World of Speakers E.41: Lance Miller | A supportive network of speakers


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World of Speakers E.41 Lance Miller  A supportive network of speakers

Ryan Foland speaks with Lance Miller, an award-winning speaker and leadership and communication coach, Lance has spoken as a guest on over 150 television and talk radio shows and delivered over 5,000 presentations in more than 55 countries.

Ryan and Lance explore what it means to be a successful speaker, and the route that Lance took to get there. They cover important topics like audience engagement, getting paid, and the importance of have a strong support network of other professional speakers.



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Lance Miller: Hey, this is Lance Miller.

I just had a great talk with Ryan online, and I discussed the two most difficult things to do in public speaking.

But once you do them it aligns everything, not only on stage but in your life.

You’d better listen to this.

Ryan Foland: All right ladies and gentlemen, we are back today with, not only a World Champion Speaker of the Toastmasters organization, but an international speaker.

He's a communication guy, he's a leadership guy, he does organizational design.

I have had the pleasure of seeing him on stage, I'll probably share with him, he might not remember, I went up on stage as a test dummy at one point and I still have some of the things that he passed out at that show, years ago.

Ladies and gentlemen, the one, the only, Lance Miller. Welcome to the show, Lance, how are you doing?

LM: I am doing great, I am so glad to have some time to get back together.

RF: Yeah, it was funny, we ran into each other recently at the National Speakers Association in Los Angeles, and we just had a great conversation, I was like, "Why don't we bring this on the air, live, around the world."

Because you do embody what we look for in a World of Speakers guest. You've spoken around the world, you really are giving back.

Your advice today is going to be groundbreaking for people that are not only just starting to speak, but those people who are at that same level.

Because the more we learn from people like you, the more we can all communicate more effectively.

Let's start with who you are.

Where did this all begin? How did you get to where you are now, speaking to the masses and helping leaders become better leaders.

LM: It's funny, I look back on my life and there were times that, especially in my mid 20's, early 30's, that I felt like I was on such a wrong path.

I look at where I am today, and what I have accomplished, and I have been on the path I wanted to be on, and I wound up there.

I'm very fortunate that I get out of bed every day and love what I do.

I had a lot of years though where I didn't do that, but I'm a Midwest guy started out in a little town of two thousand people in Indiana, and my family had a milk and ice cream business, sort of like Charlie And The Chocolate Factory only Lance And The Ice Cream Factory In A Little Town.

Kids used to come up to me in school and go, "Do you get to eat all the ice cream you want?"

I go, "No, my parents won't let me ruin my dinner".

RF: I had the opposite, I came from parents who were educators and they were principals, so everybody knew that I was the kid that had parents as principals; the opposite of ice cream.

LM: It was a great childhood, It was a small town so I was driving equipment when I was young, and I was working, and I had a lot of, we'll say, applied education in life because I was constantly having to figure out how many bags of salt or sugar are on a semi and get them into a warehouse, and putting bales of hay in barns and all that kind of hard work that I grew up with.

But if I look back, even in 2nd, 3rd, 4th  grade I was constantly getting up in front of the class and doing a report, and I enjoyed it.

Sometimes I was frustrated that I had to write a report and get up there, but I enjoyed getting up and talking, and all through high school I was a team captain on different sports and would regularly have to address a student body.

And I was a nervous wreck when I did it, but I loved doing it.

RF: That's an interesting combo, the nervousness but liking the nervousness.

Now people have talked about nervousness just as a slightly different form of excitement.

Do you think that's what it was for you? Was it nervousness that was excitement?

LM: I’ll do a deep dive on stage fright and what it is.

Here's my take on it: speaking is a muscle, and our speaking muscles are atrophied.

We stand up in front of a group and try to speak, we don't have the strength and the speaking muscle that we need.

Because, quite honestly, through most of life we're told to sit there and shut up.

You think about when you're kids in the family, your parents want you to be quiet.

You go to school, sit in the class and don't say anything. You go to work, show up on time, sit at the desk, don't rock the boat.

We don't actually get an opportunity to speak, and what was going on was I just had a weak speaking muscle. I am going to compare that to a body, a physical muscle.

If you sat on a couch and ate Haagen-Dazs for 20 years and watched Law and Order, and then somebody came over and goes, "Hey, let's run around the block."

You might make it to your front door before you pass out.

That's like public speaking, we don't speak regularly, and then somebody goes, "Hey, stand up and say something," and we go, "Oh, I should be able to do that."

But that muscle isn't tuned.

And really, my Toastmasters experience for the last 26 years, and one of the reasons I stayed in that organization is it's like going to the gym every week for me.

I have just strengthened that muscle, and all I would say is that frequent speaking will get you through your stage fright.

And there's some other components: knowing your message, knowing your audience, that will throw you off, but the main thing is that usually your speaking muscle is weak.

And that was very true for me back then. The funny thing was I had this purpose, I had this drive, I wanted to do it.

And I can remember as a kid being like 12-13 years old, we raised horses,

Saturdays I'd be in the barn shoveling manure, and I'd be thinking, "You've got to go speak," and I’d look out at these rolling hills in Southern Indiana and I would go:

"Are you nuts? You're standing in the barn shoveling manure, what do you think you're supposed to be doing?"

