From Slide Decks To Storytelling - The Roger Edwards StoryMar 21, 2022
Tom Bailey, founder of Succeed Through Speaking, interviews Roger Edwards.
In this episode we hear about our guests journey with confidence, public speaking and presentation skills and how it has helped them succeed in life and in business - in other words, how to succeed through speaking.
Roger helps companies nail their offer, set their goals and plan their marketing activity in a world where business BS and complexity threaten to stifle success.
An experienced marketing professional helping businesses with their marketing strategy, content, and social media, Roger clocked up many years in the ‘big corporate’ world as marketing director of several UK financial services brands before getting out of all that and starting his own consultancy.
He now uses his expertise to guide his clients in designing engaging marketing, is known as a prolific content creator and podcaster, and as a speaker. He’s the host of the popular and award-winning Marketing and Finance Podcast.
As a qualified yoga and exercise teacher, Roger has also been known to ask his clients to take off their ties and put on their trainers, taking their fitness, as well as their marketing, to the next level.
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Tom Bailey 00:07
Hello and welcome to succeed through speaking the place for experts and entrepreneurs who want high value ideas to boost business results. Hello, I'm Tom Bailey. And in today's speaker stories episode, I'll be getting to know Roger Edwards, who is the host of the popular and award winning marketing and finance podcast, as well as being an experienced marketing professional helping businesses with their marketing strategy, content and social media. So Roger, hello, and a very warm welcome to today's episode.
Roger Edwards 00:45
Hi, Tom, thanks very much for having me on the show. Really looking forward to having a chat with you today.
Tom Bailey 00:50
Fantastic. Thanks so much. And just for some of our global listeners, whereabouts in the world are you right now?
Roger Edwards 00:56
I actually live in Edinburgh, which is in Scotland. And it's actually a beautiful day today, which is very unusual this time of year.
Tom Bailey 01:05
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, we've we started to see that weather come in towards the Easter and spring. So yeah, can't wait for that to start warming up a little bit. Now, thank you so much. And just wanted to share a little bit more about you before we do get started. So Roger clocked up many years in the big corporate world as a marketing director of several UK financial services brands. Before starting out his own consultancy, He now uses his expertise to guide his clients in designing engaging marketing campaigns. Now, I know that you're also an experienced speaker, Roger. So as we're going to be diving into your journey with speaking I'd love to ask my first question, which is, has it always been like this, were you always a naturally great speaker, or were things a little shaky in the beginning.
Roger Edwards 01:52
It's interesting, I started doing presentations when I used to work in what I call big corporate. And you know, we're going we're going back over 20 years here. And I guess at the time, if I remember rightly, one of my bosses effectively chucked me right in the deep end, we were going out to do a product launch. And I was a marketing assistant. And he, he asked me to help him put together the slides of the presentation. And of course, in the days leading up to it, we work together putting the presentation together. And literally about 24 hours before the first of the events, he said oh, by the way, you're actually going to be delivering part of this presentation. So it was almost like, you know, throwing me right in at the deep end and making it stick like that. And so I effectively went in it without any experience of public speaking at all. But the actual speaking part of it seemed to come quite naturally. But I think that because I started in corporate. And because I'd sat down with him, and we'd basically put together a deck of slides, I reckon the shaky start probably was the fact that what I was really doing was standing upon a stage in front of what were financial advisors, and sort of using the slides almost like a script. And obviously, I was trying to be interactive and engage with them. But you know, there's there was always that looking behind me and checking the words and, and worrying about what the next slide was. And I guess over the years, I became much better at hiding that. But for a long time, it was mainly down to let's start with the PowerPoint presentation, and then take it out and do the presentation. And And over time, as I exited from big corporate and started doing a lot more event speeches, what I would say, more of a proper keynote speaker, public speaker, professional speaker, I guess as opposed to being a corporate presenter, I started weaning myself off PowerPoint and focusing much more on the structure of the presentations and the stories that would go with it.
