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Episode 8: Brenden Ksmarasamy
Brenden Ksmarasamy joins MIke to discuss communication.
Brenden is the founder of MasterTalk, a YouTube channel he started to help the world master the art of public speaking and communication. He coaches purpose driven entrepreneurs on how to master their message and share their ideas with the world.
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Michael J. Mahony 0:01
In today's episode, we speak to Brendon Kuma sarani, who will speak to us about how to use public speaking to help grow your business.
All right, everybody, welcome back to another episode of the technology Alchemist. Our sponsor is your virtual CTO. Your virtual CTO is a technology services company specializing in increasing your revenue and profit through a close examination of your technology engine. Your virtual CTO offers exclusive coaching for business leaders. That is the only business coaching program that includes technology is part of the program. If you want to learn how you can make more money by tuning up your technology engine, can learn more at get your virtual cto.com. So on today's episode, we have Brendan, he's the founder of master talk, a YouTube channel, he started to help the world master the art of public speaking and communication coaches, purpose driven entrepreneurs on how to master their message and share their ideas with the world. Welcome to the show, Brandon. It's about me, Mike. It's great to be here. So So tell people a little bit about your background. You know what, why you started a channel like that. And you know, overall, what your impact has been? Yeah, absolutely. So like you mentioned, I started master talk a year and a half ago on communication, public speaking tips on YouTube. But how that started was very different than where we are today. So when I went to university, I mostly just want to go to business school and get a job as a corporate executive. And that was pretty much my life. So while other guys my age, were playing football, or soccer or rugby, things, as you can probably tell, not very well equipped to do. But let's do instead with with that same competitive spirit is I was doing presentations competitively. So over the last three years of my university, I presented over 500 times coached dozens of people on how to speak. And I was fortunate enough to get a job in technology consulting at IBM after I graduated. So you know, I had a pretty normal life. And I was like, okay, in eight years, I'm going to be a senior executive there, and that's going to be my life. But fate kind of had other plans for me, because without me even realizing it, I ended up being one of the youngest professional speech coaches in the world. And I also noticed that a lot of the content on YouTube was really bad in terms of public speaking. You know, your advice, like imagine people their underpants, like, be yourself and like, what are you supposed to do with that? So I started making videos, my basement, I didn't think much of it, I thought, a stupid idea that a couple of months later, my youtube channel kind of just started growing a lot faster than I thought it would. And I started putting a lot more resources into it and never looked back ever since. Yeah, it's a great topic, because like I mentioned earlier to you, before we got on the air here. I think a lot of entrepreneurs need that kind of training. I think, you know, you listen to everybody has a podcast these days, and listen to podcasts. And you just say to yourself, you know, where did that person learn to speak? It's just crazy. So seems like you're just sort of a natural at this, like, Did you have any training in public speaking, definitely not a natural at this, actually, my origin story is actually the complete opposite of that. So I grew up in a city called Montreal in Canada, for those who don't know, which was one of the few cities in the world where most people in the city are bilingual. So they speak two languages, or they're trilingual. So very few people in the city only speak one language. So growing up in that city, I needed to learn French, which was the language I didn't notice right in the city. So my parents looked at it, they said, well, buddy, you got to learn this. So we're gonna throw you into a French education system, which was the best decision I've ever made, by the way, but the consequences of it at the time was not only was it uncomfortable presentations, I had to present the language I didn't even know. So when I was in grade one or two, I look at the crowd and go, Bond. Sure. And that was my life for a long time. So I guess I guess the answer is pretty much the counter answer. I was probably one of the worst speakers I knew. But what happened over time, and how we learned it was by doing these case, competitions, what these competitions are called, just give more context to people, especially since most people in the tech space, it seems Think of it like hackathons in computer science, but in the business world. So let's say a Nike or an IBM gives you a problem, like a business problem, you got three hours to solve the problem, make slides make financial statements really intense, like the business Olympics, at the end of the three hours, you got to present your solution back to the executives and you're not allowed using internet. So to be really thoughtful about what you say and how you say it. So because I grew up in that environment, that was my life every day, like every day was presentations or coaching people, which is I know very odd. And that's how I became what I would master talk is today, essentially, that's incredible. So Well, what's the one thing that when most people come to you, you need to fix in order for them to be a better public speaker? Yeah, definitely a lot of things. But I think one easy one that could that people could take as a takeaway is understanding how to practice so I like comparing public speaking a lot to jigsaw puzzles, you know those 1000 piece puzzles you do with your family and like Christmas or something really good. You're relaxing. So if I asked you back the question, Michael, if you were doing this jigsaw puzzle, it's your family, which pieces or anybody would
Pieces we'll just start with first. And why generally the edges because they're the easiest to find matches to absolutely, completely agree. So the question we need to think about is, why don't we do that in public speaking, we got a, we got a presentation to give in two days. So instead of starting with the edges, we take a bunch of middle pieces of the puzzle, and we start shoving a bunch of content. And then the presentation happens, we get to the last slide, we go.