And I would just invalidate the crap out of myself, "I know I shouldn't be doing that, I'm nobody important." Probably like a lot of people.

I can go all the way through college, whenever I had an opportunity I was always getting into a leadership position, and I would have an opportunity to speak, I had a huge inclination that that's where I wanted to be.

But like a lot of people, I had to get over myself, I had to get over constantly being told through life that I needed to be better than I was and believing that message. Thinking somebody was more qualified than me to stand up and say something.

But usually when I had a group and I put them together, I was really able to unite people and bring them together and get them to work well, from the time I was 13, 14 years old.

I started putting crews together to unload trucks in my family's business when I was 12, 13, 14 years old.

And we had a fun time, and that was the first little bits of leadership that I got into. My roots go clear back to when I was a kid.

RF: Yeah, now when you were shoveling hay and you were looking out, did you ever turn the pitchfork into a microphone and start talking to the horses?

LM: I did not, I did not do that.

I learned early on that the only way the manure got out of the barn and the manure spread was one scoop at a time, and I was better off shoveling if I wanted to get a free Saturday night to go out with my buddies.

RF: Nice.

One of the things when I was doing some slight cyberstalking on you, you had a unique experience in what really got you into, I guess, speaking more regularly inflection at muscle into like a bodybuilder.

But when it comes to the government and tax, I'm curious about that, maybe you can explain because it sounds like you did some bodybuilding with your speaking muscle during that time?

LM: I dove in, Ryan, I dove into the two things you're not supposed to do.

Now, in all honesty, it was done in an incorrect way, which was politics and religion right up front. The two subjects you're not supposed to talk about!

And I dove in head first into that.

In the late 1980's I wound up being audited 6 years in a row with the IRS, and quite honestly, they just ticked me off. There was nothing my tax returns that actually had to do with the sort of political and organizational things that I was involved in—nothing radical. It was just the things that the IRS decided they were going to look into.

I was getting dragged into these audits, year after year, and there was a group that had started called Citizens for an Alternative Tax System, which was a tax system where we wouldn't have a private dossier on every person in the United States.

You could earn all the money you wanted and save it, nobody would tax it. You would pay money when you spend it, so everybody would pay it, and it sounded like a fun system for me.

I actually got trained in public relations and how to do radio interviews, and I took a course by a gentleman named Jackson Bain who was on NBC or ABC or something like that, he was a newscaster.

They trained us in that, and then I did about 300 radio shows around the country, debating federal tax policy, and that was back in 1992 when we had Clinton and Bush and then Ross Perot was running, and they had the Reform Party.

So I spoke at all these Reform Party events, and sometimes people would give me standing ovations, and sometimes they walked out of the room, I am not kidding, they would just walk out.

I didn't know what was working. I didn't know what made it work if it was working. I didn't know how to correct it if it wasn't.

I was just passionate about the subject, and I got up and was speaking about it. It was a great experience.

RF: But it sounds like that gave you the muscle to then take that ability, go out there and do some other good things with it, right?

LM: Well, what it did, it actually allowed me to realize this was something I wanted to do, and it was something that I had a huge passion for doing.

And it was also something that I realized I needed to work on, because I didn't know what I was doing, but I was willing to do the work. I would say there are a lot of areas in my life I have not been really successful in.

There are the areas I have been where I have had that passion and that drive and I was willing to do the work in speaking, communicating.

I really want to emphasize this, for me, it's never been just speaking, it's been the message to unify.

Ryan Foland with Lance Miller - Quote on sharing a message that unifies - World of Speakers Podcast (Blue-Grey) _ Powered by SpeakerHub

In 1984 I moved to Los Angeles from my little town in Indiana to get away from the small town and the nepotistic aspects of the family business I was in.

I went, "I've got to start my life out." I had no idea what I wanted to do, I had a couple of college buddies that lived out here and I moved into the garage of their house.

The 1984 Olympics were going on and I went, "Maybe I'll go down and take tickets for the Olympics."

Long story short, I wound up getting hired as an executive in the Olympics in 1984.

RF: Wow, okay.

LM: There's a whole story behind that.

Actually, I wound up having a little longer interview with this lady then because there was nobody in line and her husband was from Fort Wayne, Indiana, and she goes, "You're new in town, right?"

And I go, "Yeah." She goes, "You want to go to a party?" and I said, "Yeah," she goes, "We're having a hat party tomorrow night."

So, I go to this party with all this paid staff of the Olympic Committee and I wore a hat and it was a hat and Long Island ice tea party.

I drank too many Long Island ice teas without a doubt, but about a week later they needed somebody, they needed more staff in their department.

They said, "Remember that guy who was at the party?" Everybody goes, "Oh yeah, he just moved out here," and everybody liked me.

They called me in and I wound up getting hired at the headquarters in the transportation department. I helped put about 10,000 people in transportation jobs, get them through the processing system and everything.

Then I went down, I was a system manager of a motor pool that drove 70 countries and had 300 volunteer drivers at USC.

But here's what happened at that time, I saw the world come together.

I saw a city as diverse as Los Angeles is unifying, coming together and working together.

I saw 70 countries of different cultures, ethnic backgrounds, nationalities, religions come together in unison and work together peaceably.

