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Tips on how to gain confidence in public speaking with Mike Acker

  • When it comes to public speaking it’s either confidence that’s holding someone back or understanding that’s holding someone back.
  • Communication is currency. It’s the currency we use in everything.
  • Ultimately, anytime someone’s giving a message, you are the message.
  • A huge aspect of speaking. It’s “Let me help you get what you want.”

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When it comes to public speaking it’s either confidence that’s holding someone back or understanding that’s holding someone back.

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Doug: Well welcome back listeners to another episode of Real Marketing Real Fast. In-studio today, I’ve got joining me, Mike Acker. Now Mike is a speaker, a leadership coach, he is a best-selling author, he has over 19 years of experience in speaking in leadership development and organizational management. In our conversation today, he revealed what was shocking to me but maybe common knowledge to you is that confidence comes from your identity. And one of the biggest issues that speakers have is confidence. So Mike is known for his authenticity, his humor, and his engaging presence. He specializes in fostering personal and organizational awareness, allowing the audience to personalize his presentations. And I’m sure you’ll get that as you listen in to our conversation.

Doug: His expertise is in communications and leadership and he’s drawn a wide range of engagements, including executive teams, emerging leaders, not for profits, churches and public schools. Well hey Mike, welcome to the Real Marketing Real Fast Podcast today.

Mike: Thank you so much, Doug. Great being here with you.

Doug: I’m super excited to talk to you. I’ve done some speaking. Not that it doesn’t scare me every once in a while, but I still like to get out there and share my message. So you’re the expert on this, so you do you want to give our audience just a little bit of background on what you do and how you help your clients?

Mike: Yeah, absolutely. It started really with me being a speaker for many, many years. So after traveling around doing conferences, doing workshops, speaking at churches and all these different environments, I started leading. And as I started leading people, I had a lot of people come to me and say, “Mike, can you help me get better?” And so people were [inaudible 00:01:44] just to show up at the church that I was leading at the time. And I would train speakers up and help them out, give them some feedback and it was really from this faith perspective.

Mike: Then as time passed, I started seeing that there was a need outside of the realm of the small world that I was living in. That people in all these different environments were needing help as communicators, as leaders, as CEOs, as executives. And I started developing little by little, just working with them on a speech here, speech there. But as people came, we started talking about, “How do I develop confidence? How do I do this? How do I do that?” They brought questions to me and I started writing that content. This turned into a book, so I wrote a book called Speak with No Fear. That’s one of the biggest aspects that people would come to me, would be about, “How do I speak without feeling so anxious and nervous and I want to throw up. How do I get over that?” So I wrote a book about that. Extremely well received, picked up by Forbes. I wrote a second book on how to write a speech. So all this together created really this whole company that I developed on how can people take their potential and turn it into their actual?

Mike: So I do that speech coaching, through programs, through books, through workshops. Helping people take their potential as a speaker, their potential as a communicator, their potential as a leader and turn it into their actual reality.

Doug: So you know why should a business owner, entrepreneur or marketer consider adding speaking to their repertoire of marketing tactics?

Mike: Yes. Communication is currency. It’s the currency we use in everything. If you’re in sales and you can’t communicate, you’re not going to be very good at sales. If you’re in marketing and you can’t get your point across, then you’re not going to be marketing your product very well. If you’re a leader and you’re advancing and you can’t get your point across, you can’t rally people to your side, then you’re not going to be able to effectively lead. So really, communication is currency. And if you don’t extend your market. If you wanted to get out there more, developing your ability to speak and then creating avenues where you can be on that platform to get your message across, to get your product across, to get your services, across, will help you.

Doug: So where’s the low hanging fruit? You’ve obviously worked with a lot of people and you’ve got expertise in this yourself. When people come to you, what’s normally the number one thing that’s holding them back from actually executing?