Yeah, so thanks. And then it's over. So what I recommend people do is think of it like a jigsaw puzzle, start with the edges. First, do your introduction, just your intro 50 to 100 times, it's a minute each won't take you that long, you'll practice for two hours, you'll have done your introduction, 100 times do the same thing with the conclusion, because what's a great movie with a terrible ending? Well, it's a terrible movie. So your conclusion just as good practice, same amount of times. And then what you'll realize is that you're a phenomenal speaker, and then the confidence that you have now then you talk to the middle, that's the right sequence and how you're supposed to think about it. That makes sense, because I've actually heard advice before, like, you're trying to memorize a speech, do it backwards. And what I always found interesting about that is I actually really liked what you said, because if I were to take the opening, and memorize it and learn it really well, and the closing and learn it really well. Well, the first few seconds of your talk is where you draw people in. And the end is where you wrap it all up. If you screw something up in the middle, most people aren't even going to realize it if you gave them a good beginning and a good end. So that's actually great advice. It's something I'm gonna remember, because for our business, we do videos, and we loosely script the videos. But it's always focused on a great strong intro, and a great strong call to action at the end. So that's actually really great advice. So who is like your typical student that comes to you? Or maybe, also, if it's any different? Who's like your typical subscriber? Oh, that's a fascinating question. I was asked me that. So like In comparison, so subscribers, actually very different than client. Because as you can probably imagine, this is kind of a threshold that you need to be at an income level to afford a speech coach. And that's why I love making the YouTube videos for people. So for clients, it's usually two camps, either executives or CEOs of companies. So think about the technology, the manager, the director of Microsoft wants to be a C level executive. So that person needs to ramp up the communication skills to get to the next level and can afford these types of services. The other part that I didn't expect was the executives kids. So let's say my Microsoft guy has a daughter, or you know, the Microsoft gal has a son in it, you know, either way it works, they got to just go, oh, let's let's hire Brendan as their speech coach. So I kind of coach their kids in groups, which is a lot of fun, and very fulfilling, but my most successful client is six years old. I'm always very proud of that. But uh, but on the subscriber side, which is a lot, which is very fulfilling to me, I would say most of the subscribers are people who are in their middle 10s, early 20s, who are in university, or in high school, who want to get better at communication know what YouTube is, and can only relate to me because most people on the platform in my niche anyways, are in their 40s 50s 60s makes sense? Do you think that what you teach could benefit people who maybe aren't ever going to do public speaking? Absolutely, absolutely. And the way that I see this to kind of explain this to people, public speaking is very little to presentations. I know that sounds counterintuitive, but public speaking is everything, right? It's the tough conversations you have with your loved ones. It's the way that you interact with your children, if you have any, it's the way that you have dinners with your friends. It's whether you negotiate contracts is the way that you sell something to somebody, it's everything. Every day is public speaking, every conversation is communication. That's why I created the video. So I was like, well, for such a foundational skill, we should be charging the world hundreds of dollars an hour for this thing. Let's Let's democratize this in the same way Dale Carnegie did with the with the the stuff he had access to, which are books at the time, I'm just trying to do the same thing. But through video. Now, that's awesome. I also have a passion for helping people. And it's why like like in our coaching program, we we give away the first free first five sessions for free because a lot of people say, Well, how do I know it's going to work? And, you know, we show them that it works. So I think for you, your videos are probably also potentially a good lead in to your coaching services because they see it, they relate to it. But the one thing they're missing is they can't ask you questions and get feedback. That's really a key. And I think the feedback component is going to be essential if they want to go as far as they possibly can with their communication skills. So can you give me three things that most people are terrible at when it comes to communication? Oh, yeah, it's hard to just name three, but I'll do my best so. So the first one is knowing how to practice. So we talked about the puzzle method, but let's talk about it from another point of view. The mistake most people make is that they present one presentation one time
So if you think about yourself, Michael, when you started your virtual when you started the technology, Alchemist, I mean, you know, and you compare yourself today to where you are in Episode One out of 10. It's probably an 11. Right? Right thinking it's for over 12, right? Same thing with me, like when I started, and if you don't believe me go watch my first YouTube videos or so.
