Sharing Your Story can Change the World: How to tell your np story that will open pocketbooks
Interview with Erin Loman Jeck

Erin Loman JeckErin Loman Jeck is CEO of Transformational Speakers Agency, Executive Speaking Coach, TEDx Speaking Coach, and the Creator of Speakers Success Summit.

This highly sought after business coach, transitioned to opening her own Speakers Agency and she is the leading authority on assisting thriving purpose-driven entrepreneurs in how to monetize their message, make an impact, influence change, and inspire action in others.

Erin’s approach to speaking is unique and powerful, she utilizes the Psychology of Connection to illustrate how you can unlock any audience’s trust and rapport, which leaves them feeling better about themselves and are challenged to adopt your new idea or perspective. Leaders seek her out to learn how to be more powerful in their influence, especially in the C-Suite of organizations. If you are looking for a proven professional who is an impactful and influential trainer to lead your team, organization, executives to learn her techniques- look no further. Erin’s clients rave about the powerful impact she has made on them and her ability to help then find the subtle nuances that can take your influence and speaking to the next level.

Audiences have left feeling refreshed, energized and eager to get started with their newfound strategies in their compelling communication.

I teach NP leaders how to communicate the needs and the stories of the success in a way that is compelling and has donors opening their wallets and giving more. I teach them how to speak in the language of the donors so they really get conversions from their events, conversations, and publicity. I have sat on 5 NP boards over the past 10 years, and speak business and NP, I have been a translator many times at the board table, because I have worked as a social worker and board member- I understand both sides. Most of the time they are saying the same things, but using different language, so they think the other side doesn’t understand what they are talking about.

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Read the Interview

Hugh Ballou: Hey folks, this is Hugh Ballou back for The Nonprofit Exchange. We are going to be talking about the skills of presenting for nonprofit leaders. Russell, how are you today from Colorado?

Russell Dennis: Beautiful day out here in the mountain west. A little warm, partly cloudy. Very warm week this week.

Hugh: Well, I’m glad that keeps you inside so you have to behave. Erin Loman Jeck here. I believe this is somebody you brought to the interview. Erin, tell our listeners a little bit about you.

Erin Loman Jeck: Sure. I am now a communications expert and a speaking coach, but it wasn’t what I thought I was meant to do in this world. I actually wanted to be a dolphin trainer. As a child, I dreamed of being a dolphin trainer. I went and did it. When I was there, they said, “You need not to have a marine biology degree, but you need to either have a psych degree or a teaching degree.” I was like, “I like people, so this will be great.” I ended up getting my undergrad in psychology.

I was attending my Masters in marriage and family therapy, and I worked a lot in social work, so I worked on the nonprofit side. But I was also really good at speaking business. A lot of times, I would sit at the board room table with the donors and directors and board leaders and the people were like, “We just want to change the world.” I said, “You guys are saying the same thing using different language.” I tended to understand that they were saying the same thing. They had the same vision, the same mission. At the same time, they were using different language. I became an interpreter when I sat in on board meetings. It was the most amazing thing.

When I got to my clinicals in marriage and family therapy, I realized that people came in and weren’t changing. They didn’t really seek change. I thought, I can’t do this for a living. I really want to help people. I actually left my Masters program about 10 credits shy and became a coach because if I knew if I had the word “coach,” people would be seeking change. I became that change leader and helped people create a movement with their message.

Hugh: What’s your passion? Why do you get up in the morning to do this brilliant work that you do?

Erin: I want to change the world. I knew not just my voice and not just my message could do that. If I could help other people share their message and their story, how the ripple effect would go out into the world. If you make speakers and entrepreneurs really good money sharing their stories, then they put together nonprofits, they fund wells and schools. It got to be that in one way, I was helping them get their message out and changing the world in that realm, but in the other realm, I actually got to help people build schools and wells and nonprofits and foundations. That lights me up as well. It is the balance of both, and I get to do that in two different platforms to make a big ripple effect on the planet.

Hugh: Every leader I meet really could use an upgrade in their presentation skills. Why did you hone in on the nonprofit world?

