Stewart: It’s facts from Albert Mehrabian, he did some study years ago, I’m very grateful for his study, he says that when you’re presenting something you care about, 55% of what you present is body language. How you stand, how you smile. So today we’re doing an exercise that enables you to be un–slouched and to stand tall has incredible power on that 55% because that’s a huge foundation. And I think if you can get the voice, you can actually do anything. I mean obviously there’s skill required but when you’re in touch with your true voice, it just changes who you are because you’re no longer living under a false pretense of this master voice that for whatever reason you have adopted.
Advertisement: Welcome to the Endless Coffee Cup, a regular discussion of marketing news, culture and media for our complex digital lifestyle. Join Matt Bailey as he engages in conversation to find insights beyond the latest headlines and deeper understanding for those involved in marketing. Grab a cup of coffee, have a seat and thanks for joining.
Matt: Well welcome back to the Endless Coffee Cup. Another hour or so of just conversation that I hope you’ll learn from. And I’m really excited today because I really—being on the road, travelling, teaching, sometimes it can be kind of lonely because you do your job, you go back to your room. But on one of these trips, I’ve run into Stewart a couple of times and we finally had a chance to talk and I would say over the past year or so, Stewart has become, I would say one of my best friends here of sharing information, learning from each other. So I want to introduce all of you to Stewart Bewley. And Stewart, welcome to the show.
Stewart: Thank you. And what a lovely welcome.
Matt: Well absolutely. I—you know, I would say, you know, as you meet people, you know, in business and you’ve been one of the more fascinating people and seeing what you do has been just awesome. So, I knew I had to have you on the show.
Stewart: Wow. I remember chatting with you on the boat in Amsterdam which sounds a little bit ominous. Having this incredible conversation about story-telling and data and me just—my brain lighting up with this understanding that you gave me with the backdrop of Europe, you know—like you said, you travel so much for work, it can get so lonely, you need to make those connections and those moments.
Matt: Absolutely. Well your focus is story-telling and that automatically grabbed my attention. So tell me a little bit about yourself and you know, what got you started in teaching people how to tell a story.
Stewart: So what—I guess it all begins in 2011. So I was an actor from the age of 21, I went to Uni, graduated age 21 and have gone to theater company back in 2000 and… I thought, “This is it. I’m going to make it as an actor and it doesn’t matter there are thousands of people going for the same job. I will get that job.” The first year was great, I toured around the UK and I learned really how to create theater in any scenario. And I say any scenario because we weren’t in the Western theaters, we were like in—we were in a couple of prisons which is really interesting.
Stewart: Yeah, yeah. And you literally, no pun intended, you have a captive audience and you have to go, “How do I keep these people from not booing me because they’ve got no etiquette around theater.” And then we, you know, like go to schools or assembly halls and a bunch of 15-year old, lads and girls, they are not easy to impress. In those moments you’re like, “How do I get my body and my voice to replace where I can always engage people. Whether I’m tired or not, I have to be loud, I have to be full of energy.” So that’s kind of what I learned as an actor. Then I went to drama school to try to learn a bit more and then I moved out of drama school and moved to London, got an agent got a garden, and I thought, this is it. One day I’m going to leave my flat, I remember thinking this. One day I’m going to leave my flat, walk down my 2 flights of stairs, I guess you’d say apartment, walk down my 2 flights of stairs, get a job and get on tv and life will never be the same again. Now that never happened. But what did happen was that my friend Mia, who lived near me, knew that I was an actor and she said to me, “Stew, can you help me please. I’m so nervous when it comes to speaking in public, I lose my voice.”
I said to her, “I don’t understand what you mean.” And she showed it to me. So she be talking to me like you and I are talking now and she get up to present as it were and her voice would completely go. She’d swallow, she’d pause like this and not—couldn’t finish the sentence. And I was floored. I thought, “Gosh,” I—she said—“I can’t help you. I’m not a trained vocal coach.” But I said, “Look, I’ll have a go. I’m going to teach you how to stand tall because you’re slouching and if you’re slouching over that means you don’t look confident and it means you can’t breathe well which means you can’t access your voice. And then I’m going to teach you how to breathe and then I’m going to teach you how to speak well.” These are all three very simple exercises that I would do every day when I was on tour as an actor. But I thought, you know, that—look, that’s when you’re an actor, that’s like when you’re playing a part. When you’re being yourself, surely, surely this won’t work. Obviously I didn’t tell her any of this. And we did a 20-minute coaching session. And at the end of the coaching session. I said, “Okay Mia, show me what you can do.” And she stood there, really tall, hands on, I remember, hands really strong and going, “Hi. My name is Mia, and this is my story.” And I don’t know if you have those moments where you feel like the ground become much more solid, much more real. She then went, “Oh my gosh. This works. This thing that I just thought was for actors is for real people.” Not that actors aren’t real people. We could talk about that in another podcast. And she said to me, “I think you’ve got a business and I’m going to pay for you to on a group on course,” which is like you—everyone pays a certain amount of money to learn a lifestyle skill. She said, “I’m going to pay for you to go on a group on course on presentation skills because you need to see competition.” So she paid £135 for me to go on my own on this course in the middle of East London somewhere. Three flights up the stairs, really rickety old room. I stayed on this workshop for 2 and ½ hours. I couldn’t stay in the last half hour, I was so angry. And sometimes you have to know what you’re angry about to realize what makes you passionate. And I was—
Matt: Oh wow, yeah.
