1.8: Verity Price: So You Want to be a Better Speaker? (Season Finale)
Sammi Reinstein: Hey, this is Sammi Reinstein, and you're listening to Conversation Starters. On this show, we talk all about bringing conversations back to B2B marketing and selling, because if there's one thing we know about doing business in the revenue era, it's that the best customer experience wins. Through the power of our own conversations with Drifters, customers, and special guests, we'll learn how to deliver a sales and marketing experience that puts the buyer first. Let's get into it. Hey, Elizabeth.
Elizabeth: Hey, Sammi. Last episode.
Sammi Reinstein: I can't believe it's our last episode.
Elizabeth: Season one in the books. It has been so much fun.
Sammi Reinstein: It's been a fun ride. I'm really excited about our guest for today.
Elizabeth: Yes. Ending it with our first international guest.
Sammi Reinstein: Our first international guest, Verity Price, who you have something in common with.
Elizabeth: Vaguely, yes.
Sammi Reinstein: You're not South African, but you both went to something called Toastmasters.
Elizabeth: Yes. Just on a much lesser scale. But Verity is the international World Champion of Public Speaking through the Toastmaster's competition. For people who don't know what Toastmasters is, it's an international organization all focused on leadership and public speaking. Usually, they meet once a week and have different speeches that you can write and present, you gather feedback. There's also a lot of other roles at the club like the Grammarian, so making sure you're speaking correctly, the uh and um counter, which gets you every time, like," You said 36 ums in an hour." Drift has Toastmasters here and so I was involved with it when we were in office and now we're taking a virtual approach, which is something you and Verity talk about today. But it is a really great organization. I encourage anyone, if you're hesitant about public speaking or just have a lot of presentations coming up for work, to get involved. They're really all over. I know there's like a million in Massachusetts. My dad has done a few of them. Verity actually got involved with Toastmasters during the pandemic. And as you have said, that's quite the productive use of time during a pandemic, way more productive than I ever did. So I'm really excited for you to talk to her today.
Sammi Reinstein: I am very excited to talk to Verity, the World Champion of Public Speaking. Before this, I took a big gulp of water, I looked at myself in the mirror, I did some breathe in, breathe out. But I was so excited to learn from her and I hope you enjoy the episode. Well, thank you, Verity, so much for coming on the podcast. Elizabeth and I were just talking about how excited we are to talk to you and how much we anticipate learning from you. So thank you so much for coming on.
Verity Price: So lovely to be here.
Sammi Reinstein: I gave the audience a little bit of background on who you are, but can you just reiterate a little bit about you and how you came to the title of World Champion of Public Speaking.
Verity Price: Wow! I'm trying to think of the short way to give you that story. But I think what's important is to share that I wasn't always comfortable speaking. In fact, I used to skip school if it was my turn to read in assembly, I was terrified of being on stage. Then I started songwriting while I was studying psychology at university and I was like," What do I do with this because this involves singing?" I had to go through quite a journey to build up the courage and actually involved losing my father to make me go," Life is short and I don't want to spend my life being afraid." That gave me the courage to start singing. My singing career didn't end up winning Grammys and touring the world like I'd hoped, but I crowdfunded an album back in 2005. It was before anyone had done things like that online. So what happened was I became very famous for innovation and thinking differently and my career as a speaker was born. In the middle of all of that, I joined toast masters as a way to just build on my skills. And to be perfectly honest, the only reason I'm the world champion is because of this crazy lockdown. I was a new mother, I would not have been joining anything. But I was at home, it was virtual, and I was able to compete, I was able to travel all around the world from the comfort of my bedroom, and so fortunate to have finally brought home the title of World Champion to Africa for the first time. That's the short version of how I got here.
Sammi Reinstein: Some people during quarantine learned how to bake bread and you became the World Champion of Public Speaking.
Verity Price: I still haven't learned how to bake bread though, so I'm jealous.
Sammi Reinstein: Everyone has different ways of interpreting lockdown. That's so interesting to hear also, that you weren't always comfortable speaking in front of people. When I was little, I went to speech language pathology and then it was also for me singing that brought me to a place where I felt comfortable in front of people and then eventually also comfortable talking and speaking to others and feeling more comfortable on a stage.
