The Get the Message Podcast
March 6, 2023

Optimizing the Speaker and Audience Relationship with Steve Multer

Optimizing the Speaker and Audience Relationship with Steve Multer

Whether your audience is in a room or watching you online, how can you make a meaningful and memorable connection with them? It's a question worth asking since people might have preconceived notions about your presentation before you speak. Today...

Whether your audience is in a room or watching you online, how can you make a meaningful and memorable connection with them? It's a question worth asking since people might have preconceived notions about your presentation before you speak. Today we'll discuss how to level up your next digital event and create greater value for your online and in-person audiences with Steve Multer.

Steve Multer is a veteran corporate spokesman and trainer for over 100 global brands and designed, developed, and delivered over five thousand live talks and broadcast presentations for over two million attendees. He is also the author of Nothing Gets Sold Until the Story Gets Told: Corporate Storytelling for Career Success and Value-Driven Marketing.

Steve's website -
Steve's book - Nothing Gets Sold Until the Story Gets Told







Scott: Welcome to today's episode of Get the Message.


One of my favorite movies is Ford versus Ferrari or Ford v Ferrari. Not only because it's a great film, but it was also the last movie I got to watch with my dad, and I had to watch this movie with him because, well, it was his kind of movie. Not only the slick and funny lines that filled the dialogue, but also the thematic elements involving race cars. My dad loved cars. Well, he loves speed, speedy cars. And he was very familiar with Carroll, Shelby, Lemon and racing history.


And in fact, my mom, as a Valentine's Day present got him one of those paid race car driving opportunities where you get to ride and drive one around the track a few times. And for him, it was a thrill of a lifetime. And my mom said she will never forget the look on his face after he got to do this. And she asked him what was it like to drive those cars? And he said, I wasn't driving that car. I was experiencing that car.


He drove a Lamborghini and a Ferrari around the track. Now in Ford v Ferrari, Jon Bernthal plays Lee Iacocca. And there's a scene where Lee has to make a presentation to Ford about what they need to do to better compete in the marketplace. But Lee struggles a bit while presenting a slide show as he talks about how people don't just want to drive a car or perhaps they just don't want to buy the same old cars. They want something more. Maybe they want a better experience, or maybe they just want something other than buying something from a brand.


In his presentation, he points out that James Bond doesn't drive a Ford. However, Mr. Ford's response is That's because James Bond is a degenerate. Eventually, they shut Lee's presentation down and point blank, Ask him why Henry Ford, the second, should even listen to him, especially when Lee's sales and marketing team had been experiencing a three year sales slump. It was part of the reason new ideas were needed. But Lee responded by saying he should listen because he's realized they've been thinking wrong.


He went on to say that Ford needed to be more like Ferrari. Ford executive Leo Bibby, played by Josh Lucas, scoffed at that idea because Ford makes way more cars than Ferrari. He said they spend more on toilet paper than Ferrari does on their entire output. And he says that like, it's a great point. After all, if that was enough, they wouldn't be having this meeting to decide how they can better compete in the marketplace. And Lee explains that Enzo Ferrari will go down as the greatest car manufacturer of all time.


Is it because he built the most cars? He says. It's because of what those cars mean. He points out how often Ferrari wins at Le Monde and how consumers want to be part of that victory. He then asks the executives, What if the Ford badge meant victory? Not only does this scene touch on that tricky little challenge where corporate marketing concepts revolve around things like size and who builds the most while the consumers want an emotional connection or a sense of belonging to the brand.


However, the presentation also goes way better when Lee is able to get out of that style. That's more like a typical slide show talk, and he begins to speak directly to the audience and personally appeal and connect with them with passion, clarity and confidence. When the slideshow started, it was almost like the executives had already figured out they weren't going to be moved by Lee Iacocca, and he tried to be too funny. Show flashy pictures and then the projector broke.


But it wasn't until everybody started speaking the same language that everything changed. Lee got real. He told a story. He asked a question. He showed passion. He spoke directly to them in a language they understood. And there are so many ways companies have to make presentations today. Maybe it's at a conference, maybe it's a client meeting, or maybe it's a video that's being shared on social media. How do you make sure your audience doesn't check out on you? How can you provide them with something other than what they might expect? How can you connect with them in ways that will make them remember you or inspire them to take action? Well, our guest today has some answers, so let's invite him to the conversation.

(Show Intro)

Scott: Hello and thanks for joining me today. Our guest today is Steve Molitor, a veteran corporate spokesman and trainer for more than 100 global brands, including Cisco, Panasonic, Siemens, Fujifilm, HP, Splunk, Bayer and Xerox. And as Chief storytelling officer, Steve has designed, developed and delivered over 5000 live talks and broadcast presentations for over 2 million attendees, making him a go to authority on strategic storytelling.


He is also the author of Nothing Gets Sold Until the Story Gets Told Corporate storytelling for career success and value driven marketing, which is designed to provide ways to level up your public speaking skills and build your confidence on stage or on camera. He's here today to talk about ways to maximize the connection between a speaker and an audience. Hey, Steve, thanks for joining us today on Get the Message.


