Plenty of professional speakers are perfectly comfortable on stage and always were, but, believe it or not, that’s not the case for everyone.
For many aspiring or even active speakers, the thought of the spotlight can be anxiety and nausea-inducing, and many resources say the same thing: You just need to be more confident in yourself.
And while this may be true in part, the only tried-and-true way to boost your speaking skills AND your confidence is – you guessed it – practice.
In this episode, we’re joined by speaking coach and the owner of Frantically Speaking Hrideep Barot to break this process down and dispel the idea that confidence is “all you need” to become a better speaker.
Having coached people from companies like Meta, Tesla, Deloitte, KPMG, and Adobe as well as from various universities like Harvard, Stanford, and MIT, Hrideep is well-versed in the challenges of becoming a speaker, especially if you’re a natural introvert.
In his words, “Have I transformed myself into this amazing public speaker? No. But I have come to the conclusion that communication and public speaking skills, just like most other skills, are learnable.” And here, he explains how you can learn to be a better speaker, too.
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Show Notes 📓
✅ Take Hrideep’s “Frantically” Public Speaking Masterclass: https://youtu.be/hjX1Sj38ykU
✅ Download Hrideep’s printable Public Speaking checklist: https://franticallyspeaking.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/The-Public-Speaking-Checklist-1.pdf
📷 Watch the video version of this episode and subscribe for updates on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLYAr3nGy6lbXrhbezMxoHTSCS40liusyU
🎤 Thank you to our sponsor, Libsyn Studio (formerly Auxbus)! Want the best podcasting solution out there? Learn more here: https://www.libsynstudio.com/
🚀 And as always, don’t forget about all the mind-blowing free resources at https://speakerflow.com/resources/
Read the Transcription 🤓
Intro: You know those moments when you’re doing what you love in your business, maybe it’s standing onstage or creating content, whatever it is, you’re totally immersed, and time just seems to slip by? This is called the flow state. At Speaker Flow, we’re obsessed with how to get you there more often. Each week we’re joined by a new expert where we share stories, strategies, and systems to help craft a business you love. Welcome to Technically Speaking.
Taylorr: All right, we did it. Man. Hrideep, it is incredible to have you here. Thank you so much for joining us on, technically Speaking. We’ve been looking forward to this one.
Hrideep: Thank you so much for having me, guys. It’s been a pleasure. I’ve told you before, your concept and philosophy of the entire company and the book that you all follow, The Flow, is one of my favorite ones. So, really excited to be here and share whatever information that might be of value to your audience.
Taylorr: Yeah, for sure.
Austin: We appreciate that, we’re definitely obsessive in this space and we love connecting with other people that are too. So, I think this’ll be a fun conversation, just comradery-wise, you know what I mean?
Taylorr: Yes. If nothing else.
Hrideep: I’m excited.
Taylorr: For sure.
Taylorr: Heck, yeah. Okay. So, I’m curious because you have a really cool business, coaching business around how to be a better speaker, basically. I’ll let you unpack some of that as we continue to go, but it’s called Frantically Speaking. So, I’m curious about the meaning behind that and why you chose that as the language of it when you started the whole thing up?
Hrideep: Yeah, so great question. So, when I was learning public speaking and communications, at that point in time, and we were speaking about this right before we started recording, and I just love that line you said; that a lot of the times, as speakers and as coaches, we tend to focus a lot on the positives, right? In terms of confidence and courage. And I find that sometimes that can be alienating to someone who’s more shy, more introverted, more reserved. So, we wanted to have a name which resonates with the introverted speaker, hence, an introvert, usually, if they aren’t trained and they go onstage and they have to speak, they are frantic, they’re not very poised and very calm. So, hence, the name Frantically Speaking, seems to resonate quite well with people who aren’t comfortable with the stage. So, that’s why.
Taylorr: Yeah, that’s awesome. That certainly doesn’t get addressed enough, I don’t think. To your point, it’s always a lot of kind of the textbook articles out there, it seems, it’s like, oh, you just have to be confident and own who you are and, well, that’s easier said than done, if naturally you’re a more reserved person.
Hrideep: Yeah, I remember when I was, so I used to suffer from very bad social anxiety and had a lot of challenges around confidence, self-esteem, in general, while growing up. So, when you’re in school, when you’re a kid, that’s still fine, right? You can sit in the back bench, you can get away with all of these things, but when I hit college is when all of these flaws were highlighted. So, it affected everything from grades, because I couldn’t do presentations, it affected social life and I knew it was going to affect my professional life because it’s not like I was very talented in coding or something technical that I could just sit in the back and do that work.