Verity Price: Amazing!
Sammi Reinstein: I want to read a quick quote as I was researching you. After I read the quote, I would love for you to elaborate a bit more on it. The quote reads," The bun is your introduction and conclusion is what gets the audience interested in biting in. The actual burger is your content. A great burger is never overfilled. It has just enough for people to enjoy, but not overwhelm them. That is why focusing on less than five points that all support a single message makes the world of difference." I loved reading this quote and this analogy of a great speech to a hamburger, A, because I'm a big foodie and anything that relates to food I love, and B, as I'm thinking in marketing about crafting my story, there's so much noise out there and it's very easy to get lost in everything about what makes you the best or all of the bullet points about a product. When you really boil it down, that's where the meat of the story is. Can you elaborate a bit more on that quote in that analogy?
Verity Price: Absolutely. It's the way I teach people to present and how to write a great speech. I know in the US you get those hamburgers that look like that where they've got nine patties and people have them as an eating competition. But unfortunately, a lot of speakers, that's what they try to deliver to their audience and they give them indigestion. So for me, it's a little hamburger, but the top bun is your introduction. And that needs a little bit of crunch, little bit of people going," Ooh, that looks interesting. I want to take a nibble." That's why you have to grab attention early on. Then in the middle, you've got the meat, which is your main point, your main story, and two or three bits of garnish. Those are the little extra points that support the main message. And the conclusion for me, which I think makes for a great presentation and a great burger, is if you look at the bun, it actually once was whole, someone's cut it in half and they've put everything in the middle. So your conclusion is made of the same material as your introduction. If you can link back to how you started and bring the audience back to where they began, you don't then need to say," In conclusion..." It's very clear that you're getting to the end and you go," Here, enjoy, digest, take it home." That's why I like to think of it as a hamburger. Sometimes clients come back and say," Ooh, I've just seen my speech and it looks like I've got nine patties in there and no one's going to remember anything I've said." Then my job is to go," How do we make it more digestible?"
Sammi Reinstein: That is a great analogy. We have a content marketer on our team who often says," Kill your darlings," in terms of editing out. Can you expand on that a little bit more, of when someone comes to you and they have so much. What can people do to start to try to edit out things that may not be necessary to that story?
Verity Price: It is the hardest part of writing a speech and great content. I think what helps is you have to have a single message that you're communicating. Often why there is so much is there's three or four points that someone's trying to get to the audience, they're not going to remember all of them. So the courage is to say," I'm actually just trying to say one thing well," and that helps you to edit down. As an example, I've got a keynote called Activate Optimism, which is based on my own experience of moving from depression or what I call from stressed to blessed and all the lessons that I learned. And it's based on positive psychology, so there was so much material out there while I was trying to craft a keynote. What I do when I look at all that info, I go back and I go," What is the one message I'm trying to get across?" When I identified that it was happy habits today become successful results tomorrow, that was the key message of the whole speech... Now you've heard it, you don't even need to listen to the whole one. Well, maybe you still want to listen. But it's one key thing I'm communicating. Then I look at all my information, I go," Those three examples illustrate that message. These three case studies illustrate that message." And then it keeps it really, really simple. So have one thing you're communicating and then look at all your data and go," Is this strengthening the message or is it diluting it?" Discard, discard, discard, because you can always come back. But you've got like a piece of marble and you're chipping away and you're trying to find David inside, but you've got to let go of some of it. So I think when you know that one key thing you're communicating, it's easier to edit.
Sammi Reinstein: The courage to tell one message, that is something that I'm going to take into my week. I'm very excited to use that in my work. I also love that analogy of an artist too. If an artist is trying to say too many things within a painting or a drawing, you might get lost and you might not understand that core to what they're trying to say. That's very interesting. On that note too, in our day to day as marketers, we're often thinking about audience. Audience is very important to telling and making sure that you're communicating that right story and that that one message resonates with that audience. How do you think about audience in your speech writing?
