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Why Speaking Is Both Difficult And Rewarding - Anne Grady

succeed through speaking tom bailey Nov 25, 2022

Tom Bailey, founder of Succeed Through Speaking, interviews Anne Grady.

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.

Anne Grady is a best-selling author, entrepreneur, and an expert in building resilient teams, leaders, and organizations. She is also a two-time TEDx speaker, trainer, survivor, optimist, and inspirer.

Anne has a master’s degree in organizational communication and has spent the last twenty years working with some of the largest organizations around the globe, including: Microsoft, Dell, Lockheed Martin, Johnson & Johnson, ADP, and Google. Anne is featured in press and media and contributes to Harvard Business Review,

Entrepreneur, Fast Company, Inc. Magazine, FOX Business and more.

Anne is known for her ability to intertwine storytelling, neuroscience, and psychology with wit, humor, and authenticity. She shares

inspiring personal stories, cutting edge, research-based content, and implementation tools to transfer learning into real life. And she’ll make you laugh while she does it.

In her first two books, Anne provides practical strategies to improve relationships, increase productivity, and reduce stress. Her latest

book, "Mind Over Moment: Harness the Power of Resilience", outlines a science-based approach to build a resilient mindset, skill set, and

the ability to reset.

Anne is a mental health advocate and donates a portion of all book proceeds to the National Alliance on Mental Illness and was recently named as one of SUCCESS Magazine’s Best Motivational Speakers to Know in 2022.

Resources / Links

More from Succeed Through Speaking

Succeed 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.

Find out more -

Listen to the Podcast -


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 Anne Grady who is a best selling author, trainer, entrepreneur, an expert in building resilient teams, leaders and organizations. And I spent the past 20 years working with some of the largest organizations in the world, including the likes of Microsoft, Dell, Johnson, Johnson, and Google. So hello, and a very warm welcome to today's episode.

Anne Grady  00:51

Thank you so much, Tom, for having me. I'm thrilled to be here. Awesome. And

Tom Bailey  00:54

thank you so much for being here. And just out of interest for everybody listening whereabouts in the world. Are you right now?

Anne Grady  01:00

I am in sunny and beautiful Austin, Texas.

Tom Bailey  01:04

Lovely never been but one day, it's on the bucket list for sure. So thank you. And I also know that you're a two times TEDx speaker. So to begin with, I want to just ask really, how important has public speaking been for you, in your career to date?

Anne Grady  01:22

Well, I would say, you know, as a professional speaker, it is the single most difficult but also rewarding skill to have developed. And it really has given me just an incredible career as a trainer of facilitator and the speaker. So it's really been everything

Tom Bailey  01:42

so difficult and rewarding. So let's start with difficult Why was this such a difficult skill for you to develop? Do you think?

Anne Grady  01:50

Well, I'm one of those really rare people who have known what I wanted to do since I was very, very small. So when I was three years old, I was literally getting on top of the table in restaurants trying to give a speech. My parents would say, What do you want to do when you grew up? What do you want to be? And I would say, I want to speak. And my mom always joked with me, she's like, well, you could be a minister, you could be a politician. And by the time I got to high school, I was like, Well, I'm Jewish. So the first is out. And I ended up having way too much fun in college. So politics was out. But I knew that there was some type of career where I could use this desire to share with the world. And so I was the president of the debate team in high school and thought I wanted to be a lawyer, I learned how to structure and organize information and do research, which was really, really a, in hindsight, just one of the best skills I could have possibly learned. And then I decided to get my degree in speech communication, I got a master's degree in organizational communication, because I knew I wanted something to do in the communication space. And I started my career as a trainer, and training and professional development. And that led to a segue of professional speaking, but I also still do training and development.

Tom Bailey  03:15

I love that great. We'll talk about training and deployment as well, because I've got a little bit of a lot of background in that space, as well. But I want to specifically talk about those two TEDx talks. I mean, how did they come about? And why do you think they were so important for you to do them at the time?

Anne Grady  03:30

Well, I think as a speaker, it was one of my use at Austin as a bucket list thing, right? Well, Ted was a bucket list. For me, it's one of those Pinnacle achievements where, you know, it could be your breakout moment. And so something I always wanted to do. The first one I did was a local TEDx event at St. Edward's University, and they had somebody drop out at the last minute. And so my, one of my dear friends and business mentors, said, we've got a spot. I know it's something you've always wanted to do you want to do it. So that one was kind of shotgun very quick how to put something together. And then the second one was at St. Louis women at the Peabody Opera House. And that one was incredible. They actually reached out to me, apparently, one of the people on the board had seen me speak before, and invited me and that was just a phenomenal experience.

