How can you deliver an impactful message to your clients? Corey Poirier, the founder of The Speaking Program, is a multiple-time TEDx, MoMondays, bLU Talks, and PMx speaker. In this episode, Scott Carson talks with Corey about some of the ways to help business owners and entrepreneurs become and grow as better speakers through the art of communication. As a seasoned speaker, podcaster, and standup comedian himself, he shares the vital elements you need to assess when executing your piece. Know more about delivering the right speech to the right audience at the right setting with Corey.
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Confidently Communicating With Corey Poirier
I’m excited and jacked up to have a friend on the show here that is going to add a lot of value to everybody that’s reading this. We’re excited to have you here. You’re going to want to grab a pen and paper because you probably get some great tips, advice and counseling from somebody who’s the best in the industry. I’m talking about my buddy, Corey Poirier. Corey is a multiple-time at TEDx speaker, the Founder of bLU Talks and The Speaking Program. He’s also an award-winning keynote speaker and bestselling author. He’s been featured on television specials, podcasts, radio shows. He’s a Forbes and Entrepreneur columnist. I had the good fortune of meeting him at the New Media Summit. This guy has a big heart. What speaks loudly about it is I’ve met some of his friends and some of his clients beforehand who become friends and you’ve seen how well they do, what they’re doing and how they talk and brag about Corey. Without further ado, we are honored to have Corey joining us. Corey, how’s it going?
It’s going fantastic, Scott. Thank you so much for that humbling introduction. It is appreciated.
When you’re good at what you do, you should have a good presentation. Why don’t you share with our audience out there a little bit more who Corey is and how you got into one what you’re doing?
I usually share these days that I never used to think it was that significant to add, but I grew up in a small town. I add that now and maybe this is a good thing, I didn’t realize it was meant to be a detriment. I have people saying all the time, “You grew up in a small little town like me. I can’t believe he was able to do this or this.” Maybe that’s a benefit that I may be ignorant of that. I thought, “What’s the difference?” It’s the interesting part is back then, the truth is though, when I was younger, the world wasn’t as small as it is now, so it was harder.
My point is I grew up in a small town raised by a single mother and also co-raised by my grandfather who became a second father to me. My father lived nearby but wasn’t active in my life. My mother, being a single mother, I got to witness all the ways that she struggled but still carried herself with grace and compassion. My grandfather was that grade three education carpenter bag of nails and a hammer, the word is the strongest bond. He taught me a lot of life lessons that I didn’t realize at the time I was being taught. That’s a big part of my back story and background now. When I was that age and even early in my career, I didn’t realize that was a part that should be mentioned, especially at that time growing up from a small town was maybe a little bit harder. I don’t know how deep you want me to go, but that’s the start of my backstory.
It doesn’t matter wherever you’re at, how big or small. I grew up in a town of 3,500 where if you got in trouble, your parents knew about it faster than you did. I enjoyed growing up in a small town. I looked back at and it was a great opportunity because the bigger the city is, the more overlooked you get. More opportunities, but you’d become a number in a small town. If you are active and obviously you have been, it builds those characters to take action when others would maybe, “I’m not going to take the opportunities.” We realize that if there is an option, I need you to grab it because they may not come along as often.
We’re talking similar sizes too because when I was growing up here at least, there were 3,000. Now it’s considered a city and it’s 10,000 now. In many years, it’s tripled in size. At 3,000, it was still considered big. There are nearby places that are quite a bit smaller at 100s and that still means you’re growing up in that area. It was a small town, part of a smaller region, it still had that small feel. When I started realizing how important it was, one of the things that made that happen was to hear somebody grew up in the same town as me and said, “I was telling my grandson about you the other day as proof that you can make it even if you grew up in our little town rather than having to move away somewhere else.” Now, in fairness, full disclosure, I moved away, I did all that stuff. I found my way back, but the big story to me is that I still chose to move back to the small town.
Where’s this small town at?
I’m in Eastern Canada. I travel 300 days a year. I’m in the US as much as I am in Canada, but I was born in this little tiny town called Summerside, which is in the smallest province of Canada. It’s small all the way around. It is a gorgeous place in the summer. You’re surrounded by beaches every fifteen minutes. It’s almost a little island like Hawaii or something. The catch-22 is we’re in Canada. The other six months of the year, you’re trying to dig yourself out of snow.
How did you get started? How did you become a multiple TEDx speaker? One thing we were talking about beforehand is public speaking is the second biggest fear besides dying or whatever. Most people let that fear fixate on it and it keeps them from going out and accomplishing big things. Do you want to talk about that a little bit into what you’re doing?
I’ve heard over and over again is the number one fear about death. Jerry Seinfeld has this joke where he says what that means is that the average person if they were at a funeral and they had the choice, they’d rather be in the casket than doing the eulogy. That’s how I always resonate with the idea that’s the number one fear is because you’d rather die than do it. I’ll say this in terms of how I get into it, this is important and I’ll tell you why it’s important. I was uncomfortable speaking on a stage when I started. I’m saying not only comfortable. I have a video of this. I got to convert it though because I want to start showing it when I say this story because people can see the backup to it.
