Ryan Foland speaks with Jaime Cohen, communications coach and advisor, whose mission is to help you find The Right Words, which also happens to be the name of her company.
In this episode of our podcast series, Ryan and Jaime talk about getting comfortable on stage and finding confidence in your performance.
One of the key messages in this interview is the importance of getting comfortable with how you sound, how you look, who you are as a person.
Tune in for an interview full of ideas and tips on gaining the right experience to be able to build your confidence.
Listen to the interview on iTunes or Soundcloud.
Jaime Cohen: Hey everyone, this is Jaime Cohen of The Right Words.
I just spoke with Ryan on World of Speakers about getting comfortable on stage, finding confidence in your voice and feeling confident building relationships that make connections to get you there.
So check out this next episode, you’re going to love it.
Welcome to the World of Speakers podcast, brought to you by SpeakerHub.
In each episode, we interview a professional speaker and reveal their very best tips and tricks.
You’ll learn to improve your presentation skills, keep your audience engaged, and grow your business to get more gigs and make more money.
Here is your host, Ryan Foland.
Ryan Foland: Ahoy everyone and welcome to yet another World of Speakers episode where we bring you speakers from around the world to speak around the world, whether it’s about speaking or about the topic in which they speak.
Today we have a very special guest, her name is Jaime Cohen, she is a speaker.
She’s also communications coach and an adviser and she helps people choose #the right words.
And The Right Words happens to be her company name as well and so today we’re going to talk about how to use the right words, what words to use, what words to choose not to use, all so that you can communicate more confidently, more comfortably and more regularly.
Welcome Jaime, how are you?
Jaime Cohen: I am doing well, Ryan, thanks so much for having me.
Ryan Foland: I don’t think we first connected when we were panelists on a webinar, I think for Design Hill if I’m not mistaken?
Jaime Cohen: I think it was for Winnie Sun.
Ryan Foland: Okay, Winnie Sun, that’s always a great way to connect.
Any friend of Winnie is a friend of mine, so here we are.
Jaime Cohen: Exactly, here we are.
Ryan Foland: If you don’t know about Winnie, use #Winnie Sun on Twitter and you will find out all the positive vibes and information she spreads in the world.
Hi Winnie, we love you!
Jaime Cohen: Yes, Winnie is fantastic.
Ryan Foland: Talking about great communicators she, I think, comes across very caring as well as really polished.
And when it comes to financial stuff, sometimes that’s a hard thing to talk about, so her comfortability in the report that she brings and just her whole essence of being herself and really showcasing I think how to communicate at a high level.
She’s a good role model to look after, she’s always fun, great on her toes, fun at interviews and she’s just like she crushes at live, she’s done so much live that it’s part of a blood stream.
Jaime Cohen: Absolutely, and it’s so interesting because a lot of people will watch someone like that and say,
“They’re so perfect, I could never do that.”
But the thing is that as polished as anyone comes across or as powerful as they seem on camera, that takes practice.
It’s funny because you would think being yourself is just as simple as turning on the camera and speaking, but being authentic and polished at the same time really does take a lot of practice.
It’s not impossible but it’s just repetition, really.
Ryan Foland: Yeah, I tell people if you want to become a better speaker speak more; if you want to become a better writer write more.
You want to be better at podcasting, then do more podcasts.
I really think it’s an at bat concept where as long as you invest the time and you’re willing to fail then you’ll just continue to get better, it’s the nature of experience.
The funny thing about experience is that it’s what you get just after you need it.
Jaime Cohen: That’s so true.
Ryan Foland: The only way you’re going to get experience is to put yourself out there because you don’t know what you don’t know yet.
Today we’re going to learn some stuff that hopefully we don’t know but by the end of the show we will know.
Before we go, I want to start with a story that has shaped you.
The reason I do this is that I love listening to podcasts, but if I want to find your bio I can chase you down and read it and find it.
I think we get to know people through the stories of their past, the ones that shaped them.
Imagine that after this podcast later on I’m talking to somebody and I think to myself,
“This would be a great person to connect with Jaime.”
And instead of saying, “Jamie is the founder of The Right Words and she’s an internationally recognized speaker,”
I’d be like, “Oh my gosh, you’ve got to hear the story, this one time,” and then this is the story that you would share with us.
The hard part for you is to try to find a story that off the shelf kind of gives me and our listeners a pretty good idea of who you are with just that one story.
Jaime Cohen: That is a tough one, how do you choose?
There are so many stories that get us to where we are and so many experiences that shaped who we are.
Ryan Foland: Okay, so I can help you if you want to choose, or I can help guide you through this.
I believe the most impactful stories are the ones where something went wrong, so that’s a good starting point.
Jaime Cohen: That’s most of my stories, so perfect.
Ryan Foland: Okay, that’s good.
I think that stories that shaped us when we were young are a big part of who we are today.
If you go back to college or even high school, sometimes those are really telling of how you’ve grown up.
And one that also might involve a little bit of humor even if it’s laughing at yourself, but the challenge that people sort of fall into when they tell a story from their past is that they tell like a 4 or 5-year span.
The trick is to find that one CD off of yourself when we used to have CDs that like has the track and you’re like wait, that one song, number 4, that’s the story.
So you got one of those?
Jaime Cohen: Oh, I have many of those.
Ryan Foland: CDs or stories, or both?
Jaime Cohen: Well, I’ll start it off by saying a lot of my experience and a lot of how I got to where I am today is shaped by trauma, which isn’t always the most fun conversation to have.
Before I get into this story, something that I learned along the way is that we talk a lot right now about authenticity and about being vulnerable, but there is also compassion in telling your story in a particular way.
If you unload your trauma and all of your experiences onto your audience, they feel uncomfortable.
Because if you imagine, when you see someone on stage they’re like a new stand up comedian or something like that and they get on stage and they’re nervous, you want to see them succeed but if you see them up there shaking like a leaf you feel anxious too and then everyone feels uncomfortable because ultimately we want to see each other succeed.
So when you’re going to tell a story being cognizant and mindful of how you share that is important.
