World of Speakers E.91: Riaz Meghji | Consistency cultivates trust

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World of Speakers E.91: Riaz Meghji | Consistency cultivates trust

Ryan Foland speaks with Riaz Meghji, TV broadcaster, keynote speaker and author of “Every Conversation Counts: The 5 Habits of Human Connection That Build Extraordinary Relationships”. 

In this episode of our podcast series, Ryan and Riaz talk about pointing the focus forward to the audience prior to the presentation even beginning. 

One of the key messages in this interview is that though there are various social media platforms, make your presence known on at least one of them. 

Tune in for an interview full of ideas and advice on how consistency cultivates trust for your audience and enhances your profile. 

Listen to the interview on iTunes or Soundcloud.

Subscribe to World of Speakers on iTunes or Soundcloud.

Transcript

Welcome to the World of Speakers podcast, brought to you by SpeakerHub. 

In each episode, we interview a professional speaker and reveal their very best tips and tricks. 

You'll learn to improve your presentation skills, keep your audience engaged, and learn how to grow your business to get more gigs and make more money. 

Here is your host, Ryan Foland. 

Ryan Foland: Ahoy everyone and welcome back to another World of Speakers podcast episode brought to you by SpeakerHub. 

Today I'm excited because whenever I get another trusted speaker and friend to refer a speaker who is a friend of them, it's like having a friend of a friend. 

So any friend of Nick Morgan is a friend of mine, and today we have a friend of Nick Morgan. 

It's Riaz Meghji, he is a human connection expert, a speaker, an author, and his book is "Every Conversation Counts. 

I'm going to make sure that this conversation counts because why else would we waste our time. 

Welcome to the show, I'm excited to invest some time learning a little bit from you and get to know you more.

Riaz Meghji: Awesome, Ryan, thanks for having me on.

Ryan Foland: I like to throw you under the proverbial love bus right out the gate, and ask you to go back in time and find a single, standalone story from your past that if that's the only thing that I had, I could use that story to share who you are with other people. 

"Okay, Ryan, what's going on?" 

"This is a great podcast, I met this guy," 

"Well, what's up with this guy?" 

"Well, this one time, ______." 

Fill in the blank. 

So what would that story be, what comes to the top of your mind?

Riaz Meghji: I like this. 

I have yet to have a podcast start in this format and I love it as a speaker, the power of storytelling is paramount. 

Given your background of once upon a time trying to make it in Hollywood as an intern, I would choose the shoot your shot story. 

For me, I know you studied business economics, I was a business grad at Simon Fraser University up in Canada with the fine, polite folks. 

Back in 2002 when I was finishing my degree, I was slowly starting to realize I didn't just love the business, I loved the art of presentation. 

When I was finishing the degree, I decided I was going to shoot my shot and go after an opportunity to make it in the television business. 

I entered every single contest you could imagine, I was open to internships and somebody said to me, 

"Hey, you know MTV Canada, they tape a Top 10 Video Countdown show in Vancouver in a downtown penthouse, you should go check it out." 

So I said, "Alright, let's go. Let's figure out how this medium works." 

I'll never forget the day the show was called "Select," I walked into the live studio audience, I just sat there. 

And it was like a sponge, observing, just absorbing every single moment. 

I could feel the energy of the crowd and understood the role the crowd plays in the show, much like we would do in a keynote presentation. Then I watched the host and how you connect to the barrel of the lens. 

And it was just giving me goosebumps of, "What if I could be that person?" 

And then as I just slowly scanned the room I saw the director behind the camera, calling the shots and realized that's the person I need to talk to after this production is complete. 

The show plays out, there was a lot of fun and I waited till the audience cleared out of the penthouse and the director was at his desk, and I just kind of walked up to him, Ryan, and I said, "Hi, excuse me." 

Any director who is busy, and as a complete stranger just walks up, they don't have time for this. 

So he just kind of looks me up and down, and gives me the once over and he says, "Yes?" 

And I said, "What would it take for a guy like me to host on a show like this?" 

And he said, "What kind of experience do you have?" 

And I said, "I don't have any broadcast experience." 

He says, "Where did you go to broadcast school?" 

I'm like, "I didn't go, I'm a business grad."

And he said, "What do you possibly have to offer me?" 

And I said, "An unwavering commitment and passion to do this." 

Silence on my side. I'm like, "Don't say anything, Riaz, don't say anything."

Ryan Foland: Don't talk past the sale, no. 

Riaz Meghji: Don't talk past the sale. 

