise, the question drills, the video messages, is that makes us more comfortable with uncertainty, and reduce the overall practice time that we might need for a specific presentation. Because for example, if I can talk about avocados, if I have to give a presentation on communication, like who cares like it, no one’s going to ask me on a podcast, like what my favorite fruit is, you know, it’s like it doesn’t matter. So but at the beginning, it wasn’t the case. Because at the beginning, I sucked. So if I don’t have a lot of basic information, I’m not doing the random board exercise enough, the amount of practice time that is required in my next presentation goes up dramatically. That’s one piece.
The other piece I would think about is what is the level of risk of this presentation? If I’m giving a presentation to an existing client that I’ve already worked with and it’s the same presentation, but a different group of people, like let’s say, an onboarding presentation, a workshop for a company, new people every year, I do very little work to prep for that, because I’ve already done it, like I already know what it is. But if it’s a new account, I’ll prepare a lot more. Or if it’s the biggest stage of my life, even if it’s the same presentation, I’ll probably practice it 50 times. So I think it’s about risk assessment. How important is this to our career and if the risk is low, you can prepare accordingly. But if the risk is really high, like the most presentation of the most important presentation of the quarter, you’ll put 10 times more effort into that specific one.
Yeah, I can relate to that. I had a presentation to an international audience. And I practice three times just the hour before the presentation, just that hour. But you know, before that for a month, I was like practicing, practicing, practicing already. My first one, so I can relate to that. And a common question I get is what would you say is a mistake that podcasters who are interviewing someone or being the interviewee. How do you become a good podcast host or somebody you know, who wants to share their values on a podcast?
For sure, and great question. So I would cover this with two different areas, the guest and the host. Let’s start with the guest. Notice how in this entire conversation, I’ve been pretty cool and relaxed around the questions being asked and how I’m answering them. So I never get asked a question or I go, “Oh, no, I don’t, I don’t know.” But when I started guesting on shows, definitely I remember a few years ago, I get asked, this is the funniest question, he looked at me and he said, “Where does the fear of communication come from?” And I looked at the guy and I was like, “I don’t know, Los Angeles, New York, London?” So I wasn’t trying to answer that. And that’s okay, because I was getting started with guesting. But what I did is I practice the question drill. And this is not just me saying it. Now it’s obvious that I’ve applied the question drill in my own life, that it doesn’t matter what question I get asked whether it’s construction related or very specific to a physics degree and PhD looks as I’ve coached somebody from every field at this point in my career, so it’s a lot easier for me to navigate through that.
But having said that, there’s a very easy way for somebody to skyrocket their learning, Ann. All you have to do, the first guest appearance to take it as loss. Okay, you’re not going to do well, I’m just telling you, it’s fine. It’s a part of the game, I was horrible. My first 100 were horrible, honestly. But you’ll be a lot better than me because you have the trick. But then after the first appearance, you want to really listen to that episode and make a list of all of the questions that you got asked in that episode. And that becomes your daily question drill routine. So let’s say, for example, you got asked 15 questions. On day one, you go hmm, you know, if I were to re-answer, where does the fear of communication come from? How would I do better than saying New York or Los Angeles, something silly? So I sit out there and think about it for five minutes. And I go, oh, you know, it actually starts at the education system. And I start to develop a theory around it. And then I would do that. So the next time because you get asked the same questions over and over and over again, on a podcast, just the nature of the game, you’ll be a lot better. That’s the guest side.
Host side. Here’s what I’ll say. And this is a great quote by Lewis Howes, he says that the pre-show is the show. So what I’ve found, I’ve probably guessed it on five, 600 podcasts for my career. And I would say out of all of them, the top five of my appearances, the biggest shows I’ve been on in my career all share one thing in common. And that is genuine excitement for interviewing me, and being very specific about the approach. So I’ll give you an example. One of the hosts, I can remember really vividly, I was on a pre-call with them. And they looked at me and they said, “Oh, yeah, listened to this episode that you’re on, I got this insight. I love your mission. Let’s talk about this. I’m so excited to have you.” I was like, “Oh, you know about my Elon Musk mission.” So, what this does is it rewires the brain of the guest to go “Oh, this one’s really important.” So whenever I see that I actually cancel a bunch of other meetings as oh, this person is serious, I need to focus on this show. So that’s one piece. And then the other piece is what they do after is they always ask me for feedback. So at the end of the interview, they go like, well, what advice would you give me on how to be a better interviewer? Or they would ask me prior to the conversation, how do I make this the best interview you ever had in your life, and that already brings my brain to believe that the host is one of the best that I’ve ever worked with. And it changes my vision before I even entered the stage.
