This is an All Ears English podcast episode 1926.
Don’t let your anxiety crush your English speech with executive coach Grant Baldwin.
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It’s time for your next English presentation and you feel your anxiety getting stronger.
How can you make sure that you deliver an amazing presentation in English?
Act like a human.
Today get three tips from executive speaking coach Grant Baldwin.
Welcome Grant to the show.
I’m so excited to have you here.
How are you doing today?
Doing awesome, Lindsay.
Thanks for letting me hang out with you.
So guys on the show today, I’m excited to introduce Grant Baldwin.
Grant has been featured on the Inc. 5000 list, Forbes, Entrepreneur Magazine, and Huffington
He is a speaker and author, and he is on a mission to motivate leaders and entrepreneurs
to become better public speakers.
He is also the host of the Speaker Lab podcast from Nashville, Tennessee.
How’s life in Nashville, Grant?
Life is wonderful.
I’m married to my high school sweetheart.
We’ve got three beautiful daughters, so it’s me and a house full of women.
So no complaints.
I’m loving life.
Sounds like a great life.
I love it.
I love it.
So we’re excited to have you here because our listeners, they are doing business in
English as their second language, and public speaking to begin with can be quite a challenge
for all of us, even in our native language, but for our listeners, we’re learning how
to do this in English.
So you are the authority today on public speaking.
Could you start us off with a story of a time when, you know, a speech didn’t start out
so great for you, and how did you turn it around?
Do you have any little anecdote for us?
Yeah, there’s a, you know, anytime that you’re giving a presentation, there’s a lot of variables
and factors that go into it of what makes a talk work, you know, because there’s times
you may finish and you may feel like that went really well and times where you’re like,
it was a disaster.
So I always remind speakers, there’s actually three variables that kind of go into it that
we look at.
One is going to be you as a speaker.
You know, were you prepared?
Were you ready?
Did you show up?
Or did you just kind of wing it?
Did you just go through the motions?
So maybe your talk didn’t go well, and it’s really heavily dependent on you and your part.
Maybe a talk didn’t go well, but like you showed up, you brought it, you crushed it,
but there were some other variables in play there.
So another variable and factor is going to be the audience, okay?
So let me give an example.
Let’s imagine that you’re getting ready to speak, let’s say you’re speaking to a group
of sales professionals and sales leaders.
And so right before you speak, the VP of sales for this company gets up and says, hey, you
know, the recession is kind of hitting us hard.
And unfortunately, what we’re going to do, we’re going to have to lay off half of you.
We were going to tell you who the half are that are going to make it and who the half
are we’re going to have to let go.
But first, we’re going to have this speaker.
Please welcome Grant.
Like it doesn’t matter what you say on stage, like nobody’s listening to you, right?
So for example, I remember a few years ago, I was speaking in Houston, Texas, and there
was a hurricane coming in, and this hurricane was supposed to make landfall the next day.
And so I’m like giving my all, everybody’s on their phone, nobody’s paying attention,
like making plans and stuff.
I’m thinking like, I don’t want to be here.
I want to get out of here.
How do I, how do I get a next flight out?
You know, there’s all those things where like, it’s not going great, but it’s like, kind
of, it’s not necessarily my, it’s just kind of the environment, right?
Another, another variable and factor is going to be the actual setting.
And so here’s what I mean by that is, I remember a few years ago, I spoke at an event in New
And I remember I gave a keynote in a room that set 2000 people, and there was about
2000 people in there.
So you have a room that seats 2000 people, and you have 2000 people in there.
And so right afterwards, they had me do a workshop with about 50 people in the same
When you’re gonna do a keynote for a talk in front of 2000 people in a room that seats
When you do, you know, a set another session for 50 people in a room that seats 2000.
And so that’s another variable where like, it was something that was kind of outside
I don’t want you want to try to make the room as small as possible, but right.
So all that say, yeah, there’s times where like a talk goes great in a time where talk
doesn’t go so well, a hurricane may be coming.
I remember one time speaking at an event and they were, it was at this hotel and they were
doing some construction outside of the hotel and the power got cut for the entire hotel.