That’s something that I’ve had to learn because I’ve had some significant traumas.
But I guess a particular experience I’ll talk about is maybe I’ll go back to one, an experience in fourth grade.
A little bit of background, I’ve moved a lot as a kid, I moved from New Jersey to Georgia, ended up in Iowa, so by the time I got there I went from talking like this to talking like this, to mixed up something together and wore my pants above my belly button which at the time was a major no-no —
Ryan Foland: Which is coming back, by the way, I think, isn’t that a new phase these days?
Jaime Cohen: Yes, my pants are like up to here, you can’t see on the screen.
I was already different and then we were one of the few Jewish families in town.
Things have changed a lot now, and where I grew up is a pretty nice place to grow up now, but when I was young I experienced a lot of antisemitism.
Most of my childhood is shaped by being sort of an outsider.
In addition to that, I also have ADHD, and when I was younger I was very energetic and hyper.
I remember there was a girl in my class who I had been friends with in fourth grade and she had a birthday party and invited every single person in the class except for me.
I was really upset but I was always looking for a reason.
I also had a lot of confidence in myself, so in my mind, it was like,
“Oh she must have forgotten to invite me, this is impossible that I would be the only one.”
And so thinking about this I’m like, “Why did my parents let me do this?”
But also this was a great experience me standing up for myself as I called her and I heard everyone in the background and I said,
“Hey you invited everyone in the class and I think you forgot to invite me.”
And she said, “No, Jaime, I didn’t forget to invite you, you’re just too hyper and I don’t want you here”.
Ryan Foland: Wow.
Jaime Cohen: That was devastating because it was essentially saying boundaries are really important but at that time as a kid, it was basically saying,
“You’re too much but you’ll also never be enough.”
That is a really hard pill to swallow as a kid because when you’re a child you’re so confident in who you are, everything is exciting and everything is play and everything is imagination.
Then for someone to rain on your parade so heavily saying, “In order for you to fit here, in order for you to be one of us, you have to change and you have to dampen who you are,” and that is really damaging.
Amongst other reasons, and aside from that experience, I really learned how to navigate a lot of different situations, and in a sad sense be less of myself in order to fit in, but also through this experience learning how to communicate with people in a way that they are receptive.
I spent a lot of time living through my own experiences and through also vicarious experiences figuring out in what particular situation should I act in this particular way.
I remember there was another instance after that where a boy in my class, who I liked, was having a birthday party and he hadn’t invited anyone in my class, only his class.
But I liked him, and so after having that experience, I was like,
“Okay, well I’m never going to be not invited again.”
So I went up to him and I was like,
“Oh, happy early birthday, so what time is your birthday party, I can’t remember what you had told me?”
Then I was invited and I was the only person in my class and he and I ended up becoming really good friends, and actually ended up dating in high school, and it just goes to show you that even in situations where you feel bad and you’re told that you’re not enough, you can use as a learning experience and you don’t have to change who you are, but you can also learn how to navigate particular situations by speaking and acting in a particular way, without having to change who you are.
Ryan Foland: Okay, so great job on finding the story even with a little bonus story of the lesson that happened after the fact where it was almost like a romcom that was unfolding in real-time, like a fourth-grade romcom.
But there’s so much to dissect there, and honestly, that gives me a lot more insights to you than your bio ever could.
Now, I couldn’t help but listen to some of the words that you chose to use and how that directly applies to how people feel as they’re trying to be invited to the stage to be themselves, but maybe by the mere fact that they’re not invited or they don’t get that deal or they don’t get the gig or they make it to the top 3 and they get passed up, they don’t make it to the party.
And that can crush or create what happens next.
This idea of being too much I think it speaks to childhood, the adolescence of freedom, a narcissistic creation, and just sort of like you’re encouraged to just be yourself.
I think parallel as a speaker you’re sort of encouraged, and I hear people all the time say,
“Find your angle, what is your creative niche, you’ve got to be different than everybody else, you’ve got to just be you.”
But then if you’re kind of a loud, crazy, ginger-like me and you show up to the party and it’s too much energy for people then you might not get invited to the party.
I can’t help but really see a lot of these relatable experiences that we have as adults who are speakers trying to get invited to the party, but I love the second story because you use the assumption clause, which is one of the most powerful clauses in the history of the world and for the next stage, why not continue to chase down outside of your classroom, outside of your comfort zone to get out there and do it.
I’m assuming that you still are that high-energy person but you’re just a bit more shall we say calculated about who sees or experiences that? Is that kind of accurate or close?
Jaime Cohen: It’s hard without getting too far into it. My life has been quite a series of traumas and it was that way for a long time.
But then my mom passed away about 6 years ago and after that, I developed social anxiety and then I’ve dealt with being in an abusive work situation, and all these things sort of dampened me down to this sort of shell that I had to navigate out of.
But through all of these experiences that I had, even though it took a long time to recover, I still have the tools.
In order to do so successfully, I just had to decide when I was ready to take that next step.
So in a sense, yes, but every experience that we have in life is bringing us closer to our goals, or is teaching us something.
I would say now that I’m more comfortable being myself and being unapologetically myself, but also being more aware of how to act in particular environments and knowing when to take the energy down a notch and when to amp it back up.
Ryan Foland: Yeah, and I see that as someone who is a responsible communicator not inauthentic, and I want to clarify that because I truly believe that as a communicator you are responsible for how the message is received.
That’s sort of a challenge because you don’t know their perception, you don’t know where they’re coming from, you don’t know their perspective, they may be having an off day, but you can’t speak to an audience and then just have it one-sided and just say,
“This is what I’m sharing to you, you have to take it.”
There’s so much power in taking responsibility for how what you’re saying is being interpreted.
That is a great communicator, whether it’s on the stage, or interpersonal, or negotiating contracts or anything like that.
I will say that you seem very resilient. Is that the quality that you associate with?
With all these ups and downs that you continue to keep fighting forward?
Jaime Cohen: Yes and I would say something about resilience that a lot of people don’t consider is that I would say I am very resilient and I would say something that I learned about myself recently is that with resilience there’s a lot of fear and through all these experiences I’ve had a lot of fear but with the resilience, I’ve been brave.
