Working From Home: Episode 10 – 10x your communication in an online world – with Brenden Kumarasamy
Nelson is joined by Brenden Kumarasamy, host of the MasterTalk YouTube channel. Brenden works with individuals from CEO’s to schoolchildren to help people live more fulfilling lives by mastering the art of communication.
Topics include: differences between online and offline communication, why public speaking is the keystone skill in all of your relationships, where to focus your energy when building a presentation, the mindset of world-class speakers, tactics for becoming a better speaker, and other topics.
[0:47] – Breden discusses his YouTube channel MasterTalk, differences in online and offline communication, and how to think about communication as an art form in an increasingly online world.
[6:06] – Why mastering the delivery of your guest introductions is key when interviewing guests for an audience.
[10:24] – Start with the beginning and endpoints of your presentation and build inward from there. Practice your introduction and conclusion 100 times!
[15:01] – How would your world be different if you were a world-class speaker? How would your relationships, both personal and professional, change?
[17:17] – Tactics for becoming a better speaker, and the random word exercise.
[22:30] – Tools freelancers can utilize to improve their pitches to potential clients. Doing the work that most people won’t do to earn the results most people won’t achieve.
[25:29] – Mindset tricks you can employ to become a better speaker.
[31:17] – How to create more conversations even in the midst of COVID.
[40:16] – Modern education, and the possibility of offering a curriculum that focuses on communication skills.
[45:00] – Differences in teaching school-aged kids versus C-suite executives.
Nelson: Hello, and welcome to the ‘Working From Home’ podcast with your host me, Nelson Jordan. Today, thrilled to be delighted with Brenden Kumarasamy who is the founder of YouTube channel ‘Master Talk’. Good morning.
Brenden: Morning to Nelson, how’s everything?
Nelson: Absolutely fine my end. So today, I believe you’re going to be helping our audience to talk about and communicate better in an online world.
Nelson: Fantastic. I think let’s crack on. You’re the expert here. So yeah, where do we even begin?
Brenden: Yeah, absolutely. So, the way that we need to think about this Nelson, is what is the biggest difference between the online world and the offline one? So, I’m in the UK, and I’m giving a workshop to you and a couple of your buddies or colleagues, in that setting, it’s easy for me to react to how you’re feeling, how the audience is changing, and their energy. So, let’s say I say a joke, two things will happen: 1) you’ll either laugh and go, ‘Oh, Brenden is such funny guy’, or 2), which is much more likely, you’ll look at me and say, ‘This guy is not funny. Why is he saying jokes, he’s just not supposed to do that’. But at least I can see how your team is reacting to that, I can quickly adjust to meet the needs of my audience. But in an online world, that same joke, I need to say with the same level of positivity, the same level of energy, the same level of rigour and assume it’s funny. Why is that? Because we can’t gauge our audience’s reaction anymore. Even to this very conversation we’re having right now they’ll say, I actually have no clue how you’re reacting to me. Why? Because I’m not looking at you. I’m looking at the camera lens. So because of that, if we have a Zoom call with 20, to 25, little tiny screens, when we say a joke, we need to say it with as much enthusiasm as possible, knowing fully, or not knowing fully whether it was funny or not. So what are some of the tips that we can do to bridge these two worlds? The first one is what I call the ‘perfect virtual room presentations’. What you want to do is get the most critical people that you know in your network, get them to join a Zoom call with you and make them critique every single element of who you are and what you’re presenting: the hair, the audio that you’re wearing, the lighting everything, and of course, what you’re presenting and get them to drill you want a bunch of questions. Like ‘Brenden, go to slide 60, go to slide two, do this do that’, then when you go to the actual presentation, you’ll be phenomenal. The second thing that you want to do is imagine the perfect in person audience. So what I mean by that is when I started podcasting, we’re just presenting, it’s this bizarre thing. We’re kind of just wondering, why is this stranger asking me questions about my life, this is so odd. But over time as you get better with communication, the intention and the mindset that you bring changes. It changes from ‘Who’s this Nelson guy from the UK?’, to ‘Nelson’s put in a lot of effort into this podcast, he really cares about serving his audience. So I’m going to assume that I’ve known him for many years and talk to him in that way’. That takes a lot of time to get right. But the belief system will get reinforced as you get more and more positive feedback on your presentation until the belief becomes true.
Nelson: Okay, so let’s put myself in the in the firing line. I’ve got an idea of what you might say anyway because I think the same things, but I guess critique me from the five minutes that we’ve been on this call. Tell me the things you look at.
Brenden: Ok sure, that’s good. So, this is a bit different because you’re pretty good communicator. I think the only thing I would do differently is I’d probably improve the lighting, just maybe a bit. Because it was like kind of white, black fuzzes that kind of just keep appearing on your screen. It’s kind of weird. That’s one more in setup. I mean, you look fine. You’re pretty well shaven and everything. You’ve got a nice look there. So, I think the only thing left is maybe, I probably would have introed more powerfully. So, what a lot of great podcasters do is whenever the intro guest they spend like an hour to like crafting it. So instead of starting a podcast by saying you know ‘Hey guys’, like in like in a presentation; instead if you go, ‘Is public speaking something you’ve been scared of your whole life? You know, when I was a kid…’, and then you just keep going into your own personal story – people are connecting to you. And then they connect to the guests, because you are the bridge between your audience, and myself, who’s the guest. So those are some of the things that are coming to mind. But you really got me on the spot there.
