December 2020

Guess who’s coming for Xmas? With guest Ione Brown

Oh Boy! Do I have a Christmas treat for you!

I had so much fun chatting with impressionist, comedienne, actress and Bootcamp instructor Ione Brown that I just knew this had to be my Xmas episode.

Ione had me in stitches for this episode and she’s a very talented impressionist and performer. I loved chatting with her and I know you’re going to enjoy listening but if you want to see the characters and how much fun we had, you can see it all on my YouTube channel.

You can find out more about Ione on her talent profile https://www.starnow.com/ionebrown
or her Facebook https://www.facebook.com/ione.brown.14 or Linked In https://uk.linkedin.com/in/ione-brown-73578278 and if you get the chance to see her perform live, I highly recommend you do, I know I will look forward to that same opportunity.

All I want for Xmas is your sub, so please subscribe to the show, share the fun with your friends and look out for more fun episodes dropping over the holiday period. We’ll keep you laughing and entertained, whether you’re on lockdown, home alone, bored of the telly or whatever else, we’re here with some fun and hopefully educational chats to help you get through it.

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(Sorry, no transcript for this episode as it needs to be heard on audio/video.)

Tick It Before You Kick It with guest Trav Bell (The Bucket List Guy)

Trav Bell is The Bucket List Guy…The Worldʼs #1 Bucket List Expert. 

As a self-appointed ʻBucket Listologistʼ, Trav helps people live their  Bucket List before it’s too late! His unique life-engagement message really wakes you up, stops ground-hog days and helps you to experience more fulfilment. 

He says, “A Bucket List is a tangible Life Plan…where our Business  Plan or Career Plan should fit into our Life Plan & not be the other way  around.”  

No one practices what they preach more than Trav. His ‘crazy’ globe-trotting adventures are contagious, hilarious & always fresh. He is the author of the best-selling book, The M.Y.B.U.C.K.E.T.L.I.S.T.  Blueprint™, a TEDx Thought Leader, a Certified Speaking Professional  & is also the Founder CEO of Bucket List Coaches who are now on a  mission to help 10 million BucketListers #tickitB4Ukickit. 

Before Trav became ʻThe Bucket List Guyʼ, he founded & franchised a  chain of personal training studios across Australia. Starting with 1 client,  he & his team went on to do over 2 million personal training sessions &  motivated 10’s of 1000’s of clients.  

This is why Trav is now regarded as one of the world’s most in-demand motivational speakers.

If you want to find out more about Trav and connect with him online:

www.thebucketlistguy.com

www.bucketlistcoach.com

FB & LI: Trav Bell – The Bucket List Guy

IG: @bucketlistguy.travbell

If Trav’s book recommendations on the show were:

  • ‘Happier’ by Tal Ben-Shahar
  • ‘The thought leaders practice’ by Matt Church
  • ‘The 10X Rule’ by Grant Cardone
  • ‘Be obsessed or be average’ by Grant Cardone

I feel for you. With guest Shola Kaye.

I was fortunate enough to be joined for my show by Shola Kaye. Shola is an amazing speaker and she’s become known for speaking and teaching empathy and inclusion in the workplace and taking this message out into the corporate landscape to change how we see and do business. Operating with empathy is not optional and the old models of hard as nails, low empathy business leaders are heading to the graveyard of bad business ideas, where they belong.

Shola has been a TEDx speaker and she talks about that experience with me and how a pair of earrings ruined her TED talk. We had a great time chatting about what happens when things go wrong and also about being heard and stepping out of comfort zones, and more besides.
I’m sure you’ll enjoy the chat as much as I did and Shola also shared a free resource from her website SholaKaye.com and to download her FREE resource, click here. Take a look for her book ‘How to be a DIVA at public speaking’.

You can connect with Shola on LinkedIn and other social networks.

Next week my guest will be The Bucketlist Guy himself, Trav Bell. Trav is a terrific and highly entertaining speaker who has been helping people all over the world create and fulfil their own bucket lists. Make sure you like and subscribe so you don’t miss this or any future episodes.

Transcript

John Ball
Welcome to speaking of influence the podcast for speakers and professionals or anyone who wants to present with impact, hosted by presentation persuasion Coach John Ball, remember to like and subscribe. If you’re thinking of starting a podcast, there couldn’t be an easier way to get started then getting started with buzzsprout. They have all the tools and resources you need for starting our podcast and getting out to all the major podcasting networks. Check out the link in the show notes and get your podcast started today. Welcome to the show. I am very lucky today to have with me a guest who is a specialist in empathy and leadership with empathy, and a communication specialist as well. She is also a professional coach, both one to one and group and we’re gonna have a bit of talk about coaching. She is a TEDx speaker, a keynote speaker on the subject of leadership and empathy. So let’s please welcome to the show. Okay.

Shola Kaye
Hi, John. Good to be here. Thanks for having me.

John Ball
Great to have you here. I’m really glad that you agreed to come on the show. And we have some very exciting things to talk about today that I haven’t talked about too much on the show before, I am really interested to know a bit more about the relevance of empathy and leadership and what you’re talking about in relation to that.

Shola Kaye
Yeah, thanks for asking. Well, it’s interesting the way that I came to empathy as a topic, because years ago, my first corporate job, and I was working in the States as a consultant, and as this little green, of District out of university person that didn’t have a lot of knowledge of leadership or corporate matters. And so I will say a timid, that I didn’t really want to speak up in meetings. So what happened was, I was very summoned to my managing director’s office. And I thought, Oh, well, they’re going to send me on a training course, or they’re going to get me a mentor. And they announced, right, we’re putting you on probation. But like, what? So. So that was my kind of introduction to the importance of communication skills. Because if you can’t speak up, and share what you know, and people think you don’t have any value. And then it was years later when I got the opportunity to do a TEDx talk. And I was thinking, Well, what should this be about? And I was thinking about empathy and realising that all those years ago, there wasn’t a lot of empathy being shown to me in that position, in what in the workplace. And so it’s interesting because now empathy is a really huge topic with the obvious sort of dealing with COVID dealing with remote working, dealing with diversity and inclusion. So So yeah, it’s sort of come back around some I am very inauspicious beginnings in the corporate workplace. And sort of ended up serving me Well,

John Ball
yeah. So I’m not sure that empathy is always the emotion or the feeling that gets associated with people in the business. Well, it’s usually one of those things that we’re kind of expected to shut off. And this actually is something natural, but a bit on the show before about, it’s sort of, if your archetype of business people as beings or hard-nosed and tough on decision making, and not emotional and very, very stoic about everything, and it’s all and there’s nothing personal, it’s just business and you make the tough decisions, and you’re ruthless. That’s the sort of archetype that we genuinely care about people, especially people who are successful in business. So is empathy, a welcome message.

Shola Kaye
It’s, it’s interesting because I think years ago, you know if we’d looked at this, say, 510 years ago, you’ve been, it would be seen as this kind of wishy-washy, quite sloppy, why, why even bother, as you say, get down to business, transact transact. And I think with the, a lot of the millennials in the workplace, there’s a lot of studies by Gallup and other organisations saying that they actually require empathy to be shown. And if it’s not, if there’s not enough, there, they’re going to walk. And of course, you know, situation sort of post-COVID is a little different, because obviously, the number of jobs aren’t quite as plentiful as they once were. But nevertheless, it’s very much something that the younger generations are looking for in their workplace. So I think a lot of companies now to be more competitive are realising that they need to up their game in terms of how caring they come across, and how understanding how much they listen. And of course, you know, tying into bring your whole self to work being inclusive. Empathy really does underpin a lot of those sorts of initiatives because it’s about listening and understanding what people need.

John Ball
Yeah. So I mean, in the business world getting red-faced and chancing snowflakes a lot of time for these kinds of things isn’t really going to fix it. It’s going to make the issue worse, right?

Shola Kaye
Yeah, It’s interesting because as I say, when I started coming into this, I sort of came at it because I’d been shown a distinct lack of empathy. And I feel like a lot of the work that’s coming to me at the moment is with senior leadership teams. And they’re actually understanding, Well, look, if we want this sort of workplace, it’s got to trickle down from the top. We can’t just say, Hey, you, you guys, just go and be empathetic amongst yourselves. And we just sit here doing our own thing. they realise that they’ve got to set an example. So it’s, so yeah, there’s a lot of obviously looking at how empathy can work not only making connections with your employees and creating a better workplace, but even people like sort of setting it Adela, who is the CEO of Microsoft, he gave a speech at Wharton, and he talks about empathy being a strategic advantage because obviously, you can empathise with your clients and customers, you can put yourself in their place, understand their problems, that they’re facing the challenges, even take their perspective and walk through their business processes with that hat on. And then, of course, you’re more likely to come up with better solutions, be more innovative, and so on. So I think people are really realising that it’s not, it’s not just a nice to have, but especially with all the rise in automation, and AI, and so on and so forth. The skills that we as humans are needed or required to bring to the workplace are becoming increasingly complex. And, you know, there’s often when I give a give presentations I took about five years ago, LinkedIn, every year, they release the top 10, in-demand soft skills, you know, as as they see, you know, in them, job postings. And just five years ago on that list with things like communication, punctuality, which looked like you must be on time, very, very soon, right, almost call it like a caveman, like required. And then we flash forward to 2020. And those are gone. It’s all about creativity, adaptability, collaboration, and, of course, and there’s the skill of being able to empathise with other people and emotional intelligence. So so we’re seeing that those sorts of skills are really, really important these days. And I think the workplace is beginning to cotton on to that. And they’re delivering these sorts of programmes of sorts that I am I deliver myself, yeah.

John Ball
So I think sometimes when I’ve talked about empathy with people, I’ve been aware that we don’t always necessarily understand the same thing when we say empathy. So So can you give us the definition of empathy that you are working with?

Shola Kaye
Yeah, good question, actually, because it’s funny, even among practitioners, I’ve talked to people and they’ve said, Well, you know, my view of empathy is this or, and I tend to think of empathy, as it’s the ability to understand the feelings of another person, and being able to get into their shoes. It’s not a trivial activity. I mean, it takes a lot of courage and energy to do that. And so the idea is that you can only be empathetic with a small number of people at a time. Whereas there are other practitioners who say, well, empathy is just a sort of state of being it’s, it’s just being open-minded to what people are feeling and being more considerate. And so I tend to take the former perspective on this. And typically, when I talk about it we, with clients, we say, Well, one of the downsides of using empathy as a tool like this is the fact that you cannot be empathetic with hundreds of people at a time, you got to choose who you want to be empathetic with. And then, of course, that’s where the biases come in. Because you end up you know, typically, you might choose those people who, you know, you get on well with, or you went to school with, or they like you. So, even with, with empathy being such a fantastic skill to have, we still got to be aware of how we employ the empathy and you know, who we use it with. So one of the things I often do is at the end of the session, I give people a sort of 30-day strategy. When I say, well, it’s all very well to say, I’m going to be empathetic, but choose those, that the people that when they come to you, you know, it’s them again, you’re really they’re the people that you want to try this live not with your buddies that you love hanging out with,

John Ball
yes, of course, where you naturally have empathy and rapport anyway. And that was kind of the reason why I asked about whether it was a welcome message as well in the business well, because the archetype of business bigger is more of the sort of sociopathic narcissistic personality, which is not empathetic at all. It’s not empathic and probably from frowns or sneers at empathy is as being a weakness as being something that It has no place in the, in the world of business. So you’re saying that now it very much does whether people want it to or not, there really is no option but to address this and, and to have this in your business environment.

Shola Kaye
Yeah, very much so. And sometimes we look at examples from the 80s, like there have been a lot of catastrophic, you know, loss of life, for example, the space shuttle where eight engineers spoke up and said, hey, there’s the shuttle should not be flying in the cold. And that message never got any further. Or, for example, there’s a very hierarchical kind of cockpit culture that we had in the 80s. And we had at least some very old and even into the 90s and beyond, but some very high profile, very tragic loss of life where the copilot was kind of hinting to the pilot, hey, well, do you think we should, we should be taking off and let your eyes just shut up and listen to me sort of thing. And then of course, what happens is there’s a crash and loss of life. And so part of empathy is, of course, around listening and being able to have the humility to listen to, you know, we’re talking about a leader, the people that have beneath them, so that you don’t have these catastrophic things happening. And I think you know, what, giving people those sorts of examples. And of course, in the corporate world, it’s not necessarily going to mean that you’re going to have hundreds of lives lost when somebody doesn’t listen. But nevertheless, I mean, those kind of extreme examples can often help to bring it home to people that hey, oh, yeah, I do. You need to listen to these people every now and again, and, and keep my team in mind and not just kind of blunder ahead. Because I’m the boss, and I know what I’m doing.

