This week Paul Ford and Rich Ziade talk to Bill Smartt, a coach who believes that everyone can improve their speaking skills. They break down his three big tips — speak up, slow down, and make eye contact — and discuss (and practice!) breathing exercises that can help when stage-fright kicks in. They also discuss his origin story, which involves some poorly-placed dry ice at a Nashville Halloween party.
Bill: I really did have that panicked moment in front of audiences, which is what — most of the people I work with have that same just gut-wrenching experience where you’re in front of people and you panic, and it’s just a terrible experience and you never, ever want to repeat it again, and a lot of people just refer back to that, and they think that’s what it’s like when you get in front of people. So I work with people to help them understand that it does not have to be like that.
Rich: So let’s dive in. Speak up: raise the volume of your voice.
Bill: Yeah, yeah, because most people aren’t comfortable — when they raise their voice, they equate that with yelling, or with anger.
Bill: And the reality is if you’re leading a group, right, you’ve just got to raise your voice a little bit? And people are uncomfortable with that. They also feel like, oh my God, I’m being, you know, the blowhard jerk, right? I’m like, no, you actually want to make it easy for people to hear you.
Paul: Rich, you’ve never had a problem with that.
Rich: I’ve kind of nailed number one, to the point of, “Could you pipe down a little bit?” [laughter]
Paul: Don’t put a hyphen in a URL.
Rich: Don’t put a hyphen.
Paul: That’s really, in the entirety of this company, the only piece of advice I think I can give you that truly is permanent and lasting is never use a hyphen in a URL.
Bill: Ah, that’s a good thing.
Rich: We’ve shared six-page strategic documents about why you shouldn’t put a hyphen.