Erin: Because I sat on a lot of boards. A lot of the boards I sat on were ex-professional athletes. They didn’t go to school to be nonprofit leaders or communications directors. Football or baseball was their first passion. But what I saw was the draw that brought those donors into the rooms. I saw that these men who had been on camera for so long, being interviewed, really didn’t have the capacity to share the space to share the stories to really enwrap people to actually open their pocketbooks. I thought, I really know the nonprofit world well. I wanted to help them learn how to communicate it so that the people in the room were like, Man, what else do I got? How much more can I give? Can I donate my time?

I started from that perspective, which was so funny because it’s not how I would have thought to get into this. I realized I had a good passion around it and all the background in it. It became part of my business.

Russell: You’re talking about transformational communications. Hugh builds transformational leaders. Being able to tell our story gives people a way to relate to us. Why is it so difficult for people to tap into that? What do you see is the barrier that keeps people from being able to tap into that in a meaningful way?

Erin: None of us like to self-promote. Nobody likes to talk about themselves. The second piece is they tell the story from the first person. You’re telling the story, “I got up. I put my feet on the floor. I went to the bathroom. I brushed my teeth. I got ready for the day. Me, me, me. I, I, I.” The audience is like, Stop talking about you. Tell me how you can solve my problems. Why am I here?

When you actually tell your story in a compelling way, you can unlock them. They are enrolled and are ready to do whatever it takes. I found that in telling your story in a way where you can connect with everyone, so you said, When you can tell your story, you can connect your story to other people. Me, too. I relate to that. When it comes from the human perspective, I might not know what it is like to grow up with abusive family members or struggle with addiction, but if I tell the story in a way we can all connect as humans, those three things are this.

What was I thinking? I was thinking, Oh, I’m not smart enough for this. Are you sure you want to do this?

What I was feeling, which I was feeling not good enough. I was feeling terrible. I was feeling angry.

And the third piece which is the most connected, is when you share what you are feeling in your physical body. We all as humans have a physical body. We have reactions the same way. If I say, “I was so angry, my fists balled up, my chests got tight, and that vein on top of my head was popping,” you’re like, “Ooh, I have been there.” All of a sudden, you’re in your brain going, “Oh, that’s my story. I have been there. I was there yesterday with my kids.” But you can connect with a person who is telling their story. You don’t connect with, “I brushed my teeth and went into the world.” Ugh, get to the point, right.

It’s when you can tell the story that can connect everyone in the audience to their own story is when you unlock them. You’re releasing your oxytocin when you tell the story, but when they hear your story and connect to it, they release their oxytocin, and now you’re bonded. You really can get anyone to do almost anything when you have that bond built with that trust.

Russell: A lot of people who work with nonprofits have an area of interest and an area of focus. When you are talking in terms of a problem, a lot of people get that. There is this notion of we have to provide hope and explain what our solution is. How do you help people transition into that space where the audience actually starts to come in and begins to feel like, Yes, I am a hero or heroine in bringing this change about, and I want to plug in.

Erin: You finish the story piece out. You connect with them. Now they’re like, “Ooh, I have been there.” Say we’re talking for a homeless foundation. If you tell the story, “Have you ever been in a place where you didn’t know how to pay your rent? You’re worried that you didn’t have a place to go,” people will get into their own place of oh yeah. Because of that place, they want to serve people who are feeling that. If you knew somebody had the routes to the top of the mountains for you in those moments, you would’ve felt hope. That’s what we get to do today. You get to be that person that reaches back and says, “I’ve been there. Let me show you the route to the top of the mountain.” You can paint that picture, and everyone’s all in. It gives me goose bumps saying that now. It really is that piece of connecting to the soul of the person saying, “Yeah, I might not admit it, but I’ve been there at least once in my life. But now I can help someone because that was a miserable feeling that I was feeling. When I got that nugget, that solution to the problem, it’s when everything changed, and I have hope again.” Painting that transition is huge.

Russell: I’ve spoken about transformational leaders, transformational speakers. The whole business that is being done on the social level by nonprofits is all about transforming people, bringing them to a place where they want to get to. In terms of a speaker, what are some of the characteristics of a transformational speaker? What are some of the things that show up with these folks?  

