Episode 214

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You are agency owners, not career keynote speakers. But that does not mean you don’t earn your living as a presenter. You present every day of your professional lives. You hold one-on-one meetings in your office and lead all-agency meetings. Some of you are speaking at conferences and tradeshows as well.

By sharing your expertise, teaching, and demonstrating that you know your stuff, you will create biz dev opportunities that start deeper in the funnel. It doesn’t matter if public speaking is a strength or a source of anxiety, it is a learnable skill where craft outranks natural talent.

My guest Michael Port has written six best-selling books including Book Yourself Solid and Steal the Show. He has spent the last several years developing and honing the company he co-owns with his wife Amy, Heroic Public Speaking (HPS). HPS conducts training programs for speakers of all walks of life. When I think about great public speakers that are commanding top fees for keynoting, almost all of them have gone through some level of training with Michael and Amy. But they also train people who will never step on a formal stage, but just want to present their ideas in a more compelling way.

The people who go through the HPS program develop confidence and the ability to command an audience. Michael joins us on this episode of Build a Better Agency to talk about the art and science of presentation. He explains how we can use it to serve our agencies, our teams, and our clients in bigger, better ways.

A big thank you to our podcast’s presenting sponsor, White Label IQ. They’re an amazing resource for agencies who want to outsource their design, dev or PPC work at wholesale prices. Check out their special offer (10 free hours!) for podcast listeners here: https://www.whitelabeliq.com/ami/

What You Will Learn in this Episode:

  • You are presenting and public speaking every day
  • Why speeches are an unrivaled biz dev opportunity
  • Michael Port’s story, and the work he and his wife Amy are doing with Heroic Public Speaking
  • Why presenting is a combination of art and science
  • How mastery of public speaking will enable you to become a more effective agency owner

The Golden Nugget:

“If your life can change for the better by improving your ability to communicate, it makes sense to develop that craft.” @michaelport Click To Tweet “During a presentation, authenticity and naturalism often come from preparation.” @michaelport Click To Tweet “A lot of great speeches lie at the intersection of educational content and theatrical elements.” @michaelport Click To Tweet “Whether you are sitting across the table from an employee or standing on-stage at a national conference, all of you present every day.” @DrewMcLellan Click To Tweet “A lot of great speeches lie at the intersection of educational content and theatrical elements.” @michaelport Click To Tweet “One of the big problems that we often encounter with speeches is that people bring too much plane for too little runway. They bring content for an entire day and attempt to deliver it in 45 minutes.” @michaelport Click To Tweet

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It doesn’t matter what kind of an agency you run, traditional, digital, media buying, web dev, PR, whatever your focus, you still need to run a profitable business. The Build a Better Agency Podcast presented by White Label IQ will show you how to make more money and keep more of what you made. Let us help you build an agency that is sustainable, scalable, and if you want down the road sellable, bringing his 25 plus years of experience as both an agency owner and agency consultant, please welcome your host, Drew McLellan.

Drew McLellan:

Hey everybody, Drew McLellan here with Agency Management Institute. Welcome back to another episode of Build a Better Agency. If you are a regular listener, thanks so much for coming back. If you are a first time listener, welcome. My goal is two things, one, to get you thinking a little differently about your agency and the decisions you make around running it to be more scalable, more profitable, a little more fun, and also to give you very actionable content that you can actually take notes on if you want to, not if you’re driving or on a treadmill. But anyway, you can grab notes from each episode, and you can put some of this into play.

Sometimes putting it into play means doing something differently. Sometimes it means starting something new, and sometimes it means stopping something that maybe you shouldn’t be doing any more. But anyway, that’s my goal is to bring amazing guests who will help you think differently about your business. And boy, do we have one of those guys today. Before I tell you about our guests, just a couple things. Number one, if you have not registered for the Build a Better Agency Summit, I’m telling you, it is going to be an amazing two days of conference, of networking, of learning, all very focused on the business of running your business that happens to be an agency.

We’re going to talk about profitability, we’re going to talk about Biz Dev. We’re going to talk about trends in the industry, we are going to talk about how to break out of imposter syndrome if you struggle with that, we are going to talk about how not to get yourself into legal trouble if you are doing influencer marketing. The topics and the content and the speakers are just amazing. I have called in all kinds of favors to really stack the deck for the 2020 Build a Better Agency Summit. It’s in May, May 19th and 20th in Chicago.

