The Secrets to Public Speaking Success – Lee Ann Szelog

The Secrets to Public Speaking SuccessDo you enjoy public speaking? According to studies, few of us do. In fact, many people fear public speaking more than death!

Yet, in business we’re constantly involved in public speaking. Whether we’re on stage, at a board meeting, doing a sales presentation, or just speaking to a co-worker, it’s all public speaking.

In today’s episode, we speak with Lee Ann Szelog, who trains business people on how to speak with confidence and authority, regardless of the setting.

Whether you’re looking for a promotion, a sale, or to rally the troops, you’ll get a lot of actionable tips from Lee.

Rich: Our guest today is a keynote speaker and trainer, award-winning author, nature retreat guide, and former lighthouse keeper. She may have started her life as a shy girl, but has learned how to use her voice to not only make her dreams become reality, but also help others pursue their passions and success. After enjoying a successful 28 year career as a marketing and training executive, she has been president of her company, Simply Put, for the last 11 years. Specializing in presentations to help people, organizations and companies nurture growth, change and prosperity.

Rich: She also works with her husband, using their words and professional photographs to entertain and inspire people. From living in a lighthouse on the coast of Maine, to a log cabin in the Maine woods. They have documented life, human and wild in two quintessential homes. The result is the publication of two books, the multi award-winning Our Point of View: Fourteen Years at a Maine Lighthouse, featuring Marshall Point Lighthouse in Port Clyde and By a Maine River: A Year of Looking Closely, which explores the natural beauty found in their own backyard. We’re very excited to have on the show today, Lee Ann Szelog. Lee, welcome to the show.

Lee Ann Szelog: Thank you for having me. I’m very excited to be here.

Yury: We are delighted and thank you for visiting us and let’s dive right in. So I heard that you’re a shy girl. So was there one incident that caused you to become outgoing or was it a series of events?

Lee Ann Szelog: Kind of a combination of both, Yury. When I went to first grade, I didn’t go to kindergarten, I went to first grade. My mom took me to first grade, my first day of school, plopped me in the middle of a room with a bunch of strangers and I cried my heart out. There was this little boy sitting next to me. I wish I knew who he was, put his arm around me, he said, “It’s going to be okay.” It wasn’t, i hated school for the next 12 years.

Lee Ann Szelog: Second grade we moved from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Chicago. Had to go through that whole scenario again, that trauma. Went to second grade, didn’t know anybody, plopped me in the middle of a room full of strangers, and I met a classmate in second grade, her name was Gloria. Met her and she was shyer than I was. She couldn’t look at people, she turned bright red, she shook, and I saw a lot of myself in her, and what I saw, I did not like. Although I was only seven years old, I had an aha moment or a serendipity, even though I didn’t know what one was.

Lee Ann Szelog: I said I felt sorry for her and I didn’t want people feeling sorry for me and I made a decision that day that I was going to start trying to overcome my shyness, to speak up. So I looked for every opportunity. When the teacher asked for a volunteer, I didn’t whip my arm right up in the air, but I put it up. And slowly over time, a long, long time, I finally increased my confidence, I found my voice, and I’ve never looked back. Now, am I still that same shy little girl? Absolutely. But the difference is, I have found confidence in my abilities. It took a long, long time.

Rich: I love that story. I only wish that it was going to be your husband, Bob, had been that little boy.

Lee Ann Szelog: Oh yeah, that would’ve been a great story.

Rich: It would’ve really brought it back down.

Lee Ann Szelog: Just for clarification, my husband’s actually Tom, so I don’t know.

Rich: Oh, I’m sorry.

Lee Ann Szelog: If he is listening to this. I don’t want him to think I’m having an affair with someone, thanks, Rich.

Rich: Sorry about that, Tom.

Lee Ann Szelog: He’s going to say what.

Rich: And I was like so proud of myself for remembering Tom’s name too.

Yury: He is proud of you too, yeah.

