This is the 3rd and final interview of Robin Kermode, actor and author of the print and audio book, Speak: So Your Audience Will Listen. A great book. Coupled with this three-part podcast series customized for BankBosun audience, will give your great confidence in public speaking. If you listen to this series and buy his book, it will save you from having to appear naked on the stage to gain public speaking confidence…like he did. Listen to part one, if you missed it.
Kelly Coughlin is CEO of BankBosun, a management consulting firm, helping bank C-Level officers navigate risk and discover rewards. He is the host of the syndicated audio podcast, BankBosun.com. Kelly brings over 25 years of experience with companies like PWC, Lloyds Bank and Merrill Lynch. On the podcast, Kelly interviews key executives in the banking ecosystem, provide bank C-Suite officers, risk management, technology and investment ideas and solutions to help them navigate risk and discover rewards, and now your host, Kelly Coughlin.
Kelly: I’m a big fan of Shakespeare and you mentioned that it’s effective to use the iambic pentameter which is Shakespeare’s preferred rhythm in the speech, I have never tried to write a speech using that let alone deliberate in this format. Are you seriously recommending that we try to write our speeches like Shakespeare?
Robin: I’m certainly not, what I’m saying is that if you can find, it can be useful exercise, if you write your main points in iambic pentameter, interestingly enough, it will actually have a natural rhythm that will just flow because iambic pentameter, which is ti-dum ti-dum ti-dum ti-dum, which is the five human heart beats. The reason it’s worked so long is it has a natural rhythm. So, one of the classic Henry the Fifth line is, “Now all the youths of England are on fire.” In the rhythm of Shakespeare, which is ti-dum ti-dum ti-dum, in that rhythm, it sounds like, now all the youths of England are on fire. You can feel this, there is a momentum behind it. It’s not always appropriate, of course. In the book, I use a phrase that you could tell to your sales team, for example, which was in the line I came up with here to explain this was, “just care and they will want to buy from you.” But if you say it in the rhythm of the iambic pentameter, which is tidum ti-dum ti-dum, you have, just care and they will want to buy from us. So, if you are going to end a speech with your main point, if you just try and write it in those five human heartbeat, fondly enough, you will find it will have a natural rhythm and a natural gravitas and a natural authority, and a natural drama, just purely in the way it is constructed.
Kelly: So you will give us a pass, we can use iambic pentameter at the beginning and the end but in-between we can get by without it.
Robin: None of us are as good as Shakespeare, and to be honest, it wouldn’t land.
Kelly: Okay. I love the quote, “A speech is like a love affair. Any fool can start it but to end it requires considerable skill”
Robin: [Laughs] that’s great, a great quote isn’t it. If you can see a theatre play, you love the whole play, it’s been like two hours long or something, the curtain comes down at the end and the curtain gets stuck about one foot off the ground. What you see now is the actors behind, you see their feet. And there you can see them, you can see the body language because there is about a foot at the bottom, and you can see they begin, what do we do now? Do we go off or do we stay? And you can see them starting to go one way or the other way. And it leaves a very odd feeling about it and then they can’t do their bows properly so now they have to come through the side of the auditorium and, you know, in front of the curtain and all the rest of it. So, when you go into the office the next day and you saw this theatre play last night, the curtain got stuck. That’s what you are going to remember. You are not going to remember two hours of great before that, you are just going to remember when it all went wrong at the end. And similarly with the speech, you can do a really good speech and just slightly fall apart at the end and it’s just terrible. And the reason I like the headline sandwich is that even if in your mind you think, oh, it’s all slightly going a bit pear shaped. What you do is, you think, okay, I am just going to repeat the opening headline absolutely clearly, so, that’s why Peter is the kindest man I have ever met in my life. No one is going to think, but you missed out a section, because they don’t even know what you plan to say. But at least you finish really really well, and I would say, finish strongly but interestingly enough, on a timeline. Someone, a few years ago, did a wonderful survey on when the peak of great works of art, great speeches, great music, great films, great book even where they reach their emotional peak. And most people would think that you reach your peak at 100 percent on the timeline. Interestingly enough it is about 95 percent on the timeline. So it’s best what we are trying to sell in our product we want the audience to feel they have made the decision to buy it and we then pull back and let them feel they have make their choice. We don’t want to end on the big sell, we want to get to about 90, 95 percent of the timeline and then just pull back a little bit so the audience go, yeah, I think we will buy this, and this is my choice to buy it. And then, salesman, very much calmer, and they are not desperate to sell, because I think if he looks desperate to sell it will end up at 100 percent energy and 100 percent on the timeline.