Nelson: Anytime I can garner free tips from somebody, I’m definitely going to do it. Yeah, the lighting thing is a big one for me. And yeah, definitely got some things that I’m going to improve with the actual technical side. But the intro thing I think is, is really, really interesting. To find more points, that people can kind of latch on to that the audience can go, ‘Hey, hang on, that’s a reason I should listen to the show. I suck at communicating, or I get really scared when I do want to actually have to talk in front of multiple people’. So yeah, I’m going to adopt that tip. And everybody can let me know if they don’t see it in the episode I record after Brenden, you can get to call me out on it. And yeah, light up the airwaves.
Brenden: And a bonus, just because you asked me, this is great. So, the magic of doing a really good intro, is you remove the need for the guest to tell their story. So, let’s say you get someone really famous on the show. And you just like spend a minute introing them, they don’t feel the need to talk about their story anymore, in that like to give you the same tailor, placeholder template as every other show, and just get straight into the meat that they never talked about before, that you will facilitate. I think that’s the key. And I think, Tom Billy, from Impact Theory does that really well. Somebody to think about.
Nelson: Cool, perfect. Yeah, I think I’m going to have to try that with them in slightly different ways, because you may or may not know this, or you might, but the podcast involves two different types of guests. The first guest are people like myself: so we’re freelancers were online business owners were remote workers. And I get those people on specifically to tell their story. So, I don’t want to take too much away from them. But then I have the second bucket of guests, which are people like you who are experts that I get on specifically to talk about, you know, here’s all the tips and tricks and processes and frameworks that you can put in place to improve the lives of the first audience. So I think maybe I’ll try and incorporate the approach more for the experts, and try and find a way that it’s not so jarring when I don’t do the same things for the people like myself, who I get on specifically to share their story. Does that sound good?
Brenden: That sounds awesome. Absolutely.
Nelson: Fantastic. I’m excited to incorporate it. So I mentioned the frameworks there about communication. And obviously, we need to incorporate that into how to communicate well in an online world. Once we’ve got kind of the tips out of the way, are there any kind of frameworks or principles for anytime you’re communicating; whether that’s kind of on a call like this? Or whether that’s on one of your YouTube videos? Are there any things that you look for?
Brenden: Right, so here’s an easy one, people can implement the presentation Look, the way that when you think about communication, Nelson, is if you become a master of one become a master of all. So, if you try and focus on conversational skills, presentation skills, meeting skills, you’re not really going to go anywhere. But if you say, let me be the best presenter I can possibly be. That confidence from that singular focus makes you better at everything else. So you, if I use it as an example, you’re getting started the podcast, you’re trying to get a feel for how to be a better host, after 1000 episodes, or 100 episodes or 200, whatever the number is going to be so much more confident as podcasters that that is going to sprinkle onto everything else in your life. You’d be better at conversations with people, you’re going to start asking deep meaningful question, all of a sudden, people go ‘Hey, Nelson, what happened here?’
Nelson: They’ll probably say, ‘Hey, Nelson, we’re having a beer together. Cut that out’.
Brenden: Yeah, yeah, maybe you should try this on people that you’re meeting for the first time. The point is, the better you get at one, the better you get at all. So, one framework that makes it super easy for people to master presentation skills, is what I call ‘the jigsaw puzzle method’. Everyone knows what a jigsaw puzzle is right? You know those thousand-piece, little pieces of wood that you can own them word I mean cardboard, I guess you can put together. So, if I were to ask you, Nelson, because I’m sure you’ve done puzzles in your life. Which pieces would you start with first and why?
Nelson: Yeah, corner pieces always.
Brenden: So, what’s your rationale? Maybe just talk about the for a second or two.
Nelson: Ah, if you’re doing a standard puzzle, there’s four corner pieces. So easy, and you want like an easy way to start. So yeah, corner pieces, edge pieces. And then everything in between.
Brenden: Absolutely. And I agree with you. You’re absolutely right.
Nelson: Did I pass your puzzle test?
Brenden: Yeah, of course, of course. But no, I mean, it’s a hard one to get a wrong answer. Whoa, I was like we’re not we’re, I think the question is like, do you know what a puzzle is? Yeah. So the issue, Nelson, is we don’t do that at public speaking. We got presentation – it could be online or offline doesn’t matter – and it’s two days. So what do we do? We don’t start with the edges first, we start in the middle, we shove a bunch of content, content, content, content, content. Then it’s Friday, we’re presenting, we go on our last slide. ‘Yeah, so I guess I’m done. So thanks’.
Nelson: Oh, standard. ‘Does anybody have any questions?’
Brenden: Oh right, that every single time, it’s erks me as a coach. But it’s the point that I’m driving is in public speaking. It’s exactly like a jigsaw puzzle. Start with the edges. First, practice your introduction, 100 times and by hundred, I’m not exaggerating the number. It’s a minute, this is not a 10-minute introduction. The minute you do it a 100 times, it’ll take you three hours, you’ll be done. Do the same thing with the conclusion. Because remember, what’s a great movie with a terrible ending? A terrible movie. Right? So, don’t enter your movie by saying, ‘Yeah, so what do we learn today?’ This is not inspiring people. Do that conclusion 100 times. What will happen is you’ll start to find a new confidence you’ve ever had with presentations. People will go up to you go ‘Nelson, well, the way you introduced presentations is really good’. And you’re like, ‘Yeah, no big deal, you know, just been practising’. And then what happens, ‘Like your introduction? Oh, no, said well, your intro so good, Nelson’ and you’ll be like, ‘No worries, I’m just naturally good at this’.
Nelson: I have no hobbies, and I just –
Brenden: – I just look at the rain in the UK and it just inspires me to write or something.
Nelson: That’s it…that’s it.