Erin: It really is the people who have been there, done that, and want to share. If you look at any of the most successful people, we buy their biographies. We want to learn how they got there. It’s that unfolding of these steps they took. If you don’t share that, some speakers just kill you with data, and I have worked with executives in the tech space. They want to kill you with data. When a true transformational speaker gets up, they share their vulnerability, they pull back that mask of, “I’m this speaker,” and say, “No, I get where you’re at. You might be in this place. I am going to take you from there to where we are now.” If you can do that well, then everyone will follow you. They will find where you’re speaking, what cause you’re behind, how they can get involved, and that truly does change. It’s not the “Let me talk at you.” It’s let’s have a conversation. When you do that in storytelling, you are having a conversation without having any talk back. You’re not asking them questions. You might be doing a monologue. But when you do it in a way that feels transcendent, where you are literally communicating with your audience, that is when change happens. That is when that enrollment, I’m in, where are we going, let me plant my flag, let’s go, happens.

Russell: I think there has been more of a shift toward that. There are a lot of resources out there that talk about how putting good quantitative data together is important to nonprofits. You have done a lot of work with different boards. Is it possible that we’ve got too much of a shift in that direction? How do you work with leaders to strike that appropriate balance so they catch the quality and the quantitative data?

Erin: I think the most important part for a lot of nonprofit leaders is we want to heal the world. Whatever the sphere is for you, whatever the cause is for you, we want to change the world. However, we can get so far into that and not actually think about the deliverables, the actual transactions you need to make to bring that to fruition. I’ve seen so many times nonprofit leaders actually one paycheck away from being on the other side of the table because they want to give so much and so much of themselves. There has to be that place of, “And we have to look at the numbers. What is it we really need and be strategic about it? What are the stories that relate to the result we are trying to create at the same time?” Gathering that.

When I worked for the State of Washington for DSHS trying to help people get on assistance, I remember sitting there thinking, Man, the people next to me aren’t as fun as the people on the other side. If I think about it, I’m really only one or two paychecks away from being on that needs side. In some ways, it was great because I had more relatability with them because I could understand that. At the same time, that doesn’t make you an effective leader when you are trying to get the big picture done, if you have a big goal to accomplish. Looking at both of those sides as the relatability piece, but also how it translates to what we need for the people we’re here to serve.

Russell: With leaders, it’s about bringing other people along with us. One of the most important ingredients for that is influence. Tell us a little bit about how being effective as a speaker enhances that influence.

Erin: The thing that people don’t realize is when you think about having to present something, you sit there like you have to write this speech. You are so fixated on the words, and you’re not thinking about what’s in it for the audience.

There are four parts of compelling communication. The first one is your nonverbal communication. This is your facial expression. This is raising your eyebrows in curiosity and interest. When I raise my eyebrows, you think that I’m interested in you. She’s excited about this. You can do these little things that help people realize you’re the expert, you know what you’re talking about, and I can sit here and listen because I can see you’re confident. A lot of that is when you’re walking into the room, when you’re walking up on stage, and the first 90 seconds as they are taking everything in that you’re projecting out there, and they are looking to see if this is the person I want to listen to. Is this person who they say they are? The nonverbal is the most important. That is 50% of your communication.

35% is your vocal tonality. This is where most people have no idea. We are all monotone. We all walk around with our normal talking voice. When a puppy goes in, our voice gets all high. When we want the puppy to sit, we go low. But really we are monotone. We are using our middle voice the entire time. But if you can actually take people on a journey with your pacing, with your volume, you can bring people in if you start whispering a little bit, and be really loud if you want something to be resonant and felt inside of their body. And you start using your pitch and your tone. All of these things are so important. If you don’t use those and have a rollercoaster of emotions that are brought out by your tonality, you are boring people to sleep. The tonality piece is huge. Most people have no idea. I studied with the top vocal coach in the world, Mr. Roger Love, and I had no idea about vocal tonality at all. I didn’t grow up singing or on a stage, so I knew nothing about it. I realized how important it is in communicating.

The third piece is storytelling, like I said. 13% is storytelling. Really doing it in a way that drives people to their own story and unlocking them.

