Paulie Rojas, CEO, The Public Speaking Coach at Corporate and Executive Consulting
Paulie Rojas has an extensive background in public speaking, performing, and coaching. She has studied with renowned voice and speech coach, Andrew Wade, from the Royal Shakespeare Company, has appeared in Network Television, and received numerous accolades for her starring roles in award winning films.
Beside working with a vast array of CEO's and high level executives in the US and abroad, Paulie's list of companies include multi-million dollar businesses that range from advertising and digital marketing to law firms, tech, and more. Paulie works extensively with Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO), the only global network exclusively for entrepreneurs, in both the Manhattan and Brooklyn chapters.
She is a graduate of the University of Southern California, where she was awarded the top graduating Senior and has an advanced degree in Theatre Performance from the Tom Todoroff Conservatory. Paulie is a classical enthusiast, and lover of travel, adventure, dogs, languages, and a good Russian novel.
AUTOMATED EPISODE TRANSCRIPT
[00:00:01] You're listening to Scaling Up Services where we speak with entrepreneurs authors business experts and thought leaders to give you the knowledge and insights you need to scale your service based business faster and easier. And now here is your host Business Coach Bruce Eckfeldt.
[00:00:21] Welcome everyone this is scaling up services. I'm Bruce Ecfeldt. I'm your host and today we're here with Paulie Rojas who is a public speaking extraordinaire expert coach.
[00:00:31] And we're going to talk to her a little bit about the importance of speaking not only in public but in general to help build your business. Help come across as a thought leader as an expert.
[00:00:43] I think that this is one of the more important topics for anyone in a service based businesses particularly professional service based businesses to really know how to do this how to do this well and policy expert. So I'm excited about the program. Paulie welcome to the program.
[00:00:56] Thank you so much Bruce.
[00:00:58] That rolling of the bar was pretty impressive while I try to do all the French are as are hard to you know I did some time in Montreal so I try to get my hours right based on where I am.
[00:01:10] But I'm excited and excited to have you here because I like I said I think this is this whole question or this whole topic of public speaking you know either is can often be kind of a form of resistance for folks if not downright fear and dread and sweaty palms and I'd rather go get a root canal.
[00:01:28] So I think about you know kind of I think talking through it and kind of understanding really what's involved in this and how to address some of these issues that I think people face kind of emotionally psychologically in terms of this topic is is really good. I'm excited to do it.
[00:01:41] Yeah me too and this is what I love to do and I don't know if you've heard this quote before but it's by Mark Twain he said that there's two kinds of speakers the nervous ones and liars. Everyone is always going to be nervous and there actually are friends. You know I'm really I'm thrilled to be here. Thank you for asking me.
[00:01:58] Awesome. So what do we start with just your kind of personal professional background like how did you get into this. What have you done before that kind of set you up to be the you know the expert that you are in the public speaking space.
[00:02:08] Absolutely. Well my background is I am actually a thespian. I'm a classically trained actor and I'm still an actress and it's actually what feeds me to do this work is my two great loves are stories and people humanity. I live off of hearing stories and I love it when people can put their stories forward and add value changed the world and just see themselves as rock stars because we had this tool we have our voices and their stories. And it's really incredible to see the transformation that happens when people put it forth and they battled the nerves and the commission has come forward and and grow exponentially it's a really beautiful thing for me to see. Yeah yeah I'm sure. And so yeah I'm an actress and I started because I was the cliched starving artist. I moved to New York because I wanted to be Meryl Streep because you know all the greats came from and they came from the New York theater so I came with absolutely no money and a credit card and so I did the theater thing. I worked as an as a waitress and then I was so tired of just being so spread thin and not ever having any money. And I had all actually coached I didn't know it but I was always coaching and I always loved helping people and and seeing them succeed. So then my sister who at the time or she stopped she works at GoDaddy she is a horrible public speaker and she please help me I'm like Of course I can help you this is great.
