BankBosun Podcast | Banking Risk Management | Banking Executive Podcast

BankBosun is a biweekly syndicated audio program that provides the multi-tasking bank C-suite officers ideas and solutions from key executives from all types of businesses operating in the banking ecosystem. BankBosun provides relevant ideas and solutions clearly, concisely and credibly to better enable them to navigate risk and discover reward. Kelly Coughlin is a CPA and CEO of BankBosun, a management consulting firm helping bank C Level Officers navigate risk and discover reward. He is the host of the syndicated audio podcast, 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 to provide bank C suite officers, risk management, technology, and investment ideas and solutions to help them navigate risks and discover rewards. Kelly earned his undergraduate degree (BA) from Gonzaga University and a master’s degree in business administration (MBA) from Olin Graduate School of Business at Babson College in Wellesley, MA. Kelly lives in Edina, MN.
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Jul 27, 2017

There are always three speeches for everyone that you give.  The one you practiced, the one you actually gave and the one you wish you gave, Dale Carnegie.

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,  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.

Greetings, this is Kelly Coughlin, CEO of BankBosun, helping bank C- suite execs navigate risks and discover reward in a sea of threats and opportunities.  You know, I don’t think there is any bank executive that is exempt from giving some sort of public presentation on a recurring basis, whether it’s small groups, medium sized or large audiences, whether it’s motivating staff to be productive, informing your Board of your financial results, persuading the big commercial loan or wealth management prospect to trust you, your bank and your people.  As much as we all wish we could have competed in the NFL or NHL and use our athletic skill to compete, we executives use our brains, words and voice to compete. And if we are terrible at it and hate it, it’s a curse but if we like it and are good at it, it’s a huge benefit. My goal is to help you love it, or at least not hate it. And that leads me to two somewhat opposing quotes.  The first, from Dionysius of Halicarnassus who taught rhetoric, that speech in Greece during the reign of Caesar Augustus, and the second quote from Mark Twain, I think you all know him.  First, Dionysius, “Let thy speech be better than silence or be silent.” I’m going to repeat that, “Let thy speech be better than silence or be silent.”  And then Mark Twain said, “There are only two types of speakers in the world, one, the nervous, and, two, liars.”  I don’t think I need to restate that.  These two quotes plus my intro lay the foundation for the importance of good public speaking.  Everyone is nervous, every exec must do it and you best be good at it, if you want to compete and win. I recently read a great book awhile back titled, Speak: So, Your Audience Will Listen - 7 Steps to Confident and Authentic Public Speaking.  I also listen to the audio book.  I suggest you all get both the audio book and the written book.  The author is Robin Kermode.  I encourage all of you to sign up on his website at zone2, that’s the number two,,  Robin is also a professional actor.  Interestingly, he overcame his public speaking fear, one time, by appearing totally nude on a stage in England.  One word comes to my mind, shrinkage.  In his book Robin refers to the Greeks in Aristotle, the Romans in the Cicero, and the Irish with Joyce and Yeats. My four daughters will attest that the Greeks, Romans and Irish are my three favorite topics and Joyce and Yates are my two favorite writers.  In fact, Robin even referenced my favorite poems by Yeats, The Stolen Child.   And since this might be the only time I can use that poem in business I’m going to use it now.  

“To and fro we leap

and chase the frothy bubbles,

whilst the world is full of troubles,

is anxious in its sleep. 

Come away, O human child!

To the waters and the wild,

with a faery, hand in hand,

for the world’s more full of weeping

than you can understand.”


So there it is, after 25 years in business I finally was able to use Yeats.  So, when I read a book whose author used Yeats in The Stolen Child and appeared naked on the stage to overcome his fear in public speaking, I decided I need to speak with that man.  So, with that in mind, I hope I have Robin on the phone.  Robin, are you there?

Robin:  I am right here. As long as you can hear me Kelly, I can hear you great.