It’s okay, just because you are scared even if you’re scared of everything, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re not brave and your bravery is actually what helps you get to that next level and to continue on and to be successful, whatever that looks like for you.
Ryan Foland: Okay.
I don’t know whether I’m famous or notorious for coming up with new words in these types of conversations with people, but I just came up with a new one and I think it’s a good one.
Jaime Cohen: All right let’s hear it.
Ryan Foland: It is called exfearience.
Jaime Cohen: Exfeariance. I like that.
Ryan Foland: Because with each experience there’s a bit of fear but with resilience, there is an element of fear.
You can’t really have experience without some sort of element of fear, so exfearience.
Jaime Cohen: I like it.
Ryan Foland: I like it too. Hashtag #exfearience, you can misspell it because I don’t know how it’s spelled yet.
Jaime Cohen: We’ll figure it out.
Ryan Foland: What I did pick up on maybe 6 or 7 sentences ago was that all things considered you had the tools to be more effective in how you chose to communicate with other people and that’s a great transition into the tools that you are going to put here in my toolbox and put virtually.
Actually, I don’t know if you want to talk about putting tools in people’s ears because that just is a bad vision.
Jaime Cohen: Don’t stick tools in your ears, kids.
Ryan Foland: I think we all have a toolbox like I can see mine right now and it’s just this shmorgishborg of tools that have aged over the years and I never really buy a full new set.
I feel like that’s kind of what we are as speakers we have stuff that works, we’re always looking for new stuff.
Let’s talk about some tools that you can add to our toolbox for speaking when it comes to the art of speaking, the strategy of speaking, not so much the business side, we’ll get into that.
If you were to be a purist of the art of speaking, what tools would you give us to chip away at our stone we chip everything which is not David.
Jaime Cohen: I love that, very poetic.
The first thing is comfort level and getting comfortable.
A lot of people say this but getting comfortable with the discomfort that you might feel.
There is this idea in psychology called the familiarity principle, also called the mere exposure effect, whereby when we aren’t familiar with something, we like it less, and the more familiar we become with something the more we start to accept it and inevitably the more that we like it.
If you think about hearing a song on the radio for the first time and it sounds so different than what you’ve heard before and you think, “I don’t like this, this is weird,” but you keep hearing it and hearing it and pretty soon you’re singing it, you can’t get it out of your head and it’s your favorite song and then you over listen to it and then you don’t like it again and it’s this vicious cycle.
But it’s the idea of exposure therapy, exposing yourself to something is going to make you like it more.
If you have a fear of speaking or if you don’t necessarily have fear but you don’t love the way you look or sound practicing that again and again and even practicing on camera, recording yourself with a voice note and getting exposed to how you look and how you sound and getting more comfortable with that.
Because a lot of times, especially in this world where we’re not doing a lot of in-person events, slowly but surely they’re opening back up, but a lot of things are virtual, we look at ourselves on camera or we hear ourselves and what’s the first thing that everyone always says?
Ryan Foland: I hear a lot of, I’m sorries.
Jaime Cohen: They usually say, “Do I really look like that,” or, “Do I really sound like that?”
And you do, but that’s not a bad thing.
When you’re concerned with how you sound, the sound is going to, you’re going to perceive it differently coming out of your mouth and on camera because of your facial structure and your bone structure, the way that sound works as it echoes through your skull.
That sounds different to you versus listening to it on camera.
Exposing yourself to that and listening to it again and again you’ll familiarize yourself with that voice that seems alien.
And then as far as getting comfortable with how you look, if you look at the average person unless you’re some crazy supermodel and you have perfect symmetry which is very unlikely.
Ryan Foland: Present party excluded, of course, right?
Jaime Cohen: Yes. We are perfect, look at us.
Ryan Foland: Freckles are perfection, by the way. Freckles are perfection.
Jaime Cohen: I love freckles.
Ryan Foland: You were the kid that was wild and rambunctious and getting sort of excommunicated.
I was a kid with freckles getting excommunicated, so we got a similar, yes, we are perfectly perfect in our imperfect ways but we might not see it because we might not be as familiar with it.
Jaime Cohen: Right, but when you’re looking at yourself on camera the reason that you might not like what you see is that you’re used to looking at yourself in the mirror.
The person that you see in the mirror even though it’s the same person physically because we’re not perfectly symmetrical, you become familiar with that image, and when it’s flipped around it looks foreign to you and so you don’t know that person.
And so it takes time to get comfortable.
If you use that term again, mere exposure effect just by the mere exposure to yourself on camera, again and again, you’ll become more familiar and there comes the familiarity principle and the more familiar you become with yourself the more that you will like yourself.
This feeds into so many things being onstage, in marketing the idea of like no trust, in order for someone to like you they have to be exposed to you and the more they’re exposed to the more they like you, the more they want to know, and the more they know you the more you become a resource and then inevitably they will trust you if you present yourself in that way that is supportive and you really are that resource for them.
One of the greatest tools is simply having exposure to something that you’re either not comfortable with or that you aren’t as familiar with as you could be.
Ryan Foland: Could we say that there is a degree of fearmiliarity?
Okay, I had this in my brain. You have familiar right, this familiar —
Jaime Cohen: Fearmiliar?
Ryan Foland: Yeah, fearmiliar, okay so what if familiar had a baby with fear, it would be fearmiliar, and then if we added ility, fearmiliarity.
Okay, that might be a stretch but I’m not fearful of trying.
Jaime Cohen: Yeah, we’ll try it. Fearmiliarity.
Ryan Foland: This is my exfearience, real-time, I’m getting comfortable being live.
Okay, to backtrack, to get comfortable you covered how to get more comfortable hearing your own voice.
Then getting comfortable seeing your own face.
Is there a number 3 to that or those are the 2 to get comfortable with?
Jaime Cohen: Those are 2 great places to start if we’re talking about being concerned about how to be more engaging on stage.
I guess the third thing that I would say, even though we’re talking about the camera, they translate because you can see what you look like.
