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Creating Experiences For Your Audience - Rob Ferre

succeed through speaking tom bailey Dec 05, 2022

Tom Bailey, founder of Succeed Through Speaking, interviews Rob Ferre.

ROB FERRE Speaker - Event Host - Engagement Expert An experience you'll always remember, a message you'll never forget. Helping you build leaders that get your teams on the dance floor. The ability to retain your key talent matters more now than ever before. As leaders we crave having teams that are excited about the brand, and willing to "dance" into our vision. Rob Ferre has spent most of his life and career getting people engaged in an experience. From Disney to DJ, from Des Moines to Dubai, his work has been built around studying the habits of effective teams, and how leaders can make work fun again. Clients like Amazon, Dell, and LinkedIn, are just a few of the groups who have had raved about Rob's custom host experiences. Not only does he bring the energy, the humor, the fun, and, yes, the music, Rob also brings his four-step system that leaders can implement immediately to create stronger more engaged teams. His interactive events are designed to get your people moving, inspire them to seek change,

and leave them with a method of putting it into action for years of positive results. It truly is an experience you'll always remember, and a message you'll never forget.


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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 Rob Ferre is an entertaining keynote speaker, Master of Ceremonies, virtual presenter, game show host event DJ. And I think it's fair to say the life of the party. So Rob, hello, and a very warm welcome to today's episode.

Rob Ferre  00:45

Well, I thank you so much. I am joining you from Salt Lake City, Utah, just so our listeners and viewers know exactly where I'm coming from in the world.

Tom Bailey  00:55

Fantastic. Thank you for sharing. And I know as well from looking at your bio, your videos that no matter what kind of event or show you're putting on, you always want it to be an experience. So I really wanted to start the conversations around. Why is it so important that you've put on an experience for an audience and not just a presentation?

Rob Ferre  01:15

Yeah, so when it comes to speaking, we want people to be engaged in multiple ways, either visually, with their, with their ears, they can hear the music, they can hear the sounds, but I also want to engage them physically get them up out of their seat, or even engaging their minds in a different way. So that's why I call it an experience. It's not just being speaking from the stage. And speaking at an audience, I want it to a two way conversation, I want them to feel like they're a part of the show as well. Because when we speak, sometimes we may be making it about ourselves, or we were really into what we're doing, I want my audience to also feel like they're part of the show. So I do different engagement activities by polling and giving people the opportunity to even choose which direction we go. And I also like to put in a little bit of a gamification aspect to it to give some people some entertainment aspects, but also a challenge to get them to be involved through gamification.

Tom Bailey  02:17

Excellent. And I guess, you know, as well as it, then they're leaving the event and thinking that was a great event. Is there a kind of a secret learning theory behind that about how people retain information? Is that really why you're doing it?

Rob Ferre  02:33

I do it once to retain information to to let them be a part of the experience, and so that they remember some tangible stories, some tangible takeaways. But we have so much competing things out there right now, as audience members, they have these phones, and so they can easily disengage, go to their phones go to their laptops, go to their emails, and there's so many things that are competing for our audience's attention. And so within that first 1520 seconds, I got to hook them. And then I'm also going to do some activities. These are not gimmicks, but they're also ways to actually drive home a point. And so I do different things throughout the presentation. Also, I think one of the most important things is we want to make our meeting planners look good. And the people that hire us, we want them to look like the heroes that they hired us. And we want them to have an amazing event, and then bring their attendees back for the next year or for the next event. So that's also important for me is to be able to meet the goals, or reach the goals of those who hire me.

Tom Bailey  03:44

Excellent. Love it. Thank you so much for sharing that. And I guess I really want to know more about your story as well when it comes to speaking and presenting. So let's go right back to the very beginning. We always, you know, life and soul of the party. We always in the middle of Center Stage or we're more of a shy kid. Where did you begin?