The last 7% is the words. It really doesn’t even matter what you say; it’s how you say it. That is how you build the influence. You build it from them observing everything you’re pouring out to them, and really knowing that you know what you’re doing and what you’re talking about. Feeling good about it. If you’re passionate about it, let it out. Let them see that passion. They want to connect to a passionate leader that knows the route and will take them there.

Russell: Roger Love is a name that came up quite frequently when I went through the Colorado Speakers Academy in 2015. Remarkable man. He talks about a lot of things. This connection with people, there are a lot of things. Another coach talked about having a presence. Talk about having a presence, and how that helps transformational speakers be more effective in how that plays to their ability to exert more influence.

Erin: Yes. In the first 90 seconds, it’s the most important. People are checking you out to decide if they should listen or pull out their phones and start scrolling. What happens in that first 90 seconds is your amygdala is throwing out all those neurochemicals. You are feeling the fight or flight. When people are feeling that, we try to cover up the main part of our body, our torso, because it is the most vulnerable place of our body. We hold the microphone for dear life, stand behind the podium, put papers in front of our body, cross our arms in front of our body, pin our elbows to our sides. All of those things are self-soothing and show the audience you’re not confident in what you’re talking about. There is this thing that goes on in their brains, “I don’t know if this person is worth listening to.” If you can learn how to have open body language, put your arms in your armpits I like to say, make sure people see you’re totally vulnerable and have nothing to hide, when you do that, they are all in to follow you.

Hugh: That’s wonderful. Nonprofit leaders, when you think about the multiple types of audiences that you trained over the years, what are some of the things you see that are most common to nonprofit leaders? Are there certain spots where nonprofit leaders may need more help than other speakers? Are they pretty much like everyone else?

Erin: The leaders are so about the mission and knowing they have to hit the numbers that sometimes that translates into focusing on the numbers and not sharing the stories. They think, “Let me share this person’s story.” You know what would be more powerful? Why am I involved in this? If I have faced homelessness, of course I will want to be behind the cause.

When I was being a dolphin trainer, I was eating a half a cup of ramen for breakfast and a half a cup of ramen for lunch and then worked at a restaurant at night to pay my bills to make sure I could be a dolphin trainer. Working as a dolphin trainer only paid $8 an hour, and in the Florida Keys, that was not going to do anything for me. If I could share that, it gets to my ribs, it’s the meat on my ribs sharing this is why I’m in this, and this is why it’s so important to me, and all of these stories are so important to me of all the participants, that is going to translate so much better than, “Yes, I am the leader in front. Look at my leadership skills.”

If you peel that apart and show why you are so related to the cause and what that pain was for you. Most people don’t go, “I don’t like cats, but I am going to start a cat foundation.” If you can open that up and share that with the audience, you will get so much further. You can share that with your board, which will help you. You can share that with your volunteers. That is what a true transcendent leader does.

Russell: It’s bringing people together. There is a lot to that. With any speaker, knowing the audience is important. What are some of the best ways you’ve found for you to actually get the audience engaged? How important is it to have that audience participation?  

Erin: I think it’s the most important piece. That thing about sharing yourself, sharing your story, is so critical. It’s also the piece of, if we’re all in this together on a team, we’re all conquering this same problem together. When I work with executives in that world, they still have to enroll their team in the big vision and mission. It might be their goal because it’s what their boss gave to them. If you can talk freely about what the top-of-mind problem for the people is laying in bed at night, how can you help them? Looking at the audience from their perspective. What are they thinking about in bed at night? Man, if only I could have this. If I could only solve this problem. If you can really get into that, then you find the stories that connect to those pieces. That’s important.

When I dissect an audience, it’s really about their aspirations because you have to speak to those, and what it is they lay in bed at night saying, “If only I could fix this problem, it would change everything for me.” If you can hit both of those, you’re going to kill it. It’s going to land with most people in the room.

The problem is just thinking about the problem from your perspective won’t help you. It’s not about you. Even at my three-day events, it’s not about me. It’s about the people who get transformed and go out to transform the planet. It’s not about me. If you can do that in a way, you make sure you hit that target audience, you hit that thing really hard. It used to be you spoke to their fears. It doesn’t work anymore. You have to hit their aspirations. That piece of hope is not only for the person sitting in that seat, but the dollars that go to the people they will help. If you can speak to their aspirations and that hope, you will transform the audience.