Tom Bailey 04:03
Right. Yeah, we've we've all seen those 300 Slide PowerPoints where the person just reading word for word, what's that? What's on the screen, and they might as well read it themselves a lot quicker. So yeah, I understand how you've moved away from that towards storytelling. Sounds great. Now, the next question is when you hear the title of this podcast succeed through speaking, what does that make you think of? Do you think that speaking is a big part of success in business?
Roger Edwards 04:27
I think today, speaking is almost integral to pretty much everything, isn't it? I suppose that has really been highlighted to us over the last two years with the pandemic. I've been locked in our houses we've been having to interact on Zoom and teams and the staff and the other and of course, for a long time, during the pandemic period, any events which would have taken place in an in a hotel or a theater or presentation complex have had to go online, and I think people of all levels have had to become used to this new reality. And in reality, that's what we're doing when we're speaking, whether it's in public to five or six people on the other end of a zoom call, or whether we're stood on a stage in front of 10,000 people, it's public speaking. And I think it's become more and more important today, to have this skill. But as we said, started off by saying, it's not just enough to stick together 300 slides, you know, what really sets you apart from other people, is the way you structure the actual presentation, the way you weave stories into it the way you weave calls to action into it, and maybe even how you weave different sorts of emotions into the presentation that you're giving.
Tom Bailey 05:43
Absolutely, yeah, loads and loads of skills that we've got asked, and resources we've got available as a speaker to to bring that in to bring that presentation to life. So the next question, and I'll come back to the point you made around zoom and the pandemic and have had to move into this virtual speaking world. But let's think about your career then that that shift from corporate to consultant, how important you think speaking has been for your career success to date.
Roger Edwards 06:09
I think that it's been absolutely pivotal. When I left big corporate with the intention of becoming a consultant speaking was always going to be a big part of how I was aiming to get clients. And ultimately, I, I wanted to write a book as well. And that's come along. But originally, the two things that were going to put me in front of people, we're public speaking at events, and also the podcasts that I run the marketing and finance podcast, which which I started after I left big corporate, which I still do today. And it's still the fact that the majority of the business that I get comes from people who've either watch the podcast, or people who've seen me present at events, again, admittedly, over the last couple of years with the pandemic, that's a bit been a bit different. Because a lot all the events that I've spoken at have been online. And I don't care what anybody says, you know, you can do a good presentation online, you can adapt it, you can make sure that it's still engaging, but I don't believe that unless you're in a real room with real people to have that proper interaction, I don't think you get as many opportunities to follow up after the event over coffee or over a beer or glass of wine after the event. So it has changed a little bit. But it's always been that the main plank of what I wanted to do, and I did have to change, as I said, the the approach, I had to become a better real speaker, as opposed to I would say a corporate press PowerPoint presentation reader. And therefore I made sure I went on quite a lot of training courses I, I studied how other speakers put together, their presentations, different term, Ted Talks, that sort of thing, speakers that I admired, and started to work on my own style. And it's interesting, just before I left big corporate, I was presenting at what I would call like a round robin corporate event. And the idea was that out this event, there was all sorts of different breakout rooms. And each breakout room probably held about 30 seats for 30 delegates. And the idea was that during the day, more people probably about three or 400 would rotate around these rooms. And effectively, I would have to do the same presentation that was about seven times during the day. And literally as I was about to start the first of seven of these presentations, the bulb and the projector exploded, and there was a great big puff of smoke another surprise, it didn't set the fire alarms off in this hotel. But unfortunately, or fortunately, I guess it might have turned out the organizers of the event didn't have a spare bulb. And I didn't have as variable. So there I was just about to start doing this presentation and that I suddenly didn't have access to my 300 PowerPoint slides, I literally had to use the flip chart. And of course that was almost like a revelation. Because rug being put right in it at that moment. I managed to rescue it do the presentation probably more engaging than had I had slides. And of course I had to do it seven times over the rest of that day. And and that was a sort of turning point right? And ever since then, you know PowerPoint is always the last thing that I look at when I put together a speech. And the slides I do put together tend to be very simple pitches or just one or two words. And that that was how I changed my style to support the speaking business in the consultancy business.