Rob Ferre  04:02

Yeah, I was not a shy kid not. In second grade, I went to my I went to a production at a local theater downtown. It's one of the biggest theaters we have here in Salt Lake City. And I was watching Cinderella. And there were two young boys holding the train of the queen or whoever the princess was at that time in the show. And I nudged my friend and I said to him, those kids are so lucky to be on that stage. And he was like, okay, whatever. But I was mesmerized by that opportunity. And the crazy thing is one year later, I was actually performing on that stage as a child in third grade. And so I see stages and I want to be a part of it. So no matter what the stage is, no matter what the audience is. I'm a sucker for it. Yeah. And so I've been performing all my life. I've done theater, I've done improv, I've done some TV, I've done radio, and so I do a lot of things that are in front of audiences and so yes, I've never been shy and good. It is true. I live by the mantra, which is be the first person on the dance floor. So I always am out on the dance floor. I'm always trying to get the party started as well.

Tom Bailey  05:13

Right. And I guess for those people listening to the podcast, you can't see this. But Rob's got a disco ball just just behind his head as well. And so as you're watching the video, absolutely. So you've always got a dance floor there in your virtual studio. Yes. Great. Exactly. Yeah. Thank you for sharing that. So I guess, a great starting point for you. A lot of the listeners, or some of the listeners will resonate with that. But some of the lessons will be thinking, well, you know, I was shy as a kid, and it's harder for me. I mean, what kind of advice would you give to somebody that's maybe introverted or shy or quiet or feeling a bit anxious about being in front of an audience? What advice would you give to them as an extrovert?

Rob Ferre  05:52

Well, the question is, do they want to be in front of an audience. So if we're speaking to speakers who are a little bit more introverted, and a little different, they focus their energy in different ways, I get my energy from the audience. But if they're a little bit more introverted, I think the most important thing for any speaker is somebody that is maybe looking at a stage. And that seems like a daunting task is to be prepared. And also recognize that your audience wants you to succeed. So as soon as you step out onto that stage, they want you to give them a powerful message or to come out and just nail it. So I think being prepared and knowing that your audience wants you to succeed as well. Now, here's the thing is, the most important thing is being your authentic self. And people hear that all the time, authenticity, whatever it may be. But if you have to be another version of yourself, great. But when you step out there, you also want to connect with that audience. And there have been times where I've looked at an audience and I, and I'm a little intimidated as well. And sometimes I stare over their heads, but I have to remember, I need to keep looking in their eyes. Because the audience knows when you connect with them. So find different ways to connect with your audience either through your message through eye contact through activities. But these are the ways to make sure that you are successful on stage,

Tom Bailey  07:15

that's really important part about being authentic, because it's almost like, we try and wait until we're the perfect version of ourself, or we've got the perfectly polished presentation before we deliver it. And but it's actually okay to make mistakes, it's okay to say a few times. And actually the audience will probably resonate more with you, if you make a few mistakes on stage. That's a really good point. Yeah. And so, actually, I think it's quite a quite really, topical question right now is, is the global pandemic 2020, pretty much shut down the in person speaking arena, I'm assuming that you got let me ask the question, did you have to have a massive transition? Or were you already doing virtual presentations at

Rob Ferre  07:57

this point, I had a massive transition. So what you're seeing right now is my virtual studio. And before, I didn't have anything like this, I had done maybe a webinar to front of a desktop computer. But what was important for me is to seeing what my peers were doing as well. I'm surrounded by some great speakers. And I think any speaker needs to have mentors needs to have a group of Ken ciliary is if you want to call it that people that you can lean on and trust. And these were some of my fellow speakers here in Utah, started building their virtual studios as well. And I didn't want to be left behind. So I have what is called FOMO Fear Of Missing Out Yes, like, tell me who your guy is that got your virtual studio setup. So we set it up about three weeks into the pandemic. And I started just leaning quit. But what was my success was doing events for free and just started learning on the job. And I did free webinars, and I worked with different communities. I worked at the my local Speakers Association, the National Speakers Association, and eventually turned into paid events. And I'm still doing virtual game shows, and seeing from home, as well. And it's a, it was a shift, but it was something that accelerated my career because people weren't leaning into it. And so I think the most important thing as a speaker is to recognize change, learn how to innovate and lean into it, if you see a need, and if nobody's doing what you do, lean into it and go into it. Yeah.