It was me in my basement, like right over there with my Pixel phone. And I was just like, Hey, guys, welcome to bastard talk. And today, it sounds something like this, did you know that 47% of you gotta get out of it. But the point that I'm driving is the reason you're getting better, Michael is because you're doing the same thing over and over again. I mean, sure, you're entering different guests, but it's the same structure, you're not gonna wake up one day, you're like, I'm gonna wear a pink shirt for this episode and start yelling at the guests. Like it's not, it's just not, right. It's just not the format. So at some point, you just know your format. In the same way, I figured out mine with what I do what people need to do, because the issue most of society is well at work, when you present, you're only presenting at one time your project is going to change. So the way that you fix this is you pick a topic, something you care about something you're passionate about deeply, that solves a problem for somebody else that you can do forever. So if you're the CEO of your own company, that's easy. It's your own company, right? Because you're always I mean, the mission is never really going to change, right? Same thing with you like for you if you own your own company. But if I if I give you another example, it's your podcast, you the mission, what you're trying to do, or you're trying to aspire is never going to change. But even if you're Julie, who works at a bank, nine to five, as long as you care about something outside of work, like cooking, or running marathons, running Spartan races, pick one of those things that you think will add value to people that your diet plan is the way that you run and just communicate that to three people. And that just gives you the practice that you need, right? Because once it looks in Julius case, it only all it takes is one person, not 1001 person to come up to her and say, Hey, Julia, your presentation really helped that went for a run, actually, because of what you said. So thanks for that. And then at that moment, Julie gets addicted to public speaking, that makes sense, because you're getting that positive feedback. And everybody hungers for that. I mean, it's, it's actually been proven that you know, you you get more out of your staff, when you tell them what they're doing, right, more so than when you tell them what they're doing wrong. You know, you train them. It's like being a coach, you, you know, have a sports team, you see somebody making a mistake, you don't try to fix it right there during the game, you go back and you do practice and you retrain them. And I felt the same thing with people you know, you get if you get someone that makes a mistake, make note of it, praise them on the things that did right, and then go back and retrain them on the things they didn't do, right, I think your area of expertise is going to become even more important going forward. Because I mean, now with the pandemic, everybody is meeting like this on a zoom call, and they are being forced to speak, you can no longer be the little wallflower hiding off in the corner and turn in your written document you have to speak right. So I think it's going to become huge. But that's that leads me to another question is like, how has the pandemic potentially changed? what you're doing with your business? Absolutely. So there's two facets that one is presentation, the one with the business. So let's start with presentation, then we'll talk about me. So the biggest difference between the in person world and the online. One is that in the online world, you can't gauge somebody's reaction. So let's I'm giving you a workshop, like in person with your team or your family or, you know, friends, or somewhere at a coffee shop or something like that. And I'm giving a workshop on communication. And I say Joe, two things will happen. One, you'll either laugh at the joke and say man burns too funny guy, or to which is much more likely, you'll look at me and you'll go, this dude is not funny. Why is he telling jokes. But regardless, I can adapt in real time, I could see that you and everyone around you isn't laughing. So I'm not funny. So I need to adapt. But I get that in real time. I don't have that luxury, the online world even in this very conversation we're having with each other Michael, I have no idea how you're reacting to me. The reason is, because I'm not looking at you. I'm looking at the camera lens directly. So if I looked at you now I can see how you react to it. But it doesn't seem like I'm paying attention