How To Convey Your Message At Scale - The Leanne Spencer StoryApr 01, 2022
Tom Bailey, founder of Succeed Through Speaking, interviews Leanne Spencer.
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.
Leanne Spencer is a keynote speaker and wellbeing consultant, with over 10 years’ experience in wellbeing and 13 qualifications in exercise and nutrition. Leanne began her career in sales and spent over 15 years working in the City of London before leaving in 2012 to set up an award-winning wellbeing company, after suffering from burnout. Leanne is the bestselling author of three books, hosts a podcast and is a Bear Grylls Survival Instructor.
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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 Leanne Spencer, who is the best selling author of three books, a podcast host, a keynote speaker and is also a Bear Grylls survival instructor. So Leanne Hello, and a very warm welcome to today's episode.
Leanne Spencer 00:43
Hi Tom Hello, everyone listening.
Tom Bailey 00:45
Thank you so much and just out of interest whereabouts are you based in the world?
Leanne Spencer 00:49
I am in a quite sunny West Village in South London.
Tom Bailey 00:53
Very nice. And it is very, very sunny. It's probably the warmest March I've ever felt personally. So yeah, great time of year. As well, just a little bit more about you before we do get started. So Leanne began her career in sales, and spent over 15 years working in the City of London before leaving in 2012 to set up an award winning wellbeing company, where she's now wellbeing consultant with over 10 years experience in the field of well being, and has 13 qualifications in exercise and nutrition. So, Leon, given that you're a bit of an expert, and it's fair to say on all things well being and you regularly speak on the topic, I'd love to know if you were a naturally born speaker, or were things maybe a little shaky in the beginning for you.
Leanne Spencer 01:39
Well, it's interesting hearing that intro and thank you for that as well. What it doesn't tell you is the you know, that that's sort of the clouds, I could take into the dirt as it were. And whilst I have accomplished all of those things, I've also had So 10 years of alcoholism, which I overcame, when I left the city in 2012. That's an interesting point to start at a huge gloss over a massive event. Yeah. But you know, I've done a lot of presenting in my sales career. So I was quite used to getting up and standing in front of people, but in a very formulaic way, and very fact based as well. One of the the big leaps I've had to make in speaking, which we can draw out a little more, if you like, is going from delivering facts the company was set up, then it was informed by a collection of Canton banks in Switzerland, etc, etc, to actually telling stories. And that was a huge leap. But to kind of get back to the question, I had lots of experience presenting to groups of anything from one to sort of 10 in a sales meeting format. It was when I left the city started out in well being which was really driven by by the drinking by the city culture by deep dissatisfaction of what I was doing. And then I left and started off as a personal trainer then became a coach. And then more recently, in the last few years started working with companies. And I've started to realize that the really rewarding stuff comes from stage speaking, or public speaking, in general, that's where if if your real purpose is to convey a message, and try and compel others to consider making a change to their well being, or their way of life or their habits, you can do that on a one to one basis in a personal training or coaching capacity. But the way to do it at scale is to get on stages, get in front of cameras, construct a message, make it about a story, rather than the you know, ubiquitous three top tips for sleep, which I find helpful. But if you can tell a story, it brings it to life. So that was a journey that I made over a period of a few years. And it was a leap for me, as I say, to go from delivering facts and figures, to telling stories to bring this to life. I suppose I started doing that in 2016 when I did my TEDx, and they sort of dragged me. Well, I say that they wanted me to start telling more stories. And I did. But they also want to be to packet full of statistics and facts. To back up what I was saying, which I guess is the TED way and they didn't want to put someone on their stage. And that's talking about the effects of dieting on the human psyche, you've got to back that up with data. Yeah, so it's definitely been a progression.
Tom Bailey 04:13
Great. And I suppose when you're in the topic of behavior change or mindsets, you know, really is that storytelling for people to really feel the journey and really buy into that change that's required, rather than listing a load of facts, which they are going to forget three days later. So there's that motive side of it isn't it's really important.
