Public speaking was challenging enough prior to the pandemic. Now, it’s a whole different ballgame.
“There’s the in-person world, there’s the virtual world [speaker and audience are all remote] and there’s the hybrid world” where the audience is together in person to see but not interact with a virtual speaker, explains popular speaker and coach Arel Moodie, president of Reed Oak LLC.
In his role, Moodie has worked with more than 700 business leaders on their personal brand. “It’s like the equivalent of running a 100-meter sprint versus running a marathon versus running a relay race. They’re all running, but they take different skill sets to be successful.”
Even a polished presenter such as Moodie has fallen prey to the pitfalls of digital presentations. Early in the pandemic era, he gave a presentation for which he neglected to share his slides.
“I thought I hit share,” he recalls. “I’m sitting there speaking virtually, referencing my slides. And then like 15 minutes into a 90-minute presentation, my client texts me and says, ‘Are we supposed to be seeing slides?’”
Still, Moodie is bullish on the format of virtual meetings. “You’ve got to learn how to utilize things like chat. You’ve got to learn how to use multimedia to engage people,” he explains. “But if you use it correctly, it’s very powerful. With the chat, you can see everyone’s name. So in a normal presentation, I’m generally not addressing people, but in virtual, I can be like, ‘Thanks, Robert, I appreciate that.’ Now, you feel connected to me.”
Moodie connected with Senior Executive Media for an exclusive interview in October 2021. Read on for an edited excerpt of the conversation.
The more you speak in front of your industry, in front of your clients — the more you’re building your individual brand.Arel Moodie, President, Reed Oak LLC.
Senior Executive Media: What kinds of business leaders are you coaching to build their speaking prowess?
Arel Moodie: Most [clients] are either looking to leave the corporate business to do this [corporate speaking] full-time. Or, they own their own business, and they want to tack this onto it.
Senior Executive Media: And what do they really need help with?
Arel Moodie: Really dialing in, “What is your unique message? What is your story? What is it that you want to say that is different than what everyone else is saying?” And then, how do you take that once you have it and get it in front of the people who can actually book you to speak?
And, truthfully, there are some people with great messages. But as a messenger, they need a lot of help and support. How do you get them to get a signature story? How do you get them to that repeatable, viral content that will get people talking?
I see a lot of this: Someone says, I’ve got 15 years, 20 years, 30 years of experience — how do I possibly condense that down to an hour that’s interesting to people? One of the biggest challenges when it comes to messaging is people tend to over-teach. They try to teach too much, try to cram it in. It hurts. It’s overwhelming.
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Senior Executive Media: What’s the payoff to becoming an engaging and frequent speaker?
Arel Moodie: [For business owners], there’s a front end and a back end of the speaking game. The front end is getting a fee for speaking — a speaker honorarium. You can add a very nice revenue stream that didn’t exist before. The back end of it is clients, consulting [and] contracts. For example, there’s a guy I know named Liam Martin. He runs a company called Time Doctor. He’s launching a book. And because of [demand generated by his public speaking], he was able to get $35,000 in book sales, even before the book is launched.
What happens for a lot of corporate folks is that they speak on behalf of their corporation. So they’re not usually getting speaker fees.
The more you speak in front of your industry, in front of your clients — the more you’re building your individual brand. You become that thought leader. People want to connect with you. They want to work with you. Your company sees the value of you being an evangelist for their brand…and it’s making you indispensable. Now you never have to worry about a job.