I guess a way to take it to the next level is a lot of times when we’re recording these things we’re sitting down, so if you have a standing desk or if you have a counter or something like that putting your recording equipment or your camera there, so that way you have more room to move and more room to just gesticulate with your hands around and so you can see how your body moves in space.
Ryan Foland: So can we say that it’s getting comfortable with how you sound, how you look, and how you feel?
Or how you sound, how you look, and how you move?
What would be the right word to choose for that?
Jaime Cohen: I think all of those things are valid, getting comfortable with how you feel in a particular environment so there are a lot of studies on this for people who have test anxiety.
One of the things they recommend is to go spend some time in the space where you’re going to be taking the test and get into that feeling.
If you’re going to be speaking somewhere or if you’re going to be singing on a stage, going and practicing in that space so that you get comfortable.
Or if that’s across the world and you don’t have the ability to practice there, finding a similar space and getting if not comfortable just familiarizing yourself with a space that you’re unfamiliar with.
Ryan Foland: Fearmiliarising yourself with the situation.
Jaime Cohen: Yes, fearmiliarize yourself.
Ryan Foland: I think there’s a reason why that’s not a word.
The one pushback I’ll have which is a pushback to tease out a little bit more particulars about this.
We’ve locked in let’s say getting more comfortable hearing the sound of your voice, getting more comfortable seeing the mirrored or non mirrored image of yourself, and then I think we can group the how you feel and what you’re doing as the third sort of bucket.
If I was listening to this I would say, “This sounds great but how am I going to practice and I don’t want to practice live and then show and expose how bad I sound and how bad I look and how awkward I feel on a video on Linkedin. Because my goal is to get comfortable and pass that fear.”
So are there any tricks that you use with your clients to help them understand in a safe environment that is not public?
The one analogy that I have for this is I help people learn how to come up with ideas and create content and create their own systems and I’ll encourage them to create and pretend to post for a while and go to small inlet community is that they know are friends or family, like have somebody else read it before it goes out.
And so that’s just one example, but for people who truly are in that like they’re trying to cross that chasm, what are one or two things they can do to specifically get more comfortable with their voice, more comfortable with how they look and more comfortable with how they feel.
Knowing that we already covered the obvious of talk more and you’ll get more comfortable, look at yourself more and you’ll get more comfortable.
Are there any nuance things that you find or little exercises that you can share that really help?
Jaime Cohen: Yes.
So recording yourself on video is a great way to prepare yourself for the stage because then you can see what you might look like, but in that sense, I want to go back to what I was saying before where you want to be standing, you want to have space to move around.
Understanding that whatever you do isn’t going to be perfect so reframing is very important and this is talked about a lot, but you have to decide what is our goal, is your goal to get on stage, is our goal to post the video online, is your goal to do more virtual speaking engagements, those are the different things that you have to think about.
When I’m working with my clients, what I’m focusing on largely is communication and speaking is part of that.
The speaking that I’m preparing people for generally is speaking to their staff or speaking at a board meeting or teaching a group to speak together in a way that is compassionate and empathetic and understanding and how to make it more interesting.
I have a few different exercises that I have people practice before they record their first video or before they get back into the boardroom because obviously there are things like the storytelling arc of the story circle and figuring out the hero’s journey and keeping things concise and to the point and hitting on things and understanding these ideas of reciprocity.
There are so many different things you want to think about to be a strong communicator.
But if we’re just looking at how to be interesting and how to feel more comfortable there are 2 exercises that I use.
Ryan Foland: Let’s do some exercise, I’m ready, I’m warmed up, what are we doing?
Jaime Cohen: One thing that I’ve noticed with a lot of people, and this is something that you might not notice from me speaking on camera but something that I struggle with too.
When I’m having a conversation and I’m just relaxed, if I’m not telling a story, my voice tends to be a little bit monotone, which is fine a lot of us can speak that way.
But when you’re on camera, you need to crank it up a notch and when you are in front of an audience or when you are in front of a board room or in a meeting, you need to crank it up a notch so that you’re interesting to listen to.
I have this exercise that I just made up, that has helped a lot of my clients where especially if they, some of my clients speak English as a second language so that can affect the tone which they speak or the way that they’re perceived.
I have this exercise where I have them speak like they are climbing a mountain and coming down.
Ryan Foland: Let’s do this, give me an example, what are we working with, where do I pull from?
Jaime Cohen: Let’s just talk about it since we’re talking about speaking we can use a sentence,
“Today I am going to talk to you about how to speak more confidently on stage.”
Ryan Foland: “Today I’m going to talk to you about being more confident on stage,” there’s my monotone.
Jaime Cohen: That’s just a normal way to say it.
And so then if you’re more excited you might say,
“Today I am going to speak to you about feeling more confident on stage.”
Ryan Foland: “Today I am going to speak to you about being more confident on stage.”
Jaime Cohen: Do you see how that feels a little forced?
Ryan Foland: It does, it feels a little cheesy. I mean I’m normally cheesy, I felt like I got hit with a cheese ball.
Jaime Cohen: Now this exercise is going to cheese it up to a million, this will help you come back down and speak more normally.
I don’t have a particular name for it but just right now we’ll call it going up the mountain and down the mountain.
It sounds a little like this, “Today I’m going to speak to you about how do to feel more comfortable speaking on stage.”
Ryan Foland: “Today I’m going to help you to become more comfortable as you are speaking on stage.”
I feel like we’re going kind of up and down.
Jaime Cohen: Yes, so it’s going up the mountain, down the mountain, up the mountain, down the mountain.
Ryan Foland: Oh, within, I thought the whole thing was one big cliff.
Jaime Cohen: No, so, “I am going to teach you today to feel more comfortable speaking when you are on stage.”
Ryan Foland: Okay, I almost feel like the name is like the rolling hills something.
Because when you said mountain, I was like, you obviously saw I tried to climb the whole mountain.
Jaime Cohen: Yeah, I think maybe a rollercoaster is probably better for it.
Ryan Foland: Speaker coaster.
Jaime Cohen: Yes, the speaker coaster. So let’s do that one more time.
