Struggling with public speaking anxiety? Well, you are not alone! Did you know that the fear of public speaking is the most common phobia ahead of death, spiders, or heights?
In fact, this fear of speaking in public is a very common form of anxiety that ranges from slight nervousness to panic and paralyzing fear.
Most of the people that are struggling with this fear avoid social speaking situations, which many times means they don’t take important opportunities in their life.
The good news is this anxiety can be overcome and with proper training and persistence, anyone can become a good public speaker.
Former Tv producer and speaker coach Simone Tai is back at the Legendary Life podcast to talk about how to be more confident when it comes to public speaking. Plus, she is going to share her secrets to improving your communication skills, to make your life happier and healthier.
If you want to feel confident when you speak in front of people in real life, or when you are on a conference call online, you should listen to today’s episode.
Simone Tai is a former TV producer who used to work on top-rated shows like Masterchef (Fox), Fastest Car (Netflix), and Comic Relief (BBC) for almost 20 years.
She turned into a meditation teacher and speaking coach after she experienced improvements in her own life and wanted to help other people overcome their anxieties and thrive in the workplace and beyond.
Now, Simone teaches weekly sessions and workshops for leaders and creatives at companies and Networks such as CBS, NBC, Hulu, and Activision. She helps leaders, entrepreneurs, and high-performers get out of their heads and speak from their hearts in order to improve their public speaking skills.
Why communications skills are essential for your health [00:21-45:01:10]
Introduction: Who is Simone Tai? [01:10-02:36]
Simone Tai’s story on overcoming her public speaking anxiety and becoming a speaking coach [01:10-08:49]
Turning anxiety into excitement. [14:56-16:10]
How to improve your relationship with loving communicating skills[25:36-31:23]
About the “Speak Like a Boss” program [43:42-48:34]
And much more…
Episode Transcription: How to Overcome Your Public Speaking Anxiety & Speak Like A Boss with Simone Tai
Ted Ryce:Welcome back to the Legendary Life podcast! I'm your host, Ted Ryce, a health expert and coach to entrepreneurs, executives, and other high-performing professionals. And in case you're listening to this show for the first time, what we do here is break down science-based information on losing fat, preventing disease, and living a longer, healthier, legendary life.
Now, while exercise and nutrition are important, the truth is that health goes way beyond what we eat and how we move our bodies. One example is poor communication skills are an underappreciated source of stress in so many of our lives. Conversely, solid communication skills are an underrated source of health.
If we have better communication, we have better relationships. It's just an essential part of any healthy partnership, whether we're talking about your relationship with your spouse, your kids, your parents, your coworkers, your employees. Now, all relationships have ups and downs, but when we're able to communicate in an effective way, we can make it easier to deal with conflict and actually build stronger and healthier partnerships.
So, today's guest, Simone Tai is here to share her secrets to improving your communication skills, to make you happier and healthier. Now she's been on the show before, but in case you haven't listened to her previous episode, Simone is a former TV producer, turned meditation teacher and speaking coach. Right now, she helps creatives, leaders and entrepreneurs get out of their head and speak from their heart. Simone, welcome back! It's such a pleasure to speak with you again!
Simone Tai:Hi Ted! So good to be here again! Thank you for having me back!
Ted Ryce: Yeah, we've already kicked things off before we started recording here, talking about stress, talking about the things that we can do to live better lives, especially in this current situation where we're all pretty deep in the coronavirus crisis right now. So let's just jump right into it.
People struggle with communication, especially speaking, especially saying the right words at the right time. Why did you choose, after all your experience as a TV producer, how did you come up with this idea to merge mindfulness and speaker coaching into this awesome program that you have?
Simone Tai: Yeah. So, exactly, I was in TV for a very long time. So it was nearly 20 years producing entertainment shows. I was always the person who was behind the camera, so I never felt like speaking or having to be a sort of expert communicator with something that I was very conscious of.
But at the same time, moving up the ladder as you become a producer or a showrunner, you do have to run large teams. So that was a big part of my job and probably where I noticed more of my own speaking anxiety. And so, yeah, I was never, ever... I was always terrified of the idea of being a public speaker or standing on a stage that was kind of “No, no, no, no, that's never me!” But then as I progressed in TV, I would be in this scenarios where I'd have to lead directors and editors and big personalities.
And I sort of... I think the biggest thing for me was I felt imposter syndrome. I think I felt a lot of, I was quite ennerved, I felt I was being judged, I felt like “Oh, are they looking at me thinking, you know, who is this girl? Who's the girl telling us what to do and blah, blah?” I didn't want new jobs as I worked a lot freelance. So I felt like I was often having to prove myself, and that's probably a mixture of my own self doubt and a mixture of new environments.