I was that guy that the first talk I ever did was in school. I say talk loosely, but public speaking the first I did and I turned shades of color. One guy said you turned every color except for your own skin color. That was the first time. I got invited to do a young entrepreneur and that’ll tie into how I get into this, but I got invited to do a talk for young entrepreneurs about the difficulties we face. That’s because when I was nineteen, I launched a newspaper. They saw me as a young entrepreneur and said, “We want you to tell other kids what it’s like.” I had no idea how to prepare a presentation or talk or speak or anything.
I went in and talked about stories. I had no coherency because I was so nervous so there was no closure to stories. I would jump from one to the other. I asked people, “What was I talking about up there?” I didn’t remember. One guy said to me, “I don’t know what you’re talking about. You were so excited. You sold me.” I said, “What did I sell you?” He said, “I don’t know, but I was excited when I left.” That was obviously a tip about speaking. The fact that my content suck, but I had so much passion that he still bought in. We can talk about that later in terms of passion versus content.
The third time and this is the one, I mean that I have a video. I got tricked into performing standup comedy and that’s how I got into speaking, so this ties into your question too. Basically, I was so scared of speaking that I wrote a play for a fringe fest. I was the writer-director. I was creative. I wanted to do stuff with content, but I didn’t want to be in the mix. I wrote this play. The lead actor injured his ankle. He broke his ankle on the way to one of those shows, halfway through. It was too late to get a new cast member. He continued to do show credit to him, but we need to give him more time to do his costume changes. I had to write a character, but who else would know all the lines? It was only one person.
I had to write myself apart. I came onto the stage for the rest of the play with my back to the audience wearing a wig and wearing a Triple H wrestling t-shirt. I was literally covered in sweat and the only person that could see that were the other actors. The audience never saw my face. I said to one of the actors, “How can I get comfortable with this thing?” He said, “I don’t know if this will help, but I’m doing a standup comedy workshop in a week at the university. Do you want to try?” I said, “That sounds horrible, yeah, let’s do it.” I jumped in and did two weeks of that. All we got taught was how to adjust the mic stand. In the third week, we were told we were going to watch people entertain us. We went to a comedy club. We found it five minutes to show time we were, in fact, the entertainers.
Eight walked at the front door to fifteen, I stayed, jumped on the stage first, bomb horribly. I told the first two jokes without the mic turned on, I didn’t know that. I turned the mic on, told the same jokes again and bombed again. I said, “I’m the only comic I know who are bombed with the same material twice in ten minutes.” That’s how I get started, but why I bring this all up is because I have that first night on tape and anybody watching that show, I’m the deer in the headlights, pale white skin, sweat streaming down. There’s no question that I was uncomfortable on a stage.
For me, I bring this all up, Scott, because a lot of people think you have to be natural as a communicator. I’m here to tell you I was the furthest thing from natural and I moved on to this speaking journey. There’s a whole story there. Basically, I started teaching a college at a course in sales. I had to sell them for a year on teaching it. That was my first time in front of an audience other than my comedy stuff. Between the two of those, I started building a comfort. What I can tell you is I ended up performing 900 shows in comedy over a few years. I’ve now spoken close to 3,000 times. What I can tell you is those first few years, it wasn’t solid. I had evaluation forms and I would say my average approval rating was about 55%, so about half would say, “We liked your talk.” Others would say, “You don’t belong on a stage.” I bring all this up solely to say it’s a learned skill and that also tells you quite a bit about my journey as well.
It’s definitely a learned skill and the more you practice it and work your script or whatever you’re going to say, the better you’re going to get that. One thing that I love is sometimes you’ve got to be thrown into the deep end and swim.
My second TEDx talk I did was about that. If a person reading this wants to go check that out, you can go check that out. It’s my TEDx Talk called How People Crush Fears and Expand Comfort Zones. It’s about that whole situation. I tell the whole comedy story I told you, but I tell it a lot more fluid. I explained that it was me stepping outside my comfort zone. Here after 5,000 interviews with high achievers, here’s what I’ve learned about how they step outside their comfort zone. I take people through that process. What I can tell you is that it all started there. When you asked how I got to where I am now, I feel it’s in those comedy trenches what I learned, it’s on those stages what I learned that allowed me to secure the first TEDx Talk, the second, the third, and even getting into interviewing people and get obsessed by that. It all, in my opinion, grew from those early times on the stage. A lot of people, it’s getting off their butt and/or facing that major fear, but it doesn’t start until you take action. There are ways you can take action so that you can ease your way in. I call it a baby step in your way in, but none of it happens until you start.