Mike: Really there are two different sets of fruits. So there’s a set of three aspects of where’s your confidence coming from. And there are three questions that you need to answer. Those are typically one of the two areas that are holding people back. The questions reveal the purpose of the way, the reason, and what they’re going to say. And then the other area, the other three are really the sources of confidence. And it’s either confidence that’s holding someone back or really understanding that’s holding someone back. So if it’s a confidence that’s holding someone back, someone might say, “You know, I just don’t feel comfortable doing it. I just don’t know how to do it, the mechanics of doing it.” So really it’s this aspect of, you need to learn how to develop confidence and confidence that carries you on stage. Because if you don’t have that confidence, you’re not going to want to get up there, you’re not going to [inaudible 00:05:12] that are there.

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When it comes to public speaking it’s either confidence that’s holding someone back or understanding that’s holding someone back.

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Mike: Now, on the other hand, it might be they don’t understand the questions that give a purpose for it. They don’t understand how it’s coming across. So I work on both of those sets of people and it really depends. Some of the people I work with, they’re these high powered executives. I have some CEOs of multi-million and even billion-dollar companies that have done incredible starting some of these businesses and that they just don’t … And they know that they actually should be on stage. They know that it would help them, which is why they come to me. They understand the value of marketing it has. But they just don’t either have that confidence, on one hand. Or they just don’t know what questions they should be answering on the other hand.

Mike: So which do you think this would be for your audience? Do you think that confidence would be more helpful or going through these clarifying questions?

Doug: I’m not sure, because when you mentioned that, and this is mine … I’m a survey of one. And I tell my clients, we don’t make marketing decisions based on what we like. But in this case, I’m really not sure because I’ve never considered confidence an issue. For myself, speaking has been more around developing a clear message and creating the content. But, this is your expertise, so I’ll let you decide. How’s that?

Mike: Yeah. Sounds good. So let me just take it back to one of the clients I was working with. So he’s an entrepreneur. I got this great idea. He started a company in the UK. I did very well, started hiring people. He’s very good at just doing it, very hard worker, has incredible ideas, technical experience. Then he took that company and expanded to another place in Africa. From there he took it and moved it over to the United States, where he moved his headquarters. So now he’s over here and his company has grown to about 500 people. It’s a really good and very valuable company and they’re doing some amazing work. They’re constantly getting recognized. So he reaches out to me and he says, “You know, I know that I could extend my market by doing something very simple.” How would you like that, right?

Doug: Yep.

Mike: All I got to do is something simple and I could extend my market. Which I think, that’s a … Anybody who’s tried to do marketing, that’s what we’re all about, right? What’s a simple, easy fix and then I could just extend it to get more people, get a larger audience. So he says, “I know it, I know it. And it terrifies me because I don’t know how to do it.” And so ultimately what he’s talking about is people have recognized him, he knew that he could get out on some platforms. He knows he could easily do some marketing at no cost, in fact, he’d get paid to do it, if he just had the confidence to get there on stage. Now, why is it that he’s lacking confidence? This guy who’s grown multi-million dollar company. Why does he lack confidence? This is a guy who’s got a lot of things put together in life. But sometimes the confidence that we have in one realm, or the confidence as a do-er doesn’t come across as the confidence of a speaker.

Mike: Some people, it’s not an issue. But the majority of people, if statistics are true, it’s the number one fear that people have. So there you are as a business leader and if you could just get out there on to some platforms and have confidence that shines through. If you could get out there on some podcasts and have that confidence that shines through. If you could get out there in a book and have confidence that shines through. If you could get out there in a chamber of commerce or these local groups that have confidence that shines through, it would extend your market.

So how do you have that confidence to do so. A lot of people think it’s just about skill. Just teach me how to do something. I have a lot of clients that come to me and say, “I just need you to help me get my thoughts together to create this message.” Or, “I just need you to teach me how to not say um and err and how to use my hands and not be so” whatever it is that they’re doing.

Doug: Yeah.