anymore, even if I am right. But that is on steroids when you're in a zoom call, because you got 20 Mini screens, all these little people, half of them got the video off, right. So the same joke that I gave before, I need to say what the same positivity, the same energy, the same execution, and assume it's funny, and that is the ultimate challenge of the online world. But it also gives us a lot of opportunity. So two tips to point out one is what I call the perfect virtual rooms what you want to do, and I'm being sarcastic, perfect. Get a bunch of people you don't like that are super critical about you and get them to poke holes and everything from the way that you dress from the way that your audios running to the hair that you have. Have them critique everything from the lighting to the way that you talk so that when you go to the actual thing, you'll be very well prepared. And the second thing that not many people think
Imagine the perfect in person audience. Imagine the perfect audience. An example I give a podcasting is when I was on my first show. It's really odd, Michael, because you're being asked questions from a stranger. And you're just like, Oh, this is so weird. But then after you've been on, you know, a lot more than one show the mindset that you have, and this applies for presentations with audiences or meetings, the mindset change is very evident. So you quickly transition from Who's this stranger, Michael guy to Hey, Michael is trying to help a lot of people with this podcast with this amazing show. He's got a great name, too. So I'm going to assume as if I've known him for many years, and that's the way I'm going to bring up in this conversation. So over time, as you keep telling yourself that, and people keep giving you positive feedback Little by little, that belief system will eventually become true. And then how is it affecting your business? Right? Good point, I should have mentioned that. Because that's not a monologue.
Me personally, yeah, definitely sucked. I mean, I woke up one day, and I lost half of my business, because a lot of my businesses speaking revenue, but I think but I've recovered a lot of that since actually, most of it. But But I think the point I want to drive for people is understanding the following. nobody really understands who the real enemy is. So let's say as somebody who's your enemy, they might say, Oh, you know that my competitor, or the guy who cut me off in traffic, or my wife, I was like, Whoa, your husband, your wife, whoa, hey. But what they don't get is that all the enemy that we all have is actually the same person. And that person, rather thing is time, you can throw money at time, you could yell at time, you could scream at time, you can tell time to go away, time always wins at the end. And the issue is most people think that 2020 is cancelled as if you can go to a bank and get a loan back for a Canucks, get a plus one to my lifespan. That's how the world works people. So instead, understand that time is the only enemy that matters, all the people around you and make time, you know, use it to your advantage reinvest it, if I can't speak anymore, if I can't fly out to Amsterdam, all that stuff anymore, then what do I do? Then I just done 1000 shows, obviously exaggerating with that. But you get what I mean, like or I do more coaching, or I transition from a coach to a coaching business, how do I reinvent? How do I make sure that I don't waste the time because I don't get the time back? That would be my message to people for the business part. That's awesome. Because time definitely, it's a finite resource that once you use it, it's gone. And a lot of people don't, I mean, intellectually, they realize that, but then they're like, Oh, my gosh, you know, where did the year go? Or you hear that all the time? Like, you know, especially during a work week, someone will say, It's Friday already? Where did that week go? Well, it's same as many hours as you've had every other week. You know, I thought that's really that's an interesting point. I mean, you mean, basically, you're talking about pivoting? I mean, people need to learn how to pivot. When there's a problem, period. I mean, it's it's basic business sense, you know, you're you're trying to do something, you keep running into a wall, you know, either climb over the wall, or go around the wall, but don't keep bashing into the wall. That's just insanity. That's actually very interesting. So you mentioned, you know, that it's about communication, how much does written communication affect your spoken communication?