Stewart: Yeah. I was angry because we’d kind of been pushed about for 2 and 1/2 hours we’ve been made to do improvisation stuff and we’ve been told that we’d never quite make it as a presenter and then people caught up to present that pitch I suppose the thing they’d brought along for the day, right?
Stewart: And the people who give the feedback would be the people who’d pay to come on the course and in the UK, I’m sure it’s not a lot in the US, but in the UK you’ve always got Joe blogs who just wants to talk. So.
Matt: Oh, I think you’d find that anywhere, Stewart.
Stewart: Joe blog would pipe up and give feedback. I mean like, these guys are paid £190 to be told by a random stranger pieces of rubbish information. I was so mad. I was like, I’m taking over or I’m starting a business. Well basically I left, walked down these 3 flights of stairs and started what is now called Amplifying and basically my goal was, how can I get in front of people and help them to speak better. So I went to my friends who all worked in London. I knew them through church, some of them were working in like executive pay, some of them were working for a telephone company, Voda phone like a mobile company, so you know, really varied but they were all very kindly bet on me a little bit and one of these guys said to me once, I’ve got this guy on line managing and he’s been told he’s too aggressive, can you fix him?
Matt: Wow. Oh wow.
Stewart: I went, “Yes, yes. Of course I can.”
Stewart: And then I was like, “Oh my gosh, what do I do?” I went 4, 1 hour sessions, £100 an hour. I was just, you know, kind of guessing. He said yes and I remember turning up and his office is opposite Buckingham Palace. So we’re talking, you know, downtown, very expensive real estate. You can almost see the queen’s bedroom. I’d like to think that maybe you can… And he goes in there and I said, “Okay so just show me, you know. Show me, Tony, what you would do in a normal conversation with a client you don’t agree with.” And he got really aggressive and I thought, Hang on a minute. This is about—he’s not breathing, his posture’s all over the place. I think he’s nervous. I think he has no confidence. I wonder if I teach him the presentation skills, will it calm him down? Will it help him be fully present and will it help him represent himself a little bit better. So I taught him all the stuff that I taught Mia and then I role played again. And I was quite strong with him. I was like, “No, start again that bit. Oh that’s a bit aggressive, that’s a little bit I’m going to kill you now voice.” I got to play around with it by the end of the hour, he had changed again. And I just thought, you know what, this thing, this story-telling thing, it’s not about… it’s not about playing a guitar and wearing strappy sandals and singing around a campfire.
It’s about communicating the truth of who you are and what you need to say in a way that amplifies who you are. You are not a fake version of you. Actually changes the atmosphere in the room and does good and in business, like I saw the potential. So that’s kind of how it all started for me.
Matt: That is amazing. That—how opportunity just presented itself. It just amazes me because I’ve seen the workshop and seen what it does to people. But also I think, you know, I would say people like you and I, getting in front of people, has it always been easy for you? I think in some ways I think when I was younger, I didn’t care. So but now that I’m a little older I look back and I’m like, you know it always was kind of easy but I still needed to learn how to properly present. Was it always easy for you to be in front of people or was that something that acting school refined in you?
Stewart: That is one of the best questions you can ask me because that’s kind of revealing the secret sauce of Stew. Ironically, acting school beat it out of me. Yeah. So, my story briefly is I grew up, normal kid, I had a best mate. We were like best buddies, we’d hang out every Sunday. I remember his mum would give me donuts after Sunday lunch and I thought this was wild and amazing and we used to go play in the fields with his dad. Really tragically when I got into secondary school, within the first week of me getting into this really posh private or boys school, he was in a back accident and he suddenly died and a whole world fell apart and I lost a real sense of confidence. I was very playful, I used to act a lot, I mean I still, I kept acting it was the acting that kept me going but as I have coached more and more, I’ve gone into my story more and more, I often asked myself, “Why is it. why does this desire or ability, resilience that I have come from?” And I’ve gone back into my story and I’ve realized that when Alistar died, the bullying started in secondary school and it kind of, sorry this is very personal, but it kind of continued for 3, 4, 5 years. It was physical than emotional and I remember throughout that time, I would keep acting, you know, in school plays and stuff. Because I went to a posh private school in the UK, that means you do talks and I know in America you guys a lot more, you’re kind of taught to do that, right? Which is why brilliant orators are in America.
Matt: Yeah. I’m going to interject here because I think we—the statistic, you should be very familiar with it that, and I think this is almost worldwide that when people are asked what their biggest fear is, that public speaking is like number 1 or 2 and it blew my mind that being buried alive and snakes are underneath that, that people are more afraid of speaking in public than being buried alive or being around snakes. And that blows my mind.