Russell: When you speak to that, you’re speaking to how you successfully navigate solving these problems. First of all, letting people understand you have a full grasp of that thing that keeps them up at night. Are there specific things people can do that would make their message more compelling?

Erin: It really is doing those three things. What are you thinking? What are those thoughts? We’ve all thought at least once in our lives, Man, I’m stupid. Man, I wish I could do more. Man, I’m too tall, fat, skinny, little, big, whatever. If you speak with those words, because those are the words in people’s heads, speak exactly the words you know those people are feeling and thinking about.

If you can speak to those feelings- The cool thing is if you think about the men’s audience versus the women’s audience, more women are feelers, and more men are thinkers. But you still have some people who are crossovers. Don’t not do both. I do both interchangeably. If you said, “I was just thinking, thinking, thinking,” these women will be like, “This is not for me.” Same thing if I went to a room full of men and talked about feelings all the time. If you can do those things interchangeably, you hit more of your audience.

Then we all connect in what we felt physically. We can connect to, “It was so cold my nostrils were so tight and cold.” We can talk about those things. You relate.

It has to be those three things. What was I thinking? What was I feeling? What was I experiencing in my physical body? Those three things are the key to all of it.

Hugh: Talk about the crossover if you could. Good leadership and presentation skills, doesn’t matter who you are, who you’re speaking with, there are best practices in your industry. There is a content piece, which is 7% of the message. You have to present it in a way that people want to hear it and can hear it. I know from many years of speaking, early on, I put way too much content in a 90-minute window. I gave a lot of value. It really got diffused when I didn’t know where to start. Talk about how to make the content come alive. When you are on stage, it’s how you pace yourself, how you emphasize yourself, your pauses. It doesn’t matter who they are presenting to. We are talking to nonprofit leaders, and you have a passion for those who want to speak our audiences. There is a question in there somewhere. Did you find it?

Erin: When I think about creating a talk, and I have done a lot of this with TedX, I have worked a lot with TedX speakers, and you have a flow, but you need to have some data in there. We are talking about the content piece versus the story piece versus the offer, whatever it is, to sell something, if you are a speaker or an entrepreneur, or if you are offering for them to join the cause by opening their pocketbook. All of those things are important.

In that, when you create your talk, I always start with questions. The reason I start with a question is I build a tribe. Immediately, I say, “How many of you in here,” raising my hand high, “have a message you want to create a movement with?” Everyone raises their hands. I say, “Great. I knew I was in the right room. Look around.” All of a sudden they look around and see they are not alone. I just built a tribe. I am the leader of the tribe because I started the mission. In that, you get them enrolled together. For the first time, they are not strangers, and they are in it together with all of the people in the room.

Then I go into sharing. When you go into the content pieces, I always say what are the three pieces of value you want to leave? What do you want the audience to think, feel, do, or act differently now they have heard you? What are those pieces? If you can come up with a couple of those pieces, and then bring in story, you can either tell your long story and take those pieces and say, “See when I did those things?” and go back to the story. Or you can share the story within the context of here is the next value piece, here is the part of that. Thinking about the content is making sure those value pieces helped solve the problems of the audience, help them feel they are walking away with something.

In nonprofit speaking, I hear a lot of times they are not giving anything to the audience. They are speaking about their cause and what they are doing and how they can get enrolled. It’s never this thing of if I leave you with good, juicy content, or something you can implement in your life, you will be more apt to give back to me and give back to the cause. So in thinking about writing a talk for a nonprofit or a charity event, it really has to say, “What can I give this audience that solves a problem for them or makes them think or see things differently so they feel they got some value out of it as well?” Then you lead into that offer. This is why I created this nonprofit so we can give back to these people, and people like me. You close it out with something powerful that people will land that plane. The first 15% of your talk and the last 15% are like a plane ride. Getting off that runway and getting into the air, then the cruising altitude is the value and your story, and then you have to land it again. People go, “Wow, that was really awesome. I had a really great flight.” Those are the ways I think about setting up a talk.