It’s a great idea. I usually ask for feedback. But I have not asked beforehand. How can I make this interview amazing for you? So that’s really great to know. Thank you. And of course, I’ll be asking you for feedback after this as well, that would be awesome.
Thank you, thank you. And then I do want to switch like another scenario. I’m just curious, like for people with kids, how do you communicate with kids, whatever age that you want to share for parents? Of course, I think a lot of times it’s hard to communicate with toddlers or even children or even adolescents for them to hear you.
Absolutely. Here’s what I would say, I think there’s a couple of steps that we can follow here. The first one is everything we talked about today, integrate that into (inaudible) communicate, because if you all become better communicators, you might make mistakes, but the error rate will be much lower. So I’ll give you an example. The random word exercise, do this when you’re picking your kids to and from school. It’s great in the car, don’t listen to music, just do the random word exercise with unicorn or butterfly and just have fun with it. And it helps your kids think because they’re making up stuff too. And they get better at dealing with the unknown. The second extra, the question drill, ask them questions. But this time, don’t ask them close-ended questions because what a lot of parents do, or people in general, honestly, was go, how was your day? Which is cool. It’s kind of an open-ended question. Good luck. It was nice. Versus asking your kid? What’s the biggest lesson you learned about yourself this year? That’s what really gets them to think, hmm, I cannot even ask that question. If you had to give me one piece of advice, what would you advise me to do? How do you think I should live my life better? So ask your kid those types of open-ended philosophical questions, really gets them to think.
Another piece that I got from Patrick David, is he gets his kids into debates. So he would say something like, okay, you’re gonna argue this side, and the other person is gonna argue this side? How would you win this debate? So he gives them a lot of open-ended discussion, they open up their minds. And the third piece, which is the video messages, you do that with kids too. Have your eight-year-old send video messages to their distant relatives, and it makes their day when you get an eight-year-old video message, you freak out and it encourages the kid because it shows them they’re creating impact.
Last piece that I’ll give that will save parents today thousands of dollars if you implement and I call this strategy, the buyers presentation, which is just this whenever your kid comes up to you and says hey mom, hey dad you should buy me this. Instead of saying yes or no, say yes and I’ll consider it but you need you to give me a presentation on why you should buy me this. And why I should buy you this rather. So, 80% of the time what happens is they don’t actually do the presentation which means you’ll save a bunch of money because you didn’t say no. But then the other piece the 20% of time, you’ll be shocked Oh, they’ll create the presentation. There you go.
Wow, that’s amazing. So they have some sort of extrinsic motivation to practice their public speaking skills. And when you’re talking about with like, with kids, you know the random words. Are you just there for their 30 seconds just creating a story is that what it just telling them to create a story say anything they want about it for 30 seconds,
You got it. And one piece that’s really important with kids is for the first 100, do not give them any negative feedback. So it’s literally just oh, wow, you did so well. But the most the other important piece too is you be the leader to your and we’re not just giving them words we’re taking their words too. So what it begins with is the kid starts by giving you word, you demonstrate it, and then the kid follows what the parent does. So a lot of people ask me all the time and I think it’s a great place to segue this in they go, how can I make my child a great communicator? And the most important answer is to make yourself a better communicator because kids will never ever do what their parents told them to do. But they’ll always be how their parents are being. So if you’re the person doing the random word, exercise, working out doing the things, your kids will naturally want to be like you.
There goes your why everyone if you have kids, and if you haven’t thought about, you know, learning public speaking or just learning to be a great communicator, do it for your children because they’re going to be modeling you. And you want to be able to communicate with your children. So that, you know, I’ve heard a lot of times when they grow up, you grow distant from each other. Because you guys have never been good at communicating your whole life, or you guys have been fighting your whole life.
Absolutely. I completely agree.
And so I think you gave us like so many, many, many pearls so far. And maybe there are just so many, but I will let you repeat it again, though, I’ll let you repeat again, if there’s one takeaway that you want this audience to, you know, what if there’s like one step, just one step, let’s like, you know, dial it down even more just one step that they take right after this? What would it be?
You know, for me, the biggest challenge a lot of people think with communication is fear. I think that’s number two. I’ve always believed number one is motivation. And the reason is because there’s so many things in our life that we’ve been scared of that we did anyways, think about all the successes you had in your life. I’m sure a lot of those were scary, right? In the same way I’ve thought about my life, whether it’s you know, dating, getting married, getting that first job, going to this unit, will they take me and will I even get into this? We’re scared in that journey, but we do it because it matters.