Stewart: I know. I know. It blows my mind and I was only saying yesterday, I said yesterday, “People would rather die than speak in public.”
Matt: Yes. Oh yes. So, I don’t think it’s a US thing. It’s universal. I think you—some people I think are born with an overabundance of confidence in public speaking and like you said, it needs to be beat out of them. But I think the majority, yeah, there is something there. Yeah, so how did acting school?
Stewart: Yes. So what happened was, at the age of 17, I stood up in my private school and I did an assembly that was basically all about my life in school. And I said, this is what happened to me, the bullying that happened and I don’t need your pity, but you’re arrogant and it has to stop. And it was a little bit like Dead Poet’s Society moment, you know in the movie. Love that movie when he stands up and goes, “Oh Captain my Captain.” It’s like a real moment and right at the end of my 20-minute talk, in front of 600 teenage boys and this whole column of memorial hall, you know, wood paneling all around it, very serious school. I ended it by going, “There’s a motto, the high master’s office by Aristotle, a philosopher and he says, ‘We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence therefore is not an act but a habit.’” And I said, “I think we need to change that to, “We are what we repeatedly do. Arrogance therefore is not an act but a habit. Thank you.” Now I sat down expecting boos but what I got was thunderous applause which was the Dead Poet’s Society moment. And I really—actually what I got was amplified and my desire to speak in public, reborn, redeem, whatever you’d all it. It suddenly came alive in my at the age of 17, 18. And there are some things that just come alive in you that just don’t die.
So you know, I went to Uni, I acted, I sang, and definitely acting to a degree helps but I know loads of actors who are real introverts. So they’d play the part and then they hate being around people. And in fact, are awful at teaching people because they’re just lost in the world of the play or the movie they’re making. So, for me I’d always had this thing—I think from the assembly, just this desire to communicate, to unlock people’s voices. My wife was a youth worker so that would mean I’d mentor young people. So you know, you’ve always got to draw teenagers out from themselves.
Stewart: So, I obviously done all of these roaring things. Like teaching, mentoring, speaking in that assembly. And it meant that when the opportunity presented itself with Mia, I was ready. Drama school interestingly, I went back to drama school to get better and I was just told that I was rubbish because drama school, it’s a very weird bubble where you’re made—they kind of rip you apart. Well I’m not saying it’s true at every drama school but in my drama school, I think the theory was, “We’ll rip you apart, we’ll make you feel that you don’t understand any basics and then we’ll rebuild you.” So they did the first bit. I think they forgot about the second bit.
Matt: I felt that way about art teachers. You know, similarly they tell you, you don’t know anything, it’s rubbish but yet I was waiting for the build-up to come and it never did.
Stewart: So that was really… I think and even that piece of, my friend said to me once some time: The things that you are meant to do get very challenged so you could almost lose them. So I was thinking about that the other day and I thought, actually, drama school, of course that’s where you’re meant to be taught these great skills to be able to be a great story-teller and to be a great teacher. Drama school almost stole from me the confidence that I had, to believe that I could actually help someone unlock their voice. Interesting in certain life I think that my friend had.
Matt: Yeah. That’s powerful. Well certainly, you are enabling people with skills that just aren’t really taught I think. You know, almost anyone in business should go through this. I know when I was hiring, when I had my agency, I think at one point, I just threw my hands up in desperation. And I said, “Just give me somebody who can write well and speak well and I’ll hire him. I’ll teach him to do anything else. I just want someone who can communicate and someone that I can, with confidence, put in front of a client.” Because I felt like no matter how many people I interviewed, That skill was nonexistent. And so hearing what you were doing, I just feel like anyone in business school, you know, anyone at Uni, regardless of what you want to go into and this was advice from my father. He made me take sales training which I’m so glad he did because he said, “You are always going to be selling. Whether it’s you, your idea, trying to get a promotion or really just trying to communicate something to somebody. That’s what life is all about.” And I’m so grateful that he pushed me into it, literally, because it has made an impact throughout my business career. And so I’m surprised more and more, you know, these soft skills are more in demand than the hard skills. And so there is such a need for what you’re doing. I’m so happy to hear that.
Stewart: I mean it’s pretty interesting. I heard a podcast series, Entreleadership, Carmine Gallo was interviewed by Kim Coleman and he said that Warren Buffett the only certificate that he has in his office is his certificate of public speaking. That’s the only thing that he has up in his office. I was really surprised to hear this that he was so scared of public speaking that he forced himself to not only learn how to speak but then how to actually teach other people to speak. And Warren Buffett says that if you want the one sure increasing your income by 50%, is to learn the art of public speaking. So I heard that fact and I was so excited by it and I put it on LinkedIn and thought this was going to get loads of traction. It got like, no traction. Is that me, is that LinkedIn but I thought actually people still. I don’t think people understand and I don’t know why. I mean that’s why I got a job but if you sit, sit tall and if you breathe and if you learn to figure out what voice is now, you can tell a story better. And if you do that, you will actually engage and you will win more work off it. Like it’s such a simple idea. But I think it’s all wrapped up with confidence and people’s stories and their histories and nerves and, you know, the amount of adrenaline that an actor would feel, sorry, that I would feel or any actor would feel before they go on stage.