Steve: Scott, thank you so much. Such a pleasure to be with you here.


Scott: Well, I'm glad you're here, too. And I really loved diving into your book because it is really yet another example of how things are changing and evolving today, not only for what corporations and companies have to do, but why they have to do it, because the consumers are wanting a certain experience. And that's kind of really where I thought would be kind of a good place to start because there's so many parallels in in all of those things. And I wanted to kind of give you an opportunity to kind of, you know, tee up something that's consistent throughout, and that is elements of experience and interpretation.


Scott: And one of the things that we're talking about here so often is how people are making judgments about the corporation that is communicating in a certain way based on their experiences with other times where they've had to see either a presentation or maybe see something that they're being hit with constantly online. But I think it's important to put it in this context of like an executive speaker or someone who's going to have to stand in front of an audience or be in front of an audience in person that they also have to think about, okay, I need to consider what my consumers are wanting and thinking and what their experiences have been as I develop what I'm going to do once I get in front of them.


Steve: Absolutely. Absolutely. It all goes really to a fundamental. So my personal mantra actually, I've gotten about nine of them, but let's go with one of them right now, which is don't tell them what you want to tell them. Tell them what they want and need to hear. Knowing your audience is so incredibly fundamental because a lot of corporations and the larger the corporation, the more we see this, they mark it or they strategize or they sell in a single direction. They do what they know, what they do best. They're the experts. Right. And we'll talk about expertise in just a moment as well.


Steve: But recognizing the nature of the person that you're speaking to in the moment, whether that is one person or a large keynote space filled with 10,000 people or a broadcast where you're going to get over a million impressions, knowing the audience, knowing what is going to benefit and serve them in the most powerful way. And that's really our job as communicators for our companies is to be of service to others. I always think about it like Joseph Campbell and the Hero's Journey. Corporations tend to think of themselves as the hero. We are not. Yes, we are the mentor, the audience is the hero and our job is to guide them.


Steve: So really adapting the message, adapting the story of the company in a way that serves the audience best. I think that's what gets us to the goal that you were just mentioning. Yeah.


Scott: And I think that one of the things you point out here when getting people to really think about this, when developing kind of what they're going to approach when they start these presentations or communicating with that audience is just that reminder, because I think marketers do this too. Like marketers have a tendency to, when they get in that really, really focused marketing mindset, they forget that they're also consumers and they forget that to the degree where sometimes they end up creating content that they themselves wouldn't engage with as a consumer.


Scott: And you even point out in the book how important it is to remember that we're all buyers and sellers and creators and customers as well. And I think that's just kind of really one of the one of the things that really should be in your mind when you start developing what you're going to say and what you're going to offer, because we all have been on the other side of the presentation and we know what engages us. We know when it's right out of the gate probably in the first few minutes whether we're going to be into it, whether it feels like it's going to be more salesy than informative and valuable.


Scott: And I think if you can take some of those times where you've been on the other side and apply it as to things to either do well or things to avoid that, that might help you create a better experience for the people on the other side.


Steve: Couldn't agree with you more. Actually, the first line, the very first thing that I have in this new book is this whole concept of nobody likes to be sold to, but everyone loves a great story when we know that we're being pitched, our mind shifts off. That's the end of it. Corporations, of course, pitch because bottom line, product service, solution capability is fundamental. We always go to that safety zone of talking about the thing that we're trying to sell the contract that we want signed. The partnership or the relationship that we want to make with the customer is usually fiscally based.


Steve: Yeah, and what I always like to talk about is the hierarchy that says you want to always talk to the human first and the wallet second. So if you're leading with the purchase, if you're leading with the sale or the product, you've probably already created an insurmountable barrier that is blocking the communication that you actually want to achieve with that person or those people that you're talking with. And the other thing is the hierarchy. And I think you were mentioning that part of the book, my longest term client, I've been a leading face and voice for Cisco for over 25 years at this point.


Steve: They're my biggest large company, big multinational, very, very popular, very well known. A real. A leader in networking. What Cisco tends to do a lot is speak to Cisco. They talk internally as though everybody already understands what the motivation is, what the mission is, every detail of the product. And of course, why wouldn't you buy it? And what I always try to do with companies like that is step back. And I use something in the book where I talk about the CEO and chairman, Chuck Robbins of Cisco, who's a remarkable man. But I say that all humans incorporate, interpolate, internalize information in a hierarchy of three levels.


Steve: We all hear information First, as a person, as a human, anything that is morally important to us, that fits the foundation of how we believe and how we activate within the world what our personal values are. That's number one. Number two, we think as consumers, as you just mentioned a moment ago, why do I make the choices that I make? What is it that fundamentally works on my value frame or on my personal beliefs frame that guides me toward a specific product or toward a specific brand? Third, we think as employees of our organizations within our job capacity, and most people take that hierarchy and they flip it around.


Steve: They start by selling to the employee. Next comes that middle ground of consumer. And we think of the human last. And a lot of what I do in storytelling is now when you tell a good story, you play to the human first, and that puts the hierarchy in the right order. And now you become much more successful with your marketing, with your campaigns and ultimately with your sales.