Leanne Spencer 04:32
Well, it's that but it's also if you want to differentiate yourself because the speaking world is one like a commercial business, you have to win the business, then you have to go and deliver it. Then you need to try make sure the impact of its elongated for as long as possible. So people don't forget. Anybody really can get enough polish to stand and deliver a set of statistics. We've seen the government do it for the last two years. Yes, no panache around that but they're getting the message across. They're conveying the numbers and the data The the difference between doing that and true keynote speaking, I think is the ability to tell stories in such a way that you grab somebody's attention. And they remember it. And I know when I'm giving more factual based stuff, perhaps in a workshop scenario, and then when I'm actually telling a story, I can see the difference, you can feel the difference in the audience interaction in PBL, say to you all the story you told about the Arctic Circle, you know, it may really made me think of this. That's, I think, the big difference as well.
Tom Bailey 05:28
Yeah. And I guess when you provide a great experience to the audience that helps you be referred to other keynotes and speaking, because people say, Leanne was amazing. I loved her story. I'd love for her to come and talk about our business as well. Yeah. Great. So my next question, then is around the, I guess, the value of speaking for for business owners and people. So the question I always ask is, when you hear the title of this podcast, which is succeed through speaking, what does that make you think of? Do you think that speaking is a really key part of successful business owners or or for people in general?
Leanne Spencer 06:03
Well, I think it depends on what your goals are. If your goal as mine is, is to try and convey messages around well being, to encourage people, or give people information on which they can act upon around sleeping a little bit more, or perhaps starting a meditation practice, or doing a little bit more movement throughout the day. If that's the goal, you want to get that message out speaking is the way to do it. There's that aspect of it. We're all financially motivated to one degree or another keynote speaking, if you've got the resources, and you've got, you know, the the polish in a practice and a great message, you can be paid a great deal of money for that and treated very well when you get there as well. So there's that side of things as well. It's also a great way to sort of get business referred down. So if you do a keynote speech, you may get a couple of people in the audience that introduce you to their company. But you may also get booked to do another one, you may pick up on to the workshops, you may sell books. So from a commercial perspective, it kind of you're starting at the top with the highest paid stuff, and then you also enjoy what may cascade down. So it depends on what your motivation is mine is all of those things, I want to convey a message, I want to be paid for that message, I want to be paid well. And I want to enjoy the sort of the benefits of being referred out and working with different clients with different goals and objectives as well. Yeah, and
Tom Bailey 07:21
I hear people talking about monetizing your message. And I guess, you know, sometimes you don't actually have to be paid to stand up and speak like you said, it could be that by speaking in front of a roomful of 1000 people who are your ideal prospects or potential future customers to great opportunity to leverage your time and get that message or pitch, you could say, in front of such a big audience in such a short amount of time. Yeah. Excellent. Well, thank you so much. And so let's think about then back to the very beginning. So what's your earliest memory of having to stand up? And deliver a presentation? And and how's it going? And maybe what we'll do is we'll go back to the beginning of the well being during the rather than the sales presentations. What was that first well being presentation like?
Leanne Spencer 08:07
Well, as it's often my way, sometimes the first time I do anything, is a big event, which most people would say none. And I need to start smaller. But it just so happens that my first opportunity to deliver my keynote for the first time happens to be a big audience. This wasn't a keynote per se, but I was asked I was at a business accelerator group, and they were running a marketing event where they'd hired out a big venue in the barbecue and filled it with 500 entrepreneurs interested in this accelerator. And he wanted previous alumni to come and talk about the impact of attach. So that was the biggest audience I've spoken to by some distance. Yeah. And I spent weeks dreaming about it at night, rehearsing, rehearsing, rehearsing. Dreaming that I would never be able to remember at all then waking up feeling no, I'll be fine. This sort of constant process of internal rehearsal, slight panic, excitement, apprehension, the whole shebang, anywhere on the day, it went very, very well. I've no look back now. And I see it. And I think yeah, now I could do a lot better than that. But you know, that was the first one it went fine. I've never broken down on stage never not been able to remember what I was going to say. Actually, slightly before that, I went to another event where I had to pitch my business in front of about 100 people in a panel of four judges. I did have a momentary lapse in what I was going to say, yeah. And then all the judges were writing and then they all looked up at me because I've been this gap. And it came back and I went on speaking has been something that's created a lot of nerves for me. Yeah. And for me, the trick is to keep it simple. Remember things in groups of threes, the power of three is really good. Although as a caveat that I'll give you on that in a minute. Know your stuff. I don't do rehearsal to the mirror or rehearsal. I don't click on a zoom and run a session. But as I'm walking the dog as I'm walking about rehearsing and rehearsing different ways in the open, rehearsing different ways, I'm going to deliver it and then I start with I get into conversations I have with people. If I bump into you on paper and you say, How are you, I'm not going to start going into a quick, quick piece of my keynote. But I'll work it in, I'll say, Oh, you're not sleeping well at the moment. But did you know their sleep Lola, I tell them the story, I'll find some organic way in which you can come up and conversation, boom, you've done a little rehearsal. So that's, that's kind of nice, still do it that way as well.
