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Why You Have To Get On Stage - The Ian Dickson Story

succeed through speaking tom bailey Mar 18, 2022

Tom Bailey, founder of Succeed Through Speaking, interviews Ian Dickson.

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.

Ian Dickson is an International Business Speaker and Multi Award Winning Executive Coach and Mentor.

Ian has delivered over 500 keynote speeches, seminars, leadership training and presentations globally and has previously been crowned the European seminar coach of the year. He has been coaching for over 17 years and in that time has coached over 600 businesses.

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Tom Bailey  00:00

Hello, I'm Tom Bailey. And in today's speaker stories episode is Ian Dixon, who's an international business speaker and multi award winning executive coach and mentor. So Ian, hello, and a very warm welcome to today's episode.

Ian Dickson  00:15

Listen, Tom, thank you so much for the opportunity. I'll always make space for these kinds of things. I've had an interesting journey, and I want to help as many people as I can. And your podcast is a fabulous platform to be able to do that.

Tom Bailey  00:28

And I really appreciate that and just out of interest for those listening whereabouts in the world are you right now.

Ian Dickson  00:33

I'm by the seaside. So I live down in Hampshire in the UK. And I moved down here from London after being a policeman back in the 1980s. And I've never looked North since to be honest, if I get north of Luton, I tend to get a nosebleed so, but I love it down here by the seaside.

Tom Bailey  00:50

Awesome sound. Sounds great. And I want to share just a little bit more about you before we do get started. So I have stalked Ian online on his website and read his bio. And I've discovered that he has delivered over 500 keynote speeches, seminars, leadership training and presentations globally, and has previously been crowned the European seminar Coach of the Year. He's been coaching for 17 years, and in that time, has coached over 600 businesses. So clearly today, an accomplished speaker in but I'd love to ask, Has it always been this way? Were you always a great speaker and, or were things a little shaky in the beginning,

Ian Dickson  01:31

shake is probably not the word really petrified which is a common like, you know, we fear speaking more than dying and all that all the old cliche things. I was that person, I am naturally an introvert. So let me give you the takeaway line right at the start of our podcast today. Back in 2005, my first into my second year of being a business mentor business coach, I was absolutely struggling. And I was sat alongside a multimillionaire eating spaghetti bolognese in Los Angeles. And he said, How's it going? And I said, I'm going to use the S word, his shit, like I'm really struggling. And he turned to me and he said, This is pre social media. And he said, Ian, if you want to be successful in business, get on stage. Yeah. Like it was the like, I can hear him saying it now. Back then that was a physical stage. So I came home. Petrified, oh, my god, I can't do that. And then I'm looking at the telephone thinking, I can't do that. Either. I like, you know, do you want to buy my stuff? Do you want to buy my stuff? So I thought, well, you know what, I'll do some low key seminars for free, because I'm rubbish. And so 10 people turned out 15 people turned up 20 people turned up, and it just kind of slowly grew. And whilst I was petrified of it, I clearly was capable of doing it. So and it slowly grew. So that that is kind of how it started way back then. But I promise you, Tom, I ABS I've got a recording of it. I've never watched it petrified of walking out in front of 10 people, let alone sitting in the audience.

Tom Bailey  03:18

Yeah, thanks so much. I'm sure a lot of people listening will resonate with where you were, and you've hinted at this already. But the title of this podcast is succeed through speaking. So what does that mean to you? Do you think that speaking, is linked to success and how so?

Ian Dickson  03:35

So, I did a fabulous, I've got to meet some amazing people I did some work with, or my god to some keynote, I can't remember his name, but it will come back to me. Anyway, it was called the expert economy. And the guy who wrote key people of influence, why can't I remember his name? Daniel Priestley, Daniel. So I did some work with Dan. And like I was I did a co event with him. He asked me to do a guest speak, expert economy and the research I did one of the big takeaways on the research for the expert economy is to be recognized as an expert by being a speaker and being a presenter. And but bearing in mind, I was over 10, maybe 12 years in so it was a bit of a retrospective view of the success of that. But then this whole thing about you know, to be successful in business, get on stage started to resonate with me, I think, well, that's why this has happened then. So yeah. People in my community in Hampshire before you know, we went ended up on Zoom used to people would ask Who should I speak to about and they to speak to that guy because he does free events. You know, he's a speaker, he knows his stuff. So I think anybody that steps out onto a stage whether that be this is a stage nowadays, or a physical stage that is confident, capable and delivers good content. and massively increases the expert needle so and so then people will start, you know, one of the things I used to say about my events, the worst thing that will happen is 2530. People will go away and say nice things like, you know, even if they don't want to buy my stuff, they'll say you should go to that. It's quite good. Yeah. Yeah. So long and short is it's not for everybody, you know, I'm not going to pretend that not everyone can be a leader. I you know, I'm a big believer in the fact that you you know, a lot of this is DNA, You'll never catch me catching Usain Bolt. So, so I think a lot of this is DNA. But for me, I've personally found that rather than pick up the telephone, I even though I didn't realize it, standing in front of an audience, one to many actually was a fabulous route to market for me, I gave stuff away, I didn't feel like I was marketing. So

