Deirdre Van Nest

Episode 68: Use Your Voice to Help Others

Do you ever wish you were a better speaker or storyteller? Jimmy shares a conversation about public speaking and the process to becoming a crazy, good speaker with his special guest, Deirdre Van Nest, his speaking coach.

Episode Keys

  • The C.E.A.T. Method of creating and maintaining the attention of your audience.
  • Why you need to build your speaking skills whether you are speaking in public, leading a team or sharing with your local civic club.
  • How you can receive FREE training and other resources to help you become the most sought speaker in your field.
  • The importance of writing a great presentation and how to utilize your team’s talents to deliver the best speech ever!

Podcast Transcription

Good morning! Hey, this is Jimmy Williams with Live a Life by Design, your Monday morning moments of motivation to help you build a bigger, better and bolder you. You know, I’ve been so excited here the last few weeks, our world has been disrupted. It seems like we’ve gotten holiday vacations cancelled. You can’t even do the things we used to do, but you know what? I am through looking backwards, as I hope you are and let’s look to the future.

One of the best things we can do for ourselves is focus on those things we can control. You’ve heard me speak about this in the last few episodes. But what is happening in our world is people feel helpless. Well, I’m gonna help you today to gain some tremendous value from a lady that’s our special guest. This lady you’ve heard me talk about in several episodes, I give credit to her for helping me exponentially grow my speaking business. From just doing a few speaking engagements a year, and I was very successful in my own mind until I met this person. And I met her in Florida and we just hit it off. She literally gave me the secret sauce, and I’m gonna explain that here in a moment, of how to become not just a good speaker, but a crazy good speaker.

So let’s welcome the founder of Crazy Good Talks this morning, Deirdre Van Nest! Welcome, Deirdre!

DVN: Oh hey Jimmy, thanks for having me. I’m super excited to be here.

JW: So you know, now that I’ve told them our secret background folks, I’ve got to tell you, this lady has been an outstanding coach. So let’s take just a few minutes and explain to me about a mentor of yours, Deirdre. I know you didn’t just get into this business because you just loved speaking. Tell me how you gained a mentor to push you forward in this business.

DVN: Actually people are really surprised to learn that I was terrified to speak, Jimmy. I mean, no way no how, did I want to get on a stage. I had a bad experience in my 9th grade acting class where I was humiliated by my acting teacher. And I quit acting after the semester and I left the stage. So the stage meant no acting, no public speaking, no nothing for 24 years. 24 years Jimmy, in fact when I got my, I have a Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy, when I got my Master’s degree, my second year in my classmates came to me. And they’re like, ‘Hey Deirdre, do you want to run for President?’ And do you know what my first question was? ‘Do I have to give a speech?’ And they said, ‘Yeah’. And I said, ‘Nope, I’ll go for Vice President, only if I don’t have to give a speech’. So I actually ran for Vice President. That’s how much I avoided speaking.

JW: Wow.

DVN: Yeah.

JW: Well, I’ve gotta…You know what you’ve done to me. So I’m the guy now, they have to grab the microphone from his hands. I love it. Hey, what a great story. So, Deidre, talk to me a little bit about today focusing on why we need to have a great Why Story of what we’re doing. You know, I’m in the wealth management business but also one of my careers is bringing hope and bringing the future in focus for a lot of the people we work with. I call it my Why Story, and I’ll get into that here in just a little bit, but what is your Why Story of founding Crazy Good Talks?

DVN: Yeah, I would love to share that. May I take a step back for a moment? I want to fully answer your mentor question, because I feel…

JW: Oh, absolutely, absolutely.

DVN: Yeah, so, the mentor. Without my mentor, my speaking mentor, I’ve had several, but my main speaking mentor, the one who actually enabled me to get on the stage and enabled me to get good at speaking over time and to be a coach and to start a business speaking and training others is a man by the name of Craig Valentine. And I owe him so much thanks, we’ve become friends over the years and I’m super grateful to him because without this mentorship, without his confidence in me, a mentor Jimmy, a lot of times will give you the confidence that you don’t have, right? They’ll hold the confidence for you.

JW: Right.

DVN: And so I just trusted in him. And then he also had a great process that he took me through in order to construct my speeches, and I thought, his brand is called World Class Speaking, so I thought well if world class speakers are doing this how bad could I be. And that’s what gave me the confidence to get out there and get on the stage. So finding the right mentors for me and my life and business has been critical and so for your listeners I recommend, if you’re wanting to go somewhere, find some, don’t reinvent the wheel. Find someone else who will love you and show you their process. It just shortcuts everything.

JW: No, that is great advice. And I will tell you, so I’ve been speaking publicly for pay, I mean, I’m not donating time, I make a great living doing just this, and I will tell you that I thought I was doing pretty good until I met you.

DVN: Sorry.

JW: Yeah. Deirdre showed me the potential of using my art and craft to hone in a message that not only helps people but gives them clarity and builds that capability within themselves to move forward in life. And that’s what we’re about here.

DVN: Yeah.

JW: Great stuff, but I want everyone to know your Why Story. Tell me a little bit about your Why Story.