Tom Bailey  04:24

Awesome. And I guess for anybody listening, because that is a dream of a lot of startup speakers. What advice would you give somebody who, who's thinking about doing a TED Talk? Like, how do you choose your topic? How did you do title or what what kind of key advice would you give to somebody

Anne Grady  04:37

on that? Well, it's interesting because it is much harder to deliver an 18 to 20 minute speech than it is to deliver an hour or 90 minutes. I would much rather be given more time than less time because it forces you to get really, really specific clear, which is the goal, right? What is the one idea? Yeah, so if I Where to give advice to someone, it would be applied to a lot of them, TEDx, these are independently organized events, they happen all over the world, there are million of them, and they're always looking for speakers. One thing that a lot of people don't know is you're not paid. So you're not paid often for your travel, you're not paid for your time, it's really something you do, because you want to build a platform and credibility. I would say, it's not the end all be all that you necessarily think it will be very few people have their Brene Brown breakout moment. And, you know, I think it's natural to compare yourself and to other speakers, but I would say really try to come up with this one idea, something that is uniquely you that you have either a problem that you've learned to solve, or something that you think would really be of benefit to other people, I think we get speakers I it's easy to get trapped in our own head, which is, what's the message I want? What do I want to hear, right? And it's really about what would provide value? What would be a mix of story and entertainment and data and fact, but actionable takeaways that people can go apply? I think that's the most important.

Tom Bailey  06:15

So thinking back to your TED talks, and either the first or the second? And how would you sum up your talk in a sentence so that we can get so we can understand what that one idea was that you had presented in your talk.

Anne Grady  06:28

The first was courage. And the second was resilience. So the resilience was really the birth of my second book strong enough. And that was the so each TED event has a theme. And you're asked to put your topic into the context of this theme. So the second one I did in St. Louis, the theme was, it's about time. And, you know, there were speeches on it's about time that women be empowered. It's about time that men advocate for, for women in the workplace. But this was a women's the second one was a women's event. So my title was, it's about time you knew you were strong enough. Nice. Yeah. And realize that we all are genetically gifted and blessed with this ability to stay resilient. But there are skills and tools that you can use to cultivate that buffer. So that you have it when when you need it the most.

Tom Bailey  07:24

Yeah, I love that perfect. So natural born speaker knew that you wanted to become a speaker was was happy standing in front of audiences from a very young age. I mean, what advice would you give to somebody who, who's who in a very similar position to you, they know they want to be a speaker. They've got this burning dream, this passion to speak, but they're not quite there yet that they've almost like got an obstacle to to get past? What advice would you give somebody that's in that position?

Anne Grady  07:53

That's a great question. I think there's a couple things first, it's just because I love it and knew I wanted to do it doesn't make it easy. Yeah, I still get nervous. And I was having a conversation with a family member who said, how do you get on stage in front of 10,000 people and not feel so nervous, and I'm like, What makes you think I don't feel so nervous. I feel like if you're a professional speaker, and you're not nervous, you're not doing it right. Or it's time to get out. The adrenaline and the rush that you get, you have two choices, you can let it be debilitating. And it is a very real fear. And it is very valid. And in graduate school, I worked in one of four communication labs around the country to work with people on severe public speaking apprehension, but I still have nerves and butterflies. So it can it can be debilitating for sure. But you can train it to become a catalyst for energy that you need. I think I am constantly developing my skills and trying to get better and growing. And in fact, I did a keynote in front of several 1000 people and they sent me the recording. And yesterday I went through the recording and critiqued myself. So I was going okay, here's where here's where you did really well, this was a great story arc, you could have delivered it with a few more pauses and a little bit of a different inflection at certain points. So I think there's three things that go into being a speaker one is sales, and I think it's a very under appreciated skill and one that I didn't anticipate I would need. But until you learn to sell, you have no one to speak to. So it's learning about selling yourself and be careful how you explain this to your kids because my son used to tell people my mom sells herself and she goes to hotels and gets on stage or when she leaves. Careful I use your children. But one is sales, right? You have to learn how to cultivate and develop relationships. Another aspect of this is you have to learn how to write it's not Not just like you get up and deliver an English paper, you have to learn how to construct a story and blend inspiration with story and how to tell that story in a compelling way. But you also need data and information that is actionable. And I think there's three different levels of speaker, there's the initial speaker who's most concerned about themselves, and how am I going to look and how am I going to be received? And what is the audience can think of me? The next evolution is concerned for content? Am I going to remember what I'm saying? Are they going to like the content? Do I have it well organized, and the level of maturity that you want to get to as a speaker, and one that I think all great speakers are consistently striving to get better at is when I'm focused on the audience? And how do I deliver this message in a way that will resonate, inspire, and give them tools to take action, and I think so many speakers stay very focused on them. And that's natural, because you're the one on stage and you become the talent. And it's easy to get caught up in that. But at the end of the day, the best speakers are the ones that are cultivating relationships using speaking as a sales tool, as much as a revenue generator. And those that really are focused on what they can do to provide value for the audience and the client. I love