Tom Bailey 10:22
And that's really important to get you practicing without the pressure. So there's so much pressure when you've got a live audience in front of you for the first time. So you get those little bits of practice in. And like you said, it's not just standing in front of the mirror, it's actually being in front of real people and getting those conversations out there yet. It's a great tip.
Leanne Spencer 10:40
I think, another way, just another way to practice is to set up is to put your iPhone into a tripod, your practice that I look at some of the first videos, and I look so I appreciate it, this is this can't see me but I look so sort of earnest and, you know, really a little bit edgy, it's hysterical, almost like a smile, like now do you know, deliver it with a bit of be relaxed, but you know, it's your first first time you're speaking to a camera, which is completely different from speaking to an audience, of course, and I started doing weekly videos, I committed to doing a video a week. We call them the five and five. So I'm still doing them today. That we know we can do it really easy now. But it got me practicing talking to a doc, which is what I do most of now talk to a.on, a laptop in a room on my own possibly with a dog in West College. Yeah, and there's a bit of live stuff, but that still where we're at. And that's great practice as well. It's great practice for virtual, who knew that that was going to become such a big thing. But it's great practice just talking without necessarily getting feedback, because then when you do get the feedback, that can be an added bonus with a live audience. Yeah, lots, lots
Tom Bailey 11:42
of great advice and value there. So just to reflect on some of that. I remember one of the big mistakes that I made when I first started. So I had a big fear of public speaking. And I wanted to control everything, because I just didn't want anything to go wrong. So my first big presentation, I word for word, memorize the whole script, printed out his big, big mistake I now know. Because ultimately, when you're delivering that, if if you get one word wrong, it will just completely throw you so yeah, I think for anyone listening yet, don't. When it comes to preparation. Don't try and memorize and recite a script. It's much more natural, like you said, and it could go in different ways on the day, as long as you've got the flow and the structure and the format, and you've got your key analogies and stories. And you really don't need to memorize it word for word is what I say on that.
Leanne Spencer 12:32
Definitely not. So when I when I did TEDx, the coach wanted me to memorize it. And because I was new into speaking since about seven years ago, because it was tired. And I gave a lot of power to that. I allow I allowed myself to be persuaded to do that. And in the 10 week, build up process, you spent eight weeks rehearsing in an empty, you know, in the lounge, getting halfway through and going, I'll have forgotten it. Oh, yeah, I'll start again, then you no more you do it, the more you slip up, and then you just eat and I had many thoughts and can I'm just not going to do it. I'm gonna have to tell them, I can't do it. I can't learn it. It's not going to happen. And then one morning, you wake up with about 10 days to go and it's there. It's in. But it is very stressful. And now looking back at that TEDx. I can see the couple times when I thought what's coming next because my eyes just dropped to the floor. And then I lift it back up to the audience because it's come back. I know, they probably don't need your coach Mike. incredibly stressful way of doing it. Know your staff. If it's stories, and this is another reason why it should be stories are not facts and stats, facts and stats you can get mixed up. But stories you can't if it's your story, it's a personal experience or a story you love that someone else has told you and you've got permission to retell. It's, it can't be they no one can say well, that's not true. And you can't forget it. It's a story. So you're relaxed, and you're tell it in a relaxed way with humor and facial expressions and gestures and the audience will pick up on that energy and they'll give it back to you and boom, you're in a great speaking, speaking for
Tom Bailey 13:57
love but so have you got any advice a lot of people I work with hate being the center of attention and when that comes to a social setting, and being the center of attention sometimes means telling a great story and having that table I guess around you watching or listening. That's very stressful for someone with social anxiety Have you got any tips around how to get better at telling stories not on the stage but actually just in and around social situations.
