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Using Public Speaking To Advance Your Career - The Joseph Liu Story

succeed through speaking tom bailey Jun 15, 2022

Tom Bailey, founder of Succeed Through Speaking, interviews Joseph Liu.

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.

Joseph Liu is dedicated to helping professionals bravely relaunch their careers. Having gone through three major career changes himself, he believes making the effort to do meaningful work is absolutely worth it.

As a public speaker, career consultant, and podcast host, Joseph helps professionals define and market their personal brands more effectively during times of career transition, applying branding and marketing principles from his 10 years of international brand management experiences at companies in the US & UK including Clorox, Gü Puds (pronounced "GOO Poods" rhymes with "Woods"), and General Mills.

Originally from the US and now based near London, Joseph has served as a TEDx speaker and been featured in Forbes, Fast Company, Glassdoor, and Career Builder. He’s also been a featured speaker at leading companies including Red Bull, Microsoft, and VMware along with over 20 top business schools in Europe and the United States.

He hosts the Career Relaunch® podcast, featuring inspiring stories of career change. The show’s ranked as a top 20 career podcast in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and Singapore with listeners in 163 countries.

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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, I'll be getting to know Joseph Liu, who is a public speaker, a career consultant and host of the career relaunch podcast, which is a top 20 careers podcast with listeners in 163 different countries. So Joseph, hello, and a very warm welcome to today's episode.

Joseph Liu  00:45

Hello, Tom, thanks so much for having me. Looking forward to our chat.

Tom Bailey  00:48

Thank you so much. And just out of interest whereabouts in the world are you right now.

Joseph Liu  00:53

So I'm originally from the United States, as you can tell from my accent, but I am based in Beckenham, Kent, in the UK, which is just south of London.

Tom Bailey  01:02

Lovely, thank you so much for sharing. And it's fun to just share a little bit more about you before we do get started. So Joseph helps professionals define and market their personal brands more effectively. He has served as a TEDx speaker, and has been featured in Forbes in Fast Company and also in Glassdoor. And he's dedicated to helping professionals bravely relaunch their careers. So, Joseph, this all sounds incredible and fascinating. And my first question I wanted to ask you today, mostly because I'm fascinated by the journey, is how you've got into the field of helping people to relaunch their careers.

Joseph Liu  01:40

Well, it's probably a combination of both my personal and professional experiences. So personally, I've actually gone through some pretty major career changes in my past. So I originally wanted to become a doctor, went to medical school quit after two weeks, eventually pursued a career in marketing. I also moved from the Bay Area in San Francisco, to London without a job lined up, which was a pretty big move for me. And then about a decade ago, I left the corporate world and my corporate marketing job behind to launch my own career consultancy. So I've had this personal experience of relaunching my career, I have experienced firsthand how emotionally taxing it can be, and how practically how complicated it can be. So that was the origin of my interest in this topic. And then professionally, I was doing a coaching course, on the side, when I was working in my most recent corporate marketing job, I loved that. And then I started coaching people on this topic of navigating career transitions. And that's how I gotten into this line of work.

Tom Bailey  02:45

Amazing what a journey and we're just talking about, to both worlds. So you've got the consultant world, and you've got the corporate world, and how has public speaking and presenting and raising your image in your personal brand, how has that helped you in both of those different environments?

Joseph Liu  03:02

While I would say it's been critical, Tom, so in my former corporate life, and just in my former, I guess, full time, traditional Job, chapter of my career, I felt like presentations, being able to speak and communicate clearly was absolutely essential. So there's three ideas that immediately come to mind. And three memories was one of my first jobs out of college was at a radio station in Honolulu, Hawaii. And I was a news anchor for a while for Hawaii Public Radio. And that was the origin of me seeing how much communication was critical to a job that I eventually moved into health policy consulting, after medical school, you're regularly communicating with clients, you're regularly having to deliver presentations to clients. So it's critical there. And then also, when I spent about a decade working in marketing, it's all about communication. You're communicating with your teams, you're having to deliver presentations internally, you're having to pitch your ideas. So it was absolutely critical there. And now in my consultancy work, and as I run my own independent business, my entire work is centered around public speaking, and presentation skills and giving workshops and hosting webinars. And so this is this is kind of critical to my livelihood. It's also work I really enjoy doing and it would have not been possible without this angle of public speaking and communication. Not to mention the podcast I host. But yeah, career relaunch and that that's a, as you know, Tom, that's all about communication and being able to get your ideas across quickly and clearly.

