Hadar: Welcome to the InFluency Podcast. I’m Hadar, and this is episode number 33. And today we’re going to have a conversation about public speaking with my friend Greg Smith.

Hey there. Welcome and thank you for joining me for another episode on the InFluency Podcast. Today we have something really fun and special for you because today we’re going to talk about public speaking. Now, public speaking is not really just you giving a TED talk. Public speaking is everything that is related to you communicating in public.

And a lot of people experience fear or anxiety around public speaking, and it is much increased when it comes to communicating in a second language. So, for today I wanted to invite a dear friend and an excellent professional. His name is Greg Smith. Greg Smith is, he does so many things, so many things. But one of the things that he does that relate to what we’re going to talk about today is he is a leadership and communications coach.

So, he helps people communicate freely with confidence, with impact. He actually wrote a book called “Speak like a Pro without looking like a jackass”. I love the title. He also has a podcast, named “Speak like a Pro”. So I’m going to link to everything in the show notes below.

Now, before we started the conversation, a few updates. So, we recorded this podcast before Covid-19. And, maybe some of the things that we talk about there are not going to be super relevant for today. Because right now there aren’t a lot of opportunities to speak in public because we are totally social distancing ourselves.

But I want you to know that many of the things that we’re going to discuss are very relevant for online communication, right? If you have to give a talk on Zoom or to speak up in the meeting with like 30 other people there waiting to hear what you have to say online staring at you. So I think a lot of the things that we discussed there, you can take it and use it in this new reality that we’re experiencing.

Also, because I talk about the situation pretty often here on my podcast, and it’s not related to the conversation about public speaking, but since Greg is also someone who does everything that he can to support people to spread their message or to support other people in need, then I’m going to take a moment and talk about what I want to do for you guys during these times.

Because I know that many of my listeners are business owners, and also English teachers who are now experiencing a huge financial setback, or different financial struggles because of Covid-19, because of everything that has happened. If you have a local business and you can no longer operate in your business, and if you need to start teaching online, you don’t know how to do that, or your students don’t want to learn online.

And I decided to address that in weekly lives on my Instagram account for as long as this period takes. So it’s not really related to English, but it definitely relates to, you know, what we talk about in this conversation today about building up your courage and doing things despite the fear, and also focusing on what people need.

And if you’re a business owner, this is what should drive you forward, like understanding what people need and how you can serve them. And I am more than happy to give you advice around that because I have an online business. And I have a lot of experience with creating products or coming up with solutions for things that I used to do locally.

Now I have a local school and an online business, and obviously I had to kinda like shut down my local school here in Tel Aviv, and to come up with other creative and innovative solutions for my students, and my customers, and my teachers that I want to support and have them, and still provide them with work.

So, I want to share from my experience and to help you figure out how you can still keep your business running. And I’m doing that on Instagram. So I do it every Tuesday, usually around 10:00 AM EST, New York time. But just follow my stories to know exactly when I go live.

And in the live, I just answer questions of teachers or people who are looking to understand how they can use this time to build their brand and find creative solutions online to keep their business running.

So I will be doing that every Tuesday until there’s no longer a need for that, every Tuesday around 10:00 AM New York time. Follow me on Instagram @hadar.accentsway, or you can just click the link in the show notes.

And now, let’s go back to what we are all here for, which is how to speak like a pro. Let’s welcome Greg Smith.

Hi Greg, welcome to my podcast.

Greg: Well, it’s pleasure to be here.

Hadar: So great having you here. Thank you so much for spending this time with me. I’m really excited. For those of you don’t know you, do you mind introducing yourself and telling your story? I’ve already introduced you, but do you mind telling us a little bit about you and about your relationship with public speaking and with everything that we’re going to talk about today?

Greg: Well, I’m somebody who was born into a family that was in the manufacturing. And I always wondered where I’d fit in cause I saw my dad run meetings and, you know, with the smoke filled rooms, and discussing how to wreck buildings and make things happen. And, and I just didn’t really connect with that.

And I always loved, you know, theatrics, I always loved performance. And I really didn’t want to get into, I don’t think movies or anything like that. However, it was always an interest of mine. And I went all through college and I started in a business, and really got into helping people with connecting with themselves and being able to express themselves, and actually finding their place in a company. Through their own words and their own actions.

And I happened to come across an assessment person named Daley Davis Taylor, who does a pro D assessment. And I took this assessment and it showed that I was a public speaker. And I said, “Well, I’m not really very good at it”. And he goes, “Oh, what, um, what coaches have you worked with?”

I go, “Coaches?” He goes, “Yeah, I do you have a voice coach?” I go, “No”. He goes, “Do you have a body coach? You know how to move your body?” I go, “No”. “How about a content coach?” I go, “No”. He says, “Oh, you’ve gone to seminars though, right?” I go, “No”. “So you’ve read books about it?” Right, and I go, “There’s books on it?” He goes, “Yeah, you’ve read the books, right?” I go, “No”. He goes, “Well, now no wonder, you’re no good”.

