This week’s Misfit Entrepreneur is Thom Singer. Thom is the host of the Cool Things Entrepreneurs Do Podcast, a renowned professional keynote speaker, and MC, and is a 12-time author of books on everything from business relationships to presentation skills.
Thom is one of only a few in the world, who is a certified speaking professional or CSP. He has spoken to audiences such as Fortune 500 companies, global organizations, and everything in-between and has presented to over 600 audiences in his career.
As Thom says, “in today’s distracted business environment, there is a disconnect between social media likes, links, shares, and follows – and real meaningful business connections. My work centers around helping people get back to the basics of relationships that lead to better opportunities, more sales, and realizing their true potential.” The ability to speak clearly, effectively, and deliver a message is one of the most important skills you can have in life and I’ve brought Thom on today to give you his best advice on how to set yourself up for success.
Thom spent over 20 years in corporate America working for Fortune 500 companies, law firms, and even startup ventures doing sales, marketing, and business development. As he says, he always felt like his ladder was against the wrong wall. He did well, but he felt something was missing. Thom would go to different conferences and see speakers and started to see an opportunity for himself. Thom joined Toastmasters and had a knack for things. He even placed in the Top 18 in the world for their global speaking contest (out of 20,000).
He started using his speaking ability to create educational forums and classes for the law firm he worked for at the time. Thom loved teaching through speaking and started travel doing his speaking and teachings. It was during the 2008 downturn that he made his move and now is a full time speaker and MC and is much happier having his “ladder against the right wall.”
How does someone overcome the fear of public speaking?
- Learning to clearly communicate is one of the greatest things you can do for your career
- One of the best ways to overcome fear is to join Toastmasters which will give a warm environment to practice and get better. It will also give you confidence.
- You must practice – it takes many professional speeches to make it “2nd nature” and to feel comfortable with all of the twists and turns that can happen while on stage. The magic number is 300 speeches.
- You don’t have to prove you are the smartest one in the room. If you are speaking, the audience is on your side and wants you to do well. You automatically have the credibility.
- You cannot under any circumstances “wing it.”
One other tip…
Create “Speaker’s College” in your mind. It’s free to enroll. Every time you see anyone give a speech, remind yourself that they are the professor and you are the student. Watch for what you like, what you don’t – figure out what resonates and learn from them. Ultimately, you will do in your own way, but it will help you figure out what your style is. And then every time you give a speech, your goal is to get a little bit better. And…SMILE!
At the 18 min mark, Thom talks about what makes a great speech?
There is no “true outline”
- A speaker is not a commodity item, everyone is unique
- A great speech has to do with how you tell a story
- The human brain is wired for story
- It has to be a unique story – something you have experienced or someone you know has experienced
- Don’t tell “canned” stories that other speakers are telling
- You need to tell stories that relate to your experiences and tie them back to usable content and tell it in a way that inspires – you will win over your audience.
Speaking Do’s and Don’ts?
- Don’t get up and recite your own bio just after the MC or announcer gave your bio!
- You are already established as an expert.
- The most valuable real estate is the first 3-5 minutes. You only have a short time in which people will make a decision about you. Don’t waste it.
- Instead, have a story that makes a point of where you are going to take them…
- Think of this like your “opening ceremony” where everybody watches and then goes their separate ways – that is your first 3-5 mins.
- The same thing is true for your “closing ceremony” – your last 3-5 mins must be spectacular as well.
Great speakers to study and learn from?
- Politicians are one group (whether you like them or not you can learn)
- Ronald Reagan was a great storyteller
- Bill Clinton was very captivating
- “Candidate” Barrack Obama was mesmerizing and captivating
- Sarah Palin knows how to give a presentation (Thom uses the teleprompter example of it failing and her continuing on without fail just riffing)
- Mark Scharenbroich author of “Nice Bike”
- He is a legend in the speaking business and weaves story in better than anyone
What advice do you have for speakers on how to get clients and engagements?
- If you want to have a career as a speaker, you need to hang out with other speakers. How many speaker friends do you have?
- Joining speaker groups or associations and networking is important
- You have to be really good on stage. You have to care about the craft and giving the audience an experience.
- Realize that you are taking the audience on a journey
- If you can do the above, you’ll get offers to speak – word of mouth is one of, if not the best ways to get engagements.
- Don’t be afraid to speak for free before you speak for a fee. It helps you hone the craft
At the 40 min mark, Thom talks about his biggest challenge as an entrepreneur – overcoming the plateau.
Most unique thing you’ve learned from interview so many entrepreneurs on your Cool Things Entrepreneurs Do Podcast?
Entrepreneurs are more than wanting to make money, they want to give back and serve the greater good.
Best Quote: “It’s up to you to bridge your gaps. There is no substitute for experience and experience will help you get better and better.”
Thom's Misfit 3:
- Be slow to anger and fast forgive. Give people the benefit of the doubt – unless they are truly evil.
- All opportunities in life come from people. Be open, say hello, and choose the people instead of the gadget. Connect!
- Don’t be jealous of your competition. Turn your competition into your professors. Success leaves clues – follow them.