Tom Bailey  04:43

Absolutely. Well, thank you so much. That's been really, really interesting to listen to that and let's now go back to the very beginning, actually, because, you know, was it always like this? Were you always able to stand up and speak or did it start off with maybe more shaky beginnings?

Joseph Liu  04:57

Definitely the latter, Tom. So I grew up as a very shy child, I was someone who was kind of afraid to speak up a culturally I am. Well, I'm Taiwanese American, my parents were from Taiwan. I grew up in the United States, and just culturally weird, I guess, compared to the average American a little bit more of an introverted culture. And so not only was I minority in that way in the classroom, but also I was just very introverted. And so I remember whenever I had to raise my hand in class, my face would turn red, I could feel it turning red, I was very nervous. I was a violin player growing up. And whenever I went on to stage to perform, I was literally sweating buckets, like I was, I was not even that focused on playing the music, but I was just focused on trying to just keep my composure up there. And I guess my earliest memory of having to stand up in front of any sort of audience was in the sixth grade, because we had to memorize and recite a poem, which was the road less taken by Robert Frost. That was that was absolutely terrifying. Do you remember it? Well, yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And it was really scary. And yeah, that's those were my origins. So

Tom Bailey  06:17

it's really interesting, this, this this concept of, you know, going read and being embarrassed because that was my memory of school as well, and my university life, I think, because I used to go read in front of people when I've had to speak. That's why later in life, I think I avoided public speaking, I avoided presenting, I went into jobs, which made sure I didn't have to present in public speaking, I think that really, really held me back in my career, actually, because I was avoiding public speaking. And really, I should have leaned into it a little bit when I got older.

Joseph Liu  06:47

Yeah, I can very much relate to that, Tom, I have many memories of managers, multiple managers, in multiple organizations telling me that I needed to speak up more. And I remember having to be encouraged to present. And it was just not something that I necessarily wanted to do that was not on the enjoyable side of my task list. No,

Tom Bailey  07:11

no, but what about now? Would you say that it is enjoyable now do you like standing up and

Joseph Liu  07:15

presenting? I do. I think the turning point for me was probably when I was the age of 20, I was actually still in college at the time, and I was a resident assistant for a summer camp called Missouri Scholars Academy. And at the closing ceremony, this is a three week program for talented high school students. And you get to stand up there, and you get to leave them with some parting thoughts. And I remember looking out in the audience, and just feeling how much of an impact you can have on people in just a few seconds. And that was really, the moment that it planted the seed in my mind that actually, you know what, maybe public speaking could be something I would really enjoy doing in the future. And now it's a, it's a central part of my, my life, I enjoy it, I feel very comfortable with it. I wouldn't say it's always been like that, for me professionally, it's been a long road to get here. My first talks were not great. But, but it's something I really enjoy. And it's something I feel does have a positive impact on other people.

Tom Bailey  08:14

It's really important actually, that, that putting the spotlight away from you as the speaker actually, to what impacts and what value you can add to the audience. I think that's a really important part of transitioning from being really focused and self conscious to actually how much value can I add as as a speaker? And the next question, cuz you mentioned then that sort of the early presentations didn't go very well. What? What advice would you give to a young Joseph about to stand up and speak in front of maybe a corporate audience?

Joseph Liu  08:48

Well, the first thing that I would recommend you do is to rehearse his presentation and time it out yet, because one of the well, one of the very first public talks I gave, at least professionally, was at a conference in London, called Marketing week live. And there's 1000s of people who go to this thing. And unfortunately, I had Miss timed my presentation. And also, the last person who spoke before me went overtime. And so I actually was overtime by a few minutes, which actually meant I had to cut out my entire last section. And I didn't even get to do it. I had to like rush through it. There was literally somebody coming up waving me off of stage. And it was, this was my very first talk. Yeah. So I would practice the timing. And I would probably give yourself a little bit of buffer if you're speaking at a conference or if you're speaking in a corporate engagement, because just timings are sometimes a little bit off, and it's really important to end on time. So that's, that's one of the things that comes to mind.