Leanne Spencer 14:23
I've been I've been doing a lot of practice around telling stories myself I tell loads of stories in social settings for job only suitable for a stage a lot of the about the good old days. So I mean, I would just perhaps start with games, games and center around storytelling board games or games are made up. Push yourself into maybe telling a story just weave it into a conversation somehow we can weave it in with a stranger you've met in the park so there's no sort of sound a bit weird what the story is for it's not like you start watching speakers who are really good storytellers and see how they do it with everybody listening to this will be so storyteller, it may be in the written word, or they may just not be aware that they are. But we're all storytellers. And that's how I've conveyed information throughout the course of time. So I would just start with a little anecdote or something and just just tell it in a setting at some point and get comfortable with that. Yeah. Also, I think we tend to think that when you're on stage, you are the center of attention, you are the person that everybody is looking at, you are simply a conduit for a story, or a message to be to be got. And what you're trying to do is actually reflect that spotlight onto the audience. It's about them, it's not about you, you are simply telling a story to get them hopefully to an outcome or decision point. So actually, it's a nice little reframe in your mind to think this isn't about me, I'm not the center of attention, those 120 faces, they're the center of attention, because what you've been booked for, or what you're on that stage to do, actually has nothing to do with you. Yeah, it has everything to do with the action that you want your audience to take. So if you reframe it that way, suddenly the spotlights gone from you in the heat of the lights
Tom Bailey 16:04
to them. I love that. Yeah, think about what what, what value can I add to these people in front of me? And that's a great reframe
Leanne Spencer 16:11
about them. Yeah, thanks for that.
Tom Bailey 16:13
So we've talked about people who are just starting out who want to maybe one day, become a speaker, and you've given lots of great advice and tips. So what about at the other end? So if somebody really want has started speaking, and they really want to become a paid keynote speaker that gets booked? What advice would you give to them to pursue that career.
Leanne Spencer 16:33
So I've just I went through a speaker accelerator recently, which highlight a lot of really great stuff. And the key messages is not about you. So in your marketing materials, it's about the message, it's about the value the audience will get. That's a huge shift that most people all of us need to make to some degree or another. So if you're thinking about getting into speaking with a commercial element to it, then remember, every every conversation you have, or your marketing materials are about the keynote, the value and what the audience will get from it, or what the camera will get. That's an important thing. So on my website, you go to the homepage, then it's keynote, then it's about me know, then its resources, etc. And the about me is actually towards the end if someone's level this love the message of what she all about. So, the question was about how to get into keynotes paid keynote speaking. Understand your value is the second key key part most people massively undervalue themselves. Now, I don't suggest you go in at eight to 10 grand while you're beginning, go in at a rate that you're comfortable with. And get booked up a few times at that, get the great feedback, get the testimonials, get get someone to come and video you want stage and you've got all that material, bump that price up a little bit, always go a little bit higher than you think you can justify. Because you may have to do a little bit negotiation, but value overvalue yourself slightly. If the marketplace is telling you that we've seen your videos send you marketing materials where testimonials, were not paying that then you may have gone a little bit too high. Most people don't go too high, they go too low, get comfortable with your value. So ask people for feedback. have maybe someone come to your GIG someone that you trust, you can give constructive feedback and say that was amazing this Listen, this you could work on. And that'll help you to lift your value. So that would be the second point. I suppose the third is is equally or more important than any of them, which is make sure you've got a message that people want to need to hear. Yes. And make sure you're telling it via stories. And it's something that you believe in not something that you think is what the market wants at the moment. So I've noticed that a lot of one of the reasons why in the intro, I say that I've been in wellbeing for 10 years is because I have and because that's a long period of time. But there are quite a few speakers I've noticed too attacking well being on to their list of topics now. And they're within their rights to I don't have a monopoly on wellbeing. And it's not like a Chartered Surveyors qualification. If you know a bit about sleep, and you've got a bit of a story to tell about well being, you can call yourself a well being speaker. Yeah. But it's having that depth in that area that's made a difference for me. So make sure you stay in your lane. Yes. You know, that I think is really important as well.