Russell: It’s really what is it we want people to know, feel, and do? What is the most important thing I can tell them about this? When you can hit on something that is not common knowledge, that gets people up on edge and on their chair. As you’re looking at things, I read a lot of different information on nonprofits. Just try to share that information with people. There is a lot of content out there. We don’t have to generate because all of us are together smarter than any one of us, as Hugh likes to say. It’s bringing this knowledge in. It’s striking this feeling within people. Some of the knowledge they may have, there may be a feeling that maybe I don’t know enough. Maybe I need something extra. What are some of the things that, as you’re looking at what you want people to feel, a speaker can do to really connect to that emotion, and help swing a person into another place, or persuade them, “It’s within your power to do something about this”?

Erin: It is painting that hero’s journey. Painting your own hero’s journey, and painting the hero’s journey for the people sitting in the room. How they can be the hero. How can you convey that message? Here’s why I’m here. Here’s what I want to do. Here’s what our nonprofit does. But then how can you now be on the hero’s journey and be one of those people changing the planet? I know everyone really truly deep in their heart wants to give back in some way. I find there might be 1% of the population who might never want to give back. But even if you go sit on a street corner with someone who is homeless, they will share their sandwich with someone else. They won’t hoard it. That connection of everyone wants to be that person, everyone wants to feel that as they are being uplifted, they can also uplift others. If you enroll that, that is where you really will get people enrolled in it and to join the cause. It’s that storytelling piece. When you connect it to you, connect it to them, and help them go on their own journey, painting out that journey for them of what that money is going to do for these people, that’s the key.

Russell: That’s a very interesting term: enrollment. We think in terms of making a pitch, making a sale, persuading, convincing. But then you have what we call enrollment. That is an invitation to become a part of something that is a little bit larger than them. Hey, this is doable. Talk about enrollment. Is that part of the view that you help speakers come to and talk to about bringing your audience in? How do you talk to speakers about enrollment and using it effectively?

Erin: No one wants to be pitched. Nobody wants your package. Nobody wants your offer. Nobody wants whatever you’re selling. You have to change your own perspective on that. Especially as a speaker who has content, I’m not selling a whatchamacallit. Sometimes that’s easier. It’s the HSN, show me. You want this! If you buy two, you get three! You don’t want to come off that way.

The enrollment piece is that invitation. No one wants to be sold to. Even as a nonprofit leader, you’re selling them the cause. If you can actually do that from a place of enrolling and saying the vision of how they can be a part of it, how they can make a difference, how their money is going to do that, how they are the hero and are part of this, that is all about them. That is what enrollment is about. You’re selling this data of this thing. Instead, in enrolling, you’re about the people, the audience. Even if it’s a one-on-one, what’s in it for them? That’s the transition that’s different. You really want it to be about them. It’s not about me, and my whatchamacallit, whatever you’re offering. It needs to be a conversation of how I can serve you, and in turn, you serve others. That’s what I find enrollment about. It’s what the needs are, figuring out what the needs and aspirations are for the people in the room.

Russell: As we get back to talking about feelings, there is the relationship that people have with money. That makes it tricky for nonprofit leaders to ask for what they need. It’s a part of human nature to ask for that. This feeling of not wanting to pressure people into doing something. You want people to be able to do this. How do you help speakers work with the feelings they have, like they’re pitching something? How do you help people navigate through that? Do you run into people who are unaware that’s going on inside of them?

Erin: Always. It’s mostly sub-conscious. For me, when I got into coaching, I would have to enroll people in coaching with me. I’m selling me. That feels very icky and awkward. No one teaches us how to sell ourselves. When you think about people who sell themselves, those are not people we want to be like. It’s this hard thing of, If you are talking about the mission and the vision, it’s not about you. It’s about how we can change the world. When I work with people on that enrollment piece, every conversation is enrollment. You are either being enrolled, or you are enrolling them. If I was doing a sales call with you right now, I would either be selling you, enrolling you into my program, or you’d be enrolling me into, “That’s too much. I don’t have the time. Maybe I need to ask my wife.” If you allow that, if you allow that objection to come up, you can actually find out what is truly holding them back because it’s not whatever excuse they give you. It’s something deeper. If you ask enough questions, you can get to that and solve that problem so there is nothing getting in the way, no more excuses or objections. It’s being of deep service and walking that person through that fear of that last dollar or if it doesn’t work. If you can do that, they can see, They really do know their stuff, so I have to give them money.