They say, it’s like a heart attack. As in you know, your body is pumping. And then for me before when I used to act which wasn’t very often but what I did, my teeth would go numb. Had your teeth ever gone numb Matt?
Matt: That is an interesting description. I’m not sure I could describe that but no, for me it’s—I chew gum before I go on and by the time I’m done with it, it’s you know, it’s just that resistance. It’s that nervous energy. I think it manifests in different ways.
Stewart: Yeah, yeah, yeah. And that adrenaline is that thing that sends people into fight or flight or freeze.
Stewart: And really all I ever to people is, “Look, I don’t’ believe,” I mean we’ve coached about 8 and half thousand people and that’s lots of start-ups and even lots on corporate world, that’s obviously where I met you, and there’s only been 2 people of those numbers that have been un–coachable and one of them of was a friend who was just trying to help me but actually was very patronizing and didn’t want any of the coaching and it was a very painful 2 hours. It was awful. And one of them was someone who had their own coach and their style of how to do things with their hands. They just weren’t willing to learn. They just couldn’t let it go. Everyone else, a group of IT geeks, sorry I don’t mean geeks, we’re talking IT people., Sales people, Marketers, they’re, you know, English is a 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th language. Every single one of them I’ve seen a huge shift when I coach them because there’s a lie out there that says, “If you’re an extrovert, you’re great at speaking or you know, you took some classes school, you’ll be great at speaking.”
Stewart: But the truth is actually, no one goes home, hopefully their loved ones and goes, “Hello, darling. Here’s a really boring PowerPoint at what happened to my day.” No one does that. We all go home and we all tell stories.
Stewart: And when we have to present in public, we aren’t with our loved ones and there’s a lot at stake. It could be, it might not be a job interview or sales, it might be more influence in meeting, it could be a subtle shift but still, a shift. And adrenaline knows that something’s happening and what happened to my teeth when they went numb is was what happens to people’s bodies. And that’s why they forget their lines or they get nervous or they get quiet. And as the years have gone on, I just thought there are some very simple techniques that you could learn from how you shape your content to make sure that you don’t lose the story to how you actually deliver it, breathing and projecting. If you were to practice it like an athlete, practices their skill, you would become really, really good at speaking. And that’s ultimately what I help people do all over the world and it works. You’ve seen it.
Matt: It does. Yeah. Absolutely. I’ll never forget sitting in one of the workshops and just watching. And this was a lot of 20 somethings. Young, 20 somethings who had just been hired by this company and so it was the story-telling workshop and they went through all the elements of telling the story and I love the whole sticky note idea of this sticky note is your example. This sticky note is you know, a metaphor and you know, and then they partnered up and they rearranged the sticky notes. And so now I have to re-tell the story in a new order using my sticky notes and then they would remove sticky notes. And I think it was you know, a minute for each sticky note or a statement of something like that. And I’m like, this is so—I was just overwhelmed. Like, this is so cool. You have figured out a way to develop a program that people—simple steps for people to follow. And what I’ll never forget is, if you had me go around the room and identify who’s going to be good speaker, who’s not going to be a good speaker, I probably could have done it again based on personality I would have picked out. But there was one young woman there that if I had to identify from the beginning of the day, I would have told you, “Oh my.” You know, she doesn’t want—not only does she not want to speak in front of everyone, she doesn’t want to be seen and you could tell that from the beginning but her partner, when it was asked, “Who here has a partner that has a great story?” Her partner volunteered her to tell her story to the rest of the class. And you could sense that there was just this, “Oh no,” but yet the moment she then turned around and everyone was like, “Yes, yes. Let’s hear your story.”
She planted herself, stood up straight and within 4 minutes, delivered one of the most impactful stories and everyone in the room was just, I mean when she was done, it was just about 5 seconds of silence. Just—everyone was just wowed by what she just did. And I remember turning to, you know, Michelle. I think you worked with Michelle as well. I remember looking at her and I’m like, her life just changed. At that moment, she is coming away with this with confidence that I can lock down the attention of an entire room of my peers and present and be applauded. She has to come away with this. This has to be a life-changing event for her. And that’s when I’d realize, I mean there is power to what you are doing. It’s changing people’s lives.