DVN: Yeah, so it, and when I work with clients like you Jimmy, right? We talk about how part of being a crazy good speaker is telling crazy good stories. And there are three types of stories that every speaker wants to be telling and one of them is what I call your Why Story. Your Why Story is sharing with your audience, whether it’s an audience of one or one thousand, whether it’s online, you know virtual or it’s in person. But sharing with your listener. Why do you do what you do, but even more importantly why do you care about helping them with their problem you solve. And that’s so critical because so many things today are commoditized, right? And really the only thing that a consumer has to base a decision on is you. How much do they like you? How much do they trust you? How connected do they feel to you? Well, when you share a Why Story, and I do this exercise in my keynotes, I’ve done it hundreds of times where I, where people rate me before they hear my Why Story, and then they hear my Why Story and they rate me afterwards. My scores go through the roof afterwards and it proves that when you share the right well crafted Why Story for the right audience you can gain trust, connection and likability in four minutes or less. And who doesn’t want to do that?

JW: Absolutely. Absolutely. You know the thing about a Why Story to me is this, without the why we sometimes lack the passion to really do our best.

DVN: Yes!

JW: And one thing I’ve always been proud of myself is that I leave that floor of the stage and I want to leave every ounce of what I had in power to bring this alive for the audience so that when I left and got back into the car to hit that airplane, head to the next destination, I could feel good about myself. Have you ever in your career had one of those times though, when you first got up there, you gave the heart of your best speech and it just didn’t sound. You just didn’t connect.

DVN: I’ll tell you what has happened to me. So a little bit of a different twist, and I’m totally with you on that. And you make a really good point, if I may just make a side note. The other importance of having a Why Story is to motivate you and keep your passion alive. So it’s not just for the listener, right?

JW: Right.

DVN: It’s for those days when you’re like, ‘You know what, it’d be so much easier to stay in bed today.’ Or when you’re like I can’t make one more call. I can’t stand one more rejection. Tapping into your Why, at least for me, is the thing that has kept me going and Jimmy I’m sure it’s one of the things that keeps you going, right?

JW: Sure.

DVN: But, here, I had an interesting situation. So I started speaking professionally. Professionally means you start to get, you know, you’re getting paid to speak in 2010. So I’ve been speaking in 2008, started getting paid in 2010. And for seven years, 2010 to well the end of 2016, I would speak. I was doing well, I connected with people, people liked it. But I kept feeling every time I got off the stage I just felt, there’s something missing. There’s something missing. The only way I could describe it was, I felt like when I got on the stage I left a part of myself outside the room. That’s the only words I could put to it. What I came to discover was that for those six years I was giving great presentations. I would weave stories and analogies and have activities, right? I mean, I really brought my content to life. I was giving great content but what I didn’t really do was let the audience get to know me. I didn’t think, I thought I was just a vessel for content. I didn’t think that the audience really cared who the vessel was. Does that make sense?

JW: Absolutely. I agree.

DVN: And I started to feel very dissatisfied by that. I started to think this, I’m just not enjoying this. And so what I figured out was that I was leaving my heart outside the room, and so on January 11th, 2017 for the first time I was speaking in Minneapolis to a group of financial advisors, I told one of my Why Stories. And I’ll talk about why I say one of them in a few minutes. But I told one of my Why Stories, and it’s a story about why I love working in the financial services industry. And why that industry is so important to me, and helping those advisors was so important to me. And I was terrified, right? You think of advisors, you know, you’re a wealth advisor, as the analytical group and they’re just want to hear numbers and statistics. So I was kind of scared, so I tell my Why Story, Jimmy, and right after I told it, two advisors in the third row, their hands go shooting up in the air. And they were sitting right next to each other, and I go, ‘Oh, ok,’ and I called on one of them and first gentleman says, ‘I just want you to know I’ll believe anything you say right now’.

JW: Oh, wow.

DVN: I know, and I was like, ‘Oh, ok, great!’ You know that’s great. So then I called the next gentleman, and he says, ‘I just want to thank you for understanding what we do and why it’s so important’. I just, wow. And that was a career and life defining moment for me, Jimmy.

JW: Absolutely.

DVN: I went from this speaker person to one of them and to a human being who related to them. It catapulted my entire career. I can trace everything back to that moment.

JW: You know, I will say to you that’s the whole feeling I always get or attempt to get when I go speak. And 99% of the time it works, is I don’t go there to speak to the group. I go there to share with the group. You see the difference?

DVN: Yes.

JW: And because a relationship is what I want with them, that day, if I only have an hour, hour and a half. I want a relationship that day, they fully allow me to understand where they’re at in this process and I want them to understand where I’m at.

DVN: Yes.

JW: So we can find common ground, you know.

DVN: Yes.

JW: And it almost sounds like we’re solving today’s society problems here, don’t we. We’re just list….

DVN: I think there’s something to this, don’t you think? Yes! Yes!