And then he paused, I paused, he paused, and he said, 

"Why don't you come back Friday for a screencast, we'll see what you got."

And I said, "Great, I'll be here Friday, no problem." 

And then I walked to the elevator of that penthouse studio thinking, 

"Oh my god, there's a screencast, what am I going to do here? I don't know what I'm doing." 

But in that moment, and the reason I share this, if you're going to shoot your shot and especially with what we've dealt with in the pandemic if you want to predict what the next step is, the best way to predict the future is just creating these moments and creating it for yourself. 

And that's what sparked an almost 20-year career as a television broadcaster. 

Ryan Foland: Okay, great story and great delivery of the story, it's always fun to have a good story that's told well. 

So if I'm going to put on my non-medical psychological analysis hat, I'm going to ask about your folks and ask if they were an influence in you going the business route versus chasing something that you might have known ahead of time you wanted to do?

Riaz Meghji: Hey, man, it doesn't take an expert to know in the South Asian culture they want you to be a doctor, lawyer, dentist, financial expert. 

And if you're coming and deviating with, "Hey, I want to be a broadcaster," there was a bit of stress and tension in the household, to begin with, which so many years later and now being a parent, I can appreciate the intention that they wanted to make sure their child is going to be okay. 

And for the longest time they didn't see it, they thought it was a hobby. 

My dad kept saying to me, "Hey, when are you getting an MBA, when are you getting a real career?" 

But then they realized, as the opportunity started to unfold and there were some times I'd be working on the local news in Vancouver and I guess that as the South Asian parent that's when you're like, "My son is on the news. We supported this all along."

They were incredible along the way, but I know they were fearful but in the end, it's all worked out. 

Ryan Foland: Yeah, I imagine them on like the horse after the train has already taken off after it left the station and they're like galloping to try to get on because it makes sense when things work out. 

But as parents, I just had that inclination that if you end up in a moment where you're trying to sort of picture where is not down the barrel of the camera, but down the barrel of the director's eyeballs that are looking at you and you had to basically channel everything and say, 

"Yeah, I have no classical training but I have that passion." 

And that passion is the thing that you probably always had, but it was either suppressed or maybe pushed aside or something that you have maybe kept secretive or something to that extent. 

My next question is about sports. What was your sport? 

Because I have a guess of what that might be, based on this little information, but were you in any particular sports?

Riaz Meghji: Okay. 

I'm curious to know what your guess is because long and lanky over here, I sucked in every single sport. 

I was the mascot or the team manager that took amazing statistics. 

No coach in the right mind would ever put me on the field, court, anything, but they said, 

"We like your passion and support and analytical mind, why don't we welcome that onto the team?" 

But I am a huge basketball fan, watching sports, that's my jam, but playing, not so much. 

Ryan Foland: My guess was going to be basketball, because and not necessarily because of your height, I was just thinking Canada like what do they actually play over there when it's frozen half the time. 

So I didn't place you as a hockey player, it was more of a basketball. 

And that's interesting that you were on the sideline behind the scenes aspect of it. 

Did you ever have any interest in the broadcast, media, film in that supportive role or you always wanted to be a starter in front of the camera? 

Riaz Meghji: One of the greatest lessons that I learned is if you want to be a great presenter, whether that's on camera, on stage, is to understand how to write first. 

And when I first got that gig at MTV, it was almost like early success became a terrible teacher because I really didn't know what I was doing, and then I got in my head with it. 

And when I lost a bit of confidence when you first put yourself out there and then people start criticizing you, that was new, and then I just went inward. 

So it really taught me the value of, I always loved the art and engaging an audience, but to do it and do it well, the art is just taking that step back and writing, I really focused on my TV career because even though I got the gig, I was let go 4 months later. 

I took that time to recalibrate, focus on the message, focus on writing, and then funny enough, a year and a half later, when they had a bunch of turnover at MTV Canada, they hired me back. 

They hired me as a producer and I was really focused on creating good segments, good content, good writing, and then it evolved back into a host role. 

So that point that you're talking about, about being behind the camera is so valuable if the message is going to impact the audience because over the years people would ask me, 

"Hey, can you help me be on camera? Can you help me get on TV?" 

And I said, "Well, I don't know how I can help you get on TV, but what's your message?"

And they say, "I don't have a message."

And at that point, I realized, "I can't help you. If you have a message I could help elevate the message but if it's the superficial nature of just being seen, that's not a place I can assist." 

So that power of writing behind the camera to me is just equally as valuable as being in front of the camera, or in front of people on stage.

Ryan Foland: Good. 