Tom Bailey 19:14
Would you say it's important to have quite a tight niche just because there's a lot of speakers out there. And if you're a marketing speaker, I guess you're up against a lot of other marketing speakers. So is it important that tight niche?
Leanne Spencer 19:26
Yeah, I think it is. I think it is in all aspects of business. And it's something that people feel quite reluctant to do because they want to keep it nice and open so they get lots of inquiries, but you have a really tight niche you know if you can win 10 Customers who really wants to know about well being fully pre menopausal over 50 of women, then that's that's, you know, there's not gonna be a lot of speakers honing in on that. Yeah, then then you're more likely to get to get bought in and asked to speak on that topic. So definitely find a niche, find some different angle as well. So I've got the agile business athlete methodology, which essentially has this look Athletes and the way that they predict what's coming up, prepare, then perform and ultimately recover after to this page. And so the way they do things, so I'm talking about well being resilience, sleep mental health energy in a different way. Yeah, urging people to really think about, about sort of applying that methodology to their lives. So that's, that's my methodology. It's entirely my IP. Nobody else can can legally talk about that in that context. Yeah. So that that, again, is a point of difference.
Tom Bailey 20:30
Yeah. And also, you haven't mentioned it there. But right at the very beginning, you've got your own personal journey and story with well being your own challenges you've been through. So being able to bring that in as well. Nobody else can have that. Because that's your personal stories. And yeah,
Leanne Spencer 20:45
and having said everything about making sure it's about the content and the audience and the value, it absolutely should be, but also be really clear on how you differentiate. So I've got the 10 years and well being 13 qualifications and exercise and nutrition. I've also got, I've got it written there. So I can see it all the time, the the biohacking experience. So I understand how to use science and technology to improve and change your physiology. Yeah, sometimes that's, you know, I bring little bits of that in, but it's a point of difference. Yeah. And as you say, the corporate background, the experience, I talked to corporates, I was there in those seats going through those pressures 10 plus years ago. So I kind of understand what it's like to be on that side. And I've sort of been in that, that, for example. Sometimes I might be competing against the next athlete who's talking about who they are training and then recovering and how you can do that, too. And sometimes people will want that. Yeah. And sometimes they'll say, Well, thing is the world of athletics doesn't really reflect our world. Whereas I could say, Well, I do know that well, because you and it's not about being better than anyone else. It's about knowing your niche and understanding what the client needs and making sure you position yourself as what the client needs, if you genuinely believe that's the case.
Tom Bailey 21:54
Perfect. Thank you so much now, quite topical question. But given that the 2019 global pandemic pretty much wiped out keynote, and stage speaking, how did you personally have to transition during this period?
Leanne Spencer 22:07
So I've been doing for a number of years, I've been talking to a camera, because we were doing the seven fives I told you about. So I wasn't uncomfortable with that element. But I hadn't been talking to a laptop professionally. No, no. So if you look at my first webinar, which I'm not going to give you a link to so no one will, but I didn't even have the camera on. First when I did I had the camera off. Yeah, and I can't I mean, I look back now I think, well, what were you thinking? Yeah. You know, anyway, so that was an I wasn't that comfortable talking to a laptop at all, except very natural thing to do. Yeah, I was gonna bricky to talk to a break or trowel. It's not it's not a normal thing to do. But practice, you get used to it. And it's, you have to imagine as well, particularly when you're doing keynote, so they want to find your senior leaders in Asia back in November. I've got no use. No, I wouldn't even want to look at 500 faces, even if I could on the screen, you get used to talking to the.at, the top the camera lens, you have to imagine you have to know your staff. You have to imagine that everyone on the other end of that that laptop on their own laptops, is literally there with open mouths, beckoning their spouse to come over and listen to this. You can't you got it, you got to imagine that's what they're doing. Yeah. There's no point thinking and don't ask for feedback. And I said, Does everyone get that because quite often, it's broadcast only anyway, the there'll be an AV team that are broadcasting and you can't ask questions and get feedback from the audience. It's an art, it's a completely new art form, aside from stage speaking, and the only way to get comfortable with that is to do it and do it and do it. You could you could do a zoom to you could do that your your talk to a small group of friends. One thing I did when I created a new keynote last year, is there's a client called disown the boxing streaming service, they run these monthly talks, and I said to them, can I come in and do a tour, it will be I was honest with my contacts, it's a new keynote, your your guys will get great value. I will charge you a very, very small amount of what their budget is, normally speak for that. But when you record it, send it back to me and when you give me feedback. So they were delighted they got good value, I got the opportunity to practice in a live audience because I can't get excited about a fake audience. So I just assume, and I'm pretending people on the other end, I just can't get up for that. So it's a build up to it. But it is a separate art form. So anyone who's getting into speaking now will have to have a virtual show we'll in my opinion, and a stage show we'll they'll need to be able to demonstrate that they can do virtual as well. So so get practicing that practice the same time and that you can practice your material in a virtual setting and then you're doing two things at once. Yeah.
