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Why Speaking Is THE Secret Ingredient - Amy Scruggs

succeed through speaking tom bailey Mar 01, 2023

Tom Bailey, founder of Succeed Through Speaking, interviews Amy Scruggs.

Amy Scruggs is known in country music for more than 15 years opening for greats including Clint Black, Trace Adkins, Charlie Daniels, Phil Vassar, Little Texas, and many more. She was the spokesperson for the American Veterans of California (AMVETS) 2009-2011.Amy's career also includes 20 years in sales team coaching and received Bestseller on her book "Lights Camera Action" in 2021. The past 5 years she enjoyed her position as TV Host for The American Dream TV on CNBC and several other shows.Amy uses her experience as a Media Executive, TV host, Recording Artist, and Public Speaker to help others communicate a concise and professional message for network TV, podcast, social media or in person public speaking appearances.Her new single released in 2022, “What if it All Goes Right” is on radio worldwide including reaching #66 on the Music Row Charts along with being selected for the NY Times Summer 2022 Playlist.

Resources / Linkswww.amyscruggsmedia.comwww.amyscruggsmusic.com

More from Succeed Through SpeakingSucceed Through Speaking helps Coaches, Consultants, Entrepreneurs and Experts how to amplify their Expert Authority & get their message to market with both confidence and clarity so that they can raise their profile and attract new clients.

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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 Amy Scruggs, who's an author, speaker, immediate executive TV host, recording artists and has been well known in the country music scene for over 15 years now. So, I mean, hello, and a very warm welcome to today's episode.

Amy Scruggs  00:43

Thank you, it is really exciting to be with you today. I've truly been looking forward to this.

Tom Bailey  00:48

Also, thanks so much for being here. And just out of interest whereabouts in the world are you right now.

Amy Scruggs  00:53

I'm in beautiful sunny San Diego, California, where it really is sunny, pretty much almost every day of the year.

Tom Bailey  00:59

I was just saying, I'm in the UK. And it's pretty much cold all the time here as well. So the complete opposite. And I know that you've really utilized all of your different speaking experiences. And you do that now to help others learn how to communicate concisely professionally, whether that's on TV or in front of an audience on stage. So I really wanted to start there today, and find out from you, how has speaking helped you in your career in the lots of different avenues that your career has been down.

Amy Scruggs  01:30

It was absolutely the secret ingredient in each thing that I've done, because I've had a very diverse career. But if I take a look and do a deep dive, besides maybe skills of being an extrovert and loving people, or being willing to really learn an industry, if I step into an industry, I want to learn everything about it so that I can really give my best. But the secret ingredient was being confident speaking in front of other professionals in any industry, whether I was in sales, real estate, whether I was assisting in something nonprofit work, whatever that was, and especially even as a recording artist, because it's one thing to be able to sing and be able to perform. But it's another thing to be able to go in and do great radio interviews, to be able to go on the morning show and be effective and be on a TV show. And then also how to present myself and sell myself because anything that we're doing any industry, we have to sell something. And so being confident in that and being able to present those talking points, and be able to learn what was really, some of the keys to learning how to read others and the active listening skills and everything that goes along with communication allowed me to be more effective in each thing.

Tom Bailey  02:38

Yeah, yeah, I love that you mentioned it's not just speaking, which is the act of you know, verbally giving information. It's actually about listening, communication, picking up on reads as well. So, lots of one that goes into it's thanks for sharing that. And so clearly skills are very skilled now. And let's go right back to the very beginning, where you always quite confident as a child, or was it was any fear when it came to public speaking?

Amy Scruggs  03:01

I as a child, yes, I think instinctively I knew there were some pieces in there. It started musically, because that was the passion that came out first. So, I started playing piano at the age of three. And I started singing in front of others. By the time I was five, eight, I actually was putting together shows in the backyard and charging the neighborhood kids to come and watch me do performances with my best friends as the backup singer, dancers and singers. So I already had that comfort of saying I want to be in front of people. I remember being five years old on a big stage, singing with this little choir with these other children and the other kids were afraid and I was like, This is great. And I knew I was supposed to stand up straight and look ahead and engage with the audience while their kids were flailing. I was like what's wrong with them? Why are they flailing? Don't you don't think you know how important this is? So, I think there was definitely that instinct in there that I knew that connecting and being confident, set me apart because I felt different even at that age.