It was a life-changing experience and I went, "We can actually do this, we can get along, we don't have to fight and argue and shoot missiles at each other and throw rocks. We can get along."

And that experience really had a very transformational viewpoint for me towards the world.

RF: Is that how you got into human rights? Speaking out for people in that respect?

LM: There's an old saying, sort of "When the student is ready the teacher appears".

I think we create opportunities for ourselves because we have an interest.

There were some laws passed in Europe in the mid-1990's and this was pulled up by sort of a Freedom of Information Act that there were 187 religions targeted to be criminally charged for practicing their religion.

There was a very small group of people, which it always is, that sort of gets the government to pass something like that.

The church I attend was on the list, as were many other churches and there was a foundation formed to fight it, they didn't know how to fight it, but it was called The International Foundation for Human Rights and Tolerance.

Some people knew of my adventure activity, I've sailed across the Atlantic, I've rafted rivers all across the US, I'm a pilot, I've done all the stuff.

I've hitchhiked across Europe and then I'm also a speaker and a leader and I've done PR, I had all the PR training from debating tax policy, I was just telling you about.

And they said, "We don't have anybody with your qualifications, we need someone to lead a 2,000-mile marathon through 8 countries in Europe this summer, and would you come do it?"

And a long story, I said I couldn't at first and then I said, "This is too wild of an opportunity to pass up".

So I started doing that, for 7 years we organized 2,000 and 3,000-mile marathons, we would run them for 6 to 8, 10 weeks at a time with a team of about 10 runners and we got basically those laws corrected and changed and brought a lot of public awareness to it.

But yes, to be honest, that was part of that. One of the quotes I love is what Martin Luther King Jr said. It’s that "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

And I just said, "I am in the United States, we have religious freedom other places don't. If those dominoes start to fall, they're going to fall here before long, too, if we allow them to fall".

I didn't make any money doing that, but I've got to tell you, those marathons were some of the best times of my life because they were adventures with a great purpose behind them, a great team of people and for a huge cause, it was helping everybody around.

RF: Wow, from shoveling poo to creating thousands of miles of change. I always like to think of speakers in terms of their stories and you seem to have a lot to pull from.

Do you think that this life experience that you have is really a driving force behind even the ability for you to bring people together and even to do something as crazy as win the World Championship in public speaking?

LM: Without a doubt. It's funny, I was meeting one of the past presidents of the NSA, he was my mentor a couple years ago, which is great.

Ryan, one of the problems I've had as a speaker, I have such vast experience in so many areas.

To be a professional and really make great money, you really need to hone in and have a niche you work in.

Ryan Foland with Lance Miller - Quote on having a niche - World of Speakers Podcast (Black) _ Powered by SpeakerHub

And I was really struggling with that because there were so many things that I'm passionate about and I go,

"How do I bottle this up, and I don't want to just do speaking and I don't want to just do PowerPoint presentations".

RF: Consulting.

LM: Yeah, consulting, it was like, "There's so much more I want to do with my life".

And I met with Terri, I'd sent him my whole CV and everything I had done and he goes,

"I have these people that come to me and they've been a manager at Starbucks. They want to be a professional speaker. How do I take what they did and make it into a message", he goes, "I look at what you've done, how do we put an umbrella over this thing and capture it."

He goes, "You've got so much experience."

And when I started sharing what I had done with different people, and I don't feel this way but they go, "You have lived like 3 or 4 lifetimes this lifetime."

And I am like, "Yeah, there were times I was working one business and I had a startup or turnaround I was doing in the evenings."

Because I was looking for a bigger game and wanted to try to turn something around and, you know, get into something I could really run and control and expand.

And there were a number of nonprofits I've worked with and then the crazy situations of just taking off and—

RF: Running 2,000 miles and then do this and do that.

LM: Yeah, cycling from St. Petersburg, Russia to Oslo, Norway for human rights and meeting with government officials all along the way, meetings in town squares and all the different stuff that we pulled off has just been phenomenal.

But all that plays into your speeches.

RF: Yeah, and it sounds like you've used these experiences as a piggyback for really living these multiple lives.

What is it that you've learned from a tactical standpoint, one being this constant challenge of narrowing down the niche to not confuse people, but you've obviously acquired a lot of practical skills, both on stage and off stage and it sounds like a lot of your impact has been getting people to do things off stage.

Would you agree that the same, whether it's tonal inflection or getting to the point or some of these main competent communicator concepts—are they through lines in all these conversations?

LM: Without a question.

Speaking is a medium, and just the same way that you could be a writer, it's a medium, you could be a TV announcer, have a radio show, it's a medium.

To me, it's the depth of what's behind that medium and what are you communicating and a lot of people get very focused on—and I've seen this, I've been speaking for 25 years and I've been speaking professionally for 14.

Seeing people where it's all about the speaking, and to me it's like, "No, what's the backend? What are you bringing? What experience are you bringing to that stage that you're really talking about?"

The essence for me within the speaking medium is that there's a lot of it that I work with, but I'll just start with you on this—the power of your messages is in the simplicity of the concept, not in the complexity.

Ryan Foland with Lance Miller - Quote on the power of message - World of Speakers Podcast (Navy) _ Powered by SpeakerHub

It's in the simplicity and the most important thing in your speech certainly isn't you, and to be honest, it's not the audience. It's how long does your message resonate in the mind of each single audience member after they hear it.