Kelly:  I can hear you terrific.  So, how are you doing today?

Robin: Very good indeed.  It’s a lovely sunny day here in London so all is good.

Kelly: Great.  So, Robin, really! Naked on the stage to overcome fear of public speaking?  Never use that as the opening to introduce yourself, give us a brief bio with a keen focus on your unique tactics to overcome fear of public speaking.

Robin: [Laughs] Well, this is a slight misconception there.  I wasn’t appearing nude on a western stage to overcome my fear of public speaking. I had to appear nude on a western stage because that was contractual as part of the show that I was staring in at the time, but it was interesting what it does when you stand there being that vulnerable.  And, obviously, all the men listening and probably the women listening as well could understand, you couldn’t feel more exposed if you tried.  And I felt that once I had done that that nothing, in terms of standing up in front of an audience doing anything, really, is going to be that difficult.  I talked to a lot of people who had done it before and they came up with various suggestions, put it that way, as to how to feel comfortable, some of which worked and some of it didn’t.  In the end I decided that the best thing to do was actually just to be there because ultimately, you are who you are and most of the people in the audience you are seeing there, you know, are saying, thank God it’s not me up there.  That got me through that one but I got into the public speaking arena about 15 years ago when a friend of mine who is a CEO said, would you help me on my big AGM speech?  I said, of course.  I said, run it by me.  So, I helped him and afterwards he said, this is really useful stuff.  And I said, but I am only teaching you things that actors know instinctively.  He said, yes but you seem to have an ability to be able to explain to somebody who is not a performer how to hold an audience and how to connect with an audience.  So, for the last 15 years I have been coaching, the last probably five years, I suppose, I have been working with senior CEOs and Boards across the world and with senior politicians and things.  I was on Virgin radio recently in London, I was talking about body language, and particularly in relation to Trump, actually just before the election, and they said, So, Robin, you work with these politicians, what is it you teach them? I said, well, of course, if I am allowed to say it on air, I teach them not to be a dick.  And by that what I mean is, I teach them to be authentic.  In other words, is the person that we are hearing or listening to or seeing on stage, if we met them afterwards would they be exactly the same or would they be slightly different?  And if they are being exactly the same then there is an authenticity and a congruence into what they are doing and what they are saying. 

Kelly: Great, that’s terrific.  The first question I have relates to nerves.  Robin in your book you talk about the body signals that appear before many people give a talk, dry mouth, shaking, fast heart beat, and you describe that many of these signals are related to the seven flight responses to threats and fears the body goes through.  Tell us about the top five internal fears and five external fears and then your top tip of the day related to dealing with those.

Robin: Okay, well nerves affect our body, as you say, on a fight or flight basis.  The body feels under attack and the subconscious brain is saying run, because you can’t run because you have to give the talk.  And so what the brain does is it prepares you to run, and obviously then, it sends adrenaline through the blood and oxygen to the legs and the arms so that you can run.  But that takes the blood away from your head. It tends to make your eyes a bit starey and a dry mouth, as you say and the normal shaking in all the list of things. Now, I will be very surprised if anyone says they don’t have any nerves at all.  And actually, a little nerve can be quite good actually because they can help to focus you.  But as you alluded to there, the common internal fears are, fear of forgetting our words.  So obviously, that is the fear of completely blanking out.  And partly, that’s because the blood is being sent to the legs and the arms so that you can run, which means you have less blood in your head. So, that’s partly why when we are at job interviews or in pressured situations it seems to go blank.  The fear of being judged is another.  There is a fear of large audiences for some people.  Some people say they are fine around the board room table if they can see everybody but once they get to a point where they can’t actually focus on people’s eyes it feels like one mass.  There is also a fear of panicking. If it happened last time there is a fear that well, maybe, it’s going to happen again.   So, I think that if people have had a bad experience, I think that sometimes stays with them.  Then there is also the fear of looking nervous, so if we feel that we are shaking or we are showing any nerves by blushing or our voice is slightly cracking, all the things that happen when we fight or flight responses, then I think people worry that people will be able to see the nerves.  So, we don’t look quite as in control, quite as much as a leader as we would like to look.  And then there are, obviously, external affairs that really are outside of our control, things like, the importance of the outcome of the speech, the size of the audience, even the venue.  Is it somewhere that you know or is it is a venue you don’t know at all? And that’s another fear.  There is also the fear of how the audience will react.  And if we see one person yawing off and we think everybody is bored and so we start speeding up.  If I see somebody is yawing in the audience I tend to think, well, they probably had a late night or maybe they had a new born baby or something.  If I see 30 people yawning I probably think it’s too hot and the room maybe all set out for lunch, and I would think if I see everybody yawning then I would change my plan.