Mike: [crosstalk 00:09:23] What you’re telling me to do is that you want me to help you bake a cake, but you want the cake just to be icing and sprinkles. That real confidence starts from somewhere else. Of course, the big [inaudible 00:09:36] where we’re already talking about. I said your confidence comes from your identity. And sometimes they’re like, “Well, I don’t want to focus on my identity. I know who I am. I just want to know how to put my message together and have it be better.” I said, “Well really, all the insecurity, comes from something deeper than just not knowing how to put your thoughts together and how to communicate it. It comes from this aspect of who are you as a speaker.”

Mike: Because ultimately, anytime someone’s giving a message, you are the message. And so Doug, as a person who leads a podcast on marketing, you are a marketer. You are, you embody the message of your podcast. Me as a speaker, I embody, I have to believe in what I’m doing. I have to be internal to what I’m saying. Politicians, their policies have to come from who they are. Preachers, their sermons have to come from who they are. So you are the message. So anytime you get up on stage to say something, you are part of that message. And if you have this identity conflict when you get up onto the stage in front of people or on the radio or on a TV ad or whatever it might be, and there’s the identity crisis of some sorts where it disconnects from what you’re saying, then there’s always going to be a lack of confidence.

Doug: Well it’s interesting because when you said that, I’m going, “Yeah, I can totally relate. I’m looking for, “teach me the skills to do a better job.” But as I was thinking more deeply in your conversation around confidence, I was thinking the clients that I’ve seen that have struggled the most, most often it’s when you put a camera in front of them. So lots of times, they can get up and give a great speech, but as soon as you turn a camera on, like a video camera, they’re like a deer in the headlights. So I guess that clearly comes back to confidence in being able to speak now in front of a camera, which is different than a crowd, but for some reason, it terrifies them to death.

Mike: Absolutely. And to go along with that same vein of thought, I was just working with one of my clients this morning. Incredible person, high-level leader. They said, “I don’t like watching my videos or listening to my records.” And here’s a person who wants to get out there more. He knows the value of speaking, he knows the value of communicating in terms of increasing his own market as now a trainer, used to be a doctor. And I said, “I want you to think about this. If you are unwilling to listen to yourself speak, then why should you force others to listen to you.”

Doug: That’s funny.

Mike: It is. And he goes-

Doug: Yeah, that’s funny, yeah.

Mike: And I didn’t mean it as a zinger or anything, but the reality is, if you are uncomfortable with how you sound or how you look, then the moment on stage where you feel a little bit insecure, what are you thinking about? Are you thinking about how people are thinking about you? And in all those internal insecurities. So I tell people, okay again, get comfortable with how you sound. Get comfortable with what you look like in front of people. Because the more comfortable you are and the more at peace you make with who you are in front of others, the more confidence you’re going to have. It’s not going to be this lingering doubt, “What do people think of me?”

Doug: Yeah, and I guess, from looking at it from a presentation point of view, if you’re focused on what people are thinking about you, you’re not focused on the right thing. You should be focused on… I think anyhow, serving your audience and not wondering how people think you look like or sound like as a speaker. It’s the message. And I think that was the term you used is you are the message and that actually happens to be the title of a book I read years ago by Roger Ailes. And I really liked that and his book basically takes a slightly different approach than what you’re suggesting around you are the message. And his point was that you should be the same on the stage as you are off the stage. So for speakers that you see do a great presentation, when you go have coffee with them or go have a beer with them or whatever, they should be the same person.

Doug: And my experience has been that’s not always the case. Some people are great presenters and there are some people that I’ve met after off the stage that I truly would not want to associate with any further.

Mike: Yeah, unfortunately, that’s true. And I bring up the same thing in my book. That book’s called Speak With No Fear. So when I go through these seven strategies that are in the book, uncover and clean the wound, imagine the worst, you be you, speak to one, and it’s not about you. It’s not about you, really this is what we’re going to do right here. Yeah, we’re the voices that are speaking on this podcast, but we’re going to add value to all the listeners who are out there, thinking who is out there? How can we help heal? And often a speaker gets so caught up in the work they’re doing on stage that they forget it’s not about them. That they’re trying to add value, they’re trying to bring people over, they’re trying to … Even if it’s yourself, it’s not about you. It’s about getting that person to understand that you have something of value that could help them. That is if you believe in your product.