Great words of advice there and counsel there from somebody who knows their craft inside out and doing some good stuff there. I agree there. One of the things that I speak all the time traveling in my niche and on podcasts and stuff like that and people ask, I’m like, “The only way we got better, this is what we bombed, where I screwed up on things. Practice does make perfect or makes you better. Maybe not perfect, but better in this craft.”
There’s a Zig Ziglar quote that I love and I’m probably paraphrasing this the best, but it’s along the lines of you don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to become great. Zig Ziglar’s example that he was the salesman that was serving that couldn’t sell door-to-door that into becoming the top 3 out of a 5,000-salesperson company. How do you do it? He did it by working on his craft. What I will say, Scott, because this is the other question, somebody would say, “Why to bother?” If it’s the number one fear, if it’s such a tough craft and let’s be honest, you can get on a stage and there’s always that chance you’re going to have a horrible day on a stage. People might say and probably are saying, “Why bother?”
It can also tell you on the other end is there’s no skill I’ve discovered that will be more responsible for your long-term success than effective communication. That ties into closing notes that tie into selling ties into communicating with your family. If you want to sell somebody like your girlfriend or a partner or husband and why he’d go see Star Wars with you, communication skills will serve you. We want to go into a place and get a better seat on a flight. We had this happen whereby our son was battling with flu and we’re going on a flight. One of the flights, because we had to change everything around, we couldn’t get our seats together. We had to basically go and sell them on why it made more sense for him to sit with his father.
Let’s be honest, I was in an aisle and somebody else’s aisle. To me, that’s an easy sell because if you are that person, would you rather have this kid away from his father crying for his father and getting sick on you or switch with his father? There is nothing you’re giving up. It was an easy sell. But my point is, what if we could communicate, my girlfriend and me and obviously my son can’t yet, but what if the two of us couldn’t communicate? We would sit there and go, “This is going to suck.” There are so many ways that communication serves you that it’s worth going past the fear. Let’s be honest, you don’t have to jump on a stage to start conquering your fear of communication. You can start by going into a Toastmasters class and learning how to communicate one-on-one with your client. I’m passionate about the fact that it’s worth the effort even though there will be fears involved.
The thing is you brought Toastmasters. I brought networking groups like that. I was at a networking event and I had 1.5 minutes to get up and share my message and get it across. The first time I did it, I bombed at it because it was something new and I got called on suddenly. I expected something but it bombed. The point where you practice it and practice it, now you’ve got your elevator pitch down. It’s done. People were like “You know your stuff. I want to find out more about what you’re sharing.” That’s a big thing. I don’t think you always need an hour. You’ve got sets that are 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 20 minutes long. That’s a typical TEDx for about 20 minutes.
Nevermore than eighteen, if you see one more than eighteen it’s because TED decided, “I’m going to use an example,” but they decided that they want Brené Brown’s 27 million views enough. I don’t think it’s a hard-fast rule, but there is within their guidelines that say it can’t go over eighteen. To answer your question, under eighteen and 1 of my 3 is under five. They can be pretty short.
What are some tips that you would give somebody out there who started, besides going, what are some things maybe when it comes to their presentation or their pitch on things that you would tell them to focus on? A lot of people get over analysts and they get diarrhea of the mouth. What are some things that you’d recommend?
There are a few that I think are necessary, but the first one ties it all together, which is storytelling. Learning the craft of becoming a storyteller. This is another misnomer or myth. People think that you have to be born a storyteller. I was a terrible storyteller. Why? I’m a Type A. If you go to the DISC world or the personality type world, I taught color types. Yellow, there’s the social butterfly, that’s who I am by nature. I had to become the reds, I call them, which is the director who gets a little more business-focused. I’m a social person. It would not be abnormal for me to start a story and move into another area or start a story and get so caught up and excited that I missed the best points of the story.
I had to learn the craft reeling the story in. I told you about the comedy on the stage and bombing. You notice I didn’t tell you what color shirt I was wearing, but I would have back in the day. My point is I had to learn comedy. I’m not a natural comedian. I had to learn to write funny. My point of this, Scott, is that storytelling is crucial, but also what happens is a lot of people say, “I can’t tell jokes and I can’t tell stories.” Trust me, you can. Toastmasters is a great example of where you go and learn how to tell a story. It’s one of their modules. You get to craft and they guide you and say, “Here’s what you did wrong. Here’s what you did right.”
The first thing I would say is to learn to tell stories. By the way, this relates to sales. This relates to doing Facebook Lives. This relates to video, one-on-one communication. If you can pull somebody with a story and hold them in the palm of your hands, there’s nothing quite like that. I would say learn the craft of storytelling and how do you get the stories because that’s another thing. I’m a big believer in taking notes and journals. I have journals beside me and you can also do it on your phone if that’s the way you work. Note, if you see something observational that gives you goosebumps, that’s a story. I’ll give you a super-duper quick example. I had this gentleman who I brought on my show years ago and he hosted this show where he told stories on his show.