Anyway, so over the... when I moved to Los Angeles from London, I had sort of started again, had to meet new people, had to find new jobs. And that was a perfect opportunity for me to personally work on my speaking abilities. I actually thought that speaking was something... or unconfidence was something that you were born with.
So when I looked around and saw people who were naturals, I was kind of “Okay, that's you, but that's not me, you know? I feel the nerves, I feel my throat tightening up. I feel my hands getting all sweaty and I'm kinda like… So that's just the way I am made.”
And then I started working with a coach and she sort of reminded me, or, or helped me realize that speaking skills and confidence are sort of things you can learn, you absolutely can learn and you can get better at it if you apply, if you are with the right training, et cetera. So it sparked something in my mind that said: “Well, this is something that's going to be really important for the rest of my career! If I'm going to keep progressing, keep rising up the ranks - which I wanted to, I've always been ambitious with my work and hardworking - and I thought, okay, this is the time to do it!”
So, I started going along to Toastmasters, and I would go every week, once a week. I was laughing at this cause it was at Denny's Diner on Hollywood Boulevard and it was a group of such fun and diverse characters. And I was kind of: “Oh, a lot people have this public speaking anxiety, just like me!”.
Anyway, I'd go practice and learn a couple of skills. And I noticed over the months, I'd get a little bit better, a little bit better. And so I said, okay, I'm building my confidence here. This is definitely helping me. And then the opportunity came up to do a TEDx talk and I've been probably practicing for a few months. And the voice in my head would normally say “No, don't do that to yourself! What are you... No, no, don't do it!” But there's this other little voice who had been practicing with me and going “Okay, maybe it's not so bad! Maybe if you can speak for two minutes, you might be able to speak for five minutes. You might be able to add a couple.”
So I had this little voice that went “Oh, just do it, you know, do it and learn as you go!” So I took the opportunity and, in a nutshell, that was probably that moment that really opened my eyes to … Wow! You know? This is such an amazing, it was such an amazing experience! It was such a wonderful journey to go on. And I felt like if that really helps me, maybe this could help other people. And I didn't do anything about that for a while until I started to train, to become a meditation teacher.
So this was kind of, I would say the missing piece for me. I definitely had a lot of skills, I had more confidence, but there was still this inner sense of “I'm not a speaker! I'm not, I'm not a motivational speaker. I'm not into all of these labels!” that felt so distant to me.
But when I started to learn mindfulness and that I had the power to influence my thoughts and my beliefs, I realized that “Oh! I can actually train myself to believe I am confident, to believe that I have something worthy of talking about!”
And so those two worlds brought together the practical side of getting up there and doing it, the exposure therapy and the mindset skills, the mindfulness, the real deep beliefs. Bringing those two together was kind of like a formula that really... I was like this is the formula that really filled all the holes in for me! And it was then that I started to create my own courses. So, okay, maybe I can help people, maybe I can teach them the best things that worked for me!
And I started offering these programs, six week programs to other people, successful people, executives, leaders, people in the TV industry who might have that in a doubt, the imposter syndrome, this, you know, lack of courage or lack of self-belief. And maybe I can help them feel more confident, feel more fulfilled in their work and throughout their life. So that's kind of, in a longish nutshell, how I ended up on this, it's kind of like a few different areas, but that's where it led, that's how it led to where I am now.
Ted Ryce: That's what I love about this story though, is, you know, I've shared several things on the show in some of my solo episodes about exposure therapy, about limiting beliefs, right? And you're talking about how people, even people who are executives, high performers, they have imposter syndrome.
In fact, if I remember correctly, people who are usually high performers, those are the people who have more imposter syndrome. It's not the anonymous person on social media with... you know, it's like, you know, not to be condescending to anybody, but just saying these people who are high performance tend to have like a lot more anxiety.
What I love about what you said is something that I try to get across in this podcast and why it's so great to have you back on the show, talking about this, is that so often people come to me and they want to know, “Okay, well, what do I need to eat to be more healthy? What exercise do I need to do to be more healthy?” And then once they get locked in with that, then it's like “Okay, well, what do I do now? How can I work out better? Do I need to do more? How can I dial in... are there specific superfoods that I could be eating that I'm not currently eating?”
It's like now you got to look at the rest of your life and see what else needs to work. Because if you're suffering from this I'm not enough syndrome - right? - you can't exercise that away, you can't kale shake it away, right?
Can you talk a little bit about your clients, some of the struggles they've had and then how this affects, not just their ability - obviously, if you train at speaking, you get better at speaking, you get better at communication and you can conduct a board meeting better, or those obvious things - but can you talk also about the lesser obvious effects of how this type of training in particular public speaking which people say “Well, I'd rather die than go give a speech!” Can you talk about those things your clients experience?