Verity Price: Audience is everything, because at the end of the day, the speech is for them. I can never remember who said it, but they said," Average speakers worry about themselves. Good speakers worry about their message. Great speakers worry out their audience." One of the things I've realized since winning the world championship is that a speech is a gift you give to the audience. So you have to craft it for them in mind because there's nothing worse, and I'm sure we've all had this, when someone gives you a gift and it's what they want, and they're going... I love bowling. I think it was in The Simpsons, Homer gave Marge a bowling ball and she was like," This is the perfect size for your hand. Why have you given me this bowling ball?" That's a classic case of not understanding your audience. So you have to go where are they at? What do they need? Again, that comes back to that single message. The message has to be universal and it has to meet a fundamental human need. People want to be successful, they want to be happy, they want to be safe, they want to feel seen, acknowledged. I mean, there's very broad themes that all humans have in common. When you've honed in on, that's the need I'm meeting in my audience, then you step back and go, how do I deliver it to them in a way that's relevant and current to them? And that's where you would plan maybe a bit of humor that's relevant to that audience. But at the end of the day, as you say in marketing as well, it is all about the audience. It's not about you, it's not about the product, it's how does it serve them? How does it make their life better?
Sammi Reinstein: Okay. So this holiday season and Valentine's Day and everything, make sure you listen to Verity, and when you're gift shopping, make sure you're thinking about your audience. But let's say that I'm Marge and I get that bowling ball and it's actually the shape of Homer's hand and I give Homer some feedback and I say," Homer, this doesn't feel personal to me," blah, blah, blah. Of course, that's marriage feedback. But in terms of regular feedback, that's something that you have talked about before, and that in your first drafts of speeches, you struggled to take that feedback. How have you learned to accept feedback and put it into your work and what advice can you give for people to accept that feedback?
Verity Price: This has probably been my biggest learning this year. I teach growth mindset. I talk about Carol Dweck's work in my corporate workshops. So I know that a growth mindset is about being able to work with feedback and a fixed mindset often ignores it. But what happens is when we get quite good at what we do, we get quite attached to what we do. So I noticed how stack I was when I got my first bit of feedback from a former World Champion, Lance Miller. I played him my speech, and it was before our Southern African finals, and I thought," I had already won four levels, surely I had a great speech." When he started giving me feedback on what I should change, I watched my ego not want to write down one thing. So, this was the key learning. The ego is always going to show up and it's going to want to defend, it's going to want to be right, it's not going to want to listen. Then I believe on the other hand, there's your soul going," Pay attention." So all I did was I picked up my pen and I was like,"Mm-hmm(affirmative). Mm-hmm(affirmative)," and I wrote it down. Even though there was all this resistance, I had another voice going," Verity, write this down. This is a world champion, he knows what he's talking about. Yes, you're going to want to resist it, but don't miss this opportunity." Then I had to self- coach myself to apply the feedback. So it was a battle of wills, but I had a much better speech at the end of it. Just that little bit of moving outside of the comfort zone, applying feedback that I wasn't comfortable with, and then seeing that the result was better made me a lot more open to inviting the feedback in. I think you have to accept the ego is always going to be there. We are human, so there's going to be times when it goes," I don't want to listen." Give yourself a beat, come back, go," Is there something here that I'm missing?" I received feedback from more than 200 people on my speeches, so it was exhausting. I'm not going to lie. I started looking for trends. If I keep hearing the same thing I need to change. And I think all of us, we need to go," If I keep getting that feedback and I'm ignoring it, the only person who's really losing out is me." So really go," Are there trends in the feedback I'm getting? What's a small change I can make? Can I step out my comfort zone, do something differently, adjust and change?" And you kind of fail, fail forward. Use the feedback, make friends with feedback. It's the game changer.
Sammi Reinstein: Fail forward. That's definitely something I will keep in mind. I can become really attached to something that I write. In my head, I can say," Oh my gosh! This is so good I can't wait to show my manager this." Then I get those bits of feedback and you just feel your ego go," Oh my gosh! That hurts." But I like what you say about looking for those trends, because if people are identifying those, you can go back and you can change that and you can fail forward and learn for your next project to implement those. I like what you say about trends too, is because it can help you focus on that overall theme or message and ignore what I would call feedback that goes against your gut. There is still something about bad feedback too that can potentially be detrimental to something that you're working on. So what would you say about identifying feedback that doesn't feel exactly right to you?