Scott: It kind of goes back to that analogy that so many people are using now. I mean, remember first started seeing it about 3 or 4 years ago, and that's when I realized, man, that is that is such a good analogy. And that is how relationships, marriage, things like that are such good parallels when it comes to how we're building that relationship. And when you say that you're leading with the wallet first, that's like saying you're basically, you know, you're leading with let's get married before we have coffee.


Steve: Yeah. You know.


Steve: Marriage is a corporation, right? So you have to run. You have to run the business. You have to run the household. You have to run the kids. You have to run the finances and so on. But that's not what keeps the marriage happy and together.


Scott: And I think if you have that understanding that you can that that's where you're going to go. Don't you think that that also that might even help any kind of level of nervousness that you may have before you speak in front of a crowd? Because, you know, it's a lot harder to think, okay, I got to go out and sell something versus, hey, I'm going to go out there and really provide something these people are really going to love.


Steve: There are three pillars that you read about here in the book and that we should just briefly touch on here that I think are the fundamental of all great communication. And they are value, passion and connection value. If you can go out on stage and know that you are providing value for whoever you speak with, and when I say on stage, that could be in a Zoom meeting with one of your colleagues or your associates or a C level from your corporation or somebody who works for you, an audience is simply the person who is sitting across from you at that time.


Steve: So it doesn't really matter what the format is or how many people there are or what the environment is. They are the other side of your conversation, and the more you provide value for them, the more confident you get in your own storytelling and your own ability to get your communication across, provide value at all times. Number two, passion. When we show passion that we care about our topic, that we care about the person across from us, that we care so deeply, that we are willing to expose a bit of ourselves and share the human side of the conversation.


Steve: You had a great conversation recently with Dr. Angela Mulrooney where you talked about that idea of opening yourself, of being honest and communicative and human and sharing your vulnerability and authenticity. When you do that with passion, you inspire passion in other people. And that's another thing that makes you a better communicator and more relaxed and confident. And the third is creating connection. What do we have in common with one another and how can I bring that out to the point where you see me not as somebody trying to sell you something, not as somebody trying to get access to your wallet or create some sort of a fiscal transaction.


Steve: But what I really care about most is you and your success and how can you and I work together to achieve that? We create connection.


Scott: Wow. I mean, that makes that makes perfect sense. And I know that really when I think about even some of the people in even the marketing space, if I go to a conference or something, I think about the speakers that I see that really resonate with people. It is definitely the people that show that level of passion, and it's genuine passion too. You can tell that, you know it means a lot to them and you think, Well, then it obviously needs to mean something to us. I mean, you know, it's kind of like in film we talking about storytelling, you know, when you have actors portraying a certain thing on screen.


Scott: You don't feel like they believe what they're saying, you're not going to believe what they're saying. And in this case, it's a very similar thing where if the speaker is out there talking passionately, passionately, passionately, especially when you can say the word for passionately about something, you know, that has to be authentic, too, because the audiences are so smart and they pick up on those things. And one of the things that I really like about the book, too, is you explain to people kind of what the brain is doing when somebody is getting front of of a group or any kind of presentation where someone's got to watch something and the brain's going, okay, how valuable is this? And you have three levels of value.


Scott: And again, that goes back to experience. I have to think that the judgment the brain is making is based on the other low value situations they've been in. They can tell immediately. It can tell immediately that this is something that I'm I'm not going to get anything out of. And that's why those first few seconds are so important, because even if it gets valuable later, the brain might have already shut off and said, this isn't something I need. I'll never make it. Yeah. And then the the what the brain is doing, if you can reach that high level of value in the presentation and there's really just there's, there's some nuances there that are really important that can apply to so many things.


Scott: But that was something else that I think people are really going to get something valuable out of the book because you're explaining kind of what the mindset is of the audience when someone is trying to determine whether that's speaking engagements going to be something that really benefits them.


Steve: Definitely. The speaker audience relationship is a very squirrely thing and a lot of people, I would say most communicators don't really trust the speaker audience relationship. They make it a one way street rather than a two way conversation and opening up any level of communication, whatever it happens to be. Showing real executive presence within any communication setting means incorporating the other. Whoever is sitting across from you again, whether it's one person or a thousand people incorporating them into the conversation where they are of equal value and equal voice in that communication, understanding that audiences want to take part in our sessions, in our talks, in our communications, encouraging them to do so and inviting them into that conversation simply elevates any opportunity for communication that we might find ourselves in.


Steve: And respecting that relationship begins with those three pillars that value passion and connection, because that's what gives you confidence structure. Structure creates confidence, Structure creates value.


Scott: Yeah. And I remember one of the things and you kind of alluded to this earlier, when it comes to that high value angle, that's what you reach when you were talking about reaching them as a as a person first and perhaps a wallet second. In this case, we're also talking about something you mentioned where you said you can also think of them and communicate to them on a personal level first, then professional. So it's almost like talk. People first, you know, have a valuable kind of meeting and set up first and then get into the professional element of it.