Simone Tai: Of course, yes. So the people I work with, the clients I work with come, you know, they have their own blocks, everyone's different, right? So, for some it might be... and as I mentioned and as you agreed, there are some really successful on paper, you know, there's so... you know... they've got amazing businesses, they are financially abundant, there's many elements that everything is going well. However, they come to me because "I've been asked to appear on a show, or I've been asked to do podcasts. I've been asked to do X, Y, Z. And I am terrified!" And it's not that they, they are comfortable talking about the work that... They can be comfortable talking about, you know, the things that they do every... but there's some shift that happens if they feel like “Oh, I'm going to be judged, or I'm going to be asked something that I'm not prepared for!”And it literally stops them. It stops them from taking those opportunities. It stops them from putting their message out there.
And that's where I feel, you know, for me as a personal drive, I kind of feel like that's such a shame that you say no to those things, but at least you're now kind of, you know, doing something about it. So yeah, it's case by case. And, I probably, I don't know if it's just the people I've worked with who have noticed the rope, you know, more women I'm working with who have the imposter syndrome. I probably can relate to it a lot since I felt the same thing. On paper... Everyone around me said, “Oh, she's a co-executive producer, she runs shows for Netflix, she's doing this.”
But inside when I was put in certain scenarios, I said “There is something missing! I don't believe in myself or I …” yeah, to... I'm really self-conscious there was a real fear, a fear of being caught out, or fear that I would say something and people think “Ooh, she doesn't really know what she's talking about!”
And you know what shifted as well actually? I think even now when I do interviews like this inside, I know that - and this happened when I did my meditation training - I'm always learning, you know, I might have an expertise, but there's so many people out there that I'm still learning from. So, if somebody asks me a question, I'm not always, I'm not thinking, well, I'm good, if I get it wrong, I'm going to be canceled, you know? And if I get it wrong something bad is going to happen to me. I am comfortable with the fact that I give my experience and I'll give my opinion, but I don't know everything, I am still learning.
Whereas before I thought “No, I should know everything! I should know everything, I'm getting paid to do this job, therefore, that's the expectation of me.” And I felt that that comes through with the clients I've worked with, it's that kind of like “Oh no, I can't mess up on a podcast because you know, everything I built, this is my reputation, this is my identity. If I do something that could jeopardize that…” The pressure to say the right things all the time is what adds to this feeling of “I can't do it! or “This is terrifying!”.
And just to touch on your point about people say they draw the dye, that feeling that they're trying to avoid, that feeling of “I'm trying to avoid the fear of failure.”And there was no actually the actual failure. It's the feeling that people are like”Oh, I don't like that feeling! Oh, the potential idea of failing, that feels horrible! Let's not feel a lot!” You know?
So, I spent a lot of time with my clients, in the first weeks, first of all, find out what their specific block is. Second of all, completely reframing nerves. I'm like, the number one secret that all great speakers and body language experts is they know nerves are natural, discomfort is not dangerous. So when you feel that flood of anxiety, when you feel your body tremoring, whatever happens in your body, we have to start seeing it as excitement.
It won't go away completely. I still, every time I do my seminar classes, I get the feeling before, I get the kind of like “Ooh!” And then the voice in my head now says very clearly: “I'm excited! I'm excited!” Before it was: “I am scared, what if I say something wrong? Oh, I must remember everything!” And I've just kind of eased up on myself. So that's what I really tried to spend a lot of time working on that because we, you know, people have 30 plus years of believing and hearing one thought and one story. Shifting out of that takes time. But it's really important.
Ted Ryce: Very important points indeed. One thing I'll share too: I used to have a lot of social anxiety about speaking. And when I used to do interviews, I would get super duper nervous. Now I don't, right?
So just to talk a little bit more about the anxiety. So I was doing, I love this, this juxtaposition because I was doing Brazilian jiu-jitsu, I was doing Brazilian jujitsu competitions, I was training with MMA fighters, and if you ask somebody “Hey, want to come train jujitsu with me?”. “Oh man!” You know, people are afraid to do it because it brings up a lot of fear of getting hurt. But for me it was a comfort zone. But I was afraid, even though I had this one area of my life where I was competent, I taught Brazilian jujitsu, you know, I still had this fear anxiety with speaking, and I was also ignoring it. I didn't want to go there.
And so I love that juxtaposition because people will say “Oh man, you train this martial art. Oh, you must be so tough!”. And the truth is... and one, and it's like all of us, well, we're really, we're experts in one area. Even though you said, eloquently put, experts are just people who have been doing it longer than other people. And they're always still learning, right? Every expert that I've ever interviewed ever.