Brenden: But then, the most important piece after we do that is don’t conquer the middle alone. Doing 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle alone is boring. You’ll look at all these slides, (for some people that could be interesting), let’s say for most people, it’s more fun doing with your family. ‘Hey, I got the sun pieces. Nelson, you do the moon pieces. And then we’ll put it all together and we’ll have a fiesta or something’. But same thing with keynotes, I don’t know why people practice presentations alone. I’m a pro but I still don’t do it alone. I get my friends who run me through walls, who laugh at my content, and help me figure out the middle pieces. So when the puzzle is complete, it’s a masterpiece. So for you, that’s listening. Apply this puzzle analogy in every one of your presentations. Intro, conclusion, middle, you’ll see completely different results.
Nelson: So when you have your family and friends reviewing your presentations, do you ask them to focus on specific things?
Brenden: Ah, that’s a great question. I do. So, I what I do differently than most people is I actually record myself present. And then I send it to a lot of my friends, I send it to a group of 10-15 people, hence why you need to be obsessive. But what I asked them specifically is not for feedback, because I’ll get general. What I asked instead as asked for time stamped feedback. So what that means is Isabella will look at my presentation and go, ‘Hey, Brenden, skip to 15:47. So the 15 minute 47 seconds of the conversation. ‘Okay, what do you see?’ And she goes, ‘Why are you smiling when you’re talking about a car accident?’ And I go ‘Whoops’. So, the other 15 people are doing their own timestamps, ‘Go to 23:7, go to this, this this’. So I spent three hours going through all their timestamps, going through all of them. And just watch; it’s nauseated when you do it the first time. But remember, as Koby Byrant used to say, ‘You always watch the tapes’. He used to be a professional basketball player, context where people, you always want to re-watch the tape. So that’s how you get better. So when I go through all 57 timestamps, it’s probably a lot less these days, but you know, back then it was like 120 timestamps, the second recording is sent to them, I’m going to have a lot less feedback, you’re going to be exponentially better version one versus version two. That’s something you take home.
Nelson: Sure. And then there’s probably more things that that come up, that you didn’t do that the next time and then you go ‘Okay, right. Well, I’ve got to refine those’, and then you end up with recording and recording. But hopefully, yeah, you’ll see these things kind of drift off as you nail like, ‘Okay, car crash, don’t smile that, okay?’ Or just think and you probably generalise that rather than remaining on so specific. You probably think, ‘Okay, match my tone, my facial expression with what I’m actually talking about’, for example.
Brenden: Absolutely. And what’s great about the COVID world one benefit is you don’t even need to make separate videos, just record your Zoom calls and send it to people.
Nelson: Mm hmm. Yeah, and then just see how they interacted and points for the future. Fantastic. So one of the things that I kind of hear about communication in general, is just getting started. It’s about putting yourself out there and having the confidence to do the first step. Obviously, we’re all getting more used to the realities of Zoom calls, and Skype calls and whatever else that we’re doing in terms of video conferencing. Is there something that people can do as a nice, easy first step to put themselves out there after a Zoom call?
Brenden: Yep. It’s one simple question. Actually, you don’t have to present you just need to reflect. And the question is: how would the world change, if you were a top 1% speaker? You’re one of the best communicators on the planet? Describe to me in specific details, how the world would be different? If the answer to the question (most people’s answers are very good at the beginning), something like, ‘You know, like, I would get promoted at a job and stuff’, you’re not answering it the right way. Because remember, public speaking, if there’s anything you take away from having me on, it’s that public speaking is everything. It’s not just presentations, it’s the way that you talk to your loved ones. So that you freak out about all the miscommunications that you have with your partner, the way that you take care of your children. And the way that you have dinners with the people that you love, people that you love talking to public speaking, is everything. Right? So by describing that world, and that world doesn’t need to be, ‘I want to impact 10 million people’. That world is just, ‘Hey, I got this cool recipe. I got to share it with eight other people that I didn’t know before’. That was important. ‘I don’t have as many fights that used to with my wife’, or something. I don’t know, I’m just making stuff up. But the more detailed that world becomes, the more incentivized. You say, ‘Well, public speaking needs to be a priority for my life’.
Nelson: Hmm. Okay, so that’s kind of like imagination and part manifestation about, ‘Okay, this is the future that I could attain. This is what that looks like in the best possible version’. What’s kind of the next step, then once you decide that that is a priority? Obviously, we’ve talked about individual parts where you reflect on this presentation, but how did you get better overall?
Brenden: Yeah, absolutely. And the reason I say the mindset thing first is because public speaking is the hardest thing to hold yourself accountable to. What does being a great speaker even mean, Nelson? Does it mean saying more pauses, saying less ‘ums’ and ‘ahhs’, having cool hair like this? No, there’s no answer to the question. That’s why most people give up along the way. So, it’s important that you reflect on the question. Now, let’s talk tactics. So, the number one tactic super easy that you could implement is what I call the ‘random word’ exercise. So essentially, what you do is you pick a random word around you. And you make a presentation out of thin air. And obviously, to set the example, why don’t you give me word and I’ll do one.
Nelson: Because I’m looking at my desk. Why don’t we go with plants?
Brenden: Plants as in like a garden plants? That’s what you mean?
Nelson: Oh, no, you know what? Because I like this plant better than that plant, because I’ve got plant favourites. And the leaves are super cool. Look at this, look at this bad boy.
Brenden: Okay, cool. I love it. Yeah. So we’ll go with plants.
Nelson: I mean, I won’t describe it for the people that are just listening on the podcast, and not on YouTube. I’ll let you kind of describe it.