Unknown Speaker 18:09
So the way that I see this is there definitely links between the two, I mean, the way that I see it anyways, is my definition of communication is what I call the multiplier effect. So as you get better at one facet of communication, you immediately get better at all the others. So in my case, I was really focused on presentation skills, and my written skills are terrible, they're horrendous, but I got really good at presentations. And then what that did is it allowed me to have more thoughtful conversations with people, I've worked on that next layer, next layer, next layer, and there's definitely a correlation to that written and spoken as well, I think the way I think about it is I would just pick one vertical that you think will add the most value to your life that most so let's say your sales guy, and you're doing a lot of one on one coaching calls, right? It makes it makes sense for you to focus a lot more on conversational skills, right? Because because it's one on one at the end of the day. But if you're doing group coaching, then it makes a lot more sense to presentation skills, etc. And for me, I guess the way written has played a role in my life is because I script every one of my YouTube videos, so it helps me structure my thoughts better. But I wouldn't worry too much about the correlation in general, I would focus on one vertical Master, and that'll give you the confidence to master everything. Now, do you recommend that let's say someone has to give a speech for who knows, maybe they're running for political office, and they're going to need to give a speech? And maybe they're even going to give the same speech, the topic anyway, over and over again? Do you recommend that they write out the speech and then memorize that speech top to bottom? Or do you recommend that they bullet point and kind of ad lib as they go, you know, to kind of show their knowledge? Absolutely. I'll give you and this probably doesn't apply to politics, but also because it's like a whole other game, which and I don't like training politicians. It's not my game. But the point that I want to I want to drive here's a simple framework that works for most most cases, counseling
Unknown Speaker 20:00
Find this down to the to the granular one, what is your key idea? And there's a question you can ask yourself to figure what that thing is. So another way of looking at is if you were to summarize your whole presentation in one sentence, what would be the sentence, the way that you figure out that sentence is the following scenario. Let's say it's your present your last presentation, ever. And after you present your die, I know it's morbid, but hear me out. And in that presentation, you can talk for as much as you want, six minutes, six hours doesn't really matter. But the audience will not remember your name. They wrote, remember your title? Heck, they won't even remember your content. But they'll remember one sentence, what do you want the sentence to be? So for me, it's pretty simple. I can teach you about communication for hours on end. But if there's one sentence that summarizes my life's work, it's the following. Anybody can master public speaking, if a five year old kid can go on and present in French his whole life and still end up speaking like this, anybody can do it. I firmly believe that and I hope through this conversation, I was able to prove that key idea. Second part of the framework now that you know, the key idea, what is the best way of defending it that works for you? Is it an analogy? Is it a story? Is it a series of statistics, and that's always going to depend on the message and who you are. It's, I hate the, you know, the crappy advice of you need to be more funny. If you're not funny. Don't tell more jokes, this isn't work. It's more about saying, okay, based on my key idea, whether it's trying to promote virtual CTO, whether it's me and promoting mastery, like the YouTube channel, or whatever the idea is, what is the best way defending my kid. And over trial and error, I've realized that the best way of explaining my idea was through a personal story. If I tell people how terrible I was, it should encourage them to figure it out. Right. But for somebody else, it's going to be different. Let's say you're trying to defend your PhD thesis. You can't just tell jokes for three hours, probably not gonna work. So second step, figure out what are the best tools and tricks that defend your message the best. And the third part is apply puzzle intro. Conclusion, middle? And that's it. You're done. Right, great. So like, I mean, I get a lot of different thoughts about what you just said. One, one of which is obviously you can write, you can be a great writer and a terrible speaker. And you can be a great speaker and a terrible writer. That's just just a fact. It does appear to me though, that like, you're right. political speeches, and any other kind of speeches are totally different, because every political speech is going to be more of a persuasive rah, rah, you know, I'm the smartest guy on the on the ballot, you know, kind of thing? And how do you go about teaching people to set the right tone when they're speaking? Like, you know, like you said, that one sentence, you know, they know the sense they know what their one sentence summary of their talk is going to be. Now, how do they set the tone so that when people leave, they get it? I'm going to before you answer, we we attended a conference that was supposed to be in person, we attended it online. And one of the things I noted was, I can remember so many amazing key takeaways. But if you asked me who said it, I don't remember yet. When I'm in person with somebody, and I see them on a stage walking back and forth. For some reason, their name sticks with me, which is sort of weird. But