Are you the public speaker you always wanted to be?
In this interview, speaking coach Jezra Kaye covers everything you need to know to become a master of public speaking.
About Jezra Kaye
Jezra is a public speaking coach, speechwriter, keynote speakers, workshop leader, and (in her past) a professional jazz singer. She’s also the bestselling author of Speak Like Yourself, Managing the Unmanageable and Interview Like Yourself. In her company, Speak Up for Success, she aims to help every client speak with authenticity, power, and ease.
Read the Transcript
This transcript was auto-generated from the original video recording using Otter Voice Meeting Notes. While the transcript has not been human edited, we hope it will still help you to quickly find or reference useful information from the interview.
Hey deliberate leaders. I am your host Allison Dunn, Executive Business Coach and founder of the Deliberate Leaders Podcast dedicated to helping leaders build strong, thriving businesses. Each episode we feature interviews that are designed to help you on your leadership journey. And that is highlights Our guest today. Her name is Jezra Kaye. She is a public speaking coach, a speech writer, a keynote speaker workshop leader, and in her past a professional jazz singer. I’m hoping I can get you to belt out a couple of tunes. Um, she is the author of the best selling book Speak Like Yourself, also Managing the Unmanageable and Interview Like Yourself and those are all fantastic titles where I got where I know that people just want to be authentic. So company speak for success. She aims to help every client speak with authenticity, power and ease. Jezra, thank you so much for joining us today on Deliberate Leaders. Oh, it’s a pleasure. Thank you
Oh, it’s a pleasure. Thank you for inviting me.
Absolutely. I would like to kick off each podcast with a quick deliberate conversation which is typically a leadership tip so I like to gain a little nugget. What is your best leadership tip for our listeners?
Well, this is a public speaking related tip stay calm whatever happens just try to stay calm because the person who can be the calmist is the one who’s ultimately going to come across with the most strength now that’s easier said than done but it’s a good idea to keep in mind right. Now all in for that. I think
I think that’s such a good tip because with when we demonstrate calm, regardless of what we might be feeling on the inside, exude confidence. Yeah. Especially.
Exactly, exactly. And people look to us for that. They want to know that we’re centered and whatever we’re telling them, whatever we’re bringing to them. They want to feel that it’s coming from a strong and centered place. So that’s something that we can offer as well as the specifics of our content.
Can give us some good tips on how to create that centered calmness for us. I know that I know that a lot of people like this is the thing that they like, please don’t make me do public speaking like they’d rather you know, like face death and do that typically.
I’m sorry, you said who’s is that your typical client? Is that someone who is like, you know, like, I can’t do this and I need oh, are they polished and you’re just helping them get to the next level?
Well, both I have a lot of individual clients. I work for a lot of companies and often companies will send people to meet because they’re speaking a lot but they’re not necessarily Speaking Well, the private individuals who seek me out and I think who seek out other public speaking coaches as well are very often bothered by fear or resistance or feelings of insecurity. There’s a lot of imposter syndrome that comes up around public speaking. And that’s a natural thing, but it can be painful and that’s why people want help with it.
I am just curious if you have, if you have a minute that you need to speak on, and you have 15 seconds to prepare, what should I do first?
I think about the most important thing you have to say if you could stand up, say one thing and then sit down. What would that one thing be? And it’s really important to focus on that before you do anything else, whether you’ve got 15 seconds to prepare, or whether you’ve got 15 days or weeks to prepare. If you don’t understand what the core of your messages what you’re most excited. Important point is, it’s going to be very difficult to organize your thoughts. Now, the interesting thing about this is that a lot of people don’t like picking one thing. Their idea people, their data people, they like input, they like possibility. They’re not excited by picking one thing. And unfortunately, that’s where you just have to make yourself do it. Because if you don’t, you’re going to be bouncing around between too many ideas, too many possibilities, it’s going to be very difficult for you to focus and to get your audience to focus on what really matters.
So would you say that an audience can retain just one thing or that you dive deep into that one thing? Because you’re right, you’re saying you know whether you’re speaking for 15 seconds or whether you’re speaking for 90 minutes?
One thing, one thing, the audience will retain a good story they might remember detail or two. But if they haven’t retained about one thing, that key message, the thing that’s so important for you to communicate, then you haven’t really succeeded at what you’re trying to do. So you want to focus on that. And if it’s a long speech, you want to repeat it often.