I had an inclination that there might be a combo shot of the 2 and I think that what led me to think that was your initial glancing at all the elements and not just hyper-focused on the person that is in front of the camera.

Where's the director, what is the audience, and that sort of altruistic message of that actual conversation that's happening. 

Okay, we're done with the psychological analysis. 

The one thing that I do want to ask is that when you got in the elevator by yourself at the end, did you actually do like a little legitimate happy dance, or were you just scared stiff and you're like paralyzed and you're like, 

"Oh, sh ****, now what?"

Riaz Meghji: Ha, ha. Top of the elevator was that victorious fist moment, "Yeah!" 

Bottom of the elevator, "Oh, damn, when I come back up this thing on Friday, what am I going to do here?"

So it was a mixture of both.

Ryan Foland: Well I feel like that very small storytelling and investigative approach gives me a pretty decent insight into who you are. 

And I think that everybody who's listening does too. 

So now that we know you, I'm curious to use you as much as we can to get the best, the top of the elevator fist-pumping tips that you've learned that you can filter out all of the bottom of the elevator and bring us right to the top of like what should we be focusing on in this day and age, in this weird digital environment obviously with roots and going back to live when that comes back soon.

But where would you start? 

Instead of the person saying, "Can you put me on camera?" let's pretend that our listeners are saying, "I don't care about TV, I just want to be on stage, be it digital or in person." 

What do you tell on that person? 

What are the tips about the art of speaking you can share with us?

Riaz Meghji: Well, the first one would be to stop focusing on yourself. 

The easiest mistake, I guess the most common mistake I would make in the beginning was how do I look, how am I coming across? 

Do I know my thing, that witty thing, is that comeback the way it should be, but stepping out of myself and pointing the focus forward is the first critical step.

Ryan Foland: Forward or?

Because you said forward, there is a difference between looking in versus looking forward? 

So is that looking directly in concern with as in the audience or is it surroundings, the environment? 

I get the stop focusing on yourself, but what do you mean when you say look forward then?

Riaz Meghji: Yeah. 

One person, if it's a podcast it's one listener, if it's a video audience it's one person you're talking to, if it's a book it's one reader. 

So point the focus forward to that one person, and thinking about how that message that you may have is going to impact them, is going to move them. 

And the opportunity we have right now especially in the virtual space I'm finding, Ryan, is how to point that focus forward even before the presentation begins. 

An example of this is commonly, as speakers, we have a chance to connect with the event organizer and ask questions about what they're looking for, what they want the audience to think, feel and do. 

But if we're truly pointing the focus forward on that one person, I'll ask to connect with multiple people, 2, maybe 3 key leaders or influential voices that will be in that audience, virtually or in person. 

And when I have that moment to connect with them, 20 or 30 minutes before presentation, my focus is so dialed in on their stories, their experiences, their struggles, their wins, so I can extract as much information and emotion from them that will allow me to personalize the message I have to offer them. 

And that completely involves forgetting about yourself in the process. 

Because if we look at speaking anxiety, and this is a common question I get, is people saying to me, "Why I get so nervous?" 

And when I disect what that means for someone they say, "Well I don't know if the message is going to land." 

By pointing the focus forward to those people prior to the presentation even beginning, it provides such a confidence in sense of clarity of what that person or group needs that you know when it's showtime, when it's game time, and you're in front of the entire group, your messages so calibrated to their necessity, that you can operate with confidence, authenticity and just complete intent to deliver something that's very impactful for them. 

Ryan Foland: Yeah, one thing that you've mentioned which I've had conversations around this as well, around speaking anxiety, and how do you XYZ, it's kind of a selfish element to where if you are really concerned about what you look like, what you sound like, again it's this not forward-facing, it's looking inward, 

"Am I going to sweat, is this the right outfit, what do my shoes look like?" 

Secretly those are all selfish elements that you're more concerned about ‘how they think about you?’ versus ‘how you're positioning the message for them?’

So I think that it doesn't sound nice but if you are nervous you're likely selfish and to point the focus forward as you're saying is a good way to refocus that.

Riaz Meghji: As you articulate that, Ryan, I think about that's the difference within speakers, are you a giver or are you a taker? 

And if you are the taker that needs exactly what you just said, that anxiety will be present. 

But if you're that giver that can validate yourself by knowing what they need and what you have to offer, serving that need, it creates a completely different experience where you walk into a space virtually or in person, in a calm, confident state of I can't wait to impact and move these. 

Ryan Foland: Now for those of you listening and you're maybe thinking, "Oh my gosh they are getting a little woo-hoo here, I need some tangible things to work on." 