Rich: So we’re talking about public speaking today. Lee, how do you define public speaking? Is it always being on stage in front of a few hundred people?

Lee Ann Szelog: Absolutely not. The way I define public speaking is every time you open your mouth and in any medium, whether it’s a podcast, whether it’s the phone, whether it’s in person, if it’s one-on-one. Say for example, there’s someone who is a manager, who’s doing some performance management or coaching with an employee, that’s one-on-one, small groups, board meetings, community meetings, or in front of several hundred people. Every time you open your mouth, you are presenting yourself. You are publicly speaking, even if it’s just one person. And therefore, each time you have the opportunity to open your mouth and talk, you should do so with as much confidence and conviction and influence.

Lee Ann Szelog: When you’re speaking with someone, you’re trying to influence them in some way. You’re trying to persuade them. So it’s very important to choose your words. Carefully choose your delivery and hopefully we’ll talk a little bit about that because you want to influence them somehow. Again, the manager who might be coaching an employee, you want to positively influence them. You want to change their behavior. So it’s very important, regardless of the size of the audience, one to 1,001 you’re always publicly speaking.

Yury: When we’re talking about public speaking and the the size of the audience, should we consider the delivery channel, the methods that we utilize for it? Like you said you were talking about the digital and we were talking about analog. But for every time I hear public speaking, I think about being in front of the audience. Like face-to-face live, should we start broadening the scope of that and bringing things like you said, podcasts, webinars, live videos-

Lee Ann Szelog: Right, telephone. Absolutely, every time, every time someone’s hearing your voice, you should really stop and think about, “Am I coming across articulately? Am I using a lot of filler words like ands and… Excuse me, ands, but, so’s, uhms, ahs, that are really distracting from my message. Are you speaking with knowledge? Are you speaking with conviction? Absolutely.

Rich: Got you, thank you. Why do you think that public speaking is so important in terms of business growth? Whether we are a business owner or doing a sales presentation or whatever it is. Why is this element of the whole thing so critical in your opinion?

Lee Ann Szelog: You could spend… there’s been studies done. Of course there’s studies done about everything nowadays. You could spend a year behind the desk, oftentimes people think, “Why do executives fall flat on their face when it comes to public speaking? You would think, high level executives, they know it.”

Lee Ann Szelog: But you could spend a year sitting behind a desk and not accomplish as much as you would if you have the opportunity to speak to the right audience for 20 minutes. Because again, why is it so important? Because you are demonstrating again, whether it’s one person or 1,000, one, you’re demonstrating your professionalism, your leadership, your knowledge, your passion. There’s so many elements that you are demonstrating to all these people.

Yury: So what would be the goals of public speaking? Of course we want to demonstrate all our aptitudes for certain things, but what’s the goal? What’s the ultimate?

Lee Ann Szelog: Depending on what your topic is, your subject matter and the goal of the actual presentation, whether it’s inspiration, motivation, or to change behavior, that message could change greatly.

Rich: It also sounds to me like really depending on the situation, that it is about changing the outcome for your listeners. Like you talked about the training thing and then also, it could be a sales meeting, whatever it is. But you are looking to make change in the world at that moment.

Lee Ann Szelog: That’s correct and sale, thank you for mentioning that, Rich. Sales obviously is another huge part. If you’re selling any sort of product or service, you want to talk influentially, you want to speak persuasively. You want to know what you’re talking about, but to your point, with your audience, there’s two ways to connect to an audience. One through knowledge and that’s your content. That’s your words, that’s the information that you’re sharing and the knowledge gets your audience to think and of course that’s very important.

Lee Ann Szelog: The other way to connect with your audience is through emotion. Now you don’t have to connect with your audience emotionally unless you want them to remember what you said. The knowledge gets them to think, the emotion gets them to act, and the emotional part of speaking is probably the most difficult for people. They have a hard time figuring out how to bring that emotion in and we can talk about that a little bit. But that’s a real key. That’s the formula to success with speaking to people and speaking influentially, is giving them knowledge, so they’re thinking. But then give them that emotional piece to act on whatever you’re speaking, to change that behavior.

