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E131 | Learning How To Speak Publicly with Joel Weldon

How is it possible that somebody who (in his own words) literally couldn’t lead a silent prayer, become a Hall of Fame speaker and a speech coach to Verne Harnish, author of Scaling Up and Rockefeller Habits?

In today’s episode we speak with Joel Weldon about how and why he became Verne’s speaking coach, because Verne has been public speaking for decades, so why would he now need someone to help him with speaking publicly? 

But that’s a story he saves until the end of the podcast. Plus, the episode isn’t about Verne, it’s about Joel, a man who brings life to the phrase: find a job you love and never work another day in your life.

Joel is 80 and still working full time. He shares some of his backstory: how he thought he would never be the kid that would go on to speak in public. He didn’t go to college, he didn’t think he was smart enough. He was a former construction worker who was too shy to speak in public and too shy to sell, until he had his transformational awakening.

This is a really fantastic conversation, much of which you can put to work today or tomorrow or whenever you listen to this podcast. There are so many takeaways that can change your business in big and small ways. 

As Joel so succinctly said: 

“Let me give you 22 words. If you had to take everything that I’ve learned about communicating, speaking, and put it in one sentence, here it is – speak to your audience about what they need, in an organised way they can follow and get yourself out of the way.”

For more gems like this, download and listen to this week’s episode. 

On today’s podcast:

  • How Joel got into public speaking
  • Speaking is a learned skill
  • The ‘you’ factor
  • How Joel tweaked Verne Harnish
  • The importance of CTA
  • Know your audience


Learn Public Speaking with Joel Weldon

Joel Weldon is the creator of Joel Weldon’s Ultimate Speaking System for entrepreneurs on how to use speaking to grow their business and position themselves as experts at live events, webinars, videos, and podcasts. He’s also Verne Harnish’s public speaking coach. 

Joel remembers the precise day that changed his life: September 4 1969. That was the day he learned the lessons that compelled him to go and share what he’d learned with other people. 

It took Joel ten years to go from shy carpenter to being inducted into the Speaker’s Hall of Fame, earning over $1M a year. But what led him to become a public speaker?

The fear of public speaking

“Somebody once said that people fear public speaking more than death, which is a bit weird, because the thing is, public speaking is very rarely terminal.”

But it’s true, so many of us dread the thought of having to stand up in public and speak. For most of us though, it’s not the actual speaking part that we are so afraid of, it’s the fear of not knowing what we are going to say that cripples us. 

“And that’s the dilemma so many people have is not that they’re scared to speak, but they don’t know what to speak about.”

Which makes it all the more admirable that Joel has made a career out of public speaking:

“You said to me in the beginning, how did you get out of high school and know exactly what you want to do? That’s not the case. I graduated in the half of the class that made the top half possible. And speaking in front of a group was impossible. I never did in four years of high school, never stood up in front of my classmates and gave a report or a talk.”

Speaking is a learned skill

The thing about public speaking, says Joel, is it’s a learned skill. So many of us think that because it involves speaking, it should come naturally, because speaking is natural. But that’s not the case at all. Just like you learn to be a leader, leaders aren’t born. 

“You learn to be an effective leader. Leadership is not a born skill, you know, I say he’s a natural-born leader. I don’t think that’s true, I think we learn it.”

And that’s precisely what public speaking is. But you can learn to do it. There was one message in particular that turned Joel’s life around and it was: “You become what you think about most of the time.”

For 26 years, he says, all he’d thought about was what he couldn’t do, rather than what he could do. And finally, he empowered himself after hearing this. It changed his mindset. He now firmly believes that our thoughts determine our experience and our actions.

The three things about public speaking

So when it comes to public speaking, there are three things you need to know: 

  1. It’s a learned skill, you can get better. 
  2. Be yourself. Speaking and communicating effectively is about being yourself. It’s not a performance. 
  3. It’s all about the audience. It’s not about you. It’s what you know that can help others.

Joel has a simple assignment he calls the ‘you’ factor.

“As you’re listening to this podcast, look at your last email to a client. And count how many times you said ‘I’ and how many times you said ‘you’. It will make [all the difference] to put it all about them instead of you.”

‘I’ is the most common word in the English language, says Joel, but ‘you’ is such a powerful word.

How Joel tweaked Verne

Everyone has their personal story, says Joel. But here’s the thing:

“As a CEO, a leader, you have a story that you tell of how you got to where you’re going. But nobody cares about you. Nobody cares about you. They’re interested in what this guy knows that I can use?”

Joel says he’s spoken at over 3,000 events and personally coached 10,000 speakers, but not one person is interested in what Joel’s story is, they all want to know how he can help them. 

And that’s what he coached Verne on. He got Verne to switch his personal story from being I, I, I to you, you, you. 

“How would you feel? What would be going through your mind if that was with you? Well, that’s exactly what happened to me… And that was the switch that connected the audience. That message, it made such a great impact on the people he was communicating to. And it’s a little tweak.”

The importance of CTA

“I have a little mantra, you know, your introduction is never your bio, your opening is never ‘I’m so glad to be here’. And your closing is never ‘thank you for listening’.”

Why should you thank people for listening to you? Says Joel. If you’re a leader or you’re sharing pearls of wisdom, they should be thanking you, not the other way around. 

“Imagine you’re walking down the street and a man runs up to you and hands you a £50 note and then he runs away. He gets about 20 paces away, stops, turns around and says, ‘Thank you’, and keeps running. And you think, What? Why was he thanking me, he just gave me a £50 note. And that’s the same thing in speaking.”

Don’t end on thank you, says Joel.

“So what do you end with? You end with a challenge, or you end with a quote, or you end with a story where you end with something that’s like a bow on a Christmas present.”

If it’s a big bow, says Joel, that present suddenly takes on more value, even though the contents never change, or the wrapping. A bow sets the present off, and that’s what your closing should be. 

“There should be a call to action of how they can get in touch with you. How they can use your coaching programme like you have, that’s fine, but that should never be the close, the close should be something on top of it.”

22 Words

“Let me give you 22 words. If you had to take everything that I’ve learned about communicating, speaking, and put it in one sentence, here it is – speak to your audience about what they need, in an organised way they can follow and get yourself out of the way.”

Book recommendations

Love the sound of Joel’s work?

As a podcast subscriber, you will receive a fantastic 50% discount on his Ultimate Speaking System!
To take advantage of this amazing offer; make sure your subscribed to The Melting Pot, and enter the discount code Monkhouse on Joel’s site below.

Find out more about Joel HERE on his website

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