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How To Succeed Through Speaking - The Peter Boolkah Story

succeed through speaking tom bailey Jan 17, 2022

Tom Bailey, founder of Succeed Through Speaking, interviews Peter Boolkah.

In this episode we hear about Peter's journey with public speaking and how it has helped him in his career. And in Peter’s case (in his own words) from not being very good at it to now speaking in front of thousands of people.

Peter Boolkah is a world-renowned business coach, speaker and entrepreneur and is known as the Transition Guy thanks to his passion and ability to help entrepreneurs attain meaningful change.

Peter has received over 32 major coaching awards, qualified as a Scaling Up Mastermind Coach and now appears as a regular keynote speaker with specialist growth & business sale knowledge 

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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 from succeed through speaking, I'll be getting to know Peter Boolkah, who is a world renowned business coach, speaker and entrepreneur. And he's known as the transition guy, Banksy, his passion and ability to help entrepreneurs attain meaningful change. So Peter, hello, and a very warm welcome to today's episode.

Peter Boolkah  00:46

I, Tom and thank you for having me. So glad to be here.

Tom Bailey  00:50

And just out of interest for some of our global listeners. Whereabouts are you in the world right now.

Peter Boolkah  00:54

I'm currently based out the URL. I'm based out of two places. I'm currently in the UK, but also based out of the US incredible, a lot of travel which may have reduced over the past couple of years, potentially, just a little bit, just a little grind. We'll talk about that as well, because how they had the pandemics affected speaking as well, we'll get into that.

Tom Bailey  01:13

So I want to share a little bit more about you before we do get started. So Peter has received over 32 Major coaching awards qualified as a scaling of mastermind coach, and now appears as a regular keynote speaker with specialist growth and business self knowledge. The purpose for today's episode is to find out all about Peters journey with public speaking. And to kick things off. Peter, I'd love to ask you, when you hear the title of this podcast, succeed through speaking, what does that make you think of his speaking a key part of success in life and of course, in business, I think he likes was speaking is a key part of success in anything we do. Whether it's speaking in public, or speaking in private, I don't necessarily differentiate between the two. I don't we use the term public speaking. I don't tend to other tend to use the word public speaking, I tend to use the term speaking. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, that makes complete sense. And speaking can then be presentations, videos, conversations, networking, all of those great skills we need in business.

Peter Boolkah  02:19

And just a quick question on the back of that, and how important do you think speaking, and I'm talking about stage speaking at this point has been for you in your career and your business success to date, critical. And what I mean by critical is, at the end of the day, you get to a point where it's great doing one to one and doing the small stuff. But eventually, as you grow and develop as a leader, whether it's a business coach, whether it's some other coach, or whether you're an exec, and you're actually an expert in your field. And you're requested to speak to a wider audience, whether it's at conferences or whatever, being able to get a message across to the wider audience is just paramount for success. Absolutely. And just you mentioned there the difference between one to one and one to many. And it's very important, because if you wanted to share that message, one to one, you'd have to spend weeks, if not months, traveling around speaking to people, but get everyone in the room, whether that's virtually or in person, and you can speak to 1000s of people in the same time it would take just to speak to one. Absolutely. And it's very much leveraging your time I guess, as a speaker.

Tom Bailey  03:29

So thank you so much for that. And I want to just take it back to the very beginning for a second. And what's your earliest memory of having to stand up and deliver a presentation and how did it go? Well, I was quite lucky. I mean, I spent all the time since I've been at school. Yeah, and we didn't really do much presentation work at school, did a little bit of university. Because that was more of a peer group. I don't think there was necessarily too much emphasis placed on that yak in those days, they didn't really sort of

