In a video filmed at the 92nd Street Y in NYC, Brian Rashid asked a classroom of students, “What prevents you from being a great speaker?”
“Rejection!” “Nerves.” “Lack of confidence.” “Self-doubt.” “Fear of boring the audience.” “Not being smart.” “Not being liked!”
This is not surprising given that Americans fear public speaking more than we fear death. Fortunately, Brian Rashid was there to offer sage advice and tips, all with empathy and a sense of humor.
Rashid is an international speaker, writer, and CEO of digital communications and media company A Life in Shorts. He has a deep understanding of the convergence of accelerating technology and how it will impact, disrupt, and create the future of work over the next 5-10 years around the world.
I discovered Brian through his columns for Forbes. In a recent piece, “Two Reasons Millennial Leaders Struggle with Communications and How to Help Them,” Brian said, “Millennials have gotten so good at communicating through screens and haven’t focused on honing their face-to-face communication skills.” I wanted to hear more. Here is our conversation:
AMC: It is great to speak to you as we share an interest and passion for great communications. I am a native New Yorker with parents who speak Brooklynese, a former singer, a communications consultant in technology – and now an app creator. Where do you hail from and how has it informed your expertise and view?
BR: I come from the middle of America, Peoria, IL, a small town with a great community and Midwestern-charm and hospitality. I get asked if I think that technology is ruining the world. I think that we are more connected than ever before because of technology. We are social beings and technology helps us connect.
AMC: I agree! However, with our heads down, texting instead of talking, do you think we are jeopardizing our human capacity for substantive, empathetic and productive conversation – both with friends and in the work place?
BR: Emotional intelligence will never be outsourced. The value of communicating in a way that you understand what people are saying and what they mean will always be important. As tech continues to evolve and advance, and communications change, it will shine a bright light on those that have a keen ability at in-person communication. It won’t be diminished.
AMC: With A Life in Shorts and your speaker training company, how do you parlay your instruction into teaching the leaders of our corporations to be more effective communicators? If you had to share one skill or advice to share, what would it be?
BR: Communications is always going to be the bedrock of the success of everything. We all need to be skillful in telling our stories. We help companies of all sizes – from startups to large tech companies like Twitter, Salesforce and LinkedIn – with their digital communication, brand strategies and we work with them on how to tell their story, inside whatever platform, to the right audiences.
Telling our own stories is a universal struggle. We live, eat, breathe, sweat and dream our brand, our product. We think because it is so obvious to us, it will be obvious to others. But we need to explain our products as if we are talking to a 5 or 10-year-old, or an alien. Talking way too long and being too technical is not a good thing. Understand that many of us have a short attention span.
You have to sell yourself before people take you seriously. First, you have to believe in what you are saying. I am often blown-away by people who don’t seem to believe in what they are saying. It is essential. And, if you don’t feel comfortable bragging about yourself, brag instead about the results.
AMC: Yes. I understand this on a personal and visceral level. As a PR/communications executive, I spent 25 plus years crafting and telling other people’s product stories. When I launched LikeSo: Your Personal Speech Coach, I had to figure out how to tell my own. It was a little bit scary and uncomfortable, but also exhilarating.
With LikeSo, I am applying new technologies, like voice recognition and AI, to help everyone be a better communicator. I want to turn our smartphone into a solution with applications that humanize our experience as social beings. My mission it bring awareness to our speech and help people be more confident, articulate communicators, and without all of the verbal habits that undermine our success – like, ya know, totally!
BR: Ha! Years ago, I listened back to a presentation I had given and realized that I said the phrase, “I was like” so many times! Too many times!
In the next 2-5 years, voice technology will be everything. And, being mindful of how technology can help humanize and connect people is critical. LikeSo is ahead of the curve, bringing voice and AI into the traditional speaking world. Audio is going to be the next wave of the future, and LikeSo is taking the lead.
I remember growing up that when someone would call during dinner, my parents would get so upset. What we value second to connection is time. This is where communication technologies that help us prepare for and manage our listening and communication – like podcasting, social media and tools like LikeSo – are great. The combination of technology and communication, in general, should make us happy.
Follow Brian Rashid on Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube @BrianRashidGlobal