20 Apr April 20, 2020 – Grace Under Pressure Lisa Wentz and Retirement Consultant Marcia Mantell
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Lisa Wentz, Founder of San Francisco Voice Center, is considered one of the top coaches in the San Francisco Bay Area who has been featured as a public speaking expert on CNBC, TIME Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, and L.A. Daily Journal among others. Since 2008, she has been regularly coaching speeches, presentation skills and accent reduction with executives and managers from Fortune 500 companies and non-profit sector. She has spent the past decade dedicating her life to helping professional and amateur public speakers overcome blocks, develop their voices and craft their delivery. Lisa is also the author of Grace Under Pressure: A Masterclass in Public Speaking where she shares techniques that she has developed to help anyone overcome inner obstacles so they can focus on developing their outward presence.
Marcia Mantell – Founder of Mantell Retirement Consulting
Marcia Mantell is the Founder and President of Mantell Retirement Consulting, Inc. She is on a mission to get more women talking about money so they can have stress free retirements. For nearly 30 years, Marcia has helped the country’s foremost financial services firms and advisors increase their knowledge of complex retirement concepts and regulations. Through her small business, she develops innovative retirement income planning workshops and programs, fun and engaging retirement education programs and seminars, and writes extensively as a guest columnist and content creator and curator. Her blog BoomerRetirementBriefs, showcases a light-hearted but thought-provoking look at how Baby Boomers are reshaping and reinventing retirement. Marcia is also the author of What’s the Deal with Social Security for Women and What’s the Deal with Retirement Planning for Women?
Highlights from Lisa’s Interview
There are a lot of unknowns with the entire pandemic and how we will change our culture and ways of interacting and whatnot, and what’s going to happen in the next year in a year and a half. However, with the speaking industry, the coaching of public speakers is obviously put on hold in a way. We’re not doing any live audiences, as you will know, gathered together in the same area. As soon as the quarantine started to look inevitable and the mayor of San Francisco announced it, several of my clients dropped out. So I was immediately impacted, which makes sense because they all had speeches that had been canceled. So I had a little loss there and I’m sure that won’t recover for a couple of years, but what’s really happening and what’s most important to think about is how do we pivot from in-person meetings and conferences to virtual, because that’s what everyone’s doing; everyone’s doing their Zoom calls, meeting check-ins and whatnot, on different online platforms, not only Zoom. I know Google is quickly moving everything over to virtual; of course, because they have to, including their conferences, and trying to work out how that will happen.
Again, there are so many unknowns, but in the long run in terms of public speaking, there may really be less of it, there may be less large audiences packed in a room together. I think that what will happen is it will come back to a degree, but only until everyone gets virtual meetings and virtual conferences down and have them flowing really well. In my area, in the San Francisco Bay Area, we’ve got headquarters of Facebook, Google, Alphabet and everything else. So these are very savvy quick thinkers; people who know how to use technology, and they’re going to do it well. So for those kinds of companies, I do wonder, will the public speaking with the live audience come back fully or will it come back maybe at half? It’s hard to say.
Sitting in an old office by ourselves with no one else around or in our home office, we could be distracted, we could be trying to kill two birds with one stone. While we’re in a shelter in place plus quarantine, we could be having one of our four kids knocking on the door or something like that. But I think when I say pivot, that’s what I mean. What needs to happen is we have to start thinking about effective speaking, effective communication, and what that looks and sounds like through an online platform, in the same way, that you would think about it if you were having to give a pitch to several investors who are sitting right in front of you, or if you were having to do an online meeting and you need your thoughts and your input really to have an impact.
Certainly, if you’re giving a speech at a virtual conference, that one is the most interesting to me because there will be speakers who feel more comfortable not having the live audience, and that’s probably newer speakers; they won’t feel that pressure of feeling watched, having the eyes on them and that kind of pressure. But the flip side to that is that you don’t get the audience reaction, you don’t get the energy from the audience, and that can be difficult. So I think the question is, can we pivot effectively? The answer is, yes, we can. How much will we make that last in the future; I don’t know. But honestly, if you don’t know how to do it, then you need to hire a coach, just like you’d hire if you were giving a TED talk.
I have developed packages for people who are now only doing virtual meetings and people who are now going into having to give conference keynotes virtually. I was already teaching online to people outside the Bay Area who were working on various aspects of their presentation skills, pitching skills, could even be accent reduction. For many different things that I was already coaching in-person, I’ve coached online for people who are not able to come to me in-person. So I’m quite comfortable teaching over an online platform. That was already solid for me, so I personally don’t need to pivot that much there. As far as physicality and how do you use that platform to your advantage, in meetings, you don’t need to stand up and get around and that kind of thing. You can sit, just like you were likely sitting before roundtable with other people in the room. For pitching to investors, I think that has to do with your personal preference; you can stand, but you’re not going to be walking around a lot, just like you wouldn’t be walking around if they were in the room. These are smaller events.
