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The Importance Of Mental Toughness For Speakers - The Penny Mallory Story

succeed through speaking tom bailey Jun 20, 2022

Tom Bailey, founder of Succeed Through Speaking, interviews Penny Mallory.

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.

Penny Mallory is a former Rally Champion and the first and only woman in the world to drive a World Rally Car for Ford. Although her interest began with automotive performance, her passion quickly shifted to human performance and Mental Toughness.

Now, as a leading Authority on Mental Toughness, Penny is a TEDX speaker, and delivers keynotes, webinars, workshops and coaching to help individuals, teams and organisations to develop their confidence, commitment, focus and determination.

As a troubled, runaway homeless teenager, she hit rock bottom in London. Against all the odds, she turned her life around and made the impossible possible to become a Champion Rally Driver. Her own life experience means she is well equipped to work inside and alongside many world class teams (including F1) to develop the qualities a high performing team needs to succeed.

Penny has presented many TV shows including Driven, Used Car Roadshow, World Rally Championship and has hosted hundreds of events. She continues to challenge what conventional thinking says she simply can’t - from competing in three marathons on three consecutive days to finding the courage to enter the boxing ring twice, and the physical and mental resolve to conquer two of the world’s highest mountains. She still runs the equivalent of a marathon every week!

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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 episode, we'll be getting to know Penny Mallory who is a former Rally Champion, and now a leading authority on mental toughness. Henny is a TEDx speaker and delivers keynotes, webinars, workshops and coaching to help individuals, teams and organizations to develop their competence, commitment, focus and determination. So Penny Hello and a very warm welcome to today's episode. Thank you, Tom. Thank you so much. And just out of interest again, for me and the listeners whereabouts in the world. Are you right now?

Penny Mallory  01:01

I'm in the Cotswolds, which is very beautiful.

Tom Bailey  01:04

Awesome. Thank you so much. Now, one of the topics we like to talk about on this podcast is this concept of public speaking, why it's so important and some of the journeys that some of the guests have been on with public speaking and presentation skills. So I guess my first question is, were you always a confident speaker? Or were there shaky beginnings at the beginning?

Penny Mallory  01:27

No, I absolutely was not a confident speaker. I had presented TV programs for about 15 years. So I was used to talking to a camera. But that's one thing and a live audience is something quite different. And when I first started speaking, I was complete bag of nerves. 15 years of speaking pretty much and I'm still a bag of nerves. If I'm honest, I still get really nervous at every speech, I'm quite a shy person. And it's, I have to really push myself to do it. Once I start, I'm fine. But I still get nervous every single time I speak.

Tom Bailey  01:59

It's really interesting. You talk about mental toughness. And I think there's quite a lot of correlation there with what we talk about when it comes to the importance of mental toughness. When it comes to public speaking as well. How important do you think mental toughness is when you're trying to stand up and speak in front of a large audience?

Penny Mallory  02:16

Well, it's critical. There's four elements to mental toughness, and one of them is confidence. And of course, you have to have a degree of confidence. But that's, I can, I've developed mental toughness over over the years through all sorts of things. And one of them is having the confidence to speak on stage. So although I get nervous, I know that I know what I'm talking about. And so I have confidence in my ability to communicate it. And so obviously, you know, that that confidence rises. But I never take it for granted. So I'm always worried this is the gig that might not go so well. So I think that's where the nerves come from. But in terms of confidence in the content, and what I can communicate, and that I can actually learn something really useful with the audience, I have a high level of confidence in that.

Tom Bailey  03:03

I love the way you've described, but because we talk with our audience a lot about confidence comes from competence, and that effectively to what you're saying, and means you can develop it and you can become more confident through becoming more competent. And in the case of public speaking, it's getting to know your content, becoming an expert, and able to answer those questions. So yeah, that's really important. And then competence

Penny Mallory  03:25

comes from practice. So yeah, yeah, the more you do something, the better you get.

Tom Bailey  03:29

Absolutely. And you mentioned there are four parts of mental toughness to be interested to find out what those are the three hours well,

Penny Mallory  03:36

okay, so there's control, which is the sense of control you have over your life and your emotions. There's challenge, which is your ability to see every challenge that you face as an opportunity rather than a setback. And there is commitment, which is your ability to set a task and complete a task and lots of people don't do things fully committed. So mentally tough people feel in control. They see challenges as opportunities. They're fully committed and they are confident

Tom Bailey  04:02

in who are the people you typically work with who your ideal clients are, who's the audience you typically help.

