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Chris Cebollero Interviews Me For . . .

Chris Cebollero is the ultimate host and consummate interviewer. I always learn from him! Check out his site for great leadership skills information.


Announcer: Thank you for joining us on the ultimate leadership podcast. And here’s your host, Chris Cebollero.

Chris: And I gotta tell you, I am so excited for today’s show. I think one of the skills that we don’t take advantage of enough is growing our communication skills. And even more importantly than communication skills is our ability to deliver public speaking and presentations. And how important is that in our career. And I think that we have to now know that this is a foundational skill that as we grow in our leadership career that we must have. And I got to tell you how I got the guest for you. Once again, we have our friend, Fred Miller, joining us again, I got to tell you that he is a speaker, he’s an international coach and he is the guy. He is the guy that I sent other people to his books,” NO SWEAT Public Speaking!” and his “NO SWEAT series,” “NO SWEAT Elevator Speech,” “NO SWEAT Q” and A,” “NO SWEAT Fear of Public Speaking.” and “NO SWEAT Introduction,” really takes you through the processes of learning how to feel comfortable. And here’s a guy that looks better in black than Johnny Cash himself.

Fred, I want to thank you for joining us on the ultimate leadership podcast, once again,

Fred: Chris is my privilege to be with you again.

Chris: And I got to tell you, I mean really, though, I mean your expertise is in this space of public speaking and really giving people the opportunity to feel comfortable in something that they say is a number one fear. And I think the first question I want to ask you is. “How important is public speaking and delivering presentations in our professional development?”

Fred: It’s right up there with breathing, Chris? I mean my, my mantra is: “Speaking opportunities are business, career and leadership opportunities.” And no one ever questions that statement. And I know your audience are leaders and leaders, when we think of leaders that they have to be good speakers and many are, but many are not. But it makes a huge difference whether you are leader or you’re just, you know, have a JOB.

I mean, most of the people who I do individual coaching, they’ll say that not taking a speaking opportunity has cost me promotional opportunities. You know, it’s a fear that just holds many people back and you can stand head and shoulders above others if you can present well, even though they’re smarter than you, even though they know the job better. If you’re a good communicator, as you are, Chris, it makes all the difference in the world. Isn’t that what you found?

Chris: Yeah, I gotta tell you, I mean, it’s one of the things that really has been the core for me. And once I learned how to speak, I found that opportunities were coming to me more often then when I wasn’t speaking. So this was really a foundational skill that gave me the opportunity to take the next opportunity, Fred. So you are absolutely right.

Fred: Well, when you’re on the lectern or when you’re on a dais with someone else, if you’re on a panel, you’re seen as a leader. People like to work with leaders. They see somebody who’s a speaker, as an expert. Experts command more money for their products and services. We like to work with experts. Let me tell you a quick story. I spoke to a real estate investor association once and the President of that association was a really good speaker. I went up to him afterwards and I was talking to him, gave him a compliment, and I said, “What’s your day job?” And he said, “Well, I’m an engineer at Boeing.” We both kind of laughed because it’s kind of a left brain activity and most left brain people, engineers, accountants, architects, they’re not, they’re not outgoing like that. And he said, “I know what you mean. He said, I’m blessed that I’m a good communicator. In fact, I’m such a good communicator that I am the team leader.” He says, “I got to tell you, every one of the guys in my team is far better at the job than I am. But because I can communicate, I’m the leader. I’m the leader.” Isn’t that a great story?

Chris: No, I think it is. And, and I think you hit the nail right on the head because being able to articulate the message or being able to give people an understanding of where you’re going or what you’re doing or how you’re going to do it, or what my responsibilities are into this process and, and the reason that we speak is we speak to inform, to educate or to entertain people. And sometimes we got to do it all three in the same presentation. And I think that we forget that. And as you now kind of lay out for us that, you know, speaking is business and career and leadership opportunities, how do we now get into this process of learning how to become a great speaker, or when we think about what this means for our career, how do we put this in a perspective to move forward to say, this is why I really have to do it.

Fred: Well, I think you have to take a look at where you are and where you want to go. Because again, some of the coaching calls I get start with a conversation very similar to I’m sick and tired of people who don’t work as hard as I do. They’re not contributing as much to the company, but they’re getting recognition bonuses. Sometimes they’re getting promotions because they’re speaking and they’re not very good, but they’re up there and I’m not, can you help me? Now, on the other hand, I remember getting a call from a very successful attorney and he said, you know, on a scale of one to ten I’m a nine. I want to be a twelve. And he knew that that difference would make all the difference in his career. He would get more referrals. You know, it’s just such a huge thing. And again, it holds a lot of people back, but I think you have to face the fear, figure out why you have that fear and then do it anyway.