Rich: I definitely want to come back to that emotional piece because I think that’s going to be critical, but, so we get some quick wins in here for our audience. What are some quick tips that you can give us right now, so that we and our listeners can become better public speakers?

Lee Ann Szelog: Most important tip, it’s not what people want to hear. Most important tip, practice, practice, practice. We often spend all of our time, the majority of our time on the content, writing our script, the words and that’s of course very, very important. But that’s only 7% of the actual presentation. The other 93% comes from the tone, the way in which you say your words and your body language, your gestures. Practicing, if you don’t practice, all you’re doing is reading the words, reading the content.

Lee Ann Szelog: That’s only 7%, the practicing and I’m not saying just read your script. I’m talking about standing up, reading it out loud to yourself with someone else. I practice with my dogs. They give me everything a real audience gives me, they yawn, they look around. Sometimes they walk out of the room, they fall asleep. But you want to practice because practicing is the only way you’re going to hear your tone, your gestures based on your tone will automatically match your tone. And so then you’ve got it all working together.

Lee Ann Szelog: You’ve got your content, your tone and your body language. That is the biggest tip. Practice, practice, practice. I worked with a gentleman a few years ago, did some one-on-one coaching. He had to do a big speech in front of a conference. He was nervous, we wrote a speech. Then I met with him weekly to practice, to coach him. He wasn’t practicing, every week we got together, he’d read it. I’d say, “You didn’t practice.” “No, didn’t practice.”

Lee Ann Szelog: Finally, we only had like two weeks left. I said, you’ve got to practice, so he practiced, next week, came back, it was night and day. He sent me an email the next morning after the conference. Big bold exclamation points, “I did it. I did it. I did it. The funniest thing happened, as I started, the most amazing thing happened. I realized everything was coming out just as we had practiced and the most amazing thing happened. I enjoyed it and I got a lot of great feedback.” And this gentleman was dreading it, dreading it.

Rich: Do you have any tips around practicing? Like I know, I have a few people that I know who do public speaking and they will literally wear the same clothes they’re planning on being on stage on, so do-

Lee Ann Szelog: Oh, interesting, yeah.

Rich: Do you need to go to that degree or should you stand up if you’re going to be standing up? How do you practice perfectly?

Lee Ann Szelog: Yup, it really depends on the person, Rich. As I said, I practice in front of my dogs. I used to practice in front of my husband, he gave me a little bit too much feedback. I appreciated it.

Rich: Come on, Tom.

Lee Ann Szelog: And Bob, I appreciate it, but you need to figure out what works for you. Some people like standing in the mirror. I don’t really like standing in a mirror. I like to practice with my dogs. Other people will practice out loud in the car. They’ll get to know the speech. You don’t have to memorize your speech. It’s okay to have notes. You just don’t want to read verbatim from your notes. Some people practice in the car. I do that occasionally, just talk out loud. The gentleman I was just telling you about, one of the ways he said he practiced, is he told a little boy, “Go up to your room,” he was about five years old, “Go up to your room, daddy’s going to be up in a few minutes. I need to practice a big speech.” He said, “I got up to his room and he had all his stuffed animals lined up against the wall. That was the audience.”

Rich: That’s funny.

Lee Ann Szelog: And he said that was the best way I could have practiced. He didn’t anticipate that, he was just trying different things. You can practice in front of coworkers, in front of your family. It’s really unique to each person. You need to kind of figure that out. But however you practice, what’s most important is that your practice.

Yury: You know I do practice before my presentations, the way I go about it, I usually record the way I speak, so I can play it back to me and hear myself. But if it’s very like a big event where I need to be like 100% on, I actually record the video, so I can see myself, when I need to look at my notes or if I start wandering or forgetting things. Do you think it’s, is it too much or there is no such a thing as too much of practice?