Tom Bailey 09:50
Yeah, and you made a great point there are things can go wrong in speaking and I haven't talked about my backstory too much but I had a big fear of public speaking social anxiety. See, I know a lot of people listening here are probably at the very start of their journey, wondering if they'll ever be able to stand up on stage and speak and be one of the main things that holds them back is that fear of what could go wrong, and technology will go wrong, you know, we just know it'll happen, people will walk out the room, it'll, it'll happen. And, you know, you might forget what you're about to say these these things will happen. But ultimately, the more you speak, the better you get at dealing with these, these challenges. So one of the big lessons is to just start speaking, and you'll, you'll get a lot more resilient, I guess, as a speaker. So just on that note, when we think back to people who are just starting out on their journey, maybe they've got a little bit of anxiety around speaking, what's one piece of advice that you probably would have given to yourself in younger Roger, and in your early days of presenting, what's the one piece of advice you might have given to yourself?
Roger Edwards 10:49
I think it would have to be related to PowerPoint. Again, I would say to myself, if somebody asks you to put together a speech, the first thing you shouldn't do is move that mouse pointer over to the PowerPoint icon and double click it to start a PowerPoint, leave PowerPoint alone, start with a blank piece of paper with a pen or, or even just a word, document and start putting together the structure. And you've really got to think about it as, as more than just delivery, you've actually got to structure the the presentation itself. So obviously talk to the organizers of the event, you know, whether it's a massive event, or whether it's just a local thing for a few people, what is it that they want you to get their delegates their attendees to change their behavior as a result of what you say, you know, it might be the they want you to them to buy something, it may be that they want to have a different opinion about a local attraction or whatever it is, but find out what the aim is that they have for the speech that you are going to deliver. And obviously find out more about the actual audience that you're going to be talking to. And the more you know about the the aims of the presentation, the more you know about the audience, that actually does take some of the fear away, because a lot of the fear that we get about public speaking is that fear of the unknown isn't whether you know, the bulb is going to explode on the slides are going to fail, or you're going to forget the presentation, you can you can mitigate all of those things happening. So once you know the, the the aim for the presentation, I tend to then come up with sort of like the big idea. And if this is a personal thing to me, but I tend to try and look for almost like a strap line or a jingle, around that big idea that I can constantly weave into presentations. So one of the presentations I do a lot is about complicated marketing, and how we should make it simple. And the phrase that I came up with I use is, is engage, don't in rage. And the idea is complicated stuff enrages people, whereas simple stuff in engaging people. And it's a nice little three light three word phrase that you can weave into the presentation quite a lot. So you've got your big idea, you've got your jingle that you can repeat. And then it's really just thinking about how can I demonstrate the points that I want to make, preferably, preferably with stories, then those stories could be from your own experience. It could be stories you've seen on TV, they could be experiences that other people have had, they've given you permission to use them, and try to weave those stories into make the points to your audience that you want to make.
Tom Bailey 13:41
Yeah, I love that. That one main idea because ultimately, if an audience sits and listens to a 60 minute presentation, a week later, chances are they'll only remember one part of that presentation. And yeah, and that might as well be that core message that you've weaved in throughout. So yeah, great advice. And, and we also have listeners who are at the other end of their speaking career, maybe they're speaking on stages, but they're not yet getting paid to do that. So have you got advice for people who would like to become a keynote speaker or a paid speaker at some of these big conferences that happen?