JW: That’s just awesome stuff. And so what I’m getting at, folks, we have such great subscribers and listeners. I will suggest to you that what Deirdre has to offer for me is not something I translate simply to go to a stage and speak to hundreds or thousands of people, I use this in my daily life in talking with my clients. Sharing and leading my team. At church when I am sharing something of a personal nature with those that join in the congregation with me. You can use these skills in all manners of life. Most of you are sitting there going, ‘I never want to be a speaker. I never want to be a speaker’. But I’m telling you, if you lead a team of any size you are a speaker because speakers mean that the person listening has to have understanding of what you’ve told them or you’re not speaking at all. You’re just making noise. Is that not true?

DVN: Oh absolutely. Absolutely. I mean even use it with your kids, your family, right? Everywhere you communicate. Absolutely. I think the point goes to being willing to be appropriately vulnerable.

JW: Well, that’s a big word. The ‘V’ word. I will say to you, that one was a tough one for me when I first started my career.

DVN: Oh yeah.

JW: Cause you want to be on stage, right, but you want to be the premier person of all knowledge of what they ask you to speak on, you know right?

DVN: Yes.

JW: Well, what would you say though, what would you say to the person that wants to get started in speaking, Deirdre. You said, oh my gosh I’m a professional speaker but it took me two years to get paid. What would you say, how can they get started?

DVN: Well, typical, I’ll tell you how I started, get started, think about the speaking business. It’s a little like the Wild West. Which is good news and bad news. The good news is you can chart your own course. The bad news is there’s not necessarily one way to do it like follow the dots this way. And so, if you want to be a speaker then you have to find the mentors who you respect and maybe a career you want to emulate and listen to them. Right? Listening to too many voices is never a great thing. So I’ll share from my own perspective, what I did and what a lot of my clients do is you first, you just decided. No one’s going to say to you you’re a speaker. You just have to decide. It’s sort of like being a leader, right? You just decided, you don’t have to have the title. And then you’re gonna want to obviously find a subject, and maybe you already know it, that you want to talk about. The next step is to actually simultaneously get good at structuring your content in a way, and this is were Crazy Good, this is why I created the Crazy Good Talk school prep is to teach speakers how to structure their content in a way that’s super engaging. That makes that emotional connection, right? That keeps the energy moving. Makes what you’re saying stand out and be memorable. Have people take action. But you need to learn some sort of system or process for doing that. And at the same time you need to go out, and today going out might just be, you know, sending out emails. You’re not maybe physically going out. But it’s making connections with people who can bring you in to speak at their events. So Jimmy, for the first two years I was speaking at all the Rotary clubs I could, and the Chamber of Commerces and all the business clubs. And at that time in 2008 to 2010, what was going on? We had a major recession, right? So there was all these, like, job kind of transition groups. I spoke there. I spoke everywhere that I could in my local community for two years for free. So that one, I could get really good, two, my confidence would rise, and three, I could get some credentials and get some visibility. And that’s the way, unless someone has a skill set that’s already, what’s the word I’m looking for, tried and true. Like, in your situation Jimmy, I think you came in where you already had this area of expertise, that you’re already getting paid to do, right? Maybe one to one, and you just transferred that to the stage and you were able to get paid, probably a lot soon than I was able to get paid. I didn’t have that starting out. So, if you’re coming from that, some people can jump right in. Most people have to kind of pay their dues with the free stuff at first. And that’s ok.

JW: Oh, absolutely. No, that’s exactly right. We all have a different path to get there. You, the love I have for speaking is you define your path.

DVN: Exactly.

JW: You know. One of the things I will say and share with this group. I started out, don’t laugh, one of my first speeches I gave was to a high school graduating class of a school that only had about 60 kids graduating, very small school. And before me, and years earlier, they had had years older valedictory speakers and what they did is they looked at me and they go, ‘Huh, he’s only about 10 years older than the graduating class, what’s he gonna know, right?’ Well, what the person that talked me that a way was the superintendent, grey hair didn’t have any hair on top kind of guy, you know. He says, ‘What do you know, Jimmy, that we need to tell these graduates?’ And I said, ‘You will not believe I will have them spell bound for the 10 minutes I speak.’ And he said, ’10 minutes?’ And I said, ‘You won’t want more than that.’ I said, ‘I promise you they’ll gain more in 10 minutes than the gentleman that spoke last year for an hour.’ And I said, ‘They tuned out after 10 minutes’ like that. And he said, ‘Let’s try this’. I gotta be honest with you, that first time that I was heard speaking I got four offers to speak the next year at graduations because they go, ‘hey, you get it. You get it.’

DVN: Yes, that’s great.

JW: You’re not speaking to these kids, you’re trying to share and relate to these kids, right?

DVN: Yes.

JW: So, Deidre, tell me something that we could do to walk through your ten steps. I gotta tell you folks. I love the intuitiveness of her ten step process. The intuitiveness of how it works and links, and builds and grows til you get your final material that you wish to speak or your final approach to how you wish to speak. Let’s walk through those if you don’t mind, for this moment. Tell me about your Crazy Good Talks approach.