Verity Price: I think I love that you use the word gut, because it's quite an instant knowing. I had feedback like that in my journey to World Champion, especially actually in my speech that I won the semi- finals with. It was about my mom and it was about her journey into alcoholism after my dad died. So it was quite a personal speech, but it was ultimately around leadership and how we can all leave the world better than we find it. But some people would go," I really don't think you should be talking about alcoholism and your mom being in rehab." And I thought," Well, no, that's the truth. That's what happened and I'm okay with that. That's the story. I'm not glossing over something very real to lose out." I changed things as I was going and then someone came back going," It's feeling very disrespectful of your parents," and I went," Ah, I must go back to how I was doing it earlier." So I think you do have to listen to that gut instinct, even though you need to know the difference between gut and ego, because the ego will also be very like," No, I'm not going to change this. It's perfect the way it is." And you are always welcome to listen to that, but you'll find you don't get the results you want because you'll hit up and go," Oh, I should have listened." So it's trusting that. Actually, what my coach, Lance Miller, said to me... At the end, I had two and a half months of touring virtually around the world. I spoke at 40 clubs in 16 countries and I was getting overwhelmed and he said," Verity, take it all in, but you need to choose your safe people to listen to." And he and my sister and my husband, I had the kind of my core circle of people who I was exhausting with listening to the speeches over and over again. But those were my safe people that were really in my corner. So have your core people to get feedback from and then take what you need from broader feedback.
Sammi Reinstein: That's amazing advice. I must say, after watching your World Champion speech on YouTube, which I highly recommend everyone do, we'll link it, all of that feedback definitely worked. I was inspired by how personal it was and also how well it followed what we talked about earlier in that hamburger analogy; great introduction, great middle, great ending. And it was on Zoom. You gave that presentation virtually. It was virtual. A lot of things that we are doing these days is virtual and people are giving presentations, really big presentations, over Zoom or over virtual platforms. What advice can you give to people as they navigate this world of presenting virtually?
Verity Price: I think it's that you need to bring the same energy that you would to a live audience. Things like the chat box, that's your friend, use it, get people to engage. The emojis, I'll say," Come on, let's see some funny emojis." I mean, obviously when I'm presenting or doing a keynote online, I've got that space in a contest... We didn't have that opportunity. But I think it does allow us to let people put memes in the chat and keep the humor going. So build that interaction into your presentation. It's not just about suddenly a slide pops up and you're a little box on the side talking, you're not just a voice. It's your energy, you are the star of the show. So practice with the space and go," Can I use body language to illustrate something I'm talking about so I'm not just relying on slides or my virtual background?" So I think it's a capability and a skill all of us can learn, but you've got to talk to that camera like that is the most important person that you are speaking to, because we are actually speaking to far bigger audiences now as a result of this virtual world, so you want to bring of you to that.
Sammi Reinstein: Yeah. Definitely, we are talking to so many more people. You are in South Africa right now, I'm in Boston. You mentioned earlier that you were talking to lots of people in the US today. But I love that advice. And keeping it interactive at Drift, we use the chat at a lot just to do polls or talk to each other. It's really nice connecting and having those people as connectors. Finally, to wrap everything up, you mentioned earlier you weren't as comfortable public speaking, and now of course, you're the World Champion. What advice can you give to people who are looking to get started who might be a bit more nervous or introverted in getting started with public speaking?
Verity Price: Well, the easy advice is to find a local Toastmasters club and join because it is the most inclusive, supportive, and encouraging environment to build those skills. Speaking and presenting is not something you can read about, it's not something you can learn, it's something you do. You learn by doing. So Toastmasters allows that space for people to do another speech, try a different role, get feedback, get friends with feedback, apply it, improve. Look for those spaces where you can keep speaking and build that capability because I have seen incredibly nervous speakers go through this program and find their voice, find their authentic message. They didn't become extroverted overnight, they weren't trying to go out there and become Tony Robbins, but when they spoke and when they speak, people listen, and that's something we can all develop. So I would say find whether it's Toastmasters or just a space where you can speak regularly and build the capability. That's the way to do it.