Penny Mallory  04:08

I'm so lucky that I haven't I'm not sector specific. So I can talk to a finance company to a bank to an IT company to the NHS to honestly it is so wide ranging because really what I'm talking about is you as a person so it doesn't matter what your job is, what your industry is what your sector is, I am going to touch lots of nerves with your personal and professional life despite your role or status.

Tom Bailey  04:34

Yeah, thank you make sense? And one thing I really didn't go into enough detail in the bio introduction was the fact that you were the first and only woman in the world to drive a World Rally car for Ford has a lot of your men's mental toughness come from from that or have you had to develop it after being a rally driver? Yes. So

Penny Mallory  04:53

if you when you interrupt me You said I was a world champion. I wasn't a world champion, but I was the first woman in the world to drive. This protect Recall. And if I don't know if you have an experience in motorsport, but it's a tough game, and you don't, it's not an easy ride. And I had to develop massive mental toughness. I didn't know what that's what I was doing. Years later when I discovered the Mental Toughness is. But yeah, I mean, you have setbacks. Every day, you have crashes, and you have teams leaving and teams wanting you and sponsors pulling out, you have to learn to bounce back very quickly from every setback. And so without me realizing I was developing enormous mental toughness. And of course, when you're driving, you've got to be fully committed, you've got to be confident, it applies, you know, inside the car, as well as outside of the car.

Tom Bailey  05:42

Really, really important. And lots of lessons that you've learned from there, I'm sure can be applied into business as well. Because again, we're talking a lot about public speaking and presenting skills. I know you've done a TEDx talk. But you've also delivered facilitated workshops as well, for those people that want to do a TED X Talk, or even a TED talk one day, and what are the kinds of core skill what's different about a TEDx talk that you'd really like to share with the audience?

Penny Mallory  06:08

Yeah, and that's such a good question. Because when I was invited, which you have to be, you have to be invited to talk and I thought, heck, how am I going to get my 45 minute down to 18? That's, I've got to leave out so much stuff. And it's really, so I think it's having a really clear message, I think it's very easy to sort of cover lots of things. But having one message that you want to land with the audience, I think is the answer. If you can, if you can define what the one message is that you want to convey. And then your your talk can come from that. But it's got to have a beautiful structure, it's got to make sense. It's got to, it's got to have some ups and some, you know, some, some highs and lows, it's got to have, it's got to have lots of elements of a short story. But that view, at the end has got to be no doubt whatsoever what the message was.

Tom Bailey  06:59

Yeah, I think that's really important. And it's a great skill to be able to condense. But also important, because I think we've heard a lot about people's attention spans are decreasing. And people just want the key takeaways, really. So if you can do that, I think that's a really critical skill, because maybe gone are the days when someone can sit down and listen to somebody talk at them for two, three hours without getting distracted by social media and everything else. So yeah, really, really important skill. And now, with our audience with this podcast, we talked to people at both ends of the scale from petrified of public speaking, yeah, can't see himself ever doing it to at the other end, people who are speaking but cannot wait to get paid to speak, they're trying to figure out a way to monetize it. So let's go to the start of the scale and talk about those people who are petrified, they can't see themselves ever didn't really want to what advice would you give either to a young penny or to somebody just starting out?

Penny Mallory  07:55

Okay, so if I, if I knew now what I knew when I started, I'd have had a different and faster track to my speaking career. So I think there is only one answer to this, and you have to have a great speech. Yeah, you're only going to get booked. Again, if your speech was good, you can only charge decent money if your speech is good. And I think that's that's the difficulty when you start is that you don't know what's good until you've done it lots of times and worked out. And so it's almost inevitable, you will have a rocky start, because you're unlikely to get it bang on at the beginning. And again, having a very clear message, it's got to have, you know, ideally a bit of humor a bit of, you know, keeping people on the edge of their seats, some unexpected stuff, it's got to have all those elements. And that does take years to develop. But having the clear message, just as with a TED TEDx is, I think, super important. You've got to be a confident speaker. Because if you're not, at least you've got to look confident because the audience aren't going to trust you. If you look nervous, and you're talking quickly, you've got to instill a sense of I'm an expert, I've got something I can share with you. So to not appear nervous, I think is super important. And if you're good, you will get booked again. And you are only going to get good by doing it many, many, many times. And you know, I've been to speak I think my first speech was sort of 15 years ago, I now speak three times a week, probably maybe sometimes more. And I'd like to say I still get nervous because I want to get it right. It's really important to me that everyone I do lands the message and that's the audience get something from it. But it's practice, practice, practice.