Tom Bailey  03:56

And then to go from singing to speaking, was it a natural transition? Or was that was there a point at which you thought, actually, I need to go and learn how to do this properly.

Amy Scruggs  04:05

There has definitely been an evolution of that. I do notice, especially if I go back early in my career, I was confident. But really realizing where things missed and paying attention and going, ooh, that's not working, how I was communicating. That has been an evolution, not just in sales. But it really stepped up to the next level when I stepped in as a TV host about six years ago. That's where I found out if you've got a minute, every word counts. Yeah, and I would say this to some of my guests. It's it. This is a four minute national TV interview. You can't spend a minute of it say repeating the question saying um, yeah, so or thank you for being here. You've got to get right to your talking points. And so that in the fire type of training for me as a host, and also learning how to be a great interviewee was really a big training ground to find out how do we make this more concise? How do I work on my vocabulary and a key ingredient to that and I share Do this all the time is watching the tape back listening to yourself as a recording artist, I need to listen to myself. And as a speaker, I need to listen to myself.

Tom Bailey  05:08

Yeah, and that's really important, I guess it's you know, getting feedback from others, but actually, you can be your own best critical worst critic, depending which way you look at it. And, and it's really useful to, to watch that back and actually pick up on different hand gesture using or different habits you have as well. So yeah, really understand that thanks for sharing.

Amy Scruggs  05:26

And I agree with you having others help is, is okay. But on some level, the others that I'm around aren't necessarily great speakers are out there somebody that does speaking, or puts themselves out the way I do. So I'm not going to get the same feedback, they're gonna be like, Well, that was great. I could never do it. I don't know how you do it. So for me to have to take an intellectual deep dive step outside of myself and look at it from a laptop and see what I listen to this. How did that resonate? How did that land? What was that? And so it's really, I'm gonna be the best critic on that, to that degree. Yeah,

Tom Bailey  05:59

yeah, perfect. So I've watched a lot of speakers over the years, I've reviewed a lot of them. I think one of the big standouts, for me is the ability to bring what you're saying to live with storytelling. So I guess, is that something that you've relied on as well? And if so, what's the secret of telling great stories to really engage an audience? Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, I'm

Amy Scruggs  06:19

so glad you asked this storytelling is so much fun and so important. But you have to do it correctly. And there's a fine line in that. And as I always say, Don't share too many ingredients, I noticed that individuals will have a habit of maybe trying to set the story up too much. And a lot of times, choosing the right word can make the story land in one sentence. So we want to think about what it is, is this story inspiring? Is it funny? Is it educational? What is the end result that I want the audience to take away from this story? And how do I get there the quickest. So we start with that short setup, you got to you got to lay the groundwork, then what's the meat of it, and then be ready for that landing and let them come to their own conclusion. If I describe something too much, it loses its meaning. So choosing those right words, how to make it land is so important. And that really does take practice. And then really create what are your key stories? I tell a lot of the key stories in each interview or in public speaking, because they're the ones that work. And that way, I've really got it perfected and it doesn't matter. It's a different audience every time Yeah, why not? Perfect. The ones that mean the most and make the biggest impact?

Tom Bailey  07:24

Yeah, I love button. And like you said, when people are listening to a speaker, they'll almost float into the story, won't they? And they'll have their own perspectives and their own experiences. And they can live that in a different way. As long as like you said, you've got the right meaning the right purpose, or intent, and the right ending or hook that takes them on to the content. That's what's really important.

Amy Scruggs  07:44

Yes, and knowing what the motive of the story is, what is it that I hope that their takeaway is? Yeah, am I gonna make them laugh? I'm gonna make them cry my new Inspire? Or am I going to educate, identify that first before you craft the story? Because I could tell the same story to have a different impact. But it's how I crafted for the impact that I'm going for? That is the correct one for that moment. Yeah.

Tom Bailey  08:06

Thanks for that. Okay, fantastic. And I guess, you know, some people listening who might be aspiring speakers or introverts, or they just haven't quite got the competence to go to that next level yet. Have you got any advice for them? When it comes to? How do we go from being a little bit scared about speaking to actually getting out there and doing it?