And if you haven’t grabbed your ticket, they are not going to get any cheaper as we get closer to the event, so please grab your ticket now and join us because it’s going to be really awesome, and I fear it’s going to sell out, so please don’t wait too long for that. Also, just a reminder that every month, we give away a free workshop, either a live workshop or one of our on demand courses for folks who are leaving us ratings and reviews whether it’s on Stitcher or Google or iTunes, wherever it is you may be, just leave us a review, doesn’t even have to be a nice one. Leave us a review and take a screenshot of it and shoot me an email because I can’t tell who it is if I just go look at the reviews, which I do, I read them pretty consistently and take them to heart.

But if your username on iTunes is Biker Dude 12, I don’t know who that is, so take a screenshot and shoot me an email. All right, let me tell you a little bit about the topic today and our guests. So one of the things that I know is true, a couple things that I know are true. Number one, each and every one of you gives a presentation pretty much every day of your professional life, either you are talking to one employee in your office, you are doing an all agency meeting.

Or for some of you, you have caught on to what I know which is fact number two, which is when you stand on a stage and you share your expertise, you teach, you help, you demonstrate that you know your stuff, that is a brilliant Biz Dev opportunity for you, that is a great way for you to have a third party, a conference, a trade show, an association, give you credit for being a subject matter expert, and then you step on stage and you’re super helpful and you help that audience be better at their job. And from that comes incredible opportunity.

So whether you’re sitting across the table from an employee, or you’re standing on a stage at a national conference or convention, all of you present every day. And I know for many of you this is a craft that you keep working on. For others I know this is an area of anxiety and something that you think you’re just not naturally good at. And so I have an amazing guest today, and we’re going to dig into all of that. So let me tell you a little bit about Michael Port. Many of you are probably familiar with Michael, you probably read one of his six books.

One of my favorites is called Book Yourself Solid, which is written back in like 2008 when I first met Michael, and there have been several edition updates, since then. He also wrote a great book called Steal the Show, which is more about presenting, Book Yourself Solid is about bizdev, and how to create relationships and get invited into opportunities. Both, great books, I highly recommend them. But in the last several years, Michael has honed his focus in terms of his profession and what he does all day, and he and his wife, Amy have put together an organization called Heroic Public Speaking. And it is amazing.

So when I think of all of the great public speakers that I see at conferences that are doing keynotes, the subject matter experts at an industry level, almost all of them have gone through some level of training at HPS. And they walk away, transform, they walk away raving about the experience, about their confidence level, about the ability to command an audience, whether it’s an audience of one or 1000. And they credit Amy and Michael and the organization they’ve put together and the training they do for helping them really change how they view speaking, how they use speaking for their business, and how they approach the audience and the experience of speaking.

And so I’ve never, ever, and I have dozens of friends and colleagues that have gone through this training. And there are different levels of training, but I have dozens of colleagues who have gone through it. And I’ve never heard anyone say anything other than it exceeded every expectation they had and they walked in with high expectations, and it was really a remarkable experience. And so I’ve known Michael for years, and I wanted to get him on the show and pick his brain about how we as agency owners and leaders can think about the art of presenting, which I think he’s going to tell you is not really just art, but it’s a combination of art and science, and how we can get better at it so that we can serve our team and our agency and our clients in bigger, better ways. So let’s just jump right into that conversation. So without further ado, Michael, thank you for joining us. Glad to have you on the show.

Michael Port:

It’s my pleasure. Thank you for having me.

Drew McLellan:

So we have known each other for eons, and you have certainly shared your expertise in a variety of different ways. But for the last many years, you and your wife, Amy have been leading the charge with Heroic Public Speaking. So I suspect there was a lot of thought that went into that particular name. So tell us how you came to that because I think it probably speaks to how you think about speaking.

Michael Port:

Yeah, we actually came up with that name at dinner in Annapolis, Maryland, after taking our kids to a comic book shop to look for comics. And we immediately knew that we had no intention of branding ourselves in a traditional sort of superhero fashion.

Drew McLellan:

No tights for you, is that what you’re saying?