Kelly: External affairs are really externally triggered but they are all internally real.

Robin: Yeah, absolutely.  Yeah.  And obviously, you know, we have fear of something going wrong and all these things.  And then  if you plan something meticulously and then the...for example, I was working with a friend of mine on his wedding speech last year and we wrote this wonderful speech, it was was really beautiful and it was exactly what he wanted in a wedding speech. It had all the right balance of humor and pathos and emotion and everything, and love, as you would expect.  On the day, unfortunately, on the evening, he hadn’t checked out the lights so that he wasn’t able to read the speech  because the light wasn’t there and so he slightly went to pieces because this perfect speech that he had practiced didn’t go quite as he expect.  And then, of course, the panic takes over on the night, you know.  And I always say to people, check out the space beforehand.  Check out how long it takes you from the side of the stage to the podium, the size of the auditorium, what it looks like when you are there, does the microphone work, do the lights work, all these sort of things.    

Kelly: Give us your top tip of the day to deal with these.

Robin: Okay, ultimately, the fight or flight response is basically saying run.  Now obviously, as we have established, we can’t run.  This is going to sound very off but I promise you, it works, and I have given this to so many politicians and I can see them doing this.  It is physically impossible to shake if you squeeze your buttocks or your thighs.  I don’t mean squeeze them with your hands, obviously, I mean clenching.  So, clench the muscles.  And there is a science behind this, the reason it works is the muscles have been told to move, the big muscle Group, the buttocks and the thighs.  If you contract the muscles, the brain says, hah, okay, you are doing what I want you to do, which is to run, so it stops producing adrenaline. Now, if it stops producing adrenaline, of course, the whole cycle tends to stop.  You don’t shake anymore.  The reason we shake is that the muscles are overloaded with oxygen and they are not doing what you want them to do but if you actually contract them all that tension is used up and you stop shaking.  So, it’s physically impossible to shake.  You also by squeezing the big muscle groups there, you squeeze blood back up to the brain so you have much less chance of going blank.  And one other thing it does as well, which I am very keen on, this is how we can look confident and how confident people look.  There is confidence in charisma and there is confidence in arrogance, and there is a fine line between confidence and arrogance.  People think that confidence is a possibly slightly old fashioned, you know, shoulders back, head up, walk into the room, you know, talk deep, talk strong, this type of thing.  And that is, of course, it’s a confident way of behaving.  It’s not necessarily the best way to connect with an audience or to make an audience feel special, and that’s where charisma comes in.  So, confidence, ultimately, is about you and charisma is about the audience, is about what they feel about you.  Charisma is about making the audience feel special.  And the definition of charisma is actually gift of grace.  So, it’s actually about making other people feel special.  And if you think of the people that we would call charismatic, like Obama or Clinton, all of the wealthy famous people who they are most, you know, charismatic people are, they would probably come up with those two actually. I have never met Bill Clinton but friends of mine you have said that he makes you feel incredibly special when you are with him.  And I am sure Mandela did the same, I am sure these wonderfully charismatic people, they have a way of making you feel very very special.  In a way that they don’t have to make it about them, they are so confident in who they are themselves they don’t have to make it about them.  I was working with the CEO of one of the big four supermarkets in the UK recently and the head of HR phone me up and said, Can we have a pre-meeting?  And I said, to what outcome?  And she said, well, we need to decide what you are going to do and then you will have time to do it.   You have only got this guy for two hours, he is very busy.   And I said, okay, then I will meet him and I will decide then what I am going to do with him.  And she said but by the time you have decided what to do there will be no time to do it.   And I said, how long do you think it’s going to take me to work out what I am going to do?  And she said, well, probably 40 minutes or 45 minutes maybe by the time you have a chat with him, which only leaves you to stay for an hour.  I said, it will only take me exactly eight seconds to work out what the problem is.  And that’s the amount of time it takes for somebody to walk into the door, cross the room, shake your hand and sit down. And the issues normally are how comfortable somebody is in their own skin.  If we want to look comfortable in our own skin, that’s how we look confident.  If we feel we are trying too hard, we are trying to make a point, we are trying to justify, these are people who want to look confident, at least the wannabes, the  really confident people are just confident in their own skin. One of the simplest ways to look confident in your own skin when you don’t feel it, weirdly, is to squeeze your buttocks or your thighs because it lowers your center of gravity.  And I worked out a few years ago that really confident people have a low center of gravity.  When I first meet someone I look at a couple of things, but one of the first things I look at is where is their center of gravity because that will tell me how comfortable they are.  And so the center of gravity should be in the lower gut, that’s below the belly button, in the lower gut.  And if people have a center of gravity there they look comfortable in their own skin and they will therefore look more confident.  What they then have to do is to structure their message in such a way that they make it about the audience and then make the audience feel incredibly special, and that’s where charisma comes in.