Peter Boolkah  04:00

mold you to become an expert speaker. So we never had any of that training and under definitely didn't have any of that training. So the first time that I really had to speak with any sort of kind of conviction was probably when I was in McDonald's, when I was first promoted to a middle management position. And I had an area manager position and we were supposed to present into the region orcs or managers in that region. And yeah, you'd have the presentation course that they send you on, and yet, but to be honest with you, it was about as much use as a chocolate Fire guard here yet. They'll tell you a few sort of tips and everything, but nothing prepares you for speaking until they actually start doing it. And I remember the first time I started to speak I didn't know my words. I forgot my words. took out my train of thought I was very clammy and you know, sweating like hell. It was just very unpleasant. Yeah, I competed. And then looking back, do you think there was a little bit of fear there? Did you have that fear of public speaking? Fear is an understatement. I was absolutely petrified, I suppose is getting up there and thinking, Okay, do you know what I'm going to look like a fool? The reality is when you get up on any given stage, no one knows what you're going to say, apart from yourself. So whether you make the mistake, you're the only one punishing yourself and the audience don't know about it. Yeah. And I guess that's something you've learned over the years. And that to reflect back, and but I think it's important to talk about that fear, because that's my backstory, I had that social anxiety, fear of public speaking. And, and he talked about the physiological response of sweating and going bright red hands shaking. And I definitely went through all of that, and you hit the nail on the head when he said that it's fear really comes down to the fear of other people's opinions, and judgment, and what will the audience think of me, and we create this big pressure on ourselves to perform. And I think that's a big, I think you just hit the nail on the head with the word judgment. I don't think any of us enjoy being judged. And when we have that fear of being judged, no one wants to go up there, get on stage and actually just look shear. Nobody wants to do that no one wants to look terrible and awful. And that's probably one of the big fears is that you're going to come off the stage, and you're going to have your credibility. totally destroyed. Yeah, for me, probably was one of my fears. Yeah, absolutely. So and looking back, then what? What was the one thing that you'd wished you'd known back then when it came to speaking? What advice would you've given to that young Peter, middle manager at McDonald's? Probably practice, I totally underplayed the value of practicing. Because we had we, we get trained up on presentation skills, as we call them back then. But then you had to run off and do your day job. So actually, you had the training, but you didn't didn't have the time to perfect it as a art form. Yeah, so is actually taking the time out of practice. Get in front of that mirror, and practice, practice, practice. Probably when you're doing public speaking, you're gonna get to be as close to being an actor as possible. And actors are only good at what they do, because they do so many hours of purposeful practice. Yeah, it's really important. I always say to a lot of people that I speak to that confidence comes from competence. And I think that's true in anything. So if you're learning to drive a car, if you're learning to swim lanes, play tennis, whatever it is, the more you do it, the more you practice, the better you're going to get. So don't put too much pressure on yourself the first time you did, because you probably won't be very good. And but that's okay.

Tom Bailey  07:55

I totally agree. It's ours, as you say, it's our spending, practicing, and becoming better your craft in a skill. And there's some people out there that are really fortunate that are born naturally gifted speakers. Yep.

Peter Boolkah  08:10

There are absolutely. And one thing just to reflect on that is that, for anyone listening, who has been putting off standing on stage or speaking or presenting, one thing I would say is that your first swimming lesson wouldn't be in the Pacific Ocean. So what I mean by that is, don't put too much pressure on yourself to go and stand on a stage and speak in front of a big audience. Maybe just speak in front of one or two people or speak on a podcast or do a quick video into your smartphone, just get started is what, give us some advice, and you will improve over time. Absolutely.