And we've all heard people, we've all had somebody say something to us and we carried their words with us through the rest of our life.

I just quoted Martin Luther King Jr.

Ryan Foland with Lance Miller - Quote on resonating message - World of Speakers Podcast (Blue-Grey) _ Powered by SpeakerHub

Those words resonate with me every single day of my life and I am aware that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere and I am aware of that. It means we have to stand up and protect things. Those words live with me.

Then there are people that give like self-erasing speeches, you can't remember their name or the words after they say them. Nothing resonates.

You leave and maybe you laughed, you had a great time but that speech is totally erased, you didn't carry any message forward in your life that affects your life from that point forward.

So in all of my speaking I try to make things real and simple to the audience so that I can causatively affect their thinking pattern and cause them to think and then act differently, based on what I said

And I know that I'm only as good a speaker as I can affect long-term change in the people that listen to me.

Ryan Foland with Lance Miller - Quote on affecting long-term change - World of Speakers Podcast (Navy) _ Powered by SpeakerHub

There's a lot that I get into with that too, but in order to do that you have to address the individuals in the audience, their free will to accept your message, and not force your message on them.

You have to get them to say, "I accept that" and take it of their own free will and that's the challenge of going, "Wow, I can use that," and they decide to accept the message versus you ordering them that this is what they need to do.

I get very granular on my communication.

Very granular on my message focus content. And I'll dive in and share that, but I can talk for a couple hours on how to play something, specifically I'm looking in the mind of the audience and I'm looking where I'm placing that message, that's how granular you get.

RF: Okay, so I like this.

One thing that came to my mind when you were talking about the audience: it's not about you, it's not about the audience, it's about what they retain and their willingness to retain it.

It makes me think of the concept, of the willing suspension of disbelief, say for theatrical means.

But is there a version of speaking that is the willing suspension of resistance to believing what the person is saying?

And how do you get past that, how do you get into the person's mind so that you do have that impact?

Do you have structures of how you do your talks or any tips within that?

LM: Sure. First of all, the simplicity that I work with people, and I coach a couple hundred people a year, and quite honestly a lot of it is just because of my love of the Toastmasters program and people contact me on their 5 to 7 minute speeches.

We have the World Championship going on right now, so I have speakers from all over the world sending me their stuff.

One of the things I talk about is that is the enforcement of a message on the audience trying to tell them what they should think versus sharing your experience. It's so much more powerful to share rather than tell.

Ryan Foland with Lance Miller - Quote on sharing your experience - World of Speakers Podcast (Black) _ Powered by SpeakerHub

How many messages do we get hit with on a daily basis, telling us to do something?

It's literally every day with mobile devices and electronic media (let alone billboards, radio, TV, all the things.)

We get, probably hundreds if not thousands of messages. And this is my own viewpoint, my own philosophy—we have a natural built-in resistance to somebody telling us what to do.

Though if somebody shares with us something, then it's our free will to accept that message.

We can decide whether we want to accept it or not.

Therefore, it's in how we share it that actually gets the audience interested in it.

One of the things that I do and that I teach in speaking is I say at the end people feel they have to have this call to action.

Let's just say, for instance, you have the speech about overcoming fear and you realize there wasn't anything but fear and so you have your realization in the speech.

And then I see this all the time where speakers look at the audience and then they turn into like this fire and brimstone preacher and they start going,

"How many dreams are you not going to live because of your fears?"

"How many things are you going to not do because of—!?"

"How long...?!"

And I go, "Look, dude, here's the fact, you have not interviewed every single person in that audience, you don't know what the life experience of your audience members are."

As an example, my uncle was the 13th POW taken in North Vietnam during the Vietnam conflict. He was a Hanoi prisoner for 7.5 years, tortured weekly.

Now he's just a bald, sort of pudgy guy with bad dental work, right?

He could be sitting in your audience and you're going to tell a story about being afraid to go out and play baseball, and then look at that guy and say, "What fears?"

That guy's handled more fear in his life than you'll ever see in 10 lifetimes.

So you don't know who's sitting in your audience and this is happening to me time and time again, I've met people that have climbed Mount Everest in my audiences, I had a 70-year-old lady that had run the Boston Marathon in my audience, I've never run a marathon in my life.

To stand up in front of the audience and act like you are God's gift with your message...and you're the smartest person in the room... and everybody in your room doesn't know your message, or has no experience with it, and needs to have it crammed down their throat (or as I say whacked on the head with a 2x4.) That’s a great way to disengage your audience!

So what I say is that the audience connects with you by you sharing how you applied your message in your life.

You say, "Well, once I figured this out I did this and then I did this and then I ran to a situation in my life and I used this, and I did this," and then the audience is going, "Oh, wow, I could do that."

As soon as the audience goes, "Oh, I could do that", they are now accepting it of their own free will. It's up to you to show them how well it works, and get them to accept it and go, "Oh my gosh, I could do that," or, "I have a situation where I could apply that in my life."

As soon as they have their realization about that, they accept it and they will take it on their own free will.

RF: Yeah, it makes me think of activation energy from the scientific term. When there's a certain amount of activation energy it gets to put an object in motion or an object to change motion and then once it's moving, you're sort of on the right path.