Amy Scruggs  08:25

It's practice, practice, practice, practice training, training, if same thing for an athlete, you wouldn't start a new sport or say, I'm gonna run a marathon, and you've never trained. So it's the same type of training that you have to start small, you start with the stretching, then you start with the jogging, and then the running, and then you increase your distance, the same thing goes with learning how to be confident as a speaker, we have to start with those little baby steps, even just really crafting What would my opening sentence be? And then work on that, practice it, record yourself doing it, then go into the next content, figuring out what is my main content? What would I speak about? What is it supposed to do, and then put that together, and it's putting the structure in place, and the practice in place, and it really takes time to do it correctly. But it's completely worth it, especially if you want to be asked back. Or you want to make an impact or use it as a business tool to say I'm hoping to attract new clients for whatever my business is, then crafting and practicing, that is what's going to create you as a champion in that space. And anyone even an introvert, if they see the results, and they see, hey, this worked, they're going to create that confidence to override that introverted, that being an introvert, and actually going into being successful.

Tom Bailey  09:34

Yeah, and, you know, confidence comes from competence. Like, that's the whole point there, isn't it? And I guess an introverts probably comparing themselves to this amazing stage because it's been doing it for 30 years. And you know, you don't have to really, that's overwhelming and you're probably not going to take that first step because that's quite scary. But if you're just comparing yourself to did I say that first open line better than I did yesterday, and that's going to give you a lot more confidence and you know, motivation to keep moving forward.

Amy Scruggs  10:01

And start with a small group. Start with a community outreach group or a local mastermind group or a networking group, something that you can go into a smaller group and kind of work the kinks out a little bit and see what worked and maybe have it be a focus group before you think that it is ready for the big stages. A lot of people are like, Well, I'm ready, I want to be on a Ted Ted Talk stage. And I want to be on these big mastermind events, stages. But are you really ready, because there's a lot of responsibility that comes with that. I even at this stage in my career still get nervous to be on those big stages. And I have a large one coming up here in two weeks. And I have a ton of prep to do. Now, it's the same presentation I've done before. But I need to make sure it's perfectly tailored for this audience. And that I stop watch myself, and that I know which words in which stories I'm taking in taking out and how it's going to work. And preparation is absolutely the key to be ready for those kinds of events. And starting small is probably going to be the best way to go if you're new at it.

Tom Bailey  10:56

Fantastic. I'd love to find out about the preparation for this big event. So I guess one of the big mistakes I made when I first started out was writing a script, or learning it word for word and then reciting it word for word on the stage, which was a big mistake, really, in terms of a lost didn't have that connection with the audience because all I was focused on was trying to memorize this, this script. So if I, if you do that great. If not, what what do you do to prepare an MD scripts? Or do you just use bullet points? How do you get yourself from here to where you want to get to in terms of being on stage?

Amy Scruggs  11:27

Yes, I like to call it my scripted, unscripted. Knowing by heart, what my message is going to be. So I'm going to start here and I need to flow them here. And I'm going to get their emotional engagement here. And then I'm going to do some facts here to bring awareness here. Now here's where's my call to action is going to be so picturing that section, here's where I set the stage of credibility, here's where I educate them, here's where I make an impact. And here's where we together come back together as one audience to feel the same thing in the same moment. So whatever that is, knowing where I'm taking them, then those bullet points are gonna get me there. But I have to really know inside and out where this is going to go and time it this, this section is going to be about five minutes, this section is going to be about that long, because what it allows me to do is be able to go up, stand in front of my audience, and just breathe for a minute. Great to meet you all. Welcome. There's a there's that moment that you have to become a part of each other's energy space. If I just get up and start talking at them, I've already lost them. Yeah, I want them to see I'm here with you. And that opening is critical. So I need to leave space in my presentation, knowing there's probably going to be five extra minutes there. That's the space creation, or maybe a course correction, if I see I'm losing them. All right, maybe let's create some audio engaging audience engagement moments and bring them back. And there has to be that awareness of what's taking place with the audience, and also who the audience is, Who are you talking to? And how is this message going to relate to them, because it's going to be totally different than the last audience I spoke to.