Tom Bailey  05:49

yeah, great. And, and we talked about positioning, and physically positioning yourself at the front of the room is a great way to be seen as the leader, because normally, in any context, the person stood at the front of the room is the one who's seen as the leader. So yeah, it's a great, great value you've added there. So when you think about public speaking, then and obviously, you are a speaker now, and how much of your career success or success in life, would you attribute to your ability to stand up and speak in public?

Ian Dickson  06:21

So I have thought about this a lot since the pandemic kicked in. And I thought to myself, because actually, there was two tears for me, one was getting in front of an audience. And then the other one about maybe eight, nine years after that was then getting in front of a camera. Yeah, actually, it's a very different thing altogether. So there are a little bit of crossover. But a real big thing for me. Over two years ago, there was the realization if I hadn't gone on that journey, I'd probably be driving a bus now. So you know, I don't think I would have survived. But the fact that I had ticked the public speaking box, and then felt more comfortable getting into a camera, and then the pandemic here, and then I'm Brian, having fun, zoom. Listen, everyone's catch it up. Don't get me wrong. But I was right at home in front of zoom. So like, to the extent within less than nine months of doing coaching meetings on Zoom, doing some speaking events on Zoom, I was actually traveling the world in my slippers. Training, how to deliver content on Zoom. Great. And if I hadn't gone that, you know, listen, some of one of the things I say about luck in business is hard work. If you work hard, that's when the luck kicks in. So yeah. So I think that I got lucky because I worked hard without realizing we were going to have a pandemic. So yeah, saved my bacon.

Tom Bailey  07:53

I love it. And it's such a great transferable skill. So if you can speak in front of 1000 people on a stage, how much easier to have those small conversations to facilitate, to coach to, to use stories having an everyday interaction. So yeah, great, great transferable skills. So you've mentioned already that you were petrified of public speaking. And you remember back to delivering those small presentations in front of 10 people. How did your first presentation go? Can you remote? Can you remember those shaky beginnings?

Ian Dickson  08:24

So it reminds me of doing best man speeches? Yeah, I have too much to drink. And I have no idea what I said. So the best real life story I can give you is I had one that a seminar Award, which was delivered was given to me by a global coaching organization. And they asked me to go to Los Angeles and share what it was I was doing that was making the attendance level so high on my seminars. So I went to Los Angeles and I it this was to 500 peers, this was 500 business coaches. I was I didn't sleep like proper made me that he was like one other. There's been probably three or four real big ones where I thought, Oh, my God, and that was one of them. I have no recollection. Tom, I honestly to this day, I can remember going into a a side room in a hotel that was stacked with chairs and grizzly and afterwards because I felt like I'd failed in my big duck the opportunity oh my god, this is what how wonderful is this? How far have I come? I did my talk. And I came off and I felt like I'd fluffed it and I missed off and I it's all a blur, but I went off and hid myself away and had a bit of a Grizzle because I thought you know, it's a one shot thing. I'm never going to get this opportunity again. But I put too much pressure on myself and actually all the feedback I got was amazing. So But personally, I put too much pressure on myself so so I think a bit if we're Looking for messages or lessons is not to take it too seriously, you know, amzing are so Wha, you know, we're all we're all capable of communicating. So, you know, it doesn't matter whether it's one or 10 or 50 or 100. And the top tip actually, once it gets to a certain level, you can't see a more anyway. So yeah,

Tom Bailey  10:19

yeah, I completely agree in that the, one of the biggest lessons I had to learn was that most of the people in that audience actually want you to do well,

Ian Dickson  10:28

of course, that no one wants you to fail. No, they've decided some of them are paid money, you know, they want some good stuff. They've

Tom Bailey  10:34

either invested money or time to come and listen to you. So they're sat there wanting you to do a great job. So you're putting so much pressure on yourself, and you almost think that the audience are putting pressure on you. But in reality, it's not the case. So when you do think back to that first presentation, then what advice do you wish that you could give to a young Ian?