Kelly: That kind of connects to authenticity, an interesting concept, being your authentic true self in private is easy for all of us, I would say, but being ourselves in public or in a business environment where we are either informing or selling or motivating or persuading or creating controversy, and it goes through the main reasons to be speaking, that’s a whole different ball game. I would assume you are going to advise us all to be our authentic self all the time but how do we do that when our authentic self isn’t always to be informing, selling, motivating etc., to people we don’t know very well or who don’t know us very well?  Isn’t the absence of that relationship causing this inauthentic self to rear its ugly head?

Robin: It’s possible, it can be, Kelly, but sometimes it is simple as actually not quite knowing what your authentic self is. And that sounds like one third of the suggestions, which I don’t like in particular with clients, but there is something about finding your own voice and I think when people find their own voice suddenly they can connect to their own authenticity and they suddenly feel like they believe what they are saying. I mean, they might believe it but they actually...they can hear themselves saying something in a particular way.  And it has to do with where their voice is placed, interesting enough now.

Kelly:  You don’t mean literal voice, do you?  Find your own literal voice?

Robin:  And I do actually mean the literal voice, yeah.  I mean it’s where the voice is coming from.  It’s not about having a perfect accent.  It’s not about anything like that, it’s about the tamber of the voice and where the voice is placed.  We were taught, as young actors, if you want an audience to believe you, whatever you are saying, you have to speak from your emotional center.  And the emotional center is the same place as I referred to earlier, which is the center of gravity which is actually your core.  So, anything like yoga, martial arts, pilates, all that stuff, comes from a strong core, your lower gut, below the belly button, and if your thoughts come from there, if you can speak from your lower gut, so very relaxed, with an open throat and it sounds like you believe what you are saying. And interestingly enough, people’s nerve tend to disappear when they find they speak from their emotional center.  Most people speak from their throat, which is what I call the power point voice.  And if I could show you the difference now, so this voice here is fairly relaxed voice. I’m speaking..Obviously, the throat is making the sound because the air goes over the vocal chords like a reed on a clarinet but the power comes from lower down, from the gut.  And actually the emotions come from the gut there.  So, the throat itself is not actually manufacturing the sound, it’s just allowing the sound to come out. If I manufacture the sound on my throat like that, that’s the sound that is now emotionally disconnected because I am now speaking on my throat. And most people when they present speak in this tone here, which is a slightly teacher sound and most people will say, if they are looking at the power point screen, they would say, so if you could look at the screen, if you look at the bottom left hand side of the screen, and this now is rather a tight controlling sound.  It’s not anywhere like the sound that is authentic.  So, I would say to people, if you can speak to your children like this then you can speak to your customers like this, you can speak to your clients like this. This sound is much less controlling.  Audiences don’t want to be controlled, they might want to be led but they don’t want to be controlled.  And I think it starts, for me, with where people’s voices are placed. I do quite a lot of exercises in the book around this and obviously when I am working with clients one-to-one I would work very much on, first of all, on where their voice is.  And I think if you get the voice right actually people start to feel much less nervous because they can hear that their voice sounds authentic and it sounds real, and that’s what we are after.