John Ball
Yeah, I would maybe even say that in, in a business or any kind of culture where, where a lack of emotion is frowned upon where emotion is seen as a weakness that encourages people more to switch off, switch that off, suppress that within themselves, and therefore perhaps make decisions that aren’t based on things actually looking after people is the kind of decision that allows you to say, Well, you know, if we, if we release this Chi, yes, sometimes it’s going to explode. And this many people will die. But, you know, but we look how much money we’re going to make the last season even gonna cost as much as that is like what that if you can make those kinds of decisions? I would say that’s not coming from a place of empathy. Kindness for other people, as someone who was, was a flight attendant for 12 years, which I was that, yeah, definitely, that the airlines, teach their staff, these things over there. There was a time I even remember this in the airlines, there was a time when you really could not say anything much to some of the captains on the plane that they much like, sort of surgeons in hospitals, sometimes they’re like this God complex, sort of personality, where, wherever what they say goes, and any dissent won’t be tolerated kind of thing, that that has had to change because it’s caused, it’s caused problems and is caused deaths. And whilst it may not be that in every situation, yeah, bad communication. Can I mean, good communication has to have a level of empathy within it?

Shola Kaye
Very much. So yeah. And it’s funny, he’s talking about this, this little CEO and sort of people with power, there actually been some studies where they measure the amount of empathy that people empower have, and they find that there’s a dip, you know, so the higher up the ranks you rise, the less empathy you have. And whether that’s because people with without empathy, are more ruthless, and naturally will kind of get to the top anyway, or whether it’s because there is actually some something that switches off the empathy in you, as you continue to rise up the ladder. I’m not really sure, but it’s quite interesting to see that, you know, can be measured, and there is, is a correlation between, you know, rank and, and, and anything.

John Ball
Yeah, I do think when certain things become part of a culture, that very much people who might otherwise be empathetic and, and have kindness and emotion, for others might find ways to switch that off to justify doing so as well. It’s always surprising what we can, what we can actually justify to ourselves and rationalise. And we tend to underestimate just how good we are at doing that even in thinking I’d never be that kind of person. Who’s that? Well, I think we all have the capability. But and perhaps we don’t all have such a capability for empathy, that some people may be just dying. But for the vast majority of us, we do

Shola Kaye
it all that there’s a study that quite a lot of it when you read the social psychology books, they talk about this study where people were given the option to kind of give subjects electric and sort of fake electric shock. So there’s someone sitting in another room, and these people are told, well, you know, I think it’s important to Give this person this electric shock. And some people are no, no, I can’t do that. But with persuasion, most people are not yet. And they see this person like yelping and yelling in the other room. And they because they thought that that’s what they should do. And that’s what they’ve been told to do, they’ll just go ahead and do it. So it does require and I guess if you’re in that sort of culture where it’s sort of frowned upon, or people aren’t particularly warm or empathetic or caring, I think people can very quickly justifying that, Oh, well, if this is how it is to get ahead, this is what’s needed. I’m going to do it as well. So, so yeah, it’s quite an interesting one, the way that human psychology wraps up all of this.

John Ball
Yeah, so so many kinds of ends up not? Maybe it’s one, maybe it’s the other, maybe it’s both. I don’t know if we necessarily need a definitive answer on that, but just know it exists. And then it’s something that needs to be addressed. What what in your experience have been, have been the benefits within business where that has been addressed, and where something has been done to create that greater communication, that empathy between the different hierarchies of a business?

Shola Kaye
Well, I think this is the classic things like your teams working better together, more flow of information, both up and down the organisation, because transparency, for example, is is is a huge factor in people feeling motivated and wanting to, to help the organisation move forward versus having this very hierarchy, where we, you know, we only need to know this information, no one else needs to know. So that sort of thing. And then also, it’s all going to sort of bias an inclusion, this idea that As humans, we need to be part of an in-group, you know, we need to be part of a group. And so the idea of kind of creating more of a warm and ingroup atmosphere amongst the entire organisation, and putting your competitors as the outgroup, so that you get those stronger bonds, you get the listening, you get the caring, the empathy, etc, within the organisation. And there isn’t that kind of competitiveness from one team to another or even individuals within the team. So I think when people understand the benefits of, of empathy, and even of just listening as a precursor to being more empathetic, and they may start thinking about what is empathic listening, which is, you know, not debating, not challenging, not interrupting, but just letting somebody talk about their lived experience. And of course, there are times for debate, there’s time for challenges times for all of that. But there are moments where you’ve just got to let somebody speak and acknowledge and respect what they’re feeling. And I think all too often, especially in the workplace, you know, we feel we’ve got to interrogate Well, what do you mean, you feel like, you know, we’re interrogating someone simple feelings, and then, of course, that person will never open up again, they’ll give less that work, etc. There’s a cycle that comes from that. So I think just in a very basic level, it’s just about, you know, just to say teamwork and transparency that just just

John Ball
Is part of this as well about teaching something like emotional intelligence?

Shola Kaye
Yeah, absolutely. Because, um, emotional intelligence is comprised of empathy, along with four other skills. So most definitely teaching about emotional intelligence. I mean, some people I was on, I did a post on emotional intelligence on LinkedIn a couple of months ago, and there was a leadership expert. That’s all that’s been knocked around for 20 years now. Cut, you can’t read something new. But a lot of people still find it a useful tool in set of skills to develop. So I think just because something’s been around for a while, doesn’t mean they should check it away. So yeah, very much so. And as I mentioned, this LinkedIn survey now where emotional intelligence, it’s in this top five, soft skills, it’s number five for the first time ever, it’s in that top 10. And it’s number five. So yeah, absolutely.

John Ball
What are some of the things that people who’ve never done any kind of emotional intelligence work before would start to do to get an idea of how to be more emotionally intelligent?

Shola Kaye
You? Probably my mom, say so. I’m sorry, John, what did you say again? So what kind of

John Ball
so is say someone has never really had any experience of emotional intelligence before working with that? Where would you start working with them? Or where can they start to understand it and implement it more?

Shola Kaye
Well, part of it is around having social skills. So being better at negotiating office politics, for example. That’s a big one. Then of course, being able to manage yourself Because you get people that fly to a rage or something happens and they get triggered. So another place to start would be looking at your responses what triggers you? And how can you deal with it? or How can you? If something does trigger you regularly? What can you do? Is it about taking more time for yourself so that you don’t fly off the handle so quickly? Is it about the sort of self-care is it about being able to communicate how you feel when somebody does something that irritates you? So instead of flying off the handle, you can actually have a conversation about it. So I think there are different places, you could either start with the communication side of things, or you could start with self-knowledge. And doing a lot of looking at your values, looking at, as I said, what triggers you looking at your past and how that’s affected you up to this moment? So there are different ways to get into this mess. Definitely.

John Ball
Yeah, so so injecting some conscious awareness into what you currently do, gives you the possibility to start to look at Well, there may be other options, then the ones that I have been traditionally done before I often use the example of people People often drive are and for those who drive, you may get from time to time, someone who isn’t driving quite so well. And might cut you up on the road or on any variant to the side of you trying to pull out where you’re driving that kind of thing. And the automatic response to that is usually some very choice words, as my mum experienced recently, sorry, Mama, I forgot she was in the car with me at the time that happened. But sometimes it’s just that immediate response. But then, generally over the years, I think something, it’s very possible to keep angry about that to get really emotional, and be really angry with that person. But I’ve decided that that’s not how I want to be. And I consider that part of life. That’s part of me having some level of control, exactly exerting some control over my own emotions over my actions and responses and saying, actually, I think there might be a better way to respond to that, then the way that I probably would, if I didn’t really think about it, and just let it go, where I keep thinking about it, I keep getting angry about it, and stay with me all day. And I’d be telling everyone and is like, well, well, maybe I just let it go. And actually just wish that person to have better driving in the future and, and let it go out my mind. And this is someone who has so many life situations that we have these automatic ways of responding or reacting, like unconscious strategies, if you like how we deal with things, our brains don’t want to have to work too hard. So we tend to just run an automatic. But when we stopped doing that for a little while, we really start to see some that there may be better ways of doing these things than the ways that we’ve been conditioned or conditioned ourselves into.

Shola Kaye
Absolutely. And sometimes it’s about just putting in a little bit of a circuit breaker, you know, so if something happens, even if it’s taking two or three breaths, you know, like, okay, I don’t have to just switch into this automatic response mode. Just set this and set the circuit breaker. Oh, okay. I’ll decide how I respond to this. And so yeah, in some of these tools can be really simple. But they can be incredibly effective. But it’s having that awareness to apply them at the right moments.

John Ball
If you could wave a magic wand and corporate culture could be transformed to a way that you see as being more beneficial, more empathic, what would it look like in those organisations?

Shola Kaye
Yeah, good question. I think it would be that there’s a lot of listening. Obviously, company has to the typical things and be quick off the mark. Obviously, they’ve got to, I’m not saying that to be in business, you’ve got to have a bit of ruthlessness, but you’ve got to have a bit of speed and agility and, you know, rapid communication and decision making happening, that doesn’t take too long. But I think even with all of that, I mean, I’ve got a client in California, they’re a tech company, they’re incredibly successful, but they have a very, very warm atmosphere since I stepped into the London office, it just felt like everybody was really was friendly, very supportive. And that came comes right from the top of the organisation. So I think it can be done it can you can have an organisation that successful and empathetic as well. And I think especially now with there’s so much choice but for consumers. And I think a lot of people out there want to know they want that story of the company they want to hear that there’s that it’s consistent what the message the brand message is getting out there is consistent with what’s happening behind the scenes. And so here you know, we’ve even people like Ellen, you know, the big kerfuffle recently where It’s, uh, you know, I think her ratings have parently declined, like dropped dramatically because of what happened there. And, you know, with where, what, with the George Floyd killing and a lot of companies coming out and saying, Oh, well, we this is our anti racist policy. And then employees coming out from behind the scenes saying, well, this is Bs, because this is what happens here behind the scenes. So I think people really are looking for that consistency. And so I think I think it can be done. I think it for some companies, it takes a lot of work, it’s going to take a huge effort. But I think that it can be done. And I think that there is an advantage beyond happy employees. There’s an advantage in terms of the way that they’re perceived in the bike by by the industry and also by consumers and customers.

John Ball
Yeah, certainly with some of the people I’ve had on my show recently, where we talked about marketing, we’ve talked about the development of relationship marketing. And I know from my own experience, as well, that has become seemingly a much more important element in the mode of marketing this year, perhaps more than ever before. And that was what I think was already happening anyway. And I think maybe this year has accelerated that. But that relates very much to what you’re saying people feel that they need to be able to like and trust and know what’s going on. And, and people care about the ethics they want to feel cared about as well by, by the people they buy-in from by the people that they do business with, much even with the companies and businesses that they work for on the side. And so that has become almost a non-critical part where perhaps in some ways critical part of doing business. There certainly is its importance is increasing.

Shola Kaye
Yeah, very much would agree with you. And I think also now with a lot of people at home, we’ve got more time even to, to read the story, you know, I remember I felt on the website, I think or looking a brochure just a couple of days ago, and I was looking for this, I wanted to read the brand story I wanted to figure out, you know, they also weren’t so where have they come from how they built this brand up, I was interested, and I think probably looked at where we were perhaps 510 years ago, people weren’t really sharing those sorts of stories. But equally, a lot of us weren’t really, really that interested. It’s just doesn’t do the job. Boom, let’s buy it. But I think now people are much more concerned about where their money’s going, essentially.

John Ball
Yeah. And I think this comes down something to what sometimes on the show shifts in values levels of moving from but there’s perhaps the most all-powerful power and control focus values levels, to the more collaborative to the more caring the more interconnected kind of feeling of values were, as they were, I think things were moving that way anyway. And if anything that as good as coming from COVID is maybe been to accelerate that, because I do see it as being. Do you see it as being a positive? I do see it as people caring more about, as you said, People care more about whether whether the companies they are actually big on diversity or whether people are actually being cared about and looked after or, or if it’s just kind of being ignored. They just want the sale. But they’ll say what they need to say, to at least keep their public profile. Okay, okay. Well, you know, that’s not enough it doesn’t cut it people actually want to want to know and want to look deeper than that and see what’s really going on. And I think I see it in a lot of the people who I connect with, for being on my show for doing client work with and the lies that people want to definitely want to feel that relationship that they have a connection.