So I think I relate in with you about that there are people who choose more than one thing, how do you, how do you guide them? Or how would you guide someone and coach them to identifying what the most important key element is that they need to focus on?
Well, there are two ways to look at it. So let’s say that we’ve got somebody who’s absolutely positive, there are five things, I have to communicate these five things. In that case, I would say, let’s go up a level what’s the one truth or the one perception or the one insight or the one point of view that sits above those five things? Write what is the thing that unites them. That’s your font. That’s your most important thing. Your five points are examples of that higher level thing. Okay.
That was that was really helpful to kind of think of what is the overarching theme?
So once you’ve picked your one key message, that is the overarching and how do you connect that message with your audience best.
That’s where it’s important to think about who you’re speaking to. And here again, we hit something that’s easy for some people difficult for others. So it’s called guessing, right? A lot of times when you’re invited to speak, you can learn a lot about your audience by asking the person who invited you or doing research, or going back into the archives, for instance, for a podcast like this one, looking at what topics have worked and have been popular with your audience how Allison, but when you can’t do that, you kind of have to make a guess. And not to put anybody in a box. But for instance, if you know that you’re going to be speaking to aeronautics engineers, people that fix airplanes, right? The chances are pretty good still in 2020, that you’re talking to men, the chances are pretty good that they are people who like to work with their hands, the chances are pretty good that they’re going to be between 20 and, you know, 55 these are things that can guide you. They’re educated guesses. And a lot of people don’t want to make those kinds of guesses about their audience because they don’t want to be disrespectful to the people involved. But if you think about your experience of life, up until very recently, an audience of nurses was going to be primarily women. That’s changed a lot in the last five years. Now, it might be a large percentage of men, but just think about your experience and what you know about them. And you can make a pretty good guess a pretty good starting point. At least this will help you begin to feel that you’re connected with whoever is going to be there you have a clue about who they might be. Right.
Okay, fantastic. Um, who in today? Can you point to someone who you really appreciate their style of speaking or speech making?
Absolutely. Brene Brown is a great motivational speaker that many, many people have heard of. She brings warmth, she brings authenticity, she isn’t afraid to take a risk. And she shows that in how she talks to an audience. So I think that she’s excellent. I think she’s a very good speaker. Looking more generally, I believe it or not, I like to listen to newscasters. They’re, they’re very professional, they can think on their feet. They they’re concise. They have to express things very quickly. So if you have a favorite newscast or somebody whose style you really admire, or a talk show host or even your audience looking at you looking how you handle conversations, you can pick up a lot of tips from listening to people that resonate for you. And it’s going to be different for every person. Yeah.
I would agree with you on your choice of Brene Brown. And what’s interesting, I think, is that what she does a really great job at as a spokesperson. She resonates with both male and female.
Mm hmm. Absolutely. really well.
Yeah. And it is her worth that draws you in. if, per se to say I wanted to suggest that someone needed to bring more worth into their presentation, how do you how do you exude that? How do you trigger that in someone so that the audience can connect with them?
Wow, that’s a great question and a little bit of a complicated question. So let me tease it out just a bit. First of all, it’s used to know if you’re an introvert or an extrovert, and what that means is, introverts prefer to get their energy internally. So we like to write and we like to think by ourselves and we’d like to have small intimate conversations with a small number of people. extroverts prefer to get their energy from being out in the world, the world of people and places and things. Now you might be a shy extrovert and still get your energy from being out in the world. But it’s good to know you could also be an outgoing introvert. It’s good to know which one you are because the tactics are a little bit different. For an extrovert The best way to get energized and to connect with an audience and to feel warmly toward that audience is to interact with them before you give your talk show up early, hang out, meet you know, 20 or 50 of your new best friends and just make that connection. Make those friendships. That’s going to really motivate you to speak more candidly and more warmly and more enthusiastically because you know, people you’ve met people, and that’s a great tactic for extroverts, but it won’t work if you’re an introvert. If you’re an introvert, a better way to prepare to feel connected with your audience is to focus your own imagination. And you can do this as you’re writing your speech as you’re practicing your speech. But you can also do it for a few minutes. As you’re getting ready to deliver your speech. Think about who’s going to be in the audience. Imagine that their friends imagine that there are people that you care about, and you probably do right or you wouldn’t be giving the speech and use your imagination and your internal ability to energize yourself. Use that to connect with them instead of exhausting yourself by going out and shake well now we don’t shake hands anymore but by going out and chatting with 100 people Right, this is all changing so much, but it also holds true for a zoom meeting. You know, look at people’s faces, connect with them think about who they are, think about what you can give them. Now, not everybody likes to lead with emotion. Not everybody likes to lead with warmth. Some people want to be regarded as more of a technical expert or more of an authority, or more somebody that you would look to for guidance as opposed to somebody that you would want to have a beer with. And that’s okay, you can still be warm. Just do it in your own way. Offer a connection in your own way to the degree that’s comfortable for you. Think about how you were with your family, observe how you are with your closest friends, and then try and bring that same genuine quality of friendliness and warmth to an audience. It will not undermine your credibility as a technical expert or as a leader. It’s just another way for people to relate to you.