Tom Bailey  09:52

Yeah, that's really important. And, you know, you kind of mentioned that being rushed off at the end. Have there been any other big speaking contests? extra fees or values that come to mind the

Joseph Liu  10:03

well, I've had some, well, yeah, just where do I start? I think that I've had issues come up where the tech fails me, I've had issues that come up where my clicker didn't work, because the clicker I use was interfering with some of the equipment in the room. So I've now since switched to a Bluetooth clicker. I think one of the big ones that I think it didn't end up being that noticeable to other people will, but it was to me was when I gave my TEDx talk in 2014. And we were told that we were going to have what some people described as either a comfort screen or a presenters viewing screen where you get look toward the audience, but you'd have a screen in front of you, as you see with many corporate presentations, like Apple presentations, where you could kind of see your presentation and that that screen wasn't working, they couldn't get it to work. So that was just an added layer of pressure that day. So I wouldn't assume that all the equipment's going to work well, because oftentimes, it doesn't.

Tom Bailey  11:01

Yeah, and I think that's important for a lot of people don't speak and present because they're worried about what might happen. And but the reality is, things will happen. And you know, a bumpy journey, there will be mistakes, they'll be technical issues. So the more you can prepare, the more you can get yourself ready, the more you can think through what may happen, and then almost come up with solutions to prevent that from happening, I think it'd be really important to have that confidence level.

Joseph Liu  11:26

Yeah. And once you've had it happen a few times this, it's actually important to go through that, because then the next time it happens, you're not so shaken by it. Yeah. And that's really important to, to almost know what it feels like to fail to know what it feels like for something to not go well. And it's going to happen for sure, like your first talk is not going to be your best talk. And that's just to keep that in mind.

Tom Bailey  11:48

Yeah. And go through that, like you said. So we've talked about people listening to this podcast, who are maybe early on in their journey and starting out thinking about how do I get into this world? But what about at the other end of the scale? So people who maybe have just about nailed confidence in the can speak and they can present, but they're not yet getting paid to speak? So how would you transition from a speaker into a paid keynote speaker?

Joseph Liu  12:10

Well, part of that is internal and part of its external. So I think part of it is just understanding yourself that you have now reached a point where you've gone from just speaking, because you enjoy it more, because you feel like you're adding some value to actually charging people for it. And that's a bit of a mental leap that I had to make, and that many people who I talked to, you have to make, like how much should I charge? Should I charge for this thing? Or would I rather not charge and make sure I get the opportunity to do it. And so this is pricing and valuing yourself, the first person you actually have to convince is yourself, yeah, once you've done that, then you could potentially go out. And there's different ways that you can do this. But I have found it is useful to start with people, you know, let them know about the topic or the area of expertise you plan to cover and see what comes your way so to actually proactively reach out to people and let them know that you're giving talks, and this is what you charge. That's one way there are also speaker matching programs or services. I personally haven't had a lot of work come in that way. But they do exist. So you can look online to find speaker match services, or people who are who kind of curate opportunities and match match you with those opportunities.

Tom Bailey  13:33

Right. And I guess, you know, being paid to talk isn't necessarily the only way to make money from from talking either. So if you're a consultant or coach, it may well be like Joseph mentioned the opportunities that come from that presentation as well. So

Joseph Liu  13:47

definitely, yeah, I've given talks where people will come up to me afterwards, and they'll want me to present in their companies, or they may be interested in individual coaching. So yeah, there you never really know, you know, sort of seeds you will plant. So yeah,

Tom Bailey  14:03

right now really, really useful information. Thank you for that. And, and I think one of the points that a lot of speakers tell me is it's important to have a niche, or it's important to have a lane. Because ultimately, if you try and be a business speaker or a life coach speaker, then it's quite hard because it's such such a lot of competition. So is it important that you have a lane and you stay to it?

Joseph Liu  14:26

Absolutely. And this is something I really believe also, perhaps because of my origins professionally, in marketing, where it's all about when you when you think about brand positioning, it's all about offering something specific and not trying to be everything to everyone. Yeah. So when it comes to speaking, I do feel it's really important to have a niche or a swim lane, an area of expertise, and to just start somewhere. One of the challenges I think is where do you start which topic should I focus on and The more specific you can be the better. And I would think a little bit about what do you enjoy speaking about? What area are you credible in? And where might there be a market for that topic? And yeah, the more specific, the better.