Lee Ann Szelog: No, there’s not too much and video recording. Thank you for mentioning that, I meant to mention that, video recording is great because you can watch yourself, you can analyze yourself. I do a class on public speaking and everybody gets recorded and they get their recordings afterwards to hopefully use and determine other opportunities that they can improve. So getting back to your point, do you need to stand?

Lee Ann Szelog: I suggest you stand because then you can really breathe easier and better. And if you can get in the room that you’re going to be in, that’s great. If you know you’re going to be behind a podium, practice behind a podium. If you’re not going to have a podium, don’t practice behind a podium. So if you have the opportunity to do those kinds of things, that just is the icing on the cake.

Yury: I have a very tactical question, when you are on the stage and you have a mike, do you suggest us actually finding the spot on the stage and trying to like stay there or is it all right to wander and kind of like roam the stage?

Lee Ann Szelog: Yeah, you definitely want to move, but you don’t want to wander. You want to move with purpose. I’ve seen a lot of speakers, they know they’re supposed to move and all they do is change-

Rich: Shooting gallery, back and forth.

Lee Ann Szelog: Right, that’s exactly what it’s like and I get tired watching them. I mean I really get tired. They might have a great message, but that pacing back and forth now becomes a distraction.

Rich: It’s like a tennis match, right?

Lee Ann Szelog: Yeah, it becomes a distraction. So you want to move with purpose. You want to start with your feet planted. Say you’re opening and you want to have a good attention getter. Have you ever heard a speaker who gets up there, especially in front of a big audience, they get introduced and they say, “Good afternoon. I’m very happy to be here.” Really? If you’re really happy to be here, have your face say that and have your tone say that. So you start with an attention getter. You don’t, “Hi, I’m happy to be here. Hi, my name is Lee Ann Szelog.”

Lee Ann Szelog: No, you get their attention immediately and you plant yourself and you say that and then you move with purpose as you’re making certain points, “Today, I want to make three points,” and then maybe you move over to your right and you make your points and then as you’re segueing to your next point, “The next point I want to talk about is X, Y, Z.” And then you move to another point in the stage and you also use eye contact. It doesn’t mean you have to look at every single person, but look out to your audience in a general direction. They’ll all feel like you’re looking right at them.

Rich: Thank you, that’s good advice because I know I’m a wanderer. I do sometimes go back and forth. I’ll usually come to one part of the stage and this is usually when it’s more spread out and I’ll say one point and then I’ll go to another part of the stage and I’ll say another point. So it feels like there’s a rhythm, but I don’t know if I’m as purposeful as I might be.

Lee Ann Szelog: Well, if you’re moving to make different points, it sounds like you’re being purposeful, Rich.

Rich: The other thing I was going to mention is, back in eighth grade, when I was in band, our band teacher told us he had, had a terrible group one year and just terrible musicians. I mean we’re all eighth graders, right? But he said that all he ever tried to do is make sure that they started on time together and end it together and then he didn’t really care about the middle part.

Rich: So one of the things that I drew from that is, as I present, I’d never try and memorize what I’m working on, but I do try and have that first three to four minute introduction and the end really nailed down. And when I’m driving, Yury and I often will speak together. When I’m driving to the place, I’ll often go over that opening and closing part. The rest of it is easy for me, but it’s like, can I start strong and can I finish strong?

Lee Ann Szelog: And you should start strong and you should finish strong. You should start with an attention getter. Attention getters can be everything from a question, a startling statement, maybe an anecdote. And then you want to finish strong. You want to finish with a memorable close. You don’t want to say, “All right, what questions does anybody have?”

Rich: Okay, so that’s a big thing, right? So let’s talk about that because I know this was one of your things, like it is, Yury, wouldn’t you agree? Like this is the most natural thing in the world, “Thank you very much for showing up today. What questions do you have?” And you hate that, so what do we do instead?