Sammi Reinstein: Verity, thank you so much for coming on the podcast. I've certainly learned a lot. I'm excited to use all of these lessons in my week and in all of my work. Thank you so much.
Verity Price: Thank you. So lovely to be with you.
Elizabeth: I could listen to Verity talk all day.
Sammi Reinstein: I could also listen to Verity talk all day and-
Elizabeth: She was amazing. I didn't want it to end.
Sammi Reinstein: I do somewhat plan on just finding all of her speeches and binging them.
Elizabeth: I feel like it'd be good to have it in the background while working, just listening to her talk. Maybe that would help me talk better.
Sammi Reinstein: I agree. I agree. I'm going to listen to her speeches and take the burger analogy into everything I do. I'm really going to try.
Elizabeth: I thought you were going to say you were going to eat a burger while listening to her speeches and I was like,"That's a great idea." But-
Sammi Reinstein: I mean, I would love a burger and listening to her speeches. That sounds like an ideal night.
Elizabeth: Yes. I did love her burger analogy though. I actually think I had something similar in my fourth grade English class, of how to write an essay. But it's funny that I never thought to take the essay and also apply that to speaking.
Sammi Reinstein: Yeah. Yeah. And it goes so deep into everything we do. There's speaking and then just generally what she's saying about storytelling. It's so relevant to thinking about marketing campaigns and thinking about your audience and thinking about that one message. I loved what she said," The courage to take that and have one message," because there are so many things that we all think we're amazing at and that we think our story tells an amazing whatever. But focusing on that, that's something that I'm really going to-
Elizabeth: Focus on the one thing.
Sammi Reinstein: Yes.
Elizabeth: And it goes back to, we always say at Drift, write like you talk. So it works both ways. And yeah, shout out to Sarah Frazier with that kill your darlings reference. You all heard Sarah earlier this season, but I'm sure she loved talking to Verity too.
Sammi Reinstein: Yeah. And when you listen to her winning speech, you can tell that it started from a place of write like you talk and a very personal place and it completely draws you in, it's so engaging. I do really recommend everyone go listen to it.
Elizabeth: Yes. We'll link it in the show notes for you all to go check out. But I think that was a... personally, I might be biased, a great episode to wrap the season on.
Sammi Reinstein: I know. I can't believe it's the last episode of the season.
Elizabeth: I know. Thank you all for listening and tuning in. We're going to come back in the spring with season two. We hope you enjoyed it. Feel free to submit any feedback. You can email at podcasts @ drift. com. Leave a six- star review, we're always accepting. If you miss an episode, you can go back, give it a listen. Highly recommend.
Sammi Reinstein: Yes. I have learned from Verity to accept feedback and kill my ego. So the feedback, the reviews, everything is so helpful. Thank you for sticking around this season. I've learned a lot, I hope you learned a lot, and I can't wait to learn more in season two. Thanks so much for listening to Conversation Starters. If you liked this episode, please leave us a six- star review by clicking the link in the show notes. And hit subscribe so you never miss another one. You can connect with me on Twitter @ sammireinstein and follow all of our shows at Drift Podcasts.
We can't believe it's already the end of Season 1! To wrap things up, we're going to leave you with some tips that you can use to deliver more impactful messages to your buyers in person, or virtually.
Verity Price is the 2021 world champion of public speaking, but she didn't always like to speak in front of people. In fact, it wasn't until the Covid-19 pandemic that she got involved with the Toastmasters program. In this episode, she shares how she overcame her fear of public speaking, how she interprets feedback, and why every speech, or conversation, should begin with the audience in mind.
- (3:11) How Verity came to be the world champion of public speaking
- (6:44) Why every great speech has the structure of a hamburger
- (11:04) How to write with the audience in mind
- (13:29) Verity's advice about feedback
- (19:59) Tips for presenting in a digital-first world
- (21:57) How to get started public speaking
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