DVN: So the approach is first, is, and this might sound like duh, but choosing a topic, right? So the first thing, and where people struggle is many people like, well, I’m good at this, and I’m good at this and I like this and I like this and they struggle to pick a topic. So the first thing I would say if you want to be a speaker is you’ve gotta pick a horse and ride it. And that doesn’t mean if you pick one topic today that you can never talk about anything else, but you want to get known for one main topic. So pick your topic. Then once you pick your topic, you’ve got to be, you’ve got to pick your points, your main points for the topic. Now this is where a lot of presenters get confused and miss the boat. Jimmy, think about yourself, have you ever gone to a presentation and you’re sitting there and you’re like ‘I don’t know where this going’. Like, the information is good, but I don’t know what to take notes on, I don’t know what category to put it in. I just, I don’t know what to do. Has that ever happened to you?

JW: All the time, I can’t connect the dots. So he made a point A, but now point B is totally obtuse, now’s he’s back to point C which may relate to A, but I’m not sure. Oh, absolutely. You’re all over the page.

DVN: You’re all over. So you have to give people a clear road map, and so what I say is you have to think of your points like buckets, right? So let’s say you’re speaking for 60 minutes, you might have 3 main points, each that take 10 to 15 minutes each. And make sure you are very clear on what those points are. You have to be very clear. And a lot of time presenters, when I’m like ‘What’s the name of your point?’ What’s the point, I don’t know. And that’s why the audience isn’t clear and that’s why it’s hard to remember and write it. So get very clear on what the name of the point is and all of the items that should just go in that one bucket, right?

JW: Right.

DVN: So then, once you’ve done that you have to think about, all right, let’s say I’m speaking for 60 minutes, well, the average adult can only pay attention for about 7 to 10 minutes and that’s being pretty generous. Right? That’s if they really like the content. So, I can’t go into lecture mode for 60 minutes. And you knew that, right? When you did your 10 minute speech.

JW: Right.

DVN: But a lot of, you know, lot of hosts want 60 minutes so what do I do? Especially virtually, now that we’re presenting. I mean I’m doing more webinars then ever before, right? I’ve gotta keep people engaged that I can’t even see most of the time for 60 minutes. I have a presentation on Thursday for 3 1/2 hours. We’re doing a story telling bootcamp.

JW: Wow.

DVN: Jimmy, how do I keep them engaged for 3 1/2 hours. So here’s how you do it. So the principle is you’ve got to keep the energy moving. Ok, what I mean by that, is you have to do different things strategically throughout the presentation so that people don’t get bored and they don’t tune out. So, can I share my formula for that Jimmy? Is that…

JW: Oh, please do!

DVN: Ok, so let me give you a formula on how to keep the energy moving on your presentation. So if you can jot this down, it’s an acronym. And the acronym is C E T A. CETA. C E T A. This comes out of module three, Jimmy. So CETA, you would for every point you have you would blend a CETA into each point, ok? So here’s what CETA stands for. C is be conversational in the way you’re speaking. So, if you’re listening to Jimmy every week, you’ll hear when he speaks he’s very conversational. His podcast is going out to tens of thousands, but you feel like he’s just talking to you. And he’s not using big words that your kid couldn’t understand if your kid was sitting next to you. That’s how you want to talk. A lot of presenters for some reason, can be very natural one on one and they get in front of a group and they turn into a speaker person and they’re all buttoned up and they’re very formal, right?

JW: Right.

DVN: You don’t want to sound like that. You want to sound as if you’re talking to one person having a cup of coffee. You want to avoid using words that you’d only use in the written format. You want to avoid, and this is for my wealth advisors and my financial advisors who are listening Jimmy. Avoid industry jargon.

JW: Right.

DVN: If you’re any kind of profession, legal profession, medical profession, financial services, I don’t care what it is, you’ve got to get rid of that jargon. You have to have what I call your inside voice. That’s your voice you have with your colleagues. Like if you were a native Spanish speaker, you might speak that in your home, but if you live in the US you’re likely speaking English when you go outside because that’s what people, more people will understand you. That’s what you want to do. You have your inside voice, and then when you’re speaking to the consumer, you have your outside voice which has no jargon. Right?

JW: Right.

DVN: So be conversational, and then be yourself. And I got to say this is going to sound weird. It took me again, about seven maybe eight years of speaking before I actually felt like I was myself on stage. It actually takes a long time to be yourself on stage, I believe. So, have grace for yourself. If it’s hard for you to be yourself. Keep doing it and you will figure out what that is. But your goals shouldn’t be for perfection, it should be for connection and the more you’re yourself the more you will connect. So, people are like what do I do with my hands? I’m like, if you normally use your hands a lot, like I do. I’m an Italian-Irish New Yorker, use your hands when you’re on stage. If that’s not you, then don’t. Try not to be so dogmatic about it.

JW: Right.

DVN: So that’s the C. The E stands for experience. You don’t want your listener to be at a lecture. You want them to have an experience with you and with your content. So the way to have an experience is to blend what I call anchors into your facts and your figures. So let’s say in point number one you have five main facts that you want to get across, right? Within those facts you want to blend stories. You want to blend analogies. You want to activities, if you’re online it might be a poll question. You might have them type something in the chat. You might have them do a partner share. You might have them do something on their own. You might show a great video. You might have a prop, right? But basically you want to weave these anchors in, because the anchors will keep the energy moving. Keep things more interesting and make your facts memorable and sticky.

JW: Absolutely.

DVN: Go on to the T or do you have any questions? I know I’m saying a lot right now.