And you asked about places to learn it. Well, Toastmasters is one of places I always recommend to people. Toastmasters is an international organization all over the world. Got a ton of great clubs in most cities and they have two tracks, leadership and public speaking. And my advice to everyone is to visit a number of clubs in your area. They all have their own flavor. Some are very regimented, some are kind of loosey-goosey, but find one where you’re a fit. And that’s a great place to start. Another place is, take classes. They have classes at community college. I teach one here in Saint Louis, they have them in colleges, but they really need to start it in high school. Maybe it needs starting in grade school. You know, you think about little kids and show and tell in kindergarten and some don’t want to get in front of the class. The earlier you start this, the better it is for your career. Is that where you found, Chris?

Chris: You know, and I think that you’re absolutely right and, and if it’s a skill, like any other skill, I mean, what’s the one thing that you did the first time, Fred, that you did absolutely great? I mean there were mistakes, there’s challenges, there’s hurdles. And then as you develop the skill and polish the skill, you get to be more comfortable. And you mentioned your class and something that I’ve wanted to tell you is I want to get over there and take the class because I’ve been speaking since 1986. But that doesn’t mean that your growth within the speaking responsibility ends. You know, you’re always picking up something from somebody else and you’re always, you know, how somebody delivers and their questioning techniques and how they involve the, you know, the, the audience or you know, what’s the great, the best way to transition from one point to another. But you know, you talk about it from the standpoint of growth in business and advancing careers and you mentioned entrepreneurs. But I really want to be more specific as I’ve heard entrepreneurs say that they don’t need to know how to speak in public and what are you going to tell those people friends

Fred: Really! Well, do you want to be a successful entrepreneur or not? Now maybe can hire somebody as a spokesperson. I mean I, there are some people who own companies and they had somebody who was at outgoing professional speaker type, but I think he got to do yourself. People want to see the leader. People want to see the person who has that backstory of how they started the company, the struggles they had. And it’s all about the stories. I want to segue right back to something you just said, Chris. It is a skill you can learn.

And I’ll tell you a story. A number of years ago I got a call from an OBGYN. She was in New York, coming to Saint Louis, and was going to be associated with one of the big hospitals here. Terrible fear of public speaking. I mean, I could hear it in her voice and she told me and she said, this is really a challenge. I’m going to have to present to my colleagues who are physicians. I’m going to have to teach a class. Can you help me? And I said, “Well, I don’t know, doctor, can I ask you a few questions?” And she said, “Sure.” And I said, “You’re an OBGYN. That means you deliver baby boys and baby girls, right?” And she said, “Yes.” I said, “Well, let me ask you a question. Have you ever delivered a baby public speaker? And she kind of chuckled, and said, “No, no, I don’t think I have.” I said,”Let me ask you another question, doctor. You’re a physician, you’re an adult, you’ve dealt with death, it’s part of life. Do you know anyone who’s passed away giving a presentation? And she kind of chuckled again, said, “No, I don’t” And I told her what you just said, Chris. I said, “Well, you’ve just proved my point. There is not a public speaking gene we’re either born or not born with. It’s a relatively safe activity to engage in. So somewhere between birth and death, it’s a skill you can learn. You weren’t born knowing how to drive a car, ride a bike, use a computer. I said, you went to medical school doctor, you’ve done tougher things.” So it is a skill that can be learned and you just have to figure out why you have that fear and then you just have to face it and you take class. Then you made another great point, Chris farriers a great thing, you know Bill Gates said, I think it was about six months ago. He said,” If you get it right the first time, you don’t give a second thought” and that’s, yeah, I love that quote.

Chris: That is good.

Fred: Because what happens, you screw up, you get ticked off, you calm down, you realize what went wrong and you fix it.

There’s a guy I used to follow in the New York Times business section, Bryan Adams, and he had a column called the corner office. He interviewed very highly successful executives and he wrote a book. One of the things he found that they all had in common, Chris, they were not comfortable unless less they were uncomfortable. They knew that’s where the learning begins. Easier said than done, I’m sure. I know I’ve been in that spot where I’m thinking, oh my gosh, this is horrible. But when you think back, that’s how you learn, right?