Tom Bailey  11:27

that thinking of those three levels. I've never really heard anybody talk about it. Like, that's a really clear way of looking at it. Do you feel like you have to go through the three levels? Because I feel like an amateur speaker, you know, they can't necessarily jump straight to providing a ton of value for the audience and almost like they have to go through SEO, they have to go through those three levels to get to that level of maturity.

Anne Grady  11:49

I well. I think that yes. And no, I think that even an amateur speaker who's never really done professional speaking, if you go into it with the mindset of it's not about me. Yeah, right. It's not like people are sitting out there going, ooh, are they going to fall on their face? People want you to succeed, right? So the maturity isn't necessarily tenure. It's what is my intent? Yes. And so you can be a very young speaker, not necessarily age, but in time spent in the business. And if your goal at the onset and your intent is to create an experience for the audience, then it's possible to do that. But it means getting your ego and your head out of the way. And it's a skill and it's tough, which is why I've helped speakers who are aspiring speak for free everywhere, they will let you Yeah, I mean, I've built my speaking career making 100 cold calls a day. So one, you have to get really good at rejection. And you have to get great at sales. But you also have to you know, it's Malcolm Gladwell is 10,000 Hour Rule, you have to build muscle memory. So I give the same speech 100 times before I ever deliver it, and get paid for it. Yeah. And that's like the time that you put into it. And so people don't see that from professional speakers. They see the glamour of being on stage and having the standing ovation. But it's hundreds and hundreds and 1000s of hours of development and practice and refinement and like a good comedian. It's word choice and timing. And we, you know, where do I insert the story? And how do I build the ark? And so it's just this skill that you're constantly cultivating and developing? And my hope is that I'm still getting better. Yes.

Tom Bailey  13:42

And I love that you've really brought that to life, that it's a muscle, there's a journey you need to go on don't. And I think a lot of people, when they start out speakers, they see these amazing speakers and they compare themselves to that speaker and think, Well, I'm not good enough. There's no point me doing it. But in reality, you don't have to be as good as that person on your first talk. You need to like I said, Do the miles, speak for free, build your capability. And then you can charge what you want, then at the end of the journey, I guess?

Anne Grady  14:09

Well, and there are always speakers who are better than you. And that's the goal. Right? If your goal is to be the best speaker, well, best speaker means a lot of different things. There are speakers that are funnier than I am there are speakers who are smarter than I am, there are speakers who have great time content, but there are no speakers that have my story and my experiences and and my skill set, right. So I think it's totally natural and I'm guilty of it of developing this imposter syndrome, which is people are going to figure out I don't really deserve to be up here. What if I'm not the biggest subject matter expert or there are lots of people who have just as compelling a story. Right? So that's very natural. It's what you you get to decide whether you engage that or not. Yeah, and that's, that's the skill.

Tom Bailey  14:55

I love. It's felt we could talk for hours to be honest on this on this topic, but I think I want to end on fear I have public speaking just because you specifically said that you've got that credibility and that you've, you know, you've worked with a lot of people now who have. And so I had extreme fear of public speaking social anxiety. I had it for a very long time, I became really good at avoiding public speaking, like, I think I was one of the best in the world at avoiding having to speak in front of people. But I realized that at a certain point that it's not going to help me in my career to keep avoiding speaking, I have to do it. I'm still not super confident, I'm still on a journey. And I just want to just talk about why did I think why do people have this this fear? And what's the best advice you could give them to get past that and start speaking?