Lee Ann Szelog: So what you do is you start with your opener. You have an attention getter, you move into the meat of your subject and when you’re done with the meat of your subject, you pause and you segue into, “At this point in time, I’d like to take questions from the audience, who has the first question?” And however much time you have, you take questions. When you know you’re running to the end, you’d say, “Who has the… or we have time for one last question.” Then once you’re done with your questions and answers, then you say, “In conclusion,” and that’s when you give your memorable close.

Lee Ann Szelog: You want to leave them with something that is going to be memorable to them, that’s going to help them act when they get out that door and to your point, Rich, that’s exactly how I prepare my speeches. I figure out what’s my attention getter? What’s my memorable close? And then I fill the rest in with meat, that’s the easy part. The hardest parts is that attention getter and the memorable close because that takes some creativity, sometimes.

Yury: Speaking about creativity and all these things that we mentioned, I wanted to circle back to the emotional discussions that we had. Can you elaborate on that a little bit more? How can we build that emotional connection? How can we channel the emotions in our public speaking?

Lee Ann Szelog: One of the best ways is to simply tell a story. Just like I did at the beginning. I told you the story of when I was a shy little girl. Storytelling, it engages your audience. It shares a little bit about you or whoever, if you’re talking about someone else, always get their permission of course. But it draws your audience in and it allows them to connect with you in some emotional manner. Oftentimes people think emotions is, “Oh my gosh, we don’t want people crying.” There’s nothing wrong with that.

Lee Ann Szelog: I have a lot of stories that I share, some people laugh. I mean some of the stories are funny, so I get them laughing. But others are very serious and I do get people crying, but you know what? Whether it’s laughing or crying, I’m connecting with them emotionally and you would be amazed at the feedback that I get even years after they heard me speak, to say, “That was the best presentation, the story you told about X, Y, Z. I could totally relate to that. Thank you so much for sharing that.”

Lee Ann Szelog: I talk about my dad passing away. There’s not much more emotional than that and I have people coming up to me, “Oh my gosh, I’m going through that now with one of my parents. Thank you for sharing that. Now I know I’m not out there by myself.” That’s what gets them to act in some manner and gets them to think about things a little differently. So storytelling is a great way, getting them engaged, get them up on stage or ask them questions. That’s another way you can tap into some emotions.

Yury: Are there certain emotions that are stronger or more desired to be channeled during your presentation?

Lee Ann Szelog: Well, I love to get people laughing. I like to have a good time, so I love to get people laughing, so I try really hard to do that. I wouldn’t say I like to get people crying, i don’t want people crying. But when I do see a tear being shed, I know that I’m reaching them on a real intimate level and I’m really, really happy with that. And some of the stories I tell, they’re not sad stories, they’re really great stories. But they’re so filled with emotion that some people do shed a tear.

Rich: If somebody’s laughing or crying, I think it’s pretty obvious that they’re involved with your storytelling. But what are some clues that you’re losing your audience and are there any ways we can pull people’s attention back?

Lee Ann Szelog: Yes, some obvious ways obviously, is if you see someone falling asleep-

Rich: Poke them.

Lee Ann Szelog: If you see someone yawning, if you see someone looking at their watch, if you see someone looking at their device, looking around the room, doing anything but paying attention to you. And I always have something in my back pocket, if I see that the majority of the audience or even just a few might be, I might be losing them in some manner, I have a couple of different things that I do that will get them up and I’ll just, I’ll finish whatever I’m talking about and I’ll say, “Okay, I want everybody stand up or,” whatever I’m going to do with them and that gets them re-engaged.

Lee Ann Szelog: Another trick is, depending on how big the room is, if you have a couple of people talking over here, chit chatting, or maybe someone is falling asleep, a subtle little thing you can do is simply walk over in their direction and all of a sudden they’ll be like, “Oh, okay.” So there’s a couple of things. I don’t particularly like to do that because it puts-

Rich: It’s a little aggressive, right?

Lee Ann Szelog: Yeah, it puts people in a kind of uncomfortable situation, but they get it.