[00:03:31] So you know she's a Stanford graduate. She had lots of friends that had to do these presentations for clients and I never thought of myself as a businesswoman I thought among other targets and those things don't go together. And so my sister I started coaching my sister and then I started coaching her friends and then they were you know all of a sudden getting bigger office spaces because they become you know they were people that know how to communicate and I just started learning more. And then finally my sister Tanya says why didn't you just charge money for this. I'm like No no I can't. I get. I can't do that. And she's like to stop it a Craigslist ad up. Yeah. So I did that through good old fashioned Craigslist ad up and then I was so scared to actually take money. That's like another topic. But as I started doing it and more people put one ad up on Craigslist and through that I got many many different referrals. Just word of mouth. So I never had to advertise again. So I knew I was I had something I was like you know a total total phony you know. And and then I met Joe Appelbaum from a musician and he was the one that you know like with wildfire. That's how I met you. That's how I met David Sterman lawn boy wonderful people. And and I became their coach and then here I am today speaking to you.
[00:04:43] Yeah not uncommon.
[00:04:44] I've know I think a lot of kind of entrepreneurs or people that get you know kind of get into this or get into their business. They they often don't realize they've gotten into it. It's kind of a side thing or things just kind of snowball and happen and they're also hey wait a minute I've got a practice here. I realize that I'm now I'm now providing the service to a lot of different people and not only is it make money it's it's making an impact on people's lives and folks and stuff so kudos to you for for making that happen and I'm getting now to my mentors. Yeah. I'm curious did so so talk to me a little bit about what what you have been able to kind of borrow from your more kind of classic acting theater based background to this kind of more business side of things and what maybe hasn't hasn't translated as well. How have you sorted through the things that are really interesting and apply and then those things that don't.
[00:05:33] Yes everything that I do with my clients as a public their public speaking coach I have I get through acting because if you think about it what an actor is it someone who can convey a story with verbal and emotional mastery and that's what we do as speakers whether it's reciting Shakespeare or you're talking about your incredible coffee business. If you can translate a message with value and emotion then you hit a homerun. And what's more important what I find sometimes that is lacking in business is what the left brain is all there are the stats the logic all of that is perfect and that's that's great that I want that there. But when you couple that with the emotional the passion that all of that the beautiful stuff the messy stuff that makes you cry and laugh it's impossible not to listen and it's impossible not to make change. So I'm so passionate about keeping those the right brain and the left brain together elevating them together.
[00:06:25] How do you typically find that that is the case that your you're working with folks who are sort of highly analytical.
[00:06:31] They're very kind of logical dad focused. You know I'm going to tell you my three points. Point number one is this point and and you were helping them kind of unearth the sort of the story and more of the emotional connection to it that you're you're dead on.
[00:06:48] It is so much about the story and how the stats and how all the data is so important but it's how you convey it in a way in the way of a story. Because the Greeks did stories 2500 years ago and it hadn't gone anywhere right. We're still you know we watch TV to feel the feeling part is so important. And so yes you have the entrepreneurial the people that just want to tell you you know ABC and charts and like but what do those charts mean to us. And I'm such a close person. But you know Maya Angelou said that we don't remember what you say as much as how you made us feel when you were saying. So it's really knowing how what kind of it. What is the feeling you want to convey to your audience. And that's what we're going to go. I don't know if they're going to remember your points but if they feel empowered if they feel understood if they feel challenged to rise to the occasion that's the impact that you did that for them because you did it you conveyed your feeling.
[00:07:39] How do you find that the that the sort of the emotional connection that this emotion that you bring out or that you cause or that you evoke in the audience as a speaker. How much of that is something that you can kind of craft and design and kind of control verses. It's kind of up to the audience and different audience members may have different reactions to it but that's OK. And you you just want to create a reaction not necessarily kind of narrow it to focused. I mean how how do you deal with that intention.