Ian Dickson  10:58

Oh, that's a great question. So. Yeah, that's a great question. Because I don't want this to sound because I am genuinely an introvert and I'm modest, you know, I still get imposter syndrome. Yeah. I genuinely feel like I did an okay job with it. Right. So, don't so piece of advice I would give myself back at the start is don't get hooked, and I've listened to some of your videos, don't get hooked up on shadowboxing and rehearsing, actually, there is the best piece of advice I can give you is get to me, you know, get in front of real people, because it's impossible to articulate the feel, and the energy that you'll get back. If you're in your living room with a PowerPoint on the wall, trying to you know, deliver your content and and you are indoors or the kids are listening ain't the same. So you can shadow boxing gym all day long, the minute you get into a ring, it's a very different game. So so go to safe environments like your Toastmasters. Actually, networking is a fabulous, safe environment to stand up, even though you only get a short period of time. They all add up. So get in front of people, because you cannot replicate energy feedback, and all that, that real stuff that comes at you. So you know, and one of the big things for me is engagement. And it's which has been a big struggle with Zoom. It's very difficult to get engagement rehearsing, when in fact, it's impossible.

Tom Bailey  12:40

Yeah, yeah. And, and almost, if you over rehearse, and you script and you try and memorize this script, you're effectively just go in there quite robotically, just delivering stuff into an empty, you know, empty audience. Whereas if you're trying to read the room, and engage and smile and get eye contact, that that's such a better way to deliver. So, we're talking here about in the early days, and but what about those people listening that would love to be a keynote speaker? And maybe they're already speaking a little bit? And what advice would you give to somebody wanting to really pursue a career as a paid speaker?

Ian Dickson  13:16

Well, so how bizarre So Wednesday, I was at the expo in London, keynote speaker at Europe's biggest business show the business business Revival Show this year. Yep. And somebody came and sat next to me while I was setting their keynote section, and she came and sat next to me and said, Hi, my name so certain, I would really love to be a keynote speaker. How do I, you know, how do I get on the bus? How can I make this happen? And I said, Well, you've got to really cut your teeth. So the Susan Boyle approach to ended up being a keynote speaker and London's XL is destined to fail. So you're actually you're robbing yourself of that journey of the mileage. So So my advice is to go cut your teeth in all the booths around the Business Show, which is what I did. And I had no aspirations to be a keynote. I'm still an introvert. So I have no aspirations to be a keynote. And then what happens is after a couple of years, there's probably six side booth, which is 2030 people. I got an email saying would you like to do a keynote next year and it's like all right, no, I can't I couldn't do that. What if they find out I'm actually rubbish? What if they find out Yeah, so so so the best you know, all I would say is is don't try and cut corners. Go networking, go to Toastmasters is a mixed bag. I think if you go if you can get yourself into a good group and you get good feedback that the thing if I was to be brutally honest about not just Toastmasters, but those types of groups is their inward facing, and what you're better off is it's a bit like going to the gym but sparring, but actually there is no replication for rudely standing up in front of people, my route was to do my own thing. So I took my own risk. So that's another route that I'd recommend, you know, put on an event, get 1015 people to come even if it's your brother, your sister and your uncle, get them to come and sit in the audience, have somebody give you some feedback that you trust and respect. Don't ask the audience are somebody that you respect, say, you know, how was it so and grow that way? So and then eventually people will identify with you, you know, it's not for everybody. So that's how you'll find out. Yep.

Tom Bailey  15:33

And, and absolutely, and for some people listening that just can't even see themselves, standing up and speaking in front of 20 people. And a couple of the early steps that I took and recommend are to speak on podcasts as a guest to run webinars so that you can, you can then practice in the comfort of your own home before taking that step out into effectively the real world. And great, so thank you so much for that answer. So another question I like to ask speakers is around resources. We've talked about advice and guidance, but are there any particular resources, books, anything at all that you've utilized over the past few years to really help you develop as a speaker?