Shola Kaye
Yeah, very much. So any. And it’s a good thing because I think I’d rather have a smaller number of clients and just work with them on a repeat basis. They’re just kind of revolving door of, okay, you boom, next, next, next, next next, and I think a lot of practitioners and people in business would rather be that way because as we know, it’s much easier to have a repeat client than to just have to keep finding new people all the time.

John Ball
So in your coaching work, then is that also specialising on on empathy and communication within the business world?

Shola Kaye
Well started out primarily doing a lot of communication coaching. So I think I’ve shared this with you when we chatted, but I started out as a professional singer. So after I had my sort of awkward moments in the corporate world, I decided, well, as a kid, I always wanted to be a singer. So I’m gonna branch off and do some singing. So I ended up working as a professional singer for about 15 years singing internationally. And after sort of not particularly enjoying communication, having spent several years as a professional singer, Of course, I was very used to standing up in front of audiences used to be My voice etc, etc. And so then I kind of looked back into public speaking and speaking of meetings and things, again, took some training. And then from there I, I kept getting people saying to me things like, oh, you’re a singer, that that’s amazing. And that being a speaker and a singer, there are two, there are a lot of similarities. So I moved into using some of my performance skills and my communication skills to be a professional speaking coach and a communication coach. Sometimes with people who worked who had their own small business, sometimes it was with people who worked for companies. But I was using that sort of performance background and what I call my diva framework, which I’ve kind of put together. But using that as the tool that I would help people to communicate with, so most of my coaching, and until fairly recently has been and still I still do a fair bit now has been around communication skills, whether it’s speaking up impromptu in meetings, high stakes, situations, q&a sessions, or prepared speeches.

John Ball
That’s cool. I forgot that I meant after we last spoke, I meant to go and search on Spotify and see if I could find any of your songs.

Shola Kaye
I’ve tried to pull them off Spotify.

John Ball
That’s great. Because some of the people I’ve had on my show, certainly I speak to other people who teach and train presentations and public speaking skills as well. And there’s all sorts of different takes on it. And, Nick, the circumstances where I head-on is an actor really is and is that a trained actor who’s bringing those skills into a presentation and isn’t my back man he’s also been on the show is trained in and run the Opera in New York ranches that she mentions directed people at Pavarotti and Domingo, people like that. And she’s bought those sorts of skills and her background into the public speaking training and presentation skills world as well as it is fascinating what just hear what can be so powerful, and all these different takes and different elements that people can bring. And now I think you can go and learn from everyone has these awesome backgrounds and come away with different things that are really going to benefit your performance and, and take you to new levels. Can you tell us a bit more about this diva framework? I’m curious.

Shola Kaye
Well, it’s funny because I, yeah, I’ve got my book here how to be direct public speaking. And yes, and diva stands for D stands for being dynamic. I stands for being inspiring, which is about storytelling and connecting with people’s emotions. V is about being valuable, which is all the bits to do with structure and content, and so on. And then A is about being your authentic self. And it’s interesting because I started out from early working with women. So it was fine to have this framework that was called diva, and living like the diva framework of a diva. And then as I started to work more with men, and even some women said, Well, I’m not a diva, I’m more of a rock star myself. So luckily, DIVA even though it’s only four letters it can be it can spell out a few different words. So then I started calling it my avid framework, so avid, meaning enthusiastic and keen. And then someone said, well, it also spells out Vida. So sometimes I say, Well, why don’t you speak with a bit of life, the Vida framework. So, fortunately, for me, it’s been fairly adaptable. But the essence of it is the same, which is you’ve got to bring a bit of life. Whether It’s Your Tony Robbins, you don’t put them down when you speak and you do 10-hour workshops, or whether it’s that you’re somebody who loves the language, and you use really choice, choice language and descriptive language when you speak. There are different ways to be dynamic. And I am, as a person, introvert. So for me, I always tend to do a lot of interaction. And when I started out speaking, I would think, gosh, I don’t speak for whole hell, how can I? How can I cut down to speak? And so I was building a lot of interactive exercises. And then I found that people rehiring me rebooking me because it wasn’t all about me it was because there was a lot of time for people to, to self reflect and come up with their own solutions in my sessions. So that, as I say, being dynamic, a lot of people think, oh, I’ve got to be super high energy. No, you don’t, you just find a way that works for you. So I think what people clients have liked about the diva framework is it’s, it’s not prescriptive, it just gives you enough to go on and to tick all the boxes, but you can find your own way around it. And make sure that you tailor it to your own particular style and the way that you want to want to come across.

John Ball
That’s fantastic. And so we usually work with men and women at work, what sort of fit is your Is the climate you generally like to work with.

Shola Kaye
I love working with small business owners because when you’ve got your own business, there’s no fighting around basically got to make it work to put the food on the table. So I like working with small business owners because of that, and because that typically a business owner will do anything they have to do to make it work. But more recently, I’ve done a lot of work with people in corporates. And in particular, I had I been working with an organisation called Women in Data, and they have a debt as you can imagine, data is every industry and every so and so there are a lot of people there who want that bit of extra gravitas so that they can present comfortably to the C suite or to the you know, exco level etc. So I do enjoy working with those people as well because often it’s just a tiny tweak, it’s just a little thing that they need to get in place and suddenly their presence and gravitas and confidence can skyrocket. So it’s it can be fascinating just trying to find what that what looks that thing was that little thing, that little key for that person that once it’s turned, boom, their potential is unlocked. So yeah, I like working across. I love coaching. And I, I’ve got to admit I prefer big groups, then working one to one. And I think perhaps that’s because I’m an introvert. And so as an introvert, when I’m doing big keynotes, I’ve got to step up. And then you just bring everything you need to the table to speak up. versus when it’s one to one, it’s much easier to be a bit more relaxed and kind of more low key about things. So I dislike the big, the big challenges as well as the small ones.

John Ball
Yeah. It’s amazing how many people I speak to who do presentation skills public speaking, public speaking training, who are introverts, naturally introverts, and you know, I’ve often described myself as that, but I really, I’m not sure I’m not completely sure I am anymore. And I think I’ve actually, I’m more hovering around the sort of ambivert that can be a bit of both. But I think that has essentially been because of years of coaching years of public speaking, presentation work and things like that, that that have pushed that needle for me a bit more to the centre, whereas I know I can actually recharge really well, being around people just as much as I can being on my own. But I feel like I kind of need both now, not just one or the other.

Shola Kaye
Hmm, that’s interesting. Yeah. I mean, the idea of recharging around other people is that, how can it be done. But that’s great that you, you can do both. That gives you a lot of flexibility there.

John Ball
I feel so I have to apologise that might be a bit of banging going on in the background here. There is a drastic refurbishments and repairs going on to the building next door. And so I’ll try and keep myself muted when that’s going on. But I don’t want to stop the conversation. But when we had a chat a little about one of the other things you did tell me about was that, that one of your experiences of speaking didn’t go quite so well as you hoped it might. And so Can Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Shola Kaye
Okay, yeah, I guess we’ve all had several of those were things happen that weren’t planned for. But I was doing a talk, I think it was Women in Engineering at the Royal Academy of Engineering in central London. And they had this stage. And I guess it’s a temporary stage, and there was a gap between the stage and the wall. And I was sort of quite a comfortable stage. And so I decided to sort of lean my hand back against the wall and step back a bit. And of course, my foot just kind of went in this gap between the stage and the wall. And so I tripped over and felt fell down, which is kind of everyone’s worst nightmare when you’re speaking. And it’s like talking somebody about this the other day, and I think it’s the audience are will go wherever you as the speaker, take them. So if I looked really upset, and oh my gosh, I fell over my lifesaver. They would have probably thought, Oh, no, this is awful. Whereas I just stood up loved and they all laughed as well. And it’s it’s, it’s kind of like when you have you know, little child where they fall over. And they look at their moms and really good. Mommy, Daddy, should I start screaming? Or should I just laugh? And then if the parents love it, oh yeah, we laugh and then if the parents like oh my gosh, my child and they start screaming and yelling and it’s an awful thing. So it’s, I think when things go wrong, and especially as a singer, you know, have things where the PA have been performing in front of 100 people and my pa cut out, you know, all the iPads that I was using kind of stopped working or there’s all sorts of things can happen. And I think that the obviously beforehand, you got to make sure that Is few things that can go well, you know, go on do but on the other hand, it’s that’s part of live performance. I mean, we could all sit at home and just programmers speaking to Alexa or Siri and just sit back and listen to something that’s perfect word perfect but there’s no energy there’s no life there’s no charisma there’s no spontaneity so so I think being things going wrong within reason I think it’s a good opportunity to connect with the audience as opposed to you know be worried that they’re going to judge you or think that something’s awful

John Ball
Yeah don’t be like the person walking down the street trip and over again flying and then to correct them themselves like it as nothing happened. Hoping nobody noticed. Yeah, absolutely go with it. Is that is part of utilisation? It’s part of flexibility adaptability on the stage as well. And not to ignore these things, but to address them, utilise them more for connection, utilise it in maybe it relates no conveyed in some other way to something that’s going on or can highlight it to make a point. But when things go wrong, I don’t think people really judge you negatively for anyway. And they, they empathise, they’re more likely to empathise with you and oh, my goodness, I would have if that was me, I’d die. And so when you come back friends say, It’s okay. I’m okay. So it’s so good. And we carry on and you address it like that and acknowledge it. I think that gives them a sense of Oh, goodness, thank goodness for that. Oh, how you carry on after that? I’m not sure I could know that I think people actually start to have a bit more respect and think oh, that’s, that’s pretty good. I know. I know, that’s been my experience in the past as well. And I’ve both been I’ve had things go wrong on stage, which I certainly have. I think most speakers and presenters do at some point. And also when, when I’ve seen that happen for other people as well. It’s, it is an opportunity, or an opportunity, and in some ways, which is really cool. So for you at the moment, what’s coming up for you what your plans for the coming year.

Shola Kaye
It’s, it’s a really interesting time, actually, because I’m at Samsung doing law speaking of empathy now, and linking that with leadership with sales and also with diversity inclusion. So I’ve got a few interesting projects. So some which are more working on a retainer basis for some clients and helping them to build up their diversity inclusion strategy, others, with one global organisation, we’re looking at rolling out an entity programme across the entire organisation. And so some really interesting projects, as well as the smaller ones like the one to one coaching. And I just have a new book that’s come out, which is on pre-order at the moment in is out, I think next week, which is on communication skills. And it’s a scenario-based. So it’s quite an interesting one because I have sort of come up with, I think about 50 different scenarios and how If this happens, how would you respond that happened? So so that’s something that I’m sort of looking at promoting at the moment. And in that,

John Ball
what’s the name of your book for anyone who wants to go and check it out?

Shola Kaye
Yeah, it’s got some hex, it’s called big talk, small talk and everything in between. and then the publisher did a really nice job of with the sort of lovely illustrations inside as well. So it’s beautifully coloured in even without the tips on communication. So So yeah, feel free. That’s I think that’s going to be around retailers, including target even.

John Ball
By the time by the time the show’s published, it will be available. So that’s great. People can go and order. I’ll make sure there’s a link to that and your other book in the show notes as well. Might that you have a podcast as well.

Shola Kaye
I do. I have a podcast. It’s called shortcuts to public speaking success. And it’s interesting is when we were chatting before you were saying that your podcast you like people to have as much time as they need to share. And when I started out doing mine, I started out just I was doing video blogs. And I thought well, why not just turn it into a podcast as well. So people have see have as many ways to sample the content as they need to. And so my videos were typically, like most people kind of reluctant to do videos at the beginning. So I thought, what, I’ll just do them, but please keep them short. So my videos are typically like five to 10 minutes long. So I was released in this podcast of like very kind of snippety kind of length podcast episodes. But fortunately, people I think people can consume, you know, a few in ago, and they found them useful. So I think it’s interesting how the long-form podcasts like your own can be really helpful because they dig deep don’t mean you really get a lot more insight from the speaker. But then the short ones can also be helpful because you just get like the tidbits that you need and then off to The rest of your day.

John Ball
Yeah, so most of my shows are certainly some interview-based and that’s been my preference I gave podcasting a try years back. It was a bit of a week try to be honest with him for too long, but I was just doing it by myself and I maybe I don’t know if it was just I didn’t feel like I had enough for but I find that the energy of talking to other people is much more powerful encouraging and, and I don’t where maybe it’s because also when I listen, I listen to podcasts that rather listen, usually to a conversation. I have put outside episodes that are just me by myself. And I may do that again in the future. But primarily my the way I love doing the podcast is is having guests on and getting to have interesting conversations like the one we’re having today. And I love doing that further show that you have which is shortcuts to public speaking what sorts of tips can people find come and find there on your show?