Hadar: You didn’t expect that.

Greg: No! Speech is a skill. So he said, “If you pour your life into this and get yourself around people that are, that are pros – not amateurs, pros – you will change your life very drastically because you’re wired for it”. And within three years, I had a book, I’m teaching at the university, and I’m coaching people on public speaking.

That’s how fast it was. Now, I poured into it. I mean, I literally, I was on the road a lot and studying with a lot of people and getting on stages. And I realized, I liked more helping people than actually being on the stage. I can do that and I enjoy it. However, watching somebody find themselves and hit a mark is much more fulfilling for me.

Hadar: So, basically, what you’re saying here is as you have trained yourself and as you work with other people, this is not something that you have to be born with. A lot of people think that, “Oh, you’re born a public speaker”, and then they feel, “Okay, fine, I don’t have those qualities, then I shouldn’t even, you know, try”. Or people avoid situations, like public speaking situations or giving talks because they think that they’re not, they’re not talented at it.

Greg: Well, I don’t know. There’s, you know, definitely like you see like, LeBron James, okay. What brought famous basketball player? Physicality. His physical being helps him become a better basketball player. But he’s put the time and effort into and no one sees. People don’t see how he comes earlier than anybody else and stays later than everybody else.

Everybody thinks he was gifted and born that way, which is totally crazy. Amadeus Mozart. Everybody thinks, “Oh, a prodigy”. No such thing. He was three, his dad started playing with him, and he started learning music. So he had a 20 year jump on everybody else. That’s why he was good.

With speaking, everybody’s going to be unique. It’s when you try to be somebody else. Like if I try to be Les Brown, I’m going to fall flat on my face cause I’m not Les Brown. But Les Brown being Les Brown does great. I’m Greg Smith, I need to be Greg Smith. I need to figure out what makes me unique and different, not what makes me what I think I should be, or the same as everybody else.

Hadar: So good. And, you know, most of the audience listening to this podcast are non-native speakers. And a lot of people think, “I don’t have the advantage that native speakers have”, right? So what you’re saying right now is, you know, like you can’t think about yourself as disadvantaged because of the fact that you were a non-native speaker.

Or, right – like that’s one way of looking at it – or is it true? Like do they really like, are they a little bit behind in this race of, you know, showing up being good speakers because they’re non-natives? And what are you thoughts around that?

Greg: I think that what’s really interesting about Americans is we really enjoy accents. We really like, we think people are smarter when they don’t have a normal act, it’s just kind of crazy. What you teach in and how to pronounce words so people can understand you, and that’s huge.

You know, the speed of presentations is huge too. If you talk slowly to people, that means you’re talking down to them. You’ve got to watch that. But if you’re talking to a normal rate and you’re yourself and you have a little bit of an accent, which he says, “Oh, they’re not from here?”

Americans all obviously always think you’re smarter than everybody else. Why do we do that? I don’t know, but we do it. And it’s to the advantage of the non-native speaker.

Hadar: That’s so interesting because most of the people that I talk to are afraid that people are going to judge them and think they’re less intelligent because of their accents. And what you’re saying actually, it’s quite the opposite, which is really nice to know. But it’s so interesting how people are projecting their own fears and their own judgment, like they think that other people think that about them, but it’s actually their own judgment, not other people’s. Right? Especially non-native speakers.

Greg: Absolutely. And it’s usually factors you’re not thinking of. Like I mentioned, speed. You know, if you’re a British speaker, and you speak very slow, somebody will think, you think you’re superior to them. Right?

So, but if they speak like normal talk, they just talk like, “Oh, it’s my buddy”, from England. And that’s where it gets, you know, that’s the difference. You know, there’s other factors involved, and you hit all those. I mean, you’re a master at those things. And if people follow those things, there’ll be a lot more susceptible to be understood. And from an emotional context, be connecting.

Hadar: Right. So, at the end of the day, that’s what it’s about, right – connecting with each other and communicating.

Greg: Yeah, absolutely. And I think I shared this: a good friend of mine, Scott Mann, who is a former green beret in the military. In the United States, it’s the elite forces of fighters, and they are dropped behind enemy lines, and they have to make friends with the enemy or they get shot. So they have to know how to connect better than anybody in the world.

And what he says is, “All human beings are meaning-seeking emotional, social story creatures”. In other words, we’re meaning-seeking, we have to find meaning in things. We’re emotional, which means we have to have emotional connection. And I mean, we have to have emotions involved.

Social means we have to connect. In fact, your brain will literally shut down if you don’t have interactions with other human beings. And we’re story creatures. In other words, we believe we, we think in narrative, we talk, and there we store memories in narrative. Everything’s narrative. So if you don’t communicate in narrative, you won’t connect.

Hadar: So good. Okay, so let’s say that I’m about to give a public talk, and these are my pillars that I base my communication around, or my talk around. But then I walk on stage and I start getting this anxiety – and we’re going to talk about state stage fright in a sec – but I get all stressed out and all of those things, like they disappear.