Kelly: Yeah, I will put a plug in for your book.  I think you have some really good tips and exercises to go through that we obviously can’t go over here.  One of the thoughts that you have is on this concept of the connection, you talked about the three zones of communication and you maintained that all of us, speaker and audiences, each have their own zone one and two and then there is this zone three, tell us about these three zones and why is it important for a speaker to be aware of their zone one and two, and I suppose, when they enter into this zone three that I think we don’t want people to go in, correct?

Robin: I think that’s correct, yeah.  I mean, it’s a very simple concept I came up with a few years ago.   My wife said to me, she is a CEO, and I used to come back to her after getting to initial meetings to get new clients when I was starting up as a coach, and as an actor you imagine you have an agent do these things for you and I suddenly had to learn a new skill. And I would come back to her at the end of these meetings and I would say, you know, it’s really interesting because some meetings go well and some meetings don’t go well.  And I can’t quite seem to shift some of them.  And I couldn’t work it out and eventually I came up with this concept of the three zones of communication, very very simple but it has absolutely changed my life.  And since coming up with this, which was about 15 years ago, I promise you I have not had one bad meeting in that time, simply by using this very very simple technique.  So, if you can imagine that you have three circles around your body, the closest circle around your body is your zone one,  This is your personal space where you choose not to connect with someone else.  Zone is a slightly wider zone.  This is where you choose to connect with somebody. Now, these zones of course are metaphorical, they don’t exist but it’s like an image in your head.  Am I actually trying consciously not to connect with somebody or am I trying to connect with them?  So, in a shop scenario, the easiest example is, you know, you go into a clothes shop and the salesman then goes into zone two to connect with the customer and says, you know, can I help you?  And the customer probably says, Actually, I just want to browse.  I want to look around, leave me alone.  What they are saying is, they want to stay in zone one.  In other words, I don’t want to connect with you at this moment.  So, a good salesman, of course, physically backs away at that point and then say, oh no, no problem, I’ll be over here, give me a shout if you want me, and that type of thing, but they pull away.  In other words, they are not pressurizing the zone one person.  And I think that this is one of the fundamental mistakes that speakers make.  They try to push too hard with an audience that’s not ready to connect with them.  So, there are stages to how you win an audience around.  When I was a young actor doing stage plays in London, if on a wet Friday night when the audience weren’t particularly responsive on a comedy, and it’s very obvious on a comedy, if you don’t get your laughs you can see it’s not working, the intention is to go louder and faster because you’ll think, I’m going to wake this audience up.  But actually it’s the worst thing you can do. And what you have to do with those zone one audience who are choosing, for whatever reason, not connecting with you, and they are allowed to, you have to take your pace down and your energy level down and basically make it more real and allow them to come to you. So, that’s the zone one.  So, in the shop scenario, the salesman says, can I help you?   And the customer says, no, leave me alone.  That’s what they do.  If the customer says, yeah, I’m looking for a blue jacket in size whatever then the salesman knows that they are in zone two because they chose to connect with them.  So, when the customer zone two and the salesman zone two is overlapped then, of course, that’s where we want to be.  So, ideally, when we are talking to people we want to get them to choose to connect with us.  But there is a zone three, and the zone three is a wider zone.  And the zone three is basically where you invade their space.  So, the customer’s zone one is actually the same as the salesman zone three.  So, the salesman that says, Can I help you, and the customer says, No, leave me alone, and the salesman then invades the space and says, no, no, come on, try this jacket on now.  It’s quite annoying when that happens because you said very clearly, I want just to be left alone, and they don’t; they invade your space.  So, that’s the zone three.  The reason this is useful in your public speaking or presenting it is that you have got an audience and there will be a mixture of zone one, twos and threes.  So, there are some people in the audience who for whatever reason are there but they are not particularly connected with you yet.  There are the zone two people who are up for it and they are sitting on the front of their seats and you know they are interested.  And then you have the zone three people who think they know it all.  