Scott: Because really you have to kind of be sold on that first, don't you? I mean, I think of that even when you have business meetings with somebody, you know, if you sit down and immediate and they immediately go into the pitch, you're like, Jesus, that the only thing that we're having this meeting for. I mean, can we not talk about things, get to know each other a little bit first.


Steve: So next time just send me an email, send me a white paper if that's what we're going to do. Why waste our time with Asian?


Scott: Yeah, that seems to be a really big key. If you want to reach that high level of success and take away in your speeches is knowing that you've got to connect with them that way first before you start getting into the professional or maybe the transactional elements.


Steve: One of the important things is, do you know about the disk model, the disk disk model? Not so. Everybody should go to learn about that. So I'm not going to go into the details of it. But the D of disk, it's an acronym stands for Dominant. The dominant type. If you are sitting across the table from a dominant type or making a pitch to a dominant group, then they are frankly less interested in a lot of the personal. They want to get directly to the cold, hard facts. They want assessment. They don't want to be told what to think. They want to figure it out for themselves.


Steve: They're looking for bottom line value straight out of the gate. This is when we get back to the idea of knowing who your audience is. So if you have a large audience, you're going to have some of the D's, the I's, the S's and the C's. You can go look those up of what they each mean, but they tend to run on a spectrum between introverted, extroverted and task oriented, people oriented. And where you fall within that spectrum frequently determines your best nature of communication. So with the dominant types, the red types, we tend to stay away from the personal and get directly to the cold, hard facts.


Steve: But with everybody else, the personal becomes incredibly value valuable in the levels of communication, including for the introverts who are tasked. Oriented. They still want to feel put at ease because they want to feel that their voice is heard and they're a part of the conversation. So I just wanted to add in that the disc model is very cool in determining how much personality, how much of the personal engagement you include in your communications.


Scott: So, I mean, aside from getting to know the audience and realize depending on the audience, makeup may play a role in this, but what are some of the things you tell people to do or to think about when they know, especially up front, that they have to make that kind of personal connection? Is it attempts at humor? Is it is it obviously storytelling, as we've said, always a good way to go, or does it kind of depend? I know when you talk to people, you say that you don't have like kind of a one size fits all approach to things because you've got to get to know the person, the company, the culture, you know, what they're and kind of figure out what their style is going to be in front of people, obviously based on a person to person basis.


Scott: But is there some crossover of just some things that people can think about or maybe help themselves evaluate how they can best tap into that personal level of connection before getting into the other elements?


Steve: Oh, that's a great question, Scott. Each individual is going to communicate in their own style. So as you just said, there is no one size fits all. Everybody has to do what's right for them. I always offer people that I'm working with as a speaker, coach, as an executive team trainer, whatever it happens to be. I offer them a variety of different ways to open the conversation. A lot of people will say, Play to humor. I am frankly not a huge fan of it. I love humor and if somebody is good at it, yeah, great. Bring on the humor because it is going to hook us in right away.


Steve: It's a great way of creating connection. However, since most people aren't very good at it, humor becomes more of a barrier to success than an entree to success. Because now people think I have to be funnier. They're not going to listen to me. So I always say, if humor is not your thing, if you're not a naturally funny person, you get the humor. What could you play to? So sometimes finding a fantastic quote is a really good way to enter a room because a quote not only says something that connects to your topic or what you want to cover, it also reveals a bit of something about you as a speaker.


Steve: Why that quote? Why did you choose that one and what does it mean to you and to your own value system? Creating a link to a news item from the day or something you heard recently that inspired you, excited you, motivated you? Great way to enter a conversation using the space around you. So we call this object relation. You walk into a room, you see the room and what is it about this room that's different? Why is this interaction unique? Not like the one that you'd had five minutes ago in a different space. But now we are here together. We have this carpeting, we have this ceiling, we have this lighting.


Steve: We have the pictures that are outside on the wall. We have the desks in front of us. Is there a connection point that we can establish that says this moment is special? And therefore, when you think back on our conversation, I want you to remember this moment and this room as a connection point. Scott Dinsmore of the Densmore Lab at Stanford is very, very big on that, creating shared experiences that allow us to connect back to a specific piece of information or a topic or a conversation that gives it additional meaning and value and extends the memory for us.


Steve: There are all these different ways to get into it, sometimes getting out on stage and admitting a failure. So let's go back to your conversation, talking about earlier, right, with Dr. where making yourself more human. One of the things that that my friend Cristian Galvez, who's an amazing speaker and coach in Germany, he loves to start with the I have a confession to make and that's his opener because it instantly humanizes him. It plays with status, it lowers his status.


Steve: He's the one on stage in the spotlight, but he is now elevating the status of all of his listeners by saying, I am so fallible, I screwed up badly. Let me share it with you so that you don't have to go through what I went through. And I think this is a funny story and you'll love what a loser I am. And he immediately lowers his own status, even though he's in the power position. This is something, for example, on a political level, Obama was amazing at doing this particular thing when he first got into the White House and he had his very first interview, the interviewer said to him, So what's it like being the president of the United States? And he said, You want to know what being president is? Every morning I wake up and I do not know how to turn on the coffeemaker in the White House.