Shola Kaye
Oh, that’s a real mix, actually. So I’ve got quite a few tips for people who are perhaps getting business networking. So how to present yourself when networking is I don’t know if you’ve ever done any business networking, but you know, the 62nd pitch, yeah, you’ll get people that just don’t try and cram every facet of their business into the 60 seconds. And it ends up being just too much for people. So So talking about business networking, how to create a bit of intrigue, so that you get that next conversation with whoever it is that you’ve met at the networking event. And then also sharing frameworks. So frameworks for storytelling frameworks for speaking under pressure. And then some of the tips have been around just sort of motivation and because a lot of people see is you know, john, have a lack of confidence when it comes to speaking up and being heard. So tips around finding your voice tips around just visit there’s a great book actually called How to be an in perfectionist by Stephen guys. And he has some really good little tips in there about how to banish perfectionism and just kind of get on with things. And one that I particularly love is just telling yourself that you’re the best at whatever this thing is maybe just in the room that you’re in or in Sainsbury’s. But I think if we tell ourselves that I’m the best person, I’m the best person making, making cheese salad is the best person that there’s something that in the brain just, yeah, Hey, have you just set up a bit taller, and it might be the most bogus thing to be the best bet but it just gives you an extra boost. And I remember I was in Cyprus doing some gigs last year. And I like a lot of people you know, sometimes have a crisis of confidence. And I was in Cyprus didn’t speak the language and I was in the supermarket. I was like how the hell know what when I get to the till they don’t understand. And then I just said hold on. You’re the best Diana Ross impersonator in the supermarket. It’s like. So this is kind of silly little thing, a little game to play. But just telling yourself that it can give you an added boost.

John Ball
I’d like to think I’m the best Diana Ross impersonator in my office. But he’s just me here. So there’s not a lot of competition.

Shola Kaye
It doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter. You’re still the best.

John Ball
That’s great. Well, that’s one of the things I did want to ask as well about book recommendations. I always like to get book recommendations for my guests. So definitely include that. But, but to actually asked that specific question, is that a book? Is that the book you would recommend? If I asked you for a book recommendation or other than your own books, what else would you recommend?

Shola Kaye
I think that’s there are so many out there. So I think that’s a good one. And it’s one that I just really listened to. Recently, like it’s very easy. When you listen to audiobooks, sometimes things go on, and you kind of miss a little bit and you sort of red zone and zone out. So it was nice to listen to that one again. But yeah, I mean, how to be an imperfection is by Stephen Guys, do you I see. It’s the first few chapters are all about the sort of theory and human psychology and why we tend towards perfectionism and the different kinds. And then he sort of stacked up all the tips and the hardcore takeaways for the last chapter. So it’s quite nice because you can just zoom to that chapter. Once you’ve got you’ve kind of got a grounding, and then just get some serious insights from there. So yeah, why not? That can be the book that I recommend. Yeah,

John Ball
great. It’s one I haven’t come across before. So I’m happy to add that to my list of books to check out for the future as well. It sounds like a good one. I often talk about in perfectionism and the problems that people often have with Brucker, procrastination because of perfectionism, and the whole thing of just not even getting started sometimes and I certainly had that issue myself when I was much, much younger. I did a lot of music myself. No such thing as more of a keyboard player, I used to do a lot of composing and the likes and often would just think, oh, that’s rubbish and throw stuff away, and then get to that or we like that idea. I had the other eight, I threw it away. Yeah, man. And that was, that was where I think I started to recognise that that perfection is and that thinking that it wasn’t ever good enough was actually a problem as I was maybe it’s not good enough right now, but it might be good enough a bit later on with a bit of work and a bit of time to develop it. And so I stopped being a bit stop being quite as hard on myself when I realised that But still, it’s still a journey to not falling into that perfectionism trap. So I love the recommendation. Thank you. And one thing I do like to do is give my guests an opportunity to, to share how we how our audience can get in contact with you and find out more about you.

Shola Kaye
Oh, wonderful. Well, yeah, I’m active on LinkedIn. So feel free to find me there show, okay, and please do connect and say that you listen to this podcast, I’d love to, to have you connected that way. And then also have my website which is shown a k.com. So k ye. And then on the usual social media, I’d rather not be sometimes but on the usual social media channels, say Twitter and Instagram and

John Ball
All your social links are in the show notes for everyone to check out so they can come and connect with you and find your website as well. And hopefully, people who want to come and work with you and maybe even check out your TED talk. It must be on YouTube, right?

Shola Kaye
Yeah, absolutely. It’s, I have a speaking page on my website, so you can find it there. Or just look me up on YouTube. Because I did have a bit of a nightmare with my Ted TEDx talk, where basically what happened was, they said to us, okay, don’t take up any earrings. take anything that might knock against the microphone when you’re speaking. And because during our soundcheck, I had the earrings in and there was no interference of the mic. I just thought, okay, I’ll be fine for the real food. But they might think slightly differently. So I stepped out, and the second I moved, you could just hear this earring, kind of banging against the microphone. And it was really loud, because, you know, the mic was turned up pretty high for speaking. So, so yeah, so when the TEDx was ultimately recorded, and there was just this horrible interference all the way through with this earring banging. So, fortunately, that when they put it up online, and then I just begged them, please take it down, take it down to give her let me edit the audio. So I took it down, I was able to edit the audio and put it back up again. So yeah, I always say to people that there is a dark side to TEDx. It’s not all. It’s not all a bundle of joy and laughs. But yeah, it’s there. It’s there.

John Ball
So people can go and go and check out your talk, which has been digitally remastered, or the knocks from the earrings. And there is now much more reasonable. That’s fantastic. I encourage people to do that. And it’s been a real pleasure speaking to you today. I always like to get some closing thoughts from my guests that could be a call to action or something that’s on your mind or just some words that you’d like to leave people with today.

Shola Kaye
I’d say something around taking action because I think it’s very easy to ruminate overthink things. And imperfect action is is better than perfect planning, basically. So just take some action move towards where you’re trying to get to. And as you sent you with your composing, you may not make it perfect with the first step. But as long as you keep moving in the right direction vaguely in a zigzag pattern, you will eventually get there. So just take action towards whatever it is that you’re trying to achieve. And I have faith in you you will make it.

John Ball
So, before we finish then you had you mentioned to me that you have some things that may be helpful to our audience and giveaways that people can go and check out.

Shola Kaye
Absolutely, John and one of the things that my clients have struggled with is speaking impromptu. So whether that’s being in a q&a session or in a sales meeting, or whether it’s speaking to sort of high profile clients or board meet members and so on. So I have put together a sheet have different frameworks about five or six frameworks, and I call it my short speech frameworks, but they don’t necessarily have to be prepared ahead of time. They can just be things that you keep in mind how to frame your ideas. So if you are interested in grabbing hold of that, you can just go to shoulder k.com slash short speech, all one word, and you can download that

John Ball
That’s a great point to leave things, with apologies again for the banging in the next room. It is must be some really heavy earrings for that kind of noise. Although they seem to have stopped, for now. I really want to thank you for coming on the show it’s been a delight to speak with you shared some lovely messages it’s been lovely to hear about empathy and to hear about your diva plan and, and your books and everything else as well. I really appreciate it. And I look forward to connecting with you again in the future. And for anyone who wants to come and check you out. Check out the links in the show notes and go and connect with Shola.

Shola Kaye
Fantastic. Thanks a lot, John, it was a pleasure.

John Ball
I hope you’ve enjoyed the show. Please remember to like and subscribe and if you’re on apple podcast, leave us a review. Whilst you’re here, why not download a free copy of my new ebook the five key beliefs of bulletproof business speakers available from my website presentinfluence.com Next week, I’ll be talking all things bucket lists with the bucket list guy himself Trav Bell, please make sure you join us for that he’s a really entertaining guy, a great speaker, and someone who I’ve been connected with for years and finally had an opportunity to have a really good chat with. If you’ve ever thought about creating a bucket list for yourself, you’re not going to want to miss that conversation. Keep a lookout for some bonus episodes dropping over the holiday period as well. Making sure you don’t have to go one single moment being bored during the holiday season. And lots of fun chats and extra material coming out there too. So join me next time for speaking of influence. See you then

The Art of Talking Funny with guest Jeremy Nicholas

This is the very first live broadcast episode of Speaking of Influence and it was not without some technical issues, such as some clever Charlie knocking the internet out in my office.

Thankfully, my guest Jeremy Nicholas is a very experienced and skilled speaker and was able to keep the show going by sharing a story about interviewing the late actor Christopher Lee, perhaps best known for his appearances as Dracula. The story alone is worth checking out this episode but also Jeremy shares plenty of great information and insights.

You also get to see me doing my best to recover my composure and spending the rest of the interview worried my connection was going to crap out again! Anyhow… when the stuff you worry about actually happens, you just deal with it and get on with the show.

If you’re interested in working with Jeremy you can visit his website https://www.jeremynicholas.co.uk/ and find out more about his speaking work, books and courses. Maybe you’d even like to get your keynote tickled?

I’m starting to have doubts about doing future shows live but… we’ll see.

Next week’s episode is with the talented speaker, former professional singer and expert in emotional intelligence Shola Kaye. Don’t miss it!

Transcript

John Ball
Welcome to speaking of influence the show about public speaking presentation skills and influence and persuasion with your host John Ball. The speaking of influence podcast is published and distributed using Buzzsprout. If you want to get your podcast started today, check out the link in the show notes.

John Ball
Okay, hello. Welcome to speaking of influence. Now, this is a first for the show today because we are actually going live. We’ve never done that with speaking of influence podcast before, but we thought it would be something that’s fun to do. And I’m joined on my very first ever live podcast episode by an incredible speaker presenter and after dinner speaker, he’s very entertaining, has a wealth of knowledge and experience in the photo of presenting even on the old Telly box. So please welcome to the show, Jeremy Nicholas.

Jeremy Nicholas
Hi, how are you? Thanks. Doing it live. This is scary, isn’t it? Crikey whose idea was this?

John Ball
You know, is a little bit scary. And yet it was also kind of a lot of fun. I’ve done I’ve been playing with the lives and doing a few shows and actually have been something I was really terrified of doing before has turned out to be a lot of fun. And you guess you don’t really know what could happen. Anything could go wrong. Last night in the middle of an online training programme that I was doing the cleaner here tripped the power switch and everything went off. So that must have been, hopefully, we’re not going to have anything like that happened to us as well. So we’re going live today?

Jeremy Nicholas
Yeah, let’s hope so I’ve always enjoyed live better than recorded. Because if you do something live, you know, they’re not going to edit it out. Whereas if someone’s going to so I started in radio, and then when I moved into television, we’d be recording a show. And I’d say something a little bit funny. And they go oh, sorry, we didn’t know you’re going to say that. Could you just do that again? Because you know, perhaps I was holding up something and they didn’t have to close it. And I said that and the next time it never be quite as good because it won’t be spontaneous, you know, they said, Oh, wait, yeah, that’s not great. And I say Well, yeah, because I made it up. Oh, but we didn’t know you’re going to do it. No, I didn’t know that. It just came out. And so that’s why we love live radio better than Telly because you could you know, you have an idea that comes up your head comes out your mouth. And that’s it. I love

John Ball
I love the spontaneity of it. One of the things I think is really attractive about podcasting is that you get to listen in on people’s conversations. And, and it’s rare, I mean, other than when someone’s really sort of fluffed up on on a recording or he’s just gone on way too long. And I need to edit it down. I really don’t edit my shows, I just kind of cut the beginning where it’s sort of like getting started in the end just so it’s but people aren’t waiting around. And then we just go into it. And then I just leave it I try not to edit anything out of it. So doing it this way. I think when I’m taking a break from recording the show for several months at the start of next year. And when I come back, I think I’m probably gonna aim to do all the shows live, because I think it’s actually a fun way of doing it.  So this is this was kind of your influence on me, Jeremy that has pushed it to push the show going into a live format in the future.

Jeremy Nicholas
Yeah, it was me that suggested it, wasn’t it?

John Ball
It was you who suggested it yes. And I’m glad you did. I’m glad you did. I think it’s a really exciting way to take the show, and potentially even gives the opportunity for anyone who might join us on online who’s live to ask questions or post comments in the comment box as well, that I might even show on screen if they’re not rude.

Jeremy Nicholas
So, yeah, so it’s just it’s three minutes past 10 o’clock in the morning in London, England. What time is it in Valencia?