Chris: That’s where the reflection, you reflect on what’s going on and you figure out how do I grow? How do I not put myself in the same situation? Or if I’m in the same situation, how do I react differently? Now, I’ll tell you this, Fred, and you probably know this as well. There are some times you may find yourself in that situation, again, and you may react the same way. But again, it’s just the point of saying, man, I did it again. So you may not get it the first time. You may not even get it the second time, but it’s that learning process that when you’re in that situation again and again and again, you react differently each time. And that’s what gives you your growth and development. And you know, when we think about speaking and it comes from, you know, even from being a business owner, because you talked about, you know, uh, speakers for leadership and speakers for public speaking. You know, from a business standpoint, you know, you’re going to be speaking all the time to your customers and, and you may not think that is, that’s a presentation skills, but you’re really trying to give them the, the solutions to their problems that they’re coming in. People don’t buy products and they don’t buy services. What they buy us solutions. And by you presenting yourself or your business or you know, those solutions that you have to them, you’ve got to be able to communicate that well, effectively, and kind of get them on board with that message to say, you know what, this person does have the answer to my problem.

Fred: Well, that’s an excellent point. In fact, going back to Toastmasters, my first meeting, someone came up to me and said, “If you have the ability to speaking from a group, even if you never do it will improve your one on one.” And the next day I was in the coffee business. At the time I was down at Anheuser Busch, I was speaking of three ladies about getting my service in there and I could just feel I was connecting better. So you’re right, it’s a mini-presentation. Giving an elevator speech is a speaking opportunity. It’s a min-presentation. And a lot of people panic about that. And if you can’t tell people what you do, it’s toast! Yeah, it’s a hungry dog that doesn’t wag it’s own tail. You’ve got to be able to give a great elevator speech and you have to know how to speak or your career. career will suffer. Absolutely.

Chris: No, I agree with you 100% and when you talk about that elevator speech, it’s something that people don’t have and they don’t prepare. And you’ve come up with a method, and I know we’re kind of getting off the topic of what we’re talking about, but maybe you can touch on it a little bit. You’ve come up with a really easy way to help people develop that elevator speech and maybe you can give them just a couple of tips.

Fred: Well sure. Thanks for asking a build it by the floor. One floor at a time. Everyone doesn’t want to go to the top floor with you. You may not want to start on the first floor. You may want to start on another floor and go down. And also let’s, let’s talk about, there’s two audiences for the elevator speech. There’s the group and that’s the situation where you attend a social function, networking event, or a seminar and the leader says, uh, you know what? Before we get started, we’re, we’re going to go around the room. When it’s your turn, stand up, tell us who you are, what you do, give us your elevator speech. Clarity is not optional. Everyone should know exactly what you do and they make a decision. Either, I want to talk to Chris right away. I need that leadership training or I don’t need that. But if I ever do. I’m going to talk to Chris. But just as important, I know Chris does and my radar is now up. And if somebody says, hey, we need some leadership training in our company, I’ve going to give him Chris’s name and they’ll both be thanking me.

Now, there’s also the elevator speeches that we give one on one and that might be, and I’m sure you’ve done these, Chris, somebody says we have a speaker at 10 o’clock arrive early and network. And most of elevator speeches are one on one. Well, the added goal there, in addition to the three we just mentioned, is to disqualify. Everyone’s not prospect for what you do. You’re not going go buy from everyone you’re talking to. So you don’t want to waste major time on minor possibilities. Disqualify! Makes sense?

Chris: It sounds hard for it, but you gave us an easy for me to really kind of learn that process. But going back to what we were talking about, I wanna, I wanna bring this, you know, the leaders into this group now. So when you think about being a successful leader and you talk about your ability to talk to your workforce or to, uh, interact with your peers, or maybe that big day comes,Fred, and you have to stand in front of the leadership team and give that presentation on a new project you want to start to lead. I mean, so when we think about the importance of this for the leader, how does it help them grow professionally to have the ability to conduct all these speaking opportunities?

Fred: They’ve got present their goal and they want their people to buy into it and they want their people to feel that they’re a part of the team. That this is a team effort. And if you’re seen as a wimpy leader, which you might be seen if you can’t communicate well, that’s going to affect things. Actually, I had a guy call me earlier this week. He’s going to come in next week from quite a distance. And that he told me the story. He was speaking to all of his people. He’s got a large company, 90 locations, and he say he froze. He was giving a presentation, just kind of froze, fumbled through it, and he knows that that affected that the perception of his people had upon him as a leader. The fact is we expect leaders to be good presenters. Again, we talked about this earlier. Some are, some are not, but you want to be presented as the person with the confidence in your competence. If you say, this is where we’re going, they believe you. It’s all about that. Buying into what you say as the leader.