Ian Dickson  16:12

So I know you went down this route Tom, so I, you know, my journeys been, I don't know that it's been unique, but I kind of just made my I've, I've done any courses not, I've not even read a book on it. I just felt that if I know my stuff, and I truly believe that I'm adding value. If I can speak passionately, genuinely passionately about what it is that I want to share, then why wouldn't I do that? So, so I didn't I have been on. I did a four day I don't have many people that I kind of aspire to be like, Brendon Burchard is, I'm a big fan of probably one of the few people anybody that knows Brendan will know who I'm talking about. He's probably one of the few people that I look up to, he came to the UK a few years ago, and I grabbed a ticket when I did a four day thing with him. And he had a guy on there, I'm not going to name him. But he is a speaker, coach and does speaker courses. And I'm going to say I'm going to say out loud, he's a charlatan, he's there as a thief, he, the guy is selling the dream. So and I've watched him speak, he, he over spoke by over an hour, people were booing, people got up and walked out. So be mindful, if you do feel that you want to get a qualification or accreditation, or you know, get some go on some training. That's fine. But I truly believe the best thing to do is, is cut your own path is do your own thing, go networking, maybe just you know if you know your stuff, why not do a two hour presentation on, you know how to plant roses, it didn't really matter. So, you know, we're all capable of speaking, there isn't a right side of the stage to stand on. And then the left side and stand back and Stanford, there's a few things that I where I see people make mistakes, you know, where they end up getting nervous. And so they isolate themselves, or they stand up on a platform. And actually, it's just be human, you know, and interact and get engagement. And, yeah, I've not read anything. I've not watched anything, but I'm human. Right?

Tom Bailey  18:38

Yeah. You know,

Ian Dickson  18:39

I just talked to people. So yeah, I can't recommend any books or courses.

Tom Bailey  18:44

That's great. Carve your own path. And really, it's about self belief and mindset as a resource to help you really, really go forward. And so you've already mentioned the transition that you made during the 2019 global pandemic. And my next question on this topic is, do you think that virtual speaking and webinars is here to stay? Or are we going to jump straight back into physical in person conferences? What What's your thoughts?

Ian Dickson  19:13

So there's two trains of thought for me one is a hope, and one is the reality. I think the the cop out answer is a hybrid. I, I was in Geneva last week, doing some work, some speaking work. I was in London this week. And on Tuesday, I fly to South Africa for 10 days to do some speaking work. And I've just been asked to go to Australia again in June. So I don't know if that answers your question. But the one of the things I talk about zoom training, I've had as many as 60 black screens where no cameras are. It's hard. Like I'm not I'm not kidding as a trainer and as a speaker to deliver and for six hours. And to deliver content for that period of time when you have no nothing coming back at you, is really hard. And so one of the things I talk about is yes, it's efficient. But is it effective? Yeah. Yeah. So is it truly efficient. So it might be cost efficient, delivery efficient. So I'm excited to get on a plane on Tuesday to fly to Africa to do three lots of three days, and physically be in a room because I know the conversation will be very different to one on one perfect one on 357 25. It all gets a bit weird. So yeah, I want to I love to ask questions. You know, who in the room has I can't do that on Zoom?

Tom Bailey  20:45

So yeah, it's actually so good. Gray. And so thanks so much. And yeah, very exciting that you are still jet setting around the world. Yes. Back on track. Absolutely. And very, very last question for me today is if anyone here has resonated, they love what you're talking about. Want to find out more? Where can our listeners connect with you online.

Ian Dickson  21:06

So I'm very proud of this. And I've got a very technical friend that has verified it. If you type my name into Google, I'm on page one anywhere in the world, and amazing sky like a my mum would be incredibly proud of the house. There's lots of indexes in the world. But I'm big on the socials. Just put my name into Google. I have over 100 videos on YouTube. I'm big on Facebook, LinkedIn, one of the world's top coaches to follow on Twitter. You'll find me on all the socials. So but put my name into Google. I'm sure you'll find me. If you can't, then I'm failed. I failed miserably.

Tom Bailey  21:41

Absolutely. And what I'll do as well in just as a failsafe, I'll put all of the links into the show notes as well, just in case so people can click on those and find you online. And so and we're out of time, but thank you so much again for your time today and for sharing such great value with our audience.

Ian Dickson  21:56

You're very welcome as the blue shirt show today.

Tom Bailey  21:59

It was indeed. Thanks again.