Kelly: Excellent. I told the audience we will cover briefly some things on PowerPoint presentations. I have a business policy now that requires more or less four things in a power point presentation. Number one, few or no words on the slide. Two, only images if possible. Three, total deck less than 12 and then presentation less than 20 minutes, as we had discussed before, and then the script printed at the bottom of the PowerPoint notes. Tell us about your PowerPoint policy generally and what you refer to as your five by five rule.
Robin: Yeah, the five by five rule is quite common actually but basically it’s no more than five bullets per slide and then more than five words per bullet. And I think that is the discipline, I think, is really good. I think also, fonts are too small, quite often there are too many sections to a slide. So, you can have graphs, series of words, you can have a chart, So, you can have a pie chart, a bar chart, a photograph. It’s just too much on a slide. If I was going to give one piece of advice on PowerPoint it would be each slide should have an emotion connected to it. And the best example of this is the company I was working with in the north of England and it had a sales team of about 100 guys and they had to go out obviously and give this presentation to all their new potential customers. One of the slides was the history of their company. And then it went from about 1900 right through to 2017. And it had, but each one, each one of the...well almost every single, not every single year but I mean, it felt like...certainly every five years it was something else. It was like, you know, they moved their office to a different town or they opened an account somewhere else or they opened a branch here. And as a customer, of course, I was watching this, a potential customer, and I said look, I am going to stop you now. I said, this slide is going on for about a minute and a half and it’s really boring because it’s all about your company and I, frankly, I want to buy your products, I am not really interested in the company and where you have your offices and where you have your warehouses. It’s not really relevant to me. And he said, oh, we’ll cut the slide out. And I said, no, no, no don’t cut the slide out because there is a point to the slide but you have to know the emotional results that you want every slide to have. So every slide in your deck has to make the audience feel something, so what is this slide making the audience feel? And he said, oh, but we are giving the history of our company. I said, no, that’s boredom. What do you want the audience to feel? And one of them said trust. I said, absolutely, spot on. The only reason you are telling us about the history of your company is so that you trust us, right? So, I said, now you know that, I said do the slide again. And the guy said, so, look, as you can see here, we have been going over 117 years. We know what we are doing. We are really established. Trust us. Click. And he went on to the next slide. So, it took under 10 seconds but it did the job, which is to make us feel we can trust this company. We don’t have to go through everything necessarily, it wasn’t relevant but to see it all there was useful. But the point of the slide was to make us feel trust. So, I think that in every single slide I get my clients to write the emotion at the top of the slide that they want the audience to feel as a result of giving this slide. And if you do that, then the audience will care and if you don’t have the emotion connected to PowerPoint slides, that’s when they become boring and that’s when they become just information. We don’t want information, we want to know why we are been given the information. And if you tell them the emotion connected to each slide then your audiences will care.
Kelly: Great stuff! Robin that’s terrific. I really appreciate your time. How should people get in touch with you? Give us your, I presume your website, email address, how would you like to do that?
Robin: Well it would be very lovely to hear from any of your listeners, of course, you can buy the book on Amazon which is, Speak: So Your Audience Will Listen. You can contact me by the website which is zone2, that’s ZONE the number 2, zone2.co.uk and my email is firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to hearing from you and hearing how you are getting on with your presentations and your speeches.
Kelly: Great Robin, thank you very much, cheers!
Robin: Thank you so much Kelly for having me. I really appreciate it.
Well that concludes my three-part series with Robin Kermode. I hope you liked it. His book Speak: So Your Audience Will Listen has some further tips, tricks and practice techniques that will help you continue to upgrade your public speaking skills and confidence. Thanks for listening.
We want to thank you for listening to the syndicated audio program, BankBosun.com. The audio content is produced and syndicated by Seth Greene, Market Domination, with the help of Kevin Boyle. Video content is produced by the Guildmaster Studio, Keenan, Bobson Boyle. Voice introduction is me, Karim Kronfli. The program is hosted by Kelly Coughlin. If you like this program, please tell us. If you don’t please tell us how we can improve it. And now some disclaimers, Kelly is licensed with the Minnesota Board of Accountancy as a certified public accountant. The views expressed here are solely those of Kelly Coughlin and his guest in their private capacity and do not in any way represents the views of any other agent, principal, employee, vendor or supplier.