There’s no lighting at all.
And this is kind of like between sessions and I’m supposed to do a session coming up.
And so I had everyone turn on the flashlight on their phone and just hold up and there’s
There’s no, I’m just kind of yelling, you know, into the darkness is kind of incredible.
No external lighting.
I remember one time, like a dog came running into a room and I’m trying to give a talk
and the dog just zipping around the room and nobody’s paying attention.
So all this, I like crazy things happen as speaker, but I think also like that’s part
You know, those kind of like raw, real moments, that’s part, whether it goes well or it doesn’t
go well, like that’s also part of what makes you a better speaker and communicator.
So we have to be ready for everything.
You’ve given us a lot of examples of storms and crazy things that happen, especially in
places like Houston, Texas.
They do get a lot of hurricanes, a lot of crazy things happen.
Our dogs running in or a room that’s too small, too big.
We can’t control these things.
So then let’s get into then your three tips here, Grant, because I think that whether
we have the perfect conditions, no dogs, no storms, nothing like that, we’re still going
to be a little bit nervous.
So what are three things that our listeners could do to start to overcome their fear of
That is, they say that most people are more afraid of public speaking than death.
I don’t know if that’s actually just a kind of a false tale, but I know we’re all pretty
scared of it.
So what can we do to get over our fear and work through our fear?
So I’d say a couple of things.
One is to recognize like some of that, that fear is oftentimes mistaken for adrenaline
And so you think about like some of the biggest key moments in your life where you felt something
Like when I proposed to my wife or when my daughters were born or, you know, something
where you’re just like, Ooh, like the blood is, is really pumping.
And it’s not like, you know, when I, when I was getting ready to propose to my wife,
it wasn’t feeling like, Oh my gosh, I’m going to die.
This is going to be a disaster.
You’re going to reject me.
It’s like, no, I’m feeling pretty confident here, but there’s still like just the excitement
or like right before you get on a roller coaster, you know, it’s something you’re just like,
Ooh, all right.
I hope this goes well.
And there’s just, it’s an excitement there.
But oftentimes we can mistake that for the nerves and the, the feeling of just like,
Oh, this is horrible.
I, you know, I feel nervous, therefore I shouldn’t do this.
Like, no, no, it’s just, it’s kind of an excitement.
And oftentimes we, it’s kind of like the body’s way of reminding us like, Hey, Hey, heads
Like, this is important.
Like, this is a big deal.
Like focusing, you know?
So it’s so like feeling that is not a bad thing.
Like I’ve given hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of presentations and I still feel
some of those nerves.
I still feel some of those butterflies and adrenaline and anxiety.
And that’s, that’s not a bad thing.
So the question then is kind of number two, like how do you control it?
How do you make sure it’s not debilitating and it’s not really like crushing you?
So one thing I would say would be that to really spend the time to practice and prepare
the best speakers on the planet.
Don’t just like scribble some ideas on a napkin and like hop up and I’m just going to wing
And I just hope it all works together.
It doesn’t work like that.
They really spend a lot of time going over their talk and thinking it through.
And so you think about like in other industries or fields, you know, whether you are a professional
athlete or a musician, you know, you think like, Oh, they’re just, you know, they’re
naturally athletic and they just hop up on the, on the court or the field or whatever.
And they just do their thing and it all just works out.
It’s like, yeah, there’s like some level of like natural athleticism, but also they spent
hours and hours and literally years training and practicing and going over plays and drills
and in the weight room to prepare so that it looks like it’s natural and it’s just kind
of flowing out on the field or the court or wherever it may be.
But really it’s so much work behind the scenes to kind of that natural feeling that this
starts to come across.
So I think like really spending the time behind the scenes practicing and preparing goes a
long way as well.
And then the third thing I would say, and then we can kind of jump off wherever you
Because I think especially for this audience, I think it’s really easy to overthink about
any accent that you may have or tone that you may have or feel self-conscious of what
if people, you know, what if it sounds weird to an audience and what if people don’t fully
understand what I’m saying?