What would you tell a person who has a stage fright and forgets about the whole idea of storytelling or connection, or finding meaning when talking to other people?

Greg: You know, that’s a sticky one because everybody’s different, and everybody has different fears and phobias and issues. And we all have them and they’re all unique.

I would say the number one rule is what I just said. Everybody is like you – they’re all meaning-seeking, they’re all emotional social story animals. Okay? We just are. So they’re like you. So what I would say is when you’re looking into that crowd, instead of worrying about them judging you, which they are, and you’re judging them – hello, right?

So look at them and try to see yourself in them. Try to find yourself in other people, and there will be somebody in that audience that you really connect with. That happens every time. Find the friendly face. Somebody will like you. Guess what? It always happens. Somebody will. Talk to that person.

And then as that warms up, guess what humans do? I want attention to. I want you to like me too. So they’ll start doing what they need to do to get your attention, and it all starts to work that way because we want to connect. Humans naturally want to connect.

Hadar: It’s really true. And I think it’s true for one on one conversations as well. Like if you look at someone and you’re like, there must be something, someplace where we can connect. We must have something that we both share, like an experience or a passion, or something. Like, even if you don’t talk about it, you have to know that the person in front of you, especially if you feel judged or if you feel that you get stuck for speak, for people who are less confident about their English.

I mean, if you go down to basics, which is like we’re all the same and I can see, can see myself in you, I think that can take off a lot of the pressure and a lot of the stress around conversing and around communicating.

Greg: And here’s another thing that, guess what? Not everybody is going to connect with you. Not everybody’s going to like you. Sorry, you don’t like everybody and you don’t connect with everybody. There are certain people you like more than others.

When you’re authentic, it’s like a magnet and you bring people in. It’s like I connected with you because of your passion, right, and your confidence in what you do. That’s why I connected with you. I try to honestly do the same thing. That’s what I do. And we connected on those levels.

And is that like knowledge or skills or, you know, it has nothing to do with that. It has to do with how you approach life. And that’s how people will connect with you. So be authentic, be yourself, and the world will literally come to you.

Hadar: So true. And I think that I had to come to this understanding as well, because, you know, showing up, and on social media, and doing what I’m doing really attracts a lot of criticism. There was a time where I would really allow it to affect me.

And even, you know, I would change some stuff and get really self-conscious about it, but I had to realize exactly what you are saying along with, you know, understanding that my disadvantages are my advantages. Or the fact that I’m a non-native speaker is actually to my advantage, and not hiding it or not being afraid of saying it publicly.

And owning up to my mistakes and everything that I do imperfectly. I think that was also the transformation where I said, “This is who I am. This is my identity”. And that made me more authentic, which as a result, allowed me to attract people who are seeking just that, you know.

Because we don’t want to be more of the same. And this is why I’m telling my students and my followers, that idea of ‘speak like a native’ ultimately means ‘don’t speak like yourself’. And there’s a problem with that.

So, you don’t want to sound like someone else. You want to find your voice. Yes, clarity is important, pace is important, your rhythm is important. Understanding the language is crucial. I mean, even people who are born into English, they need to understand the language better in order to become better speakers. So it’s not just the work of the non-native speakers, right?

Greg: I think when you come to Youngstown, you’ll be surprised. We have, this is, my friends from Israel that have been here, have told me this is a cosm of the United States. We have 52 religions here. We have all types of foods here. It’s really a microcosm of the entire United States. And half my class is non-native speakers.

Hadar: Oh, cool. No, I didn’t know that. Okay. So yeah, definitely. Do you think that there’s anything different about how they, would they bring, when they come to classes and when they, do you feel that they have resistance or different fears?

Greg: I don’t have a problem just putting it out there. Just saying, you know, when you’re going to talk monotone, people are going to get bored with you, even though what you’re saying is brilliant. You got to say something. That’s the one thing with the Mehrabian study, you know, the 7% or the words, and 38% and 55%, 93% of the impact has nothing to do with what you say.

That’s not true. If you put really good stuff in, the words, okay, and there’s a megaphone, the megaphone is your voice quality is in your body language, then you have incredible message, right? If you put crap in or bad stuff in, you just get crap with sprinkles at the end.

I mean, what you say is important, however, how you deliver it is the impact you’ll have. And that’s where it’s important. Don’t question your, um, if you know what you got to say and you have something to say, figure out how to say it.

Hadar: Yeah. So, so that people will listen. Like it’s everything together. It’s really not just about finding the right words, but it’s also not just about – you know, I’m just supporting what you’re saying – it’s not just about using the perfect melody. I mean, it really does go together, but you need to understand that it goes together.

So if you are, you know, if one part is not your strengths, then this is something that you can work on. It’s not innate, it’s not something you’re born with it and that’s it.