Brenden: Sure, sure. So let’s call it a spiky plant. So this is kind of how I would do it. It sounds something like this. Nature is where we belong. As human beings, we tend to get stuck in cities, in cubicles and offices in places where we shouldn’t be. Whereas reality is, we feel the most alive, we feel the most energetic, and we feel the most calm is when we’re in a forest. When we see nature, when we see amazing things that blow our mind, that make us think, ‘Wow, what a beautiful place to live in’. And a small way that you can bring that nature into your cubicles, into your home office and into your life, is by having plants. Plants don’t need to be this big forest in your house. But they’re a constant reminder of the environment in which you are in. Whether it’s a cactus, or whether it’s a spiky plant with a bunch of weird leaves on it, it doesn’t really matter. So I asked you, and encourage you in this presentation, to not just think about nature and embrace it, but bring it back into the environments in which you live in. So that your life can be a bit more connected to nature. That’s a good example.
Nelson: Fantastic. Well, I think I think that was that was great, but I’m going to ask you to break that up now and look at the component parts. What have you done there?
Brenden: Okay, so that’s the thing. So, there’s a couple of things I want to mention because I don’t want to get too much into the weeds because it’s too advanced for most people listening. But there’s three things in particular I want to talk about: 1) Do not compare yourself to me, it is a mistake to do that I’ve done this over 2000 times, and I’m not exaggerating the number. I’m actually a slave on these shows every time I have to do one, 2) All I’m asking for is five minutes of your day, every day, that’s all, not five hours, five minutes, wake up every day, pick five random words and do the same thing. Trees, wife, basement, doorknob, done, 3) Understand why the exercise matters. At the beginning, you’re not going to be very good. You know, and I do this with a lot of executive clients. You know, they start with camera, and they go, ‘You know, a camera is something used to take pictures’ like they describe the object. But as you get better, you start to change from setting the context to telling an inspiring story – that takes time. There’s not really a secret sauce to getting from A to B. But what I can say, is what it does for your mindset, and how you think about presentations, is insanely effective. You go from, ‘Brenden, I’m scared about this presentation that I’ve been working on for three years’ to, ‘Well, if I could talk about tampons for a minute, or elephants, or zebras, I can give this presentation’, that presentation that you were once scared of suddenly becomes a joke.
Nelson: Now that sounds that sounds fantastic. I mean, the I think the value there is for people that presentations matter, and they have to do quite a lot. Have you got any kind of more accessible tasks for people that maybe only have to present maybe once a month or something, or their presentation is slightly different in that they’re having a call with a potential client. Say for example, I’m a copywriter and digital marketer. So, part of my sales process is getting people on the phone or video call, like this, and asking them a lot of questions. So, the way I do my pitches is really just more focused on the client. So, I ask them what their situation is, what’s led them to this point what they’re looking to achieve. And then I kind of model what I’ve got to say at the end of that, based on the answers that they’ve given. Fairly simple stuff. So, for people like me, what are certain things that I could look for in the calls, say, for example, if I record them and watch them back? What are like some easy quick wins that I could incorporate?
Brenden: Right, So I’ll spin this a bit differently because I’m very different than most people in my industry. And it’s always good to have different perspectives. I think the reason why you want to do this exercise, even if you’re not going to be a keynote, or you’re not going to be a professional, because doing the harder exercise makes the regular speaking exercises much easier. And I’ll explain why. So before I joined IBM as a consultant, which is pretty much all corporate presentations to clients, Fortune 500 like; I was giving presentations, like I was describing before. You know, I would speak to like all these executives, speak in front of 200 people and give a show. When I went back to IBM and I started presenting, I was one of the best communicators there because I had very strong foundational skills from the crazy stuff I was doing before. So, let’s say when I start a corporate presentation, it’s, ‘It’s so great to be here. My name is Brenden, I’m a consultant for IBM. Today we’re going to be looking at the three key objectives of this project’. I can’t present like this, if I don’t have the background of the crazy stuff. The reason why that crazy stuff is important, is because it ramps up your communication skills at lightspeed versus if I said something like, ‘Hey, Nelson, here’s a quick way that you could do. You know, if you silence a bit more in your presentations, if you ask for open ended questions’, all that is great. All that is important, all those necessary, but it’s not fun. I would tell you to do all these quick ones, I guarantee no one’s going to do it. They’re just going to say ‘Okay, like, that’s great. I’m just going to go back to being a boring speaker’. Whereas if we break this, what Tony Robbins calls ‘breaking state’. So, there’s a reason why he swears at people in seminars and calls women bitches, and stuff, it’s crazy. Why does he do that? Because he breaks their state, like nobody calls them that so they go, ‘Whoa’. And that’s how he gets the transformation. That’s how I break the state of my clients. Obviously, I don’t swear at them. But what I do instead, is I say, ‘Okay, talk about tissue papers for a minute’, and they’re like, ‘Wait, wait, I can’t do this. This is weird’. But then by week three, they’re speaking like me, because they do the thing that nobody else wants to or can do. So they get results that most people don’t get. Remember the only point that matters from this thought process, that extreme people get extreme results.
Nelson: Mm hmm. Perfect. So, I want to switch gears a little bit now and something that you and I have talked about before. Do you have any kind of ways that people can change their thinking and mindset? Obviously, like just doing it and gaining that familiarity is one thing. And you’ve talked about, what would the world look like if you could be that incredible speaker, or even just a better speaker? Because I think that should be the goal for most people, just to improve their communication skills in general. Are there any kind of like, different mindset tricks that we could look at?