The intro I think it's always an interesting start to that conversation. 

Do you have a particular way that you start a talk or anything in particular that is a tactic in order to face it forward? 

For example, Josh Linkner, another friend of Nick Morgan talks about the James Bond intro, right. Instead of being like, "Hey everybody, it's nice to be here virtually and XYZ," like you've lost that moment. 

So relating to a James Bond movie where just you have all this fire and explosions and car chases and then, 

"Hi, my name is Josh and I'm excited to now give you that backstory." 

Any tips on openings, or things that work for you?

Riaz Meghji: 2 different dimensions. 

If we're virtual I'll start a flash-forward right off the bat with a question that pertains to the theme of the talk, the theme of the event to convey that I'm listening to what they need. 

And that feedback that I get, for example, my message is all about human connection and building authentic relationships. 

So I'll throw in a question sometimes and say, "What's the number one quality, the number one priority you look for when you're building a new relationship?" 

And the words they're giving me provides me an insight of how I can weed that in in real-time of what their response is. 

And then I'll get into that element of the story, the James Bond, I guess that Josh took that from Nick, because I remember Nick even saying that to me of how you hit the ground running as soon as you start speaking. 

And one of the critical mistakes that if you're a host, and you approach a keynote as a host role, and this was a mistake I was making, Nick had reminded me to just cut the chit-chat and get right into it. 

And yeah, I will hit the ground running with a story that will hit the problem that we're going to address in that time that we have together. 

So the power of storytelling right out of the gate in person is a direction to go, and virtually I'll bring the audience in with a flash full of questions right off the bat to engage them to know this is going to be an active experience, not a passive stage from the stage kind of setup. 

Ryan Foland: Got it. 

And I could likely see how Nick had told Josh and then Josh had told me and this is weird wide world of James Bondness episode in everything. 

So you're facing forward, you're starting with a question, you're starting with a story. 

What are some other nuanced or niche things that people might not necessarily think about but that you're doing now that you're finding success with?

Riaz Meghji: One of the common ones if we talked virtually for a second, and this notion of just kind of forgetting about yourself is turning the camera off. 

As we do this, as soon as I know the frames are calibrated, the audio is good, I completely close all of that off so I can focus directly on the barrel of the lens, and virtually what I also do is have a camera that is heightened away from the monitor. 

Because our tendency, if we were having this conversation in person, Ryan, and it was a mirror beside your face I'm going to be pulled to look at how I'm gesturing, how I'm reacting, it's such a common distraction that a lot of people keep up because we don't think about it. 

I encourage people to just turn all of that stuff off and focus on what's in front of you. 

Ryan Foland: Okay, so let's say that you're in a Zoom and that's the delivery platform. 

You are called up to on the virtual digital stage essentially, then you're just minimizing your whole Zoom window so you're just looking at your sides, or what does that actually look like?

Riaz Meghji: Yes, Zoom give us the option to hide herself to you, so I just turn that off, and sometimes producers what I'll do is I'll hand the slides to them so I can still see my slide deck, the audience is still there, but I won't see my camera on because I don't need to look at that unless there's a technical glitch that somebody tells me about.

But outside of that, I'm focused on the camera if this is virtually speaking, the camera, and if I need to reference the slide a quick glance, but then back onto that eye contact and that connection is real throughout the time we have together.

Ryan Foland: What about the grid view? 

Are you utilizing the grid view to look and see what people are doing? 

So you're looking at the camera but then there might also be that grid view, are you feeling yourself jogging between those 2?

Riaz Meghji: Not so much unless I'm guiding them with purpose. 

For example, I'm trying to generate feedback with them and one, "Hey okay, is this not working for you? Let me see thumbs up, okay." 

If I want them to react to something and I'm asking them to do something, so I can generate that feedback and understand where they are at, then I'm checking the boxes. 

Otherwise, that grid may be up but I'm not focused on that, I'm focused on the lens.

Ryan Foland: Do you ever experiment with breakout rooms, as we're talking digital and Zoom, have you used that, incorporated that? 

What are your thoughts on utilizing a breakout or breakout rooms?

Riaz Meghji: I do like the breakout room and I'm finding more and more with companies, they're using them after the keynote simply because it just cuts into the time they might have. 

And I'm a big proponent of changing the pace often. So if we're starting with that flash full and then hitting them with the example you brought up, that of the James Bond moment, I won’t go longer than 7 to 10 minutes virtually without engaging them once again. 