Greg: You know, I have an interesting story. When I was in high school, there was a young lady I really wanted to get a problem with. And I practiced over and over and over and over again the words I was going to use to ask her out. I finally go over her house, we talked for a while. I never asked her until I’m leading my back’s turned her as I’m going out the door: “So do you go to prom with me?” And she goes, “No”.

And I turned around, I go, “What do you mean, no?” She goes, “You can’t even look at me and ask me. And you asked me as you’re walking out the door? I’m worth more than that”. And I went, whoa.

Hadar: Wow, good for her!

Greg: Yeah, thank you [both laughing].

Hadar: Well, she’s right.

Greg: I’m not disagreeing with that at all. That time it was crushing for me cause I didn’t understand the complexities of communication. Didn’t understand what just happened. I thought the words had to be right. And it’s not the words. The words are important, but it’s how you deliver them.

Hadar: Right.

Greg: I should have shown my authenticity of my desire to take her to prom, that she was special, and it would mean the world to me if I could escort her, and I didn’t do that. I said, it was a passer-by comment.

Hadar: Maybe you just didn’t want to show her that you were nervous and you’re afraid that your voice is going to tremble. So…

Greg: Here’s a good thing, and this is for musicians, for martial artists, this’ll, this’ll click for you. But if you’re in your head, you’re not connected to your body. You’ve got to get into your body. You’ve got to feel your body. And when you get your thoughts down inside your center, then you’re a lot more apt to express yourself, so you’re more authentic. The minute you get in your head and you’re heady, and people don’t like heady. Heady doesn’t have anything.

But then when you get in your body and you feel your all body, and you allow it, your thinking that come from the center of your body, it’s a whole different experience for everyone, including yourself.

Hadar: So can you elaborate on that a bit? So, for me, it makes total sense, but for people listening, I hear people saying, “What does that even mean to get it in your body?”

Greg: Get a partner, get a partner, it’s somebody, and just for, just have them stand like this, right? And this is you, and this is your partner. And just get heady. Just put all your thoughts in your head, and have your partner push and pull your shirt, just push and pull your shirt.

And then, go from your head to your body, just feel your body, think from your body. You’ll be solid, like they won’t be able to move you as much. Like, why? What’s the difference? Because one, you’re not in connection with yourself. The other, one you’re in complete connection with yourself. Makes a huge difference.

I remember I was, I picked up, I don’t know if people know who Wynton Marsalis is. He’s one of the best trumpet players that’s alive today.

Hadar: Love him, yes.

Greg: And I got to play his trumpet, which weighs 20 pounds, by the way, and it’s, I think, $50,000. But I got to play his trumpet, and if he’s hearing us now, um, that didn’t really happen, we’ll just say.

Hadar: I got it. So it wasn’t, it’s over his permission. Okay.

Greg: No, it was, it was the guy that was fixing it, and he let me do it. He said, “Just don’t tell him”. “No, not in this universe”. Anyway, I picked up his horn and I started playing it. And he goes, “Where are you? “I go, “What do you mean where am I?” He says, “Where are you?” I say, “I’m right here”. He goes, “No, where are you mentally?” I say, “I’m watching myself play”. And that’s the worst place to be, get in your center, get in your center. And that’s another thing.

Don’t just get in your head. Some people go out here and they watch themselves, and they’re really separate. Yeah.

Hadar: Yeah. That is, that happens so much when speaking in public, when acting. By the way, I remember that was our biggest, my biggest struggle, when I had to do all those scenes and I’d be like watching myself and think, “did I do this right? Should I walk here, should I walk there?”

And the moment I’m like right there in the character, thinking about the objectives or, you know, what I’m experiencing, just like in touch with my emotions. I think that was when it really, it was really, really powerful for me and for the people watching.

And I think being in your head also when speaking English, right, speaking a second language, that is something that we constantly do. And then, “Oh, I made a mistake”. ” Oh, I didn’t pronounce it correctly”. And then, and that’s like, usually that happens when speaking and then English goes downhill, fluency goes downhill.

Because then you start making stupid mistakes because all you’re thinking about is yourself speaking, rather than trying to retrieve the words or thinking about communicating, or just being in the moment, looking at the other person, and you know, listening to them. Sometimes we are so consumed listening to ourselves, then we forget to listen to what the other person is saying.

Greg: So, there’s a really good practice for this – reading out loud. You know, a lot of people, so you get in your head reading out loud, you’ll really mess up. If you center yourself and you’re reading out loud, you sound much more fluid, it’s much better.

Hadar: Yeah. Yeah. And it’s interesting because when you read out loud, you’re not so much aware of what you’re reading. Right? Like have you noticed that you may read something and then you’re like, “What did I just read?” But you’re in the moment, you hear the words, you pronounce every word, you know, correctly, and you understand the flow. But then that’s just a sign that you’re not in your head, cause you’re not thinking necessarily about what you’ve just read. You experienced the words and the voice and how you put it all together.