Brenden: Absolutely. So here’s an easy one that people already do. But don’t do it in the right context, this idea of obsessing over your client. So let’s say you’re a business owner right now or you’re a freelancer, you you’ve probably done the ideal client persona already, you know, this is my ideal client, they are between these ages etc, etc. But the criticism I give most people that do the exercise is the don’t obsess enough over the persona, and don’t apply it enough in presentations. So what does that mean? When I think about my client’s persona, I actually roleplay them. So for example, my clients vary a lot from seven year old girls to 57 year old executives at big companies. You know, the seven year old watch my videos, the 57 year old hires me. But the way that they think is completely different, because what Rebecca is looking, seven-year-old girl, Rebecca, she’s not looking for public speaking tips, not looking for my advanced handbook. She’s looking for boost of confidence. She’s looking for someone to say, ‘Hey Brenden, my whole life, nobody told me I was a great speaker, could you be the first one. But 57-year-old Julia, or rather, Jim or whoever, what they’re looking for is results. They’re just like, ‘Get in here, you got 30 minutes, don’t waste my time, Get to the point. And don’t mess around’. And the reason why I understand your persona at that level, hence why I recommend talking to your audience. There’s not many people on this call, who have long dinners with their ideal clients, I can guarantee it, and I’ve had hundreds. That’s why I understand my clients’ needs at a level that’s almost obsessive. So, when I go back to speaking to them, in a presentation context, for a mindset perspective, I’m a lot more attached to them. So, I’m at a place in my life and that’s the secret of being a top 3% or 5% or 1% speaker, is if I don’t do a good job in my presentations, I see it as betraying my audience. Like, I see it as treason as if I would disown my own mother. That’s literally how I think, right? Like, that’s how my brain works. So, there is a 15-year-old girl watching, she has been waiting for me to come as the keynote or and take notes. If I don’t do a good job, that girl is going to suffer, because I screwed up my presentation. So, because I’m very clear about the person I’m helping in that moment, that’s how I become exceptional. So, for you that’s listening, you need to understand and get clear on the consequences of doing a bad job. How are you hurting your clients if you’re not an exceptional communicator? And that is the fastest way to just flip the switch in my opinion.
Nelson: Okay, so let’s delve into that a little bit. You obviously can speak to people, which is the quickest way. But how would you go about it if you were in if you’re in the shoes of a sales executive who is 20-21, new to their field. They don’t have that confidence that comes from just knowing the product that you’re selling, or the industry that you’re selling kind of inside out. How would they go about talking to their clients or gaining this knowledge from them?
Brenden: Absolutely. And I think the key is, is the process is going to change depending on what the product is what you’re trying to sell. But I’ll give you some standard stuff that just is important throughout. So, one of them is simple: Why is this important too? So, if I go up to seven-year-old Rebecca, let’s I’m having breakfast with her before my keynote start. Let’s go to her, ‘What’s your opinion on public speaking? What do you think about that?’. And she would say something like, ‘Oh, you know, I’ve always been scared of this, it’s not something I really like’, and I just go, ‘Cool. Why is that? Why is that something you’re scared of?’. And she’ll go, ‘Oh, well, you know, I hate presentations at school’. (And I’m absorbing all this). So then when I start my presentation, I don’t start with ‘Oh, you know, like, I’m the best speaking coach that ever lived’, like, nobody cares. What I’m going to say instead I say, ‘You know what, when I was five years old, I remember how terrible I was as a speaker my whole life – because I’ve been in high school before…’. So I’m speaking to my audience. What I asked people to do is ask them, why support it and just keep asking why. Why do you believe that? Why is that the case? So, let’s say I was interviewing you. And you know, I wanted to be considered for your show or something. I would say, why are you passionate about remote work? Why is it something that fascinates you? What moment in your life where you said, you know, this remote stuff is super interesting, so Interesting, that I had to make a show on it and I had to interview guests about. What’s your vision for? What are you trying to achieve in your life? What are your dreams? What are your aspirations? Those are the types of questions. I think the key is not really having a standard template, but rather an understanding of, learning about the other person at a deeper level than most people are willing to go. Because most people in my industry will look at that 10 year old girl, and not see it as a confidence boost, they’ll say something like this, they’ll pat her on the head and go, ‘Rebecca, keep going, you can be a great fit’, they’ll walk away with the top one, like the crazy people like me, will literally take the time to crouch down, look at Rebecca in the eyes and say this, ‘You know, back when I was five years old, I used to be a lot more scared of public speaking than you are. But what I will say is, if you keep showing that beautiful smile of yours to the world, I’m confident that you’ll be an amazing speaker’. So then Rebecca gets red in the face, presents like a an exceptional speaker, because I gave her what she wanted. But notice in the way of how granular that ask was, she never asked me to do any of those things. Because I’m so obsessive. That takes practice. I know it’s really hard to communicate very directly in a podcast, but you need to have more conversation. The punch line is if you only talk to 50 of your customers, you’re not doing this enough.
Nelson: Okay. So how do we do that? In today’s world, where online is obviously, pretty much everything for a lot of us now. I was in Spain for the last three years. And obviously, we had about four or five months locked down, for example, where we just weren’t allowed to leave the house. Not even for exercise or anything, literally just to go shopping to the doctors, that was it. If we’re in that situation, again, what’s the best way, or the best couple of ways, you can think of for me to have those conversations?
Brenden: Absolutely, easy, easy step, call your existing clients, ask them how they’re doing. Nobody does that. You know, they provide the service, then they don’t have any other relationship with them, besides selling the next service. So, I would just have more informal touchpoints with them, not every week or something. But just to say, ‘Hey, Nelson, it’s been a month since you since you interviewed me, I’d love to get a thought and how I can support you and how you’re doing’. They’ll say ‘Yeah, nobody follows up with me’. Of course, maybe some of them will be busy. Well pick up the phone for sure, ‘How’s your life going? How’s the service been? What are some other things that you’re working on? What are some of the challenges you have?’ And then in that conversation, you can always say, Do you know anyone else that’s like you that’s struggling with, talk to see what’s up, do the same thing. That’s the easiest way to build that rapport if you can’t go outside.