He did a live version of his show. I invited me to it. I went there. He asked if any of the audience members had questions. A young little kid, eight years old, put his hand up and said, “I have a question. Can I come up on stage and interview you?” The interviewer brought the kid up on stage. They’d set up two chairs and the kid asked two questions. At the end of the two questions, he put his hand in his pocket. He pulled the two quarters and he started handing them to Stuart, the guy that hosted the show and said, “Stuart, I want to give you these.” Stuart said, “What’s that?” He goes, “It’s two quarters because my parents said you always need to pay people for the value of their time. I feel those two questions have to be at least worth $0.50.”
Stuart grabbed one of the quarters and handed it back to him and said, “How about this?” The kid’s name was Malakai, “How about this, Malakai? We’ll each keep one of the quarters and we’ll never forget our night together.” What I witnessed gave me goosebumps. I made a note of that story. By the way, I’ve opened talks to that story. I gave you the barrier bridge version. As you probably know as a speaker when I’m telling the story, I take time to dance with it. My point is that story afterward, I had people tell me it gave them goosebumps. I’ve seen people cry because they thought of their children. I have had people say because one of the things Stuart says in the story is how many people here would have loved to come up on the stage with me?
They said you notice the kid is the one that asked. If you don’t ask, the answer’s always no. This is the lesson for your audience members. I have people say to me, “That’s such a great lesson. I need to teach my child to ask for what they want.” My point of this is that I make a note of those stories and it gave me goosebumps. I’m like, “If it gave me goosebumps, my friend I brought with me, gave her goosebumps and I hear people whispering beside me and I saw compare people look at each other and go, “That was amazing.” All of a sudden you go, “That’s a story.” All I had to do now is tell the story, but because I’ve been telling stories a long time, I know which parts to leave out.
I don’t say what color shoes Malakai was wearing. That was a long tangent to say that storytelling is crucial. Beyond that, I would say to learn how to connect and engage emotionally. If somebody’s reading this that wants to start getting in front of audiences, probably one of the most important or best things you can do is ask the question to the audience early on in your talk. Because now you’ve got them thinking, you pulled them in, you’ve broken the way the distraction from their phone. You could start out and you are at the New Media Summit, you might remember this, Scott, but the first thing I did was I said, “How many people in the room here would love to land a brand to talk like a TEDx Talk?” The hands went up in the room and that engaged the audience. You knew now they’re all listening. You can ask if you’re across from a client the same idea, ask a question to start things out. You could say, “I know we’re talking about this. Have you ever had this happen?” All of a sudden, you’re getting them talking, thinking. I would say to leave it at two for now. I would say storytelling first and foremost, learn the power of storytelling and secondly, find ways to engage. Questioning is one of the best ways to do that.
The last thing you want to do is go into, “My name is Scott Carson with We Close Notes. This is what we talk about.” That’s the worst thing you see from people out there. You want to ask a question to get people involved and that’s a huge thing because that’s the buy-in. Let’s face it, these are a killer when you’re speaking from stage and you see people on their phone, that’s the worst absolute feeling. It’s like, “You’re giving some stuff. Let me help you out with that.”
The equal worse is if you see someone sleeping. In fact, I’d rather them on their phone than sleeping. At least on their phone, I feel they’re taking something in. That’s something I used to pride myself on. I thought it’s risky to say that forever. I stand by this day in many years of speaking. My early talks weren’t great, but I’s still passionate. I haven’t yet caught one person sleeping. I’ve seen people on the phones but not sleeping. I’m going to knock on wood.
I was teaching a workshop one time and somebody was dozing off. I walked behind him and pulled the chair out. I caught him on stuff like that or you walk up and slam it. Everybody started clapping was one thing I’ve done. We started clapping and the guy wakes up and starts clapping.
That’s almost entertainment for you as well to watch that person like, “I heard what’s going on.” That could happen. That’s what I said. I haven’t seen it yet. I’m not even going to say it hasn’t happened. I’m keeping eye contact with the audience, but you never know if you’re missing somebody or they’re doing a good job. I probably have seen a couple of times where people were starting to. I found a way to ask the question to the audience or, “I have a question for one of you, can I point out to one of you?” That person’s like, “I better look. It could be me.” It’s a matter of knowing how to engage and pull the person in. That comes into learning the skill of reading the room. Reading the room can mean knowing your audience. To your point, when you’re on the show here, knowing what your audience is looking for, knowing how to ask the question.
I’ll give you an example of knowing the audience that I learned by mistake but in Canada, there’s a person who’s well-loved in one part of the country and hated in another. I left him on my screen one time in the wrong part of the country. The challenge is somebody said, “Ignore it.” I’m saying, “No, because that room now I could feel that energy shift.” If I ignore it, it’s either they think this guy doesn’t know that he lost his connection with us. I bet no, I’m going to embrace it and bring it to the surface. I said, “I’m going to teach you guys a point about knowing your audience.” I basically went into a story about the guy and this is true how I left them on the screen one other time.