Tom Bailey  08:44

Yeah, I couldn't agree more. Fantastic. And do you have any speaking, failures or catastrophes? Or, you know, things that have stood out to you? Yeah, absolutely. loads, absolutely loads in the early days, where I would sort of

Peter Boolkah  09:02

not quite get my words, right. Not quite get the pronounciation. Like, I'd be very sort of nervous. I'd even I knew what I wanted to say. But then I'd have sort of that, you know, that sort of blankness that comes across where actually your mind just totally goes, wiped. You wanted to get across to the audience. You've totally forgotten, even though you had a perfectly prepared beforehand, stuff like that. I mean, I've had instances where I've frozen as well, which has been an absolute nightmare. And a

Tom Bailey  09:37

couple of seconds may not seem a long time, but very often to an audience at the wrong time. It can feel like an eternity. It can. And yeah, don't don't let that happen to you at the very beginning, because I think that's when both the speaker and the audience have the most apprehension. So back to Peter's point, practice your opening. Because ultimately, that's where you're going to set on

Peter Boolkah  10:00

Most of the nerves in the room yours and the audience's and our colleagues. Now well, I just want to add to that, that in the very early stages, it was more of a monologue. I mean, if I go back to my early days of presenting the tonality of my voice, that was a major failure. And also, I probably wasn't engaging with the audience. I wasn't taking them on the journey. I was speaking at them, not with them. Yeah, absolutely. Can I just ask a quick question about the difference? Different options when speaking some people practice a script word for word, and they'll go and deliver that script? Some people like to have bullet points? And what's been your approach? Has it changed over the years? Yeah, if I look at if I look at the very early days, I really very much relied on a PowerPoint, PowerPoint to be my crutch. Really? Am I a big fan of lectern? Reading? Not really. I don't think I'm polished enough yet as an individual to be able to read off a lectern flawlessly, yeah, to me, that's not my, my preferred style. I like some bullet points. But they're more points of reference for me to be able to say, Okay, let's drop on this. And let's take the audience on the journey of the conversation. Right. So very authentic, very fluid at the minute. You've got some guidelines maybe to follow. But there's absolutely no script and you're not following slide by slide. Just reading readings out? No. And the majority of the speaking I do today, we call it unplugged. Yeah. So it tends to be very much live, I will kick off, we'll get the questions from the audience. And then we tend to more culture around the questions that come from the audience. Brilliant, but that they actually will walk away with value, which is quite hard to do. But then, for me, it is public present is public coaching, as opposed to as opposed to public speaking. Yeah. And it brings me back to a memory of one of my mentors said to me that questions generate content. So when you're on stage, and an audience asks your question, your brain is so powerful, it will probably find the answer as long as you are knowledgeable in that topic. Absolutely. You've got to have the frame of reference to be able to pull upon to be able to take the answer the question and take that person on that journey. Absolutely. And sometimes when you're standing on stage or on a virtual stage, and you haven't got an audience asking questions, what you can actually do is ask yourself questions on stage, and that will also generate content. Now, what do I mean by that? is an example of a question. And then I can then elaborate on that point. So think of questions as such a powerful aid for you both from the audience but also from yourself as a speaker.

Tom Bailey  12:54

So, next question from me is what advice would you give to somebody who wants to follow your career path or, you know, wants to potentially become a keynote speaker one day, what's what advice would you give them?

Peter Boolkah  13:09

Okay, so who wants to become a keynote speaker or do speaking, then I would say, you know, find someone that you can learn from. If you want to be a great speaker, join speaking organizations, whether it's Toastmasters, professional speakers Association, there's lots of them out there. But hang out with other speakers, learn from other speakers, do courses on speaking, become proficient, think of it as being a trade, don't just think of it as being something that I will bolt on to you, if you truly want to be a good speaker, then you've got to commit to it. And you have to invest in you mentioned hanging out with other speakers and, and following them potentially on that journey. Have you got any standout mentors that you had over the years that were great speakers that you followed? Learn from? How many of you look at some of the greats out there. Tony Robbins is a great speaker grant cardones a great speaker. Brendon Burchard is a great speaker and pressure because he's a great speaker, you've got a lot of different people that are great speakers. And they've all got their own unique styles. It's always looking at them. I love Jim Rohn watching Jim Rohn when he was speaking, I mean depth to his speaking.

Tom Bailey  14:31

So I just think it's just what can you learn from different people and find your own style?