Stewart: Thank you. It’s lovely to hear you say that. I think if you get the right technique and you, as a coach—I as coach or the guys that work with me and for me, can find a way of unlocking that person. Then it is amazing what can be achieved. I was chatting with a business coach, friend of mine. And I said, “One of the things that we had Amplify is that I have this relentless ambition.” And the coach that were with me, a relentless ambition for people to reach the Everest mountain top. And it never occurred to me that they won’t do it. So someone who’s shy like that girl, gets up, it doesn’t bother me as coach because I’m there going, “You’re up, you’re ready, we can coach you to focus more.” So you know, and you’ve seen it. There’s so many different ways of bringing the best out of people but one of the best ways to do it is once they’ve told their story, pick the moment that is maybe not so emotional because stories are obviously wrapped in emotion, again to present that as a kid’s presenter and because they’ve given their all by already presenting the room, they kind of got nothing left to hold back. So you see these—run around the room, kids present when telling their story and then my favorite moment is when they go and now tell it as a whisper. And then they whisper to this room.
I did it with this guy, again, working with the company. And there were 300 people in Poland in a room and he was telling a story about how he got into this company and the first time he told it, it was really, I mean really powerful. In fact he said, he said something that he’s never said in public before. He said, everything’s really going well for me. I got in University and then my sister was driving me somewhere and we had a car crash and she died. And the whole room, and these were all like people who have been onboarded for this company, none of them knew that. What it was like, electrifying. And people are like, crying and going, “Oh my gosh. What has just happened.” Before I’m even coaching this guy, he has been so vulnerable and then I had to make a choice as coach which was, well I want to bring the best story-teller out in him. So I loved him to be more confident, I love him to be a bit louder, you know, his sentences to be a bit shorter because we have such a short attention span as human beings. So I had to choose a bit of this story that wasn’t about his sister passing away. I coached him on the second half of his story. And I got him to do it as a kid’s presenter. And then when he re-presented as normal, it was even more powerful. I will never forget that. And you know, you saw that girl in Amsterdam and actually I think that every single time we get anyone in the room, that happens and I regularly remind myself that I absolutely love my job because who, you know, how often do you get to say that you get help someone unlock their voice like that.
Matt: Yeah. That’s amazing and that’s where I think you and I got along so well is because when I’m teaching, I’m teaching people how to use data but I know that there’s a second half to it that, yeah, I’ll teach you how to get the data. But now you need to learn how to present that data. You need to learn how to communicate it effectively otherwise there’s no buy-in.
Stewart: No and stories, I remember Bennett Brown saying, her first ever Ted Talk, the power of vulnerability. Stories are data with a soul, which is a really interesting idea. Actually, I think stories are just data, right. Like that data—I remember the conversation we had. I got so excited because I was like going, hang on, you’re working with all these people that I’ve got this incredible data that I had to translate it to the human being. And the only way you do that is by telling a story.
Matt: Yeah. I can’t tell you how many—and that’s the thing. Usually, you know, from what I’m doing, it’s, you’re marketers usually you’ve got IT, you’ve got people running numbers. They’re more the withdrawn type of personality and when they uncover something, they get excited and then they show up to the next meeting with spreadsheets. And so I try to challenge them, you know, I’d love to have a, you know, another workshop, okay, how do we take what’s on your spreadsheet and enable you to present that in 4 minutes or less without a spreadsheet because that’s what people will listen to. As soon as you pass out that spreadsheet, everyone’s eyes are going to close and they’re gonna go to sleep.
Stewart: They are.
Matt: Absolute energy in what we do. Yeah, empowering people. I think that’s really the bottom line which enables them to be more effective at their job but ultimately at life, at their potential has just been unlocked, as you say.
Stewart: You know Donald Millard, he has written a book called StoryBrand, it’s in the title, StoryBrand. It talked about the course of knowledge which I’m really interesting like with your guys, he’s got the data. The curse of knowledge says, you know, we’re 10 of 10 of what we know and we assume that the audience is a 6 out of 10. But the truth is, they’re really 2 out of 10. And curse of knowledge means that if we’re speaking to people like they’re 6 out of 10, that’s why we bring spreadsheets in because we assume that they’ll know something or, I’m not going further and say, actually and we’re not confident to actually stand there as a data analyst and tell a story because we just want the facts to speak for themselves. And we believe all these lies about that and it feels like your job and my job is to just gently help people uncover those lies. I do this exercise where I get people to write down the ridiculous rules of presenting. So I say, you know, “Tell me the top 5 things that you see people do really badly.” And they go, you know, mumbling, looking at the slide, presenting to the slides, looking at one person only, not looking at anybody. And I say, “Okay, what are your top 3 things that you think you do?” And then they go, “Oooohh…”
Matt: Oh yeah.
Stewart: Okay. I mumble, I get really panicky and I don’t know my sentence because I think the world will end if I don’t stop. So they write it down and then I say, “So now let’s turn that into a ridiculous rule.” And this is where they find it really hard because it’s counter-intuitive. So if I don’t end my sentence, it’s number 1, they have to turn it into a rule. It goes something like this, I will never, when I present, ever end my sentence because that’s basically the rule I’m living to. Now, nobody wakes up and goes, ”Today when I present, I will be boring, I will never end my sentence.” But yet they kind of do. I think—I love the exercise because once they’ve, you know, and they’re all laughing and they realize how ridiculous their rules are. Once they’ve realized that those are the things they do, that’s when you can make a change because you’ve got ownership in the room. Then I say, “Now let’s flip it, what are the three things that you would like to be known for?” And that’s a beautiful moment. And they go, “This year, I will do short, sharp sentences.” That doesn’t sound a very grandiose goal for 2018, 2019 or whatever year I’m coaching them. But actually it’s a huge goal because every time they deliver, they do short sentences, you know, you’ve seen it, they win audiences over.