Nelson: Fantastic. And I think these tips kind of work really, really well for the normal, easy to understand services. Are there anything that we could incorporate when your services perhaps like a little bit unusual, that you tend to feel like you actually have to have 10 minutes of you just talking to actually explain your service?
Brenden: Hmmm…I have a controversial point of view on this, in the sense that I think anything can be explained in three sentences, almost everything. There are some very few exceptions. I give you a specific example. One of my one of the people I’ve worked with, is an AI company that literally uses data to calculate toxicity levels for pharmaceutical drugs to speed up their development. That’s what they do. It’s super complex. It’s a lot more complicated than it just explained it. But the way that the CEO explains the company, he says this, ‘We’re in VIVO AI. We’re an AI company that helps pharmaceutical companies save money. Done’. That’s it. We use artificial intelligence to help pharmaceutical companies save money done. That’s it. And that’s and then we go on. So, every complex idea can always be – the highlight of that idea – can always be simplified in one sentence. What’s Master Talk? It’s a YouTube channel, where I make YouTube videos on public speaking. That’s basically what it is done. What’s Airbnb? Is it a marketplace where buyers and sellers exchange real estate assets for profit? Absolutely. But it’s also the place where you can rent out extra room of your house for money. There’s always a way of explaining in one sentence. So, if you have an unusual idea, I would start with the one sentence to be like, ‘Okay, this is the direction Nelson’s going in. So now I know if I want to follow you in that direction or not. And if I do, then I’ll listen to the other 10 minutes. And if I don’t, I’m not your client anyways’. So, you just go pick the other person who, there’s so many people I talked to, I think YouTube video on public sphere, they’re like, ‘I don’t care!’, but other people go, ‘Oh, really? That’s cool. I’ve always been looking for one. Tell me more about that’. That’s how we that’s how we play.
Nelson: Perfect. So with complex ideas, you’re best off kind of breaking them down into their component parts. And then looking at the simplest way that, like this umbrella concept that kind of covers off basically what you’re doing. And then when people are interested in that, then you can level up the complexity.
Brenden: Absolutely. And just back to the whole client obsession thing, one thing I forgot to mention is I have a kids programme, I teach six year old/seven year old’s on communication, I don’t get paid a lot of money for that. It’s not a very good use of my time; I do that for impact. But what people don’t know, is I have one on one interviews with every single kid that goes through my programme. Why? Not because it’s profitable, but because I need to understand them, I need another psychology. If I’m willing to do that with kids who pay me almost nothing, right? Because our birds charge me, you know, whatever. You’re supposed to do that with the people that are paying you top dollar for your services. That’s just given; a good way to comparing things.
Nelson: I just like to switch gears a little bit. I want to talk a bit more about you. You’ve been very generous giving your time on here, to the show, and helping our audience improve their communication. But what does the future hold for you? What are your goals?
Brenden: Yeah, absolutely. I think the way that I see my life is I want to be the modern-day Dale Carnegie. I think the sad part about Dale’s story is he was he was born at the wrong time period of history.
Nelson: Hmm. Well, can you tell us about his story?
Brenden: So, for those who don’t know, Dale Carnegie’s work, he’s the author of ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’, which is like a hugely popular book, so 10’s of millions of copies around the world. But the issue with Dale’s work is not anything that happened to him particularly, it’s just because he was born in the 1930s/50s ish, before this type of stuff existed, which is the best way to learn public speaking, listening to someone through a video or through a podcast. We don’t really learn from him the best possible way. And I just got lucky that I was born at the right time period of history, and I was able to accumulate all that knowledge. It’s my goal is to democratise the whole thing so that when I’m dead people can learn from me forever. That’s the goal.
Nelson: Wow. Okay. Fairly ambitious, do you have an idea of what that would look like on a more concrete level?
Brenden: Definitely. YouTube. I just think YouTube is this the best way to scale an idea right now in video anyways, if you just look at the number of subscribers people have, and the reach that it has as a medium for trust and actually sharing something valuable rather than like a 60second Instagram post or something. So the goal is really focused on growing the YouTube channel. Of course, in the future, when I’m in my 30s, or late 20s, I’ll probably focus a lot more on building the brand externally through books and, and media appearances.
Nelson: Fantastic. I’m really interested by your kids programme. And because I was somebody who, basically shied away from all of that stuff, as much as possible. I mean, it’s not uncommon. It scared the crap out of me. Having to talk in front of people, even talking one on one with people that I didn’t know, was quite a scary proposition. So yeah, I’d love to hear more about that. What does that include?
Brenden: Yeah, absolutely. So, the kids programme is basically I coach, most of my seats are filled up. But if you want to send me a DM on Instagram, I’m sure we could figure something out. I’m at Master Your Talk. But the point I’m trying with the kids thing is, I want to build a whole new education system. I think what’s fascinating and weird, actually not fascinating, but odd. You know, if you gave me the keys to the kingdom for a day, and you said, ‘Brendan, you have opportunity to change the curriculum, and we won’t pay you to like build a perfect class on public speaking, would you do it?’ I would absolutely do it. But you know, the sad part is no one’s given me the keys. I have the exact curriculum. You know because you asked me, I’ll give you the curriculum. So, if you’re an educator you can do with your kids. The strategy is simple. You take the kid, and you ask them what they’re passionate about, and you let them present a topic that they actually care about. So my youngest client, who’s six years old, she’s one of the best speakers I’ve ever met in my life better than a lot of the C suite people I coach, why? Because I treated her like an adult. I just said, ‘What do you want to present?’ She goes, ‘Well, I love school’. So I said, ‘Perfect, make us make a presentation on that’. And then I made her do the same presentation over and over and over again, with a group of other kids who are cheering her on or telling her to keep going or encouraging each other. And the third thing is I give her feedback like an adult. I don’t yell at her. I don’t mock or anything. I say, ‘Hey, you know, you know, Julie, I think you should be focusing on this, you should be doing this’. She’s super smart. She’s six years old. We treat kids like kids, when they are a lot smarter than a lot of the parents I talked to. But it’s the point that I’m driving, treat them like adults, make them present one thing over and over again. And then they’ll be exceptional.