Tom Bailey  09:33

Yeah, that's great advice. And I think one thing I should pick up on that is the fact that you, you does change, and you decided I'm gonna do this for free to begin with, because that's the best way to learn my craft is to do it for free. And I think a question on the back of that is, if, if there are any aspiring speakers listening who haven't yet delivered a presentation and they want to get started, how's the best way for them to kind of just just start speaking, where should they go? What kind of presentation should they have? I've, what what would you suggest them to do?

Rob Ferre  10:03

There's so many different ways. For me, I think the most important thing is finding somebody who's doing what you're doing. And asking them for some advice, find a mentor. It's easier when you have somebody who's in your own backyard community, virtually, we can connect with people all over the world. But I think going and seeing others working on their craft and seeing how they do it, and not just listening to the message, but watching how they use the stage, their stage craft and all that. I think that's really important as well. So looking into what others are doing. And so once I've found a mentor to I joined the National Speakers Association, their speaker groups all over the place. There's also Toastmasters International, if you're not familiar with that Toastmasters is a great way where you can even start working on your speeches and giving five minute speeches in front of your fellow Toastmasters feedback, yeah. And getting feedback. They also are very, I would say, They focus a lot on the speech skills as far as enunciation, dictation and filler words and things of that nature. But if you're looking to even start spreading your message, it's okay to do things for free. And when I look at free events I look at as an showcasing opportunity. So if somebody asks you to come in, speak to their group, ask them, Is there a way for you to record this event? Get photos of me, give me testimonials? Yeah, you can start doing these things and get those referrals and testimonials as well. Yeah.

Tom Bailey  11:37

So it doesn't have to just be cash in the bank as a value add back to you for speaking it could be like you said, the credibility, the images, the referrals as well from those presentations. So I guess somebody is now going to jump into this. They're going to start doing free talks. At some point, they're going to think, okay, I can get paid for this. And what what does that transition look like as a speaker is Was there a point for you at which you thought, You know what, I'm good. I'm good enough now. And I can start charging for what I do.

Rob Ferre  12:08

Yeah, it really depends on who you're speaking to, what your market is, what your niche is, because I started speaking in the event industry, so I started speaking at DJ conferences, yeah. And there was not money there to be had, it was more like speaking in front of your peers and things like that. So if you have if you're an expert, with a certain subject, if you want to be a motivational speaker, you got to find out who is paying for what you speak on. Yeah. And I think it's okay to start looking, there's if you even go into Google and just put in the term call for speakers, conferences are looking for speakers all the time for breakout sessions. And start thinking about it in different ways. breakout sessions are not the general sessions. If you want to be a keynote speaker, that's for the general sessions. But there's so many different niches that you can speak on, and speak within. But I think what works really well is starting to look for those opportunities. And if people keep bringing you back and you aren't charging a fee, you say, Well, you know that first one was free. And now I do charge this my fee is XY and Z. Yeah. And and also find out what other people are charging for the same things that you are wanting to do.

Tom Bailey  13:25

Yeah, and say it with confidence that of course, as well. So exactly. What you mentioned the topic of niche, finding your audience, finding your key message, finding that one thing that you speak on now, you started speaking at DJ conferences, and now you're speaking big corporates, I assume and I guess Talk Talk us through that. Because I think the important thing for me there is that you don't have to nail your niche first time, just start with a nice, and then it may go off in different directions, I assume.