Rich: I was just reminded of a presentation I gave recently and some guy literally passed out, almost snoring in the middle of it and I was just kind of like, I just went on. It was a warm room and the guy came up to me afterwards and he goes, “I just flew in from Sydney, Australia. I am so sorry. Was this recorded? Because the part I was awake for I really enjoyed.” So you never know what somebody is going through when they come into the auditorium.

Lee Ann Szelog: That’s exactly right, you never know what anyone’s going through. Absolutely and to that point, you never know from an emotional standpoint how people are going to react. The story about my dad’s death, in the hundreds of times I’ve told that story, there’s only been one person who got up and left the room because she had just lost her dad. And you just don’t know that, we talked about it later. She just couldn’t, she just couldn’t listen any more and I totally respect that. But that’s the deepest way you can really, really touch people.

Yury: Feels like a lesson of empathy is important for all of us to be reminded of.

Lee Ann Szelog: Right, absolutely, yeah.

Yury: So could you tell us a little bit about the mistakes that people make when they get on stage or do public speaking in general?

Lee Ann Szelog: Yeah, well your audience is going to think we rigged this, Yury, but we really didn’t. Rich will know, he’ll get it when I say this. You started that question, do you know how you started that question?

Yury: Please tell me.

Lee Ann Szelog: Did you hear what he said, Rich?

Rich: I’m guessing it was one of those words you’re not supposed to use.

Lee Ann Szelog: It was two words. It was so uhm, so uhm, can you tell us blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. I don’t know how these habits creep into our vocabulary, but the word so is all of a sudden, well, I’ve noticed it probably for the last couple of years. All of a sudden, so many people are starting their sentences with so. So I was having coffee with my friend-

Rich: With so-and-so.

Lee Ann Szelog: Yeah, with so and so, right. You don’t need to start it with so just start your sentence. So one of them, don’t start your sentence with so and then uhms. We’re all guilty of uhms, uhms and ahs. I think one of the reasons we have so many uhms and ahs and our vocabulary is because we’re all speaking so quickly and we’re all moving so quickly and heaven forbid there’s a little pause. You might jump in and interrupt me and I don’t want that. So I’m going to fill that little pause, that silence with an uhm or an ah, so you know I’m still thinking, I’m still going to say something. Uhms and ahs are huge distractions.

Lee Ann Szelog: Now you might think to yourself, “Oh, I don’t really hear that many.” Now I’ve raised your antenna. Now you’re going to hear everybody uhms and ahs and so’s and buts. And that’s the other thing, a lot of people have run on sentences. They connect all their sentences with so. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, so dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, so. All their sentences run on, pay attention to your punctuation. When you know a period is coming, your sentence is coming to an end, stop, breathe. Start your next sentence, so get rid of those filler words.

Yury: So, how do you eradicate it? How do you know if you have that?

Rich: Did you just say, “So, how can you eradicate it?” I think it’s practice.

Lee Ann Szelog: I but I think that worked, yeah, that one worked, that one worked.

Rich: All right, we’ll let that one slide, Yury.

Yury: Thank you guys.

Lee Ann Szelog: The first is self-awareness, start listening to yourself. If you don’t know if you have a bad habit about that, ask someone who’s close to you, who you trust, and ask them, “Can you just start paying attention to me in normal conversation? Do I have lots of run on sentences? Do I use lots of uhms, lots of ahs?” And then start listening to yourself in every conversation, at the lunch room table, at home, with the kids. Start listening to every conversation you have.

Lee Ann Szelog: Start paying attention, “Oh, there’s another one of those ahs.” When you hear them, don’t all of a sudden say, “Oh my gosh, I wasn’t supposed to say that.” Just, okay going to delete that. It’s really great self-awareness, it’s almost like you have to run your brain on two tracks. You have to be thinking about what you’re saying, but you also have to pay attention to, “Okay, I can’t start a sentence with so, I can’t use uhms and ahs.” It can be a little difficult, but what it is, Yury, is it’s creating a new habit. It’s breaking an old habit, creating a new habit and habits are hard to break, as we all know.