They are the ones who are going, why?  I didn’t really know why I am here because I know the stuff anyway.  This is...who is this, who is this moppet?  So, there is a bit of that.    What we have to do is we have got to encourage all of them to come to zone two but we have to treat them differently.  The zone one people, we have to take our energy down a little bit. The zone two people are easy because we have a little bit of banter with them, it’s fine, and I would suggest, with the zone three people, a guy who was coaching, he phoned me up actually,  and I won’t do it too loud on the microphone, but he had a very very loud voice, and I answered the phone and I said, “Hello” and I happened to be in zone two, and zone two is a calm open space and, you know, I answer my telephone, of course it is my business friend and I said, “Hello” and he said, “Is that Robin?” And so I said yes, and he said, I promised you, these are the exact words he used, he said, “The thing is Robin, I am an entrepreneur, I just sold my business for 45 million pounds. I have 45 million pounds in the bank.  And he said, I want to go on the speaking circuit because the world needs to know how much money I have made.  So I said, okay, well we could look at the message around that maybe, but we booked him in the session and he came in and he was so loud, his handshake was over firm, he was sort of trying to dominate the whole situation.  This is classic zone three controlling behavior. Now, my job, of course, is to try to get him into zone two.  I had to try to encourage him into zone two, you can’t push anyone.  And I thought, why this man who has, apparently, 45 million pounds in the bank, why does he feel the need to tell me that he is selling his [inaudible – 21:21] and control the meeting in this room.  Why does he need to do that?  So I thought, well, he is probably doing this because he needs some sort of affirmation from me.  It’s rather like a seven year old child who said to their parents, you know, look at me mama, I’m diving up the diving board, you know, it’s the same thing. And he said look at me, look how successful I am.  So I thought, I better just basically go, wow!  But I thought, what’s the cleverest way to go after this particular man?  And I suddenly, without thinking about it, these words came out of my mouth, and actually it worked.  So he said, the thing is Robin, he said, you know, I’m putting all this money in the bank, I’m selling my [inaudible – 21:48], and I am I’m going to leave my phone on the whole time, and I am running this meeting.  And I said, oh my God!  I said, I’m sitting here with James Bond.  And he said, yeah, and then he said, the thing is Robin, I am a bit nervous about making a speech.  So you could see the psychology, it’s very clear.  He thinks I am a very important man, and he said,  but I don’t really like to ask for help but I have to ask for help with this man because I feel I need some help but I  am only going to ask for help when he knows that I am really important.  And I went, oh my God, you are really important!  So he went, okay, now you know that, now I’ll show you some vulnerability.  So the psychology is very simple but basically, if I meet zone three people I flatter them.  I was at dinner the other night and there was a man who was going on and on about himself, I mean real zone three behavior, and after a while, I thought, I wonder how I could flatter this man to try to encourage him into two.  This man was short, fat and bald.  He didn’t look like James Bond, he looked like a sort of Bond Villain, so he is talking and I stopped him mid sentence and I said, I said to him,  I’m sorry to interrupt, but has anyone ever said it, you have got a bit of a look of James Bond about you?  He said, you have seen the real me, haven’t you?   Now, the interesting thing is, zone three people have no level of self irony.  If you flatter a zone one person they will hate it.  If you flatter a zone two person you are going to get some banter back. If you flatter a zone three person in the right way they will always take it.  When we have a mixed audience we have to make sure we have a mixture of flattery, a mixture of taking the energy down a little bit so we don’t frighten the horses with the zone one people and a little bit of banter with the zone two people.   So we have that mixture of that.  And if I am at  a business meeting around say a board room table with maybe half a dozen people, I look around and I think, okay, the zone one man there, there is a zone two lady there, a couple of zone three is over there, and I make sure a little bit of flatter goes towards the threes, a little bit of gentleness goes towards the ones, I won’t sort of eyeball them too much but I will maybe finish an idea with them but I won’t hold their eye contact too long to frighten them.  And the zone two people I will probably have a little bit more banter a bit with.  And that way you can help encourage everyone in the meeting to come into their zone two.  And if you can get everyone into zone two, including the whole of your audience, you are home and dry. 