So it sounds like you're fighting this built-in resistance to really any broadcast messages as opposed to getting them to start to think about how your experience relates in your life and then the parallel to whatever it may be for them.

LM: Yeah, and with this, one of the things I go over a lot, people relate more to our failures than to our successes.

I'll give you an example, I'm in Rotary also, I'm in one of the iconic Rotary Clubs in the world, the LA Rotary Club, the fifth Rotary Club in the world out of 33,000 clubs, we're over a hundred years old.

We're huge. We have over 400 members and we had a gentleman, and I don't remember his name, but it was several years ago, he was one of the past presidents of Coca-Cola Bottling.

Now, this is the bottling company, it's not Coca-Cola, so he runs the plants. And he was introduced as a CEO, they're not presidents, past CEO of Coca-Cola Bottling.

And so it's like, "Wow, oh my gosh, this is one of the top CEOs in the country," and I'm listening to him and he says,

"That's right, 1978 I was recruited as the CEO of Coca-Cola Bottling and for the next 9 years I brought in the best staff I could and we did everything we could do," and he goes, "Our stock was selling for $24.30 or something," he said.

"Then for the next 10 years I brought in the best people I could, we did everything to get more efficient, to increase our productivity, to squeeze every ounce of profit out of our bottling industry we could, and after 9 years our stock was a $22.10."

I totally related to him, I've been in so many businesses I was working my butt off to sink slower.

He said, "I got replaced as a CEO, they've brought in new MBA team and it took them only 2 years to take that company's stock to $10.12."

I love that guy!

From that moment on, he didn't stand up and talk about how brilliant he was and successful he was. He talked about how he worked his tail off to sink slower and then got removed and then he was there to talk about a children's program that he had.

I go over this time and time again to stand up and tout about how great you are.

I think most people in life live with more frustration on their failures and they feel they have more failures than they do successes.

And when you talk about how great you are that disengages the audience because they don't feel that they're that great.

Ryan Foland with Lance Miller - Quote on what disengages the audience - World of Speakers Podcast (Blue) _ Powered by SpeakerHub

And what it does is it sort of indicates they haven't accomplished, they're a failure when you talk about how great you are.

I have a keynote I give in Toastmasters called, "Losing my way to the World Championship." Because I lost that speech contest for 12 years before I ever won the World Championship and I lost in my club for 8 before I ever got out of the club.

I talked about what I learned in losing speech contests and how valuable those lessons were and I would never go back and win it and lose the lessons I got to learn through losing.

I just gave that, up in Edmonton, a couple weeks ago, they just had their speech contest and there were a bunch of losers in the speech contest, and they all came up and said,

"Oh thanks so much for giving that speech man, that's exactly what I needed to hear."

One of the things I've learned too is that there's so much failure behind success and so much loss behind winning.

I know if I'm not winning, I'm not losing enough, I just get out there and keep, "Oh, let's go lose some more and eventually I'll figure this thing out."

RF: Yeah, lose your way to it.

And I think the public consciousness has been more aware of this failure, failing fast, failing smarter and I think that it's definitely applicable when it comes here.

One very technical question when it comes to talking about yourself versus talking about the audience—I've heard a piece of advice float around and I have my opinion on it, about the difference between using the word I and you when you're speaking, I want to know your opinion on that.

The going advice being that it's better to say instead of, "I'm excited to be here" it's like, "What you're going to learn today is exciting."

What about that flip in this breaking the resistance?

LM: Well, I wind up getting a lot of people that have actually written speeches grammatically incorrectly because they're counting the number of I's in their speech.

And I go, "That doesn't make any sense to me, this sentence doesn't make any sense to me." And they said, "Yeah, but I had too many I's in it."

And here's my point on it, I think first of all it's how we're using the You and the I I think is much more important than whether it's You or I.

First of all, I totally disagree with you/I ratio and counting them and all that, 100%.

RF: But it is a real thing, people really do focus on that, right?

LM: Yes, there's a certain school of thought and there's a specific area that comes out of, that counts the you/I ratio.

But what they miss is what are you saying when you say I? If you stand up and you say, "I am so excited, I have so many incredible things to tell you today. I am certain I'm going to change your life today", that is BS.

But if you say, "I was recruited as the CEO of Coca-Cola Bottling and I worked my tail off and I brought in the best people I could, until 11 years later I was replaced."

It's humble, you're sharing your humility, you're sharing your experience, you're sharing what you learned from a humble approach, this can be extremely effective to say I.

And when you say the You's, if you're speaking up to your audience, not speaking down to them, like if you say, "How many dreams will you not live," that's speaking down to your audience.

But if you said, "You probably wouldn't make this mistake and most of you in the audience already know this, but let me tell you how I struggled with this concept."

Now it's real, I mean it's a great way to use ‘you’. You are putting your audience on a higher pedestal than you are.

"I struggled with this for a long time, most of you wouldn't have had that problem because you would have learned the lesson at an earlier age. It took me until I was 28 before I learned this."

You're sharing your failure with it, and to me if you start going, "This is what you're going to learn today, when we're done you're going to have..." now that can work, I mean it can work, but to me, if you do it in an arrogant, self-righteous fashion, you can say you in an arrogant self-righteous fashion, you can say I in an arrogance self-righteous fashion and either one of those are incorrect in my book.