Yury: The difficult one for me is, you know.

Lee Ann Szelog: Yeah, right, exactly. The other one too, it’s starting to fade a little bit, but like. It’s like this, it’s like that.

Rich: I noticed, because I do a lot of recordings, podcast and… that now, I start almost every sentence, if there’s like a new paragraph I go, “Now…” And then I do it and so I don’t know that there’s, for some people it may be just, there’s a word you lean on too much, it becomes a crutch. So just something-

Lee Ann Szelog: That could be maybe a segue word that maybe you’re using-

Rich: It could be, but wouldn’t so also be a segue word as well?

Lee Ann Szelog: Well, not really. For example, I’ll often pose a question to somebody and they’ll say, “So…” No, it’s really not a segue word, just start your sentence, yeah.

Rich: Okay, are there different rules you have for doing a presentation to your boss or the board versus being on stage?

Lee Ann Szelog: I’m my own boss.

Rich: There you go.

Lee Ann Szelog: I’m sorry, Rich. I’m sorry, say that again.

Rich: So, are there different rules for public speaking when it comes to speaking to your boss or speaking to the board versus being on stage and having to speak to all those people at once?

Lee Ann Szelog: I don’t think there’s different rules. There’s certainly different techniques that you’re going to modify. Let’s take talking to the board for example. We often think we have to be very formal, very stiff when we’re talking to the board and we don’t. Put some emotion into it, if you’re talking to the board, you’re probably trying to convince them about something, influence them about something. Tell them a story, it’s going to be refreshing to your listeners too.

Lee Ann Szelog: So it’s really gauging, okay, what techniques are going to work best in this particular situation? But you can use them all. Even the coaching of your employee, tell a story, “You know, when I was struggling with sales, this is what I did and it really worked.” And you know, share a story. So I think all the techniques work in every situation. Rich, you just need adapt it accordingly.

Rich: Okay.

Yury: You have to fine tune your own tools.

Lee Ann Szelog: Yeah, right and you have to know your audience. If your boss likes things very direct, very precise, very to the point, well maybe you don’t want to go on for a long time about a story. But you can give them some evidence. Evidence is another great way to persuade your audience. So if you’re talking to your boss and you know he or she likes to get to the point. You get to the point, but also give them some facts, some evidence. So again, you can persuade them to whatever way you’re trying to persuade them to.

Yury: Is there anything we can do about death by PowerPoints? You know with people do the public speaking and they just read slide after slide after slide.

Lee Ann Szelog: Yeah, PowerPoint is a great tool, but it is the most overused and wrongly used tool there is. We’ve all been in a situation, we go to a presentation. Everything the speaker is saying is right up on the PowerPoint slides and what do you sit there and say? “I could have read them myself. Could have just emailed it. Why’d you waste my time?” PowerPoint is a visual aid, so first of all I want to ask you, I mean there’s lots of visual aids, there’s PowerPoint, there’s flip charts, there’s video. What do you think the best visual aid is in this day and age?

Yury: Video.

Rich: A really loud tie.

Yury: Yourself.

Lee Ann Szelog: Yes, great, Yury. The best visual aid you have is yourself because you’ve got your words, your content. You’ve got your tone, your vocal variety, and you’ve got yourself, your gestures. That’s why body movement is so important. It’s the biggest part. It’s 55% of your delivery, 55%. So you are the best visual aid.

Lee Ann Szelog: Any other visual aids that you have, they’re called visual aids for a reason because they aid your presentation. Your PowerPoint should not be your presentation. It should aid your presentation. Oftentimes when I use PowerPoint, I’ll use a photograph or one word just to emphasize whatever point I’m trying to make.

Rich: Absolutely, so now we-

Lee Ann Szelog: Oh, oh, How’d you start that sentence, Rich.

Rich: Good point, now… now. Lee, if you could change one thing about the main business ecosystem, what would it be?