Tom Bailey  13:00

What I'm hearing, though, is it's almost two things, it's building blocks of content that are in a certain order structure, but also, it's about the journey and making sure that you're taking them on that journey with you. So it's not about memorizing the scripts and talking at somebody, it's about having a structure and taking people on that journey with you so that they're getting value out of the interaction. Yes.

Amy Scruggs  13:21

And you know, in today's world, you know, when you know, you've done it, when you look out, and you can see that most of the audience is not on their cell phone. Yeah. And you've, you've lost and when you look out and you see a lot of your audience is on their cell phone, that's when you need to make a quick course correction.

Tom Bailey  13:36

Yeah, the people's attention spans, you know, today are probably worse than ever with mobile phones and notifications and distractions. So yeah, it's a great, check in for yourself to make sure you've still got them with you. And what, what I like to ask as well, some speakers is in terms of next steps or goals, you know, some, some speakers in the UK want to become international speakers, some people want to speak to a certain size of audience, have you got that goal that's really pulling you forwards?

Amy Scruggs  14:05

At the minute? Yes, I always have that goal of going into the bigger stages on a national level here in the US, which I've been doing, but also international. But what I don't do is put limits on it. I don't see why I have to do that by this year. What I do is say I'm in this, I'm going to this next one. And I know it's going to bring opportunity, visibility and credibility. And then I watch and see what happens next, because the last thing I want to do is get somewhere too soon. And realize I forced it, it was the wrong audience. And now I've got a bad one. This one didn't land it wasn't right and it didn't feel right. So really like to go with that flow, realizing the more I put myself out there, and I do it for the right reasons the right way, the more opportunity keeps coming and then the rest will flow so I can think big and see that end goal in mind without putting the limits on it. And it's amazing how that accelerates when these next stages happen, each speaking and event that I have coming up over the next six Two weeks, I had no idea we're coming in load with it. And it was a blessing that came out of nowhere because of the fact that I was so proud and brought in my best to some of the smaller audiences I did without ever knowing it was going to open up the door to the big audience. I don't discount any audience whether it's five people or 5000 people, I treat them exactly the same and they matter and you never know who's going to open up that next door.

Tom Bailey  15:24

And, you know, speaking creates a ripple effects. You know, you don't you don't know what impact what you say that one message that one takeaway that could change somebody's life and their family's lives and their company's lives. So yeah, just just by being out there, given loads of valleys the audience, you know, that ripple knows where it could take you. That's correct. Fantastic. And I guess you made a good point there around, pushing yourself rushing too far forward, forcing yourself onto an audience that you maybe don't resonate with. And one bad gig at an international scale can have a massive negative effect on the speaker's reputation lately,

Amy Scruggs  15:59

completely. I don't want to regret I have all the time in the world to do something right. And I am not in a hurry to screw it up.

Tom Bailey  16:08

And just enjoy. Enjoy the ride. Enjoy the journey.

Amy Scruggs  16:10

Yes, enjoy the journey. He's given us

Tom Bailey  16:12

so much. Great advice. So far, I guess, final question. If there's one piece of one other piece of advice that you might give to either an aspiring speaker or a speaker that's currently on the circuit that wants to get to that next level, what advice would that be?

Amy Scruggs  16:28

Be willing to expand? Don't be set in your ways of what you think it's supposed to be or what the presentation is supposed to be? A lot of times, speakers are bringing in very personal background stories. And it's, it's critical that you open up and say, Okay, I'm willing to have somebody else take a second set of eyes on this, because I need to detach from it, so that I can deliver it. Yeah.

Tom Bailey  16:51

Yeah. Yeah. I love that. Thank you so much. And I have got one final question, which is really important, actually. If somebody wants to book you as a speaker or find out more about you, where's the best place for them to go online.

Amy Scruggs  17:01

Amy Scruggs media you can find me Amy Scruggs All my social handles are Amy Scruggs media, and I answered and you can reach me. We'd love to work with anybody that wants to dive deeper in this. Thank you so much.

Tom Bailey  17:14

Fantastic. And what I'll do is I'll put a link to all of that in the show notes. People can just click on that and find out more about you. So thank you so much again for your time today. I really appreciate you coming along with sharing such great value with our audience. 

Amy Scruggs  17:27

Thank you so much and honored