John Ball
And is one hour later in Valencia. Although it shouldn’t be. We’re on the Greenwich Meridian same as you but thanks to Franco who, who wanted to appease Hitler and put them put Spain on the same timezone as Germany and during the war and, and for some reason, Spain has never changed that back. You know, they’ve dug up Franco’s grave, they’ve moved his body, but they haven’t bothered to change back the time to put us back where we should be. I find that a bit strange.

Jeremy Nicholas
Yeah, you know, the more I hear about Franco, the less I like him, you know. Now, on top of all of those things, he did he’s messed up your time as well. I mean, that that’s me and Franco through, unfortunately,

John Ball
I know. I thought he was a warm and cuddly before and they changed my mind completely. If Jeremy for our audience, tell us a little bit more about what what you do like some of your experience and what it is you do professionally now.

Jeremy Nicholas
Yeah. Tell us who you are. Jeremy, what the heck do you want? Who is this man? So I started as a BBC News, a broadcaster in radio, doing news bulletins and reporting. And then I moved into sport and then light entertainment and then back to news. But with a bit of a light entertainment twist because I would do the funny story at the end of the news bulletin. So you know, when you’re watching the news, I don’t know if it’s the same in Spain but or in most parts of the world. You have the serious news, the murder, the politics, and the crime and then you perhaps have some whether they’re in some sport and then at the end, there’ll be a funny story about a duck that goes to the pub and has a beer or something. So I would do that one that would be maze garden. And finally, story. So that’s, that’s kind of my background. And then I started because I was the guy off the radio, I started being asked to compare conferences. And then I realised that actually, certainly in the UK, lots of speakers at conferences are very, very boring. And they just, you know, just send you to sleep. And I thought they should be doing this. And so one time I, I think this would be about 20 years ago now, I was at this conference, and I’d been paid to host a three-day event. They’ve got people from all over the world to come to the UK for this event. And the chief exec of the organisation was just so boring. He droned on for an hour. And at the end, after we were having sort of feedback, I said, you know, your presentation, would you like me to make that a bit more interesting for you? And he could have been absolutely furious. But actually, he said, Yes, please, because no one else has ever told me it was boring. And he became my first client. And since then, what I do is I help people be less boring. But I tend not to use the word boring in boxing because it puts people off but you know, make the what the phrase I use is make you more entertaining and engaging. And then alongside that, and stand up comedy. And I’ve still written funny stuff for radio and TV and I do a lot of after-dinner speaking.

John Ball
Now I’ve seen from your website, I’ve seen some of the stuff that you do in presentations and you definitely an entertaining and engaging and very loved presenter like people love watching and listening to you. And having seen you have a podcast as well. Yeah. And having seen some of that as well, that’s really entertaining, too. But what is your podcast called?

Jeremy Nicholas
So I do a YouTube show called The after-dinner show. And I did that in lockdown, just because a lot of my time work is in the evenings, going to dinners eating a lot of chicken dinners, and entertaining people from banks and organisations and things. And of course, they all got scrapped, it got cancelled, there were no dinners. So I thought the only way I can have dinners is to start cooking my own. And so I made up the show called The after-dinner show and I got all the after dinner speakers and any keynote speakers, I thought were a bit entertaining, I’d have three on each show. So it’d be a perfect little zoom window for. And the idea was they had to tell a true story, they had to tell it live and it had to be from personal experience. And, and that was it really. And we do that once I used to do it once a week, I just do it once a month now because it works beginning to pick up but I don’t know about you if I think of something funny during the day, and I haven’t got an outlet for it, it just feels like it’s going to erupt like a spot coming on my skin. And so anytime torn up in between radio shows, or I haven’t been writing for a magazine or something, I think I’ll just have to ring someone up to have just thought of this. I just need to tell someone. And that’s really what the point of the after-dinner show is just to get some of these things out.

John Ball
Um, yeah, Unlike yourself I’m not. I’m not a comedian, although I try to be funny, and I love making people laugh. And but this is one of the things that I’ve been doing in my show of having a series where I’ve been taking a look at humour as a presentation tool because it’s one that people tend to shy away from. And also looking at it as a, as a very, I think, a very powerful tool of influence and persuasion as well, which is one of the other aspects of the show. And I think in terms of what I’ve examined, and this is one of the most powerful and often doesn’t really get talked about in some of the psychological books and studies that are done into influence and persuasion. And yeah, I think it’s an incredible tool. What would be your thoughts on humour as both as a presentation tool and as a, perhaps a tool of influence and persuasion?

Jeremy Nicholas
Yeah, so I’m a fellow of the professional speaking association of UK and Ireland. And so we belong to the global speakers Federation. So there are 15 odd organisations throughout the world, the biggest being the National Speakers Association of America. And they have the saying, should you be funny when you’re speaking in public, only if you want to get paid. So that’s, that’s, you know, certainly in the professional speaking world. Now, a lot of people watching this may not want to be a professional speaker, they may just speak as part of their job. But I always think if you put a bit of humour in, you’re more likely to get asked again. And so that’s going to help advance your career if you’re the person in your team that likes presenting, and then you are a little bit funny, then they might say, right, you’re good at regional conference, can you do the national conference? And I think being funny does a couple of things. One is it shows you have confidence in what you’re doing. So the audience relax. And I think when you’re watching any kind of speaker, the worst thing is when you’re worried for them, and you think, Oh, god, this is going on a bit. It seems to have lost his way or she doesn’t seem to have the right slides. So as an audience member, the first thing I want is not to worry about. And so if they, if they crack a joke early on, I think, oh, that’s fine. They’re going to be right, we can relax. And the second thing is you’re going to hold their attention. I always say if they’re laughing, they’re listening. Now, that doesn’t mean you’ve got to put loads and loads of jokes in because it might not be appropriate to your topic. You know, if you’re there, if it’s the annual conference you’re going to announce some redundancies don’t come on with some Monty Python gags and it’s gonna be rough. But I think even in adversity, you know, with the pandemic at the moment some of the best lines I’ve seen virtual events have been to do with Coronavirus, you know, but sensitively dealt with don’t dwell on the deaths but dwell on the nuisance of wearing a mask and your glasses steaming up or, you know, the things you used to be able to do the things you’re looking forward to do. So it’s just always a question of, you know, being sensitive with it and not going to miss out on it. Right. Well, it looks to me like John’s gone, and I’m still here. So why don’t I tell you a story while he’s away? So I interviewed this vampire. And it was Christopher Lee. So he obviously wasn’t a real vampire was the actor Christopher Lee. Now, what would you say Christopher Lee’s most famous role in movies is? Dracula. Yeah, he was Dracula in about 15 different films. And so he came into my, I was doing the afternoon show on BBC Radio London. And he came in and he was in the studio. And he wants to talk about his new film, which was police academy mission to Moscow, you know, a very prestigious movie. And so obviously, he wanted to give that a bit of a plug. And I’m wanting to ask him about Dracula because I was a horror film fan, my producer was a horror film fan. And we had loads of Dracula questions prepared. Every time I asked Christopher Lee, the actor about Dracula. He just wants to talk about police academy mission to Moscow, you know, bear in mind, he was in some fantastic films. He was in the wicker man he was in Lord of the Rings. It was the Dark Lord and Lord of the Rings, is in Star Wars. Some of the later ones. And so he just wanted to talk about his latest film, he did not want to talk about all these old films and especially didn’t want to talk about Dracula because he didn’t want to be pigeonholed as just a vampire. So I started asking him loads of questions. backtracked. And every time he just rolled his eyes, and he said, I don’t really want to talk about Dracula. I mean, I’m an actor and not just a drac. And I said, Yeah, but I think you’re best known for being Dracula. And he said, No, I’m best known for being an actor, of which one role is Dracula. And I said, Yeah, but you played that role in 15 films. And he wasn’t happy. So he’s kept staring it back to mission to Moscow. I kept staring it back to Dracula. And eventually, it was getting a little bit uncomfortable. And then I noticed the producer over it said the producers in another room over there behind a glass screen. And the producer starts typing up little notes, saying I’m asking more about Dracula. It’s funny when he gets angry. Now bear in mind, he’s safe because he’s in another room. Oh, John, you’re back. Hello.

John Ball
I’m back. Yes. So somebody knocked out the internet connection, which is always fun during a presentation. So where were we at Jeremy? I think you were keeping people entertained there for us.

Jeremy Nicholas
Yeah, I’m just doing the story. About the time I interviewed Christopher Lee, the actor?  Right. So I’m interviewing Christopher Lee, the actor. This is a few years ago, cuz he’s dead now. And he didn’t want to talk about being Dracula. Even though he played a director in 15 movies. He wants to talk about his new film, which was police academy mission to Moscow, you know, which obviously a very prestigious movie wanted to give it the credit it deserves. And I kept asking him about being a vampire. And so the as I kept staring at back to vampires, and he was getting really, really angry, the producer wrote on the screen. He’s through the glass in another room. Ask him more about Dracula. It’s funny when he gets angry. Bear in mind he was safe in his room. I was in with the vampire but didn’t have any crucifix or garlic or anything. He was saved through this, we did go back to a police academy. And then the producers started writing up people in our ringing in saying it’s really funny when you make him angry. Keep asking him about Dracula. So I did. And we did that. And it was very uncomfortable. We got the end of the interview, and I was really relieved to survive. And at the end, I got up and went to shake hands with him and went around his side of the desk in the BBC studios. And I noticed to my horror that by accident, a second screen had been left switched on round his side. And he’d seen all of that stuff thing asked him more about Dracula. It’s funny when he gets him and he’d seen it all and he kept calm. But I did not sleep a wink that night because I just thought he’s gonna come for me in the night. I kept my window bolted at a steak by the bed because I get hungry and I’m scared and because I know he is dead, isn’t he but you never really know where that sort if they’re gonna come back,

John Ball
right? Yeah, there’s I’ve seen those hammer horror films and he always seems to come back somehow. Yeah, yeah. Right. So yeah, you mean you probably should never rest easy he might be Yeah, yeah, he might grant you eternal life.

Jeremy Nicholas
I mean, London scared of Coronavirus. I’m still more scared of Christopher Lee coming back, biting me in the neck for a bad interview I did about 20 years ago.

John Ball
But then nowadays I’m sure thing things are better now. And that’s it. That’s an amazing story. I think he was an incredible person, someone, I think, yes, I would love to love to admit him. That’s wonderful.

Jeremy Nicholas
He was in Star Wars and loads of things.

John Ball
Yeah. Oh, my goodness. Yeah. I think they CGI’d him into one of the recent ones. Right?

Jeremy Nicholas
Yeah, because he wasn’t available on account of been dead. That’s what they did.

John Ball
Well, yeah. Same with same, unfortunately, with Carrie Fisher, I think and I don’t think CGI is quite there enough yet to be fully convincing that, that it’s the real people there, but I’m sure we’re not too far off. Which, which is scary in itself? You know, you see all these deep fakes does when we can get people to say just about anything, I get the voice recorded and synthesised. And that’s pretty scary stuff.

Jeremy Nicholas
So what that illustrated there, when the line went down, is I just went to one of my signature stories. And I’ve got probably about 85 stories I could have done at that point. And actually started a story and realised it was very English centric, not much global appeal. And I said, Actually, this is a better one because everyone would have heard of Christopher Lee, whereas my other one was about a local radio station in whole. in the northeast of England, Ireland, it relies mainly on me doing a very, very accurate whole impression, because it’s one of the hardest accents to do. But then I realised actually, most people in the world just hear British you know, they don’t they can’t identify between the regional accents. Most people in the world there are two British accents. One is quite posh like this. And the other one’s a bit done the light issue I might call Blimey Gov cheeky Mary Poppins like that. And I was going to do whole northeast England, where they drink Coca Cola, and a glass of dry white wine that I bought for 999. And the subtleties in Yorkshire that could go down really well. But across the world, people just think it still just sounds like you’re doing the queen.

John Ball
Exactly. We don’t hear they don’t hear in English or British, British.

Jeremy Nicholas
Or British accent and I think, but there isn’t a British accent is that because there’s a Scottish accent. So different the English and the Welsh and Irish, Northern Irish, it’s just,

John Ball
It is interesting how people can’t hear accents. Because no times I’ve been asked if I was Scottish, or Welsh in other countries where people who just don’t recognise accents. But you know, I’m sure it’s just as much the case of I don’t hear distinct regional accents here in Spain, where I live as much as someone who is local can distinguish them and probably tell pretty quickly where someone comes from by the way that they speak. But I didn’t even live in Hull for several years as a kid, and I wouldn’t have known how to do a Hull accent. I was there for maybe two or three years as a child, and then we move south and it all went away. And now now I do speak a bit more BBC.