JW: So, so, yea, couple of things. First off, let me help this. I do know a lot of us are more harsh on ourselves than any audience evaluation would reflect. So, for example, I can leave some of the venues, for one that I’m talking. I gave a speech, it was about an hour and fifteen minutes and I was in Montana. Beautiful area, by the way. And had us at a nice resort, and my whole job was to go and speak for this hour and fifteen minutes to get people excited about what’s gonna take place the rest of the time they’re there, as well as get them to find their way to set their goals so that they could achieve what they want out of life instead of just being a wandering generality, if you will according to Zig Ziggler. Right?

DVN: Yeah.

JW: Well, I got up and I was just connecting about the first 30 minutes, everything was going great and then I don’t know what happened. After about 45 minutes it just seemed like that connection may have waned a little.

DVN: Sure.

JW: And I just felt like at my closing things picked back up. But I felt like that little lapse of five to ten minutes in there just made me uneasy. I go back to my room. So I do what everybody should do. You know I’m a strategic coach attendee, as well as you are. I used an experience transformer with me, I keep one with me at all times to go what worked, what didn’t work, and why. And I thought, boy I just blew it. Thank goodness they’re pre-paying me, you know, checks already been cashed. No big deal, but anyway, so I set down and did this. And then about a week or two later, got the nicest letter from their representative of the company. And it said, you have gained the highest evaluation and most positive comments of any speaker we’ve had in the last five years. And they’ve had some doozies they said. And I looked at that, and I looked back at that experience transformer, and I said ‘what did I miss’? Well, I didn’t give myself grace. I didn’t give myself a chance to be human. When you’re on stage you’re not Superman, or Superwoman, in your case, you’re a human being that’s bringing your experiences and your capabilities to someone else that may borrow them, grow them on their own and put forth what their product is. How do you feel about that?

DVN: Well, I agree with you and I think sometimes I’ve had those same situations, Jimmy. I think sometimes we think that the audience can get, they’re in our heads. So sometimes you or I, you might be on the stage, and I don’t know. Something happens within you, someone’s looking funny in the first row, or in the fifth row, whatever. And you have this thought, this fear goes through you. They don’t like me or whatever, and then you feel like that throws you off, but on the outside it actually doesn’t, right?

JW: Right.

DVN: So absolutely, absolutely that can happen. And then there’s the flip side where maybe it does that day. And if it does, it does, and that is life and that is where you also need to have that grace.

JW: I always say those are learning moments for me, you know, you can learn from it, and give yourself some grace and then move forward. So, the key I’m trying to give to this is, is like Deirdre has said. The acronym is CETA. C E T A. Conversational and experiences. Talk about your experiences. So what is the T standing for?

DVN: Yea, so the T stands for thinking. So let me ask you this, Jimmy. Have you ever been to a presentation where the speaker’s talking and they’re interesting, and maybe even their story is interesting, but you start feeling like, gosh, this is all about them. What, when are they going to bring me into this, where am I in this? So is that, have you ever experienced that?

JW: Oh, well, I’ve sat in the room when that’s happened and I will tell you I lose interest rather quickly. I’m a little selfish as a guest to listen to a speaker because I’m there to learn from them, not to just learn of them. You see the difference?

DVN: Yes.Yes, and so here’s the paradox of speaking, because you’re listeners might be thinking. But, if you’re telling me to share stories, Deirdre, aren’t they about me? Yes, they are about you. So how do you make your experience, your stories that’s really about you about them? So let me tell you the secret of doing that. The way you do that is you ask thinking questions or make thinking statements. And you sprinkle these throughout your presentation. I’ve done this multiple times already. For example, when I just said to Jimmy, Jimmy have you ever been to a presentation where it sounds like someone, you know they might be good, they’re telling good stories, but you start thinking wow this is all about them, where am I? That’s an example of a thinking question. I could have simply just said to you, you know, I’ve been to many presentations where the speakers were just talking about themselves. Blah, blah, blah, right? I didn’t have to bring you into that at all, did I?

JW: No, not at all. Now, I’ve got to tell you, when she asked a question for our listeners, my mind, don’t laugh, immediately transported, just like I was on Star Trek, right, transported me back to that time, and I’m going oh I remember this guy. Any time we as speakers, Deirdre I think you’ll agree, but anytime we as speakers, if our only pronoun we use is I you’ve lost your audience within a few minutes.

DVN: Absolutely. You is the most, you is the word you want to say as often as possible but doesn’t sound, you know, contrived.

JW: Well, you’re partially right. So if you’re from the south and you’ve got more than three people, it’s you all.

DVN: Y’all. Y’all, yeah, you can do that. You or you all. But you yes.

JW: You’ll have to forgive Deirdre folks, she’s from the north.

DVN: I am from the north. Hey, I lived in Florida for a time period.

JW: Oh, well.

DVN: Does that count? But that’s a whole…

JW: We’ll convert her folks, don’t worry, we’ll convert her. No big…

DVN: Sounds good, sound good.

JW: Yeah, so ask thinking questions. I love that.

