Common old wives tale -
“People fear Public speaking more than death”
Put a gun to their head and let’s see if they can pull off a presentation.
The problem isn’t fear of the fatal. If only our fears were obvious goblins and dragons that could slain with a magic sword. It would be that easy.
The idiots that keep telling us that people fear public speaking more than death are the same idiots that are preventing others from getting on the microphone and telling their story.
It’s co-workers, family and aunts at weddings.
The weight of their expectations, the pain of their rejection and the humiliation that you might fail: “You are not good enough to be on a podcast!” “Who are you to be an expert on X?”
I’m telling you that when you’re out there on a podcast talking about what you care about, you by default become an authority. It’s not a job title, it’s earned through the fact you stepped up. That’s the brave part.
GET TO WORK ON YOUR STORY
How do you avoid the “canned” presentation or boring answers that will fail to convert these potential audiences into your fans?
The key is what engages everybody, story.
The good news is that you don’t need to be an author to be an authority these days. You don’t need a finished book to have a story worth telling. You don’t need to even have a podcast to appear on a podcast. But you must start.
What is the unwritten book that you could talk about now? If you don’t start talking about it, it will stay unheard forever. And if you don’t start somewhere, you’ll never discover the story you’re trying to tell.
This is a technique you can use too, making you the hero of your story. I’m not talking about wearing a cape or picking up your magic wand but creating a narrative structure that makes sense of your adventures, a structure that engages your audience and makes them feel part of the journey.
So how can you tell stories like Steve Jobs?
You probably think he’s a natural.
But let me share this with you.
From my experience of working with 100s of podcast and webinar hosts in my day job at the Agency I’ve learned this:
Storytelling isn’t a personality trait, it’s a skill that can be learned.
The more you practise, the more you connect the neural pathways inside your brain, the more you make sense of that vast Mind Palace of knowledge inside.
And the best way to nurture that skill is in an Agile way. You don’t start out as an amazing guitarist like Jimmy Page or Hendrix. You practise in your bedroom, constantly.
What differentiates Page from everyone else is he picked up the guitar and started. The more mic time you get on other People’s Podcasts, the more evolved your narrative, the more skilled you become as a storyteller.
Confident people don’t make better storytellers; storytelling makes people more confident.
HOW TO FIND A STORY IN YOUR LIFE EXPERIENCE
I read once that life is just a collection of stories. If you want a better life, tell a better story. How true this is… you can go on someone else’s podcast and pitch software. Or, you can tell us about your journey.
I’m sharing with you my framework for storytelling based on Joseph Campbell’s excellent “The Hero’s Journey”. The point is that all compelling stories contain plotlines and devices we have been using for 1000s of years.
Marvel’s End Game grossed $3 billion in the box office not because it was an amazing story, it was a story we’ve seen in Harry Potter, Star Wars and The Wizard of Oz. But did that turn people off? No, quite the opposite. We don’t need amazing stories to find you interesting, we need stories we are familiar with.
In your context, guesting on other people’s podcasts doesn’t mean being Luke Skywalker but it means joining the dots in some of your experiences to make them more engaging at the human level.
Remember in sales, it’s always PEOPLE -> PRODUCT -> PRICE
People always buy people first. If I don’t engage with you in the first 5 minutes of that podcast, I don’t care what you have to sell me.
And a great way to be more engaging on other people’s podcasts is to focus on a few scenes in your life that define where you are today. One of the most powerful and effective ways of engaging podcast audiences is to choose a scene from the above. I advise you look at the DEPARTURE scene as a great opener for a podcast when the host asks you “Why?”
In this scene, there is a point in your life where you had to leave people or a world behind. Could have been a safe job. Could have been a country. Could have been a partner. It was a necessary yet difficult transition, and it defined who you are today. Tell me that’s not interesting!
In movies it’s the scene in Lord of the Rings when the hobbits had to cross the river out of The Shire and embark on the perilous road ahead. Every movie and every good book has a Departure scene. What’s yours?
BE AGILE, EVOLVE YOUR PODCAST NARRATIVE
The comedian Kevin Hart is one of the most successful comedians of his generation. He made $25 million a year before Covid hit speaking on stage.
He credits his success to his Agile approach. This is how it works.
- Kevin Hart regularly tests new material at small off- beat comedy clubs to sharpen his game (see Kevin Hart on JRE here talking about how he validates his material).
- Hart regularly tests edgy material, bouncing ideas off the audience and seeing what sticks.
- The feedback he gets from this more authentic and raw audience connection allows him to tweak his narrative
- Hart refines his set and takes it to larger stadium gigs
- Final material used in DVD series
- This is Agile Storytelling in practise.
- Constantly testing, constantly iterating, constantly improving.
- Keep talking.
- Good stories stick.
If you ‘re not out there on other people’s podcasts, you’re not facing the moment of truth, you’re not validating, you’re not evolving.