Matt: Yes. And that is, I would say, that is a lofty, noble goal because it is elusive and hard to do.
Stewart: Yes, I suppose it is. Yes.
Matt: Absolutely. That is great. That is fantastic. Let’s just look at some of the most basic thing. You said posture, breathing, let’s break down the steps of, if you’re going to stand up in front of people, you know, what were the basic steps that you work with Mia on?
Stewart: Yeah. Okay. So, first thing that I always tell people before I do the exercise is fact from Albert Mehrabian, he did Mehrabian, he did some study years ago. I’m very grateful for his study. And he says that when you’re presenting something you care about, 55% of what you present is body language, how you stand, how you sound, how you smile. So today we’re doing an exercise that enables you to be un–slouched and to stand tall has incredible power on that 55%. So what I get all of our clients to do is I get them to so to stand straight with feet planted on the floor, pointing forward as if they’re either on a tram track or skis. I used to think of skis but then they would bend their knees like they’re skiing. It was kind of not the object of the exercise.
But the idea is that your feet are planted on pointing forward. Now I’m flat-foot a little bit. My dad’s flat-footed. So that means that my feet would generally want to go out a little bit like a duck’s feet.
But children, so before we hit puberty, not 10 years old, assuming that there’s no disability. Children stand like that. They stand with their feet planted on the floor, pointing forward. And that means that that their posture is naturally, really good spot. And if someone wants to you know, listen to this podcast, do that now, they will be quite surprised at how suddenly their shoulders are starting to realize. It’s very, very simple. It’s like a preliminary exercise. And then what I’ll get them to do to kind of get rid of the slouchiness. When sitting down or anything. Our body always wants to go to slouch mode. I get them to lean on to their tiptoes and lean forward, not backward. If you lean backward, well obviously you don’t lean back but you lean forward and if you go to forward a little bit, you might lose your balance. I said to people, forward rather than backwards because that tend to not fall over then. And as they’ve lean on to their tiptoes, here’s the beautiful thing, and slightly weird. You imagine that you’re a puppet on a string with your left or right arm, you just pull up this invisible string from the top of your head. I’m doing it now as I’m talking to Mitchell, I’m describing it right. And what happens is, your neck lengthens and your stomach suddenly lengthens. Now your shoulders stay down. The bits that we slouch with generally is our neck and the stomach, they’re lengthened. And then I say, let the arm go and we’re going to slowly lower down, back to your heels. You’re going to try and remain nice and tall. So when they get down to their heels, when the girl got down to her heels, they will feel weird. I say it feels weird, it’s right in this circumstance and they are standing tall. And there is a weird sensation. And the truth is, if you were to do that exercise, it only takes about half a minute to do, 3x a week in the toilet before they do a presentation. I get emails from people going, “I did the string in the toilet. It changed my presentation.” If they were to do that regularly then the body will start to remember. So the posh word from muscle memory is proprioception. Athletes have it but actually we all have it. So, you know, we either, do we let our body tell us what to do or do we tell it what to do. So, if they were to do that, 3, 4x a week, their body will start to remember what it feels like to stand to that 55% tall. Which means that when they’re pitching, they will naturally come to that. And when it comes to fight or flight, they will kick-in a learned muscle which makes a huge difference in their confidence and in how they look. So that’s my posture piece.
Matt: I remember that. That was, yeah, that alone, I think changed people. And I like how even when people get up to speak during your workshop, if they don’t do that first, you call them on it. Yes.
Stewart: You have to be really strict. You have to be really strong. So I often say to people, look. We’re very kind but we’re very strong because—and someone said this thing to me once, just practice, it’s not the practice makes perfect, practice makes permanent. And when I heard that, “Oh my gosh, that’s so true.” So actually we need to practice this. And if I see someone, if I see anyone slouching in a coaching session, I have to weed it out because otherwise, otherwise they aren’t building from the right foundation.