But outside of those areas of expertise, or areas of experience, we're all the same. Right? We're all kind of…, we're all struggling with the same things. And so, what are some of the... obviously when you train your clients, they get better at speaking, they feel more confident. A lot of it has to do with, like you mentioned, exposure training, the more you do it, the less the nerves come up, because you get rid of the intense flood of adrenaline that comes up. And so they're able to speak, and they're able to reframe their nerves as excitement. How does this affect other areas of their life? Do they share stories from relationships from home, from talking with their kids? Where does it also show up for them?
Simone Tai: Yes, of course! So what's interesting is that the journey that I take people on, in the group programs, we take them through the steps to create their own TED-style talk. And so we do storytelling, we cover, how do you craft and call off your story. And so I have a lot of, you know, entrepreneurs or people just starting out with maybe a new business or an idea, and even coming out and speaking on social media, different platforms and the very process of them, are like telling that story, writing that story is been really cathartic.
It's been an amazing process to watch people. And the feedback I've been getting is wow! You know, I never really.., I knew my story, but I didn't know it, I didn't, I wasn't able to verbalize that. I wasn't able to speak it, and kind of just them exploring maybe the why, the reason behind they do what they do.
I've seen this spark happen beyond the program where they're kind of so much more stronger in sharing who they are, what they're about, and excited about their business. So it's interesting to see how, when you sit down and tell your story, or own your story, even if it's painful. And that's what happened to me, my story wasn't pretty, it wasn't a glamorous story to tell my TEDx story was about my challenges with fertility treatments and, and how my marriage nearly broke apart.
And I didn't have this happy ending where I'm like “Oh, and now here is the baby!”. I didn't have that. So, I was struggling with... people want to hear there's one... I don't have a happy ending at the end, you know, the equating happy ending. But I knew that if I could share the things I was going through, that somebody out there might relate.
So this is going back to your point of how does it impact. I started to connect with people who were in a similar situation to me, by sharing that story. I started to build more friendships, relationships. I felt more confident when I owned “This is what I'm going through. This is who I am, and I'm okay. And it hasn't killed me, you know? It wasn't nice, it wasn't pretty, but I'm still here and I found many tools to help me.”
So with my groups and clients, they are also... when you communicate, you're building trusting relationships. When you share videos on social media about what you do and who you are, you are building a really wonderful, healthy audience of people who want to engage with you, who connect with you as a human, which is why, you know, I've really helped people with that, videos as well. That kind of thing is how do I speak with confidence with my videos.
So at the heart of it, when you're speaking from the heart, the process is really simple. We're getting out of our head, we're getting out of the any fight slights, a phrase that's been triggered, and we're starting to get into the core of who we are, and what makes us tick, what makes us happy and not being afraid to put that out there.
So, yes, and then it has a direct impact on communicating with their family, communicating with their friends, being in a business meeting or presentation, or having an opportunity. I've had a lot of clients come to me to go “Oh my gosh, I've just been asked to do this, to do an amazing podcast! I've just been asked to go on this show. I'm so glad that we did the training together because when I said Yes it was an excited Yes. Not a Oh, no! Oh, okay, that will really shift my business, but I'm going to hate this!”. They're like, no, let's bring it on!
So yeah, it's really beautiful to see the... I don't know, it's kind of like a therapeutic process of people really connecting with who they are in order to connect with others. Hopefully that answers to your question.
Ted Ryce: Yeah. I love that you brought up speaking from the heart. A lot of us - and I was guilty of this and still am guilty of this, but at least aware of it now - try to say the right things, or we ask questions where people don't really know where we're coming from.
We'll say “Hey, why do you want to do that?” And they'll say “Well, what's the problem?” It's like “Okay, well, what I'm really feeling is I have some fear about this” or I have some... But it comes across as… you know, things can turn into arguments when you're not communicating from your heart, where you're not being vulnerable and sharing: “Hey, this is what I'm really concerned about!”
I'm watching this series on Apple Plus called “For All Mankind” - this is a great series if you're not watching it - where this thing kind of came out.
This astronaut who was a big deal, with his wife, he was a big deal astronaut, married, had a kid, was on the moon when his son died, his young son, ended up adopting a child. And this child, she grows up and then wants to join the Naval Academy. And he loses his cool and starts yelling at her like he's never done before.
And the child doesn't understand, the girl doesn't understand where it's coming from, because it's like “I thought you'd be happy!” Cause she wants to go apply to the same school he went to. So she thought he was going to be so happy. And it was just his emotional eruption.