For a virtual conference presentation, it should have some movement, it should have some life. What you’re wanting to do is bring those listeners in. You’ve got a 30-minute keynote or maybe sometimes more, you need to keep them engaged. Staying engaged is not going to be just you at the camera sitting at your desk, that’s not going to work. Even the most engaging speakers in the world wouldn’t do that. There’s a reason that late-night talk shows have a monologue standing, then a sitting segment, and then something else; you’re keeping people entertained and engaged at a very high level. But ultimately, the change really is in your relationship to the camera, your relationship to your audience, and making that audience still there for you so that you’re still having a conversation. Whether people are really in the room physically with you or you can just see them in part of your screen or you can’t see them at all, you still need to be having a conversation with them, even if you’re doing most of the talking. It’s not just about your outgoing presence, it’s about inviting them in.
There are so many unknowns like I said, but think of it this way. Without a vaccine in place, which will take minimally a year; health officials are saying likely 18 months, there’s not going to be a lot of risk-taking on getting a lot of people crowded into a room. That’s my personal opinion, that doesn’t have to be everybody’s opinion, I’m just guessing. I’m also preparing for that because this is my industry and I have to be thinking of worst-case scenarios out there. So it’s possible we’ll get a vaccine sooner and people will start to feel more comfortable, it’s possible that it may change. Like I said, public speakers will come back but they may not come back as common as they are right now for some industries. When I go to a conference, I’m usually watching speakers I coach or I’m meeting people that I want to meet in-person, and that is a big part of it. That’s a big part of how we learn and what we take away from the conferences is those in-person on-site experiences. So I do think it’ll come back, I just don’t know when and I don’t know to what extent.
I think you should definitely be changing your presentation package; your website or your Splash video, and maybe make it more speaking into the camera directly, just to show you that you can speak in front of a camera, not only stage. If you want to be a booked speaker of any kind, then you should have at least one example of you speaking on an online platform, as opposed to a live audience. You should still keep your other examples on your website, but you might want to have one on there where you’re giving a really great talk, even if it’s just a short one, through Zoom or some other platform. I think the paid speakers are probably having that conversation already with their agent and what that’s going to look like, and I am noticing a little bit of shifting here and there in terms of how people are presenting themselves. But I think as we make these transitions, it’s the questions that are the most important and what’s going to be most effective.
The other thing is getting the support you need so that you don’t feel alone in it. So let’s say you’re pivoting from being a live in-person speaker to an online speaker, you go back to your coach who’s qualified to help you do that or you hire a new coach and you talk to your agent. I’m really somebody who seeks out advice from others, and I think that now is the time just for everyone to keep supporting each other. We need to get through this together, we can’t get through it alone. We need to share our talents and skills with people who need our talents and skills and our advice.
Winning by Design is a good group to look at as far as speakers who are doing online sales stuff really well. I had conversations with them, or at least their CEO. I haven’t coached any of their speakers, they work with a wonderful coach, Nancy Duarte, who wrote the book Resonate amongst other books, and that book is about putting presentations together. For those of you who might look at this company through either online videos or YouTube and whatnot, the area that could improve on is their physical training. I would say that for a lot of speakers, even in live in-person arenas.
You’re now working from a device, so your articulation should be crisp, it should be clear, you can have an accent but people have to understand you. You want them to understand you effortlessly, you don’t want to people to strain on a word or space out because you’re not being clear with your physical articulation of language. The other part of it is that when you’re on stage and in a live situation, your tension patterns may be showing out, but they’re not going to be caught the same way they’re caught on a camera; the camera really picks it up. The camera will pick up any tension, nervousness, and any tics you have. That’s why film acting is so different from stage acting; you can get away with a lot more in live theater than you can get away with on film because it’s capturing a lot more nuance. So that is my thought about that. Winning by Design, they are great, they’re wonderful, professional, they give very clear videos in the sales arena.
I have not seen a professional speaker, somebody who would be on a speaking circuit in America, already shift over. I haven’t seen that yet and none of my clients have shifted over yet. So I’m not sure what to point to you to. I can always point you to television interviews, people who are just great speakers and have mastered being able to be live, mastered being able to be on a television show, being interviewed, and so forth. But for people on the speaking circuit, I haven’t seen it yet.
As far as a good Splash video goes, I think my video is very relaxed, very comfortable, I’m talking very clearly and concisely. On my coaching page, there’s a video page so people can look at that as an example. Bryan Stevenson, the lawyer, I think is one of the better speakers in the country. Whether you look at his TED Talk or you look at his interviews on television or wherever he is, he’s going to be an incredibly effective speaker. Another good speaker is Alison Levine who is on the speaking circuit, so she is somebody whose career will be shifting quite rapidly. She’s been an extremely booked speaker, speaking twice with the conferences around, and tells a wonderful story of leadership and how to make difficult decisions in very difficult environments. She leads expeditions up Everest and is responsible for groups of people and their lives, and going up and down that mountain several times to make it work. She does great conference speeches. She would have no problem pivoting to being a virtual speaker, I’m sure.
To contact me, you can press the Contact button on lisawentz.com, that’s the easiest way to reach me and there’s a lot of information on the site as well that might be useful. There are good resources on my website that people can use right away.