Anne Grady  15:41

Well, one public speaking is really speaking in front of anybody. I mean, when you're speaking, when we're speaking right now, we're public speaking, right? So it doesn't have to be an audience of 10,000. In fact, it's harder to speak to an audience of 20 than it is to an audience of 2000. Because it's a different level of skill of trying to engage people in different ways. But the adrenaline and the neuro chemicals that are shooting through your body that turn your hands cold, and make you sweat, and forget what you want to say and blink out and get hives and all of those things, right. That's just your nervous system, kicking into gear because it views it as a threat. And the reason it views it as a threat is because our ego is afraid of being bruised or embarrassed or afraid of messing up we're afraid of failing. And so one of the things that you can do, obviously, practice, practice, practice, practice, I delivered my TED talk in the shower while I was driving on the way to dinner with friends, like we're at whatever I was doing, I was practicing that speech I carried around. And literally, I do not write out speeches, quickly. But I wrote the TED talk, because I needed to be completely timed and 100% Bake. And so I carried that manuscript with me, literally everywhere I went international travel for work anywhere I went, yeah. So practice is a huge key, the more often you do it, you get muscle memory. And if you get to a point where even if your brain stops functioning, you've, it's become such a habit that, that's enough to, I would say, right, you have to recognize that your nervous system is just trying to protect you. And you can reset your nervous system. So before I speak, I do deep breathing exercises, specifically diaphragmatic breathing, the exhale calms your nervous system. And that's why it's really important to have a pre talk routine, something that you do to center yourself. And visualizing is a really powerful skill, visualizing yourself giving the speech from beginning to end everything from walking into the room, getting up on stage being introduced, speaking, and that doesn't matter. If you're speaking to 20 or 2000. It's the same, it's the same process, and I go through it every time before I speak. So it's really a key of preparation and to knowing the nerves are normal, it's not about you're gonna fail. It's about your brain trying to protect you. And if you've practiced enough, you're not gonna fail. fall flat on your face. And if you do so, what? Yeah, I have tanked a speech before. Oh, my gosh, yeah, I have totally messed it up. So, but also visualizing it is very, very powerful.

Tom Bailey  18:28

Yeah, and that those big, those big mistakes, those big learning opportunities are going to happen along the way. So just, you know, just expect them and, and learn from them, I guess is the key.

Anne Grady  18:37

Well, and see every speaker, you can like every conference, I go to I ask if I can sit in on the breakout sessions and the other keynote speakers because you're learning through their experiences, what do you see that they do that works, or that doesn't work. And it's not about taking content or stories you have to be really deliberate about about being having integrity as a speaker, because it's easy to hear somebody else's joke and throw it in. But see as many speakers as you can watch as many speakers as you can find out what things you like about different people style, and then find what's natural to you. But I think one of the and this is probably much more of a response than you wanted. But one of the things that I tried to do for so long was to be more performative. I had all of these coaches who told me it needs to be a performance. And that was so hard for me because it was in authentic and real. And I think when I really found this next level of success, where I have really been enjoying my speaking career right now, and by all means, doesn't mean it's the end I want to continue to grow. But for me, the biggest the key shift I made that I think brought the greatest return on investment for my speaking business was just being me. Wow, yeah. It was just being authentic. So I don't personally We're now I just have a conversation like I'm having with you. And that has really the feedback I've gotten is you're so real. You're so authentic. It doesn't feel like we're you know, you're telling us what to do you practice it, you live it, and you still don't get it perfect. And we appreciate the authenticity. So be you don't try to be somebody else. Yeah.

Tom Bailey  20:24

Because everybody else has already taken a little bit. Yeah. Thank you so much. You've just given so much great advice value. And like I said, I think I could talk to you for hours on this topic, but we'd better leave it there. So my last question for you today. If somebody wants to book you as a speaker, or find out more about you what's, where's the best place for them to connect with you online.

Anne Grady  20:43

And Grady My name is Anne with an E. So an Grady And you can find all of my books and videos, podcasts, blogs, all kinds of information. And you can always reach out to me at anne

Tom Bailey  20:59

Excellent. Thank you so much. I'll post a couple of those notes or links in the show notes for those and find out more. So and thank you so much again for sharing, sharing such great value with our audience.

Anne Grady  21:09

Tom, thank you so much for having me. It's been a pleasure and an honor and I hope you are well.