DVN: Yeah, and make statements that get them to think about their own lives as it relates to your content. Right? Have you ever done this? Can you imagine this, when was the last time this happened to you? Get them thinking. And don’t just spoon feed them facts. Right? Actually if you have a fact, like, here’s a fact, I could say to you, the average audience, the average person, right? Will give you five to ten seconds when you first take the stage to decide if they like you and they’re going to tune you in or tune you out. That’s one of my facts that I teach when I talk about standing out. But I don’t do it the way I just said it. I actually ask the audience the question. I’ll say, how long do you think you have before your audience is going to tune you in or tune you out. Just call out some guesses and if I’m on virtual I have them type it in the chat. And then they’re all guessing and that gets engaged. So don’t spoon feed them everything. Have them work for a little bit.

JW: Oh, very good point. Very good, so thinking questions, either ask or state thinking questions. So, now you’ve got me thinking Deirdre, what does the A stand for?

DVN: What’s the A? Very good. So the A, Jimmy I know you’re the same way, I’m in this to make a difference in people’s lives and not just in this moment, a lasting difference in people’s lives. Nothing warms my heart and gets me excited when someone comes up to me five years later after a speech and says that, because of that presentation I did this. Right?

JW: Right.

DVN: It’s just the best thing. And so I know that my audience, just like your listeners today only have a finite amount of time. And I’m not doing my job if I don’t give them the A, and the A is giving your listeners or listener and application. Give them something they can do after you’re gone to change their life.

JW: That’s great stuff.

DVN:Yeah, I don’t just want it to be a motivational Rah Rah time with Deirdre. That’s great, motivations great, but we all know how long that lasts.

JW: Right.

DVN: Right. I want to give them tools they can use. Long after, and if they never see me again, I want them to go you know I’m so glad I spent an hour with Deirdre. And so my promise to my clients, when corporations are hiring me for keynotes or trainings, my guarantee is if your audience doesn’t walk out with immediately actionable tools, you don’t pay me.

JW: Yeah, absolutely. And I will tell you the application process to me is the biggest point to really impact someone’s life because motivation, as Zig Zigglar said, one of my mentors. Just love a lot of Zig’s quotes, but had one. He said, “Motivation is just about like bathing, it wouldn’t hurt you to have one everyday”. Have a motivation statement, right?

DVN: Yes, yes.

JW: So we’re talking about conversational in our presentation, using experiences to connect with your audience, ask and give thinking statements. I love that one. And provide an application so that they can find on their own what they need as answers. Give them the tools they need and where to find them. That is fantastic. And you’ve done this with your website and your training material. I love that.

DVN: Yes.

JW: So, listen to this, what’s important to you about influencing others. You’ve influenced me tremendously, but what’s that important to you? What does Deirdre get from influencing me?

DVN: What do I get from it? It’s such a great question. You know, for me, I think it goes down to the kind of spiritual level and feeling what your calling is. I’ve just from a little girl been an encourager. You know when I tape into what gets me the most excited and lights me up, it’s encouraging other people. That makes my heart really happy. That makes me feel like I’m fulfilling God’s call on my life.

JW: Outstanding.

DVN: And it just so happens for this phase in my life, and I hope that God will say, you can always have this space. Cause I love what I’m doing, but I don’t know if it matters if I’m talking about speaking or cooking, you wouldn’t want me encouraging you cooking, cause I’m not good at it. But just as an example, if I were to be, right? It doesn’t really matter what the topic is. What I’ve realized is I just love encouraging people. And encouraging people and encouraging them so that they can transform and grow and be the best possible version of themselves. Because when we are the best possible versions of ourselves, we can positively impact the kingdom and the world.

JW: Yeah, that is powerful stuff. Deirdre, I will say this that the whole purpose of me, of, I’ll say it like this. Getting paid to do something you love is a bonus. The real benefit though, for me is to get to relate to people like you. Relate to people in the audience. And I’ve made some life long friends, just from being available for them to ask, ‘Well, I see how you’re doing that, how can I apply this?’ So how do you get people to transition from being, ‘Just hey, I wanna be a speaker but now I think I want to take the next step’. What’s you’re recommendation as a speaking coach on how we can go from, ‘yeah I think I’ve got what it takes, I’d love to be a speaker, but I just need some honing, I need some tuning up’. How do you do that?

DVN: Yes. Yes, so get a coach, and at the risk of sounding self serving, I’m not saying it cause I am a coach. It doesn’t have to be me, but you need one. So, if that’s a direction you want to go, then you want to find someone that has had success in this area. Someone that you click with. Someone who has a process, who can help you get from where you are today to where you want to be as a speaker. I mean, that’s probably the best advice I can give. And right now, if you’re in a place you like you know what, I can’t afford that. It’s not in my budget to get a coach, then start with a book.

JW: Absolutely.

DVN: Start with a book. Start with what you can start with. That’s all I started with. I started with a book.

JW: Right.

DVN: And then I moved on to taking online courses, and then in person seminars, and then, right, and certifications. And I just build my businesses. I mean, I boot strapped my business. I started in 2007 as a coach and then transitioned into coaching and speaking, and you know, creating all my virtual courses. And now, I mean, it’s been ten years, twelve years, and I’m amazed at where I’ve landed and what’s happened over the last twelve years. But it was just literally one step at a time.