So we'll have those touchpoints, I'll take those questions, I'll call audience members up so their camera is on, their audio is on and they're being seen so the audience is always in a ready mode that,

"Oh, we could be called upon at any moment."

And then what I enjoy doing with companies is once the session's done, then I'll take a question and create those breakout rooms, the dialogue continues after the 45 or 60 minutes we might have in the presentation format.

Ryan Foland: What about backgrounds, as far as do you utilize a green screen, do you utilize just your environment there? 

Do you have a different setup for when you're giving a professional talk versus a casual Zoom? 

How are you laying out your setup and what different elements are you taking advantage of?

Riaz Meghji: So this right now is my office where if we're doing a chat format I'm sitting. 

I'm using the exact same backdrop but standing if I'm delivering a keynote. 

And this is a personal preference of not using virtual backgrounds, simply because of how distracting they can become if they're not done well. 

And the idea of proprioception where the brain is trying to understand where somebody is in any given space, I find the intimacy that you can create if you are being authentic with the space you're presenting, I mean, look at the backdrop we have here, I'm a big basketball fan as we talked about off the top, the other conversation has a message here, there's a photo of family. 

We see this on broadcast right now when news outlets are bringing experts in, some of them use virtual but you miss out on opportunities to connect with your audience and I personally say a tactic is’ how can you speak with your space using 1, 2, 3 social clues about who you are?’ 

Much like how we started this, you asked me to tell a story about your life that tells us who you are, that's the opportunity with space, but virtual can take you out of that. 

And if my message is human connection and intimacy to invite someone into your home creates that quick-set intimacy that I want to bring. 

So I am standing, I'm using a backdrop just like this, using the lighting, using a live mic, but keeping it as real as possible.

Ryan Foland: Okay, cool. 

I am a fan of that as well. 

I think the idea of speaking with your space is a nice way to package it into a little box. 

I've had a lot of people after conversations I'll be like, 

"Hey what do you think about my back, what can I do with it?" 

And it's like, "Well, I see a couch, maybe you move that." 

Or there are certain things that identify the space that you're in, but there is this intimate value of being inside someone's home and it not being overly produced and more of an organic feel. 

Any other thoughts that come to mind as far as advice that you would love to give speakers who are trying to get more teeth cut in the digital space? 

Or maybe a core concept from your book about conversational tones or something? 

How would that apply sort of a free, I've been kind of peppering you with questions but I want to give you a chance to sort of finish here with this section of something that you're bringing to the table.

Riaz Meghji: Yeah, one if we look at the digital space right now, because I know we're going to be in this for a while is the idea of calling people up but not calling people out. 

And as a speaker and maybe as a leader, if you're running a team meeting I believe bosses have become broadcasters. 

We've all become broadcasters in the space where if you're a leader and creating a meeting you are now the showrunner, but if you are a presenter you can become the broadcaster. 

And the most common question I get, Ryan, is from sales teams that say to me it's so hard to read the audience because they don't have their cameras on. 

And absolutely, if you can't see them then it's hard to gauge, ‘how is the message landing?’ 

Then the question I ask them is, "Did you ask people to have the cameras on?" 

And they said, "No, shouldn't they just have it on?" 

I kind of laughed, because I'm like, 

"Well, step one, we need to ask the audience but do it in a way that serves them."

And when I say call people up not out is asking them, inviting them to have their cameras on well before the presentation begins. 

Because as we talk about these virtual spaces and speaking with your spaces there are some people that aren't comfortable with showing their space, and appreciating and respecting that and giving them the opportunity to say, 

"Okay, the expectation is they want my camera on, I'm going to be in a space where I can feel comfortable doing that." 

And that takes time beforehand, it now allows us to call them up. 

The second point is if we are in a meeting or, Ryan, if you're running the meeting and you're going over this key point you know how we become more effective presenters instead of just coming to me immediately where I might be distracted in my own space with kids screaming and dogs barking, sirens going, you can easily set me up and call me up for success by saying, 

"Riaz, I am going to you on this idea on how amplify our presence digitally but first I really want to talk about how to create that rundown that's going to make an effective meeting." 

What that does is it allows me to have a moment to collect my thoughts and be ready to take that throw much like an anchor to a reporter a producer is in their ear saying, "We're coming to you in 30 seconds," so they can be ready. 

And I really encourage everybody right now, call people up not out so everyone can succeed in this virtual format. 

Ryan Foland: Yeah, that's great. 

So I teach classes at Cal State Fullerton and we just had a meeting with a lot of different professors, actually around this conversation of how can we create more engagement in the classroom. 