Rob Ferre  13:54

Yeah, I've spoken on many things. And that the problem is, is I have a trusted friend who says, you might be confusing the market. And when I heard that, I was like, Wow, that's quite profound, because you can't be a speaker for everybody and everything. Right? Yeah. And he told me I need to start focusing on who I speak to, and who I speak for and what I speak on. And so I do all variety of things. I speak on social media, I speak on leadership, IMC, I consider that part of speaking I do game shows. I'm flying to Phoenix, Arizona today for a game show tomorrow. I consider that speaking in front of auto on the audience. So I do entertainment. And so when it comes to marketing, my keynote, I need to get focused on who I speak to and who can most benefit from it. Yeah. And so that's really important, as well as getting that still focused. So I haven't figured everything out. I'm still within this process, still trying to figure it out. And I know what I love to do most which is emceeing conferences and engaging an audience. Yeah,

Tom Bailey  14:59

perfect and And I guess the point on that is it's okay to not have it all figured out yet. And you know, just enjoy the journey, I guess. And don't wait to find that perfect niche before you get started. Just start speaking, learn your craft, and then you'll you'll almost find your way naturally. Perfect. Excellent. Well, thank you so much for for everything. So far, you've added so much value already. And my I've got two questions. The first one might put you on the spot a little bit, which is, if there was one question I should have asked you today, what what would that question be? And what would be your answer as well?

Rob Ferre  15:35

Maybe the question is, I always like to ask people this question is what was maybe the biggest failure? And what did you learn from it? I think we can learn a lot from failure. And how did we what did we learn from those moments? And I can think of multiple times, I'll just think of that one right off the top of my head. And it wasn't a big failure, but it was not trusting my gut, I remember I was emceeing an event. And I had this whole bit planned out at the very end. And my gut was telling me, you know, what, skip it, just move on. We're already over on time, just end on a strong note. And I was like, No, but I prepared and I had this thing ready to go, let's do it. And I did it and it bombed. And so bombing on stage is sometimes a good thing, because you learn from those moments. And there have been a lot of times that I bombed. And I often dwell on those moments. But those are the things that I've learned from the most is when I bombed, and it's not a bad thing. I've still gotten hired, maybe not by the same group. But I've been able to take those lessons and learn, maybe less is more, instead of trying to cram everything in and make sure that I got it in. And that also brings me to another point is be prepared and know how long you're supposed to speak. I was speaking at a DJ conference, and I went over time. Now I do play some of the blame on the organizer. They didn't give me an exact time. But I looked down at my confidence monitor and I was out of time, but I still had 15 minutes to go and my keynote. So I kept going. And they were angry, but the audience loved it. They didn't know I went over time. So I think these things are really important is to learn from your mistakes. Be prepared. Talk to the people that hire you and know exactly what they want, what their vision is. Don't just go in and do your thing. Make sure that you are cognizant of your audience and even the people that hired you.

Tom Bailey  17:37

Yep, perfect. And I guess for the aspiring speaker, don't be afraid of these things happening. And these mistakes and these bombs, you know, look, look forward to them happening because that was one of the biggest turning points in your in your career. Yeah, perfect. So Rob, and last question for me today is if anybody wants to book you as a speaker, or a show host anything at all, where's the best place for them to find you online.

Rob Ferre  18:02

They can go to rob R OB, f e r r And they can follow me on Instagram at Rob Frey. And also, I'll be releasing some videos on my YouTube channel about speaking and how to become a better MC. So those videos will be coming out in the near future. So you can always find me on YouTube as well. And my hope is to come back to the UK. I was recently earlier this year in soli Hill, outside of Birmingham for a DJ conference that I spoke at. And so I love to do international travel. And that's one of my favorite things about speaking is being able to travel and see the world.

Tom Bailey  18:41

Awesome. Thank you so much. So Rob, just to say thank you so much again for your time today. I'll put all of those show notes, all those links onto the show notes. So you can click them find out more, and I really appreciate you sharing that story with us. And again, it was great to meet you