You need to say it in a respectful way. You need to speak up to your audience.

And I go through all thing what humility is and humility 31:34 the root of the word ground which means at least you're on the same ground as your audience and if your audience was Martin Luther King, Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela, JFK, you wouldn't go, "How many fears...!?"

You wouldn't be yelling at them, you would go, "I am so honored to speak in front of you, let me share something of my life, you're a lot smarter than I am."

And so, that's where the you/I ratio comes in, it's how you use the you and the I is much more important to me than whether it's you or I.

RF: You were talking about this whole humbleness. So I've got a new word here for you— so humble but spelled with an I, it's himble, instead of H-U-M-B-L-E you can say H-I, instead of the U the I.

I don't know if it's cheesy enough, but I like it.

LM: We'll get in the dictionary.

RF: Totally. Okay, so let's transition into a little bit of talking about how we can use this himble method to have value that you're driving with people, but a lot of times people will say,

"Okay, that's great, but how do I get to bigger stages, how do I get in front of bigger audiences?"

Some might say, "How do they make money," but you might say, "How do you drive more value, how do you make more people connect."

What is it that will help people get from speaking to speaking more and speaking on bigger stages?

LM: First of all, there's the whole business of speaking.

And one of the lessons I've learned, as you mentioned at the beginning of this podcast, we met at an NSA chapter meeting and I had, probably incorrectly, thought that if I did a great job speaking, that that would just build my speaking business, just like deliver quality every place I go, and I feel I do that, that doing that would build my speaking business.

There is a business of speaking. In the Toastmasters world, Toastmasters is not in the business of speaking, National Speakers Association if you're in the US, Canadian Association for professional speakers if you're in Canada, they are in the business of speaking.

And so there is a whole business aspect to this and you need to get with a group of peers first of all and mentors that you can work with and work in that business. But let's just look at the specific aspects of wanting to get to bigger and bigger audiences.

One of the things that I've experienced in my life is that every time I speak, I get people coming up to me, I'm going to actually qualify this—every time I speak outside of a Toastmasters conference. At Toastmasters conferences I have an iconic status because of the World Championship and I'm not saying that from an egotistical standpoint, that is sort of the golden ring a lot of people want at Toastmasters.

RF: Yeah, absolutely.

LM: So as a World Champion I have a really high status with them. I have a huge track record of leadership and accomplishment in that organization.

I have a huge track record of the number of districts I've spoken at, the number of districts that their club and memberships, their educational achievement has boomed after I've spoken at them. I have a very powerful position.

I don't get a lot of people coming up to me after Toastmaster conferences saying, "I want you to speak in my organization."

When I speak outside of Toastmasters, I have always had people come up to me and say, "Do you speak at other organizations? This message is needed."

And one of the things I talk about in promoting yourself is I will speak. If I'm not busy that day and I get an opportunity to speak, I will go speak.

Ryan Foland with Lance Miller - Quote on promoting yourself - World of Speakers Podcast (Navy) _ Powered by SpeakerHub

Because I don't consider it speaking for free I consider it promoting myself for free.

And I will go get in front of an audience, and what I know is the best promotion I could have, and I give this example— you could come up with a great one sheet, you could build a great website, you could buy an email list and you could spend, let's say, $5,000 on online marketing and mailing out your one sheet to, let's say, 500 companies.

You spend $5,000 and nobody knows you. Or you could spend $5,000 in gas and mileage and go speak, spend the same amount of money in front of audiences and you will get more business going on, and talking to Rotary Clubs, and Chambers of Commerce and even call up a trade association and say, "I will come speak for free, I just want to talk to your members".

Because when you're there, you're delivering what you do.

You get an hour or 45 minutes, whatever is it, you get 30 minutes, whatever your presentation time is of almost one-on-one time or one-on-50 or one-on-500, whatever it is, but they get to know you and they get to hear what you have to say and here's the key—if you do a good job, people will come up and hand you their business cards.

If you don't do a good job, you're in the wrong business and you now have to go out and change what you are doing or increase your skills.

But one of the things that I have done is, I've taken many opportunities to speak for organizations, or opportunities where I didn't get paid, to simply get in front of the group, and that has always worked very well for me.

And the bottom line, and this was a lesson quite honestly, Ryan, I learned in the World Championship Speech Contest I won in 2005, but in 2003 I went over by one second in the regionals, which are now the semifinals, and I was disqualified.

And I was pretty arrogant the next year, I was like, "Yeah, I should've gone to the show. I should've been in the final stage, everybody knows that. It was a technicality one second," that was in my mind.

And I came into a division level contest which is 3 levels up in the 6 levels you go, and I was arrogant, I was like, "Yeah, everyone knows I'm an international speaker, I just have to speak at this contest because it's sort of a stepping stone on my road to where I need to speak."

And I didn't respect that audience and I lost that contest at division level the next year because I didn't respect my audience.

That's what I talk about when you're speaking to a group of people, that better be the most important group of people in your life.

And I'm coming back around to your business question—when you're speaking to a group of people, do everything you can to deliver a quality message to them and change their lives and resonate with them and help them as much as you can.

I think if you do that you're going to get people reaching out to you and you're going to get more and more opportunities.