So, I knew it had to be something else. And when I would Google things like, how do I get better at public speaking? And I scoured hundreds of articles and videos, this is, of course, a while back, many, many years ago, but almost all of them said this, right? They all said that, Hey, if you want to be better at public speaking, then what you need is confidence. You need courage. And I’m like, yeah, that sounds fantastic, but how do I get that? And when I would Google, how do you become confident? I would get things like, you need to practice, you need to visualize the audience rooting for you. You need to know that there’s nothing really to be afraid of. And, again, that was information that I think all of us know.
So, it didn’t seem very practical and I made it my mission when I started getting better with speaking that any information that we give out has to be actionable to some point. Yes, there is a mindset part to it as well, but in the most part we need something that we can act upon. So, yeah, that’s something that I really think about and it’s something I’m, I really clicked with you when I first spoke to you, Taylorr, because we spoke about this the first time as well, right? So, yeah.
Taylorr: Very cool.
Austin: Yeah, man, I love that. I think speaking, in general, is kind of a heady subject. There’s like, you’re tying psychological principles into it and at the same time it’s a very physical activity, you speak with your hands and your body and there’s the tonality of things where you’re bringing emotion in. There are all of these technical, practical things that need to get taken into consideration, but I don’t think that it is a lot of the time. So, you’re hitting certainly on an area that needs more help.
I’m curious about, going back to the name itself, is the philosophy that the frantic, sort of, energy that an introvert may have about getting the opportunity to stand up onstage. Would the trick be to harness that energy and turn that into an advantage jiu-jitsu style? Or is the idea that that’s a challenge that can be overcome and you move past that frantic energy. So, is it a strength or a weakness, I guess? Or could it be changed from one to the other?
Hrideep: So, it can become a strength, I think this is something that even you guys will know because we’re in the space that the symptoms, the biological symptoms we feel when we’re nervous are the same that we feel when we’re excited, right? So, it’s just a mindset aspect of, okay, if I’m feeling nervous, if I’m feeling my body shaking, I’m sweating, I’m shivering a little bit, I’m stumbling when I speak, that can be perceived as excitement as well. And that’s when we look at it positively, and that is when it can play to our advantage.
So, that is one aspect that we do put out, it does help some people, it’s helped me in the past as well. But one very critical thing that, at least, we push out to anybody we come across who needs help in this space, essentially, is that don’t try to overcome the fear. Because there are people who’ve been performing for years and years in front of thousands of people, we all know her, Adele, the singer Adele, she, to this day, feels performance anxiety. John Lennon from the Beatles used to throw up before performances because of stage-fright.
So, if these guys at such a high level, who are practicing every day, are still feeling nervous, the hard truth is that for some of us, stage-fright and that fear, it might not go away. And that’s fine, that’s completely fine. We need to shift the conversation from overcoming stage-fright and overcoming fear to just learning how to manage it better. Because when we shift the conversation to managing it, that’s when we can learn to speak despite the fear, which is going to come regardless for most of us. So, I think that’s what I would say to that, that it can become an advantage, but I think the conversation needs to shift from overcoming it to management, then it doesn’t matter whether it’s positive or negative.
Austin: Oof. Cheers to that.
Taylorr: Yeah, for sure. It’s definitely not talked about enough. People also can start to feel like they’re beating themselves up too, it’s like, oh, why am I constantly fearful when everyone else isn’t? And you get into that comparison mentality and then that kind of just spirals into having more stage-fright before you do the thing, rather than kind of acknowledging like, no, this is normal, it’s fine. These are my tools for being able to manage that. And you go kick some butt and get up onstage. You’re kinder to yourself with that mentality than kind of putting that type of pressure on it, like, oh, I should be better at this. When in reality, I’m sure a lot of people suffer from that, but it’s just something to improve on, rather than remove completely, you know?
Taylorr: So, I’m curious if this ties into your own backstory, because you mentioned earlier, and I think in our previous conversations too, that naturally, right? You’re shy, a little introverted, you knew that you had to improve these skillsets in speaking to be more successful and so on, and to just have confidence mantra certainly wasn’t working for you. So, how did you overcome that? Was it just a matter of overcoming that fear and managing it better? Or were there other tools in your tool belt, so to speak, to master the art of speaking? What did you find that worked for you, as a more introverted and reserved person?
Hrideep: Yeah, great question. So, in communications is, this, I realized after I went through my journey, I’ve still not overcome it, I don’t want to overcome it, that word you use, manage, that’s perfect. So, I’m just learning how to manage it better. And I came to this conclusion after I was done with a lot of this learning, is that it’s very basic, right? To learn communications, we just need three things. And this is with most things, in general, most skill-based activities, we need a few techniques; we don’t need to know the entire world of public speaking and communications, we just need a handful of techniques. We need to repeatedly practice them and we need somebody to tell us where we’re going right and where we’re going wrong. That’s it, it’s pretty simple. But, of course, it’s not easy to do.