Tom Bailey 24:48
And I think that's a great point around the finding opportunities to practice. So whether you're new to podcasting, whether you're new to virtual speaking webinars or stage speaking, you know, there's always going to be that opportunity to to try a smaller version of it, or a less well paid version of it, or, you know, a version with feedback. So there's definitely plenty of opportunities out there. aspect of people like podcasting, occasionally, you've never podcasting before, and you want to just do your first one you don't have to actually publish if it's no good, you know, just just get that practice time in so that when it comes to the real thing, and you'll be a lot more comfortable. Yeah. And last question just on that, then is virtual speaking here to stay I think you just alluded to that or is the world's gonna bounce straight back to stage speaking in in person?
Leanne Spencer 25:36
I think it is stage speaking is coming back that said, you know, we're still, we're still in a pandemic, sort of doesn't feel like it and other world events have overtaken a little bit, but we are, I'm being asked to do I would say slightly more virtual than I am stage at the moment. It has its advantages and disadvantages, but I do think it will be here to stay. The advantage of not having to fly speakers across the world the advantage of not having to bring delegates together. Some some organizations will opt to keep things virtual, if you're if you're selling into corporates, a lot of them will not bring people together that routinely they may do once a year or twice a year. But a lot of things are going to remain virtual. I definitely think so. And I think speakers will need to be able to demonstrate they can do both. Yeah. I was told by Speaker Bureau a couple of weeks ago, can you you've got an example of Fugen virtual, I said, I've got a virtual show real exciting because it's me in front of a cat, you know, be in front of a camera. But I have and she said, Oh, that's great, because that a lot of people are asking for that now. Brilliant. So I don't want to overload anyone who's just getting into speaking but just start talking to your camera, start telling stories on dog walks, or walks with your friend or telling little anecdotes, or play a game tell your funniest story in sub two minutes or something like that. I was gonna say something else on that. And that's, that's the other thing that people are talking about is the hybrid world. Yes. And that's something I would discourage anyone from thinking about. Because I just don't think you can do those two things. Well, I was asked to do it. Last week, I had a client that I know very well. And in the end, I said to them, Look, I'm going to do this twice, I'm going to do it once in person, and hardly anyone was there. And I'm going to do it once virtually. And there were a lot more people there. Because you just can't You're either talking to an audience or you're talking to a lens. Yeah, you can't really do both. Unless you've got a great AV tape AV team. And even then, I'd be very reluctant. Yeah, I
Tom Bailey 27:23
understand that. Because you know, you've probably got a camera on the right hand side of the screen. You've got to keep looking at it to try and gauge that audience while she's in a room full of real people. Yeah, perfect. Great. So great insights. Great value. Great advice. And last question for me today is if anybody wants to book you as a speaker or find out more about you, where can our listeners connect with you online?
Leanne Spencer 27:44
Thanks for asking that. So my website Lian Spencer, Lea Dublin, he spencer.co.uk Instagram, I've been dragged into Instagram by my marketing team. So I'm building up that following, but I'm at Lian, Spencer keynote, and that's the same for Facebook as well.
Tom Bailey 28:00
Perfect. And what I'll do Leon is I'll put those in the show notes so people can click on those and connect with you after this episode. Awesome. So, Leon, thank you so much again, for your time today. I really appreciate you coming along and also sharing such great value with our audience.
Leanne Spencer 28:15
Thank you. Thanks for everyone listening thanks to you as well, Tom. Appreciate it.