Ryan Foland with Lance Miller - Quote on delivering a quality message - World of Speakers Podcast (Blue-Grey) _ Powered by SpeakerHub

Now that being said, there is your website your social media presence, your association, your teaming up with people and putting on team presentations or being hired by corporations on a team basis.

There are so many things you can do to actually work the business, but one of the big things I feel is you've got to find what's right for you.

There's a lot of people out there making a lot of money to teach speakers how to make money in the speaking business and those people aren't making money in the speaking business, they are making money selling a dream to people that want to be a speaker.

They charge a lot of times a lot of money for it, and they probably deliver something that's okay, but usually it's a cookie-cutter website, program book, all this sort of stuff but the thing is—that represents the essence of who you are as a speaker.

And the best speakers I heard—and I've watched speakers for years because I wanted to figure out what they were doing—were authentic, were real, were humble, they had real experience they were bringing to the table. They weren't arrogant, they weren't talking down to the audience, they were there to try to make a dent, their heart was in the right place, those were the people that resonated with me.

And that was the type of speaker I wanted to be when I spoke. I wanted to be the same guy you'd meet in the hall as you met on the stage.

RF: Right, so here are maybe some final thoughts and final questions on this.

Because this is all great stuff and it really comes down to making it make sense for you and while you're in front of the audience, making it make sense for them.

If we were to say that leaders are speakers and speakers are leaders, what I'm hearing is that there's a lot of collaboration that needs to happen.

So I know that professionally you help leaders work together, you help teams cohesively form around ideas—what are ways that speakers can work better with other speakers to help build that network and to help sort of trail off of and find that support network?

LM: Well that's where an organization like the National Speakers Association comes in, and your local chapter is really what I'm thinking of, it's where it really comes together.

What I have found in that organization is that people are totally willing to share the truth, they're sharing what's honest about what they do, what worked, what didn't work.

They don't ant people to make the same mistakes. There's a lot of costly mistakes. I've made costly mistakes.

If I had the amount of money that I have given people to do websites and online programs for me back, I'd be driving a really nice car right now.

And so there are all sorts of mistakes you make, and this is true I think in any business, and this is the key point: the speaking business is a business and you need to surround yourself with people you trust, whether you call it a mastermind group or you call it a good old boy network or whatever. When I was running businesses I would have other business owners or I’d have a close group of friends. We’d all run our own businesses, we get together and smoke cigars and play golf at a charity tournaments the whole time.

Or if somebody has a problem they pick up the phone they say, "Hey, you know, I've got this problem with my employee and I am trying to figure out how to handle it. What do you recommend, let me run this by you."

But you have a trusted group of people around you that you can throw ideas off of, and that as a speaker we're very much solopreneurs, I'm in the process right now of building out more of an organization I was sharing with your earlier, I'm starting a partnership, we’re about two months into right now, doing business turnarounds and business expansion and growth specializing in that, but I'm in the process with my own speaking business of bringing in more of a group because I can’t handle everything I'm doing.

But it's very easy to get caught up with your own mental limitations and that's why it's good to have people around you that you to liaise with, that you can pick up the phone and call.

I have found that 100% with my NSA group that, I'm working on a whole new online program and I've had two or three conference calls with people and we swap notes back and forth and,

"This is what's working for me and this is the program I use on that one," and you know, "This was the best cloud system that I found to store my stuff on the cloud."

And we're just sharing with each other, we're not competitors, we're all trying to survive out there.

So that's really what I recommend is surround yourself with a group of, sort of, like-minded people you trust and who empower you.

Ryan Foland with Lance Miller - Quote on choosing the people around you - World of Speakers Podcast (Navy) _ Powered by SpeakerHub

Here's the key thing I look at when I'm looking for someone—do I feel I'm more empowered when I'm with them or do I feel like they suck the life out of me.

I want to get with people that when I'm with them, I feel more empowered and they feel more empowered when they are around me.

These are all people that maybe they were a vampire in a past life or something like that, they just have this tendency to suck all of the energy out of you and you know they are the type of person that can't get out of a crosswalk if there's a runaway car coming down the road.

RF: That really speaks to your idea of being the same person on stage and off stage, and if you really want to be that magnetic person with the value that people remember, on stage and off stage.

LM: Absolutely, here's the key, let's just talk about that. For the early part of my life I had a tendency to sort of morph with the group I was with, and as I said, when I was with my family, I was one way, there were a certain set of values and there were certain activities that were rewarded and others that weren't.

I'd go to church on Sunday and I would morph with my church group, but then I would be out with my buddies on a Friday night and I acted a little differently.

I would be at work or at school and I would act a little differently.

And then you'd have an identity crisis when two people from two different groups came together and you did not know how to act, right?

RF: Yeah, when your church friends want to hang out with you on Friday night.

LM: Yeah, exactly. It's like, the church people are going, "Lance, you're so boisterous," and the Friday night guys are going, "You're so quiet, demure what's going on?"

And so when you stand up to speak, what can happen is, all of a sudden, we're used to this what I call the sort of this morphing complex.

And this is, again, this is my viewpoint on it, okay? And I go, you have a tendency to want to morph with the audience, but what happens is when you do that, the audience, like you're giving a speech, you don't think is going well, and you go, "Well, I'll try this, I'll try that," because you're trying to get that connection with the audience and the audience actually becomes the author of your speech, because you're no longer saying, "This is what I want the audience to get," you're trying to get a certain reaction out of them and it inverts.