You know, sometimes I’ll talk with someone here in the U.S. who has like a real Southern
accent and they just kind of got a little twang to them, you know, and they’re kind
of just worried about like, well, you know, is that going to be off-putting to an audience?
And so one thing that’s good to remember is that as a human, you are talking to a collection
of other humans.
And so act like a human, right?
And so I think sometimes we feel like in order to be a speaker, you have to be like overly
polished and overly robotic, perfect, like a God or something.
The case, you know, like you’re a person talking to other people.
So act like a human.
So when a dog comes running in the room, laugh about it.
It’s not the end of the world, you know, make a, make a joke about it or whatever it may
And so if I think that the key is like, make sure if you have some type of accent or something,
make sure you enunciate so that people can at least understand you make sure that what
you’re saying, that you’re speaking at a pace or cadence where people can understand what
you’re saying is an accent of any kind is great.
As long as people can still understand what you’re saying, where people can’t understand
you, then it becomes a little bit more challenging because they’re like, I don’t even know what
the message is here.
And so they just start to check out.
So lean into the accent, lean into your own personality there.
Make sure you speak at a pace and with an enunciation that people can still understand
But again, those like characteristics of how you speak and communicate, which may sound
different than someone else, it’s OK.
Those are like endearing, normal human things.
So certainly lean into that.
And in that case, we go back to the preparation because we know there’s a reason why we’re
actually presenting on this topic.
It’s because we are experts on this topic, whatever we’re talking about for our listeners.
And so coming back to that and remembering that what strikes me about these tips, Grant,
It’s a lot of what works in public speaking.
It sounds like it’s what works in one-on-one conversation as well.
It’s being human.
And I love your first tip about raw energy.
You know, this idea we automatically make it a bad thing, right?
When we’re about to get on stage, we feel that energy and we think there’s something
wrong right now.
But what if we thought, actually, that’s my that’s my power, right?
That’s my energy.
That’s what’s going to make this speech amazing.
And I love how then we take it into the preparation.
I mean, so basically, you’ve gone through them.
I mean, this is it, guys.
I mean, make sure that you relabel your energy in your mind as good.
Consider that a good sign.
Lean on preparation.
And for our listeners, we’re going to want to spend even more time preparing than if
we were going to give this speech in our native language.
I mean, you want to you want to feel confident and like, let me give an example.
Let’s say if you think back to like high school or college or university and you remember
the days of like taking a quiz or an exam or a test or something like that, like you
have no choice.
You could kind of show up and like, I’m just going to, you know, I sat in through class
and kind of listen to some lectures and sort of paid attention.
So I didn’t and I’m just going to kind of go through the motions and we’ll see how the
Or it’s like, I’m really going to spend the time to I’m going to go over my notes.
I’m going to practice.
I’m going to review.
I’ll give an example.
I’m actually living this right now.
So this is a total random side note, but I have been I’ve always thought it’d be cool
to get my pilot’s license for the past, like seven months I’ve been working towards this.
Well, tomorrow, actually, as we record this tomorrow, I have a big exam with the FAA,
like a written test.
And it’s like it’s been years since I’ve studied for a written test.
Well, I got a stack of books over here and papers I’ve been studying and reviewing.
So when I go tomorrow, like 24 hours from now and sit down to take this exam, like I’m
going to feel confident because like I’ve done the work I’ve practiced, I’ve put it
And so, again, there’s still maybe some butterflies like, all right, this is a big test.
This is important.
You know, he’s been a lot of time getting ready for this, but kind of similar to like
when we’re talking about from like a sports analogy standpoint, like you think the guys
that play the Super Bowl aren’t nervous?
Well, of course, they’re like that excitement, the adrenaline, like but they’ve played hundreds
and hundreds of football games, you know, but this is a big deal.
So it’s not like, oh, my gosh, I feel butterflies.
I feel excitement.
I feel adrenaline.
I feel like I shouldn’t do this or I’m not ready.
It’s like, no, no, like you’ve put in the work to be ready.
