Turn Your Speaking Ability Into a Weapon
Greetings, Chief Storytelling Officers.
I’ve got a huge announcement coming later this week.
So let’s get right into it today.
Turn your speaking ability into a weapon
We've all met someone who sounds like a fantastic speaker.
They have the tone, the diction, the vocabulary, and they can deliver a speech flawlessly.
Case in point: one of my mock trial students at SMU Law School. He could check off all the boxes of what's conventionally seen as a great speaker.
Yet, his impact on the audience? Totally off.
While he may have achieved the title of sounding like a 'great speaker', he fell short in what truly mattered: moving his audience.
Speaking isn't just about sounding good; it's about invoking action or feeling.
Many of my founders in the last two years have this same exact problem.
So, I’m going to take you down a path to transform into a founder that can captivate their audience, whether it's their investors, customers or teams.
What Defines an Effective Speaker?
My years of working with founders have led me to a realization.
Effective speaking is a blend of vital elements: your core values, technical mastery and a genuine understanding of your message's strategy. And embracing the art of speaking and persuasion (more on that in a second).
It's not just about the how, but also about the why and the what. Without a clear strategy and purpose, your message can end up doing more harm than good.
Why Are Speaking and Persuasion Often Misunderstood?
Despite their importance, why do many struggle with speaking and persuasion?
Perhaps, it's because persuasion often gets mislabeled as being manipulative or salesy.
But persuasion isn't about manipulation; it's about presenting ideas in their best light.
Persuasion is everywhere.
From the advertisements we see daily, the movies we watch, to the books we read and even the tweets we scroll through, it's all about influencing our thinking.
Whether it's a technique from Naval or insights from James Clear, the goal remains: to sway us, shape our habits, or build our leverage.
It's time we acknowledge that persuasion isn't a dirty word. Rather, it's a fundamental aspect of our lives, and it's in our best interest to understand and master it.
The Lost Art of Speaking
Speaking is an oddity.
There was a time when people were more adept at it. However, in today's digital age, as connections multiply, so does judgment. In times gone by, without the looming shadow of the internet or phones, people were less anxious about being judged.
Now, a simple slip in an interview can be immortalized and thrown back years later. Many are wary of expressing themselves due to this fear of perpetual scrutiny.
Moreover, our educational system hasn't particularly helped. While we're taught writing, speaking - an equally vital skill - is often overlooked. This void leads to an unease, a discomfort, because we're venturing into uncharted waters without any guidance.
Speaking is learnable. And as you enhance your foundational skills, mastering the art of speaking can elevate your career and life.
In the age of Post-COVID, when traditional platforms like Toastmasters have faded, the challenge is finding genuine online resources amidst the noise.
Define Your Core Values
Your audience needs to feel you. And you can’t be felt unless you’re seen as someone who is driven by their values. Unless you’re deeply passionate about what you're talking about.
So, before you get to work on speaking, get to work on understanding what makes you tick.
Use me as an example.
Some of my core values are: compassion, persistence and persuasion.
Compassion - Stemming from my background as both a child abuse prosecutor and defense attorney, compassion for people and their stories is paramount to me. It's about building connections, not just transactions.
Persistence - When I set my mind on something, I commit. Whether it was my dream of dunking a basketball or any endeavor, persistence has always steered my actions.
Persuasion - We live in what I firmly believe is the age of persuasion. Everything around us, from media to everyday conversations, aims to persuade. It's an indispensable tool, both for communicating and recognizing when it's being used on us.
Hooking Them Right
To truly engage an audience, start strong and end powerfully. Two principles guide this: Primacy and Recency. The first thing people hear and the last are what they remember most vividly. To maximize this impact, start with an intriguing question and conclude with a compelling statement, leaving them pondering.
The Art of Pacing
Much like a musical composition, pacing is key. Speaking too fast can seem chaotic, and speaking too slow might lose the audience. By varying your speed, tone, and volume, you can create a dynamic speaking rhythm that captivates your listeners.
In the world of music and speaking, silence is golden. Strategically placed pauses after vital points or dramatic statements give the audience time to reflect and internalize the message. Let the weight of your words sink in.
Drawing Inspiration from Art
Art in all its forms—be it music, painting, photography, architecture, or literature—can provide invaluable insights into effective speaking. By studying the emotions that art evokes, we can reverse engineer our speech to replicate those feelings in our audience.
A Symphony of Words
Words, when articulated harmoniously, can move an audience just as music can. Amanda Gorman's inaugural poem serves as a stellar example. By dissecting her delivery, rhythm, and even gestures, we can glean techniques to enhance our own oratory skills.
Every interaction is an opportunity to create art through speech. By drawing inspiration from various art forms and meticulously crafting our delivery, we can elevate our speaking to a performance.
Let's not just communicate; let's captivate.
What I’m seeing in the market
Investors are testing founders more than ever and making sure they can stand up to the pressure. The founders I’m seeing close wires have put in the prep necessary to be unshakable and undeniable. Gone are the days of starting a fundraise without any prep. Those founders are getting crushed.
Be ready to spend 4-8 weeks in serious prep mode to dial in all of your communication strategy and practice how to frame and control the meetings.
I hear this all the time…”I’m an introvert so it’s hard for me to get investors excited.” Check out this video from Deion Sanders where he talks about how he’s an introvert.
A rare podcast I did where I talk all about fundraising and storytelling with VC Erica Wenger.
The debate between pitch deck or memo rages on but wherever you land this thread from Jason Shuman from Primary VC gives a great memo framework.
The founders I’ve worked with on their fundraising have now raised over $600,000,000.
If you’re wanting that same level of success on your fundraise you can apply to work with me. I have a full client list right now but am always on the lookout for exceptional founders to support.
A former trial lawyer and prosecutor in Dallas, TX, Robbie trains founders to become world-class storytellers and venture capital fundraisers.
In barely two years, he's helped founders raise $575,000,000 of venture capital.