Ryan Foland: “Today I am going to teach you how to be more comfortable speaking on your platform of choice.”
Jaime Cohen: Yes, and also another thing that I do, for people who really have issues, and you don’t, but for people who have difficulty with the monotone is doing it even slower and just saying,
“Today I am going to teach you how to feel more comfortable speaking when you are on stage.”
So it’s almost kind of like sing talking but you’re going up, you’re really going up and really going down. So try that one.
Ryan Foland: “Today, I am going to teach you how to communicate-” is it syllable style or words?
Jaime Cohen: It can be whatever you want.
usually go by syllables because it’s easier to go up and down with syllables.
Ryan Foland: Okay, “I can see how that would- no, I need to slow down and share with you how to communicate better.”
Jaime Cohen: That feels really strange and now you can just say the sentence normally and it’s easier to sound to have more modulation in your voice because you’ve done something that’s really cheesy and then really crazy and then now you’re going to go back and say normally,
“Today I’m going to teach you how to feel more comfortable and confident speaking on stage.”
Ryan Foland: “Today I am going to speak with you about being more comfortable and confident on stage.”
Jaime Cohen: That sounds great.
I mean you already sound great when you speak but this helps people who have issues with monotone because you do something that’s so strange and so uncomfortable and then when you take it back down you have to be cognizant of not taking it back down to your baseline comfort level, but generally what I’ve seen is it helps people to get that monotone out of their voice and to feel the physical feelings of modulation, so they’re able to say something in a way that’s more engaging without it feeling so forced.
Ryan Foland: Yeah, it’s almost like I gave my muscles permission to go outside of that normal comfort zone that I might.
If I had certain lines that I wanted to hit or things that I know I’m saying, do I practice with that, or is this just more of an exercise, and once you go on the speaker coaster that’s just a good warm-up in general for what you’re going to do?
Jaime Cohen: It’s a good warm-up, it’s sort of like before you run doing some stretches, or you see runner shaking their legs out, her arms out and just getting loose.
I like the way you described that, giving your muscles permission to react and to move more quickly and to just move more in general.
So that’s a great way to get yourself going.
Then I have a second exercise that I do to help because it’s not necessarily about hitting your mark and hitting the words if you’re an actor if you’re in a movie if you’re doing a commercial those things are important because you have a branded message or you have a director who wants to get the specific thing out of you.
Ryan Foland: They are going to line read for yeah which is terrible, like,
“A little more of this, a little more of that, a little more of this, a little more of that.”
Jaime Cohen: But they have a vision that they want you to execute on, and the power in speaking is that you get to execute on your own vision.
When I’m doing a speaking engagement, unless it’s something that I have to memorize word for word, which I usually try to avoid, I don’t ever write a script, I just write bullet points, and then every time that I speak the story is a little bit different.
I hit on the same things, but it’s going to be a little bit different so I don’t get caught up in the memorization.
But we can talk about that afterward if you want to talk about memorization.
But another exercise that I do with people is if now they’re sounding more engaging but their face is still flat because that’s what I’ll see a lot of times, that the voice sounds a lot better but it’s still like,
“Oh my gosh I’m so happy to speak to you today.”
Ryan Foland: Yeah, “I’m very excited about this project that I’m presenting to you.”
Jaime Cohen: Like, really, you look like someone just ran over your dog.
How do we get our face activated?
When we’re thinking about people who are actors and people who are powerful actors, the reason why they’re so convincing, one of the reasons is because of their ability to have natural facial expressions.
A natural facial expression is something that melts off of your face or gradually comes onto your face, it’s all gradual, and something that feels forced is a sudden smile or like suddenly raising your eyebrows or something like that, it’s not this natural feeling.
An exercise that I use for a lot of people is to have them tell me about a beautiful experience in their lives.
One of my clients, we were trying to figure out, he had a number of amazing accomplishments.
We were talking through them, but they weren’t bringing that energy out of him, they weren’t changing his facial expressions, I wasn’t feeling the passion that he felt.
I was going through and thinking like what is something that could really move you?
He has a son and so I said, “Well tell me about the birth of your son and what that was like, what was it like becoming a father?”
Telling that story completely changed the game because you saw him going back into his memory and feeling those feelings and having those expressions gradually come onto his face and he told me the story.
It was incredible, it was almost it felt like I was there, what he felt like, what he was worried about, what he was excited for, how his life was going to change.
Then we took that and I recorded that first of all so that he could go back and watch that because of mirror neurons when we see someone feeling good, when we see someone feeling happy then we’ll feel that way too, or when we see someone experiencing something that’s why we like comedy and that’s why we like watching people succeed because we got some of that energy off of them.
Ryan Foland: Also watching them fall.
Jaime Cohen: Some people like that, I am too empathetic, I just get like a knife when I watch someone fall, I can’t do that.
Ryan Foland: But it sounds like you’re talking about, there are 2 things, one is context and I always tell people context comes from your face, people are looking at your face to determine if what you’re saying is supposed to be exciting or scary, and we have 6 emotions to go through.
What I like about your spin on this is the transitions between, so it’s one thing to convince you and I’ve been through a number of exercises where you say, “Okay, say good morning with a frown. Good morning. Now say it with a smile, good morning,” you can hear that, it’s like proof in the pudding we got this.
You’re telling me that it’s the slight subtle changes, the transitions, if you’re editing is it a half-second, or a second and a half, or 2 seconds and for that to create a natural sense?
Tapping into things that already naturally make you happy going back in time and listen and you can see that progression on the face.
When you see that progression, people will see the context building and you’re bringing them along with what the emotions are attached to the right words, right?
Jaime Cohen: Exactly.
With that particular example that I gave you, what the next step was when you’re going to be speaking about something go back to that memory and watch yourself on camera, remember how you felt.
Even if you don’t want to go through each step of what happened, you remember your face and when you’re telling that story then you can have that same expression while you’re presenting, while you’re giving a meeting, while you’re trying to be persuasive.
That is going to endear you to people, that’s going to make people feel more connected to you because you’ll be experiencing something together through your expressions.