So what is the one thing if you could only do one? I would reflect for 10 to 15 minutes on this question because a lot of people don’t? How would your life change if you became an exceptional communicator? Really think about that. Because communication is not just about doing well at work. It’s about doing well in life. It’s the way you talk to your family. It’s the way that you raise your children. It’s the way that you make (inaudible), the way that you make the waiter feel at a restaurant, that they actually matter because they do. Life is about communication and communication is about leading a more fulfilling life. So if you really answer that question for yourself, and it might be sending a better example for your kids, it doesn’t matter what that reason is. But once you find it, you’ll actually find the motivation to do the random word exercise, to do the question drill, and to send a few video messages to your friends.
Simon Sinek, you start with the why, right? And then the how will just come after it’s like, you know, you’re not being pushed by someone behind you. But when you’re actually being pulled by the why in front of you that you want to do this, that you want to become a great communicator. And for you had talked about, you know, being able to connect with someone right away. Do you have like one tip for, say, you meet a stranger? How to connect with them on a deeper level? Quickly?
Absolutely. So here’s the framework I always start with, start with the people you like. So what I always like to say it’s a strategy called the value list, make a list of the five best people in your network, people who really enjoyed talking to you, this is not about money, or titles or fame. This is about people that you really love, like really deeply outside of family members, could be a friend you went to college with, it could be you know, some other person you’ve met somewhere. And then what you do is you add so much value to them that they want to introduce. That’s the best way to network, because you don’t get to meet a lot of people. And those people you won’t have too much trouble getting along with because the really simple and the really similar rather not simple but similar to who you are the other command with strangers.
And this is how I approached the world because not everybody was going to be liked and that’s life. Make a list of questions you wished other people asked you and just ask those questions to more people. So for me I don’t care about the weather if you meet me in person, you as the weather I’m just gonna walk with it’s like I don’t care. But what I do care about what’s your dream, Ann? What are you passionate about? What are you excited about building this? What’s the biggest lesson you learned about yourself? This I literally asked all these questions to all my friends, because that’s what I want to know. And that’s what I just asked strangers. So I wouldn’t. But for other people, it doesn’t have to be philosophical. It could be, you know, how was the football game last week? If that’s what’s exciting for you make that list. How was the soccer game, how was this, but just ask questions that you’ve started answering. And oftentimes, what people do in conversations is when you ask them a question, they always ask it back to you. So I always go, like, what’s your best lesson? They answer and they go, what about you? And there you go. So you’re leading the conversation the way you want it to.
be the linchpin in the room, be the connector, be the one who networks other people, and also ask the deep questions to ask the open-ended questions. So you can actually get to know them as a person and ask the questions that you wish that you would other people to ask you, is that like a summary? Okay, awesome. And they’re just like, so many, you know, so many scenarios. I’m thinking, I love picking your brain. So I know we want (inaudible) quite some time. I really appreciate it. Where can people find you? Like the websites or social media? Where can they find you? And can you tell them about your coaching service as well?
Absolutely, and such a pleasure to be on your show. Thanks for having me. So two ways to keep in touch. The first one is the YouTube channel. Just go to MasterTalk in one word, you’ll have access to hundreds of free videos on how to speak. And the second way to keep in touch is attending one of my free seminars. It’s a workshop on communication that I facilitate over a zoom call that everyone’s invited to, you don’t have to be an executive to be on this call. And it’s fun. And if you want to register for that, go to rockstarcommunicator.com.
rockstarcommunicator.com. And you say you’re on YouTube, LinkedIn, and what else?
Yeah, YouTube, LinkedIn, private. I’m on Insta and Tik Tok as well.
Okay, got it. And there was one tiny little question that just came up in my mind. And I hope you can I know we’re at the end. But I think this is very important for a lot of people who are doing virtual meetings. And a lot of people don’t want to jump in to meetings, I know you have a video on that like how to speak when how to speak up at these virtual meetings.
For sure, for sure, and happy to talk about that. So to keep it simple, the framework I teach is actually the same virtually as it is in person, with the exception being you have to bring more energy, virtually, you have to look at the camera, whenever you’re speaking to have the eye contact to give the illusion that you’re talking to people and using the chat to engage with people. So with those differences aside.