Mike: So ultimately, we’re always thinking that my identity is I want to be a person who brings value to others. And that’s part of my identity. What is your identity? Because your identity is going to come out in what you say to others. So let me back up to those three different areas. I said that as a speaker, as a communicator, I would encourage every single person who’s listening to find a platform of some sort to get on and then to develop confidence through these three circles. The first one is the identity. Who are you? Because who you are is going to really, really come through what you say. The second one is going to be your message. The message is part of confidence. And then the third one is going to be skilled. All three of those combined, it’s not just identity, it’s not just message, it’s not just skilled. Think of it like a Venn diagram, three circles that overlap. If all three of the circles are light blue, when you overlap them, they’re going to come across as this deep blue. And that’s what you want. You want this depth to what you’re saying.

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When it comes to public speaking it’s either confidence that’s holding someone back or understanding that’s holding someone back.

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Mike: So develop an identity, who are you? Because it comes across through what you say. Create the message, understand what you are trying to get across. Understand how they are listening to it. And then develop the skills that are going to connect. The eye contact, the presence, the positioning on stage, signposting and all the many skills that you have. When you do that, the confidence that you know is rooted, not in just you’re a good performer. It’s a confidence that’s rooted inside your heart, inside your head and then through your hands. It’s internal and external. And people get that. People can feel that confidence. We can relate with that confidence. We can connect with that confidence. Which, when people connect with you through communication, it extends your brand, it extends your product, it extends your sales.

Doug: And I like your point, like you said, find a platform. So maybe when you’re finished listening to the podcast, you don’t go out and book your first speech at the chamber of commerce. But like you said, find a platform, so if it’s social media, if it’s doing some live video, if it’s writing, if it’s being on a podcast and then starting a podcast, find a platform then, I guess, from there you can expand based on what your business goals are and what the opportunities in the marketplace are for you.

Mike: Yeah, absolutely. And I’ll bring everyone back to one strategy that I have in this book. And really I talk about, it’s not about you. And I mentioned it briefly before. But so many people, when they buy the platform … And I think about this when you mentioned social media because I’m on LinkedIn and I see people do videos a lot. And I’ve done this before. We put these videos together and the reality is it’s about us. It’s about us creating a larger platform for us. And so, just I want to caution you for the type of confidence that connects and the type of message that connects and the type of marketing that really makes an impact is that it’s really about other people. And people can sniff that out in us, right? We can smell [inaudible 00:18:07] if we’re in it for ourselves or they can really see, “No, this person’s really genuine and they really want to see me succeed.”

Mike: And so, just check yourself before and ask yourself this question. Why am I doing this? Why am I doing this? And it’s got to go deeper than the production. So I’ve had people say, “Well I got to do it” or, “My boss told me” or “Because the guy on the podcast, that Doug guy told me to do it.” But, why are you really doing it? Get beyond the production, get to the people. How does this connect with people?

Mike: I feel, for example, that if the listeners here today will take me up on one or two of these different thoughts, that you can improve your platform. You can improve your marketability. If you will develop greater confidence and take one of these steps, it will help you. [inaudible 00:18:58] I was thinking, what would it do if you did that video on LinkedIn? Or what would it do if you got together with some people and spoke? What would it do if you went to the chamber of commerce? What would it do if you reached out to your local association and volunteered to do a workshop? What would it do for them? And when you help them, it helps you. I can’t remember who said this, it’s a famous quote, but if you help enough people get what they want, they will, in turn, help you get what you want. (Zig Zigler)

Doug: Yep, absolutely.

Mike: It’s a huge aspect of speaking. It’s “Let me help you get what you want.” And [inaudible 00:19:34], people come back and bless me. But I’ve been giving it away first. Also, this really helps people with nervousness on stage. If you’re always constantly thinking of others, you’re not thinking about yourself. And one of the reasons why we get nervous when we’re in front of people. Or why we start getting nervous in our own products is because we start thinking about, “What are people thinking about?” I’ll tell you what, no one’s thinking about you, they’re too busy thinking about themselves.