Chris: You know, one of the things that I think people forget is that there are methods to being a good speaker and having an instructor methodology course. I mean the course that you teach at the college, Fred, and you know the books that you write really kind of talks about the science of speaking. And I think that once people learn the science and they understand that it’s something that they have to learn to do, it’s not like, you know, we don’t just get up there, you and I and give good presentations. I mean there’s preparation and there’s, you know, learning how to transition and there’s the questioning and all the things that we need to know. Plus we even talk about the adult learner and there are just so many steps in the science that when it becomes the art, without knowing the science, you can’t paint the picture to that successful presentation. And if folks want to be able to learn the science, I mean, what’s the best way they can do that?

Fred: Well, I think you made a good point. There’s two components to a presentation. There’s content and delivery. Content is the message. Delivery is presenting. Delivery trump’s content. You could have the greatest content in the world. You could be the world’s leading expert. But if you can’t deliver that content in the mayor that educates, entertains and explains what you just said earlier, they’ll never GET IT!. And the bottom line with all communication, Chris: Visual, written or spoken as the same. We want the recipients as quickly as possible to GET IT! They may not agree with everything you say. They may not agree with anything but they don’t GET IT! you can’t have that conversation going forward. And it’s knowing how to present that content. And a good analogy is the structure of a speech is like the recipe for a great cake. There are specific ingredients you add in specific amounts at specific times. You do specific things to them and you get a great cake. And that’s all the challenges people have. Sometimes they all know that structure and they’ll go down one bunny trail, then another bunny trail, then they’ll circle back and people can follow it. So it’s knowing that structure, learning it. And then, to your point, practice, practice, practice. I coach people for Ted talks and the rule of thumb we have is one hour of preparation for every minute of presentation. And that’s conservative. Somebody said that’s an awful lot. Make the analogy about athletes. The amount of time that a professional athlete actually spends playing their sport, it’s infinitesimal to the time they spend working out and practicing. Isn’t that correct?

Chris: No, I think you’re absolutely right. And I’ve never heard the one minute for every hour. I used the rule of thumb is four hours of preparation for every one hour of talk. But regardless of which methodology you use, preparation is important. And one of the things you said I want to touch on, I don’t want to gloss over is I’ve had people, you talked about content vs, delivery. I’ve had people that have been in my audiences that have come up to say to me, “I don’t agree with your message, but I love the way you presented it.”

Fred: What a compliment!

Chris: You know what I mean? And it really was, cause when they said that I was a little bit, you know, I didn’t agree with your message and not everybody’s going to agree, but if you can entertain them, if you could kind of keep them involved in the discussion. Otherwise they’re just going to look at their phone. They’re going to look at their brochures, they’re going to get up, they’re going to walk out, but he stayed to listen. So I agree with you in polishing the skill of how you’re delivering. The message is really what kind of holds people in. But no, you’re not going to make everybody happy. And I want to touch on one more thing, Fred, before you go, because every time I have you on, it’s important that we talk about it. How do people deal with the fear of public speaking? We know that they’re going to have it. I gotta tell Ya, after all these years, I mean 1986 I got an instructor certification in the United States Air Force. There are times when I look out into audiences and it still gives me butterflies in my stomach. So I think people think that that fear is going to go away. But I think moreover, how do people deal with that fear to get the message out and it not handcuffed them, not getting that content out to the audience that’s listening.

Fred: Well, first of all accept that you’re going to have that fear and you don’t want to get rid of it completely. What you want to do is take that fear and put that energy into your presentation. A presentation without energy is boring. Absolutely boring. A couple of other things. My silver nugget for lessening the fear of public speaking and becoming a better speaker is practice, practice, practice. As much as you can. And the golden nugget is speak, speak, speak. The learning is in the doing and that’s why, and I’m sure you do the same, I’ll take some presentations, speaking opportunities where I don’t get paid or maybe I’ll get paid much, but every time I speak I learn something. That’s why I teach the class. It’s a nominal amount. I get some great stories. The more you do it, the better you get. The learning is in the doing.