Tom Bailey  15:15

Awesome. That's been really useful. And, and just one question because it's quite topical. So at the minute, we've just gone through pretty big global pandemic, where we pretty much the market speaking, dropped off the face of the earth. How did you have to transition during that period? Did you just quickly move on to zoom? Or what did you do?

Joseph Liu  15:37

Yeah, so you're absolutely right. So basically, in early 2020, that's when the pandemic hit, at least, that's when it really started to hit here in Europe and in the UK. And I remember all of my in person, workshops being canceled, like all within the same week. And at that point in time, I had already been doing a little bit of virtual presentations, not a tremendous amount, I'd say it was maybe like 5%, of what I did. And I had actually been using zoom for many years, because that was the platform I was using with individual private clients. So I was very familiar with Zoom. And I just scrambled to convert all my materials into virtual friendly presentations. I remember, I erected this sort of screen like It's like one of these like projector screens behind me in my very crammed house at the time, yet, I invested in a better lighting system. And I actually initially offered the business schools I worked with, because I've worked primarily with business schools and corporates, I offered to host a session for them virtually on one of the topics, we were talking about the time, which was virtual presentation skills. And I just offered it for free to many of those business schools and to kind of demonstrate that we can still deliver this content successfully, virtually. And that ended up being useful investment of time. And then from there, I started doing a lot of webinars. And so in 2021, I probably did around 100, webinars, something like that. Yeah. Well, and it's kind of shifted now back to where some people were doing webinars, some people were doing live, and there's a lot of hybrid that's happening. So yeah, that

Tom Bailey  17:24

was that that was my next question. Really? What What are your thoughts on on hybrid? And how does it really work? So if people are in a room and people are almost looking in on the room does does that really work?

Joseph Liu  17:36

Well, it, it does the job. I've done three different versions of hybrid where I'm remote delivering to an audience that's sitting in a room together. Okay. Yeah. Which is kind of interesting. Why basically, broadcasting yeah, I've done a version where I am in person. And there are people sitting there in person and people calling in remotely. And then I've done versions, where I am on sites, and other people are all calling in remotely. And I'm basically there remotely like the inverse of me being at home doing it, but actually on site doing it. I found in all cases, the hybrid version, where you've got people who are calling in virtually and also sitting there live, that's the hardest one, because both groups feel a little bit shortchanged, because your your attention is split. But the reality is that that is just the way things are right now. And so if you're interested in speaking, just be aware that there may be an A technical element that you may need to layer on top of the actual public speaking itself. So being technically savvy, is now not only preferred, but probably a mandatory requirement for anybody who thinks they're going to do a virtual presentation.

Tom Bailey  18:49

Yeah, that's really important because it does feel like hybrids here to stay. And reduction in travel costs reduction in having to fly all over the place to ensure the speakers. So those like it's here to stay, but it's just trying to figure out how we do it in a way where people don't feel shortchanged. Next challenge for people to think about, I guess,

Joseph Liu  19:09

yeah, I actually feel like that when it's 100% virtual that can work or when it's 100% Live. Well, that definitely works it. So that hybrid model, a lot of my clients, business school clients are still following that model right now. But I know that there's a thirst to flip back to 100% LIVE. Yeah, just it's just simpler. Technically. Yeah.

Tom Bailey  19:30

Perfect. Well, Joseph, I've really enjoyed this conversation, we've had a ton of value. And my last question for you today is if anybody wants to either book who was a speaker or get in touch with you? Where can people connect with you online?

Joseph Liu  19:43

So two places, the first place that you might want to go is Joseph, where you can learn more about me and the kind of speaking work I do, which is primarily focused on personal branding, and career change topics. And speaking of which, if you're interested in checking out my career relaunch podcasts, you can also go to career relaunch dotnet and hear some stories of other people who have made radical career changes.

Tom Bailey  20:08

Awesome. Thank you so much. And what I'll do is I'll add links to both the website and the podcasts into the show notes. So people can just click on that and dive right in. So thank you so much again for your time today. I really appreciate coming along and sharing your amazing journey with us and our audience.

Joseph Liu  20:24

Thanks so much for having me, Tom. Appreciate it.