Roger Edwards 14:12
I think I think the the thing is just to stick at it. We all know, unfortunately, that there is a lot of events out there who just won't pay the speakers. It's a massive bone of contention. And I get really frustrated when people phone up and say can you do his presentation of our event, but we don't have the budget for speaking. But just think of all the exposure you'll get. And you know, my immediate sort of reaction is to bite my lip. Or I want to say Well, I'm afraid that exposure doesn't pay the bills, you know, yeah, exposures and pay the mortgage. But the sad fact is, there are events out there who don't pay and it is annoying because they'll be paying the venue. They'll be paying the people who make the coffee they'll be paying the audio visual technicians but for some reason they don't seem To think that they should pay the people that people are ultimately gonna come and listen to, I think the thing is, is that you stick out it turn up, do some speeches, maybe for Cremin, I had to do this for quite a long time, do it for free. And then eventually you will start to be connected with those people who are willing to start giving you some, some money for speaking. You know, yes, you can approach people, you can tell people what, what your your fees are. But if you've got that back catalogue of events that you've already spoken out, and even better, you've got video of yourself performing that you've taken up those events, then it all starts to add up, gives it gives you more of an opportunity to start being paid to speak. But you know, even now, there are events that I will decide that it's actually my bits in my it's a benefit to me to actually go and do it for free. I do have one red line. And that is I never, I never pay to speak. You know, there are quite a few conferences out there. Hello, Mr. Edwards. Do you fancy coming and speaking at our conference, it'll only cost you 10 grand? What? Oh, well, that means you get in front of 500 people. I'm sorry. But you know, and the SEC ASOS, second red line is that if you're gonna turn up and do it for free, I think the least they could do is pay for your travel. That's my that's my personal opinion.
Tom Bailey 16:28
Yeah. Great. Thanks. Thanks for banks that advice and and I think just one topic, one is just swing back to or loop back to should I say is this concept of the virtual conferences and potentially even hybrid conferences? We've just had a two year pandemic, we've all been locked down at home, and we've been on Zoom and teams and all those different platforms. Is that here to stay? Or do you think the world's just gonna go straight back into face to face speaking events?
Roger Edwards 16:54
That's a really interesting question. And I think that we will see a lot more hybrid stuff going on. I don't believe that hype, that online or hybrid will replace real life because as I said before, there's nothing better than doing a real in person conference, you know that the thrill of actually standing on a stage can't be beaten. And you'd never ever get that in by doing it virtually, because you can't see the audience. And even lots of little squares on Zoom doesn't feel like an audience. However, I think that what the pandemic has shown is that you can get a bigger audience, if you do do a hybrid event, or at least if you give people access to the the the online sorry, to the the real life in person thing online. It is a very difficult balance, though, because I really don't think it's enough, sort of go back to a big event theater, stick a load of cameras on the bottom of the stage, and then just stream the speaker, because somebody's sitting on watching at home is probably not going to get the same experience as somebody sat in the theater. So you've got to give them something to compensate for the fact that they're not actually in the room. Yeah. And they can't go and have a coffee with everybody else or have lunch with everybody else, or, or whatever it might be. And that's quite difficult to you know, you're almost thinking about creating two events with about 50% of it overlapping. And that can be very expensive. But the fact is that I actually work that one of my clients is a big financial services conference. And what we found is that, you know, the finite number of people that we can get into the venue that we always use is about 350 people, when we did do the virtual version of that conference, during the pandemic was about 1000. People watched it. Yeah. So you're now thinking, well, actually, how can we help those? I can't do the math 650 other people that can't fit into the actual room, what can we do to actually engage them? And in the end, we did, we did a sort of highlights video, which wasn't virtual office. But it was it was it was it worked for that particular audience. But yeah, I think the combination of live and virtual will carry on. But personally, I really am very excited about being back in a real life event stage, and I've done already and that that's, that's the best as far as I'm concerned.
Tom Bailey 19:30
Excellent. Thank you so much. And the last question from me, so if anyone's listening, and they're interested in either booking you as a speaker, as long as they've got budget, or finding out about your marketing campaigns, where can people connect with you online?
Roger Edwards 19:43
Well, my website is Roger edwards.co.uk. I've got a dedicated speaker page on there as well as information about the podcast. But if you want to get in touch with me quickly, Twitter is probably my favorite social media platform. And that's Roger underscore Edwards.
Tom Bailey 20:02
Great, awesome. Thank you so much, Roger again for your time today. I really appreciate you coming along and sharing your background and also some great value with that audience.
Roger Edwards 20:09
Thanks, Tom. Great to see you. Thanks.