And one of the things that I brought up was what I had called "on camera culture" and that it starts even before the actual live event. 

And so I am encouraging them in the onboarding and the training and all of the touchpoints before they actually enter the classroom to physically say you know here at Cal State Fullerton we have a "camera on culture", and if you can identify early that they might not be comfortable with their surroundings have extra training for people to know how to use a background to sort of disguise the chaos. 

Or to have one on ones to help people understand what may be wrong with their microphone and why they sound so muted. 

But I like this idea of not calling people out but calling them up and this idea of an on-camera culture, which again, is a forward-facing mentality. 

You may be set, you may be ready to go, you're on it but Johnny on the spot might not be.

Riaz Meghji: It's always just being in this ready mode if we're in the philosophy that we're all broadcasters now, like the craziest comments, I guess not craziest but most common threads and I always receive on television, Ryan, is it wasn't how being the interview guest was, it was, "I loved that moment when things went sideways," because that's when people really see who you are, how you handle the chaos. 

And we all know speaking is a game of follow the leader if you're cool, calm, and collected Ryan, if I'm handling the chaos well, 

"Yeah, well that happened, okay, we're just going to keep going". 

People are just going to smile and just be like, "That's real, just embrace that unpredictability and we're all dealing with this", it's just a matter of just remembering just to be human and the experience. 

Ryan Foland: Yeah, so I'm passionate about your comments there, my book is called "Ditch the Act" and I found personally in my career that the most memorable moments, the most connective moments are not the most successful moments, it's opportunities where people can see themselves in my story.

And to have that as an understanding it takes a lot of the pressure off because technology will go wrong, things will not happen correctly, but since we all are collectively sharing that I think that's a great point. 

Because in a professional talk there can be something that goes wrong and if you just freak out then that demeanor shows that you might not be good under pressure as opposed to sort of being with them in that moment. 

That's great.

Alright, let's transition, take a different elevator and try to dissect what you think are the most successful strategies right now to get gigs, to get paid gigs, to get stages, to set yourself up for when we come back in person to tap into the market that is there, it's been weird, but how are you finding success and how should people start to look for that success? 

Riaz Meghji: Capitalizing on the medium that we're living in right now and doubling down on the power of video. 

One of the examples of this is just using YouTube and using YouTube consistently. 

One of the things I did last year when the pandemic hit was deciding, 

"Okay, if I want to serve in this space what's the type of value that I could provide in the video format to create trust for a potential company to say we need that right now?"

People do this weekly, writing articles, I saw your latest on "Influencive" when you're talking about how to create trust and it was awesome. 

And using video on YouTube has generated such leads because if you're doing it consistently, if you're tagging the videos correctly you can show up for companies out there, clients reach out saying, "Hey, I came across this video, can we set up a meeting," and some beautiful ideas were born. 

Because people are more willing to experiment right now.

And I've seen such awesome creativity with media assets some companies have led with with their conferences. 

One example was this company the True Network in America and their CEO hired a video editor at the beginning, this was pre-pandemic and they're opening for this conference, it was like an SNL, Saturday Night Live cold open with the execs appeared in the credits, it was voiced over and I thought that's a beautiful way to let the audience know this is going to be a fun experience. 

So step one, using YouTube, really using YouTube to showcase your expertise because people will see your presence, they will hear your tips, and then they'll immediately start to build trust if you're giving them the goods that they need right now. 

Ryan Foland: Okay, so a couple of pointing questions on YouTube because the rabbit hole goes very deep. 

Are you finding a certain length that works? 

Are you finding a certain frequency that works? 

Are you finding a certain structure in your page that works? Because there are just so many people saying do this, do that and granted in their own right they're all great strategies, but the real strategies are eliminating everything until you have sort of what works for you.

So could you share with us some of the things that you found or discovered and what the tip of the spear is for you on YouTube?

Riaz Meghji: Yeah, this is such an important question, Ryan, because I had hired a YouTube coach here in Vancouver that had done really well with the medium because my perspective was YouTube is an afterthought and if you post a video you're just going to get lost in the sea. 

But understanding the metrics of YouTube, say for example we're talking about speaking anxiety, there are keywords everywhere, using that on YouTube to understand what is the search volume per month for that topic and then if you're just starting out, having that metric between 0 to 1000 on keywords everywhere which is an app you would add to your browser, understanding that is okay, this is a topic that's being searched for. 

Then I would use another app known as TubeBuddy that shows the volume of how big this inventory of this topic that exists on YouTube is. 