Steve: So Michelle goes down and she does all the things that I'm too stupid to figure out. That's what it's like being the president of the United States, playing with status and lowering himself, admitting a failure. It's such a wonderful way to create connection. So there are all these different inroads. But if you can start strong on some sort of a personal level, instead of rushing straight to content, you will always, always make your audience more ready to receive that content once you hit it.


Scott: When you highlight some things that you can do. To create that higher value. And we just touched on a few of those. There's also things you can do that will help you maybe even take your existing approach. Go back and look at it and maybe maybe you look at your speech or your presentation. You think, hm, is this could this be this get me a little higher than this high value, you know, things like that. And one of the things I really liked was the focus on, you know, maybe going back and looking at some things like word choice.


Scott: And that's another thing that we talk a lot about here. And it's amazing just the a few changes you can make. You're still saying the same thing perhaps, but you're just saying things in a way that doesn't sound like, you know, something that was taken off, you know, a corporate description and put into a speech. Because I know that you even show examples of how you you know, here's that this could look like and this sounds very corporate, but then we can take it and turn it into this. And this is just way more meaningful and seems to obviously resonate with an audience more than than this.


Scott: And it's and it's funny how that works because, you know, you and I both have have experience in working with some of these, you know, high tech companies where it's really easy for that speak that's internal or amongst all the experts, you know, the terminology and the way things are phrased is constantly the way they're talking internally. And then when it when the attempt is to make that external, maybe it gets grabbed and thrown into a social media post or something. It gets tricky. So it's possible to and maybe a good idea to go back into what you've written out for yourself or your approach and maybe see if there's opportunities to just fine tune that a little bit just so you have more and more opportunities to resonate and then you just kind of get better at it as you go along because you start to notice the difference between when I'm talking like this and how they respond and when I talk like this and how they respond.


Steve: Oh, absolutely. Yeah. The idea of human speak over corporate speak, we tend to forget about it because a lot of times, especially when we're putting together some sort of a communication, we do a lot of copy paste off of the website, off of the white paper, off of the descriptor, off of the market messaging or the sales messaging. Why? Because it's easy and takes the least amount of time. We're very busy. We have incredibly hectic days and when we are asked to speak or when we have to put meetings together or we have to put together some sort of a messaging point to our teams, expediency becomes the number one thing.


Steve: What's the best way to get expedient? Let's just go straight to legal approved documentation and legal approved verbiage. We'll drop that in and that's what we will speak only. That was written to be written. It was written to be read off of a page, not to be spoken out loud. That's right. So yeah, minor things that pull us away from that deliberately confusing, overly verbose levels of communication and just get to the way two people speak to each other. When I'm coaching people, I'll frequently say, if we were to go out in the night before your talk and we sit down across the table from each other and have a beer, and I say to you, So what are you going to talk about tomorrow in your session? You can talk to me for three hours.


Steve: You don't need a slide deck. You don't need a script in front of you. You're going to talk about what you know, what you do every day. You're already probably not going.


Scott: To sound like that website copy.


Steve: Not at all. You're going to speak off the top of your head. I'm going to ask you questions. You're going to respond. You're going to engage. You're going to tell me stories. And then on stage tomorrow, the same topic, same content, only now it's formal. Now it's a presentation in front of people and it matters because people are documenting it. And maybe your boss is sitting over here and your team is sitting here. And what if I forget something important? Or what if I misspeak in some way? And of course, as we know, none of that matters. What matters is great communication. Corporations love acronyms, acronyms, backward IMS.


Steve: We add 50 new acronyms every day. And then what do we do when we get in front of others? We use acronyms, assuming that they know what they mean. Yeah, we always have to play to the denominator that says they are not the expert that I am in this moment, even though they're brilliant, they're amazing at what they do. But I have a bit more information right now and I need to treat them as though I'm here to share my knowledge, not to lord over them with some sort of corporate speak or challenging or confusing concept.


Steve: Humans speak first.


Scott: You know, it's one thing not not that you can't do both on like, let's just say a company LinkedIn account. You should because inevitably it's still people that are going to be looking at it. And sometimes you don't even know if the person looking at it is at the same level as you are. You know, that was something that I had talked to this tech company about at one point in time. And and this kind of goes to what you were saying about all the different people that can be in the audience. You might have a bunch of high level people and that might be your target audience. But what happens if the high level people can't be at the presentation so they send a team member or an assistant that isn't as well versed in all this high level talk, and they're not going to be able to go back and.


Scott: Intel who you really want to talk to, exactly what they spoke about in the solution because you didn't talk in a language that they that they understood. And then when it comes to people that are even on social or talking or sharing something on a on a personal account, but it's in the name of the company and it's written in a way that could easily be dropped into, you know, a a corporate brief or a radio ad. I'm like, I feel the same way as what you were talking about the meeting. I'm like, gosh, you know, if you and I were talking, you would not say it like that.


Steve: You would not say it like that, right?


Steve: One of the companies that I've worked with for years and where I coach a lot of their speakers is for Splunk. Right. So we've got a really powerful technology software company. And what we frequently have to let people know is when you are storytelling, the most expert people in the room will say, I just want to get to the technology. I know how to utilize Splunk, I know how to leverage it. I'm using it in my company every day. I want to get to the deep details of what I can actually do or what new versions or new releases. What we always have to let them know is, All right if we're giving a session.