And eventually they were able to calm down the situation. It's really great writing on the show. Well, maybe you could tell me, you're the television producer, but for me, I think it's really talented writing the way they tackle all the gray areas and they stay away from the extremes, right?
So at the end of the blow up, this family meltdown, it comes out “Look, I'm just afraid that I'll lose you, afraid! I'm afraid you're going to get hurt! And I'm afraid if you get hurt, I'm going to get hurt. “ And it was just…, that's the type of conversations that we really need to have.
But so often we're not ready for the conversations, and we get triggered emotionally. And then what comes out is the untrained, very scared part of us. And what I feel like speaking has done for me, it's just one of those skills that I believe just everyone needs to get better at if they want. You want to be healthy? This is an area that you need to work on. So I'm so passionate about it.
What do you have to say, what are your thoughts on... or tell us what speaking from the heart is and what are your thoughts on that?
Simone Tai: It's interesting, cause yeah, I think a lot of people say “Oh, just speak from the heart! Just speak from the heart.” And not many people really know what that means. Because it's complex. Well it's not, it is and isn't.
So to me, the difference is we... so you hit a very good point, there's emotional communication. So, that is the reactivity, the reacting to a situation. And I actually teach this, is one of the... I teach mindfulness as well, to a lot of TV companies, I've just finished a program with the BBC.
And so one of the weeks we look at compassion, communicating with compassion. And I think it's really important for people to start realizing that, you know, when we're triggered, when we are in fear, when we're angry, when we're feeling those emotions during that emotional hijack, which is a chemical response, and we actually cannot do anything about it for at least 90 seconds.
So when that car cuts us off, when someone says something we were shocked or disagree with, it's best not to communicate for at least 90 seconds. So yeah, I call it the 90 seconds rule, and I teach this in my... reducing anxiety in the workplace, my programs to do, to help people who have this reactivity in it.
And it's good to know, first of all, that actually that's not our fault. It's not our fault. If, if we do have this kind of flooding, this chemical flood. However, it's also good to know that we have the power, if we can hold out, not say something, hold out, which you know, often is easier said than done, but I often breath. You know, even breathing five slow deep breaths can give you enough time to get through that 90 seconds and that's enough for the chemical response to slow down, calm down, and it gives you… and the deep breathing as well, that also calms the nervous system, but it gives you the chance to respond wisely rather than responding out of emotion.
We are never really going to be saying the most thoughtful, wise, kind words when we feel under threat, when all the body is going into threat mode, I need to run, I need to fight this. So, that's a big one I teach and I get such... you know, people said “The 90 second rule it's been so helpful for me because I know that if I can just hold for that little part then, yeah… And then I'm not going to say the thing I'll regret, not going to shout at my kids cause I'm stressed and overworked. I'm not going to shout at my colleague,I'm not going to send that email straight away”. Because we are not communicating wisely during that time.
If later on that day, or four hours later, you're still feeling the rage or still your have... I know it lasts longer than 90 seconds for me, then it's asking the question, what am I believing? What thoughts or story am I believing about the person, about myself, about boundaries and what is it that I believe in that keeps triggering this response, this anger, this rage, whatever it is?
So that's kind of like a really great first step in communicating wisely. And beyond that, you know, I also teach compassion. So, how do we have compassion for others, so that we can understand them, that we can get beyond them being the enemy or this person I disagree with, this person who's out to get me.
I went through this myself and my husband, we did not use to communicate well at all. It would be like “You did this to me. You did that to me, can't believe he's…” You know, we'd go through the same loop, same loops. And we had to learn, like you mentioned, how do I speak to you from my heart? Okay. Well, I need to get out my head first of all, I'd have to go to a separate room, take those breaths, do what I needed and then really spend time trying to understand, okay, he's being angry. Not because of me, not because he's a bad person, because he's in fear. He's responding from a place that, like you said, he's afraid, but he wasn't able to communicate it. When things calm down, he was able to say to me with the right questions, I'm kinda like why, you know, what is it that made you feel like that?
And he would tell me, and I would have so much more compassion for him saying “I'm just afraid, I'm afraid of losing you.” Or I'm afraid that... you know, when it really boils down to it, that anger, that it always comes from a place off... a scared place, a scared place that might be connected to an old trauma, an old memory, an old emotion that's been replaying.
So, once I understood, when I had an understanding for him, or an understanding for someone I work with, it drops my guard. It drops my fear, my need to be right. And then therefore the communication which I personally found… I had a boss that I worked with that I had the same situation. It was difficult. I did a few compassion practices and just the way I was behaving with him and the way I spoke to him, he responded back. It was like a mirroring situation. So yeah, that's a few things that helped me and that I teach my clients as well.