So, the way I learned is because Google wasn’t helping me, I couldn’t afford a coach, at the time, because I was a student, so that wasn’t an option either. I really wanted to pay someone so that I could learn directly from them, but that wasn’t an option. I tried to scrape some money together and I bought some online courses from those prerecorded courses that you get, but a lot of it was information refurbished from Google put into a video course, so that didn’t help either. So, the way I got into it is, it was actually by coincidence, I kind of left the idea of trying to become a better speaker, and eventually, at one point in time, my friend in college, so I made a few friends, I managed to make a few friends, which is a big deal for me, back then.
And this one friend that I made, and he’s still my very close friend, his name is [Shario – 11:35], and he is the complete opposite of me. So, completely extroverted, completely in your face, you throw him on a stage, he doesn’t care, those naturally-born speakers, so as to say, right? And I would just be in awe of his personality at all times, and in college, there are a lot of opportunities to go in front of people to speak, there are so many events happening and everything. And he would take all of them. But this one day, in particular, he had to speak at a small event, but he was not well, he didn’t come to college that day. And the teacher came to us, she came to our classroom and she’s like, oh, okay, Shario is not well, the event still needs to go on.
So, she looked at me, she pointed at me, she’s like, you. And she’s like, you need to do what he was going to do. And now she didn’t know that I was nervous, that I was shy; she just knew that I was his friend and someone needed to fill his shoes, so I was the first person in the line of sight. So, I was taken up and I just asked her, I’m like, okay, fine, but what do I have to do exactly? Because, by this time, I’m already nervous, right? And she’s like, it’s nothing. It’s not even a stage, there are 15 people in the crowd. There are parents of certain students, you just have to introduce some of them. That’s it, nothing else. I’m like, okay, fine. I think that’s manageable. I did that.
There were a few more people than 15, so there were about 20, 25 people in the audience. I introduced them. It was just a small 15 to 20 minute part that I had to play. I spoke, I left. Now, that particular event, it wasn’t too good, it wasn’t too bad either. But the only realization it gave me is that I survived. The stage is not a place that kills us, because that was the thought in my mind and it’s a thought for a lot of people who have anxiety. So, after that happened, I noticed something very strange, just that one small event, it wasn’t even a speech, but for the next 24 hours, and I so vividly remember this, there was a difference in the way I was walking. There was a difference in the way I was talking, very subtle, but I could feel something, I could feel something good.
Later, I found out that that’s what confidence feels like, which I had not felt in a very long time. And I’m like, you know what? Maybe the answer is not to read about it, but maybe the answer is to go onstage a little more. To cut a long story short, I tried to go onstage a little more often for small, small events like these. I approached the same teacher who came to me and I’m like, are there any more events like this happening? I would love to be a part of it. And I got small, small roles coming in. At the same time, I joined Toastmasters, I found out about that through my uncle, so I joined one. It was a little far from my house, so I would travel every Sunday morning over there. And I would never do a speech; I would never do a table topic.
For those of you who don’t know what Toastmasters is, it’s a non-profit organization. It basically gives you a platform to practice public speaking. So, I would never give a speech, nothing. But they offer small opportunities for you to come onstage to just do an introduction or something very small, I don’t want to get too technical about it, but very small opportunities to go onstage. So, I was doing that, I was doing the college thing and at the same time I found a few books around public speaking. So, the one behind me that wasn’t there, at that point in time, but there were a few books by this author called Dale Carnegie, who a lot of us would know. And I started reading those.
So, I was getting some input, in terms of knowledge, I was practicing it. But after that first speech got done, when I started going a little more out there, I was constantly embarrassing myself, constantly. Because I would go on and this is what my face would be onstage, it would just be like.
Austin: Blank stare.
Hrideep: Master blank stare and I would just manage to get out a few words and run off. So, that’s when, at Toastmasters itself, one guy who was, I was in my late teens at the time. There was a 27 year old guy, who’s still my friend; his name is [Hartik – 16:11]. And he came to me and he’s like, Hey, you are not doing a good job, so let me help you. So, he really became my first mentor in this space. And that’s when I got the third leg of feedback and okay, this is what I’m doing, right? Because I didn’t realize I was supposed to smile onstage, I didn’t know about modulation. I was learning a few things from the books, but when he took a video of me, showed me, he did it himself. Like, oh, okay, this is how it’s done.