Jeremy Nicholas
I do always encourage speakers that I coach that wants to be funnier to do accents in stories. So because I’m sure you’d agree stories have a way better in presentations than loads of facts. Facts people forget stories they remember. And the key is, you’ve got to wrap a fact up in a story to make it memorable. So it’s like the fact is the cake. This the story around is the icing on the cake that makes you eat it, and then you remember it. And a great way to make people remember is to do a funny accent. And my top tip for accents is you need a keyword or phrase that gets you into that accent. So for me, Hull which is quite a difficult accent to do is Kurker Kurler instead of Coca Cola, and a glass of drah wahte wahne that I bought for nahn nahnty nahn because their i sound is ah and pretty much every accent I do I have a little phrase that gets me to so London would always be cor blimey guv’ner, you know, and straightaway, I think, right? Yeah, that’s right. But also the thing is, you don’t have to learn how to do the accent all the time, all you’ve got to do is learn to say whatever the person in your story says. So it might just be 10 words in a sentence. And you just learn that in that accent. So in my story, my whole story, it was all about the time I got ambushed live on air by a man with a machine gun. And the guy in the Hull accent says tayke me through to the studio now I’ve got a machine gun. So all I needed to do was learn that and now you really want to know that story. But I’m not going to tell it.

John Ball
But that’s interesting, because I mean I over my time, especially with entering people on my podcast, I’ve had mixed advice about doing accents in stories and some people say stay away from it, do it all in your own voice, but maybe it depends on the kind of thing you’re doing like for humour, I do think it’s important to get into characterization and I think that’s a really key part of being able to entertain and especially if you want to be humorous, and accents are a part of that. But I think some people worry of this sort of fine line. between being entertaining or even funny but towards being offensive At what point the trying to do so an accent become offensive and some people aren’t quite sure where the line is and just say, well just don’t do it because we don’t know where the line is.

Jeremy Nicholas
Yeah, so I think it’s you’ve certainly got to avoid racial stereotypes. And you know this, there’s some accents. I would say don’t don’t do a stereotypical person from a country that then reflects them in a bad way. But do get, you know, do an accent of somebody in, in the story that just makes them different to what you sound like. So then I did a show in South Africa, I do a show at the Edinburgh Fringe, which is a humorous Look, it’s a public speaking. It’s called What are you talking about? And I premiered it in Singapore. And then I did that just before I premiered it that I did a preview in Johannesburg, and I thought that’s a long way from the UK. If it’s rubbish, no one will probably get to hear about it. So that’s fine. I’ll try it all out. And I was built as being the 11th most famous BBC Jeremy and this is my 11th most famous BBC Jeremy off to Jeremy Paxman. Jeremy Clarkson, Jeremy vine, Jeremy Bowen, Jeremy ball, who’s the East Midlands, today social affairs correspondent I just put in because he’s a friend of mine. And I claimed I was number 11. And actually, I think I’m probably about number six. But 11 sounded better because it meant I could rant about being just outside the top 10. On the way into the show, I was greeting the audience’s that they were handing their tickets in just as a way of breaking down the barriers. I was welcomed on the way in. And this lady said to me, oh, you’re not the BBC Jeremy I thought you’re going to be? And I said, Oh, sorry, which one were you expecting? Now, I can’t remember his name, but he’s not you. And I said, Oh, I’m sorry about that. How do you know he’s not me? And she said, No, I know what he looks like. And he’s tall and good looking. And so that was nice, isn’t it? Then of course, you want to go Ah, straightaway, I had to mention that. And I say I’m really sorry. You’ve got the short, ugly one. And then, in the Edinburgh show itself, I thought I want to do that story about the preview in the South African lady who said, you know, the BBC, Jeremy, I thought you’re going to be but one of my other stories also has a South African accent in which was about the time I was presenting on how to use humour in business in 2010 Emperor’s Palace in Johannesburg. And I split my trousers just for I went on. And the whole kerfuffle about this. And then I eventually told the audience what happened. And at the end, I said, Are there any questions and this big Afrikaner guy stood up and said, Now, tell me this? Do you always wear those trousers for this talk? Like I packed a pair of comedy trousers, and I thought it seems a bit of shame to have two South African accents in it. So in the Edinburgh show, I made the woman Welsh. And I said that it took place in Cardiff. And she said, Oh, you’re not the BBC. Jeremy, I thought you were going to be and that’s fine. You know, I don’t feel like I like it still works. And does that. Does anyone think? Really? I heard an earlier version. And it was in Johannesburg. Yeah, it was. But I just thought, show your full range. Jeremy. I mean, how many people can do South African and Welsh? Yay, bound to get and it’s going to be worth another extra star on your review. It wasn’t three. I did get four stars from the wee review, which is one of the… but to me, it sounds like a review of going to the loo. But it’s got the wee review. Scottish. Wee means little in Scottish.

John Ball
Yeah, I think I think there are some websites that actually do that as well, those kinds of things. let’s not go there. But what you see things showing them that that’s a pretty major thing. And I think for anyone who does that is it is not a little bit terrifying at first before you actually go out there and do it.

Jeremy Nicholas
Yeah, it is. The more terrifying than doing it is getting an audience because it’s the largest Arts Festival in the world. It’s the whole of August, and all the top comedians in the world go there. So why would anyone come and see me when they can see people they know off the TV, famous international artists. So I always try and make my show. It’s about speaking and communication. And incidentally, it’s funny, rather than it’ll be the funniest show you’ll ever see. Because, for example, I never swear. And you know, most comedians would swear. And so people would expect that and they’ve almost get they get so desensitised that if you don’t put a swear word in on the punch line, they don’t even know it’s a punch line, because oh, it can’t be because he didn’t use the F word. I don’t ever use the F word. So I that’s how I distinguished it from I said, well, it’s more about storytelling and communicating and how to engage your audience, but instantly, there’ll be some funny stuff. And so I think if you’re ever trying to get paid for speaking you have to have a real niche and you have to go really deep with that niche. Should not, you know? So if you say you talk about presentation skills, well, you know, lots of people do that. So you’ve really got targeted, you specialise in how to make accountancy interesting or you target you know, a niche, like lawyers or something, or my big thing is adding humour. And like you say most people shy away from it, don’t they think? No, I don’t want to do that. And the reason people steer away from humour is they don’t offend people. Well, my message is, don’t be offensive, don’t swear. And I never say anything racist, sexist, homophobic, anything that’s going to make anyone in the audience feel threatened. And also, if it was on the front page of a newspaper that I said this, would I mind? And if someone told my mom, I said it, would I mind, those are my things, and we get through all of those it’s in. And it does help that I’m not racist, sexist, or homophobic. Whereas I think a lot of people are and they think, well, I shouldn’t really say that. But I for me, I don’t even think it’s so fair, that’s fine. And then some people don’t don’t YouTube, is they’re worried they’re going to lose their credibility. I was is that something that you would think that what better not do that because people might not then Believe me,

John Ball
I wouldn’t, I would just go for it. But I know when I when can people is like, especially in things like my Toastmasters club and things like that, where people want to try and be a bit more engaging and funny. And they’re more scared of that sometimes, then of actually just getting up and doing the speeches, which often for many people is terrifying enough, just getting up in front of a bunch of people and opening your mouth is, is one of the hardest parts, but trying to be funny or trying to get people to laugh on top of that. But I think that is kind of the issue of it’s like, well, you the whole time, if you start telling yourself, I have to try and get people to laugh. And you already kind of telling yourself you can’t do it. And I do think there are people who just think they can’t be funny, or that people are just going to think that they’re wasting their time or that they not just won’t take them, like by being funny people won’t take you seriously.

Jeremy Nicholas
Yeah, so I think the important thing, I run a group programme for speakers called talking funny for speakers. And the whole message of that group, we have an online call once a week. And they’re always trying to be out comedians at the start. And by the end, they’ve got the hang of it. No, you’re still being a speaker. It is I talk about that icing on the cake. It’s just the icing on the cake. Your main message is not to get lost, your main message is how to be more creative in workshops, or whatever you’re talking about. And then all the human stuff is is to keep them interested. It’s just little bits to keep them hanging on. And so this, we start off by saying jokes are bad idea stories are a good idea. Because if I do a joke, if I say here’s a funny thing, instantly, it puts pressure on you. Because you think well maybe I don’t find it funny. Then you might think well, maybe I’m not I don’t get it. And or you might have heard it before. So instantly, there’s loads of pressure being put on you as soon as I say here’s the funny thing was if I just do my normal stuff, and then just do a quirky line at the end of it. If you get it, then you’ll love it. If you don’t you don’t know that you’ve missed anything. Whereas if you do dare to dare to do a man walks into a pub, dah dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah. And people do this kind of jazz hands that are if anyone what are you doing that for so so don’t look as though you’re trying too hard look as though it just effortlessly something has occurred to you. And that’s what I’ll do with ad-lib lines. I’ll do them as though they’ve just occurred to me, even if they haven’t, even if I had lived them three years ago, but it got a good reaction. I’ll store it away and do it again. Now a lot of my stuff actually is stream of consciousness stuff that just comes while I’m talking. But just in case it isn’t. I’ve always got some backup things like that. But particularly I find with English speaking audiences across the world. If you look like you’re trying too hard, and you look like you’re steering them towards a carefully crafted scripted, funny line, they almost fold their arms and think oh, and instead of getting a laugh, you get a groan. And you don’t want to grow in because the overgrown does is leads to more groans whereas laughs will lead to more. So you’ve just got to look like it’s occurring to people love it if you’re naturally witty, but if you look like you’re scripted and clever, they’ll think oh, you fancy yourself a bit. Right? It’s a weird reaction is you’ve got to look like you’re making it up even if you’re not. Right.

John Ball
And this is one of the things we’ve talked about performance or about, about improv and spontaneity of this thing of people think that sometimes thing even especially with comedians that you just get up on stage and do it and, and yeah, it’s not it’s like you’ve got a whole pool of resources because of your experience because you’ve been in that mindset, your practice with thinking that way and you know, probably got things you can pull on that they could do this, or I could do it like that. And so it’s not all sort of just come up with it on the spur of the moment is like, well, to a degree, it’s that but it’s from all these, all this pool of resources that is specifically for that, because you’ve practised it, and you know what you’re doing it, whereas some people who and this is probably the thing for people who just try and prepare a whole speech, whether it’s funny or not have it all scripted out, ends up just sounding like they’re reading it, which nobody wants to listen to, as well. So you know, that gets very interesting. In fact, I’ve even worked in the past with, like, professional coaches. So I work in the coaching industry as well, who do coaching sessions than just kind of reading from the script, reading questions from the script. That’s really horrible for me, some like me, and that’s really horrible as well, because it kind of says, You’re not really listening, you’re not thinking about what the right what’s the right question to ask next? Or what should you just following a formula following a script of what you think of what you’ve been told to say in coaching sessions, rather than any kind of intuition as to what should come next? And I think that is something you develop an intuition for what works and what doesn’t work, what feels natural, and but I think you have to have that sort of responsiveness to, to whoever you’re working with.

Jeremy Nicholas
Hmm, yeah. So I’m, I’m a great believer in going in with a set amount of stuff, so that I know if I think of nothing during my routine, I will stick to my set amount. So let’s say it’s a 30-minute talk, I will go in perhaps with six five minute chunks, and each chunk might be a story with a message. Now, if something happens at the event, and I think I could riff on what a previous speaker said, or I can have some fun with someone in the audience, I will then think right, all I’ve got to do is lose one of those five-minute chunks, and it completely comes out. It’s like a razor blade, razor blade, lift it out, completely squeezed in an ad-lib to fill up it. Rather than what I see some people do is they’ll go in with 30 minutes, then something will happen. They’ll have a laugh and a joke about that. And then they’ll either overrun or they’ll speed up and speak very quickly. And think no, so you’ve got to have whole chunks that you can take out to keep you on time. If you want to do any ad-libbing stuff and sort of ad-libbing stuff I like is finding the connection between two things that don’t appear to be very connected. There’s loads of humour in that. So you’ll see a lot of comedians, for example, that will be from one country, and they’ll be speaking in another country. And they’ll talk about the differences between where they’re from and where they are now. So for example, I was speaking in South Africa, and in South Africa, they called traffic lights, robots. Okay, so you can instantly see there could be quite a lot of things. So a woman did say to me, I asked for directions. She said, Now you got the street there till you come to this giant robot. And then you turn right. And I’m thinking of if there’s a giant robot up there, there’s no way that we’re different between things. And that is something that really did happen once a giant robot and obviously, I said, What are you talking about, you know, that’s what we call traffic lags. And then the connection between working someone came to me the other day, and they wanted some human adding to a presentation. So I, I do a programme with international speakers. It’s called tickle my keynote, where they come along with their talk, and they just say, Can you put some funny lines in? So tickle my keynotes? My mastermind group kept telling me it should be called tickle your keynote, because I was offering it but I said no, like tickle my keynote better. It sounds more mischievous. And I imagine people ringing me up and I go, hello, tickle my keynote. And they go, and you tickle my keynote. So yeah, it’s definitely my Anyway, what was the point of this? Oh, yeah. So I was working with someone the other day. And she, it was a talk for a convention. That was people in the art world art dealers, painters, publicists for art. And the whole thing was that there’s a lot of money laundering had been going on through the arts business. And so it was a talk on how to keep legal and how to keep the criminals out of art. So I’ve just got a paper here. So just on a pad like that, I would draw remember Venn diagrams from school? Huh? Oh, yes, we see. Draw those two circles, like that.