Peter Boolkah  14:39

Yeah, that's so important. Find your own style. When I started speaking, I tried to be like the other speakers, but ultimately, that left me feeling like I had too much pressure to be perfect and be as good as them whereas when I realized I just needed to be myself. That changed everything. For me. That's a really good point. And you mentioned investing in speaking coaching training.

Tom Bailey  15:00

Have there been any particular resources or speaking groups that have helped you along your journey?

Peter Boolkah  15:06

I'd say when it comes to resources, I've hired the right person to help me on the journey so far has been speakers by and a professional speaker to help me with my speaking, when I've been doing video work, having a video coach, coach me, there's very different speaking to the camera. Absolutely. And it is speaking to people. Yeah, because actually, when you speak to a group of people, you can read the room, you've got body language, you've got feedback mechanism. When you speak into a camera, and you're doing, you're doing conferences and Keynote, so I camera, and you cannot see the audience. There's no feedback loop. Yeah, absolutely. One of the most, one of the best investments you'll make is the investment in yourself. So yeah, completely agree with that. And it's a great skill to learn. So a couple more questions for you. And this one's very topical one. And given that the 2019 global pandemic pretty much wiped out keynote and stage speaking, how did you transition during this period? Did you do anything differently? I've just been online. Yep. So we talk about so keynote, and conferences, as we know them? Well, as we knew them.

Tom Bailey  16:14

Yes, they got wiped out.

Peter Boolkah  16:17

They quickly became replaced with online variants. If you look at the development, within sort of the whole online, software platform development, has come on leaps and bounds in two years, it has, I mean, the options, we now have to run online events. Now I do believe it's going to become stronger and stronger and stronger, is going to keep moving in that direction. So what I did is I had to sort of pivot and change what I do. One of the most important things that I decided to do was set up a studio. So as opposed to having a normal way, you would have webcams and stuff and you would go out there and you would just have your conversations as soon as you read the keynote stuff. It was more Seneca when I need my own in house, broadcasting studio, back so that you got access to a leased line, you got access to the lighting, you got really high quality camera, all of those great microphones. So you had all the lights set up so that you could become a broadcaster, instead of becoming a public speaker, you've now become a public broadcaster. Now, it's probably the switch to I made incredible and often the comfort of your own home and office, and a lot less expensive as a global travel flights all over the world. And so yeah, I think I think it's here to stay. I do think there's still a place for the in person experience in networking and sitting next to somebody in the room. However, for me, virtual speaking is here to stay. And I'd love to see how it grows over the next couple of years. I mean, I think it will grow in the way that you'll have blended events. Yes, the in person events will be maybe you have four or five physical keynote speakers. But you may have three beamed in. Yeah. And the audience can be hybrid as well. Yeah. But the big challenge is going to be it's got to be high quality audience. It's got to be high quality in terms of the technologies got to be great. There can't be any jittery or can't be bad sound quality. It's got to be that premium experience. So therefore you don't feel you're missing anything. Yeah, you can't have the Wi Fi going down halfway through a hybrid conference like that.

Tom Bailey  18:28

Excellent. And so it's been amazing talking to you. One last question for me is where can our listeners connect with you online and find out more about you, potentially book you as a keynote speaker. Okay, so to book me as a keynote speaker, head over to book comm. W el That's where you'll find the Contact Me form. I tend to live on LinkedIn, if you really want to have a conversation with me directly connect on LinkedIn. If you want to look at the resources and stuff that I put out there, you got my podcast channel, on my YouTube channel, just type my name into Google and you'll get loads of resources. Excellent. And what I'll do PT is I'll share links to all of those in the show notes. So our followers can click on those and they can go and find out a little more about you.

Peter Boolkah  19:16

Thank you very much, Tom. Great. So Peter, thanks again, so much for your time, sir. I've really appreciated hearing about your amazing story and for sharing that with our audience as well. It's been a pleasure. Thank you for having me.