Eventually, I ended up going onstage, I went up over a hundred times in a span of three years, just doing everything from speeches, events, festivals, speeches, presentations. I’m a little ashamed to say this, but even if there was a funeral, and if someone has to give the eulogy, I would put my hand up to volunteer for that as well. Anything to get in front of people.
Austin: Wow. That’s commitment right there.
Hrideep: Anything to get in front of people, right? Wedding toast, whatever you want to call it. And the first 30, 40 speeches were very bad, very embarrassing. I remember this, one day when I was onstage, and this time I went for the big leagues, there was a huge festival happening of 250 people and I had to host one event. So, I went on and this girl, who I had a massive crush on, only when I came onstage, she enters the auditorium and sits in the fourth row.
Taylorr: Oh, the universe.
Hrideep: And that was a sad day. I remember that day because I was just bombing constantly. But the point is that, that entire journey gave a very practical understanding of confidence, of engagement, of expressiveness and of overall communications. So, that’s a bit of the beginning of the journey. Then, at the same time, I went for courses, I finally got some money. My first job was in advertising, where I had to do presentations to Fortune 500 companies, so that was an entire other phase of practice that got in, but that’s kind of how it got started.
Taylorr: Getting the reps in.
Austin: That’s exactly right. That’s a huge part of anything, and something that’s interesting about the craft of speaking, and I guess you could probably say this for any type of creative venture or skill that you’re trying to build, but there are all of these different layers that you have to take into account if you’re going to do it really well. If you’re a welder or something, there are different flavors of welding, but there’s a way to do it right, and so you follow the formula, so to speak, and that’s it. But there’s no one specific formula for speaking, there are all of these different skill sets that you have to, sort of, layer in together to be really good at it. Like Legos or something. And I’m just thinking about your journey, right?
And everything starts with a willingness to do something, you have to, at least, be willing to try, so start there. And then you did do your first one for a small crowd and that gave you a sense of confidence, so you put the confidence Lego block on, and then you go and get some reps in at Toastmasters. And now you’re figuring out you have to emote and demonstrate that emotion and pull people’s heartstrings a little bit, I imagine; through the way that you’re conveying the message, there goes that Lego. And now you’ve stacked a few of these skill sets together and you’re a tremendous speaker. And it’s actually the same principle that applies as a business owner too, right?
Because it’s not just one thing that you’re doing, you have to have all of these different skillsets and then combine them together to be successful. So, do you feel that’s kind of been your experience, is just the layering in of these different pieces to be really good at it?
Hrideep: Yeah. That’s perfect, though. I’m going to use that in my sales pitch, when I’m trying to sell the client.
Taylorr: Yeah. We’ll only charge you 20% royalties.
Austin: Send me the royalty check.
Taylorr: Yeah. On the same page.
Hrideep: That is perfect, right? So, it’s exactly that. A lot of us, when we get into speaking, even when someone approaches us and they’re like, Hey, we want to learn. And they constantly, even while learning, they’ll be like, Hey, can you recommend me books? I want to read books, I want to read books. And I’m like, yeah, sure, there are five books, if they helped me. I’m sure they’ll help you. But don’t be to obsess with that, right? Because everyone wants the secret sauce and all of the techniques at once. But we have to layer them. Just before this call, just before the podcast recording, I was talking to one of my clients and he has great body language, fantastic body language, his gestures, his posture, his expressions; to the point.
And his tonality was what was missing. Now, a lot of us think tonality is one subject, but your voice is multiple things. So, with him, he was a hero in body language, almost a zero in tonality. So, we had to break it down and exactly do the Lego stacking thing. So, first, let’s just start with emphasis. Let’s just start with emphasizing a few words. Then let’s start with whispering. Let’s drop a few words down. And then, let’s go into pausing. Let’s pause, let the silence sink in. And that’s the approach we took exactly as you said. And I think a lot of people can benefit more if they take it one step at a time.
Taylorr: Yeah, man.
Taylorr: We see that even in the work we do, it’s like so many people just want all of the techniques to do all of the things that run the business better. And it’s like, we’re not ready for that, baby steps, please. Yes. Just little things at a time. So, one of the things I’m kind of hearing, I guess I want validation from you, Hrideep. So, bear with me here. But I think education, right? The theory of speaking. It’s good to poke down those paths, to your point, like here’s a few books, definitely read them. But it really sounds like the magic happens by getting the reps in and getting the practice in and getting the at-bats in. Do you feel like one of those two things is more important than the other? Are they equal or do you feel like getting the reps in overcomes the theory part of it all?