Doug: Yeah, that’s right. I say, “Don’t be so foolish, they’re not thinking about you at all.” Yeah, yep. So in terms of steps. So if somebody says, “Hey, this kind of makes sense.” Or “I know I should be doing this” or “I’ve been procrastinating doing this,” at a high level. We’re not going to go through your whole book, but at a high level, what are the starting points from, “Hey, I know I should be doing this, I know I should be speaking at association meetings” to actually getting into the platform that you would take?

Mike: The first step I would say is to ask yourself, “why?” So, why should I be doing this? Not because someone said, but why should I be doing this? Once you find out you are why then ask yourself the question, “who?” Who would really benefit from this? And then the third one is, what do you want to say? What do you have that would add value to the people around you? And then the fourth question, where? So you’re just walking through the steps. So I’ll give those to you again.

Mike: First start with why. Why should you be doing this? Then, who, who can you be speaking to, who could it bring value to? Then what. What can you say that will bring value to people, that would help them. And that your qualified to speak on. I’m not qualified to speak on a lot of things, so I won’t go to a lot of places and speak to those because I have no qualifications so I wouldn’t help anybody. Then you can ask, where can I do this? Are there associations that I’m part of, are there big organizations. And then how am I going to get up on stage? And there are all kinds of systems to get onto the stage. But the most basic one is just reaching out to them and offering to help them. A lot of people will say yes to you if you offer to truly help them without any kind of enumeration. And from there, it can go on to more. But if you’re looking at extending your platform, getting out there on the stage, ask those questions and it will lead you to steps. Why, who, what, where and how.

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When it comes to public speaking it’s either confidence that’s holding someone back or understanding that’s holding someone back.

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Doug: Yeah, and I like your comment about add value. That’s part of my constant repertoire when I’m speaking to people about communication and even in the marketing message. I publish a newsletter and my goal here is to help people. And I tell people that want to subscribe, “You’re not going to get an email from me every day telling you to buy my stuff.” Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever asked my audience to buy anything from me directly. But I have got business as a result of that email because I help people, then they reach out. So it’s like you said, serve first and then the business will follow.

Mike: Yeah. Patrick Lencioni did a book about this years ago. I can’t remember exactly which one it was. Where he just goes out and they’re all goals, they all just start consulting with people. And they just start giving them away from their content. And then, in the end, they negotiate their price. I don’t know if it’s really what they do or if it’s just in the parable of the story. But I thought, “That’s really interesting. Just start helping people, divining more business from that.” Divine more value to them and you’ll enjoy it more because then you don’t feel like you’re constantly doing sales. When I get on the phone with a potential client, sometimes I’ll just ask “What speech are you working on? Let’s work on it.” And I will spend about ten minutes working on it. And I’ll say, “Do you want to do this some more?” And sometimes they’ll say no.

Doug: No, I don’t want to.

Mike: That’s all I needed, you just gave me all the help I needed.

Doug: That’s funny.

Mike: Great, okay. So I helped you too much, I gave away the content. But I feel good about myself because I helped that person. And then other times they’ll say, “Absolutely, let’s do this because I need more help.”

Doug: But that’s also what makes you referable too, right?

Mike: Right, right. And I think it’s [inaudible 00:23:59]. I think it’s a good marketing tip period. We give away value, right?

Doug: I’ve had a few guests on the podcast, not many. I don’t know where we’re at. We’re 100 and something episodes now, 170 or 180. That say, “Hey, I’ll be happy to tell you that if you buy my book.” It’s like, well you’re not adding any value to anyone. Nobody’s going to buy your book, you’ve just offended everyone who listened, you’ve insulted them, that’s not going to work.

Mike: Yeah.

Doug: So yeah.