Nelson: Fantastic. I love how you kind of brought up the wider education sector as a whole. And I’m not going to pretend to be an expert on the American-Canadian systems, whatever. My wife is a primary school teacher over in the UK, but she’s taught out in Spain as well. And so, I’m in a unique kind of situation because my wife is a primary school teacher, my sister is a primary school teacher, my mum was a primary school teacher and Deputy Head for like a whole career. My dad started out in teaching, then moved to become a lecturer on, I think he was lecturing on economics. And then, you know, got out of the system, I think there was too much teaching in the family, so he got out of the system. And I actually went to university to originally to become a PE teacher, before realising like three weeks, and it just was not for me. Teaching is probably kind of in my blood more than more than most. And yeah, have some quite strong views on where education should go. Would you ever kind of consider a curriculum that you that you would teach your, or kind of the environment that you would aim to create that wasn’t just focused on the communication aspects, that also try to pull in others as well?
Brenden: That’s a great question, Nelson, I think I think my perspective on this is if you want to do anything meaningful to your life, you should always be (this is just personal opinion), you should focus on one or two problems and hope that you can solve them before your time’s up. And what I’ve noticed is there’s a lot of smart people in education who are trying to fix the system too. But I think if there’s one skill that I just know more than anyone else, and that I that, that I’m that I want to, you know, push the knowledge to is definitely comms, so I’ll probably focus a lot of my life on communication. But you’re right, as I guess the brand grows, I’ll definitely have another podcast where I share more life tips rather than communication tips.
Nelson: Fantastic. Cool. I think it’s so nice to be able to start that early before, a lot of the bad habits creep in. And the negative associations creep in. Because it’s about the sort of period, probably in the UK, at least, when you’re in your early teens, that or maybe slightly before that, your teachers start asking you to present. And they start evaluating you on that. And I think, because at least in my experience, that wasn’t handled particularly well, from the teacher’s perspective. The environment of safety and trust wasn’t created. So, I felt when I was learning to present, that it was this massive, huge thing because we hadn’t been asked to do it before. It came sort of out of the blue. And we hadn’t been taught any of the skills to be ready for it. It was kind of just like, ‘Oh, by the way, next week, you’ll be doing a presentation on x subject, go’. And then we do rock up the next week and try and obviously muddle through and do our best. The thing we haven’t talked about so far. I’m just kind of interested in hearing your thoughts about it is if you have any tips for creating that safe environment that teachers could actually use so that they could do your job for you, in a sense.
Brenden: Yeah. And it’s definitely challenging because of not because of the teacher, but because of the system, which the teacher is a part of. My sister’s an English teacher, to even push the analogy further. So, I’m definitely aware of the challenges in the system. But I think the way that you can do it. I think the number one thing that we can do as educators is have them present the topic that they want to present. Every single one of my presentation when I was in high school in primary school, it wasn’t something I got to pick. It was just, ‘Okay Brendan, you got to do this poem’. I’m like, ‘What?’ ‘On Shakespeare’, I was like, ‘Who’s that?’ And then ‘You have to memorise the poem for next week. And if you don’t, you’re going to get an F’, and you’re like, ‘Okay, well, obviously, when you’re on top, in front of the stage, you’re like, well, Shakespeare did this’, and you’re not, you don’t really particularly enjoy it. So I think the way that we create a safe space is 1) Letting them pick the topic, 2) Conditioning the kids to support each other and not laugh at each other’s presentations. And one thing you could one way you can do this as a facilitator is you make it clear, you communicate that you say, ‘Hey, guys, this is a safe space. Everyone here is struggling, communicate, including me, you as the facilitator, I struggled a lot, how can we worked it out, we applaud each other. Let’s try that one’. So let’s say one person comes up, I would just make everyone like clap really hard for that person, I create a lot of energy in the room. That’s what I do with my smaller groups. And then over time, everyone just like super happy. Everyone’s super supportive. Everyone’s attentive, and everyone’s on the ball. So those are a couple of things. And then 3) Give really good criticism. And just go, ‘Hey, this topic that you have here. How about we try it like this? How presented like this, maybe we can have another kid give an example of how they would do it. John, why don’t you go up there and show us why…Nelson, why don’t you go up there’…create more of a collaborative environment with all the students make them feel like they’re a part of one team trying to achieve the same outcome.
Nelson: Fantastic. I think there’s a great time I was wondering, it just dawned on me, like, what are the differences, if any, that you see between kids of 6 to 11, or whatever it is, and C suite execs?
Brenden: Oh, man, I can have a whole podcast episode of this, I much prefer coaching the kids. I’ll tell you why. Actually not so much because I get to pick the executives I work with now so I don’t have to work with the bank people or whatever. But the point that I’m making is, the reason why the kids are easier to coach is because they see me as an authority figure and they’re very open to new ideas. So they don’t really see me as the instructor, they go, ‘Man, this guy’s a YouTuber, like I listen to this guy. He’s got like, videos and stuff. And I can like watch them on the internet’. So, there’s that respect that just creates at the beginning, so I’m able to get people results really quick. Because they listen to me in the way that they would never listen to their parents, right? The same way when I have kids, they won’t listen to me, I’ll get someone else do it –
Nelson: Is that maybe because your first interaction with them isn’t necessarily your first interaction with them, because they might have already watched those videos? Or is it just the fact that because YouTube is such a big part of young kids lives these days, that the fact that you are just, in brackets, a YouTuber that gives you kind of this status?