Kelly: Is empathy and trying to move people to equal status, is that what you are doing there?

Robin: It is part of that.  I said to my kids the other day, look, I said, they are in their, you know, late teens, so I said, if you go through life making other people feel special, life is so easy.  I said, but if you go through life saying, look at me, I am important, they just want you to fall on the banana skin.   That’s what it is about, a bit of empathy, a bit of kindness, a bit of noticing other people, will get you a long way. And I always think, with an audience for example, one of the flattering ways with the zone three audience is, if you are going to explain a concept, there are some people in the audience who may know that concept and there are some who possibly don’t. I would favor a phrase like, of course, as you know, and then you go on to tell them anyway.   So the ones who do know are flattered that you have told them that you know and the ones who don’t know are pleased that you have told them. So you somehow get all levels on that but if you stand there and you say, I have seen speakers stand in front of quite an important audience and, you know, say things like, you probably don’t know this but.   And I thought, you have just alienated half the audience who did know that.  It’s much better to say, of course, as you know, and flatter the audience into assuming that they might know, even if they don’t.  So I think equal status is very very important and I think that also comes with tone of voice.  I sit quite often watching speakers with my wife and she finds it quite annoying but a speaker would actually come one stage and they will literally say, Good evening or whatever the time of day is.  From those two words I would go, oh no, it’s going to be terrible or I’m going to go, this is going to be good.  And I can tell from the first two words how it is.  And in those two words it has to do with where their voice is placed, where their status is or how much charisma they have.  In other words, are they saying genuinely good evening or are they actually concerned that I am there?  It’s what I call, how you show up. It’s literally what you bring to the table, what you walk on with.  And audiences, even if they are not qualified or specialized in reading body language, on a gut level they will know I like this person or I don’t or I trust this person.  And that’s what we are trying to do and that’s what I work with with clients, it is to get them to a point where they are comfortable in their own skin and they come across with equal status and they speak from their emotional center with authenticity.

Kelly: Okay, I want to explore this empathy and equal status just a bit more.  Tell me if I have this right, empathy requires us to at least acknowledge and recognize that we have people in zone one and zone three. Zone two we are fine with. And then we have these different tactics that helps us try to get them moved from zone one and three to zone two to bring them to equal status with us.