Excellent advice. I think one of the tips for me and thinking through what you just shared is I’m definitely an extrovert. But what practice works best for me is an introverted style to prepare me.
That’s great. Yeah, that’s, the kind of thing that I think when people know that, that sort of thing about themselves, they’re going to be less fearful of a public speaking situation because they know who they are and what they bring, and what works best for them to be prepared.
What is the best way to I don’t want to say come across because you actually do want to come across, but you actually want to be authentic when you deliver a presentation without feeling like it’s too rehearsed.
If you start out in a colloquial friendly everyday, kind of manner, then that’s going to be your benchmark, that’s going to be your baseline. And you can always come back to that even if parts of your presentation are more, again, technical or more dry or more, you know, you’re explaining the new rulebook to somebody, and you’re listing the 20 new rules that they have to follow. It’s hard to imagine being friendly and spontaneous while you’re doing that. But you can be if you use, quote, you, language, unquote. So you don’t want to talk about the rulebook. You want to talk to the people in your audience, about how the rule book affects them. That’s the difference. And so coming across as friendly and as present, and as a human being depends on how you define what you’re doing. If you define what you’re doing is, I’m going to go give a presentation in which I tell people to 20 new rules they must follow. That’s going to come out kind of stiff and dry. But if you think of it as I’m going to go talk to a bunch of people about 20 new rules, and how those rules are going to affect them. Then you’ve set yourself up to have more of a conversation, to have it be more person to person, and it’s naturally going to be more friends, like it’s naturally going to be more human. And you want that because nobody wants to listen to a talking head, or a robot or somebody that’s just reading a list of rules. That’s not fun.
I think one of the challenges that at least I face and so I’ll speak for myself, how much time should someone spend preparing based on the length of the speech that you have or the length of the stage time you have? Don’t laugh, but the answer to that question is you should spend as much time as you need to and you have right As you said, Sometimes you’ve got 15 minutes, the boss hands you something and says go and that’s it, you’re going to be delivering that in 15 minutes. Sometimes you have a lot of time. And if you use it well, you won’t get caught up running around in circles. So the first thing you want to do is think about the speech that you’ve laid out, or the speech that’s been given to you. And divided into certain kinds of sections in your own mind or on paper. There are going to be things in that speech that you know how to talk about, you’ve said them 100 times before, you’re very confident in your knowledge. You don’t need to spend time preparing that but you do need to know where those places are. So mark them in your speech in a way that’s going to allow you to notice when they come up, so you might just put a purple, you know Pentel marker in the margin or a gold star. You might put the words ad live in the margins. Or maybe you should take away some of the words that you’ve written down and just talk from the heart. When you get to that, to that point, or speak from your knowledge, whichever is more appropriate. They’re going to be other places where you really need to be careful what you say and how you say it. If it’s that kind of a speech, then you want to practice reading it out loud, as often as it takes for it to begin to sink into your mind, and for you to be comfortable with it. But remember, you’re not practicing reading. you’re practicing how you want to feel when you talk about what’s on the page. So every time you practice, you want to picture your audience, you want to get your energy focused, you want to be friendly, personable, or whatever you want to be, maybe you want to be authoritative and very, very precise. Whatever you want to be. That’s what you’re practicing when you read through the parts of your speech, that have to be delivered word for word. And you need to do that until you feel comfortable reading them. And until you feel like yourself or whatever you want to present of yourself when you’re reading them. And then there’s a whole range of things in the middle things where all you need is bullet points to remind you of the items. Or all you need is a word to remind you of a story. Look at your speech and think, what is it going to take for me to deliver this with comfort in each of the different sections, and then practice toward that.