It really is every conversation. Think about your kids. “I want a popsicle!” Either you are enrolled into giving them a popsicle or you’re like, “Nope, you’re not getting one.” You have to look at every conversation as enrollment. If you use that in your head, every time I open my mouth it’s enrollment, I just want to be on the right side of it. I want to be on the side that is getting my needs met, whatever they are. It shifts that perspective for yourself.

Russell: Enrollment is taking people where they want to go. There is a lot of times with most objections, there is a question behind the question. There is an unsaid thing that is back there. That works a lot with people one-on-one. Do you find that there may be a little bit of that in a group type of fashion that shows up in an audience, where people are sitting there listening to you talk about a specific problem in the community? Maybe they have tried some things and are skeptical. First of all, what are some of the signs that might be going on in your audience? What are some of the techniques that a speaker would use to diagnose that and maybe start to get underneath it as they are going through their talk?

Erin: If you are better at being unscripted, this really helps. I am not a scripted person even though I have to write scripts for people all the time. In that moment, you see people with arms crossed, phones out. I call this the “do me” face. What do you got? They are shut down. You can see they are not paying attention. If you can say, “Let’s talk about what is really affecting the community. Who in here has something top-of-mind that really is?” and listen. Reflect back. Then they put their phones down and go, “Wow, this person really cares about what my problems are, what I see, what hasn’t worked.” Even if you’re political and going, “Here’s how I am going to fix all these problems,” that’s not what they want, or that’s not going to work, and you just talk at them, you’re not going to enroll them in the big vision, and they will check out. It really is that conversational piece. You can take a tally of “How many people in here are here for the first time?” or “How many people grew up in homelessness?” and feel who is in the audience, especially if you have no idea who is going to be there. That will help you set the stage for yourself to know there will be objections.

Here’s the thing. As a seminar leader, most people who are attracted to my work are similar to me. I know they are having the same struggles I used to have a couple steps behind. There have been times in my business where I have struggled. If I address that and am saying, “Let me share my story with you about that,” then they’re like, “Oh, she gets it. She gets me.” Again, being able to do that from stage or in a group or even in a board room really helps. If you are getting the feedback from other people and then enriching your message with more of their observations and objections.

Hugh: Talk about the quantity. I alluded to it earlier. The quantity of content. Russell and I met at a small forum called CEO Space. People have been jazzed up and want to tell you everything about it, which has negative impact. Talk about how a presenter learns how much is enough.

Erin: You just need enough. If you know what an audience problem is, you just need enough to show them that A) you know what you’re talking about, B) you’re the expert in it and can take them to their solution, and you don’t have to give them the whole thing. I did it, too. Any time you see a brand new speaker firehosing people, you know they’re new. They don’t realize it’s too much. You get people who are so overwhelmed, they’re now like, “I have all of these things to do. After I’m done with all of those things, then I might hire that person or enroll in their program. But now I have this stuff to do. I have to work this stuff out because they gave me a lot of good stuff.” If you do that, then they don’t need you. It’s not a place of convincing them they need you. But show them enough that shifts their perspectives to see, “Here are all the things I need to do. But oh my gosh, I don’t know how to implement this. How do I implement it?” You say, “That’s why I created X.” You are showing them that I am the expert who can take you to your aspirations. Now that we know these are the things you have, here is what you need to implement. That’s important.

Hugh: Russell, I heard a rumor that Erin is going to be doing a summit for speakers. Let’s talk about that. Let’s talk about the symposium SynerVision does. We do a summit that shows people how to grow and build what we’re doing. It’s how to build the nuts and bolts, how to build your team, how to build your board, your volunteers, your committees, and how to translate what you want to do into income. There is a presentation piece that is missing. I’m thinking nonprofit leaders need to go to our summit and your summit. Ours is August 22 in West Palm Beach, Florida at Talk about your summit.