Mike: It’s funny. I’ve actually accidentally done the opposite where I’ve told everybody and then I said, “By the way, I did write a book about that, so if you want a reminder on the notes of what I just said, you can go check it out.” But I feel like giving it away, and when I’m doing an event, I like to just give my book away anyway.

Doug: So in terms of what you’re doing with your business right now, what are you most excited about?

Mike: Absolutely. I feel like there’s a lot of people who have incredible potential but don’t see the actual results. So what I look to do, and the majority of people I work with are these top executives, upper-level leaders, and CEOs or top-level leaders like a doctor or something. And they’ve done extremely well. And now they’ve gotten elevated to some kind of platform. And they come to me and they say, “I need help because my platform’s gotten bigger and it’s not something I was looking for,” but essentially they’ve done what they did well and now they’re leading meetings all the time or leading organizations or having to speak or being invited to be part of a panel.

Mike: So the thing that I love is working with these people who have so much potential and then turning it into actual. So one of my favorite stories was working with this lady and every two weeks we’d work together and she was going through my core [inaudible 00:25:51] program. She’s going through my program and we were working on it and she got to the end of my sessions and she gave her speech that we’d been working on. And she did so well, that I had literally nothing to say. I said, “That was it.” There was always stuff that you could say, so I could make some stuff up. But the reality is that she delivered. I mean, she got up and danced and there’s this executive woman dancing right on to the side of the video. And we were just so enthused that she really could take this potential and turn it into her actual. She launched her company, her old boss became one of her clients. It was just one of those all-around feel-good stories.

Mike: Not every single person I talk with dances, but I do like when people dance because they see how communication has made them feel in life.

Doug: That’s really neat. One of the things I think of, whether it is speaking or even in the sales role like you said you’ve developed this potential and if you can truly help people, you’re just thinking about yourself if you won’t go share your message. So you’re being … It struck me a number of years ago I was in a workshop and I went, “Man if you’re not asking for the sale, you’re being selfish.” Is what you’re doing, you’re thinking about yourself and that you might get rejected. Opposed to thinking about your prospect, or in your case, your audience. You’ve got a message that can help them, help them improve their life, their marriage, their family, their business, whatever your message is. And if you’re not sharing that, you’re really just thinking of yourself and not thinking of how you can help people.

Mike: Yeah, absolutely. And I really think that every single person is the same. We have some area of value that needs to be shared with someone else. And unfortunately, our culture has really … Our western culture has really gotten away from oral traditions. And it used to be that people would just gather around and listen to people’s stories. Because there was this inherent worth in listening to people’s stories. And now we’ve almost monetized every story. Or we just don’t share our stories. Or we don’t believe our stories are worth listening to. And one of the reasons I like encouraging people to share stories in their speeches and in their team meetings is because it humanizes it more and it returns us to this classic aspect of connecting with someone else’s story.

Mike: Often, I personally have found more value in someone’s story than in just someone’s principles. Which is funny because I’ve given a lot of principles here and not a lot of stories. [crosstalk 00:28:28]

Doug: That’s okay. It’s funny, I’m in a mastermind with a group of guys in the US and I really love these guys. And one of the guys said, “What’s ordinary to you is extraordinary to other people.” And he made that comment to me and I went, “Oh that’s not a big deal, this stuff is simple.” And he went, “It’s simple to you, but to most people, it’s not that simple. So that’s the value.” And I think often as yous said, when you’ve got a leader that’s got extreme talent and they’re humble, they just sometimes don’t see the value or how much knowledge they have. They just think, “Well, everybody understands this.” It’s like, “No, not everybody understands this. You have a unique gift and talent and you could add value to people’s life by getting out there.”

Mike: Yep, yep. I deduced this one other thought that came up as you’re saying that. A lot of people say, “I’m not a speaker.” Everyone is a speaker. Even if you’re not going to get on the platform and speak to 1,000 people or 100 people, 50 people, everyone is a speaker. So developing confidence. Even if you’re not going to do the questions and get to the where and how at least do the questions of why are you going to be talking to your team this week? Why are you talking to your clients? Who are they? What are they needing from you? And what can you say of value? Those three questions, I’ll often have CEOs put that on the top left of their agenda for their boards. They are why they who and they are what. Why am I doing this? Who are these people that I’m speaking to? And asking that again and again, diving into their own needs and that person’s psyche. And then what can I say that will add value.