And one of the tips that you’re sharing, and I just want to get confirmation. So I have done a lot of preparing in knowing what I’m going to say and covering my notes and I’m reading it’s the way I wanted to feel. But I feel that way in to say it out loud and practice it out loud.
Mm hmm, exactly. I’m another transformational shift. That’s it. That’s it, understanding you’re practicing, not words, but who you want to be when you share your ideas. That’s the purpose of practicing. When people don’t understand that they tend to take a speech and they read it from beginning to end, beginning to end, beginning to end beginning to end. And they get more and more stiff and distant from it with every reading. That’s the opposite of how you want to practice.
Yeah, I’ve seen those presented. We’re new we all about we all have.
It’s unfortunate all that work for a bad outcome. It’s really a shame. Yeah.
One of my personal favorite styles is kind of a back and forth engagement with in a conversation but also from a stage and when is that okay? And when is that not okay. So again, is it okay to employ asking for participation?
Oh, I think it depends a lot. On how much time you have, who is in your audience whether they’re likely to really give you an answer. But there’s another level at which you’re always asking for input from the audience. Because you’re looking at their reaction, you’re looking at their body language, you might say, hey, raise your hands. If you agree with x, you might say, how many of you have experienced what I’m about to describe? And then you’re looking for people to nod their heads and for people to put their hands up, whatever you ask them for. So in a sense, you’re always doing that. But if you’re asking for a sense of the room, I think that works best when you have a fair amount of time. If you don’t have a fair amount of time, I would just say, could you please raise your hand if you agree that whatever, and then people can raise their hand or not? If you’re going to start on one on one conversation with audience members, you need enough time to manage whatever happens.
Because you never know what’s gonna happen. That is that is very, very true. Yeah. Um, what are some of the things that we can all practice to improve our public speaking every day?
Pausing is the most important thing. A lot of people just, you wind them up and they start to talk and they don’t stop for five minutes. And by that time, nobody remembers where they started. So pausing is important. You can do it anywhere. It actually works in the middle of a random phrase, like I just did. But the best way to pause isn’t the end of every idea or thought. Now, here in New York, where I’m from and where I work, people are hesitant to pose because somebody else is going to jump in on them, right. So you want to calibrate your pause for the social practices of wherever you are, right? Midwest, you don’t have to worry about that in New York. Maybe that should be a very short pause and kind of like tapping your brakes. Driving through a stop sign, right? But that’s something that you can practice anytime by yourself with, you know, the people that you live with non critical situations at work. You can constantly practice putting in more pauses.
Yeah, I kind of joke about this. My husband has a good a good dramatic pause style of speaking. Mm hmm. I think he’s done.
I’ve done because I do try to get I you know, I’m from the east coast. So I try to get my words in. He’s like, I’m not done.
That’s, that’s what’s called a mixed marriage, somebody from the northeast and somebody from the Midwest, or the West. And if I’m, what advice would you give to anyone who truly has a real fear and phobia of public speaking? But it’s going to be holding them back if they don’t overcome.