On my evaluation form, somebody turned over the paper and said the guy’s name and said, “He sucks. Don’t ever put them on the screen again.” I made a joke out of it and they all laughed. They’re like, “Yeah, he does suck or whatever.” The point is he so loved in the other part of the country. It still makes sense to include him. Sometimes if I’m teaching presentation skills, I’ll include them on purpose and wait to feel the energy of the room and work with it. You need to know how to read the room because in that area, you might not know that this is a no-no. If I felt the change in the room on something I put on a slide immediately, I would ask a question or two. I wouldn’t ignore it. I would say there’s something changed and I don’t want to lose them for another half-hour. I’m going to find out what that is. In a perfect world, in this case, I knew what was going on and so I raised it, know your room.
I was speaking in Philadelphia a few years ago right before football season was kicking off. I’m a big Dallas Cowboys fan. Philadelphia is a big Philadelphia Eagles. I get in front of the audience and I pull up a picture of the Philadelphia Eagles. I’m like, “Who’s ready for some football?” Everybody’s getting excited and I have white t-shirts that are wrapped in bands. I’m like, “I have a t-shirt.” I throw it out in the open, it was a Dallas Cowboys t-shirt. People were laughing about that. I had three of them throw it back at me, which was funny. It got the audience cracked up and engaged to see what I was going to say because I was like, “This is a good joke. Let’s have some fun for 30, 45 minutes.”
That was intentional. When you said, “Let’s have some fun,” I was like, “Were you recovering?” You brought the wrong shirts or it was intentional.
What’s funny is I went to the Dallas Cowboy store here in town and I told them what I was doing. They gave me the t-shirts for free.
That’s good branding for them.
That’s the big thing you say before is you ask a question, you identify your audience with what their focus is and how to get them connected, besides the emotional stuff but also get their brain engaged. That’s not always the easiest thing to do sometimes when you’re starting off as a new speaker.
Can I give one piece of advice for people that this is a big one because we’re talking about those people that are scared to go on the stage? I sometimes feel the reason people are scared is that they’re scared of the unknown. I sometimes feel that if you can get rid of some of the unknowns or cover for what could happen, that will give you extra confidence. Now when I teach people that have been on stage, they’re somewhat comfortable but they still don’t know how to craft it at a world-class level or get on the stage in a certain way. What I believe is valuable and powerful is if you want to try things, i.e. if you want to insert humor and that’s a risky area. It’s coming from somebody who’s performed 900 shows as a comic.
If you’re willing to go the standup comedy road, it gets much easier to use humor in a corporate audience after you’ve done standup on a stage. If you know how to correct the humor politically, it gets much easier. Most people don’t want to go that path to learn humor. If you’re going on a speaking stage and you want to learn humor, there are all kinds of ways you can learn it like listen to interviews that are humorous or read books. Here’s what I’ll tell you that served me well early on is if you don’t know what the joke is going to work and you can test it. I recommend you test it on friends, test it on a smaller audience. If you don’t know for sure or if you’re concerned, it may not work. What I always say is have a backup funny within the jokes.
For example, I told you the story about the standup and I ended up the mic turned off. When I deliver that normally and I danced with that story. It has a whole bunch of purposes. The first way I open that is I say, “How many people will get on a standup stage tonight if I get you a gig?” I used that story in five minutes to do a whole bunch of emotional to trigger things. The guy calls me over in the corner and hits me in the back of the head, the guy that brought us into this mess and gave me a smock and says, “We don’t even have the mic turned on yet.”
That’s when the audience realized the reason I wasn’t getting laughs because the mic isn’t turned on. It’s not a joke because it’s a true story, but that almost always goes over. What if it doesn’t? I had to plan for what if it doesn’t. What if it doesn’t? That’s where I told the second part I say, “You’re probably wondering what happened after we got the mic turned on.” That’s when I tell the part about how I told the material and it bombed again. Now I’m the only comic I know that’s bombed with the same material twice in ten minutes. What I did there is I had the main laugh and if I get that main laugh, a lot of times if it’s strong enough, I move in because I use it as a metaphor to say we should have our mic turned on and keeping the moment and present.
I use it as a metaphor, but if it doesn’t get anything, I go to the next one to give myself a backup plan. Why do I say this is I’ll even go one step further. I had a client who has secured her TEDx Talk. She was getting ready to deliver it. I was coaching her through it and she said, “I’m going to ask this question, how many people here had seen Snow White by the time they were six?” The reason she was asking the question because she had done a survey on Facebook and she found that 95% of people had seen Snow White before the age of six. She had done the survey quite a while ago. She wanted to use it as part of her story because she wanted to talk about what we see in the mirror and when we’re young is what we think of ourselves.