Greg: And on my path with speaking, I know when I first started speaking out, I was always, “How do I do, how do I do, how do I do?” And then you get to the point where you don’t care. Like you do it and you don’t care. It’s like weird. And then you get to the point where you know if you did good or not, but you don’t care. You just know.

You say, “Hey, I did great here, or I didn’t do good here”, and you make adjustments. But you don’t let it destroy your day. It’s a really weird transformation, but you go through these phases when you become a pro, you really do.

Hadar: That’s really good. You know, I was listening to your podcast the other day, and you talked there about, and you’ve mentioned it earlier now and I really wanted you to talk about it cause I felt that it’s really similar to what people experience when speaking a second language, about the different stage frights, right.

Then you said that there are a few, so I’d love you to talk about a bit what are the different stage frights, and how can people overcome them.

Greg: One of the biggest ones is, how can I say, debilitating as a phobia, where you literally get out of yourself. And this association is the way you handle that. And, you know, real quick exercises, which you saw in a theater – watching yourself give a talk, watching the talk where you lost it.

Okay? Then, as you’re watching yourself, step out and float up into the control room, so you’re in the control room, watching yourself watch yourself. And see how you feel. If you still feel a little anxious, watch yourself watch yourself watch yourself. Get to the point where you disassociate so far out that now it doesn’t bother you anymore. Okay?

Now float back in and then change the picture on the, change the colors. Change the, make it black and white, make it bright, make it dull. Change the temperature of the room, change so that you start to feel okay with it. That’s how you find where you’ve disassociated from that phobia.

And the reason I say disassociate, when you study phobias – people are cured from phobias when they disassociate from the fear. And the way that you disassociate is you disassociate.

Hadar: And you can do that with your mind, you don’t have to go on stage and do it over and over again. You can actually practice it before entering yourself to, or start disassociating yourself. That’s really interesting.

Greg: Yeah, that’s, that’s the main one. Other ones are just, a big one is not knowing what you’re doing. Like anybody that is a pro, in heart knows, “Hey, I’m doing something I’m not really good at, and it makes me feel uncomfortable”. So, study it, get to know, develop the skills. It’s a muscle, you know, train the muscle.

Hadar: Come prepared. You can’t walk on stage and expect to shine when you are unprepared, or when you did it once out loud. Yeah, for sure.

Greg: You gotta run the miles. You’ve got to run the miles. And the last one is, being self-conscious, thinking that people are gonna judge you. And they are, I’m just telling you, and you judge everybody else. That’s going to happen.

And again, I said what to do is try to find yourself in other people, try to be different and be okay with being different because that’s what people like. Do you, do you love to watch people that are all the same, or do you love to watch people that are different?

It’s just like when we talk about story, and I’m going to jump a little bit, when we talk about story, no one ever wants to talk about their struggles because they’re ashamed of their struggles. But guess what? That’s all people want to see. People slow down to see accidents because of the struggle. People watch football, you know, football means different things to you than me, but it means the same thing to everybody.

People watch, they don’t go, “Hey, just tell me the score, I don’t need to watch the game”. That never happens! We love the struggle. We love it. So you’re going to talk about that. And people love a little bit of seeing you on stage trying to fight, to deal with yourself in front of other people. Kind of like to see a little bit of that. “Are they gonna make? Are they gonna pass out? What’s going on?”

It doesn’t get that bad, but what I’m trying to say, people like it when you’re authentic like that. They do. They’ll come run you and love you and support you, if you’re there for the right reasons. Absolutely.

Hadar: And if they see the human in you, people are not looking for perfection, they’re not looking for people who don’t make any mistakes.

Greg: Yeah. I think the biggest mistake a speaker can make is going up on stage with unresolved issues with what they’re talking about.  You can’t dump that on the audience. They’re going to reject you, they’re going to push back.

But if you’ve learned a valuable lesson in life, and you can share that with people and you can share the struggle you went through to learn that lesson, you’re now a gladiator for whatever you’re talking about. And people will pay attention because they love humanity. That is our humanity.

You know, it just like, it’s funny with leadership, people think leaders are the people that stand up there and they’re just proud and they’re just people just bow to them. No. Leaders are the ones that roll up their sleeves, breathe and go, “Well, somebody’s got to do it”. And they jump in and get it done. That’s a leader.

So, I think there’s some misconceptions about what the speaking experience is like, but just like swimming, you can’t study it, you gotta get in the pool. So you got to get on stages. You got to start to try. You got to start to throw yourself out there.

Hadar: Absolutely. And I think even if something feels like a failure or like, you know, like a totally horrible experience, you can still learn from it. And the good news is that you’re going to get better next time because you have to go through it. It’s like I always say, you gotta make mistakes in order to speak fluently. Like there’s no such thing as speaking a second language without making mistakes, whatsoever.

Greg: Yeah. It’s, you know, when you ask somebody what the greatest lesson they learned in their life was, they don’t say, “Oh, when I hit the lottery”, that’s not what they say. You know, they’ll say, “Well, when I, you know, I told a lie to my parents, and the look my father gave me changed my life”. That’s the kind of thing.