[00:08:07] Definitely knowing who your audience is going in with the respect for the audience who is the audience what is the demographic their age you know what are they paying attention to. What is your audience looking at. That can be helpful. And then the other thing is if you come in with passion and riled up it doesn't matter who is in the audience I'm going to pay attention to you because it means something to you. And it's trusting that I have so many people that say Oh my God that's too big. That's not like that's not like me that's too I don't feel comfortable like just test it out. Give yourself permission and to stay authentic to yourself because we were born as babies we were these we cried so loud we couldn't help in addition to hear what we know we grow up we get. We'd go to school we socialize and that goes away but we're still very much these primal creatures. That's what connects us all.
[00:08:55] I mean this is like channeling channeling your inner kindergarten or inside of you and as part of this.
[00:09:01] Yeah right. And if you look at the great speakers if you look at Martin Luther King if you look at you know there's Teddy Roosevelt they have so much humor in them. I mean it's important stuff but humor is what gets us through. When I make my acting teacher said that you can't break anyone's heart until you've made them laugh first. So not forgetting humor and then so many clients say oh I can't if this isn't funny this is a client presentation I'm like if you make them laugh you've gotta.
[00:09:28] Because what humor is is coming back to the present moment. You can't laugh while you're thinking about you know the past or the future that's like you still incredible. And everyone has different ways of being funny and that's my job is to see what what do you find funny. What's your funny and not tell you what or how to be funny but how do you come off funny naturally.
[00:09:47] Yeah I'm pointing that out because you mentioned something earlier I thought was kind of curious. I'm not sure how you kind of approached it or what the strategy is.
[00:09:54] You talked about this idea of knowing your audience how it and I know as a speaker I certainly kind of intuitively get that in terms of I'm going to and while I'm always gonna be authentic I may focus or I may present myself in slightly nuanced ways differently based on if I'm speaking to students if I'm speaking to people who are early stage entrepreneurs if I'm speaking to you know the CEOs of you know 500 million other companies I mean those but I mean they're all people. And I don't necessarily it's not about how successful or unsuccessful they are necessarily but I know that their context I know that they're the things that they're probably struggling with and grappling with and their priorities and this isn't probably any different. I like how do you think about this or how do you help coach people in thinking through their audience and respond to the different audiences.
[00:10:39] That's an amazing question. What I love to do is I love speaker and audience interaction. You get some information that way right from the beginning and also if you get a chance to observe see if there is a speaker before you or just see the room a little bit. Talk to as many people as possible ask questions. I forget her name but she was Dr. Martin Luther King's secretary. And someone asked her like what what made him such an incredible speaker What's the secret. What did he do. And he said that he was the greatest listener she had ever met in her life that he just asked questions and listened fiercely. And that's what made him a great speaker. So if you had the opportunity to go around talk to your audience members interact ask questions be curious. Fall in love with people that will give you such a handle on when you go on stage because you may know as as actors and as speakers are our job is to be in service of the story of the listeners. Right. So you cannot be in service to the listener if you're just talking thinking about yourself and and thinking Oh my God I hope I do a good job. That's an ego driven agenda. And many people can succeed but there's nothing like being able to make a person feel like they matter. That's truly transformative.
[00:11:50] Yes. I'm just thinking about sort of the great sort of business speaker's business presentations I've seen and there's certainly this the more impactful ones at least they come across as being hey look I've got I've got something prepared but I want to know what you want to hear and then they kind of rewrite or it feels like they rewrite the entire thing at the moment based on what the audience is now.
[00:12:11] You know maybe it's just masterful presentation and that's really what they're going to do in the beginning. But there's an interesting play here. How do you help people or what is the process for someone to get to that level of being able to respond to audience an audience needs or an audience situation doing it.
[00:12:26] Practice practice practice field forward feel faster take an improv class go talk at the library just doing it and knowing that you will have good days and you will have awful days people don't throw tomatoes anymore so you know there's there's a there's a thing we use of it is engaging is when people have that kind of fear.
[00:12:45] There's definitely like a fear kind of resistant kind of thing Marable. We'll talk to you.
[00:12:49] Let's what's the worst that can happen. Like are they going to physically beat you up. Probably not. OK. Are they going to throw tomatoes. Probably not. You know it's kind of backpedaling them from this kind of doomsday scenario and then making it OK. OK. So say they do that you can survive in your old nervous system.