Now, if you really want to take it to another level, and I think you and I might have talked about this, they say this in med school, “See one, do one, teach one.” If you really want to be good at it, teach it. Then you’ll master it. I never took any education courses. And the first time I started a Meetup or I taught a class, there was anxiety. I got to tell you. But every time I’ve done it I’ve learned something. So if you really want to master something, teach it. You found that, haven’t you Chris

Chris: Yeh, most definitely. And one of the things that I found out is even when you teach it, see one do one teach one, which is an old practice. One of the things that I realized, Fred, is a lot of times when you teach it to different people, you’re not teaching it the same way. You know, one of the things that I talk about, you know, I do a lot of work with folks as well and get them ready for their presentations. And I try to get them to give the message different ways. Cause we talked about the adult learner and you know, whether it’s through visual, whether it’s through auditory, whether it’s through Kinesthetics, we’ve gotta be able to find the ways to help those individual adult learners grasp the material that we’re trying to give them. So in the see one, do one teach one, if you’re teaching it multiple times, try to change the message to deliver the same content in a different way. And I also talk about, you know, when people want to debate. One of the things that I think is important in debate is you need to know both sides of the argument. And this gives you the opportunity to say, I know exactly what they’re going to say, I know how they’re going to combat it, but we don’t want to deliver the same way all the time because we’ve got to think about the people that we’re delivering to. But I think you’re right on point with that, Fred.

Fred: Well, you made some good points. Yeah, I remember I have a lot of coffee, coffee, humor in my introduction. Spoke to a high school, sent my introduction, the person who’s going to introduce me and he said, I like your introduction, but they’ll never understand the coffee humor. So to your point, I took that out of there. But another thing I think is worth mentioning is that people have the attention span of a gnat. I mean instant coffee isn’t quick enough. So, you’ve got to break up that presentation with video, with interaction with sound, maybe with another speaker because to keep their attention is really, really tough. Ted Talks are 18 minutes or less. Apple introduced recently four newI Iphones. They had four speakers, ten minutes apiece. That was by design. Now when you most have people’s attention is right after humor because the ones who weren’t paying attention go, “Oh my gosh, I got pay attention. Everybody else is laughing and the ones who heard it say, “Oh I can’t wait till Chris makes the next joke. That was wonderful!” But keeping their attention appealing to different audiences. Those are excellent points, Chris. Thank you.

Chris: And I gotta tell you, Fred. You are the guy, man. So if anybody’s out there and you’re having challenges with public speaking, if you want to become more confident in public speaking, this is the guy that you got to talk to. So Fred, if folks want to engage with you, what’s the best way they can do that?

Fred: Best way is Email me, I’ll get back to you. In fact, I’ll send you a free speakers template so you can start developing your own speaking opportunities and work on that signature presentation.

Chris: And I gotta tell you, I mean it’s always awesome to come and visit with you and I guess I learn things every time we talk. And like I said, this is a skill. It’s like, it’s like, you know, working out in the gym, you’re trying to build your biceps and you’ve got to pick up this weight and you got to do the work and sometimes you got to pick up another way to do a different exercise. Well, when you get to talk with people that have experience in public speaking, it’s like picking up that or doing that other exercise and every time you come on, it always makes me feel good about being a speaker. And I always pick up something new from you and I’m going to sit in your class one day, Fred, you’re going to see me over there at the college in Saint Louis and I’m going to learn from you and I’m excited to do that.

Fred: Chris, I learned from you today so I hope you do come to that class. That will be great!

Chris: For everybody out there, I mean public speaking is the way to go and we should have like, they should have taught us this in high school. Maybe they did, but I wasn’t paying attention.

But you know, learn good public speaking, learn the methods of speaking and if you need a good coach, if he needs somebody to guide you, get in touch with Fred. I want to thank everybody for joining us out there. I’m Chris Cebellero and I look forward to chat with everyone. Again,

Announcer: Thank you for joining us. The Ultimate Leadership podcast is a production of Chris You interact with us by email ultimateleadership All rights reserved.


About the Author Fred E. Miller is a speaker, an international coach, and the author of the books, “NO SWEAT Public Speaking!” and“NO SWEAT Elevator Speech!”

Businesses, Individuals, and Organizations hire him because they want to improve their Networking, Public Speaking, and Presentation Skills.

They do this because they know: Speaking Opportunities are Business, Career, and Leadership Opportunities.

They also know: We perceive really great speakers to be Experts. We like to work with Experts.

He shows them how to: Develop, Practice, and Deliver Fantastic Presentations! with – NO SWEAT!


  1. Keynote Speaker

  2. Workshop Facilitator

  3. Breakout Sessions

  4. Personal and Group Public Speaking and Presentation Coaching


  1. Lessening The Fear of Public Speaking with – NO SWEAT!

  2. Crafting Your Elevator Speech, Floor by Floor with – NO SWEAT!

  3. Speaking Opportunities are Business, Career, and Leadership Opportunities.

  4. We are All Self-Employed!

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