Ryan Foland: It almost makes me think of Zoom filters that you can pop on, to sort of be visual reminders of what’s happening.
You’re talking about a face filter that might like recognize in your own brain to be like, “Oh, this is a part where I can channel in something for context to show people,” that this is actually a little bit more exciting even though you’re taking something from the past that was exciting and applying it as a filter later on.
I think that’s interesting.
Jaime Cohen: I like that.
That’s a perfect way to describe it.
Ryan Foland: Face filters.
Do you know how Zoom has filters, Snapchat has filters, Instagram has filters, you also have a set of face filters so let’s figure those out, find them, lock them in and then just give you a place where you can pull them up and throw them in real-time.
Jaime Cohen: I like that.
Ryan Foland: We’ve got some exercises and we have some practical knowledge on getting comfortable and basically getting used to how you sound playing with your muscles in a way to trick them and let them be free.
Because a monotone body makes a monotone voice, and a monotone face makes a monotone message, but when you change it up just a little bit and give yourself the creative influence ability to change things up, then what you say might have a little bit more natural cadence and flow to it.
When it comes to your face filters, make sure your face filter connects with the message that you want to share to match the right words, and if you don’t know what those look like, have someone videotape you as you share probably really exciting, really traumatic, really scary, really suspenseful stories of your life and then you can go back and actually see what you look like and that gives you more awareness of how you can put on that face filter.
I don’t want this to seem like it’s disingenuous, because somebody might say, “Well, if you’re pulling the face from when you had your kid and you’re putting on me to talk to me about how you’re selling your product, that can feel a little disingenuous”, what would your argument be to that, as a tool?
Jaime Cohen: I’ve heard that a lot and a lot of people will say, “Oh well, you’re trying to persuade me, you’re trying to manipulate me if you’re doing all these things,” but that’s not the case.
I’m not a manipulative person, but I have a lot of experience with manipulative people and I know that there are a lot of things that they say and experience that they tried to put on to you in order to manipulate you to do something.
What you’re doing with this experience is you’re letting someone in, you’re allowing them to share in the experience with you.
Because if you think about it, if you’re speaking really monotone and you don’t have any facial expressions and what you’re doing is you’re sort of putting a wall up, you’re excluding people, and when you add some modulation into your voice and you add movement and you add facial expressions, you’re lifting that curtain, you’re inviting people in, so it’s not disingenuous it’s inviting and that’s totally different.
Jaime Cohen: But the thing is, something to remember is no matter what you say, no matter how well you say it, no matter what you describe, you can’t control how people are going to respond and there will always be that person that no matter how will you describe what you do, will not understand what you do for a living, no matter how well you explain what you said on stage they won’t understand a thing you sad.
Having a little bit of a thicker skin to understand when someone comes up to you with that if there’s something valuable in it because there can be value in anything you hear, taking that piece out but the rest of the information just pushed out to the side and understand that when you make any conversation an experience that’s going to be memorable and you’re inviting people to join the conversation and to experience that with you.
Ryan Foland: I like it.
I just came up with another exercise as you were speaking, because I was more aware of the face filter that you were using and I was thinking to myself, “What if I try to mirror her face while she’s doing it?”
While you were just talking I was trying to like you lifted your eyebrows, I lifted my eyebrows, I was like trying to follow along with the facial features and that might be an interesting exercise with two people like in a breakout room, where one person is telling that story and the other person is actually like trying to mirror that body language of the face but like silently and so you have almost like real-time feedback of what you’re looking like because you might not recognize it in yourself because you see yourself and you don’t have that baseline.
So there we go.
That’s in the books for the Jamie — Ryan mirrored exercise for facial filters to bring more context to get over your exfearience.
Jaime Cohen: I like that.
Ryan Foland: That’s a perfect transition into how can we monetize this stuff?
How can we turn this into building our business, our speaking business, our consulting business, and it’s just always fun to see how people fit in the commission side.
I’m all about the mission before the commission, that’s how I was able to find my way is really just trying to provide value first.
We’re not talking about how can we be sleazy and monetize every word out of our mouth, but let’s be real here in order to sustain being a professional speaker or even a successful side speaker hustle, you’ve got to start thinking about how you can monetize it so you can deliver more value for free when you can.
How would you advise somebody who let’s say that they are now comfortable with what they sound like, they’ve gone through the exercises, they are more comfortable with what they look like and they’re getting into the field and vibe, they go and they take your LinkedIn learning course, they understand sort of and they’re there.
They’re like, “Okay, I’m ready, I’m comfortable, I’m practiced, I feel like I’m good, now what?”
They want to get invited to the birthday party but nobody’s inviting them. What do you suggest they should do?
Jaime Cohen: Well, I suggest that they get out there before they feel comfortable because if they’re waiting until they’re perfectly comfortable so much time is going to go by then maybe they missed their opportunity.
You should always be working on yourself and working to connect more, but you should get out there before you feel 100 percent.
But there are a few different things that you can do.
One thing that is super easy is in your bio line on LinkedIn then you can include “speaker” even if you’re not a speaker, even if you have the biggest audience that you’ve spoken in front of is your dinner table at home, put speaker into your bio.
I’ve gotten a lot of speaking engagements simply from having that there and having people go through and search LinkedIn for people who are going to speak on particular topics coming upon my profile and reaching out to me.
That is a simple way to get noticed and that’s a conversation for another time really building out your LinkedIn profile, using it as a lead magnet to direct people to exactly what you want them to do.
Ryan Foland: Well, I will say on that real quick I ask people all the time, “Are you a public speaker?”
And most of the time they say, “No.”
Then I say, “I’m sorry but you’re wrong, because if you speak in public then you are a public speaker it’s a scientific fact that you cannot argue either.”
If you’ve spoken you are a speaker.
I will reiterate that for those who are still held upon it.
So yes, once you identify as a speaker people can see you as a speaker, that’s a good first step.
All right, step number 2 or 2.5 or whatever, what else to get out there and get people to want you to their birthday party stages?
Jaime Cohen: There are people who are experts, who have worked on communicating their message and they feel entitled to compensation for speaking.