[00:13:04] I mean I really believe that the fear comes from our own self judgment because people will see you. So they might think oh that wasn't that good and they'll forget they're gonna go home you know watch TV with their kids milk or whatever but it stays with that. It's my own self judgment that says man Paulie you really sucked how you're never gonna make it. It's the doom. You know that I come up for myself.
[00:13:24] That was this I mean is this the kind of you know there's the say I guess people people think other people care about that much more than they actually do. We're all we're all very self-important and we think that we're very important to other people when we're really not that important.
[00:13:38] Yeah yeah it really is also it's like you know you you feel the fear the most right before you go on stage when there is absolutely no danger. Right. It's all self-induced. You're like Oh my God oh my God. And then you go out you go. People clap at you you say something you hear a chuckle and then you relax. It's getting over that first hurdle.
[00:13:57] And that's an interesting one because I think I think that is I'm just kind of thinking about some of my own strategies and people I've worked with on this as is I would say get the first couple lines memorized and practiced delivery because once you get the first couple lines out then it all becomes much more fluid but I'll stumble if there's a hiccup in the first couple of lines. Ben you're kind of set yourself up for this rocky road.
[00:14:20] Sure. You're absolutely right. Beginnings and endings nail the beginning nail the ending we forget what happens in the middle we truly do. But if you end would like a baboon you know people are you know remember that. And so it's really it's really really cool just what I love about getting to do this is the all the different you know so much about this but human psychology is just fascinating here and knowing like what makes people take in what we're also similar and never ceases to amaze me. And I also think that when nerves are is the focus is on yourself when you're nervous its focus is Oh my God I hope I do a good job I hope I don't it when some nerves and excitement are actually physiologically in the same place. OK back same thing. But one is focused on yourself and one it's focused outwards. So when you realize that if you put your attention out onto your audience out on to your task what you need to focus on your focus that relaxes you. Relaxation is everything.
[00:15:16] So it's almost I mean it sounds like it's almost kind of flipping the script on our nervousness and saying well you know there's two ways to kind of react to the sort of emotional physiological nervousness things and you can either take it as nervousness or you can take it as an excitement.
[00:15:33] So yeah you can read channel or read format that when your mind is going to get there. So yeah I mean if I find this thing with a lot of things in life. But the more you resist the more you try to fight it like. This whole idea of the nervousness is not that you don't get nervous. It's how you react to that nervousness sensation. Yes. Yes.
[00:15:53] And sometimes even saying you can again humor like you know good looking audiences make me nervous and people go you know you can channel all the nerves. You can only feel something that I was like it when people comment on the reality of the moment because it's fresh. It's not planned. And people see a human. So I think you can't you really can't lose if you embrace everything. And that's also the beauty of doing improv classes is you you just get used to failing and you're not burdened by the fear of failure because first of all who defines failure. Yeah you did it. That's that's a win.
[00:16:26] You do. I'm curious do you do any kind of training or as part of your strategy or how you work with folks to deal like you. You know unplug the projector halfway through or have hecklers in the audience. I mean you do you work with folks on dealing with these kind of things or how to. Yes yes yes.
[00:16:41] So a lot of times like all role role play a really awful audience member that's a sleepy and tired and on its phone and and then they have to keep it up. But I also I tell people it was so funny as humans like we'll have an audience of 100 people and ninety nine of those people are really they're diggin what we're saying.
[00:16:58] And there's one butthead that's not looking at us and we're giving our speech for that person. Yeah. And I make no note don't do it for them do it. And maybe it's the reverse. Maybe there's ninety nine people that aren't paying attention but one person is do it for them do it for them. Because usually it feeds you. Yeah. And a connection will wake more people up than you paying attention to the one guy that's not paying attention to you.
[00:17:21] Yeah. It just seems like so much of this is choosing what to focus on and choosing that choosing to focus on the things that are going gonna help you.