JW: And you know the amazing thing too is I have, and I hate to admit this, but people on the audience have heard this before. People know that I have a coach for every area that’s important in my life. So I’ve got a speaking coach, because that’s vital. I’ve got a business coach, that’s strategic coach. I even have a coach specifically for my profession, Ron Carson, with Carson Coaching.

DVN: Yes.

JW: I’ve got a writing coach that helps me with my writing, editorializing. I’m even now, because Deirdre turned me on to him, I’ve got a gentleman that does my slide design. So I come up with concepts, but to be honest with you the reason why this team approach to me is so important is because Deirdre, I can not be excellent and passionate at everything.

DVN: Yes.

JW: I want everything to be excellent. Does that make sense?

DVN: 100% in agreement. I’m 100% in agreement. I like you am totally committed to first of all not reinventing the wheel. If someone else can show me the way, then I will invest with them to get their help, and to not doing this alone. And to recognizing to where I am. Excellent and passionate and where I’m not, you know what, here’s the thing. From a humanitarians perspective, I don’t know if this might sound strange, but I think it’s actually selfish to hoard the work.

JW: Agreed.

DVN: Does that make sense? And I never saw it this way until fairly recently because I, I don’t remember exactly what happened Jimmy, but I was saying to someone, Oh I don’t know if I, it was spending money on something. It was like having someone help me with something. And I was like, I don’t know if am I being indulgent. Maybe I should just toil through this a do this. And someone said, Deirdre, that other person could use the work. Who, what are you keeping by hanging on to that? You’re not letting someone else have some work they could, maybe desperately need now. It’s like I never thought about it that way, right? I think about donating, writing a check and donating money as giving. But giving someone else work, that they love to do? Oh, my gosh how great is that.

JW: I’m with you.

DVN: So, I’ve changed my whole perspective on that piece. And I’m hoping your listeners, if you’re not, you will realize the value of an investing in yourself, in coaching and in mentorship. It’s something that I set aside revenue every year to work with a variety of different coaches, like you Jimmy, in different areas. Personal and professional.

JW: Absolutely. And it’s vital to me to live a fulfilled life. I want to do what God’s given me the grace and the energy and the passion and the talent to do. But I’ll be frank with you, he didn’t give me the talent to work on those Excel spreadsheets as much, and those – don’t laugh – and I don’t design those Power Points very cute either. So…

DVN: God no, I’m with ya. I am with ya.

JW: But you know, I’m all about here, on Live a Life by Design Deirdre of giving our listeners the tangible. I’m talking about when they listen to this, when we’re done listening to this I would like to give them something tangible. Is that ok with you?

DVN: Sure.

JW: I want to give them some information that they can immediately take, go to your website and look at, so what I’m suggesting is: go to Deirdre’s website. I go there literally every week two or three times to hone up or get information or resources. But go to crazygoodtalks.com. And look at all the resources she has available. There are tons of things on there that you do not have to pay for.

DVN: Oh, yeah.

JW: There’s items that you can just get, see if you like what you have, and she will get in touch with you through one of her team to see if it’s a good fit. Now Deirdre is not a coach for everyone. I’m just gonna be upfront with you. But she is an excellent coach if you have a desire to be a crazy good speaker. Pun intended.

DVN: Yeah, I can say, you know, when you’re talking about what can you do, and I say get a coach or read a book. You know, duh, for me not thinking of my own resource, but I think one of the best resources that’s no, you know, no charge totally free of charge that you’ll find on my website is called Crazy Good Talks TV. And it’s a series of 26 short video episodes with a lesson per episode and then worksheets and templates to implement that lesson. That’s a great place for someone to start.

JW: Well, she said TV, now this is the only TV, cause if you listen to our podcast Deirdre, I’m not much of a TV watcher. But I am watching your TV, ok.

DVN: Thank you. Thank you.

JW: I can actually gain some positive from it, right? No drama folks, just great stuff. So, before I let you go, Deirdre I do want to ask a personal question, if I may.

DVN: Sure.

JW: You have a beautiful family, I’ve met your husband. I’ve not met your daughter in person, and you’ve got another son?

DVN: I do have a son, Noah, yes.

JW: Noah, I’ve not met him. So tell me how is it that you had the perfect daughter. From what I have so far learned about her. How do you get the perfect daughter?

DVN: How do you get the perfect daughter? I don’t think I have the perfect daughter, nobody’s perfect, right? But what I will say about my Annika, who is just amazing and going off to college this fall. She, it’s her relationship with Jesus. It’s her faith. You know.

JW: Wonderful, love it.

DVN: She just has had, you know, that’s one of the things we really instilled and not so much the ritual, but the personal relationship with God and with Jesus. And that’s something from birth that we’ve instilled in our kids and had them develop that relationship. And I think the other thing Jimmy, especially with kids and I’d say for my daughter and my son. You know I lost my mom at a really young age, and so I was very intentional about being that kind of mom that I wanted that I wished I’d had.

JW: Right.