Lee Ann Szelog: First of all, I just have to credit you guys. This is a great question and I put a lot of thought into it and speaking influentially and persuasively involves being passionate about what you’re talking about too, and I’m extremely passionate about this particular subject. I strongly believe in it. First of all, we need to look beyond the business ecosystem. We need to look at that Maine’s ecosystem. Maine’s ecosystem includes all of us, our rich natural resources, the abundant natural beauty we have, the wildlife and everything that makes Maine so special.

Lee Ann Szelog: What makes Maine a destination which businesses benefit from is that it’s a place where people want to play, they want to live, they want to work, they want to raise a family. It’s obviously important for us to have a healthy business climate, but we must also have a healthy living environment. We need to find that delicate balance between business development and the protection of Maine’s greatest assets or asset, its natural beauty and its rich wildlife.

Lee Ann Szelog: We know the wildlife is suffering everywhere. We know our planet is suffering everywhere and if our planet and if the wildlife suffering, we as human beings are suffering. So studies and reports that are being done show that the loss of habitat for wildlife is because of subdivision sprawl, real estate development, as well as the spraying of toxic herbicides and pesticides that contributes to the pollution of our water and our air and threatens life, human and wild. If we don’t maintain a healthy ecosystem for our planet and our state, our country, for all species starting right here in Maine, then nothing else matters.

Lee Ann Szelog: We won’t have a business ecosystem or any other sort of ecosystem. Maine’s natural beauty contributes significantly to one of the state’s largest industries, tourism. Maine’s natural beauty has become its brand, a brand with a proven track record of economic success and a brand with which other states cannot compete. With America’s natural beauty becoming scarcer, Maine’s natural beauty is becoming more cherished and valuable to all of us. Especially the business community, hence the urgency with protecting it.

Lee Ann Szelog: The loss of our state’s abundant beauty would negatively affect tourism, as well as many other industries. We benefit from casinos, condos, resorts with economic growth and jobs. We can continue to benefit with economic growth and jobs while still at the same time protecting that fragile and magnificent ecosystem that currently exists. This will contribute to our ongoing health as a species and provide us clean air, clean water and peace.

Yury: I think this is where we need to pause and comprehend because it was beautiful, it was important. I think it was extremely timely too, to hear this message. So thank you for delivering it and bringing it to the audience, so fast forward Maine. That was beautiful, thank you.

Lee Ann Szelog: My pleasure. Thank you for asking. It was, as I said to you guys, it was a very thought provoking question. I loved the question.

Yury: So Lee, for those in the audience who would love to continue the conversation and would love to connect with you to learn about your business and your passions, where can they find you online?

Lee Ann Szelog: Website,, is my email. I’m on LinkedIn, Facebook, go to Simply Put LLC. Always pick up the phone and call (207) 549-5151, i love talking to people and-

Rich: You’re also, you regularly put on… you mentioned this briefly, you regularly put on workshops.

Lee Ann Szelog: Yes.

Rich: For public speaking, so do you want to tell us a little bit about that too?

Lee Ann Szelog: Yeah, the next one, I actually co-facilitate with another lady, her name’s Lori Bouchard and we co-facilitate a program together, twice a year. Our next session is the end of October and would love to have anyone who wants to come. I’ll tell you, public speaking is the last thing people want to take for a course, but it is the best thing you can do for your success. Next Wednesday in October, it’s a two day course. You can find information on my website if you go to the keynote and presentation page, there’s a link to it. You can find more information about that.

Rich: And we’ll have a link to that on our show notes as well and I went to it, I attended one of your workshops and I have already done a lot of presenting, so it wasn’t new stuff to me. But seeing some of the other people in just two days go from really almost being afraid of their own shadow on stage to really feeling confident on stage was pretty impressive after just two days. I mean, there was time in between them, for them to work on it, but you definitely saw improvement from just this one workshop.

Lee Ann Szelog: Yeah, thank you, Rich. Thank you very much.

Rich: Lee, thanks for coming by.

Lee Ann Szelog: My sincere pleasure, thank you so much for having me.

Yury: Thank you.