Erin: The Transformational Speakers Summit has been happening for six years. We have executives, entrepreneurs, start-ups, nonprofit leaders, people who want to change somehow, people who want to change the world by whatever they’re passionate about. In the summit, we have speakers from all over, some of the best names out there, which is amazing, and you get me. You get to learn all of the things we were talking about today and how to implement them. You learn how to actually come up with other streams of income.

Here is something most nonprofits don’t think about because they think most from the donation place. In this, I help you come up with newer ideas of ways you can bring in funds that might not be through that specific journey as much anymore. There are other ways we can do this. In this three-day seminar, we teach different ways you can do that and get more people enrolled in the vision, implementing the vision, and being able to communicate it to get more of those funds coming in, and some other strings of income that can help support this foundation at the same time. We go through all of that.

That is going to be September 19-21 in Palm Springs, California. It truly is a place of 300 visionaries changing the world, coming together, and thought leaders doing something miraculous. You should all be there so you can learn all the things we are talking about.

Hugh: 300?

Erin: Yes.

Hugh: Whoa. Give us that URL slowly.


Hugh: Is this your event?

Erin: Yes, it is. I have been putting it on for six years now.

Russell: And she is working with our good friend Laurien Towers who appeared on the program before. This is how I met this remarkable young lady. She has courses out here that people can use, too. There is something special, special access for people who attend to one of her courses.

Erin: Yeah. I make it as much value as I can give. If you buy the course, the Transformational Speakers Academy, you get a ticket to attend, and if you attend the summit, you get access to the course. You can go back and make sure you didn’t miss anything. If there is more you wanted to add, it helps to do both pieces. Both of those purchases gets you each one. I just want to help people make a difference with their message.

Hugh: Erin, speak about transformation. What does that mean to you? Why should people want to think about transformation?

Erin: There is information, and there is transformation. Information is pretty dead now, even in the tech space. People have been inundated with being able to get to information at any time. Google it. YouTube it. We have access to all information.

But what’s different about transformational speaking and transformational leaders is really changing the perspective, shifting something in the person on the other side of the room, the phone call, the stage. It is this place of let me speak to your pain. Let me show you your aspirations. Let me help you walk to that. That is truly transformative. When you watch a TedX, you can see they give you a new perspective or a new idea that you’re like, I’ve never thought about it from that way. That is truly transformative. In those few moments, in a TedX that is only 18 minutes, you have changed something inside of your brain. It rewires differently. You might fire neurons differently than you did before, and that is transformative. When they walk out that door, they are never the same again.

Russell: As demonstrated by those talks, it only takes anywhere from 12-20 minutes to create a shift in somebody’s mind about something. That’s something very crucial to keep in mind.

Erin: One piece of data. It’s not a huge pot of value. It’s one piece, one thing, one idea.

Hugh: Erin, this is good information. Russell, it fits our philosophy of what we teach.

*Sponsor messages from Wordsprint and SynerVision’s symposium*

Erin is traveling and at a coffee shop. What do you want to leave people with?

Erin: My challenge would be really, truly, if you want to enroll more people to really change the world, you have to be willing to share your vulnerability and share your passion for what you’re standing for. A lot of times, we don’t want to go there. We’re being nervous about being judged or criticized or ridiculed. But true transformation comes from opening that part up of you and saying, “I see you. I validate you. I get it because I’ve been there, done that. Together, we can do more.” That goes from when you’re leading, when you’re speaking. Even with my kids, it’s important. And really see one another. We know a lot of people who are being marginalized haven’t been seen and validated. If we can start a ripple effect of validating, “I see you. I validate you. I honor you,” everywhere we go, we can change every inch of the planet with how we show up and we walk every day.

Russell: Erin, it’s been an honor and a pleasure to have you here. In light of what’s going on, you’re still able to come and join us and give your time and talent. I’m very grateful for that. The Transformational Speakers Summit is September 19-21 in Palm Springs, California. It’s all about stuffing our toolkit and bringing all of our talents to the table so that we can continue to make a difference in this world.


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