I said, “This is great.” She goes, “When they responded, they had seen it.” Here’s what I’m going to say, “Kelly, here’s my question. You said when they respond that they had seen it. You’re speaking in front of a university crowd who is half our age. What if they haven’t all seen it? In other words, what if you asked that question and three hands go up? Are you prepared for that?” She goes, “I never thought of that.” Here’s my point of that. What I would suggest is to have a backup plan. What she can do there is all she has to do is switch the way she responds. If she asked, “How many people here have seen Snow White by the time they’re six?” If the hands go up as she expects, she can say, “It doesn’t surprise me because I did a survey on Facebook and here’s what I found.”
Let’s say she asked the question and hardly any hands go up. She can say, “Interesting. It almost surprises me because I did a survey on Facebook.” If she doesn’t think of that, all of a sudden, she could be the deer in the headlights going, “What do I do?” I saw a perfect example of it in our third bLU Talks day in launching the event. We had a speaker and I never coached her on this. She asked this question in the audience. She said something like, “How many people here have found that your struggle every day and do this and that?” The challenge was in the audience, almost everybody was conscious people, speakers, what have you. They were like, “No, I don’t speak negatively at all.”
She was expecting all the hands go up to say, “We speak negatives,” because she was thinking of speaking to any audience. When you’re speaking to an audience of speakers and people who’ve invested in all this professional development, they may not spend as much time. They may have done the work already to get rid of some negative self-talk. She didn’t get the answers. She said, “It’s not as many as I’d expect.” She recovered and she didn’t miss a beat, but that could have crushed somebody. Hopefully, that makes sense. The thing I would tell people that are nervous about it, if you have a backup plan for what if, you’re going to be a lot more comfortable getting on that stage in the first place. Few speakers have a backup plan. They go up and practice the speech. If it doesn’t work, they go, “What do I do?”
You’ve got to adjust your intro depending on what’s going on so it ties in. Lastly, I’ve had that happen before, I asked questions and it was like, “I’m speaking to a different audience and I can’t use the same tie in. Let me go do something else and pull it out of my ass.”
Not everybody is comfortable doing that though so that’s why I say if you’re not comfortable pulling out of your ass, go the other route and have a backup option. The key thing here is you don’t have to use the backup option. If I get the thunderous laugh for the mic not turned on, I don’t go to the rest of it. Sometimes I read the audience and go, I got a great laugh, but now I’m going to use it not as a laughing point, but I’m going to use it to build upon the fact that even after sometimes you take action, you still don’t succeed or whatever. It depends on what type of message I have to feel that the audience needs.
You’ve helped quite a few people and with you being on multiple TEDxs and stuff like that and helping people get on there. Without giving away the golden goose and your secrets, what are some things that you would recommend? I know a lot of people that’s on their bucket list, “I want to give a TED Talk.” What’s the secret to being picked or getting on that list?
It all comes back to understanding the TEDx infrastructure. TED and TEDx would tell you there’s no system to landing a TEDx Talk. Anytime you have a lot of organizations because it’s all separate, organized events that all operate under the same mandate. There are going to be little shortcuts or hacks. What I’ll say is get to know that system. A lot of people, what they do is they go online, they say, “Here’s where you apply to speak.” They start typing, they press send and fingers crossed. Here are the numbers, Scott, which nobody wants to hear. I’m telling you the number is based on core numbers. If you go look at a main large TEDx event, they could have as many as 2,000 applications. They write this on their website. I’m not saying stuff that’s hidden information.
You can go to the small rural ones where it might be 200 applications. Here’s the thing, it’s almost never more than ten spots that they pick. Think of those numbers. If you have 2,000 applications for ten spots, that means less than a 1% chance of you landing it. If you go on and type on there and nominate me, you can expect that you’re probably not in that 1%. Here’s another thing. A lot of TEDx organizations have told me, they make the decision after the answer to the first question. What I would say is you need to research what they’re looking for on that first question. How do you do that? I’ll give you some tips and I go within obviously teaching people.
There are a lot of high-level shortcuts that I had. To give you some smaller stuff, one thing you can do for instance is start attending TEDx events. It depends where you’re at, but most places have multiple TEDx events near them. I would go to one, even if it’s the one you’re not going to apply it. Start talking to the organizers, find out what they’re looking for because you’re going to find probably other TEDx organizers are looking for similar. You might even get conversations with them and say, “I was looking at your application online.” That first question’s a doozy and I try to drive it. What are you looking for in that first question? I always feel if you want to know the answer, go to your audience. They’ll tell you. Research, they’ll figure out what they’re looking for in those first questions.
Sometimes they only have four questions, so think about that. If there are only four questions, if you take two seconds to answer, you’re not doing a good service because there’s a reason there are only four questions. They’re looking for specific answers. That’s the first thing. The second thing is in researching it, you need to know what their theme is. They won’t always tell you what their theme is, but you can get a feel for it based on what the wording is and look at who they picked last time. That will give you a feel for the type of speakers this specific TEDx organization looks at. There’s a whole backstory to what we’re talking about, which is when I say this organization looks at it, some people might say, “Where do I find them?” I’ll say the easiest answer to that is going to TED.com and I don’t remember the exact title because it changes, but basically you’re looking for TEDx events and there’s an actual tab where you can look up all the events and you type in your area.