And when you first start out that shouldn’t be the case.
The best thing to do is to get your feet wet by accepting opportunities to speak that are unpaid, but understanding what do I get out of this, do I get a recording for my speaker reel, do I get photographs, do I just get the experience of being in front of an audience or simply getting the exposure?
Are any of these people in the audience my target customer or my target client?
Even if they’re not, that can be a great opportunity to practice because it doesn’t matter how you do in that situation, that’s not your target audience anyway but you get comfortable taking that next step and speaking in front of people.
Being a part of virtual panels and as the world hopefully begins to open up more some of live panels or being part of a conversation, that’s a great way to get started.
Talking about something that isn’t necessarily even what you’re trying to sell or what your expertise is about but something that you’re interested in.
For instance, I have spoken in a lot of different places about LinkedIn live, I spoke at VidCon about LinkedIn live but I’m not a LinkedIn live coach, I’m not a LinkedIn live consultant, but that’s how I met Winnie, it’s an excellent opportunity for me to network, it was an honor to speak at the biggest video conference in the world and also it’s still dealt with communications, even though the topic wasn’t directly based on what I want my target audience to purchase or what I want them to know me for.
It opened me up to all of these other individuals, I got invited onto podcasts, I made connections, I did end up getting clients through that experience because they saw based on the things that I was talking about what I was getting connected to so it’s also, it’s understanding, not every experience needs to be paid.
Especially when you’re first starting out, practicing, getting out there, and just homing in on those skills is a lot more valuable than finding someone who’s going to pay you what you think you deserve, getting paid not necessarily having the results that you’re looking for and anytime you speak you want to be referred to someone else or you want to be brought back.
Think about what am I getting from the situation and what can I offer and build from there.
Ryan Foland: I like it.
I will often tell people, “If you want to become a paid keynote speaker, start off as a freenote speaker.”
And it’s the same concept.
I’ve given plenty of freenotes to get to my paid keynotes and I’ll still get freenotes, but yeah, understanding that you do get a lot of value out of speaking for free if you’re strategic and you gave some good examples there.
One more to bring it home and I’ll frame this in what has been the most successful tactic or trick or tool for you to get those invites and get onto stages?
I know you speak all around the world but is there one thing that’s like weirdly Jamie-ish, or weirdly like what is it that you’re asking to the meeting planner like the boy that you liked in the different classroom, what is the assumption clause that works best for you?
What can we learn?
Jaime Cohen: When it comes to speaking and when it comes to getting those opportunities, I don’t love the assumption clause because there’s that phrase when you assume you make an ass out of you and me and you never want to assume because that almost can sometimes make you seem entitled and you’re not entitled to speak at someone’s event.
I don’t necessarily have a trick, but the thing that I focus on and that has helped me get to where I am and gets me these opportunities, is simply relationship building, meeting people, connecting with them, talk to them about my intentions, having them introduce me to other people.
I’ll talk to you about, I’ll give you an example of an experience that I had where a friend of mine through LinkedIn tagged me in a post on Facebook about this event that was happening in Denver where I live, and I went to this event and it was this group of women who are social media experts and they’re called the Quennies and they get together all over the country once a year.
I went to this event, met with them, really clicked, made some friends and one of the women there ran this event called Social Media Week Lima, and she was telling me how there are people from all over the country to come and speak about social media.
I asked her is there anyone speaking about LinkedIn yet, and she said,
“Well we do have one person speaking on stage about LinkedIn but I would love to have you come and do a table talk.”
Through that experience I had one of my first speaking engagements of that year and met a bunch of people that way but that was one way that I had a speaking engagement.
But what came from that is what’s so incredible, so we really connected, became friends, and I actually, I didn’t get to go in person this year but did a virtual speaking engagement, the conference was in person which was amazing.
Ryan Foland: The Quennies, the next year of the Quennies you’re saying?
Jaime Cohen: The Social Media Week Lima, it’s in Lima, Ohio every year and 2020 had to be canceled but this year it was in person but I had been sick so I wasn’t able to go but I was able to send a video which was great, but I had that opportunity to be invited as a featured speaker after showing my interest and showing how just being very interested in my now friend and what she was working on and this amazing thing that she put together and explaining what I do and what I’m interested in, that’s something that’s great.
You shouldn’t assume like, “Oh well, if you’re doing this then I can speak there,” saying, “Oh wow that’s amazing, I would really love to be a part of that. How can I do that, what does that look like?”
It’s really just asking the right questions and even though my company is called The Right Words, it’s not about using the perfect words, it’s the right words for the situation.
What are the words that are going to connect you with that person?
What is that person looking for?
And what are you offering them?
If you’re trying to get something you have to think about this idea of reciprocity, what are you giving them to deserve them giving you something?
But what was incredible about this experience is we connected, she introduced me to another woman who is this incredible entrepreneur and has built all these businesses and has this program that she invited me to and then connected me with one of her program attendees.
He and I really hit it off and then he invited me to speak at his summit in Dubai in 2019, and so I spoke.
He is one of the top business coaches and psychologists and a professor and one of the other people who spoke with him and with me was the lead guitarist of Guns’n’Roses, Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal, he was a lead guitarist for 10 years.
We all spoke on stage together and I got there and I’m thinking, “We are not the same, you two are so amazing, how am I here?”
But it was —
Ryan Foland: It was because of the Queenies!
You started with the Queenies, actually, with the Facebook tag.
Jaime Cohen: Well it actually started with my friend Brian Wallace who tagged me in a post on Facebook, my friend from LinkedIn.
Ryan Foland: I know Brian, okay, he’s a connector too and he’s an infographicer too.
Jaime Cohen: Yes, yes, so that is a long way to describe that.
It’s for me, it’s all about the relationships, it’s showing interest and seeing what you can offer to someone else and if you are really being genuine about that, if you’re offering something of value to them, then they may offer something of value to you or at the very least connect you with people.
Relationships are really what get you from A to B, you can be the foremost expert in the world on a particular topic, but if you’re not connecting with people, if you’re not using language that people understand, that’s not going to get you very far.