It’s when you hit the bottom and you bounce back up, those are your greatest lessons. It’s not when everything goes right. So, you know, think about it. When you go on the stage and you’re nervous about it, you don’t know what’s going to happen. You’re either gonna, you know, you might have a good story to tell yourself.

And that’s another point: what stories are you telling yourself? Are you saying, “I’m no good. I don’t deserve to be up here”. Or, “This is my first time, I’m going to learn and I’m going to get really good. Because there is all kinds of people around”.

And another thing I want to tell people is, amateurs won’t tell you what to do or won’t help you because they think it’s a secret. Experts and pros will just tell you everything because they know the hard work you’ve got to go through to get where they’re at.

Right? So anybody that doesn’t want to help you, or he says, “Oh, that’s a secret”, or, you know, that’s an amateur. They just are. Find that person that wants to pour into you.

Hadar: Yeah, It really resonates with me because a lot of times I get asked, “Well, you’re sharing all this content, and aren’t you afraid that people are not going to buy your courses?” Or, and I’m like, “No, because I know that content and knowledge alone are not enough”. Like people need to put in the hard work. So in my course, I offer a path, like a guidance,  right?

But if you’re on your own, human beings tend to just consume, consume, consume, and not put it into practice. And then get frustrated.

Greg: Well they also want to connect with you.

Hadar: And they also want to connect, right. That’s why they would connect.

Greg: The energy, you know, that energy, that energy when you’re here, you can’t get from a book.

Hadar: Yeah, absolutely. And I think that this is why when you have something to share, and every person has something that they know so deeply and so profoundly, and they’re so passionate about that they can contribute and help. I mean, I’m all about sharing and putting it out there because it only brings abundance.

And also, helping other people, no matter what it is, you know, whether it’s English, or public speaking, or how to groom dogs, you know? It’s like, I think you can share your knowledge, and especially when it comes to speaking English.

I think that when you talk people often think, “Well, I don’t have what to talk about, and I don’t know how to practice my English”. Start making videos, talking about what you’re passionate about, teaching other people. You really get fluent when you start teaching and giving knowledge.

Because then you know that you need to say something in such a precise way, and you know how it’s supposed to sound. And that triggers this whole process of just like saying something confidently and clearly, and then you feel empowered. And that just starts the ball rolling, and the ball rolling. And I feel that this for me also, when I started teaching, that was the turning point.

Greg: Absolutely. I have a son. I think he’s my son because he’s never gotten a B in his life, he’s always had A’s, or he’s always had high marks. He’s written a book about it. And one of the biggest things, the biggest secrets to doing well is looking at something like you have to teach it to somebody else. Because it gives you, you know, it’s funny when you, whenever you’re doing something for somebody else, you know.

The Spartans had 300 against 10,000 Persians, right, at the Gates of Thermopylae. What do they do? They were fighting for the person next to them, not for themselves. When you can do that in anything, you will do more cause humans, again, we’re bound to connect and collaborate with other human beings. It’s in our DNA. It’s what we’ve been doing for centuries.

Hadar: So when you get all self-conscious and in your head about the mistakes that you make or about, you know, you’re not showing up well on stage, stop thinking about yourself, start thinking about the people you’re speaking with. Right?

Greg: Yeah. And again, try to find yourself in other people, try to see yourself in other people. And speak to that.

Hadar: You talked about, I wanted to ask you before, you talked about using visualization when you want to get rid of stage fright and you do that through a disassociation. Have you ever tried or worked with your students on visualizing giving a talk before going on stage? Because I had that idea of helping my students by having them visualize themselves giving a really successful talk, so they will already have had that experience.

Greg: I love that. Let’s take this a step further. This is great stuff. So, you know when you’re up on stage and you forget what you’re going to say, what is happening there is you’ve hit an emotional part of your body. You have a visceral feeling where you have not practiced the word you’re saying with that feeling. Let me say that again. You are experiencing an emotional feeling, a visceral feeling, where you have not said the word or thought those words or had those thoughts in that feeling.

Hadar: Yeah.

Greg: So what you want to do is not only practice visualizing, but practice like your Henry VIII talking the crowd. Or you’re a six-year-old trying to tell everybody, you know, how this is done. Just different characters cause different characters have different emotions.

And then it gets down to something that’s huge, huge. And we haven’t talked about breath. You know, I worked with, in my past, a big martial artist. And Bruce Lee was somebody I really admired in my lifetime. And I had a chance to work with and study with Ted Wong, who was one of Bruce Lee’s proteges.

And I went for my first lesson and he said to me, he said, “What does the human body need more than anything?” And I said, “Well, you know, you can’t go more than two weeks without water”. And he goes, “Now, don’t move a muscle, don’t do anything”. And I said, “I just want to do something”. And he comes up and he pinches my nose and he holds my mouth”. And I’m like, “What are you doing?” And he says, “You can only last two minutes without breath”.