What you can do is you can go, “Do they have websites?” You can copy and paste that on Google because I still think you’re better off to go to the local organization’s website because that will tell you more. What I’m saying here is do some research. You want to research what type of questions they’re asking on their form. You want to find a way to engage with them. Maybe it means, and this is the second part, you find them online, get on the radar and you go study and watch what they’re sharing and watch the things reporting you. You look at their theme and you say, “How am I going to build my title and my description around their theme?”
I’ll give you an example. My second one was the comfort zone one. I want to speak in a comfort zone, but the theme was about nature, something about getting inside or whatever. You go, “There’s obviously ways within nature you can teach getting outside your comfort zone.” I’m like, “No, but I want to deliver a certain specific talk.” If you look at it normally on paper, it wouldn’t fit nature. What did I do? I called it Unleashing the Warrior Within or something like that or Unleash Your Inner Warrior is what it was. Even when I submitted it, I put a picture of me with the things to show a warrior or whatever. What’s cool is after I did the talk I said, “Does it have to say that title?” They said no. They don’t air with the other talks, they are separate. I was able to get my title changed to what I wanted in the first place.
My point as you probably see is I found out what they’re looking for and I customized my entire nomination to what they were looking for, but still kept with the core of what I wanted to deliver. I jumped a few different areas there. Hopefully, that’s making sense. It’s a pre-research as we talked within any sport, it’s the pregame. I’m going to tell you from experience, most people jump on, type it out, press send and that’s where they make a mistake. You need to spend 90% on the pregame and only 10% on the actual game. I say this knowing that your odds are low, but the rewards are huge. If the rewards are huge, isn’t it worth maybe a week to research before you press send?
It’s all about the preparation of giving and making sure you’re hitting the right spot. Why don’t you share a little bit about your company bLU Talks and what you’re doing with that? How are you helping people out there?
It’s a brand-new thing. I’m going to say it started launching a few months ago. It’s still pre-launching now to some degree. When I say that, what I mean is we’re doing live events but it’s ultimately going to be a branded series where we’re releasing videos exactly what you would see with Goalcast or TED or what have you. We haven’t hit that stage yet. It’s a weird situation. You’re in the pre-launch stage but you’ve launched as far as the public is concerned because you’ve announced it, you have the events, you have speakers running. I had to ask myself, “Is there room for another branded series?” Here’s what I came up with is there’s not a lot of them that have gone nationwide. People were saying to me, “I’d like to be able to speak on this and I want to speak on NLP.” I don’t’ know if you know this or not. It’s not negative or positive, but within the guidelines of TED, there are certain areas that they know that they’re not necessarily looking for these types of talks.
We were at the New Media Summit, we hear the word woo-woo a lot. That would be in the world of woo-woo. I’m a person that’s merged those two worlds. I understand the importance of meditation and I also understand the importance of practical business. I’ve always merged those two. People kept coming to me saying, “Corey, I love the brand of talk, but I found out I can’t talk with this. What do I do?” I started saying maybe there’s a fit for that. Not to say I want to do what they’re not doing, but to offer something that’s not being offered in general.
Here’s what bLU Talk stands for. It’s Business Life Universe. The idea is you can come upon our stage and talk about anything related to the three of those, which encompasses a lot. You can come and talk about business strategy. You can come up and talk about your life story. You could come up and talk about Reiki or energy healing. Basically, it was a way to offer something I didn’t feel it was being served in the market, but also I wanted it to be a speaker-friendly branded series where the speakers walk away with the footage they can use. At the end of the videos, you’re going to see when we release them that says, “Here’s how you contact our speakers.” I want it to be so the speakers and audience are both the number one customer.
The other part is I felt when I would watch a branded talk, a lot of times it’s speaker. We have that approach, but I wanted it to also be Q&A at the end. That way, the audience feels like I have an hour to ask a question for you if I want rather than he’s on the stage and gone into my life forever. I said I wanted it to be its own unique thing that is bringing something to the market that’s not necessarily being brought to the market. The last part I’ll say about it is what may surprise a lot of people is I’m talking about it now and we’re getting started. We’ll have done four talks by the end of 2019. The next one is at Harvard. I’ve been holding back on saying this, but I’m going to say the plan is to launch in April of 2020. Here’s the neat part is by then it will be launching with probably five to six events under the belt. Let’s say probably 50 to 60 speaker videos, but we’re also launching the bLU Talks podcast and we’re launching a book series all day one. What I’m getting at, Scott, is I’m going all in.
Where are those live events going to be taking place? There are four or five that you’re expecting to have done by then.
We’re working on finalizing the website now. If people are reading now and they’re going, “That’s not available.” It’s bLUTalks.com, it’s pretty easy. The other side is it will list where we’ve already been as far as locations and so far we’ve been in Western Canada. We did one event there, two in San Diego and the next one is at Harvard. We’re working on this, but I can tell you about the planned locations. One is in Toronto and Canada at a historic venue, another one in Vancouver and BC. The third one I’m looking at is not done yet. I’m reaching out to them now. UCLA is where I’d like to bring one.