The hardest thing to me in public speaking is to just be yourself and to talk to the audience. Just like you can be yourself with a good friend and talk to them. We've all seen people that, when they're on stage, they turn into this car salesman or something like that.

RF: Their voice drops and everything gets a little bit more dramatized.

LM: Exactly, "Ladies and gentlemen, I'm so pleased to be with you here today".

And then you meet them in the hall and they're like, "Hey, nice to meet you. Thank you."

Edmond Hillary said about climbing Mount Everest, "It is not the mountain you conquer, it’s yourself."

The World Championship to me was—it's not the speech I conquered, it was myself.

It was like I got to know who I was, I got to know where my values were, what my value was to the audience.

I got to really see what I believed in. It was that journey I traveled and one of the reasons I feel people that have been through horrific situations in life, in a of the training I do I ask them, "Do you ever feel like you don't have anything to talk about, because you haven't had anything bad happened to you," and all these people go, "Yeah".

The reason that I feel that people who have had horrendous situations happen to them are such good speakers is through that horrendous situation they came to grips with who they were.

And now all they do is they stand up and tell their story.

But there's no question, the only way they got through that, I talked about my uncle earlier, the only way he got through those 7 and a half years, what he used to tell me, he used to wish they would let him die, because he was in so much pain from the torture, because they wouldn't let you die.

The only way you got through that was to get to know yourself really well, because that was all you had to rely on.

He speaks in the Navy and at the Navy War College on POW issues and stuff, if there are people that are captured, and he's been doing that for years and he is a great speaker because he's so comfortable with who he is based on the experience he had.

The rest of us can still attain that level of comfort, we don't have to be tortured for 7 years to get it. We don't have to be wrongly incarcerated for murder for 13 years to get it. We don't have to have cancer and overcome that to get it.

We can get to know ourselves and one of the things that I've done in my life, and this is partly because I want to get to know myself, partly because I had so many personal wins doing it, but from a young age I was diving into different adventure activities, from climbing mountains to scuba diving under the ice in frozen lakes. I've sailed across Atlantic. I've done all this stuff.

What I found when I put myself in those environments was that I had to figure out how to make things work, I had to survive, I got to know who I was.

But also, when I came back to my daily work the problems I faced at work and the problems I faced in my community or at home seemed smaller based on the experience I just had. I could handle life better based on what I overcame on my adventure at the time.

I had a lot of those things where I was able to sort of figure myself out that I created for myself in the process of doing that. But to me the hardest thing is just be yourself, talk to the audience and be genuine and authentic, be humble in your approach.

Share with them and really have the focus that you're trying to give them specific things that they will carry with them out of there. That will help them in their life. That based on your words they will have something that will benefit them in their life that they can carry forward from that standpoint.

The power is in the simplicity, not in the complexity; the more simple your concepts, the more powerful they are.

RF: And there's nothing more complex than figuring out who you are, but once you figure it out, your life becomes that much simpler.

So, Lance, on the way to sum it up, that was great.

And speaking of value, as a last thought, when I saw you speak years ago, I came up on stage, I did life coaching with you and I was probably just still a young ginger at that time, but in the back, you had all these postcards.

And the fact is, you said, "Take all the postcards you want, if you want CD's and audio stuff, you have to pay for it."

So I went back and I grabbed all the postcards, and I still know where they are. And they might be a little outdated because it was so long ago, but this idea that when you spoke there was enough value that I went to the back of the room so that I could keep that value with me over a longer period of time.

And I'm going to do you a favor, I'm going to pull out a really cool couple of quotes from this podcast and I will keep that legacy going just like you pulled up Martin Luther, I'll pull up the Lance Miller and drop that like a hot cake elsewhere.

How does that sound?

LM: That sounds fantastic, thank you.

RF: Alright, this has been great, everybody who wants to check out Lance will have all of that information in the show notes.

Definitely check out his World Championship Speech regardless of how long ago it was, it still will speak to you.

And man, this is just great, get inspired, find a local chapter, a rotary, a national speakers association, Toastmasters, just get out there and find people, surround yourself with people who are also trying to find out who they are, see if you can take a message and share it. If you loved this podcast, which you should, this was amazing, leave a comment, share this podcast with other people, check out past episodes and definitely go out and show Lance some love online.

So, this was great Lance, I look forward to connecting, maybe we'll share the stage some time, and lots of great valuable information here.

LM: It's been my pleasure, it's been a fun chat to have, I don't get to have a lengthy chat like this very often, so I have thoroughly enjoyed being able to delve into some of these issues.

RF: Nice, well, we'll continue, I'll take you out to coffee or we'll have a drink on Friday night.

LM: It sounds great, Ryan, I appreciate it.

RF: Thanks, Lance. Everybody, we will see you next week or sooner, depending on when you download the next World of Speakers podcast. Adios.


A bit about World of Speakers

World of Speakers is a bi-weekly podcast that helps people find their own voice, and teaches them how to use their voice to develop a speaking business.

We cover topics like: what works versus what doesn't, ideas on how to give memorable presentations, speaking tips, and ideas on how to build a speaking business.

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