Brenden: I would say mix of both, but mostly the second part, just the fact that I’m a youtuber gives me status. So that’s what I found really odd. But it was able to, you know, they were super open to my ideas because of that. They always attended every class, it was to their homework, I was pretty happy with that. The executives, the challenge is that they have 20-30 years of a belief in how they think it should be done, and it’s very hard to break through. That’s why most people I say no to, because they won’t take my ideas. And I don’t want to get paid if I can’t get the result. So that for me, it’s about how do we first unlearn everything that they believe to be true, which is a whole process and of itself, and then relearn the way that I think about public speaking. So, I can reprogram the way that they communicate so they can TEDx any other executive in their companies. So definitely much harder, but if that person has a big vision in life, it’s very fulfilling. So that’s why a lot of executives I work with are doing really big things in life that are either CEOs of really important movements or missions, or working on a bottom line or a company that’s doing something really great.
Nelson: Do you think that is because with movements there’s always a sense of inspiration there? That the importance is heightened? Like you’re not just there to sell some stuff?
Brenden: Absolutely. Just to build on that further. And you’re very intuitive, by the way, Nelson, I love that about you.
Nelson: Oh, thank you.
Brenden: But I think that the key is the incentive is much higher. So let’s say for example, you’re a vice president at a bank, there’s nothing wrong with working at a bank, right? A lot of my friends are VPS at banks and stuff. But the point that I’m driving is your incentive of getting really good at communication is more just to get promoted to C suite. It’s not really to change the world change the banking system, not really. But if you’re the founder of Stripe, like Patrick Collison is right, he’s the CEO of Stripe, it’s kind of like the back-end payment system for pretty much everything. That guy’s 29 right when he started Stripe he was much younger. So for him, the mission behind FinTech and what he’s doing at Stripe, is much bigger than himself. Same thing with Airbnb is founder, Brian Chesky. Right, creating a space where people feel they belong everywhere, any place, anytime. Because the mission is so great, the purpose of the entrepreneurs, the leaders of movements, their incentive to get better communication is huge. It’s through the roof. It’s worth millions of dollars to them. Right? So, someone pays them 1% of that and they get that result; they’ll do whatever it takes to get there. They’ll listen to what Brendan has to say. They’ll take the doubts. And those are the people I get really excited by. So, there’s even nonprofit founders, I coach for free just because they’re just so big in the game, that I’m like, ‘No, no, I’ll do it for free. I know you can’t afford me’. But of course, the corporate people do charge. Yeah.
Nelson: So it’s about potential impact.
Brenden: Yeah potential impact, yeah.
Nelson: The impacts that somebody can have on their own life in getting a promotion and the pay and all the status increase that comes with that, is just not as big as if this person was able to communicate better, because of their mission, they’d be able to impact thousands or millions of people all across the globe.
Brenden: Right and that’s just personal taste with me just because, I’m the Master Talk guy. I’m sure there’s other speech coaches to do that stuff and get paid very well for it, hence why they don’t share free content. But for me, it’s just been money’s great, and I love it like no one else does. But at the same time, like if I had to focus my time on one thing, it’s definitely thought leadership. It’s the videos that are going to change the world, not my coaching because I won’t be able to touch as many people except the lucky people who can afford me. But everyone else, it’s, it’s definitely through the videos.
Nelson: Perfect. Well I know where we’re a little bit push too tight for time now. So it would be great if you could kind of just summarise some of the things that we’ve talked about how to communicate well, in an online world. How to put yourself out there some of the some of the practices that you can incorporate in your own life.
Brenden: Absolutely. So the big summary here, if I were to summarise this, in a couple of sentences is the following. You will only master public speaking if you have a reason to do so. You don’t understand how the world would change through a great communicator, you’ll never become one. You need to make the decision first to say, I want to have better conversations by friends, I want to build better friendships with the people around me. I want to have more authentic connection with my family. And I want to share this recipe to eight other people that don’t know about the recipe yet. Once you get clear on that, then the rest becomes much easier. Whether it’s the random word exercise, whether it’s getting feedback that you probably don’t want to hear in the virtual rooms, or whether it’s obsessing over your audience and having conversations/dinners with them, understanding them, you will do all of those things. If your ideas demand it, and trust me if your ideas worth it, and matters enough to you, you’ll be doing all of those things and much more.
Nelson: Fantastic. Thank you so much for your appearance today, Brenden. And I’m sure people learned a lot; I definitely did. That’s fantastic. Where can people find you?
Brenden: Absolutely. So for those who want to check out the YouTube channel. It’s Mastertalk in one word. And if you want to reach out directly to me, and send me a message, ask me a question, the best way of doing this through Instagram. I’m at ‘master your talk’.
Nelson: Perfect. Thanks so much, Brenden. Really appreciate it and speak to you soon.
Brenden: Pleasure was mine.
Nelson: And that’s it for today. You’ve been listening to the working from home podcast with me, Nelson Jordan. We’ve been talking about the good, the bad, and the ugly side of remote work. Thanks so much for listening, and I really hope you’ve enjoyed the time you spent with us today. If you’d like to discuss the podcast, you want to make a new friend or you’re interested in working with me on a copywriting or digital marketing project. Then visit nelson-jordan.com. That’s nelson-jordan.com where you can also sign up to my newsletter to hear about this podcast and other exciting projects. Until next week, goodbye.