What I’m thinking of doing with this, another thing I didn’t share, is bringing them to iconic venues like Harvard or San Diego. One was at a place called Boulevard Hall. Western Canada was at the Arden Theater. I want them to be at these places to standout as well. The future might be different. If we have people running bLU Talk for us, we obviously might release the strings there because there are only so many iconic venues. If I’m running the events myself, those ones I want to bring it to places where people go, “Not only did I get to see this new thing, but I got to go to Harvard to see it.”
That’s bLUTalks.com. That’s a great website. I look forward to seeing the schedule. We’ve got to get to something maybe in Austin or something. San Diego is not bad. I spend a lot of time in San Diego, but I’m excited about what you’ve got going on, Corey. It’s why we brought you here. It’s a great opportunity what you’re doing, hitting a niche or filling a segment that’s not being touched by the bigger brands. There are plenty of opportunities to speak out. We had a lot of people that have great messages and great discussions and talks that they’ve got to get out. What a great way to do it is to go out and put some bLU in the market there.
Hopefully as well, I’m thinking for those reading that you are focused on the closing of notes, on sales, what have you. When we talk about a lot of this stuff, they can see how this still applies if it’s one-on-one. Storytelling still applies to one-on-one. I’m hoping they realize anything I talk about that you do it from a stage, even the backup plan when you’re in sales, I believe that you should have a backup for objections. If you go and get the same objection every day, I was in core sales for several years selling photocopiers. What do you do when a person says your price is too high? You should have a backup plan and the answer to those things.
It’s only great because it’s important whether people are in note investing or real estate. Oftentimes we’re speaking to investors, talking about assets or speaking at investment clubs, talking about case studies that we’re doing. I’m a big proponent of people doing videos and sharing case studies and telling their stories so that they get it out because it is a niche aspect of real estate investing. It’s also a very popular one with what’s going on in the market and things like that. That’s why I was like, “I’ve got to get you on.” You’ve got some great nuggets to share with everybody and opportunity because that’s the thing is the speakers or people speaking, it’s the highest paid profession out there. Speaking in sales and all deals with a voice in how you present yourself and how you’re able to hit those answers and tie in with your audience, whether it’s a one-on-one or a big group. I know that all the trials and errors that I’ve had even going the standup route, but initially getting my feet wet that way. We’ve got some similar stories that way, but it’s been so beneficial in my life in the last several years specifically as I’ve been more of a full-time speaker doing other things. What’s the best way for people to get ahold of you to find out more information or connect with you, Corey?
I’d love to give a couple of either value adds or even freebies. That’s the best way to learn more about me, but also learn more in general. I’d love to give away a free digital copy of my book, The Book of Public Speaking. That’s easy to remember. It’s TheBookOfPublicSpeaking.com. I like to have domains where it explains exactly what you’re getting. That’s one option, Scott. The other option is if somebody has been reading this who says, “I’d like to explore this more. I’d like to learn more about what this guy does.” Maybe even more than a website. What I’ve decided to start doing, and I haven’t done this before, it’s new so you can jump on and get this. I may decide it’s too much and not do it in the future. Jump on while I’m doing it is to offer a fifteen-minute free strategy session with me, whereby you’ll learn more about what I do. I’m always a big believer in giving more value than I take. I’ll make sure you leave with something that makes it worth both of our time. The easiest way to schedule that, I feel these days I need to get past the red tape is to send me an email and my email address, also easy to remember, is ThatSpeakerGuy@Gmail.com.
Corey, I want to say thank you for coming to The Note Closers Show delivering some nuggets. We look forward to seeing you speaking in a bLU Talk near you sometime soon.
The pleasure is all mine, Scott. I look forward to seeing you speak in the future. I’ve seen you on the New Media Summit stage a couple of times communicating. I can’t wait to see you speak live as well, so the feeling is mutual.
Once again, go out, take advantage, grab Corey’s book or reach out to him to get that fifteen-minutes strategy session at ThatSpeakerGuy@Gmail.com. Corey has a great big heart and as he says, he loves to give more than he takes. Fifteen minutes of time, you’ll walk away with lessons that you can put to use immediately that will make you a better communicator, a better speaker and a better closer. Go out, take some action and we’ll see you at the top. Bye.
- bLU Talks
- The Speaking Program
- Corey Poirier on Forbes
- Corey Poirier on Entrepreneur
- How People Crush Fears and Expand Comfort Zones – Corey’s TEDx Talk
About Corey Poirier
Corey Poirier is a multiple-time TEDx, MoMondays, bLU Talks, and PMx, Speaker.
He is also the founder of The Speaking Program, and he has been featured in multiple television specials, podcasts, radio shows and is a Forbes and Entrepreneur Columnist.