DVN: And a lot of that was being willing to just be there and listen instead of making a judgment when they would say, oh this or that, and if I had a different opinion. Well, tell me why you think that. Why did you do that, what’s going on? And to talk about it and to get to the heart of the matter rather than just the behavior. And so I think they learned they could trust me, they could trust my husband and it was a safe place to have, to learn.

JW: Right.

DVN: And I think it provided a safe learning environment.

JW: So you know I have two daughters, and I tell this when I speak to people. I have two daughters of which I wouldn’t take a million dollars apiece for these girls. Love em to pieces. But there are some days I wouldn’t give you 50 cents for another pair. That’s what I always say. Right. And so, what I want to tell you is, one day, my younger daughter, Gabrielle comes up to me, she’s about 13 I believe. Right in that time frame when young ladies become so knowledgeable of their bodies and their minds, and they’re growing. And you know, now their dad knows nothing.

DVN: Oh, yes.

JW: She comes up, she and I are talking about something and she just looks at me and her, and she takes her hands and she puts one palm on each side of my cheek and she says, father, you just really don’t know anything about life, do you? That’s why, I’m telling my audience, I want you to hear me, that’s why you need to be a crazy good speaker. You never know who you’re going to be speaking with.

DVN: This is true!

JW: So, it was so funny. Yes, exact quote, “Father, you just don’t know anything about life”.

DVN: Oh, it’s so good. So good.

JW: Let me ask you this, we always like to leave our audience during our interviews and this has been extremely wonderful and blessful time for me. But would you please leave us with one nugget of information, encouragement, motivation. What would you tell our listeners the one nugget they could gain from Deirdre Van Nest today to help move forward in this role as a speaker?

DVN: Ok, there’s so many, ok, I’m going to go with this one, cause this is really simple and it, this is actually, Jimmy, what, this was one of the main mantras that I’ve had for my life and my business and that helped me get on the stage and be successful at this career. And it’s this. If you are not afraid, you’re not playing a big enough game.

JW: Oh, I like that.

DVN: Yeah, you should be afraid, some if not most of the time. And I don’t mean fear like worry fear, right, like oh my gosh, worry doom and gloom fear. I mean more like, you should be getting butterflies and you should go whoa, that makes me uncomfortable, and whoa can I do that, I don’t know if I can do that because what I’ve learned is that it takes courage not confidence to be successful.

JW: Oh, I love that. I’ve got to tell you, Deirdre has told you great advice my listeners. Because of this, the first time I spoke in front of an audience of 752 people, I believe is what they told me the total was. That looked a little more daunting then the 250 to 3-400 people you have out there. And I have to tell you, I got some of those butterflies. But I have a pre-speaking ritual I go through, just like a do in golf before I putt or I drive the ball.

DVN: Yes!

JW: What do you think about pre-speaking rituals? Is that just kind of silly or what?

DVN: No! I have, so it’s in module 10 of the…you need to go there and I also have a video Jimmy on Crazy Good Talks TV on mindset. I have what’s called the energy protection plan. And I recommend all my clients have what I call the energy protection plan. And it’s a series of rituals that you as a speaker go through or don’t allow in, like I turn off the phone an hour before. I’m not taking texts, phone, social media. My family knows you can’t reach me an hour before I’m going onstage, right? Because I want to be totally there for my audience. I have songs, I have prayers, I have movements, I gotta whole thing that I do as a ritual and I think that is key, key for performance and connection.

JW: Oh, absolutely. So, I do have my rituals, I’m not going to explain em, cause it’s kind of like when we were winning high school baseball and going to the state championship, I didn’t change my socks for like one season.

DVN: Yeah!

JW: But this is that kind of a ritual, but I do want to tell you one of my scary moments before we close, and Deirdre, every time I go speak I think of this happening. So they give me a lavalier micro, a facial mic, you know one of those easy mics to carry around. And then as most of us may get a little nervous and so you want to go to the facilities and maybe refresh yourself a little bit before you go. I have that fear of that movie, called Police Squad where the gentleman went to the restroom with the mic still on. Everybody in the house hears it, right?

DVN: Yes! I’ve had that same…

JW: Oh man! I’ve got to tell you, the AV people will have me taped up, suited up, I’m going oh man, I’ve got to go freshen up a minute here. That is my fear, so now you, folks, now I’ve given you my wholehearted honestly. You’ve got my fear of what’s going to take place but, Deirdre, you have been a wonderful guest.

DVN: Oh, Thank you.

JW: I thank you so much for your time today. Ladies and gentlemen, this is Deirdre Van Nest and you can reach her at crazygoodtalks.com. She has a team of wonderful people that will help you get started on your career, help you build your career, and not only that be sensational in your career. If you bring the passion and desire to learn, she’s got the resources to help you take it to the limit. That’s what we do here at Live a Life by Design. Folks, we want you to be bigger, better, and bolder than you ever have been, but we want you to take a talent you have and use it to make the world a better place. And folks, isn’t that really what we need in this day and age? When we look back and decide that hey, we have so much more in common than we do in difference. That’s what our world should be about. I want to thank you for joining us today. Deirdre, thank you again.

DVN: Oh, thank you so much.

JW: And always do this, do me a favor Deirdre, this week you go out and live your life by design.

DVN: I’ll do it.


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