The most important function your body does is breathe. And what do we do as human beings? We learn to sit. And when we sit, it shuts off the main muscle, which is our diaphragm, and we learn to breathe with our chest.

So 98% of human beings on this planet are chest breathers. And when your chest breathe, I’m going to go into chest breathing now, it sounds like there’s an animal going to get me, and I’m kind of nervous and anxious, and you know, that happens. See, when you breathe with your diaphragm, now your voice just expands and it has an upper and a lower range and you’re more relaxed.

The one thing we didn’t talk about is physicality. And emotions are directly connected. What you’re doing with your body at any moment in time is how you feel. In other words, if you put your arms out and look up at the sky and smile and breathe, you breathe like you completely and totally happy. Try to be sad, you can’t do it. You can’t do it.

But then pose your body up and put your head in your chest, and you put an ugly face on, and then try to be excited. You can’t do it. So, when you’re not breathing, and breathing is central to everything, so when you’re breathing with your chest, you’re not breathing right.  That’s going to cause more, that’s going to compound any nervousness you have, any issues you have with the stage.

So the number one thing you do is breathe. And I’ll throw one more in. What special forces, elite fighting forces do before they go into any battle, they go sink and they all take a breath. And then go. Why do they do that? Because they want to sink their breath. They want to make sure they’re breathing. The number one elite forces in the world, before they go into the most critical situations in the world, take a breath before they go in. That’s what they do. So, when we go on stage, we got to be in touch knowing how to diaphragmic breathe. That’s important.

Hadar: And not to manipulate the breath, sometimes people hold their breath or they stop, they don’t take a breath before speaking, to their chest or to their bellies, like nothing. Or they keep on speaking without taking a new breath. I absolutely agree. And that creates a lot of tension. Or they start hyperventilating, because there’s too much oxygen or there’s too little. So everything gets messed up when breath is messed up.

Greg: And human beings are very perceptive. I mean, think about it. You know, when we, thousands of years and thousands of years have gone by, but there was a point in time where animals hunted us and we hunted animals.

And when we had to always be, there were the ones that were aware and the ones that were like doing the stuff and making the food and all that. And the ones that were aware when they went, “Whoa, Whoa!” everybody got attention. Well that’s, what happens is your whole body changes its chemistry to save yourself.

Part of that is how you’re breathing. So if you’re breathing like there’s an animal gonna attack you, everybody in their audience is going to be a little nervous. Like, where’s the animal? Innately, their reptilian brain goes, “There must be a threat. What’s the threat?” They can’t help themselves.

So, when you’re relaxed and you allow breath to do its job, then people can relax and be more in the moment, rather than worrying about any outside forces that are threatening you.

Hadar: Right. And I think this is especially important when you just start speaking, right. Usually people start with that nervous energy and the adrenaline, and the breath goes really fast and everything that you just described happened. And the first few minutes are also the minutes where people kind of like create their opinion of you. Like they have their, “Okay, I like this, I don’t like this. I want to tune in. I don’t want to tune in”.

And when you come in, and especially when you speak English as a second language, then people need to get used to the way you pronounce things and your rhythm. So, people tend to speak either really, really fast and breathe heavily and not being connected to their breath and their emotions.

And as a result, people lose the first few minutes and they already have an opinion, and they have already decided that they want to listen to you or not. So I always say, you really need to be in control in the first few minutes. Then you have the freedom of going into more natural direction. And usually, by that point, the adrenaline lowers so, yeah, I think, I think this is something

Greg: I have to say, you know, that nine seconds was what it was, I think about a year ago, now it’s down to seven. Seven seconds is all you have, seven. Seven seconds for people to make an impression. It’s that fast. So your first word out of your mouth, you have to practice. What is that word going to be?

“Hi!” Or “Good to see you!” Now, everybody says that. I say, “When…” When. “When I was 12 years old…” or, you know, when this, or whatever word you’re going to use, practice that word like crazy. So when you say it, it like lands, the first word out of your mouth. Because that’s what get people get to hear, and that’s when they’ll judge you.

The first seven seconds, they’ll be like, “Oh, here we go”. If you start like everybody else: “Well, it’s a pleasure to be here. Thank you for the warm introduction”, you can always thank people in the middle of your speech.

Hadar: Or saying your name when someone just introduced you by your name, right? That’s also something that I see a lot.

Greg: Yeah. Don’t. If you’re memorable, they’re going to come up and want your name. You didn’t even have to say it. They’ll be like, “Who was that?” Well, that a little bit of mystique sells a lot of products. So I’m telling you right now, be a little mysterious, you know, if you forget to tell them your name, and they want to know it, that’s a good thing.

Hadar: Yeah. So, how would you recommend for people to prepare for public talk? What are the things both in terms of content, cause I know you do that as well.

Greg: Yeah, I know how to answer this one. When you go on holiday or vacation, what do you do? You don’t just go, “Oh, um, let’s go on holiday or vacation”. “Where are we going?” Isn’t that the next word out of people’s mouths? “What are we doing?”, right? Nobody just goes, they just don’t get in the car and just start driving. You know, what do you have to pack? How do you prepare? Right?