The three questions want to ask ourselves in meetings. Number one, what’s the goal? It’s a simple question. But honestly, 10% of the meetings we got this week, we love sir, we have no idea what the goal is, you should cancel those meetings. The second question is, given that the goal is clear, what is my contribution to the meeting? So you’ll find often times, especially with VPs, SVPs at C-levels, is they get pulled into a bunch of meetings that they shouldn’t be in, like it’s an important meeting. But I don’t need to be in that meeting. So you should cancel the next 10%. And then the final question, which I believe is the most important one is how do we communicate our contribution in a way that inspires and adds value to the people around us, this is what people get wrong in meetings.
So let’s say the goal is clear, the contribution is clear. But the way they’re communicating their contribution is a flop. So here’s what you need to do tactically, because we can’t prepare for every meeting. That’s just life, we have so many. So here’s what you want to do, every month ask yourself, what is the most important meeting of that month, and focus all of your time, making sure that what comes out of your mouth in that meeting is important. Either because it’s a job promotion or because it’s your biggest account that year, or it’s a case study, or something that affects your bottom line in a massive way. Just prioritize your time like that and apply the 80/20 principle.
Awesome. Thank you so much, I really appreciate that. And I totally agree with you. A lot of times we don’t really have an outcome or even agenda for the meeting. So if their agenda is not sent out to a meeting, you’re invited to then ask for that agenda. Because you know, every meeting should be focused on the outcome and not just be talking about the content, but not outcome-driven. And how would you deal with if you see that people are losing attention on their phones during meetings?
I have a different approach to this which is how do we before the meeting start or rather, when it begins how do we make sure that never happens to begin with? So how do we make that happen? So that way, we’re not trying to fix something in the moment, we think about it proactively. So the first step, you just have to take it out, you just have to take the loss, that’s life. But when you present it the next time, you say something like, okay, how can we do this differently? There’s different ways you can approach this and there’s no right answer, because some of the strategies I’ll put out, it might not work out but I’m in this field that won’t work here. Fair enough. The key is really to digest and implement will make sense to you. So one strategy that’s worked really well with my C-levels is the gratitude. So they start every meeting especially if it’s a small meeting, everyone 30 seconds what are you grateful for go Ann, John, boom, boom, boom, takes like Three minutes, everyone’s on board. That’s how you pull their attention right away. That’s one.
A second one is this is funny. Some of them just start doing the random word acts as the beginning of each me is hilarious. So everyone’s practicing together. So it gets people’s attention everyone’s on. The third one is to do a roundtable idea, an idea roundtable where you share a key idea. And if you want everyone’s thoughts, if it’s important for you to get everyone’s thoughts, it might not always be, but if it is, just go, okay, here’s what I want everyone to do everyone take the next 60 seconds right now, and jot down what is the 32nd share that you want to contribute to the group. So I’m gonna take 30 seconds out, everyone writes it down, and then go Ann, what’s your 30? John, what’s your 30? So you need someone who’s a really good facilitator like I’m doing right now. But one person can learn that and be that individual for the team. And that improves the efficiency of meetings drastically.
So again, to be proactive in getting them engaged before the meeting starts either with gratitude, either way, random word exercises, or that you can have them already think of what they would like to contribute the first 30 seconds and start jotting it down so that we can just have them think through their contribution ahead of time so that we’re not wasting time going back and forth. Is that what it is?
Exactly. And if you call people out in meetings, it sets that culture, right that you want to hear from everyone. So everyone’s always going to be on in meetings.
Yeah. Okay. Got it. Okay, thank you so much. I think we’re out of time I really appreciate it. We’ve gone from talking to kids talking to professionals pitching ideas to real estate investors and venture capitalists and just you know, in medicine and science engineering, so and virtual presentations in like 45 minutes so I admit it’s actually so this is amazing, you’ve definitely added tremendous value to our listeners.
And just remember that Brendon talked about right after this just sit quietly 10 to 15 minutes just think about your why. Right? Just your why please. Because when you have a strong enough why then all of these tactics, all of these hows, you’ll want to do them in just do one at a time, do two, its okay.
And, again, please go to, everything we talked about is going to be on you know, itsnotrocketscienceshow.com all the show notes will be there, the links will be there, how to get in touch with Brenden for his coaching. And also, if you want to get enough time to actually do all this I do have a seven-day video masterclass on the Facebook group. So if you go to Ann Tsung, MD on Facebook, there is a human optimizer group that you could join. I have a seven-day video masterclass that you can get for free to enroll, and I’m in there coaching you through this.
Alright, so thank you, guys, so much. And I appreciate all of your time and attention. Thank you, Branden for the value that you’ve added. And just remember, everything that we need is within us now. Thank you.
[END OF INTERVIEW]
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