Ted Ryce: So for 90 seconds, sit with the feelings, breathe through them and avoid saying something, until you get some of that nervous system activity lowered. And that's really what it is. That is so interesting, before we hopped on and started talking, you were telling me about your own clubhouse, listening to someone named Dr. Lee, you've talk about her, her approach, using neuroscience for anxiety and depression and how a lot of these things come up in the wording that we use, the beliefs we have.
And it's just so powerful. I hope people are starting...., I hope if you're listening right now to this interview, you're starting to take away. The real big issue is how do we get this nervous system under control. We have all these programmed beliefs that come from childhood. Some of them are great, like if I step out into the street without looking both ways, that's pretty dangerous. Or if I go driving without the seatbelt on, that's not something to do, right? If you want to survive the car accident.
Then we have these other things that I'm not good enough to speak, or to say my piece... or this person who's my love 90% of the time, or 95% of the time, but I really hate that they're the enemy right now, it triggers these feelings and certainly I've been there as well. I remember when I first started getting into meditation, I was just using Headspace at the time, I got into an argument with my wife at the time and I was really angry. And so I communicated from that place. And then I did the medication.... Meditation is like medication, but what I meant is I did a meditation and I think it was only, it wasn't that long, it was a five or ten minutes. I think it was a ten minutes meditation, at the time that's what Headspace was doing.
And I still had the problem with her, there was still an issue that needed to be talked about and resolved, but all the heightened adrenaline fueled negativity was gone. And from that place, I was able to, like you were saying, speak from my heart and we had a conversation, and it didn't result in, you know, how previous conversations went, when we didn't do things like that.
I love also how you said when you started to change, your boss started to change. I think that's such an important situation, because you could have said “Who's the boss here? You! Who gets paid more? You! Get your act together! What is wrong with you? Who even put you in charge of people when you obviously don't have your stuff together and you're losing it emotionally?” But instead you became the leader and led from that place.
And so often I find like, it's just, if you hold your breath, waiting for people to change, you're going to suffocate. So if you can just say “Hey, listen, it's not my, you know, his issues are not my fault. And in a way shouldn't have to deal with them, but it is my situation. And I'm choosing to stay in this job. So what can I do?” And what you did, right? I thought that was such a great example of how all of this comes together.
Can you talk a little bit more about the meditation piece? Cause in our conversation last week, actually, when you and I were catching up, we talked about this. You're like, well, I'm using it to help people, because public speaking is very triggering. And can you talk a little bit how you merged these two passions of yours?
Simone Tai: Yeah, exactly! You know, my work when I became a meditation teacher really took on this role of first helping people not identify with the thoughts, the beliefs. And, really, techniques such as breathing, meditation to help. Reduce anxiety. How do we reduce our stress? How do we feel empowered to know that there are little techniques that we can bring into our life that will support us?
So, public speaking anxiety is obviously, in one area that, like I mentioned, I personally suffered from it. And once I moved through that, it was kind of like, wow, why are we not learning public speaking skills in school? Why do so many people suffer from this? And hang on a minute, if I can have such a great, I don't know, if I can get so much from getting through that fear, I'd love to share that with other people, I'd love to really focus on this specific problem!
Yeah. It's interesting. Cause you know, you don't know who is necessary... A lot of people say they have it, but not a lot of people say actually “Yeah, I'm going to do something about it!”. So it brings up for you... But I think because I'm so open about my experience and open about the fact that yeah, I was terrified and you know, you can be in a really high up job and still have these anxieties. I think more and more people are coming to me saying “Oh yes, me too! I feel like I'm successful, but this held me back.”
So, the way I brought the two together was I really examined a lot of the practical skills, like body language, tone of voice, all of those ways in which we can communicate better and clearer and bring in the element of mindfulness or simple breathing techniques.
And the two main reasons we have a fear of public speaking is because first of all, it triggers... I can mention the threat response, which sounds crazy because we're on a stage or we're speaking in a meeting, none's out to hurt us,none's going to jump on us, and there no are lions or tigers in the bushes...
Ted Ryce: No tomatoes even.
Simone Tai: There tomatoes or tomatoes. It's like, you know... So, why is it that our bodies go “Whoa, I'm in danger!” And, you know, it's an old survival mechanism that carried all the way through. So, that's kind of, “Okay, that's why I have this physical reaction!”. Number one. And then the second part of it is now, ”What are the beliefs and stories that I'm buying into that keep me stuck or keep me preventing going through it?”
So when I take people on this journey, a part of it is we do a meditation. We do a meditation called “fear is my friend”. It's like, okay, do you know when this happens? How do I embrace it? How do I start to be okay with this discomfort in my body? The discomfort isn't the problem, the thoughts, aren't the problem. It's when we believe the thoughts and when we perceive the physical feeling as a danger.