Hrideep: Correct. So, the reps would be the most important thing, because as you were discussing, right? It’s, kind of, like swimming, it’s kind of like working out; even in business, we can read a lot about sales and everything, but it won’t make a difference until we actually start making cold calls and realize how bad we are at sales to start improving. So, the techniques are there just for us to understand, okay, this is what we should do. And then we need to do it. And then we realize, okay, this is where we are missing out. And the best thing is through that process we’ll find our own voice and our own unique style of speaking. That’s where a lot of the changes come in, in terms of improvements as well. So, I would say the theory would be about 25% of it, 25%, or at least 30% would be feedback and the remaining would be actual practice.
Taylorr: Oh, I like that breakdown a lot.
Austin: I’d be willing to bet that those ratios translate to just about any skill that we’re trying to build.
Taylorr: Sure, I bet.
Austin: Yeah. You just talked about some of the practical skill sets that somebody could be taking into consideration while they’re getting those reps in, right? Yeah, I think you mentioned emphasis, maybe volume, I guess is a broad category, whispering down to the more animated, right? Loud stuff. And then pausing, you mentioned. Are there other specific skills that you think that people should be working on as they’re trying to get those reps in and become better?
Hrideep: Yeah, yeah. So, if they’re getting tactical about speaking. If there was just one skill that, or one tactic that people could pick up, for anyone who’s listening, is that there’s a term in communications known as inflection. Inflection. And inflection means a lot of things, but in the context which we’re talking about, inflection means using your voice to communicate an emotion. Using your voice to communicate an emotion. So, a lot of the times we focus on modulation, but we don’t realize the point of modulation, right?
There’s a reason why it makes sense to go loud. There’s a reason why it makes sense to go soft. And that comes down to inflection, because in communications we always want to make people feel something. And if we don’t make them feel something, we fail to be remembered and hence we fail to make an impact. So, if we want people to feel something, that emotion needs to start with us first. And it’s when we inflect is when that feeling comes out. So, for example, if I were to tell Austin that; Austin, yesterday was the happiest day of my life, it was so much fun. Something is wrong over there, right?
But if I were to tell you; Austin, yesterday was the best day of my life, it was so much fun. You can see me now, so even if I mute myself and say the same thing, the emotion still comes across; that is inflection at its most basic level. And then when we apply that in our day-to-day conversation, that’s when we’ll get a lot more out of it. So, that’s the best starting point, because that will take care of a lot of communication challenges, in terms of modulation and everything automatically.
Austin: Oh, man.
Taylorr: Wow. I love how practical that was.
Austin: You just said something too that I want you to maybe clarify for us. You were saying, more or less, like regular conversation. Do you feel like a situation like this podcasting or even just talking to your buddy while you’re sitting down having a beer or something on a Friday night, are these other places that you can be getting reps in and to buffer this with some context, I imagine that, myself included, but there are other people listening to this going like, well, step one is I have to get on a stage. I can’t even get my at-bats until I get up on a stage. But something tells me that that’s not the recommendation that you would have. Am I off base there?
Hrideep: No, you are 100% on point. So, there was actually an interview and I think it was Tony Robbins, I’m not sure, but I think it was Tony Robbins or it was one of these fantastic speakers, right? Who just makes their living out of speaking. And it was a male. So, he was asked in an interview that, hey, where did you learn to speak so well? And they asked him, are you a born speaker? And he said, no, I was very shy when I was younger. So, they’re like, okay, how did you get better? Because ever since your first performance, you’ve been kind of killing it. And he said that it’s not always been the case, but when I was learning, I could not gather an audience to practice all of the time. How much will you practice in front of your friends and family?
So, he said that to get the reps in, I started treating every conversation like it’s a speech, every conversation. So, when we go onstage, we will be very obsessive about our motivation, about our body language, about our storytelling and eye contact and everything. But the second we get off stage, we start talking casually, normally. And that’s where we miss out. Because exactly as you said, every conversation is an opportunity to practice public speaking. And even in our philosophy that we teach is that people don’t come to us to become speakers, right? People, in terms of our business.
A lot of people come to us who are IT professionals who want to get into podcasting or become a YouTube creator or are finance professionals from technical backgrounds. They don’t want to become public speakers. But that’s not exactly what we’re teaching anyways. We’re teaching the lessons of public speaking and how do you translate those lessons into day-t- day conversations. And that is where the main magic happens. Because that’s when you feel like, okay, you know what? When I’m talking now, people are, they’re more engaged. And I’m feeling more comfortable talking. And you know what? I like talking even more now. So, what you said is bang on perfect, that every conversation is a chance to get in a rep.