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When it comes to public speaking it’s either confidence that’s holding someone back or understanding that’s holding someone back.

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Mike: So those questions, whether you’re speaking on stage or you’re just speaking to a couple of people. It works because you are a speaker. And developing confidence, that aspect of identity. It’s more than just for speakers, that aspect of identity. I work with a couple of athletes who are trying to get out there on the platforms. It is that aspect of identity, it’s not just what you do or what you have done, it’s so much deeper. And that aspect of identity and messaging and skills, really that’s how to collect the presence in all areas of life. So one of the things I love about communication and training people to be speakers on stage is because if you learn how to speak on stage and learn the principles of speaking on stage, it carries with you when you walk off the stage.

Doug: Sure. Absolutely. It’s a transferrable skillset. I mean, I’m thinking of guests that I’ve reached out to. So with the podcast, I reach out to guests often on social media or, like in your case, in introduction from somebody I trust. And I’ve had people say to me that they’d love to be on the podcast, but they just don’t feel comfortable being interviewed. So, for those of you that are listening and tuning in today, there’s just another reason, like you said, where that skill set’s transferrable. Are you missing those opportunities? To accept an invitation to maybe be a podcast guest or maybe do an interview with somebody. Or even if you’re in a business situation, to build and respond to a media request and have enough confidence that you can answer the call and answer the questions and not get all flustered and do a good job.

Mike: Correct. Yeah. Take a chance, risk it. I did a webinar just recently and one of the big [inaudible 00:32:17] was, dare to do something different. If you are always doing what you’re always done, you’ll always get what you always got. [crosstalk 00:32:17] But hey, if you do something different, who knows what will happen.

Doug: I read a book years ago, it was a really simple book, the author’s name is Price Pritchett and it’s called Quantum Leap Strategy. And that’s what he basically talks about is taking a quantum leap. He says, “What if all the barriers were imaginary.” And so, yeah, I’ve lived by that a long time.

Doug: So, Mike, what’s some of the bad advice that you hear? You’re out in the community, you’re out speaking at various platforms, you’re at seminars and doing webinars. What’s some of the bad advice you hear people give around speaking.

Mike: I think there’s … Most advice that people put out there is pretty good. But the worst advice is where it’s just about what you do. For example, I put out my book and I got an Amazon review and it said, this book is thereby blah, blah, blah, another book on public speaking. It said this other book is so much better than Mike’s book doesn’t have much substance to it. I read the other book, it’s a great book, but it’s all about skill. So here’s a book who wanted techniques. He wanted things to do. And I think that’s so often where we go in life is, “What do I need to do?” What do I need to do? What do I need to do? Versus, who am I? Who I am is going to come across in how I do things.

Mike: If I teach you how to do the specific techniques that I do, it might not work for you because you are not lacking. If you’re pretty similar to me, you could probably copy my speaking style and it would go fine for you. I had to do that with somebody when I first started, I copied someone’s speaking style, used they are similar to my personality. He was a fantastic speaker, so I imitated him. Others imitated him but didn’t have a similar style. They did what he did, they did the actions, but because they didn’t have a personality similar to him, it didn’t carry through. But that’s what a lot of speaking books, a lot of that bad advice out there just does certain things. Well, you could if you’re like the person who tells you how to do them. But what if you’re not?

Mike: So first, understand who you are. And then if you do want to copy someone, find someone similar to you and your personality. And imitate that person. If I got that … Another thing that I’ll see a lot of out there is this idea of really keeping it in a specific vein. Like here’s a couple of great speakers, just watch these couple great speakers. But if you just listen to one or two great speakers, you become a clone. You become a copy. If you really want to be great, get out there and get to see a lot of different people. They’ll come upon Ted Talks. Sermons, political speeches, all these different areas. Watch a lot of people, see different aspects of what they do, and match those with who you are. And then do that. But create your own style out of watching lots, don’t just create your own style by copying a few.