This discomfort is not dangerous. It's like, you know, we've really got to learn that it is not dangerous. And the exposure therapy part is really teaching your brain “Okay. I'm putting myself forward, I'm doing something uncomfortable! Oh, I’ve spoken, I survived! Wasn't the most fun, however, I'm okay!”.
And then repeatedly doing that is teaching your brain and your body speaking up, speaking out loud, speaking in difficult situations is not a threat. So, yeah, it's really intertwined with breathing techniques. I say, you know, the moment that you're about to speak the, whether you're sitting in a meeting or going on a podcast, that's the most nerve wracking part.
So that's when you really want to be doing your deep belly breathing! And a lot of women are like “Oh, I don't want to push my belly out!” You know, it doesn’t look so flattering. And I'm like: ”Breathe into the body, because you're going to calm your nervous system!”. And they are like: “Okay then!”.
Then I just... I remember I, for the first time I did like “Oh, this is weird!”. You know, we often breathe shallow. And especially when we're stressed, it's a shallow breathing that happens. So I was “Okay! I can tell myself you're okay! You're okay! It's going to be alright!” And feel compassionate to yourself! Breathing…
I teach people to smile when they speak. And sometimes people are really smiling. Why? And again, you know, it's like you are releasing dopamine, serotonin, you are sending this message to your body and brain that you're safe, because if you're under threat, the last thing you're going to do is smile in a typical, you know, dangerous situation.
So, if you're even faking a smile, like, as I'm talking to you, my body's going “Oh, okay! So, we're not in danger here! She's smiling. All right, this isn't so bad!”. And then the person listening often... you know, I don't have to view it like a victim about it, but often when the person is listening and you offer a few smiles, they mirror that, they think that “Oh, she seems to be enjoying what she's talking about!”.
Giving the impression of confidence, even if your internal world is saying “No!”, it catches up. You know, it's like, okay, I'm smiling, but I don't feel it. You know, it really does help. So it's just all those little things that people try, and I get great feedback. I gave that same advice to someone who went to a big pitch the other day. And she texts me straight after: “It went really well! I just applied a couple of your small techniques and I'm so happy and so delighted with how it went!”.
So I... yeah, back to your question, it feels wonderful to use something that I struggled with, that I overcame and I'm still overcoming to help people. And, you know, I love my TV career. It was fun and exciting, but the fulfillment I get now from really helping people that fuels me, that's kind of like, okay, you know, you're… it's invaluable.
Ted Ryce: Yeah. And if you're listening to this and you have anxiety in situations, maybe at work or coming up with you... in your personal life, or maybe you're single and dating, or maybe you're decades deep in your relationship and struggling there, whatever it is, one of the things that has been proven by psychological research, like the exposure therapy that you're talking about, you know, so many people ask me like: “Hey man, you know - you know a little bit about my story Simone. I know it's been a while since we talked about that stuff - but people always ask me like “Hey, how do you kind of get over some of the stuff that you've been through?” It's like, well, you go out there, you find what you're afraid of and then you expose yourself to it. It lowers the anxiety all around for every area of your life.
And just a lower... the truth, the matter is people who are more... who have less fear and anxiety are easier to talk to, easier to be around. They say that they speak from the heart more often. So it's just one of those things if you're looking to really take your life to the next level that I just think it's just one of the most important skills you could ever develop. It doesn't matter what you do. If you are involved in relationships with people at all, in any capacity, it's just something that can benefit you so much. I'm so passionate about speaking and the way it changed my life. Simone, tell us about your six week “Speak Like a Boss” program.
Simone Tai: Yeah, of course. So this is, yeah, the... my baby that I created and, it's a program, it's a small... I keep it small groups. So there's no more than eight to ten people. And in our group, we start... Each module takes you through one of the key layers or quick key skills of public speaking.
The first week we really spend time getting to the roots of the problem. So we look at what is causing these blocks. What are the reasons, what are my thoughts and beliefs? And that's one of the reasons I keep it small, so that I can really give tainted feedback, really spend time looking at what are your specific blocks.
And, then we spend a week, we will cut confidence-building. What is confidence? You know, it's, what is this thing that we think is so far away and how do we build it? How do we spend time strengthening our own confidence?
And of course there's many different ways of doing that. I mentioned the “fear is my friend” meditation. We do some visualizations as well, so that can be a visualization of seeing yourself succeeding in a speaking environment. I am very conscious in the world of meditation that having a clear visual setting goals is so important in order to reach them.
