Oct 13, 2022

Keeping Focused And Energized: Tips From A Public Speaking Guru

By: Josh Dougherty

Podcast Public Speaking


In marketing, for CMOs in particular, staying focused and energized is a challenge. As creative as the work can be, there is also a lot of grind. And, when you combine that grind with the realities of the job—chaotic hours, fire drills, managing a number of initiatives at once—the threat of burnout can seem like it’s always looming on the horizon.

In the latest episode of A Brave New Podcast, I was fortunate enough to chat with bestselling author and public speaking guru Michael Port about how he manages to stay energetic and engaged in his work. Michael’s not just a friend, he’s also been helping me grow as a public speaker over the past few years with his programs at Heroic Public Speaking, and his insights are (as usual) worth paying attention to.

Right from the jump, Michael surprised me with his answer to my question about staying energetic and engaged. 

“I’ve had lots of burnout over my career,” he said, “and the mistakes that I made were generally driven by doing too much. So what I’ve learned over time is to do fewer things better. To make bigger and longer commitments to the most meaningful initiatives, both personally and professionally.”

Of course, making those longer commitments can be a challenge in and of themselves. Namely, the regular stress that beginning a new, often scary, project can create. To combat this stress, Michael suggests two things you can do to energize yourself and stay focused on what you’re trying to achieve.

“Number one is to apprentice,” he said. “No matter what kind of experience you’ve had, no matter how old you are, apprentice under somebody who has done or is doing the thing you want to do.”

“The second,” he continued,” is to think and act like a thought leader versus an influencer. A lot of time when people want to come into the space of authorship or speakership, they make this assumption that they need to build a platform first. That’s often what they’re told. But an influencer is trying to get people to pay attention to them, while a thought leader focuses on ideas and solutions to often very intractable problems that exist in a particular space. They create products that people want and then share.”

As my conversation with Michael continued, we pivoted to his work helping others with public speaking—and how the lessons he teaches can help leaders in marketing. Spoiler alert: It all comes down to capturing attention.

“Our job, first and foremost, is to influence how an audience feels so we can influence how they think,” he said. “A really good idea is to focus on how you want them to feel at any given moment throughout the speech or marketing campaign.”

He continued: “Connections are made when the audience believes that you understand the way the world looks to them and that you can help solve their problems. An audience doesn’t care about you until they know you care about them.”

From my experience, this is very true in marketing. There’s an old saying that in order to get someone from no to yes, you first have to get them to maybe. Understanding where your audience is coming from as you market or deliver a speech to them is the first step to opening their minds to new ideas.

My thanks to Michael for taking the time to share his insights on our podcast. His most recent book, The Referable Speaker, co-authored with Andrew Davis, is out now, and you can learn more about his public speaking work at heroicpublicspeaking.com.

And, obviously, make sure to listen to our full discussion on the A Brave New Podcast, where we dive deep. Available wherever you get your podcasts.

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