And then there's a certain metric that you look for if you're just starting out under 100000 searches, and if you follow like a certain formula, and this is an app, of course, I can provide resources after the fact if people are interested in doing this, I found following a formula to understand how the algorithm works, allow these videos to appear on the first search page. 

Because otherwise if you're not titling the video correctly with the keywords, if you're not tagging the videos correctly you're going to post a video that just gets completely lost instead of being searched on Google. 

And that's such an opportunity companies right now are looking for ideas, they are looking for speakers.

If you could post videos that are showing up in these searches and have the views and velocity, that's going to be a huge marketing push for you that's generating leads in your sleep.

And that's what I found, the companies are discovering— I tested it for 6 months and found it took a while once a week, and the video lengths to answer your question, I'll go between maybe 6 to 10 minutes max given attention spans, present the pain, hit them with the good 5 tips, wrap it up, have a call to action to subscribe to the channel, build the momentum and then the more comments you can get on the video the higher it drives the algorithm. 

The value of YouTube is huge right now for speakers to not only get a valuable YouTube channel to build your brand but also to be discovered by companies looking for great content. 

Ryan Foland: I can't help but draw the parallel between the approach you just described and the initial panning that you had as you were in your audition for MTV for the first time to your talk about facing forward to the audience and getting in touch with execs.  

I see the parallels between talking with an executive about the needs of the audience, you're sort of talking through apps to find out what the needs are of the YouTube viewers, so you're not just coming up with topics that you want to discuss, you're truly looking forward first, finding what matters to people and reverse engineering topics that are delivering. 

I think it's very consistent, almost like you're an assistant coach on the basketball team that's coming up with plays and then handing them to the coach and you're still getting that recognition as the team continues to be strategic. 

So are you exploring any other digital platforms? 

Are you heavy on a certain platform, are you on Clubhouse, is that something that you're jumping on? 

How are you seeing social media playing into your business building for your speaking business?

Riaz Meghji: Yeah, I've been exploring Clubhouse, I love the format of being someone that is all about the power of conversations. 

I mean there's one, you can enter this space be an effective listener that's going to bring value to the conversation, but the value of the listing of what's happening in these Clubhouse rooms, for playing on the key files, pointing the focus forward to understand what the pain points are, these conversations are so high value of the questions people are asking of what they're struggling with right now.

Ryan Foland: It's an app that you're using for that same sort of investigative research on what people are really struggling with to then create what— keynotes and YouTube's and everything else and content around that?

Riaz Meghji: Absolutely, it's a terrific research app. 

Ryan Foland: I saw some, I've been listening, I've hosted a few rooms I'm sort of exploring, there's a lot of room for creativity in this space. 

And I'll just give you an example of somebody I won't name the name, but there was this notable personality who obviously was co-hosting with other people that were on his team but not obvious on his team that were constantly building him up, talking about what was happening and there's an event going on in the future. 

This said person offered, "If you direct message me now with a certain something, I am going to send you a code for a virtually free event," and I went, "What?" 

The event is $97 but it's virtually free because when you pay that $97 you get credit to his store with that $97 to buy some of these other products. 

So the virtual event is virtually free, but he's grabbing 97 bucks. There's this personal connection to actually direct message him when I know his assistants are managing that and I was mind blown. 

It just takes lead magnets to a whole new level because people are there and captivated and it's like that person, so it's the splash page that is full of wetness and everybody is sort of getting involved and feeling like they're closer to that person. 

I don't know if you've heard in some of these rooms some creative ways of bringing it outside of the club right? 

Anything that you've seen or heard that is effective to get people not only to follow you but to then like to take it off of the Clubhouse?

Riaz Meghji: Yeah, that's a great example of just forward-thinking of how the Clubhouse could serve the speaker that might be listening to this, and yeah, that's a great idea for lead magnets. 

I just found what I gravitated towards, Ryan is the power of just collaboration, and looking at Clubhouse I wonder what this will look like post-pandemic because it eliminates the need of going to a big conference for that fireside chat because they're happening in this app. 

And your input in the sense of immediacy to contribute to these opportunities and conversations are so much more than they would be in a designated event. 

So Clubhouse I think could be the future in major ways for us speakers. 

I'm just experimenting with it, so I'm not going to speak outside of my realm, but I've found collaboration with people when I launched my book, we had a Clubhouse chat, I had a great group of people in the room that were driving awareness of it which is awesome. 

The example you've mentioned, I think this is a terrific example of how this could serve all of us.