Steve: And we've got, let's say, anywhere between 40 and 400 people there in the room. You've got a variety of levels of expertise and you don't want to leave anybody behind. You can't be exclusive. So it's not that you remove the deep technical details. It's not that you eliminate the complexity altogether. You have to find a way to balance it in a way that brings everyone along. So the person who has just onboarded Splunk three months ago versus the person who onboarded Splunk ten years ago and is a deep expert, everybody gets value, passion and connection out of that conversation.


Steve: That's how you win as a speaker.


Scott: Yeah. And I feel like the kind of things that we're talking about is so consistent with so many of the things that companies, even at the executive level or the highest level of an organization, are all trying to, you know, adjust and evolve and figure out. And some of it's new. I mean, when it comes to talking to people, there's a lot of things we can reference as far as how the brain works, how to interpret things, how to enchant people, things like that. But there's still so much of it from a business standpoint that is an adjustment. And there is so much today, as you know, that is about being human, whether it's speaking or a presentation that's through video or marketing or email.


Scott: Do you find that in recent years that the number of clients and people you're talking to have really gone up because more and more companies are realizing if they're not going to a conference perhaps, and speaking in front of people, they know they've got to be on social media, probably doing video work where they're talking to an audience again, or they're having to do a session to make an informative webinar and not a boring webinar. You know, we talk about those two different types. Do you find that there's a lot more of that happening now as more companies start realizing just how more up front and human they've got to be to connect with people?


Steve: It's a really good point, Scott. I would say it's a combination of two things. So first of all, I think the fundamentals of great storytelling, they go back a long way. I talked about at the beginning of the book, the first thing that I mentioned is the first known use by John Deere and company back in the 1800s with the publication called The Furrow that realized we can sell tractors to farmers or we can speak to farmers as colleagues, friends, associates, people with shared experiences, and let them know we understand what you're up against.


Steve: We happen to have a great solution that's going to help you solve the problem that you're facing. But ultimately, we just want to help you whether you buy our product or someone else's. The bottom line story is we care about you and we want the relationship with you. So that concept, I think, has always been with us, but we forgot about it. Yeah. And I think especially coming up through boom of the late 90 seconds into the crashes following nine over 11, then again in 2008 than what we dealt with in 2012 and 2015. We simply got to the point where it was so money driven that all we could do was tell a sales story.


Steve: And I think the pandemic changed things, not in terms of our fundamental I think evolution takes a whole lot longer than two, two and a half years to completely shift, maybe communicate as human creatures. But what it did is it reminded us it kind of pulled us back. If we use a Godfather analogy, we've gone back to the mattresses, right? What works best? One on one communication. And if you and I are doing this right now over Riverside or Zoom or teams or RingCentral or WebEx or whatever we're going to do, we have to be every bit as successful in this one on one communication with a camera lens as when you standing on a stage in front of an arena full of 20,000 people.


Steve: The fundamentals are the same. And when we play to those fundamentals and we look at everybody we are speaking with as an equal valued human with as strong a voice as we have in the room, that is when our communication succeeds. I think we just were reminded of what we needed to get back to in order to succeed in communication.


Scott: Yeah, no, I agree. And you know, we talked a bit today about experiences and how people make judgments based on experiences. And I know one of the other things you talk about is kind of the difference between a thin or a thick presentation. You mentioned an analogy of layers of sandwiches, and I have used foundation analogies for the the layers of things. I think that kind of ties into just a second ago what I was when I mentioned, you know, when you even hear the word webinar, you almost automatically think if you sign up for it, you're not thinking in these terms, but you are almost indirectly.


Scott: Is this going to be a thin webinar where, in other words, I'm going to spend 45 minutes here and it's all going to be window dressing until I can get to what they really want to do, which is sell me at the end or am I going to get something meaningful from the start to the finish of the presentation? And I know that I think that's a really good way to kind of let people step back and think about how they're going to build all these elements out and make all these changes. Along the way is being able to stop and think about if you're on the other side of this.


Scott: And that's I think that's one of the great ways that you can really kind of measure how valuable your presentation is going to be is put yourself on the other side and say, if I'm hearing this, you know, is there a lot I'm getting out of it or is there very little I'm getting out of it or in very little. Doesn't even mean it has to be at the end. It might be. Yeah, that's kind of good and that's kind of good. But everything else really could use more in your analogy, meet or lay, you know, layers to it. When you tell people to make sure that there's that that level of of thick to their presentation.


Scott: What are some of the things that you have people really focused on outside of what we've already discussed when it comes to value and passion and things like that?


Steve: Yeah, it's such an important point, Scott, that you bring up there. The so for anybody who's ever studied the pyramid principle, who knows about Barbara minto and knows about how pyramid structure is put together, the beauty of pyramid structure, which by the way, if you ever read about it, oh my gosh, it's so dull to actually read pyramid structure, but you put it into play, you start to realize it is brilliant. There's a reason that every consulting company from McKinsey on utilizes it. Yeah, it is about creating multiple levels of argument that doesn't just go straight to the argument itself.