John Ball
love a good Venn diagram?

Jeremy Nicholas
Yeah. Okay. So let’s call one of them art, and one of them crime. And I’m going to try this on you now. So I want you to think of something that goes in that middle one that connects art with crime. That might be funny. So it might just be a phrase or word or concept. What links art with crime. Okay, now, I realised that I’m being a bit lean on you there, so I’m going to help you out. So can you think of something that you would do with a painting that you might also do to a criminal? criminal that hadn’t actually done it? that someone had put them up?

John Ball
Frames?

Jeremy Nicholas
Yeah. So painting gets framed, and so good. criminal. So frames, let’s put that in there. That’s a good one. And the other one is, can you think of what you do to a painting that you might also do to a murderer? Except we don’t do it anymore in the UK, but we used to,

John Ball
Would this be Pretti Patel’s favourite, hang, hanging,

Jeremy Nicholas
hanging, yeah, you hang a painting on the wall, and we used to hang murderers, but now we don’t just put them in prison for a long time. So yeah, frame framing and hanging are both things that will go with art and with crime. And from that, I would then build some funny lines, saying, at least we don’t hang them anymore and make your comedy genius except they wouldn’t do it to me, they do it to the person I was coaching. They’ve done it. And actually a lot of people I coach say they feel guilty when they get a laugh, and it’s the joke I’d help them with. And I go, but that’s, you know, politicians pay speechwriters don’t these are why would anyone feel guilty about that? Or I’ve got some people I’ve coached that feel bad when they naturally come up with a line. And then the next day they use it again, a different event. And they say I feel a bit like I’ve cheated it because, you know, I didn’t think of it. Yes, you did you sort of yesterday. I know but it wasn’t natural. What I remember, when I used to have a radio show, I used to interview loads of comedians. And I actually did a series for ITV where I visited comedy clubs to do TV reports on comedy clubs, I interviewed a guy called Phil Jupiters, who actually became a good friend of mine because he supports my football team Westham. And I said to Phil Jupitus. So I saw you 220 minutes at the Comedy Store last night, how much of that will be the same as the previous night? And the night before that? And he said, all of it. It’s exactly the same. And it really so I said, but it just looks like you’re just chatting about Yeah, that’s the secret. He said, If I’m touring, and I’m perhaps doing you know, over 100 shows a year, why would I think of a different 20 minutes each night, I haven’t got time to do that. He said, so we spend ages honing it down to that good, tight, 20 minutes, and then deliberate, deliberate, deliberate, perhaps for a year and then write a whole new set, you know, in the quiet summer months. And I think if you as a speaker, if you think of something funny that goes in, to think so it might be about framing or hanging in an art crime talk, every time you do the art, crime, talk framing and hanging goes in. Because, you know, when I and when I started speaking, I used to feel a bit guilty about that, because my background was radio. And every day you do a new radio show. And you’d have the same listeners. And they would think well, he did that on Monday. But when you’re speaking at an event, you have different listeners every time. So your best bits, do them again and again. And again. And as speakers we always want to do on new exciting stuff that we just thought of and the stuff that we’ve been doing for years, we’re not excited by but you know, if you went see Queen and concert at Wembley Stadium, and they didn’t do Bohemian Rhapsody, and we will rock you, and we are the champions. They just did stuff off their new album. You’d be disappointed, wouldn’t you? So yeah, I think every talk has got to have your greatest hits in plus some stuff off the new album. But don’t just do the new stuff. You know, because the stuff that you’re bored with, if people haven’t heard it before, that’s probably the best stuff.

John Ball
Yeah, it’s really important to understand that as well. I think if you if you never if you only ever do new material in with the speaker, comedian, or whatever, if you any of the new stuff, you’re never really going to have polished material. So so you might get better at delivering improv delivering on the spur of the moment. But you’re never going to have anything that’s really, really polished. And that’s one of the things you probably do really need. And to stand out and excel in, in the industry is to practice well enough to have stuff that’s really polished. And I’ve seen this going to public speaking practice groups maybe actually sets you up to have that idea of is always new, it should always be something new and different. And there are very few occasions where someone will come along deliver the same speech again. And it’s only really I think, in competition level where people will do that, and they’ll do so up to a certain level. And then I think in the final levels of the competition, they have to bring in a new one. But when I’ve seen people in my own speaking club, practice their speeches and deliver them several times, you actually do see qualitative levels of improvement in how they deliver it, that it to a point where after time, it almost feels like a different speech to the first one, even though it’s the same material, it’s the same content. It’s well practised enough to be delivered more effortlessly, much more naturally, it flows better and not having to take those moments to think about what you’re supposed to be saying next or anything like that. And so I think that that’s a really powerful point. You know, if this is one of the tools they’re using in the music industry to introduce new songs that they want to be hit, they’ll play them in between some of the most popular songs, something you’re already very familiar with. And so that it doesn’t feel like it’s such a new thing for you, it’s got placed in, in the middle of all this familiarity. And that that is very unlikely to notice that unless you know that that’s the strategy that gets used. But you suggesting something similar when it comes to speaking, right?

Jeremy Nicholas
Yes, I think so. And I’ve been to speaking clubs, I used to go to the Toastmasters in Twickenham in southwest London where I live. And I enjoyed the humorous speaking contest. But there was there seemed to be very much a structure and formula and a right and wrong way of doing it. And I always think, a breakout from all of that. I would often in the feedback sessions like oh, yeah, this, you do this wrong, and you do that wrong. And then at the end of the night, I’d win Best speaker and I think, okay, so I think you have to break rules. If you think of, in comedy, someone like Steve Martin, who does it ever does it? These structures, brilliant, he does everything by the book. And he’s very widely regarded. But someone like Robin Williams, who’s just too was just a wild card, just did it off the top of his head was much more likeable, and lovable and funnier, because he was spontaneous. You didn’t know where it was going. So I do think it’s good to learn all those rules that speaking clubs teach you, and then to completely disregard them and go your own way. And if you are in a contest, people might go Yeah, they’ve actually done it but it’s almost on the judges scorecard. They wouldn’t get as many points beef. It’s, what is it like it’s like in ice dancing Torvill and Dean ice dancing at the Olympics, where there’s one way it’s like technical. And so you wouldn’t score very highly on that. But like star quality, you’d score very high artistic reputation, something like that. So I do think learn all the rules, but then don’t be afraid to break every single one. Because the rules are great. And it gives you a great structural that Toastmaster stuff, great structure. But then why would you want to live in a structure? You know, because particularly if I’m speaking a conference, I want to be different to everybody else. And if everyone’s learned the same way, then I don’t get much better with practice. But what I think I am better at is being able to be slightly different. And so that’s I think that’s what I encourage humorous people to be slightly different. But the big thing with speaking and humour is you have to keep your status. You have to make sure that you’re a wit high status, not a clown, low status, and the difference being that you laugh with a wit and you laugh at a clap. And that’s, you know, you don’t if you clown about you know, you do funny faces and voices and fall about and swear, people will love but they’ll be laughing at you. And then at the end when you deliver your final message. We want them to do something or some behavioural change, buy something, sign up for something when you get your big message. If you’ve clowned about, they’ll go Oh, it’s the funny one. You know, and they won’t believe you as much as keep your status. Wit, not a clown laugh with no.

John Ball
Yeah, but that’s important. I mean, I have often said that you have to as a speaker, as a presenter, you have to be prepared to go wherever you need to go to, to engage and entertain your audience. But there but what you’re saying is that there is actually a limit to that is if they start laughing at you, you kind of lost them to some degree definitely don’t you don’t want that and you want to be, you don’t want to be the joke. And you want to want to make sure that the jokes are off from you that people are laughing with you, which is no a good principle in life in general, not just on the stage, right is that we don’t really generally want to be that person who’s just foot tripped over in a field and landed face first. And the cow pattern has been laughing at them. It’s the humiliation side, we can do it. But I think, what if you accidentally find yourself back and you come back from that?

Jeremy Nicholas
Yeah, so I’ve seen I saw a speaker once that there was a stage that was four blocks, and he was moving around quite vigorously and the two blocks, it’s come slightly apart. And he’s foot went down between the two blocks of the stage. And everyone just laughed, and I thought, how’s he going to recover from this? And he said, Sorry about this. It’s just a stage I’m going through. And I thought, well, that’s genius. And then afterwards, I had a chat with him. And he said that the other one that he’d been thinking about was I will now take questions from the floor, which is quite good. You know, that’s impressive when I can do that. So don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself. I mean, I’m if ever I’m in trouble and when I’m in trouble, it means I’m not getting the laughs I think I should have, then I will be self-deprecating. One of my clients that work at mine keeps saying self-depreciating. And it’s got to the point where I should have said it early on in in the coaching Now reaching out because you’ve been saying it for quite a few weeks, self depreciating is a guaranteed way to get a laugh at yourself. So for example, if I’m speaking in America, or Germany, I don’t want to make jokes about Americans or Germans, because they’ll hate me. So, if I’m in Germany, I’ll say, oh, in London, we do this and talk about the ridiculous things that we do in London. And they will laugh because they’re high in London now silly. And also, he seems like quite a nice bloke because he can joke about himself. My Germans not quite as good as my South African world. But do you see the point if you don’t, you don’t want to be attacking people, because then they don’t want to come over here. Having a go. So remember, an American speaker once came to a conference I was at. And he thought it would be a good idea for his walk-on music to be God Save the Queen, which is our national anthem. Okay, God save our gracious Queen long move on Oh, but when he walked onto that, and he’s, he’s thinking was everyone would stand up because national anthem, I’m able to have a video saying are brilliant, I got a standing ovation. I haven’t even said anything yet. But actually, the audience which was European, but about 90%, British just sat down thinking, What’s he doing coming on to our anthem, you can’t do that. Like, that’s our team, you know, and so everyone just folded their arms and day, a little bit flustered. And then he started talking about how he loves the royal family. And in fact, he really fancied princess Kate. And what we’d like, and we were like, don’t come over here, mate, making jokes about our Germans, which is, you know, like, what we talk about the royal family because of the German heritage, and a few other people’s died putting on Twitter. Anyway, she’s not a princess, she’s a Duchess, which is such a British thing. It’s like, they’ll expect anything but not fake, you know.

John Ball
Some things you just shouldn’t mess with

Jeremy Nicholas
And that is chiming into the sense of humour of wherever you are. So don’t look as though you know, people in the UK will make jokes about the royal family all the time. Because we feel like we’ve paid our taxes for them. We can joke about them. And also, you know, I love the queen, but otherwise, I’d make a joke about it, because that’s what we do. But what we don’t want is an outsider coming to have a go our queen, then it’s like, oh, no, no, we’re allowed to do it. But you’re not.

John Ball
Yeah, you get very and then kind of thing. So you have to get on side with the audience. You’re reminding me when you’re talking about a speaker, one time, an American speaker who came to present in the UK when I was still based there doing event work and stuff and started off his speech to a large auditorium of people a thing, I want to start with a prayer to God forms No, over half the room just right then and there. That maybe wasn’t a good way to start. Like, that’s a really good way to misjudge your audience. But in the US, I don’t think anyone would bat an eyelid if somebody wanted to start. So it was like a personal development seminar. If someone wanted to start like that, you would assume that most of the people have some sort of God belief but in the UK event, didn’t go down very well at all. You really have to know your audience and get on fire with them.