Doug: Yeah, no, I think that’s great advice in a lot of areas of our life. We’re all made differently and we need to figure out who we are. And then leverage your strong points.

Mike: Right. I mean, there are some techniques that are pretty much basic all across. Eye contact, you should do eye contact. But then there are others that really, the amount that you move, the hand gesturing, the pace in which you speak, your vocal variety and so much more, you’ve got to figure out what’s you.

Mike: One of the funny stories I tell when I brought this up, when I was a new preacher, I was about 26 and I was speaking to adults. The church just kept on growing. And I didn’t really know my style and so I would listen to preachers every week and I would imitate them. So one week I was like Andy Stanley and I would walk like that. One week I was this famous American black preacher T.D. Jakes and I’m getting out there yelling. And the next week I was this guy who was this yelling pastor in the Seattle area. And I just became a different person every week. And it was obviously looking back, embarrassing and comedic. And I was always someone different. And I wonder sometimes, did the church just grow because people were like, “Come see this guy who was just a very different person every week.”

Doug: That’s funny, you can go to one location like you said and see T.D. Jakes.

Mike: T.D. Jakes, Andy Stanley, [crosstalk 00:36:53].

Doug: Yeah, sure, yeah. That’s funny.

Mike: But really from that, I started realizing who I was and trying to stop being someone else. And we do that in so many areas. We clone the marketing strategy of someone else. We clone the speaking style of someone else. We clone how to lead a meeting as our boss did. I was working with a [inaudible 00:37:15] captain in military and she was cloning how her sergeant had led before her. And so often we just imitate and let’s be inspired, but not become clones. Let’s find the good in many, but let’s not clone any.

Doug: That’s cool. So, a couple of questions, who’s one guest that you think I absolutely have to have on my podcast.

Mike: Absolutely. There’s a guy named Ned Lindstrom and Ned was a client of mine this last summer. Ned, the guy worked for, let’s see, it was one of those big book chains. And then worked with Apple when Apple went from pretty much a small company to a massive company. He just did incredibly and his superpower is in hiring people. In hiring the right type of people. So if you have a growing organization, you want to know how to hire people. And Ned is fantastic. He’s spoken at national events and that’s why he hired me.

Doug: There you go. Well, could you make an introduction for us?

Mike: Yeah, absolutely, I’ll send an email over to him.

Doug: That’d be great. So Mike, where’s the best place for people to connect with you, track you down, learn more about you and get to know how you can help them out?

Mike: Yeah. I’m really easy to find on the internet. Mike Acker pulls up two Google things with different things related to me. So Mikeacker.com is where I live, right there. Mikeacker.com. My company is called Advance, so we have a website called stepstoadvance.com. I’m on Twitter, I’m on Facebook, I’m on Instagram. I’m not on MySpace. Although that’s how I met my wife.

Doug: That’s funny.

Mike: [inaudible 00:39:09] if people want to email me, it’s [email protected].

Doug: Well excellent. I want to say thanks so much for taking the time out of your day and sharing with our audience.

Mike: Thank you so much, Doug. I appreciate it. And so when you’re speaking to the audience, I would love to hear any feedback or any questions that anybody has.

Doug: That’s awesome. So there you go listeners. So just another approach to marketing, I mean, you’ve got to message inside you. You’ve got skills and talents and you need to get it out to the world. And one avenue is speaking. Obviously, as Mike shared, if you have your confidence, you know what your message is, you can take those skills and apply them across all your marketing whether it’s digital or audio or it’s written. So I hope you enjoyed this episode, don’t be shy to reach out and have a look at Mike’s website, and in fact, he is in all the social platforms, I’m connecting with him there.

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When it comes to public speaking it’s either confidence that’s holding someone back or understanding that’s holding someone back.

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