[00:17:28] It is it is very much like an athlete's mindset.
[00:17:31] Yeah well I think it's what I think there's some statistic out there that you know going onstage has the same kind of cortisol release as a car accident. Right. So you know in terms of the physicality of speaking is very very real.
[00:17:44] Right. Yes. And it's just so much fun. I I love it when people like I'm just not a speaker and I'm not good at this. And then they go and you know they work really hard and they give the speech and they feel like they literally they're like Mick Jagger coming off the stage they feel and people are lining up to see them. And I love it when that happens because anyone can do that. Yeah talent is a process. It's a skill that you can learn. It's not you're not many people aren't born. Actually no one is born a speaker. It's just something that we work on.
[00:18:14] Yeah. I get that. So I'm cutting gears on the you know so there's a stat out there that 70 percent of communication is body language not content. Yeah.
[00:18:24] So we talk about content and kind of having the lines and you know knowing how to tell a story and things like that. So if that's one part of it how do you deal with the sort of the body language or the nonverbal communication that we're giving off speakers. What's that process like for you and how do you kind of evaluate and how do you coach someone on on that end.
[00:18:43] Well it all goes back again to the story. I think of the story or the speech as the roadmap. And that from then from there we can decide movement you know what. I don't know if you've ever had. This is my classical training and I read Hamlet but Hamlet gives. It's called Hamlet's advice to the players where he explains to them how to give how to go on stage to fool his father you know who killed his mother. And he tells you how to act. And he said you know suit the action to the word the word to the action. So your story tells you how to how to move. So if and when in doubt don't move at all. Stillness is your friend right. Sitting still conveys power and conveys relaxation and love and success cannot hit a moving target. So if you're all over the place I don't see you. You stand still. That's where the love is coming. Right. Like I was taught that you want to aim your heart to the hearts you want to touch. So you want that's poetic. I like that. Yeah I think it. Oh yeah. You want to stand still and when the when the speech takes you to movement with purpose that's when you move. And it's obviously something we practice together because we'll be bleeding energy out of nerves. We'll be like adjusting our art sweaters and our ties and playing with our hair because it's just nerves right. But it's like poker. I know you're nervous because of the way you're moving. So if you can master it just like feel everything. See still what happens is everything goes to your voice and your voice releases the power because now the energy is in the voice and and vocal variation happens and that's part of the communication is the high notes and the low notes. Again Dr. Martin Luther King Junior his range is incredible. I mean he uses every place those 88 keys on the piano with his voice.
[00:20:25] Do you have clients listen to classical speeches and things like that time.
[00:20:29] Yeah yeah. And also I have them tell me what they like because I may love Ryan Avery who I think now he needs you know but maybe they don't want to be Sonsini let's say maybe they're more of a still you know talker. So I want to see what gets them excited and that's where we can build from build from what they get excited from.
[00:20:48] Yeah I like that kind of adapt adapt to them and their situation right. You know my I'm guessing that some people listening to this are kind of thinking of oh I'm on stage in front of 500 people you know.
[00:20:59] But I think that or let's talk a little bit about how this stuff applies not just to that I'm you know on the big stage in front of lots of people but down to I'm you know I'm giving the presentation to my team or to my board or to that you know to my executive group. How can you take some of this stuff and apply it or how does this apply to just less formal or less speaker audience separation kind of models to more time.
[00:21:22] Yeah versatile. Great question. I think it all comes down to confidence with confidence you know growing your ability to speak to people then your confidence grows and that helps with your attitude. And when you have a great attitude that's really ultimately what happens when you have improved behaviors and results from the people that work with you from your your I don't know anywhere from your CEO to anybody else. So confidence is huge. And also what I really love is knowing techniques and then throwing away the techniques of a great speaker such as no filler words or vocal variation or using metaphors persuasive language how to be charming which is so important. And I just. And knowing how to speak from the heart as well. So again going with feeling and also knowing how to use a about like the stats and the value knowing. Yeah. I think being an eloquent speaker can really it. It's just an incredible skill and I know that Warren Buffett said that you know you can be a great seller you can be all these incredible things but when you're a great speaker you bring out the best in other people. The human skill.