Ryan Foland: So another thing to keep an eye on, I'm not sure if you are a Tweeter or not but Twitter is actually coming out and has a place called Spaces, and it is essentially the exact same thing as Clubhouse, but just sort of as a branch of that. 

So I'm trying to get as a beta user on, I know some people that are on that, but it's interesting because just as one platform emerges another one will come and take it, and it's just sort of this morphing. 

So I guess for us sort of to wrap things up, what would you share with people from all of these emerging digital spaces knowing that they're always changing, with you looking forward, seeing, understanding if you were to predict is it an individual platform, is it a type of platform, is it the conversations that you're having? 

How can we look at digital media, social media as a connection to actually landing deals with large honorariums where you're actually making decent money?

Riaz Meghji: Divide and conquer, choose one and do it well and then focus on the others. 

Like, Ryan, we've just covered so many platforms where if somebody is just getting into this, it's so easy to feel overwhelmed with all of it.

But if you're going to double down on one and for instance, for myself, I tested YouTube last year, it served really well, once I'm through with book launch I'm going back to YouTube and I am going to double down on that platform knowing if I am on a speaker realm what's going to create trust quicker with the potential prospect versus Clubhouse, versus all of these things, it's the visual medium. 

So I say choose one, do it well, and much to the message that you have with Ditch the Act, if you want to create trust with somebody, consistency cultivates trust. 

Show up on one, build it well and then start stemming off into the others.

And it just starts with one.

Ryan Foland: Hey, I think that's great, you know success starts with that one step. 

And true success is when you have that still stepping in the same direction for a long time and social media as a way that you can get pulled in 100 different directions, so great point on that. 

I'm going to follow you, where I can find you, I'm going to subscribe to your YouTube channel so I can keep an eye on it. 

How can people stay in touch with you, where would you like them to go to connect with you after the show?

Riaz Meghji: Thanks for the ask on this, riazmeghji.com, I know you have to spell Meghji, it's tricky, I believe Ryan will put in a link for everybody.

The website has a bunch of ideas, it talks about the book and human connection and overcoming loneliness and isolation, and it's got links to the YouTube videos that can hopefully support you watching and listening to this, I just had to elevate the speaking game and build some leads here in 2021. 

Ryan Foland: I love that you are pointing to a website and I want to recognize that because it's a nice central point and I think that if I have a guest and they are like follow me on Twitter, then do this, and over here, it's again intimidating. 

So if you are truly serious about being a professional speaker, have a website that can be the one point of contact for people to find you. 

And if you don't have a website and you want to continue to grow your business as a speaker, you can go to SpeakerHub.com and you can create a profile which acts as a splash page where you can showcase everything, you can put your YouTube videos and at least it's a place where you can be found and centralized. 

If you have a website you can also link out to that, there's a call for speakers functionality and all kinds of great stuff, so they power this podcast so I encourage you to go check that out as well. 

And for me, personally, I can be found online at Ryan.online, we're just trying to keep it simple here. 

Well, Sir, this has been an absolute blast, I'm going to send a thank-you note to Nick for the introduction. 

And you know, I've got a lot to think about but what I'm thinking is that we're all broadcasters, is that we've got to face forward, you've got to look down the barrel of the camera but know that there's not bullets or anything crazy, there's just one person that if you can get the right message to hit with them, they're going to want to continue to get to know you which will possibly allow them to get to like you, which ultimately creates trust but it's consistency over time that makes it all happen. 

So thanks for the insights, this was great, I'm excited to connect with you and hopefully one day we'll share the stage soon, but I think that I've learned a lot and I know that our listeners have too. 

Riaz Meghji: Thanks Ryan, I love the recap man, that's a great executive summary. 

I appreciate you having me on. 

Ryan Foland: Alright. 

And I am going to pick up your book, say your book name one more time, and point them in the direction of that or maybe it's tricky and they just go back to your website to get it there, but how do people learn how to have better conversations that matter?

Riaz Meghji: Yeah, it's Every Conversation Counts, The 5 Habits of Human Connection That Builds Extraordinary Relationships, it's all about combating isolation and loneliness and just deepening the connections through conversations and all the details, once again, on the website riazmeghji.com.

Ryan Foland: Boom, alright. 

Well hey, you have a great day, everyone else have a great day, don't be afraid you are a broadcaster whether you know it or not, enjoy it and if you do it right somebody will pay you for it. 

Until next time, adios.

 

A bit about World of Speakers

World of Speakers is a bi-weekly podcast that helps people find their own voices, and teaches them how to use their voice to develop a speaking business. This special series of episodes has been created to help speakers navigate the coronavirus crisis. 

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