Steve: And that's where most people begin. And you mentioned earlier in our conversation here, this is personal as well as business. If we're communicating with our spouse or with our children, structure matters there, too. We always forget about it. We only talk about communication in a business format, but good structure tends to really benefit our personal communications and our personal relationships too. So thickness means instead of just playing directly to the obvious, what other layers can you add into your communication that gives it a sense of wholeness that makes it complete and satisfying and make somebody feel like again, they weren't just pitched, that they're not just being sold to, but they are being treated fairly honestly, like a fellow valued human from beginning to end, first word to last, where the pitch and the technology and the data, the details, the metrics, statistics, KPIs can all be woven in.


Steve: But they all have a platform. They all have a place. There's a meaning behind every number. There's a story behind every concept. There's a shared human interaction behind every argument that tries to get the other sitting across from you to see things in your way or to join you on the journey that you would like them to take. That's really what the thickness is, is not just playing straight to the obvious, but adding in all of those human levels around the obvious that take your structure and put all the meat on the bones of that skeleton.


Scott: Yeah. And when I think about some of the things that actually start to get companies excited about making change, you know, evolving into these more human, more meaningful types of communication because it, you know, especially since it can really also depend on the size of the organization and so many other things and how long they've been doing things a certain way. One of the things that does actually get people a little more confident about even changing things just on a marketing standpoint is just knowing that there's still a lot of advertising and marketing that's getting it wrong.


Scott: You know, it goes back to that experience thing. You know, it goes back to that experience component where if, you know, people are bombarded all the time with nothing but sell, sell, sell, of course that means that your opportunity to go in there and go, okay, don't listen to them. I'm actually here to help you. What do you need? And that goes to what we talked about. Knowing your audience, do you find that there are similar opportunities here with public speaking? Because, you know, we talked about how some of those judgments are made because we've all probably sat in on a presentation or a speech that we just weren't into and we knew out of the gate we probably weren't.


Scott: If you go to a lot of conferences and you're in sessions for three straight days, you're going to have some of those hit or misses. And sometimes there are days where you're getting less out of the day than others. Would you say that that is, you know, even more of a reason to really kind of grab this and evolve? There's so much room for improvement with a lot of these type of presentations that you really can make your mark and stand out because you are taking these extra steps that you articulate so well in the book and so well in your work.


Steve: Again, fantastic question. I think it all plays to the quote that is often misquoted to Maya Angelou and was actually created by Carl Bruner. The concept that they may not remember what you tell them, but they will always remember how you made them feel. And we hear about this so often in marketing and in communication. Let's say that you are one session. You've got 30 minutes out of a three day conference. Yeah, The most brilliant person attending that conference, the most seasoned expert, intelligent, connected person at that conference.


Steve: Only has so much bandwidth to intake that sheer quantity of content, which means that even if somebody gives a great talk, we simply can't remember that much over three days. So what are we looking for? It's what I call the 3 to 8% rule, the 3 to 8% rule, which a lot of speakers find daunting and imposing and disappointing. I actually think it's very empowering. Yeah. I will ask speakers that I'm working with. How much of your content do you think they will actually remember one hour after you're done speaking and the optimists will say, oh, 20 to 30%? And the pessimist will say, I don't know, 10 to 15%.


Steve: And I'll say, okay, well, all of you pessimists, you're still optimists, just so you know, 3 to 8%. And they say, well, if I'm going to speak for 45 minutes and they're only going to remember 3% of what I say, why bother? Why am I putting all this together? What I say is flip that thinking a little bit. If they're only going to remember 3%, you have the power to determine what that 3% is going to be. What do you want them to remember and take away? Because the details of your capability, whatever you are on stage to talk about, especially if it's product centered, they're not going to remember those details in the room.


Steve: But next week, when they're back at home and they're thinking, okay, well, which talk really stood out to me and Scott's talk was fantastic. Why did I connect with him? I don't even remember what he really talked about. I remember conceptually, let me go back and research what Scott was talking about, and that is when they will go back and remind themselves of all the details that went in one ear and out the other during that three day conference. Yeah, you have the power to make your session special by creating that thing that makes them feel something, gets them inspired, motivated and engaged to take action.


Steve: Because ultimately, whatever interaction and communication we have, if the other person doesn't take any action when we're done, there was no reason to give that talk in the first place. Yeah, we've missed a golden opportunity to change something in a special way for them, increase their status, create new success, guide them toward a new reality and a better status quo. That is why we communicate with one another. That's why you and I are talking to one another right now, is to elevate both of us and all of your listeners to try something different and get to a better place.


Steve: And if we don't succeed at that, then our conversation was just a lot of fun, but we didn't really get any goals accomplished.


Scott: And I think about it. I mean, I love the fact that you brought up going back and thinking about it, because I think that, you know, in a modern setting that really could be just as much of a good measure of what you achieve versus anything else, because anymore, at least nine times out of ten, if it's a pretty good sized conference, they're probably going to record everything. And if you signed up to have everything recorded, really a lot of times people don't have time to go back and watch everything that even the ones they went to.