Michael Port:

No sir, no tights for me. I don’t think my audience is interested at all in tights. But we do believe that great speeches change the world. You can look at critical moments in history, and very often there is a speech or a number of speeches that produced some sort of social change, people thought differently, acted differently, or felt differently as a result of that speech. And we also think that giving a great speech is a heroic act, because it often takes great courage, you’re going to make big choices, try new things. Now often put yourself on the line in a way that you haven’t before. And through that process, not only can you change the world, but you can change yourself. So that’s why this concept of heroic public speaking was so profoundly important to us and we find that our students feel the same.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah, I love that. But for the listeners, who probably… For most of my listeners, they’re not ready to hit the road and be a keynote speaker. They’re not thinking that they’re going to be doing a TED talk, although some of them may aspire to that. You also don’t think of speaking as a, you have to be on a keynote stage to have significance, to have that speech have, or presentation have a lot of meaning. And I know a lot of the work that you do is not really with traditional speakers, but with corporations and internal teams as well. So can you talk a little bit about sort of how you view speaking from that lens?

Michael Port:

Yeah, every once in a while, we’ll be talking to a company about working with them, and someone on the committee will say, “Yeah, but we don’t really do public speaking.” And I’ve heard that more than once. And it’s something that I find interesting, because I think anytime sound is coming out of your mouth, unless, of course, you’re in your car by yourself or in the shower by yourself, you’re doing some form of public speaking. And most people, especially agency owners are trying to change the way people think, feel or act. Let me say that again, think, feel or act.

And if you look at your day, regardless of what role you’re in, it’s very likely that there are moments throughout that day where you’ve got to get either someone who works with you, or for you to change the way they feel, to change the way they act, to change the way they think. Or if you’re trying to book more business, you’re going to try to get those potential clients to change the way they think, feel or act so they do business with you.

And the same thing is true when you’re proposing new ideas to your current clients, you want them to change the way they’re thinking or feeling or behaving, so that you can produce better results for them. So this is something we do all day long. And it may be in one-on-one conversation. And it may be one to three or one to 30 or one to 300 or one to 3000. Either way, it doesn’t make a difference. Our objective is still the same. We want to change the way people think, feel and act. And it’s likely that most people who are up to big things do that.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. Yeah. So I’m curious, do you believe that if someone becomes a better oral presenter, however they may be doing that, does it also impact… Because I think about agency owners, and oftentimes, they’re trying to be influential with their words, but sometimes it’s coming out of their mouth, and sometimes it’s the written word.

Michael Port:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Drew McLellan:

Do you think learning how to be a better presenter or speaker shows up in how I write as well?

Michael Port:

Well, I think so. They’re not exactly the same thing.

Drew McLellan:

No, of course not.

Michael Port:

And very often what happens is, when somebody tries to improve their public speaking, one of the first things that is helpful to them is to move away from a writing style that is more traditional and academic into a writing style that supports the spoken word because you can take a great novel, and attempt to read it on stage, it’s going to feel like a novel, it’s not going to feel like a speech. So you might start out a sentence in a book with something like June. 1972. It was dark. But it’s unlikely you’re going to walk into a meeting when you’re leading a new initiative at the office and say, “June 1972, it was dark.”

You wouldn’t say that, you’d say, “Listen, I remember it was June, I think of 1972. I remember, it was really dark,” just in the way that we would normally talk or express ourselves. So very often, we have to move our language from this more traditional academic approach to the spoken word, which takes some adjustment.

Now, it also can be helpful on the page if you are… Or a web page or written page if you’re trying to write copy, you want to write copy that makes the reader feel like it’s a real person and it is talking to them, and then it’s not speechified in the writing itself, either. So it’s a balance, but I think anything that we can learn to improve our ability to communicate is going to make a difference, whether it’s in the written word, or the spoken word. They’re just slightly different mediums, and we take a slightly different approach to each one.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah, I was thinking about as you construct a great presentation, that thought process of construction probably lends itself well to the written construction of a message or-

Michael Port:

It does.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah.

Michael Port:

Yeah, it really does.

Drew McLellan:

So we’ve all heard the old idiom of that people would rather do anything rather than speak and the second fear after death or something awful. For me, it would be way down there after snakes and height.