I always love it when people say, “I don’t know what to do with my talk”. And they start with the introduction. And I’m going like, “Why? You don’t even know where you’re going”. Like, why get your car ready for vacation, or why get packed if you don’t know where you’re going.

So the number one thing you have to do is know where you want to end up. How do you want people to think? And thinking is the process of asking and answering questions. So, what questions do you want them asking themselves when you’re done? How do you want them to feel when you’re done? Emotional context is everything.

So do you want them to feel hungry? You want him to feel excited? You want them to feel curious? What emotion do you want them to feel? If you want them to take action, it’d better be motivation, it’d better be hunger, it’d better be whatever. It could be fear. You know, American politicians love using fear to scare everybody. And I don’t know what it’s like over there, but that’s what, that’s what we do over here. Because it makes people act.

And think, feel, and what do you want them to do? Like you’ve got to give them directions. Always tell somebody the next step when you’re done. What can they do next? If they want to change your mind or do something different, that’s up to them. But a lot of people say, “I don’t know what to do. Where do I go? How do I find this information?”

So, think, feel, do. Know exactly what those things are. Especially the ‘feeling’ one. People don’t think they dismiss that one. How do you want them to feel? Then work backwards. If that’s my conclusion, that’s how I’m going to leave them. What points do I need to make during my talk to get them there? And they need to be in parallel.

Don’t talk about pitfalls and then talk about benefits. Either all benefits or all pitfalls. Or make it a bigger umbrella, which will wash your message. The more specific your message, the more tight woven your messages, the more impact it’s going to have. Period.

And then your introduction. What story or anecdote allows you to be the person to speak about what you’re speaking about? What ties you personally into this? Whether it’s something you observed or something you experienced that’s resolved, that makes you a gladiator for this moment in time. And people will listen to you because they know you’re human, and they know that you went through a struggle and learned something, and you don’t want them to go through the same struggle.

Hadar: Right. Story seeking. We’re all story seeking.

Greg: We are. So, after you worked it backwards, so you have the introduction, which is, you know, the most powerful speakers tell a story in the beginning. And then their first point – story, second point – story, third point – story, conclusion. And it’s just like, get them on the plane, fly the plane, land the plane.

But you have to know your destination before you start. And if you don’t know it, then don’t do anything. I always use this OMV. Objectives. What’s your objectives for your talk? And this you can ask yourself or you can ask the person asking you to speak. What are your objectives?

How are you going to Measure success? In other words, is it qualitative and quantitative measurements? What are they? If they, number one, if your objectives don’t match up with what you can talk about or what you want to talk about, then don’t talk. If they don’t know how to measure success, then don’t talk. If you don’t know how to measure success, then don’t talk.

And the third one is what Value is to you? In other words, if you speak into the objectives that were set, if you hit the measurements that were put down, what value is that to you or the people you’re speaking for? If those three questions can’t be answered, then don’t talk. Don’t do it. It’s never going to work out.

But if those three things, you’ll know exactly what you need to do, now you can figure out your think-feel-do, and work backwards, and you’ve got your talk.

Hadar: And this is not impossible. Like it’s just, it requires more work and it’s not like this easy-peasy thing, let’s just go speak on stage. People need to put in the work and the thought into it.

Greg: Yeah. It’s not easy, but it’s simple. And trust me, it’s a lot less work when you’re clear and everybody understands you, then when you’re unclear and people are confused. It just is.

Hadar: Yeah. Okay. Wow, this was fantastic. And I think we’re going to end with that. Like, just leave this for people to think about. And maybe if there’s anything else that you’d like to share or any other tips?

Greg: I think we talked about it at the beginning. Believe in yourself. And I’m not talking about being arrogant or better than everybody else. You know, believe in yourself. You’re on this earth for a reason. You’re on this earth to make an impact, however that is. And it’s your differences that will make the impact, not your similarities, or not you trying to be like what something you’ve seen.

You’re completely unique. There are no two people on this planet alike at all. When you add an experience, as you add in how you’re wired, how you think, everything, which is totally unique. Lean into that, become more who you are and the world will come to you.

Hadar: Amen to that. And thank you for saying it. So, Greg, where can people find out more about you?

Greg: gregsmithleadership.com is always going to stay up. That’s G, R, E, G. S, M, I, T, H, leadership, L, E, A, D, E, R, S, H. I, P. dot com will always direct them to somewhere, wherever we end up branding that at. But that one’s available.

Hadar: Good. And of course, we’re going to link to it in the show notes, as well as to your podcast, that I recommend. And that’s it.

So, thank you so, so much for sharing all of this beautiful knowledge with us, very helpful. And I personally really enjoyed talking to you about this. And I can go on speaking to you about public speaking, and voice, and breath for ever and ever. Yeah.

So, thank you so much and have a beautiful day.

Greg: You too.