Scott: But I do think I do think that they will do that. In fact, I've done that and I will remember, you know, I had this, you know, our market. And I'll say, you know, I know there are some things I'm going to want to remember later from this thing when it rolls out and it says, okay, everything you saw is now online for access. I'm not going to go back and watch everything, but I will go back. Even if I took notes and just say, I'm going to watch some of this again and take better notes. And you can already tell if they're going to take time out of their day after a three day conference to go back and watch what you say.


Scott: Again, because they need more or they want to make sure they remembered more of what you said then you have, most certainly even in that 3%, have achieved something that you set out to do, because for all intents and purposes, at that point in time, they're they're already taking action that you wanted them to take because they want to make sure that you are doing and they're getting exactly what you wanted them to know 100%.


Steve: I could not agree with you more. We can quote that up and that's what can go on the the epitaph or the knitting up there on the wall. I think you just put it perfectly. I couldn't put it better myself.


Scott: Well, it was with your help and with the help of this book and with the help of the advisors sharing with so many companies today, and I really appreciate what you're doing in that in that space with your emphasis on value and humanization and not only to the benefit of companies, but also benefit audiences that want if they have to go to a speech, they want to get something out of it. So I'm also glad you're helping people get more out of speeches as much as people giving them and presentations of all types. And I'm definitely, as always, going to have a link to your site, your social and of course the book.


Scott: And I think you've got so much value there and what you explain and how you explain what has to go into these things and examples that really help you shape exactly effective ways to do this. So I really appreciate the conversation and the resources you already have out there, but I also wanted to ask you if you have anything else going on or coming up that you want people to know about that I didn't just mention.


Steve: Well, I so appreciate the kind words and the support on that. What I do invite everybody. Need to do if you want to learn a little bit more or get in touch. It's very simple. Corporate storytelling is the website where you can learn a little bit more. And I've got something for all of your listeners here on the podcast and your viewers if they're interested in doing it. I've created a great guide. It's a free guide called Five Paths to Passionate Storytelling. That is a sort of a quick access. It's a short guide that gives you five things that you can do right now, regardless of your status, your income level, your education level, your job title, whatever it happens to be, requires no additional investment time, anything.


Steve: It's capabilities you have right now that will instantly uplevel your communication on all fronts. And if you want to check that out, like I said, it's free. Go to corporate storytelling slash guide and then you'll put in the code sold told 23 all lowercase sold told 23 and that will get you that easy guide. So I invite everybody to do it. And other than that I am out speaking on show floors and conferences on literally a weekly level. So hopefully I'll get a chance to meet all of you in person at some point.


Scott: Yeah, and I hope we get to do that too, because I really, again, thought this was a great conversation today. Thank you so much for being here. And I hope I get to have another great conversation with you about this and many other things that I'm sure that cross over into the areas that we're passionate about. But thank you so much for taking time to join us and get the message today.


Steve: Thank you so much, Scott. It's been a pleasure. And thanks so much again to all your viewers and listeners. Really appreciate the opportunity.


Scott: One of the stories you'll see in Steve's book is from musician Brian Hilgers, who said he found music to be a great outlet for storytelling. And eventually Brian worked his way up to performing on the Grand Ole Opry stage in Nashville. And as you can imagine, performing at such an iconic venue can be exciting and intimidating, especially as you wait to go out on that stage for the first time. He writes, As I waited for the king of country music, Mr. Roy Acuff, to introduce me, me, me to a full house of country music fans, a mature, aristocratic southern belle voice whispered into my ear.

"Are you nervous?"

I turned to see the legendary storyteller and comedian Minnie Pearl with a wide grin on her face and $1.98 price tag dangling from the brim of her hat. Yes, ma'am, I am, I stammered back. She took my hand, squeezed it softly and leaned in close. Just loved them, she said. And they'll love you back. The right story lasts a lifetime. Just as Lee Iacocca told executives to imagine if people saw the Ford badge and associated it with victory.


Imagine communicating with your audience in ways that when they see you, they feel something. They love you. They remember you. And maybe they'll come to another presentation, invite you to their company, or they'll watch your videos because you connect with them in that way. And Minnie Pearl is right. It has to start with your love for the people in your audience. If your approach to content and communication starts there, you'll be amazed at how the rest can take care of itself.


As always, I will have links to Steve, his book and other resources that we discussed on the show in the show notes for this episode. If I can help you build better connections with your consumers or customers, you can email me at Scott at Scott Murray Online. You can fill out the form on the website or record a message there as well. I'd like to thank Steve Motor for joining us today and thank you for joining me on Get the Message.

Steve MulterProfile Photo

Steve Multer

Chief Storytelling Officer/Speaker

Steve Multer is a veteran corporate spokesman and trainer for more than 100 global brands and a chief storytelling officer who has designed, developed, and delivered over five thousand live talks and broadcast presentations for over two million attendees – making him a go to authority to speak on strategic storytelling. He is also author of Nothing Gets Sold Until the Story Gets Told: Corporate Storytelling for Career Success and Value-Driven Marketing.