[00:22:26] Yeah yeah yeah. I just think the resume I'm one of the reasons I'm really excited about this episode for this podcast is I kind of defined the service based businesses.
[00:22:35] Is that in which the nature of the business is about people interacting you know so whether you're a call center or whether you are a professional services firm or you're a lawyer or you're you know you're you were you know various kind of dynamics. It's about people communicating with people and I find this whole kind of topic of speaking with power speaking with presence speaking with persuasion is such an important thing. You know whether you're selling or you're delivering all those things are really key here. I'm sure there are folks here that are you know early stages of their speaking careers what advice or what things typically do you see people that are kind of getting into this struggle with and what kind of advice might you offer them in terms of dealing with that I think or I think everyone's moved beyond the you know imagine the audience in their underwear kind of strategies but what kind of things do you help early speakers are people that are not super comfortable or haven't really developed their speaking abilities yet.
[00:23:24] That's great. I don't know if you've seen this TED talk by Richard Green but he defines public speaking. It doesn't have to be you know on stage but it's just having a heart to heart conversation about something that matters to you and you can do that anywhere you can do that in your underwear when you're with a few friends. So I think it's has to do with just jumping into the pool you know just doing it. It has to do with a guest paying attention to the thoughts that you have when you're thinking of like So you think this so shall you be. If you think I can never do this I can never do this. OK stop because I want our brains work as a computer as algorithms right. We give it. That's the command we give it. So it's paying attention to how you're thinking. Stopping that thought and rerouting it saying OK I am I can do this or I am I am brave I can do this I can become a great speaker I at least like start with what you have. I have I am disciplined I am disciplined maybe I'm not a speaker but right now I am disciplined Yeah I am I like learning I'm a learner right now it's starting simply so that eventually take off. And I think just doing it and like what gets you excited if you own a business clearly you are excite you love what you do. Yeah. LEE So you can talk about talk about what you love what excites you.
[00:24:43] And I think there's the other one I always kind of find in these cases and I think it happens kind of in their entrepreneurial space when people are thinking about you know becoming entrepreneurs or starting a business or early stage business and they're looking at the people that are super successful and like oh well you know they had it easy and I was perfect in this whole kind of imposter syndrome or why I always feel like well how could I ever do that. And I think it's important to know that you know everyone that you see as being super successful started you know started somewhere and even you know they still deal with nerves they still deal with anxiety. I mean it's not that they don't have it is that they have developed strategies.
[00:25:16] So just keeping it real for folks and Richard Branson who has like you know definitely a high school dropout maybe even before that but he he wanted to become the brand of Virgin. And he was like Who am I this kid that has no education. And so he does he got himself into public speaking courses. Yeah. He learned it's begins. So I think you know I am a college graduate. He was at a way bigger disadvantage than I was. And yet he had this tenacity. He was driven. So if people like him can do it and came from poverty and very scarce resources and do it in worse situations then what are we not to.
[00:25:53] This has been great. Like I said I love this topic. I think it's something that people struggle as I think it's something. It's amazing that when they get it right how it changes their whole kind of approach changes their business or change it. It gives them like you said it gives them confidence in you know other areas of their life. So even even beyond just their ability to speak but the confidence to go out and do lots of other things.
[00:26:12] So absolutely yeah. This is a great one day.
[00:26:16] So we're going to hit time here. But if people want to find out more about you and about the coaching that you do. What's the best way to get a hold of you and find out more.
[00:26:23] Well thank you Bruce. You can go to the public speaking pro dot com and it is with the at the beginning so that public speaking pro dot.com and you can sign up on the Web site and then left to give you a free consultation.
[00:26:35] Great. I'll make sure that that link is in the show now so that people can click through and get a hold of you. Paula this has been a pleasure. It's always fun to talk with you and I know this is a great conversation for this audience. Thank you.
[00:26:46] Oh thank you.
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