That’s what you need.
Show up and do the thing.
Yeah, I love it.
It’s so good.
That is the final force of energy that you need to put your skills into action at that
Isn’t it, Grant?
And I think on the just to the opposite side of things, you know, the raw energy shows
We’re about to go on stage.
And let’s say there’s a scenario where we actually don’t know the material or haven’t
And I think in that case, that’s where it’s detrimental.
That’s where we might have our mind go blank or we might get really nervous and stumble
and kind of mess up the speech.
Would you agree?
I mean, that’s how it can go in the wrong direction.
Let me give you two quick thoughts on that.
One is that when you when you have you just kind of like draw a blank or something like
there’s been times I remember.
I remember one time I was speaking and doing like a workshop or something and I just draw
I don’t remember what we were talking about or what the story was.
I just completely lose my train of thought, which, again, happens.
So, you know, one thing is like you can panic and become nervous.
And but I remember like I remember just talking to a lady in the front row and I was just
like, what was I talking about?
And it just and it’s important to remember, like the audience takes their cues from you.
And so something’s not a big deal to you.
It’s not a big deal to them.
But if all of a sudden I get uncomfortable, then they’re just like, oh, it like it makes
you as an audience member feel like, oh, this is painful to watch.
To me, it’s no big deal to them.
And I realize that they’re like as the speaker, like you set the tone and if you forget something
like again, act like a human and just make a joke about it, like I totally lost my train
Let’s talk about something different.
So that’d be one thought.
Another thought real quick is that that I think sometimes with a speech specifically
is that we feel like I I have to get things in the exact right order and I have to say
things exactly the same way.
But remember, it’s not like the audience has a script where they’re following along and
they’re like, oh, you said that wrong or you did that out of order or you miss a line.
Like if you are if you’re singing the national anthem for your country and you mess up the
lyrics, everybody there knows because they know what the lyrics are supposed to be.
But if you’re giving a speech and, you know, you do the thing, you do points out of order
or you forget a story or you tell a story later or you just forget the key line.
I don’t know.
Nobody has any idea.
Nobody’s following along and keeping track of these things.
So again, you said you you you are like the the thermostat for the room and it’s no big
deal to you and you just keep going on.
Nobody knows anything different.
And then you can decide how and when or whether to tie that piece back in that you may have
left behind because it comes back to your connection with the audience.
I feel I love how this, again, ties in with one on one conversation.
It works for speeches, guys.
Giving a presentation or a speech is not a whole other world, a whole new set of skills
we have to learn.
Yes, there are some skills, but the basic principles come back to using your energy,
being prepared and connecting.
So good, Grant.
This is fantastic.
So where can our listeners find what you’re up to online, your podcast, your website,
your book, so they can learn more from you?
Yeah, everything we do is over at TheSpeakerLab.com, TheSpeakerLab.com.
We have a podcast by the same name, The Speaker Lab Podcast.
We’ve got over 400 episodes there on all things related to, you know, creating a talk, presenting
a talk, but also related to like, you know, finding and booking gigs and what do you speak
about and how much do you charge and who hire speakers and how does that mysterious world
A lot about international speaking as well.
So a lot of great stuff there.
You mentioned the book, The Successful Speaker, Five Steps for Booking Gigs, Getting Paid,
Building Your Platform.
So it walks through a five step process on exactly what we teach as far as like, if you
wanted to book gigs, if you wanted to speak, whether you want to speak, you know, five
times a year or a hundred times a year, it walks through the framework and the practical
steps that you need to take to be able to define a book gigs and to earn an income through
So yeah, everything we do is at the speakalab.com.
I’m going to check out that book because I would like to start booking more speaking
engagements about podcasting.
So for our listeners, guys, if you have a topic that you’re an expert on and you feel
the world needs to hear your message, check out what Grant has at the podcast, the book
and get started, right?
This is the time.
Don’t look back with regret on what we haven’t done five years from now.
Go for it.
Grant, thanks for coming on the show.
It’s been awesome having a little chat with you today.
Thanks for listening to All Ears English.
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