Jeremy Nicholas
Yeah, you do. You have to really, that you have to research the biggest thing I think beforehand is researching who your audience are, what they know, what they need to know. And also what works with them and what you must definitely avoid. You know, I speak a lot in the Middle East and there are things that I’d say in the UK I definitely wouldn’t say in the Middle East. And I like you with the Christianity thing with American speakers. It’s they just think it’s fine. Even when I’ve said to some of them, I don’t think you should do that in the UK. Oh, no, it’s fine. We do it all the time back home. Yeah, I just wouldn’t do it in the UK. But they’ll still feel like it’s not up to you, Jeremy to decide. But my God, so they’ll do it and it will die. And they go Yeah, I shouldn’t have done that. You know, well, so that’s why whenever I go to a country I’m not familiar with I’ll say to people, is there anything I should know about here? You know, and it might just be something like hands gestures might mean something completely different. In-country, like, like, for example, in Japan, you know, that you, you bow your head when you greet someone like that. But I see a lot of people when this greeting Japanese people instead of banging their head like that, they’ll kind of go down like that, but still look up at them with their eyes, which is, you know, you have to the whole point is showing you’re lowering your eyes not it’s not anything to do with your hair. But if your eyes aren’t like that, well then it’s just the culture you have to be aware of there was one American speaker that I did take the Mickey out of once on stage because something he’d said, in front of the audience, Jeremy, I think you’re in danger of being a little bit patronising (*pay sound). And I said, Oh, we say, patronising (*pat sound).

John Ball
Which you do know that means talking down to people. Yeah, there are some good ways to handle that. Yeah. is one important thing is as people who want to be a bit funny in their presentations, is there anyone who may be should avoid it? Maybe it’s like, Okay, this isn’t gonna work for you.

Jeremy Nicholas
Yeah, well, if you’re not funny at all, and in your real life, no one has ever laughed at anything you said, then probably don’t do it. But how many people is that? You know, most people will get a smile at some. So I think to try it. If it’s not for you, then don’t, don’t do it. I like to give people a toolbox of things that can make them better speakers. And one of the tools is like a rapier wit. Think of it as like that, right? Try that. Oh, yeah, you’re, you need to use that a lot. And somebody else will say you could use it a bit, you could use it sparingly, you don’t touch it, because you’re going to cut your fingers on that rapier wit. So but I’d say there’s only about 10% of people that that should completely avoid humour. It’s the same way with an audience, I always think there’s 10% of an audience that will laugh freely at anything and 10% that won’t laugh at anything at all. And it’s the other 80% in the middle, you’ve got to persuade some people off really easily now the 80% in the middle, they, maybe 40% of them will laugh if somebody else laughs But someone else needs to start it’s like a snowball and needs to start rolling down the hill. And I’m probably in that 40% that will laugh but only if somebody else’s laugh first, I don’t want to be the first one to laugh. So they’re like little, it’s like a barbecue. If you think they’re little firelighters, they’re the 10% of easy laughter. And as soon as they catch light, then then the coals around them will catch fire. That’s why you want your audience close in it sitting next to each other, you don’t want the spread around on big tables in a massive room and they’re all at the back. because it’d be like a barbecue where the coals have been spread out too early in the heat disappears and you need heat. That’s why you need a low ceiling, comedy clubs, low ceilings, dark, bright lights on the stage. So that’s really focused, trying to do comedy outdoors, you know, you know, open-air festival, all of the sound goes up like that, rather than going sideways and infecting your neighbours. And then you’ve got the other 40% that will only have a smile probably and then 10% won’t laugh at all. And so ideally, I want if I’ve got an audience of 100, then I want a couple in the front row, they’re gonna laugh and spread, you know that. Obviously, you don’t know who they are. But as soon as somebody in your audience laughs focus more stuff on them. And it’s a bit like throwing parafin on the flame. Getting that ignited good, that bits going over there. Now there’s someone over there law, focus a bit over there at them, and then someone over there focused on that. And then you got these little flames and gradually, the whole thing will catch light apart from the 10% they will always sit there. You know, like, I know what is going on? I don’t quite get it, but everyone else is laughing. So I’ll just smile.

John Ball
Yeah, as an MSP, I’ve never really considered the sort of potential effects of, of the environment that you deliver humour in or the logistics of delivery and in terms of how funny makes things? And yeah, it’s, it makes sense that that would be important. It’s a great thing to consider. Which, which is why I like to have conversations with people like yourself who have expertise in these areas and a great experience to share. And so you’ve already mentioned that you teach a lot of this to people, you help people with their presentations, you help people to be funnier with their own delivery. And so if there’s anyone watching this live or the replay, and if we’ve got anyone live at the moment, but if they’re not watching the replay, and who wants to find out more about how they can come and work with you and be funnier in their presentations, how can they do that? Yeah,

Jeremy Nicholas
so my website is Jeremy nicklaus.co.uk. And I have sort of three levels that I work with people. There’s my entry-level, which is my group programme, which is a six-week programme and you get to watch 12 five minute videos on how to be funnier and it’s techniques, skills, things to avoid things to watch out for. Definite guaranteed ways to get a laugh structures that you can use, like doing three things. You know how in speaking speakers always do three things. In comedy speaking, we do normal thing, normal thing, weird thing, or big, big, small, global, global-local. So there are three things but the third one is weird. And it sets up that pattern like three people going to a pub and one does something. The second one does something similar. The third one does something completely different. So set up reinforced sub that, that so that’s one five minute video will be on that and there’s 12 of those with little structures for guaranteed loss and then the six live zoom calls across six weeks, and then there’s an online mastermind group where people put their homework and everyone else comments on it, and we do it limited to eight people, time can sign up for it. And I’ve done that four times in lockdown, there’s a new one starting in January. If anyone wants to do that, that’s the entry-level one, that’s the group one because obviously, I can do eight people in one go. So it’s much cheaper. The second one is one to one coaching, where you might have a particular talk coming up. And you might need, say, three zoom sessions to get that into a funny way. Or you might just want to learn some techniques and one on one stuff. So I’ve done that a lot with people, I’ve got best man speech, or Father of the Bride speech, or a bride speech, or mother of whatever. Or I’ve done it with people delivering eulogies at funerals because often they want to make those quite humorous. And then a lot of it just boring chief executives that know they’re boring, and they think someone says, I should come to you, Jeremy, you’ll make this funny. And I go, Yes, I will. Though, those just online zoom things. And then the most expensive thing is taking my keynote, which is like the others except I’ll actually write the funny lines for you. Rather than coaching you on how to find the funny, I’ll actually write them for you. And obviously, that’s why it’s more expensive because you can then go away and for the next 10 years use those lines. I’ve only been paid once. Yeah. So yeah. Jeremy nicholas.co.uk, don’t go to the dot.com, because that’s an actor.

John Ball
So you, you probably won’t get the same level of quality on your help with your speeches. If you go to the .com instead of the co.uk. So definitely come and work with you. And I like that you built in your residuals to your highest ticket item, it makes a lot of sense. Yeah.

Jeremy Nicholas
Well, I’ve, I’ve been to so many speaking events over the years that I know all the tricks like you’re gonna have three levels, and the premium ones gonna be so expensive that everyone actually goes for the second one. If you didn’t have the third one, they always go for the first one. But actually, No, mine is group, then there’s one to one. And then there’s do it for you. Because I’ve done a lot of work with companies on how to be a good conference emcee, you know, and I’ll train all the people on how to be a good conference MC. And you know what mainly happens from that. At the end of it, they’ll go actually, could you just be our emcee? And I’ll say, Yes, I can. So I’m a great believer in that in a show. That looks really hard. Could you just do it for me? And it’s the same way with tickle my keynote. Okay. Yeah, I like the idea being funny, but I just don’t, I’ve never had a funny thought in my life. All right, well, I can do 22. So we’re taking my keynote, what happens is, I have a three-hour session with them, where they’ll deliver their stuff, or I’ll watch it on video or whatever. And we’ll talk about things like that art crime thing, finding the things that are different, or other, and then I’ll go away for a week and then I’ll come back and I’ll have written 20 lines, exactly. 25 lines. And then I’ll spend an hour with them on zoom saying which these like, this is how you deliver it. Try that one? Yeah. Okay. Now I’ve tried putting an emphasis on this word. Yeah, no, that’s not working. So it’s, it’s a little bit bespoke. But that you know that what you’re paying for is that bit in the middle where I go away and come up with 20 things which will come to me mainly when I’m walking in Richmond Park with the dog, or I’m singing in the shower, or I’m driving somewhere if we’re allowed to drive at the moment. You know, and that’s, most people think when they try to write funny lines, they sit down a laptop thing. And then they wonder why they come up with stuff that just sounds like a joke that they would be booking.

John Ball
So yeah, I think we’re still in the UK still allowed to drive to Barnard castle.

Jeremy Nicholas
Yeah, you can if you have an opticians appointment.

John Ball
So yeah, I had hoped to actually come on one of your courses recently I ended up having to move out but not having to end up moving out of my previous apartment and got a bit waylaid with all of that. So hopefully, we’ll be coming in joining myself in in January. That’s my plan. Because I think there’s a lot to learn from you. And I’ve learned a lot just from this from our chat today. And as Xena couldn’t have had a better guest for today’s show, because I think most people had had I dropped off sort of five minutes into the presentation with the internet knockout what might have struggled to carry it on. Whereas you just started telling everyone a story which is wonderful. And that makes you the ideal guest have on my first ever live version of the show. And let me just before we do close things off for today, are there any final words or thoughts you’d like to leave everyone with?

Jeremy Nicholas
I think only use humour if you like it don’t feel there’s a thing to know why in the speaking world people have this idea. Or you should always start with a joke. I don’t know whoever said that. But that’s bonkers. Don’t and don’t do jokes do stories because jokes put pressure on so don’t start with a joke just do a funny line that the check-in and then if they like it great if they don’t find that that for me is my big. My big things are jokes. No Stories, yes, wit knots clown. And probably the biggest thing and I haven’t mentioned this at all. The biggest thing is if you say something funny, pause, and let them laugh because I’ll see so many speakers that will say something funny, and then they’ll carry straight on and the audience starts laughing. And then they go, Oh, hang on, I’m missing the next bit. So they stop. And then the next time, they won’t laugh at all, because they’re worried that you’re gonna miss the next bit. So that’s my big takeaway. Get to the funny bit, Stop, wait. And sometimes you’ll have to wait maybe two minutes before they laugh, but they will. If you just stand there quietly for two minutes. They’ll laugh eventually. And so what I used to do early on when I didn’t really know if I was funny, is I would just have a drink. And I’d say dare to do that. But I’d wait. And then they go. I think he said something funny. Oh, yeah, that is quite funny. And then they’d start laughing. So water, I think people would think Crikey, he must be diabetic or something. He’s drinking water. But it was literally no. And what I’m doing is I’m waiting for you to laugh without looking like I’m waiting for you to off yet. So the pause does two things. One is it gives them time to laugh. And one is that gives them permission to laugh and kind of hints that I think I might have said something funny.

John Ball
And also hydrates you Yeah. Even better when you’re present too much.

Jeremy Nicholas
Otherwise, if you’re doing a long set you might need to pee.

John Ball
Yeah, that’s probably not such a good idea. If you end up having to rush off and hold it in whilst you’re presenting great words of wisdom and advice and has been a real delight having you as a guest today. My apologies for the technical issues. I’m going to probably can find somebody to pin that all on and say something very delightful to them about. Why did the internet cut out partway through my cool but Jeremy Nicholas, thank you so much for coming and being my guest today? On my first ever live show of speaking of influence. Next week, my guest will be the amazingly talented speaker and presenter Shola Kaye, she is she’s a TEDx speaker. She is a former singer is a very talented lady. And we’re talking about things like emotional intelligence about her experiences doing a TEDx talk and things like that. So not a live show next time but definitely one you won’t want to miss. So see you next time for speaking of influence.

Jeremy Nicholas
Thanks very much, goodbye.

John Ball
Before you go Remember to like and subscribe and if you’re on Apple podcast, leave us a review it really helps with the show. Also why not pick up a copy of my new ebook the five key beliefs of bulletproof business speakers available from my website present influence.com if you want to get in touch if you’re interested in working with me or finding out about any of my courses or trainings, or having me come and speak for one of your events or to your company or organisation. Email me john@presentinfluence.com if you’d like to be a guest on the show, or maybe you want me to be a guest on your show, visit matchmaker.fm its a site that connects podcasters with hosts and vice versa. And you will find me and the speaking of influence podcast on there. I look forward to seeing you again next time for another episode of speaking of influence.