Stewart: So after posture comes breathing. So I’ll just quickly go through the breathing thing because again, this is really calming to do. The great thing about once you’ve realigned yourself, it’s not only you standing tall, looking confident that your stomach is going to collapse because of your breathe from the diaphragm which is, I always say is where the belly button is. So I get people to put like, to form a triangle with their two hands and to place their hands like a triangle around the belly button. And then just to breathe out through their mouth. Just breathe out, breathe out, breathe out till they can’t breathe out anymore. And they start to feel like their stomach is like reaching for a kind of sit-up, pressed up, tight feeling. And then they close their mouth and breathing through their nose and something miraculous happens, their stomach comes out instead of going in. Of course society says, you know, women, you’ve got to be a size zero, men you’ve got to have a 6-pack. So don’t show any ounce of fat, really unhelpful when it comes to breathing. When you breathe in, your stomach has to go out, that’s naturally what we did as children and all this is looking at children going, “Gosh, we used to do this as kids.” My children are loud. I have to say to them, “Inside voice only.” Why, and that’s because they’re standing tall and breathing great. So, I did the breathing exercise and people can get used to this idea of connecting their breath with their body. There’s always a sense of calm in the room. I said to people, if you’re feeling light-headed now, then you’re doing it well.
We can then add the voice. Because once you can stand tall and breathe, then you can connect the voice which is Albert says, Albert, sorry I’ve never met him. Albert Mehrabian says 38% of what people read from what we present is tonality, how we say what we say. So do we take the voice thing as quickly.
Matt: Absolutely. Posture, breathing and voice. I think those are the 3 main elements there. So.
Stewart: I’ve done this for 6 years, I never get tired of talking about this. It’s really interesting.
Matt: Oh absolutely. Oh it’s the foundation I think with anything. There is a foundational element to what we do and it’s funny. I think at one point, I mentioned to somebody that I can’t wait to, you know, in marketing, get beyond these foundational things and get into this like cool stuff. And he kind of laughs and says, “Well, I’ve been teaching foundational stuff for 6 years now and the need is greater than ever.” And now, 15 years after that conversation, I’m teaching more foundational stuff than ever before and the demand is higher than ever before. So, absolutely, the foundations are fun part.
Stewart: Yeah, yeah, it’s true. So the voice is very interesting because that’s a huge foundation. And I think if you can get the voice, you can actually do anything. I mean obviously there’s skill required but you’re then living out your true identity and I say that because for me, growing up I mentioned I got bullied and obviously that horrible time for teenage lads, when your voice breaks. And I was being bullied during the time. So my voice broke later than everyone else, like you know, you feel like an idiot. And I couldn’t feel like much of a man. I couldn’t play the school sports which was rugby. I don’t know what the equivalent would be in America or football or cricket or things like that. I didn’t feel much of a man so I learned to have quite high effeminate voice. So I spoke like this and I spoke with a twang, a northern twang because I come from the north of England, a place called Manchester, Manchester United, Manchester city of the football clubs, soccer clubs and I learned this voice to speak up here for 7 years from the age of 13 to 20, 21. And I had a voice accent at the age of 21 and a half when I got into this theater company and half an hour my voice went from this to this. And I remember looking around when I spoke out like that because I could not believe that voice had come from me. I was, “Oh my gosh, I feel like such a man,” and it wasn’t how low can you go. It wasn’t like, hey, Barry White, hey baby. It’s where does your voice sit. So that exercise that I did to get my voice to where it is today and it made –I actually changed. I changed in that moment when—hang on a minute, if this is my real voice then, the minute I became a confident, I became bolder, I can’t really explain it. When you’re in touch with your true voice, it just changes who you are because you’re no longer living under a false pretense of this master voice that for whatever reason you have adopted to cope with life or business.
So, very simply, in the workshops we do, we deal with that girl as well as posture and breathing, that’s all done. I get them to redo the stream and the breathing because we must remember, practice makes permanent. And then—and this I what’s weird for our clients. But they always trust us and go with it. I get them to take breath into their nose. And then just hum like this… and just hum one note as long as they can and I get them to imagine that the hum is like spaceship leaving their mouth and going to the other side of the room. But getting someone to do that in front of their peers is hard which is why we get them all to do it together. Always get people laughing and giggling. So now I’ve said, Look, close your eyes. This is fine. Yes it’s weird, I get it.” And once they’ve done it one once, you know. It’s like, Okay, let’s do it again, they’re obviously thinking, “Okay, this is over.” And I’m like, “No, no, no. This is just beginning.” With a hum I say it like, try to send it into your lips or into your nose to get the tingling sensation because what you’re doing then is, you’re applying all the muscles that you used when you’re breathing in your diaphragm and you are using that to push the sound into the front of the mouth. And a lot of people when they speak, they speak from the back of the mouth like this and I’m going to talk like this and especially in America, they can do this a lot like yeah. If you talk like this no one can hear what you’re saying. But if you speak from the front of the mouth like this, then all I’m doing is slightly opening my lips but because I’ve done the humming, the sound I often say, imagine a bumble bee or a wasp, but not wasps because wasps are nasty. But imagine a bumblebee is buzzing around the front of your mouth, desperate to get out of your mouth. So we hum, they try and place it in their mouth, in their nose and eventually I get them to hum and go, “My name is Stew.” Obviously not Stew, but their actual names. I once did that and we had 30 people actually all went, “My name is Stew.”
Matt: My name is Stew. They’re following instructions, that’s great.