Robin: That’s absolutely true.  And we have to get them to choose to do that.  You can’t hurt anyone.  You can’t push them, they have to choose to do that.  If they got themselves into zone three, and often, by the way, they are not bad people it’s often nerves that make people into zone three.  So when these networking events that many people say they don’t like they walk into a room full of people with badges on and  glasses of wine and they go, it’s a whole room of people I don’t know and I somehow have to make an impression.  The reason those networking events don’t work is you have got an entire room of zone threes. Everyone has become zone three.  They aren’t necessarily bad people, they’ve just gotten themselves in this position where they think to hand out cards and make contact and whatever.   I walk into a networking room now and I look at the room and I think, okay, here is a lot of very un-centered people who are not really very comfortable with being in this place so if I can go in and make, say, five people this evening feel really comfortable then in a sense I have done my job and I have probably connected with them.  So I will basically go up to someone and I will say, if they are in zone three, I will find something that I can flatter them about and maybe, for example, it might be something like if I discovered they are a CEO of a company or they are an entrepreneur, I would say, you know you are incredible young to have done that, it’s amazing, you know.  So, whatever it might be, whatever is appropriate, I will say something, I’ll say, what is it, with the word love in the second sentence, always.  I’ll say, what is it you love about being an entrepreneur?  What is it you love about starting your own company?  And by putting in the word love there, what happen is, their voice changes immediately and they would say, do you know, actually, and whatever their answer is.  And suddenly then I am having a normal conversation as opposed to, of course, networking conversation, because what we are doing is, we are having a proper conversation.  The implication is, I could see being in zone three, not being very comfortable in zone three, when you are with me I am so impressed, you don’t have to impress me anymore we can just have a normal conversation, and it’s so relaxing for them because very few people do that.   What most people do is, they join them in zone three so you have a zone three person saying, I am important. And the other person who is also at the networking event feels they should big themselves up and at the same time say, yes, well it’s very good, so I am quite important too, you know.  And it’s a bit like these conversations where you see somebody has got a sun tan and then you say, oh, you just come back from holiday and they say, yes, I have just come back from the Bahamas or somewhere.   And they say, alright, we just came back from Jamaica or whatever.  And what they are doing is, they are not really asking you questions about their holiday, they are almost looking for an excuse to get their holiday and to make themselves feel important. But I think if we fight that urge and we just go, wow, it’s amazing. So, you know, you would laugh about the Bahamas.  Suddenly you can have a proper conversation with these people and then they choose to join you in zone two.  So it’s about noticing them ultimately in the zone three.  Now, you are going to ask about the zone one, what we want to do with the zone one is just literally, it’s not frightening the horses, it’s treating them like somebody in a shop who is saying I just want to browse. So what you do is, you tease them with the carrot.  So, I’ll maybe have a thought and  I’ll finish my thought on them, actually, I turn to them,  right, towards the end of the thought and I’ll have eye contact with them, just on the end of it, so it lands and then I’ll move away.  I’m not waiting long enough for a response, so they don’t feel under attack but they do feel included, and gradually they will come to join you.  You can’t ignore them because that doesn’t work and you don’t want to eyeball them too much.   So you can probably hold eye contact longer with the zone two person because they will probably be smiling away, you know.  And often, I don’t know if you have had this Kelly, but when you are giving a talk it’s very easy to give an entire talk to three people because towards the front of the hall you can find three very open faces who are nodding and smiling and you think, oh, they are nice, I will come back to them.  I’m feeling a little bit vulnerable, so I get back to these nice people.  And I used to think these are people that are loving it but I have shortly now discovered that those people are just people pleasers so they love everyone.  But I don’t spend my time with those people, I think, okay, I want to try and win around the zone ones and the zone twos and then I’ll know actually.

Kelly: Great, exactly.   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 z o n e the number 2, and my email is  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.

Kelly: Well, that concludes part 1 of my interview with Robin Kermode.  I strongly encourage you to get his printed book and the audio book entitled Speak So Your Audience Will Listen: 7 Steps To Confident and Authentic Public Speaking.  They are terrific.  In a week, we will have part two of my interview with Robin and we will discuss things like where to put your hands, how to stand, the importance of smiling, and a really interesting five-step checklist you need to do before each of your presentations, to up your game in public speaking.  Thanks for listening.

We want to thank you for listening to the syndicated audio program,  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.

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