how do you get that tone so that people will remember that? What's that one sentence? And basically, stick with it? Yeah, it's a fascinating thought. I think the way that I think about this is, at the end of the day, it all boils down to one thing, and that is, how obsessive? How far are you willing to go for your audience? So if you think about me, relative, let's say you compare top 1% speakers with top 5% speakers? It's like the whole, what's the difference between first and second place at the Olympics? They're both amazing. They're both incredible. So why does one win gold and the other one wins silver? That's a more different example. You get the idea? Yeah, the difference, at least in the conscious of communication is obsessiveness over the audience. So a great speaker will go, okay. This is who Michael is, this is what he does. I need to make sure that my knowledge applies to his business and what he's doing, right. But a top 1% speaker does is he has dinner with Michael, he understands my blood level, most people aren't willing to go, I have probably had more conversations than anyone in my industry with eight year olds, with 16 year olds with 57 year olds with 73 year olds, because it gives me a perspective on public speaking that nobody in my industry has, because I'm willing to have those conversations that don't necessarily benefit me financially. So I'll give you the best example when I was talking to the eight year old and I was saying like, what did you think about my presentation relative to other maybe professional speech coaches that come in? She looked at me, she was like, what's the CEO and I just went, Oh, I really got to simplify my stuff. Right? So that the next time I went and I was presenting the Euro went, I love communication. I was like, I got it. I found out that nice
Unknown Speaker 25:00
But the difference is not that I'm more special, I'm just willing to have the conversation with the people that nobody wants to talk to. Oh, it makes it makes sense. I mean, it's with any business, you have to know who your target is. And in that case, it's funny because we assume somebody knows what a CEO is. And that's what's actually sort of cool about the fact that it's an eight year old is there going to let you know which areas are understandable in which areas when not understandable, which can only benefit you in the long run the next time you do that same presentation, because you realize, you have to define terms differently is I personally believe a lot of disagreements that happen, especially online disagreements are because people aren't paying attention to the words that the person is using. And they take those words their own way, rather than realizing well hold on a second. I'm taking it way over here. And it doesn't seem like they are maybe I should ask a question to clarify. I think that's a key one, too, is when you're giving a talk, be prepared to answer questions so that you can define your message better. I mean, that's really what we're doing here is I'm getting you to answer questions about communication. And hopefully the listeners learning something from it by paying attention. And maybe if they have questions, they you know, they'll reach out to you. Which brings me to the point, where can people find you? Absolutely. So the best way to get in touch is probably master talk to YouTube channel. So you can just type up master talk in one word, share all my best stuff over there on public speaking communication. And if you want to send me a message directly, Instagram is always the best way. So my handle for that is master your talk. Nice. Okay. Yeah. And it will, we'll make sure to put a link to both of those things in the notes. But I really appreciate everything you had to offer today. I think it's an intriguing topic, because if you think about it, it's the one skill besides walking, that everybody has to have, right? Like you can't, you have to know how to communicate, and most people are terrible at it. And I think you only get better at the things you practice. And so to your point earlier, when you do a work presentation, the reason people don't get better is because they do it one time and one time only then maybe six months later, they have to do another presentation and six months later, but if they were forced to, I don't know, like, in my past in my career, I had to give a presentation to a department in a company then that same presentation to a second department and the same presentation to the executive board. By the time it got to the executive board. I had it nailed for the same reason you're talking with eight year old other people gave feedback. I think that's I think what your approach is amazing. And I have a feeling your your your YouTube channel is going to be one I frequent because you know, doing shows like this, I have actually two podcasts that I run and I want to be better at communicating my point in a clear and concise way. Especially concise. I tend to be very wordy, as you can tell, and I want to pare that down. But it's been fun. I really enjoyed it. And thanks for being on the show. I really appreciate it. It's my pleasure. All right, thanks everyone. For listening to the technology Alchemist. Please check out Brandon's channel. It's gonna firstname.lastname@example.org forward slash master talks and give it a listen.
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The Technology Alchemist is your source for technology advice, strategic technology planning, technology coaching, time-saving advice, and a pragmatic look at increasing revenue and profit through your technology engine. Sponsored by Your Virtual CTO, this show is the only one of its kind that blends business coaching and technology advice. The show is hosted by Mike Mahony, the world's most user-friendly technologist.