Tom Bailey  09:36

And a lot of speakers telling me that there's there's almost a snowball effect here is you deliver great talk there's going to be someone in that audience who wants to book you to speak at their event or for their corporate. So yeah, the importance of preparation, putting the time and effort and will pay dividends in

Penny Mallory  09:52

the more you speak, the more you will speak because every audience if your speech is good, somebody in that audience will either go home Until a husband and wife or they'll want it for their organization, it does snowball. It's absolutely true.

Tom Bailey  10:07

Do you? How do I say this? Do you stay in your lane? When you're talking to do do you stick to mental toughness? And that's what you talk about? Or have you veered outside of that

Penny Mallory  10:17

at all. I've this is one thing I've learned, which is be an expert in your subject and stick to your subject, because there's other people that will be experts in other stuff. I'm very, very niche, and very finely focused on mental toughness. Yeah, it's a great talk. I'm proud of it. It has it resonates. I get great feedback. And I know what works. And I'm gonna stick for now with what works particularly with the world in such a, you know, so much crisis left, right and center. So my subject right now is very timely. But yeah, I stick to what I know. Because that's what I'm an expert in. And I try and keep it absolutely in that lane. And

Tom Bailey  10:58

and the reason I asked that question, because I speak to a lot of different speakers, and the best ones always telling me, they've just they've found their lane, they found their topic, its niche down to a point whereby there is competition, but because they're staying in there, they're consistent. And they keep telling that story over and over again. They're developing their own authority within their lane. And I

Penny Mallory  11:19

think it's confusing for an audience. If I say I'm leading authority, mental toughness, I start talking about something else or why because I've Yeah, that so yeah, I think really important to be clear about your subject and keep your talk to that subject.

Tom Bailey  11:32

Perfect. One more question I have a lot of people ask me this and and other people as well is, what's the tipping point between doing free talks, and, you know, begging to talk to actually getting paid to talk to you get booked as a keynote speaker? What, what's the mental changes here? An external change? What what is it?

Penny Mallory  11:52

So it's a tricky one. So I've done three gigs in the past, and they've never ever once paid, paid off, you know, you're invited, you know, it's gonna be amazing audience, they're all going to book you, but it's never ever, ever happened. So I completely refuse to do free gigs. Now, I don't need to, I don't want to. I just don't do it. But it's taken, it took me years and years and years to turn them away, because I thought maybe I'm missing an opportunity. And maybe, maybe, maybe, and maybe never happened. So I just don't know. But I did. And I think it is important at the beginning that you probably do, because that's how you're gonna get your practice and be able to refine your talk. So I think at the beginning, 100% do it, you know, and you can create the fee up 500 quid, whatever, 1000 pounds, until you feel really confident. And then hopefully, you're in a position where you're gonna get booked more anyway, because you're good. And then your fee will naturally rise.

Tom Bailey  12:44

Yep. Love that. One final question. Before I let you go is the world has changed, or had changed significantly due to the global pandemic with public speaking conferences? closed down for about one or two years? How did you have to transition during that period? And have you learned anything which you've now taken forward?

Penny Mallory  13:05

So when COVID hit every single job I had was canceled. I have no work, no income. And yeah, I was thinking, What the hell am I going to do? As I'm sure many, many other people were when people suggested virtual conferences, I thought that will never work. And of course, I do them all the time now. So I learned very quickly, what camera what microphone to get a decent background, to just to get the technical stuff working really well, because it then it looks makes me look more professional. And then I just slightly reworked my talk to work online. And I can do it with interaction, I can do it with q&a, I can do it all sorts of ways. Now. It was a steep learning curve. And the technology makes me so nervous. I'm a speaker. I'm not an IT person. So that's that's the bit that sort of catch it. There's still catches me out, you know, when the line goes, and you just drop out the call, and it's horrendous. Unfortunately, there's not much we can do about that. So yeah, I think the tech side of it was a massive learning curve. And lots of tweaks with the speech. And then on my virtual one, I'm still I'm very proud of so yeah, I think for everyone, it's been a bit of a new experience.

Tom Bailey  14:18

Yeah, I think you've all right, it's really important to get get handle on the tech unless you can afford to have an in house technical team at your house all the time. And which nobody really wants to do that. And you really do need to understand how the camera works. The lighting the mic is really important.

Penny Mallory  14:32

It's worth really investing to get it right.

Tom Bailey  14:35

The difference is absolutely brilliant. I'm gonna ask one last question. If somebody wants to book you as a speaker, I want to find out more about you. Where should they go?

Penny Mallory  14:43

Penny Penny And, yeah, there's a there's a contact form just there's hopefully everything you would need to know but you can call me you can email me and you can get in touch with the contact form.

Tom Bailey  14:55

Excellent panic. Thank you so much again for your time today. I really, really appreciate it. No problem. Today