Stewart: They were. I was like, “My gosh. I can get them to do anything.” So I—obviously, that’s not the USP of Amplify. When everyone says what their name is, they often go, “My name is Stew,” and they’re a bit like, “Is this really happening.” I make them do it again and by the third time, you’ve got this room full of tall, breathing, really confident people saying, “My name is Stew.” And I say to them, “Look, you say,” or whatever the names are, “You say your name every day.” So actually if you can learn to say your name and the acting term would be, on support. So your voice is, you know, you’re breathing your diaphragm, you’re not trying to support from the throat. The voice, it feels like it’s coming out from the front of your lips, you’re standing tall. If you can do that on support and you know and you can replicate that feeling again, that muscle memory of you using your stomach. Then actually, all you ever have to do when you presenting any presentation is to get your body into that place. So I say to people, Man, if you’re in a room and you’re asked to do a presentation like a PowerPoint, find a reason to stand up and to walk over to the slide and point to it because then you’re on your feet and you can redefine the space and let your let first sentence be loud and engaging. These are just very simple hacks but if you do it, then in that moment, there is a fight or flight moment, they won’t know they’re flying away, they aren’t running out of the room. But if they stand up, if they’re deliberate, they over pronounce their words, that is brining the fight which is 90% of the battle.
Matt: I love that. Very simple things but it makes such a world of difference when communicating to people. And that confidence is everything.
Stewart: That really is. I mean, I think for me, I discovered by accident because I was so angry, this gig I went to back in 2011 that the 3 exercises I gave Mia, they gave her confidence because she could see. I think you need to see sometimes. I think it’s really hard to measure and see things immediately and what Mia could see immediately in the room was she was standing tall, breathing better and projecting her voice and because she was doing it, that gave her the confidence to do it more, if that makes sense.
Matt: Absolutely. Oh, absolutely. Well it’s—you have success and you know, I tell people all the time that as a speaker, as a presenter, there is a high that you get, you know, you talked about it. When you are seeing people change, when you are communicating. And same for me, when is see people get it and starting to understanding things, I get energized, I get literally a high from that. So after the seminar, it’s okay, let’s do something, let’s, you know, and then by the end of the day I’m just completely exhausted from the adrenaline, from that high because when you’re seeing people get it, when you’re communicating, like you said, I could get them to—I always felt like, I could get people to write down anything just by the way of saying it that it communicates so powerfully, confidence does. And being able to train people to do that, I love it. And so, that’s why I had to get you on the podcast here, Stewart because you know, what you do, I think, is a valuable, not just a skill for business but, you know, so many areas of life, it’s necessary.
Stewart: Thank you, Matt. One of my favorite quotes someone said to me was that, I coached him because he was like a co-founder of a start-up and he said, “That thing that you gave me, I went into the pub that night and I chatted up this girl.” And then they got married.
Matt: Now that is a testimonial. That’s fantastic.
Stewart: That is a testimonial and also I think I’m very passionate about people getting it whenever they can. So I’ve got, I’ve recorded this online academy with the idea that like if you really wanted to go into, how to you storify your content, how did you live it. It’s like 9 short 5-minute videos with the idea. It’s never the same but imagine that I’m in the room with you and you hit pause at the moment where you have to do the exercise because I just realized that I can’t travel around the world all the time and do it but I’d love to give you that confidence because like you said, the joy of knowing that someone has really taken on board what you—what you’ve sweated over and had about over years and it’s changed them, there is nothing that matches that joy.
Matt: None at all. And I’m glad you brought that up, Stew. So this is the chance where you get to pitch yourself and where can we people find that education and those videos if they’re curious to learn more and get some of those skills.
Stewart: That’s a great question. So my website is amplify.me.uk. That’s A, M for mother, P, L for Lima, I, F, Y for yankee .me.uk and it’s just getting redesigned but that is, if you scroll down, there is a tab, at the moment, the tab says, “Join our academy” in the start-up section. There will be its own dedicated page. All you have to do is click on that Academy. That will take you straight through to teach where the academy is hosted. All we need is your name and email address and then as soon as anyone signed up, they get an instant welcome email and some access to the 9 5-minute videos.
Matt: Fantastic. That’s great. And I highly recommend it. You know, you may think you know public speaking but I challenge to go through some of Stewart’s videos there even if you think you’re a pro, you can always learn something. I learn something every time I’m peeking into his workshop. So, Stewart, hey, thank you so much for making here today. I really appreciate it.
Stewart: Thank you, Matt. It’s been great.
Matt: I hope so. And I’d love to have you back to talk, you know, we didn’t get in to story-telling at all but I’d love to—maybe we could schedule another time here to talk about story-telling if you’re up for it, I’d love it.
Stewart: I’d love that. Love that.
Matt: Fantastic. Thanks so much, Stewart. Have a great day and thanks again for listening to the Endless Coffee Cup podcast and man, I hope this is inspiring for you and please let us know. If you found this valuable, rate the episode, rate the show. And look forward to talking with you again soon.