Michael Port:

Well, just for the record, that is a myth actually.

Drew McLellan:

It is, okay.

Michael Port:

Yeah, it’s easy to pull out of your pocket and say, “Oh, yeah, well, public speaking is the number one fear even over death.” I mean Jerry Seinfeld has a great joke, he says that, “If that’s true, that means that if you’re at a funeral, you’d rather be in the box than giving the eulogy.”

Drew McLellan:

Right, right.

Michael Port:

So I think if you said to most people, if I said, “Listen, Drew, you’ve got two choices right now. You could die or you could give a 10 minute speech to a couple 100 people, but you have to decide right now.” Most people are going to choose to make the speech. I don’t think most people will say, “Yes, please kill me now.”

Drew McLellan:

I would hope so, I would hope so.

Michael Port:

What came out of that study was something different. It was just that fear of death is not a fear that people have on a regular basis. We don’t feel that close to death until we are certainly at an age or in a situation where that might be the case. But we are every single day confronted with the need to get up and present ourselves in some way. So it’s just a more present fear. It’s not actually a greater fear, and that’s the true difference.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah, and it seems to me that part of what makes people so anxious about speaking is, I hear a lot of people say, “Well, you know what? I don’t have that gift. I’m not a great speaker.” And I know that for you and your team, your belief is and I share it is that speaking is a craft, it is a skill that you can get better at with the right instruction and practice and all that. So talk a little bit about the dichotomy of those two ideas and what guys landed.

Michael Port:

Yeah, so look, it much like any discipline. If I want to get better at say, basketball, I can train and I can practice, and I can get a lot better. I will never play NBA level basketball. It’s just I don’t have the DNA for it nor do I have the desire for it. But I can certainly get better at basketball. And the same thing is true for public speaking, it is a craft, and you can learn the craft, which will help you get better at it. And yes, some people may have some more natural talent, but I think most successful people will tell you that talent only takes you so far. And I’m sure you know a lot of people with a lot of talent that went wasted often because of the voices inside their head that for some reason told them they weren’t good enough, or they didn’t know enough or they just weren’t enough in some way. So they didn’t leverage the talent that they had.

So the question is, what are your goals? I think that’s really the question. Meaning, if your life can change for the better in some way by improving your ability to communicate, then it makes sense to develop that craft and to work on it. But if it’s not really important to you, then I would never encourage somebody to work on it. It just wouldn’t be a top priority. So sometimes it looks like magic when people are performing but it’s really not its craft. I mean, if you look at Meryl Streep, Meryl Streep has a lot of natural talent. But what she has even more than natural talent is craft.

If you look at Tom Hanks, same thing, craft. Now, in order to know that you have to know the craft because then you can see the craft. If you don’t know what to look for, then you think it’s all just natural talent, just a gift that they possess that other people don’t. And that’s one of the things that’s most remarkable. Actually, do you know Jordan Harbinger, he’s a podcaster?

Drew McLellan:

I don’t.

Michael Port:

So Jordan Harbinger used to be the host of a podcast called Art of Charm, and now he has the Jordan Harbinger Show and they get a few million downloads a month. It’s a very big podcast, very successful podcast. And he feels very comfortable for the microphone. But a number of years ago, he came to one of our events because he didn’t feel as comfortable on the stage. This is a different medium. And he saw me do a masterclass where I took the student, had them do about five minutes of material on stage, and then I coached them and directed them the way a director would work with an actor, exact same thing. And there’s a very specific process to it. And so the transformation was quite quick and quite-

Drew McLellan:

Dramatic

Michael Port:

… dramatic, I think is the right word. Yes. Thank you. Very dramatic. And I remember Jordan later on said to me, he said, “Michael, I gotta say when I first saw that happen, I was really pissed off.” I said, “What do you mean?” He said, “Well, I flew all the way across the country from California to attend this event and I spent some money and someone got on the stage and,” to use his words, he goes, “They were really bad and they got really good in like 10 minutes. That’s just impossible.”

So I thought, “I can’t believe I just flew across the country, and these people have staged this before and after thing. And then you did another one a little later in the day, and I couldn’t believe.” He did the same thing. And I kept thinking, “How much time does it take t