Let’s talk first about fear versus phobia. Okay. they overlap, but they’re not the same thing. If you’re able to speak in public, if you’re able to force yourself to get something out of your mouth, you don’t like it very much, but you’re able to force yourself to do it. One of the best ways to manage that fear is to work on your skills. And that’s where coaching comes in. And it’s tremendously helpful to be able to say to yourself, Look, I know what I’m doing. I prepared correctly, I practiced correctly. I’ve had good guidance, I can get through this. It may not be my favorite thing to do, but I know how to succeed. That’s a great approach to take with fear, along with doing all the other things that you would do to combat fear in other areas of your life. And people have all kinds of techniques, everything from meditation, to sitting. Well, meditation is sitting quietly, I was going to say from meditation to sitting quietly, those are pretty good. Simple, from meditation to talking to a friend to going for a jog, getting some energy out, helping them manage your physical energy, whatever works for you in other areas of your life will work with public speaking, the only thing that I strongly recommend you not do is turn to something like alcohol or a generalized anxiety medication because that’s going to impair your coordination. It’s going to make it difficult for you to focus, it’s not going to deliver the desired effect. However, if you have what’s considered a phobia, level of fear, and something like 15% of people do, that is a medical issue. And I would suggest that you speak with your doctor about a class of medications called beta blockers. They’re not anxiety medications, they specifically address your fight, flight or freeze response and that’s what’s creating fear of public speaking it’s the fight flight or freeze response. So beta blockers address that. I’m not, you know, saying oh, good, go out and get some drugs. But if you really, really cannot do this and you have to, I would run not walk to a virtual session with your, your general practice physician and discuss whether this might be a good idea for you. And if it is, then you want to do some experimenting before you get into a situation where you need beta blockers to help you speak in public that can be a lifesaver if they’re the right thing for you. But see, first, whether just improving your skills and working on your fear management techniques will help if that will help. That’s great. That’ll do the job and as you get better and better, you’ll get less and less afraid.
Um, I have no idea I don’t know anyone who I know, takes a beta blocker. But it’s so nice to know that there is something that actually doesn’t have a lot of it helps you work through that. That’s incredible.
I think it’s important to know and there should not be any stigma around it because we all have whatever it is I have mild to moderate claustrophobia, there are a lot of elevators that I will not be getting into in New York City. And I just won’t and that’s not my fault. That’s not a failing that doesn’t mean that my willpower isn’t sufficiently strong. And it’s the same thing with a public speaking phobia. You didn’t ask for this desensitizing it is another way to go if that’s available, but it’s rare to be able to find somebody who knows how to desensitize public speaking phobia. I know somebody in New York who doesn’t one person in San Francisco, you might want to check in your area, you may be able to find somebody who has that skill set. But the beta blocker is also are reasonable and an honorable thing to try.
Do you have any tips? I find that when I watch a lot of speakers, it’s that first 60 seconds, or they’re taking the space stage or being introduced or starting their topic. And they finally settle in and get their rhythm, right and you can see that calmness come down. Is there some exercises or practices that allow you to be grounded and connected out of the gate?
Absolutely. I have a practice that works for me. I’ve recommended it to hundreds of other people. There’s actually a blog post about it on my website, speak up for success, and it’s called the four S’s stand, settle, smile, speak. So for me, this is a checklist that I go through before I begin to speak in any situation and I think works well. The first one is stand or sit. If you’re in a situation where you’re going to be sitting to speak, that’s your first step. And what that means is, fix your posture. Sit up straight, put a smile on your face. Just get yourself into a more powerful posture. And we know from research, that when you sit in a more powerful position, it’s not just that you convey authority to people that are looking at you, you also convey it to yourself. So that’s the first thing fix your posture, sit or stand up straight. The second thing is settle. And for me what that settle yourself and what that means for me is breathe out. A lot of times you hear people say, take a deep breath when you’re nervous. Well, taking a deep breath works if you know how to do it, but most of us don’t. Mostly when people take a deep breath, they lock up and raise their chest That kind of deep breath and that’s the opposite of what you want to relax and settle yourself to relax and settle yourself you want to breathe out. Now if you’re standing in front of a microphone, you don’t want to be that audible. But you can take a step back and just take a nice slow exhale, let all the breath out. And as you’re doing that, you can imagine yourself letting go of tension, letting go of fear, letting go of self doubt. And then all you have to do is open your mouth and the breath comes back in by itself. And you can imagine yourself being filled and flooded with positive energy and that will settle you try it and if it works, definitely do it. If not look for a different way to settle yourself but you definitely want to settle yourself. The third S is smile. Pick some In the audience, look them right in the eye, smile at them. Now you’ve established the connection. Now you’ve reminded yourself that you’re just talking to people. This is something you’ve done your entire life since you were at least four years old, and possibly a lot younger than that. So make that connection, smile at somebody established that you are here to help or inform or entertain your audience and they are going to appreciate that. And then the fourth is when you’ve done those other things is speak. And if you need to do it in the middle of a speech or in the middle of a meeting, just do it again, you can do this anytime, anyplace, as many times as you want or need to. That’s the beauty of the four S’s stand, settle, smile, speak.