If we can't even imagine standing up and speaking with confidence and enjoying it, if we've never allowed that vision in, it's so much more hard, it's much more difficult to get to that point. So we have to spend a little bit of time or a lot of time painting that picture. What would that look like? What would that feel like? Can I feel it now? Emotion feeling is so important as well to bring in.
So those two were very, you know, let's get to the root of it. That I teach people about connecting with their audience. That can be things like eye contact - very challenging in the Zoom chat, in the Zoom times and video times. So I, you know, things... I have to put a sticker of people I know, my friends, I literally cut them out and stick them on my camera and I will talk to them so that my eyeline is kind of like... okay, this is their eyeline...
So people are like “Oh, I could not hate Zoom meetings. I feel so self-conscious!” and I'm like “Well, it is weird. You are talking to a computer!” And I read a study, there's a Zoom fatigue. We are so not used to like seeing our face as we talk. And it triggers these weird feelings of being more self-conscious, these feelings of public speaking.
So what's happening? People are feeling overwhelmed by this public speaking feeling through Zoom. Anyways, communicating, how do we connect.
Then this crafting your story and the ultimate goal of the program “Speak Like a Boss” is to create and deliver a Ted style talk. It's a shorter fashion. So it's like six to eight minutes, but I teach everyone the core storytelling elements. We pull out: What is your story? How do we narrate that in just six to eight minutes?
So I show them all these techniques to start a story, how to... so, simple elements: beginning, middle, and end. How do you get people in with a bang? How do you hook them in? What emotion are you looking forward to leave the audience with at the end? Is it hopeful, is it inspiring? Are you telling them to go out and do something? Or are you summing up your story, you talk?
So, yeah, people really love that part. It's like it comes altogether. The last week, everyone gets up on the Zoom - we do it all on the Internet - but they get up there and I teach them how to remember their story without memorizing it word for word.
So we use things like mnemonics. Those people have never heard of it or never tried it before. And they are so surprised at themselves. And they're like “Wow! Just using some key imagery helps me get up with no notes and tell my story. And I didn't sound like I was rehearsing a script. I didn't sound like I was reading notes or looking at bullet points.” You know, things like that.
So that really boosts their confidence too.They can take that into their pictures and their meetings from, you know, any time. So it's all those really great skills. And that's where the moment comes, but I keep in touch with support. I support through if they have specific speaking, events, TV shows, things like that. But that's my program!
Ted Ryce: Such an important thing to work on. Love hearing your structure, and I'm sure you bring your experience as a television producer on how to tell a story, which is something I've read books about, but it's just, it's always nice to get it from someone who's been in the industry of storytelling. That's really what television is, isn't it? So, just amazing!
Simone, I feel like we could just keep talking here and there's so much to dive into, but for those of you who are listening, we're going to have to wrap up the interview. And if you want to learn more about Simone, her speaking coaching, perhaps join that “Speak Like a Boss” program that she has go to www.simonetai.com That's S I M O N E T A I.com. And you can connect with her there. Simone, is there any other place you'd like people to go?
Simone Tai: They're free to follow me on my Instagram. That's just as Simone Tai. Although I had to do a little Simone space Thai space, it's just not the easiest to explain. But yeah, my website is great. It's got how to contact me. I do free trainings as well, so people can try it out, see if it's helpful for them. I do that at least onece a month. So, that might be a great place to start for someone who's new to this.
Ted Ryce: Excellent! So I'll have your Instagram handle up there, but it's Simone_Tai_, if you're interested, if you're savvy with the IG and finding handle.
All right, Simone, thanks so much for coming on again! Really love catching up with you. So excited. I need to do some speaker training sooner rather than later.
Simone Tai: Come and join us!
Ted Ryce: Yeah, would love to. So, maybe that's something we can talk about if that ends up happening. Just amazing! Thanks so much. And, looking forward to catching up with you again soon!
Simone Tai: It's been a pleasure, Ted. Thanks so much! Always good to chat to you. Thanks for having me!
Ted Ryce: Thank you! That wraps up another episode of the Legendary Life podcast. I hope you enjoyed today's show. On next Friday, or this Friday coming up on the Real Talk Friday, we'll be covering how to stop losing and gaining the same 10 to 15 pounds. This is something that so many people have experienced doing. We're going to talk about how to end that for good, what the things that you need to stop doing are and what to do instead. So, if that's something you're interested in, tune in to this Friday for how to stop losing and gaining the same 10 to 15 pounds.
Also, we rely on you spreading the word to grow the show. So pause the episode right now to text a friend who'd love to hear this health and personal development podcast and send them the link to www.legendarylife.com .
That's it for me! I will speak to you on Friday and have an amazing week!
Sign up to receive email updates
Enter your name and email address below and I'll send you periodic updates about the podcast.