When we’re looking at communication, there’s this idea of being well-spoken.
I know a lot of people who are very well-spoken, who are extremely articulate, and they’re not good communicators because they’re not connecting with the people they are speaking to, they’re using esoteric or a high-level language that doesn’t compute for the person they’re speaking with which makes that person feel small and then they’re losing that opportunity to build something, build a relationship.
Anytime you’re having a conversation, think about that as an opportunity to make a friend and not,
“What can I get from this person?”
“What can I give to this person and how can we connect?”
Ryan Foland: I like it.
As you were talking I was writing down in my chase for some new eloquent words and just sort of analogies and metaphors.
Initially it felt like a planko where The Price is Right Game Planko, you’ve got to choose your initial spot, and then it just sort of happens what happens and you end up somewhere else.
But I didn’t like that analogy because there is enough consciousness to where you’re being strategic and you weren’t just landing into these different roles you’re taking action and connecting.
Then I thought it was more like a shuffle, like a shuffleboard where you’re sort of shuffling them all and you just kind of, you keep shuffling.
But then that didn’t work, because there was really this family orientation in connection so it’s like a family tree, so maybe like a family tree of connection, it sort of sparkles and goes down.
But then I thought more and I thought, “Well it’s actually kind of like reverse contact tracing.”
If you just did a reverse contact trace, we all know a contract tracing is now because we’re in a situation you get exposed, it’s like who did you meet with and who did you meet with her you meet with, so this is kind of a reverse-engineered contact tracing starting from that first point of contact that allows you to spread yourself as a virus.
You grew a bunch of connections, not a bad virus, like a good virus and a good bacteria kind of style.
And then in the end you said it’s all about connecting so I thought communication and connecting you’re really a good connecticater as opposed to the communicator.
Jaime Cohen: I like that.
I like also the contact tracing because that’s something, until you said that I forgot that that’s something that I love to do with every experience.
Whenever I have something incredible happen to me I like to go back through that contact tracing and see what was the start of this, what led me to meet this person, or having this experience.
It’s sort of practicing gratitude, but also a practice in patience because how long, how many years, or how much time did it take you to get to where you are now.
This is something that I actually thought about with meeting my husband, like what was the impetus, where did this start and I was thinking back to this job, but then it actually went further back and it went all the way back to elementary school.
Ryan Foland: Yeah, like when the butterfly’s wings flap, so maybe we call it stage tracing instead of contact tracing, and good practice.
This is making me want to do it is when you get a great stage and then you stage trace, pay it forward and go and thank all those people along the way and say,
“Hey, I know you didn’t realize it in kindergarten when that one thing happened but that actually was a triple down effect of me speaking in Dubai, so I just wanted to thank you for that.”
Send them a thank you gift or a card and then that could be a spark well, hey, I want to make another connection and another connection so we can be viral, not a virus, but be viral in getting more stages by stage tracing.
Jaime Cohen: I like that.
Ryan Foland: All right, I’m going to go grab stagetracing.com, stagetracing.online, TM, you heard it here first.
Well, I have to thank you, Jaime, we have talked to all the way from elementary school to the future and I think that what you first shared about feeling left out is something that as speakers we feel left out sometimes, sometimes we feel like we’re not enough, but just like you were brave enough to talk to the boy that you liked in a different class, whether you assumed it or not, you were courageous enough to communicate in a way that you were connecticating, tracing those dots and it leads to success whether it’s a successful relationship or a successful talking in Dubai with now a rockstar contact that you have that you can trace to some other stage.
How do you get comfortable with being who you are, you listen to yourself, you be funky and fun, and give your muscles an opportunity to go crazy because you’ve been doing the same thing forever and that’s why you sound the same.
When it comes to looking at yourself look at yourself and get used to it, play with other people and exercise, channel your childhood curiosity and pretend like you’re in fourth grade, that might help you to channel those emotions.
Because we know, you look at a 4-year-old and they don’t have to say anything, you know exactly how they feel.
So thank you for all that, I feel like my toolbox has a couple of extra dirty tools, the good ones that I know will stick around for a while.
But if somebody wants to learn how you can work with them in these different tools and activities and funky exercises, how do they find the right letters to connect to find you online?
Jaime Cohen: At the time of this recording my website is about to be launched so you should be able to find more information at usetherightwords.com but you can always find me on LinkedIn at linkedin.com/in/Jaime-cohen, and you can find me all across social media at @jaimbalaya.
So Instagram, Facebook, you can find me most frequently on LinkedIn and Instagram and also on Clubhouse at Jaime Cohen.
Ryan Foland: Okay, well there’s a lot of googling that will happen after this and we’ll make sure to include some of the stuff in the show notes to make it easier for our listeners.
But to all of our listeners, thank you for joining.
If you liked this if you like the show if you like what we talked about here then subscribe because we are approaching our hundredth episode which is a milestone that we’re very proud of.
Don’t forget that this podcast is brought to you by SpeakerHub, it’s an awesome place for speakers to showcase their wares, to have a website before you have a website, to search for call for speakers, to showcase your speaking chops, it’s got a one-page builder, all kinds of fun features and things.
I encourage you to check that out over its speakerhub.com follow them on social.
If you like my vibe, if you like the ginger, if you want to learn more about me and my freckles, if you remember my name and you want to go online that’s how you find me, ryan.online.
It’s been a pleasure, Jaime, having another dot in our connecticating, and I look forward to tracing a stage that I can tie back to our connection and I hope the same will be for you.
Jaime Cohen: Me too, thanks, Ryan.
Ryan Foland: All right.
Everybody, take care and remember, look in the mirror and love it, talk to yourself and like it, and if you don’t like it just keep doing until you like it and you’ll be all right, you’ll eventually get invited to the birthday party. I promise. Okay, we’ll see on the flip side, maybe on the stage sometime. Adios.
A bit about World of Speakers
World of Speakers is a bi-weekly podcast that helps people find their own voices, and teaches them how to use their voice to develop a speaking business. This special series of episodes has been created to help speakers navigate the coronavirus crisis.
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This was originally posted on SpeakerHub Skillcamp.