That’s awesome, great tips, easy to remember. And several of those I practice in my golf swing.
Oh, well, you know, you’re raising a great point, because most of us have the ability to calm ourselves down in some other area of life. So if, again, you can pick up what you’re doing in that area and move it on to the stage with you. It’s already done, you already have a routine that you trust and count on.
What Jezra, one of the things that I wanted to make sure, sure that I shared with our audience today is that you have a fantastic article on your website called the 100 top public speaking tips. It’s there. It’s free. It’s fantastic. And I will definitely make sure that I include the link to that in the show notes for sure, because it’s a great list. So Oh, that’s fabulous. Thank you.
Is there anything else that you’d like to share with our audience today that I just didn’t think to ask you?
Well, a couple of things. One is, I’d like to go back to what we were discussing about key messages. And just say that once you know what your key messages, you’re going to find it pretty easy. As long as you’re trusting yourself and trusting your lifetime of knowledge, it’s pretty easy to think of three things to say, to support that key message. And that gives you the beginning of a speech. That’s what my book is about how you can take that little instance speech, your key message, three quick supporting points, and then a repetition of your key message. You can take that and use it to create a presentation of absolutely any length, it’s paint by the numbers, it couldn’t be easier. Once you know what your key messages, it’s easy to think of three things that support it. And then you can build each of those out into a little discussion, a topic, five minutes, 10 minutes, depending on how long you’re speaking and you’re there. All you need after that is transitions. And that is very, very simple to do all of this is in his, in my book speak like yourself No, really. And it’s just the easiest thing in the world to organize your thoughts either quickly on the fly, or when you have time to prepare a longer presentation. So that’s definitely something that I want to get across. Another thing I want to say about fear is that you get to choose who you want to be when you hit the stage. You and I have both been talking a lot about being friendly and being warm and being accessible. That’s who we want to be when we’re on stage when we’re communicating. But your listener might have a different idea about who they want to be on stage. Maybe they want to be stern and authoritative. You can be whoever you want. It’s completely up to you to choose who you want to be. And then take that persona, that vision that you have of how you want to come across to an audience and practice being that person When you’re practicing public speaking, or when you’re practicing a particular message or speech, I call that your public speaking avatar. My public speaking avatar is actually called Jezra, warrior princess. And people of a certain age will understand where that comes from. And that’s the persona that I like to take with me into public speaking situations. And not only does this give you a wonderfully reassuring, clear idea of who you want to be and how you want to come across, but it also gives you a little bit of distance. And that’s a wonderful thing to have. If you’re afraid of a particular presentation. Or if you’re afraid of public speaking in general, which, let’s face it, almost everybody is. If you have an avatar, then you have somebody else who can give that speech for you. And you Maintain a little bit of distance and stand back a little bit and not feel so put on the spot by what you’re doing. So it’s wonderful for so many reasons. It’s a great practice to think about.
One of the things that I appreciated about your book was how you talk about creating your avatar because as soon as I read that, that that was yours, it makes me giggle. I don’t have one. And that’s something I probably should go back to the book and work on is, you know, my stage avatar. I think it’s brilliant, right? And someone else can give the speech for you, which I think is look at it. It’s fun stuff.
And I’ll bet I’ll bet that you do have an avatar, you just haven’t given them a name and kind of teased out. But you have it through practice you got there through experience and practice. You can get there either way.
I do highly recommend the book, and I will make sure that the link to that book is also in the show notes. Jezra. I just can’t thank you enough. I know that you are helping people to live their message in a powerful and authentic way through your coaching. And it’s such an important thing for us to be able to speak from, from our hurts, and speak like ourselves, not someone else for real.
Thank you so much. It’s absolutely a pleasure.
If our audience would like to follow you, where is your go to place where you’d like for them to connect with you to get more information and we’re, watch what you’re doing.
Go to my website, speakupforsuccess.com you’ll get a pop up inviting you to sign up for my newsletter, and you can also reach me through the contact page. There’s a ton of material there, and I hope you enjoy all of it.
Fantastic Jezra, thank you so much. It’s been such a pleasure to speak with you today. Thank you.